In The Flesh, On The (DISNEY) FANTASY, Part One

The second in a pair of brilliant new cruise ships commissioned by Disney Cruise Lines, the 130,000 gt DISNEY FANTASY was completed early this year by the renowned Meyer Werft shipyard of Papenburg, Germany. The FANTASY will begin regular seven night cruise service from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Caribbean on March 31 but Peter Knego was able to join her on the first of three short inaugural cruises on March 23.

Disney Cruise Lines

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Friday, March 23, 2012

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2012 unless otherwise noted.

First glimpse of DISNEY FANTASY.

From the Beeline Expressway connecting Florida’s east coast with Orlando, the DISNEY FANTASY’s silhouette dominated the distant Port Canaveral skyline.

Trunk on the tail.

Each of the four Disney cruise ships has a famous Disney character painting or scrubbing it’s stern. Dumbo the elephant does the honors on FANTASY.

Funnels aloft.

Unlike most modern cruise ships, which are designed to maximize every possible revenue-producing space, Disney has worked hard to create liner-like vessels that are as beautiful externally as possible, borrowing from past inspiration such as NORMANDIE and QUEEN ELIZABETH with their long bows, curvaceous superstructures, raked chimney pot funnels and faux cruiser sterns. And yet the finer details such as tinted glass panels, sculpted bulwarks and the plexi-glass tubing of AquaDuck lend a modern, if not futuristic, sensibility to the mix.

Enter the mouse.

Disney custom-built its cruise terminal for the advent of its first two ships, the DISNEY MAGIC (1998) and DISNEY WONDER (1999). A tunnel in the shape of Mickey Mouse’s head functions as the main portal to the gangway.

Madame Minnie in the Atrium.

Embarking guests’ names are announced to applause in the ship’s three deck Atrium. All four ships have grand staircases with an ornate balustrade that sweeps down to a bronze Disney figure at its base. On the FANTASY, that beckoning character is Minnie Mouse.

Nouveau peacock in the atrial rafters.

While the FANTASY is a structural twin of the 2011-built DISNEY DREAM, the FANTASY has an Art Nouveau decorative theme versus the Art Deco of the DREAM. In the Atrium, those Nouveau elements include a peacock-inspired chandelier that hovers over a tufted, hand-woven peacock-patterned carpet.

Roy Disney Suite living room, facing aft.

We were among the first to board, so we raced directly to forward Deck 12 to see if either of the ship’s two most opulent suites would be available to photograph. The cleaning staff was putting the final touches on the starboard Roy Disney suite, allowing us a minute or two before it was sealed up. More accommodation will be featured in a forthcoming Decked! blog series.

The Rainforest.

The DREAM Class ships have incredibly opulent spas that include a sprawling beauty salon, a separate barber shop, private whirlpool decks, a teen spa, numerous treatment rooms and a rainforest thermal suite with specially-programmed showers, a Hamam, Laconium, dry and wet saunas and more…

Vibe passage.

Other spaces that would be off-limits once the ship was occupied were the teen and children’s areas, including the innovative Vibe teen center, which is located on the ship’s open fo’c’sle on Deck 5.

Vibe to face.

From Vibe, there is a spectacular view of the DISNEY FANTASY’s beautifully-proportioned superstructure.

Oceaneer Lab.

The aft portion of Deck 5 is occupied by the It’s A Small World Nursery, the Oceaneer Club and the Oceaneer Lab, while the dummy forward funnel is home to the tween center, Edge.

Skyline Bar.

Even though the ship was filling, most guests were heading to their cabins and the outdoor dining and recreation areas. After all, it was a perfectly gorgeous day outside. We were able to get most of the cluster of the Europa adults-only public rooms and bar areas on Aft Deck 4 covered. The standout is Skyline, which features a projection of a major city behind the bar. Today, it was a bustling Paris, but on other days, it could be St. Petersburg, Athens, Budapest, London or Barcelona.

Custom Taittinger champagne in Ooh La La.

Nearby, in the FANTASY’s dedicated champagne bar Ooh La La, the bartender proudly exhibited a bottle of Taittinger champagne bottled exclusively for the ship.

Flamenco mosaic.

Strangely even more impressive than the public rooms in Europa are the circular public restrooms. In the men’s rooms, there are spectacular flamenco mosaics.

The Tube, facing port.

While the DREAM’s dedicated nightclub is awash in fiber-optics that simulate monarch and morpho butterfly wings, the FANTASY goes tubular, literally, with the London Underground-inspired The Tube.

Aqua Lab overview.

Way up on aft Deck 12, the DISNEY FANTASY introduces the Aqua Lab, an outdoor family play area with every conceivable means of drenching.

Cabanas, facing aft from port.

We took a short lunch break in Cabanas, the casual buffet-style Lido Restaurant on aft Deck 11.

Cabanas mosaic detailing.

My favorite decorative elements of Cabanas are the undersea-themed mosaics on either side of the room. These might even be my favorite works of art on the ship.

9116, facing port.

We would be enjoying the next three nights in the comfort of Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom 9116 on port Deck 9. This 299-square-foot space has a queen-sized or two twin bed(s), a sofa that unfolds into an additional berth, plenty of storage space, flatscreen television, phone, alarm clock, hairdryer, small fridge, safe and an ottoman that opens up with more storage space.

9116 balcony.

Oceanview Stateroom balconies have two chairs and a small table as well as a nightlight and unobstructed views from inside through full length glass doors and glass outer railings.

9116 shower room.

9116 has two bathrooms, including one with a shower in a circular tub basin and sink.

9116 rainforest shower.

The shower has a Hans-Grohe massage control or a rainforest control.

H2O Spa amenities.

Disney provides the best amenities at sea with its H2O Spa products, including soap, shampoo, conditioner and body butter lotion.

9116 commode.

The other bathroom has the commode and a second sink.

Flute to funnels.

After boat drill (where our stateroom cards were scanned to make sure no one skipped out), it was all hands on deck for the sail-away party. Special commemorative flutes filled with Taittinger champagne were passed around to everyone.

DCL President Karl Holtz on deck.

Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz held a brief toast in the midships pool area just before the lines were cast.

MONARCH OF THE SEAS slips away.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean’s undeniably handsome MONARCH OF THE SEAS, once the world’s largest cruise ship and now considered moderate sized at 73,941 gross tons, motored into the channel ahead of us. MONARCH will be leaving RCI for their Spanish-based subsidiary Pullmantur Cruises in 2013.

Gym, facing aft.

DISNEY FANTASY has a curiously small gym in proportion to its massive spa. Fortunately, it tended to crowd up in the mornings more than our preferred afternoon work out times.

Elliptically eclipsed.

There were plenty of ellipticals to choose from but no stretching area to speak of.

The Royal Court Dining Room, facing aft.

Disney pioneered rotational dining where guests and wait staff move between three specially-themed 696 seat restaurants each night. Our first dining experience would be in the Royal Court, which features some astoundingly beautiful marble work and yet more skillfully rendered mosaics, in this case depicting the princes from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast.

Royal Court chicken entrée.

Royal Court cuisine has a Continental/French slant. Although Disney food is good, it tends to be outshone by the setting and service.

Princess and the peacock.

On the top level of the Atrium, a little girl was spellbound by a doting “live” Disney princess.

Buena Vista Theater, facing forward.

After dinner, we watched the first half of “John Carter” in 3-D in the handsome 399 seat Buena Vista Theater, which has more of a Deco sensibility than the FANTASY’s other public rooms. If we weren’t so tired, we would have stuck around to see the rest of what seemed to be a much better film than its critical buzz indicates.

Onin.
Bedtime rabbit.

Our room steward, Onin, didn’t flinch when I asked him for extra programs and yet more pillows. He had a sixth sense about when to turn down the cabin and he’s a pretty artful towel animal sculptor, to boot.

End of First Post. Much more to come…

Special thanks: Martin Cox, Jason Lasecki, James McAuliffeN

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego
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