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Trip Report Starting the New Year Off Right, With a Tan - A DCL Trip Report

Our 6-day cruise on the Disney Fantasy started January 2nd. Before the cruise my husband and I spent a few days in Disney World celebrating New Year's Eve in Epcot. As much fun as that was, I’m going to skip that part of the trip and focus on our adventures aboard the Disney Fantasy. Just a bit of background: This was my 14th Disney cruise, 2nd Disney pandemic cruise, and 30th cruise overall. So I’ve been on my fair share of cruises. I blame my parents, who also joined us on the cruise, for giving me the Disney/ cruise/ travel bug early on in life.


So let’s start off on Day 1: Port Canaveral.
We boarded the motor coach for the port around 9:20 in the morning and before we knew it our home for the next 6 nights was in site.
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All in all, the ride went by pretty quickly except for one large family of 12+ on board who took their masks off as soon as the bus departed. I mean I get it, no one wants to wear masks but those were the rules. Anyway, getting off the bus we were ushered to the makeshift testing village. The whole process was orderly, we were in a line, took our tests with the representative, then were directed to a sitting area to wait for our results. By this point we had already seen a few families get the dreaded secondary screening message which was code for someone in the party tested positive. So my anxiety was already heightened. After which felt like the longest 45 minutes of my life, we got the “Clear to Sail” as did a bunch of other people in the tent at the same time. Never have I felt a sense of relief and we were on our way to check

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Off the bus and onto testing...

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Leaving testing "Clear to Sail" in hand!




Unfortunately, we did see the family of 12+ from the bus get the dreaded message and we never saw them again. So it was clear just in the short time, a ton of people were not going to be making the ship that day.



The process to check in has been completely simplified thanks to the online check in. Rather than checking in upstairs, you check in prior to security. And it is much simpler than previously. All they do now is scan your port arrival bar code and take a picture of your passports. Then it is through security and up to the waiting area, which at this time had hardly anyone waiting. Before we even had a chance to sit down and wait for our boarding number, a lovely cast member asked us if we wanted to go ahead and board. From testing through check in, we were on board in under an hour!

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Rather than the sail away party, they now do a short show in the lobby welcoming you aboard. I really enjoyed the quick show. It doesn’t replace the sail away party but it was a nice change of pace. One difference we already picked up on by this point from our previous covid Disney cruise was with pictures. In September, we could briefly take our masks off for the professional photographers but not anymore while inside. Any pictures they take inside the ship, you have to be wearing a mask which kind of stunk but we completely understand.


Another great improvement to the cruise experience is the updated muster drill. Once you leave the welcome aboard show, you now find your muster station and then take a picture of it in the DCL navigator app. So much better than the old way of having to fight your way through a crowd when getting to and leaving your muster station.


From there, it was time for lunch ...​
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
Side note: As much as I enjoy the adult pool areas on the Disney ships, they do not compare to the solariums on Royal Caribbean. I feel their pool game is much better with larger pools and more hot tubs. But don’t get me wrong, I still love Satellite Falls, but I think Disney could do better. I’ve never been a fan of the traditional adult pool either. It always felt claustrophobic and crowded to me each and every time with too much shade.
End rant
This is the mildest rant I've ever seen in my whole life! :D :D
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
Because of that, there were apparently a ton of open reservations for the Remy dinner. As tempting as it was to book, we decided against it for something to look forward to next time.

I've never done the brunch, but my whole family did the Remy dinner on our last cruise. (Which, sadly, was in 2018.) It was aMAYzing. The food and the service were absolutely unbelievable. It's honestly probably not something that we'll do every time, due to the price tag, but I highly recommend doing it at least once.
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member

As much of a planner as I am, it’s things like this that make a nice surprise. Just stumbling onto something small like this.

One of my daughter's favorite things about (pre-Covid) DCL is having a random encounter with a character as you're just walking around. I'm sure this didn't happen on your cruise, but she's had wonderful conversations with Belle and Tiana, just while walking back to the stateroom, for example. It is the "nice surprises" that become memorable sometimes. :)
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
I loved that we got sat by some of the Wall-E props since it is one of our favorite movies.​

Ours, too!


I have that same shirt!! Can't wait to wear it on the Dream in April!!

My sister lives in NC, and I sort of feel like next time I'm there to visit her, I should try to connect with you guys to have a drink and swap cruise stories. And watch Wall-E on DisneyPlus! :D :D
 

twall0415

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
One of my daughter's favorite things about (pre-Covid) DCL is having a random encounter with a character as you're just walking around. I'm sure this didn't happen on your cruise, but she's had wonderful conversations with Belle and Tiana, just while walking back to the stateroom, for example. It is the "nice surprises" that become memorable sometimes. :)
I was surprised they still had the princesses free roaming around a bit. Not as much as pre-covid but you would still catch them around the stairs and hallways on their way out. The costumed characters tended to stay put and be roped off but you could still run into them when they were going back. We ran into Belle walking from the lobby to the shop area and she chatted with a little girl for a while. So those moments were still happening.
 

twall0415

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Day 4: Sea Day

What difference 24 hours can make in the weather. It was another picturesque day at sea. Starting off early, we found ourselves at the adult area again. A few more people than a few days ago but still pretty much any pick of deck chairs.

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Sailing around the north coast of Cuba, we must have been in a shipping lane because in the 3 hours we were outside, we counted at least 8 cruise ships around us.
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At noon, we had our reservation for the Rainforest Room. Before covid, you could buy an unlimited pass for this experience but with covid, you now reserve a roughly 2 hour chunk of time and have the place exclusively to yourself and up to 9 additional people. This is absolutely one of my favorite places on the ship. There are 4 aromatherapy showers that have multiple “rain” patterns. As a word of warning, some of the settings can be downright freezing cold. So pick wisely. In addition there are two steam rooms and a sauna, two outside hot tubs, and rows of heated loungers. I could literally spend all day lounging in the heated chairs.

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Our two hours were pure bliss and went by in the blink of an eye.

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* Technically this pic isn't from this trip but it does include something unique that makes me smile. The Rainforest room from the Disney Dream with the Disney Fantasy in the background. This was from our Labor Day cruise in 2021.






Up Next: More of our sea day​
 

twall0415

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Day 4: Sea Day (Continued)


As slow paced as our morning was, the afternoon was quickly becoming busy. After the Rainforest room, we had decided to book a mixology class. For the value, the mixology class is a great value. We got to learn how to and also enjoy drinking 5 different cocktails for 25 dollars. When we first got to the venue, there appeared to be some sort of scheduling mixup. Lucky for us, we didn’t have an issue but about 8 other people had to be switched to the next day’s class since the Skyline lounge had a very small capacity due to covid measures in place. Expectedly, some people were upset and I thought we were going to witness a full on meltdown by some grown adults but everything eventually worked out in the end.

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All in all, I learned a ton from the mixology class. Needless to say, I was a little tipsy leaving Skyline. I don’t honestly know what I was expecting from the class but I was pleasantly surprised by how much fun it was. I would call it more of a demonstration than a class though. Also I think Skyline has the coolest look and feel of the bars on the ship. My goal next cruise is to get into the tequila and margarita class.

Up Next: Still more of Day 4.
 

twall0415

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Day 4: Sea Day (Continued)

After our mixology class was our Palo dinner. As a platinum castaway club member, we get one free meal at Palo. Palo is a great place to eat away from the main dining rooms. My least favorite menu on the ships is the pirate night menu so I always try to align our reservation with that night. With all of the last minute itinerary changes, I wasn’t sure if it was going to line up, but it did.
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Palo has two types of menus now. A fixed price menu or the a la cart menu. We stuck with the fixed price menu. I still don’t know how I feel about the change but we could hear a couple people at some other tables who were not happy about it. Our server tonight was great as well and she new about us before we even sat down. Apparently when my parents ate at Palo, they had the same server and were telling stories about us. I am pretty bad with remembering names, but just like in Remy, she was knowledgeable about all the dishes and gave great recommendations.





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Again, I didn’t take pictures of most of the plates, but I did take two pictures of my favorites. The calamari with one huge shrimp and the soufflé.
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Another fun filled day complete.

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*One good thing about wearing masks in pictures, you can't see the food that is most likely stuck in my teeth LOL





Next Up: Day 5 - Nassau
 

twall0415

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Day 5 - Nassau

I woke up just as we were pulling into the Nassau harbor and one ship was already in port today, the Brilliance of the Seas and surrounded by beautiful sky.
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Apparently it must have been a safety training day but both the Fantasy and the Brilliance were both practicing their drills. Multiple times throughout the early morning we heard both sips testing alarms, assembling crew, and other drills. So some pretty cool things to see and witness like them practicing the fire hoses on the bow of the Brilliance.

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On today’s port adventure, we were going to Blue Lagoon Island which included beach chairs, umbrellas, some drinks, and a full lunch. So we were off the ship and onboard our boat to the island pretty early on. It was about a 30 minute boat ride to the beach.

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The beach was nice but still felt a little small and was right next to where the boats dock to drop people off in the day. The beach attendants were superb and were constantly checking on us to see if we needed anything. We happened to be on the adult tour which kept us separated from the large families. They had a separate beach just for the adults which was also nice.
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The island had a few extras that you could pay to do like a dolphin encounter and some other small things but we were just content with our beach chairs and the sun. After about 5 hours (and no sunburns I might add), it was time to go back to the ship
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While Nassau isn't my favorite port, we always find something fun to do and made the best of it. As nice as the workers were, I'm still not sure if I would do this port adventure again. The price was a little high for a beach day with lunch and some drinks, but we still had a great time and I don't regret doing it. If the island was a bit more spaced out and the beach not facing the dock I think it would have been better.



Up Next: Some more trivia, dinner, and fireworks!
 

twall0415

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Day 5 - Nassau (Continued)


Up next during our day…. 90’s TV Quotes Trivia, or so I thought. So we made our way down to O’Gils pub, ordered a drink, and got ready to try and win a Mickey Medallion. Starting off, we were on a roll and then a question came up that I was stumped by. Not because I didn’t know it but instead that it wasn’t a 90s show. That’s when I realized I added 90s in my head and mixed it up with 90s music trivia a little bit later. After that question, it was down hill and needless to say we lost miserably.

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We decided to skip the evening show of Believe, which I later learned was actually canceled and replaced with a variety act and we spent some time exploring and watching us sail away before 90s music trivia in the Tube. Again, another disappointing performance by us. Being 90s kids we were sure that we would win without a doubt but … wrong. This was a much better performance and we only missed 2 questions but unfortunately two groups got perfect scores! We still had 1 more chance for a Mickey Medallion though tomorrow at 2000’s music trivia.

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After that we ate at dinner and again, I forgot to take any pictures. Something we weren’t expecting to see, on the way out to the Fireworks, we saw a roaming Belle and Donald walking around the atrium talking with the few people around at the time.
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Tonight was the 2nd night of the fireworks. They previously had fireworks on anther night and somehow we were completely unaware. So on longer voyages, they will do 2 firework shows and split the events up into two separate groups to promote physical distancing. It worked because the upper decks were nowhere near crowded and even a few minutes before the sow plenty of “dots” were available to seethe show from. Rather than just crowding around on the outside decks, they now have separate circular dots that your party stands around for parties and shows outside.
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The firework show has been changed from Buccaneer Blast to Disney Ever After. The show felt shorter but I actually enjoyed it better than the pirates theme. After the fireworks, we stuck around for the deck party as most other people left. So I had the time of my life acting a fool just dancing and singing. Just having a good time enjoying it all.

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Up Next: Day 6 - Castaway Cay and the final night!
 

twall0415

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Day 6 - Castaway Cay

I was up bright and early again as we docked right on time at Castaway Cay at a little after 7:30. One improvement I do enjoy that is going to be controversial is the Disembarkation Virtual Queue. Unless you are on a tour, everyone in the room has to joint the queue to get off the ship during busy times. Thanks to my ROTR virtual queue skills, I managed to get a very low number and we were off the boat right around 8:30. I much prefer this over the overcrowding of everyone trying to get off at once. Since the DCL app is a bit buggy, you can experience some bugs with joining the queue, like we did back in September. So that would be my only complaint.

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After getting off the ship, we decided to walk to the second shuttle stop rather than just taking a tram the whole way. We inevitably stopped to get a couple of pictures taken since there were no lines at some of the more busy photo spots.

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By the time we made it to Serenity Bay only a handful of other people were out and we had our pick of plenty of beach chairs. I did notice that they moved the chairs closer together from September but they still felt spaced enough apart.

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Little by little the beach filled up with other guests but even by the end of the day. Another change, when we went in September, you couldn’t move the sitting chairs into the water. That policy has thankfully been removed.
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We ate way too much food at the lunch bbq. The offerings were much of the same as pre-covid, so nothing too different here.
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After lunch and lounging around for a bit, it was time for our Cabana Massages. We have tried to do massages at Castaway Cay for the good part of 3 years. All of which were cancelled for one reason or another but we finally made it. It was definitely worth the wait as this was probably the best massage of my life.

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I’ve had a few massages on the ships before but this was the most intense deep tissue massage I’ve ever had. I walked away feeling like I was beat up, and that was amazing. From working on computers all day, I have a ton of tension in my back and shoulders, so this definitely fixed me for a few months. It honestly took 3 days for my back to not feel sore afterwards. So let that be a word of caution if you tell them you want a lot of pressure with a deep tissue massage.
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After the massage, it was time to head back to the ship and unfortunately start getting our bags together but we still had plenty of adventure still left.


Up Next: The Final Night
 

ChuckElias

Well-Known Member
Did you guys purchase the photo package? It seems like you have a lot of photos from the ship's photographers. Just wondering if you bought the package or selected them a la carte.
 

RememberWhen

Well-Known Member
Really enjoying the report! We’ve got a cruise coming up in February with 17 of us (yes, we’re that annoying giant family!) and your report has been very helpful. It’s so hard to get a read on how things are currently running.
 

twall0415

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
Did you guys purchase the photo package? It seems like you have a lot of photos from the ship's photographers. Just wondering if you bought the package or selected them a la carte.
We usually do the pick 10 package. So still overpriced but more tolerable than the unlimited pics.
 

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