Setting Sail on The Fantasy
by Isabella Duarte-Crespo
Summer’s here! And what’s the next best thing after school’s out? VACAY!
One of my family’s favorite vacations is taking a cruise, but not just any cruise, a Disney cruise. In my younger years, a Disney cruise was a dream come true. My eyes lighting up with every character sighting–not realizing how Disney really thinks of EVERYTHING. Now, as a teenager and growing up with Spina Bifida, I realize how much effort my parents put into planning trips, but I must say Disney’s Fantasy ship truly makes cruising an effortless reality.
Let’s talk about the ship: The second I stepped foot on the ship, the Disney magic began. This 130,000 ton ship had everything from sophisticated dining areas to whimsical recreation. Aside from the beautiful decorations and the sparkling ceiling, I really felt comfortable moving around with my wheelchair. I am a wheel-chair-loving-gal, and the accessibility is amazing! Automatic doors, elevators throughout, ample deck space by the pool, ramps to get on and off the ship, and wheelchair accessible bathrooms are everywhere. This really makes scooting around the ship a dream. The stateroom was also wheelchair accessible. My parents had to call Disney Cruise Line Special Services to request the room, and I was so happy they did. Aside from the towel monkeys on the bed, the room was… well, roomier. The space around the beds was bigger, and the bathroom had wheelchair accessibility, grab bars in the shower, a fold down shower seat, hand held shower heads, and an emergency call button. I highly recommend grabbing one of these staterooms.
Now, a little about the entertainment: I still light up every time I see Rapunzel or Tiana casually walking throughout the ship, but now that I am older, I am really into the shows and Vibe, the teen club. Every night, we saw a different mini-musical. We’d be transported to a whole new world with Aladdin, and we’d feel the magic of Cinderella, Mary Poppins, Peter Pan, and The Princess and the Frog in the musical Believe…and who doesn’t like Goofy falling on his face during intermission? I love watching these with my family.
After the show, it was time to hang with my new friends from Vibe, the teen youth club. The best thing is that I would conveniently use the Disney app to connect with them. TBH, I loved that I didn’t have to give newly made friends my cell phone number (which would be–AWKWARD). With the app, we could text/IM each other to meet at our favorite hang out, usually the pool deck with the mini-food stands. Pinochio’s Pizza is the da bomb! Also, let’s not forget the ice cream bar. It’s open ALL the time! On the pool deck, we’d watch Disney movies under the stars, or we’d head to the club to hang out and play video games.
Just an FYI: There were different age appropriate youth clubs, and I fell between the Edge and Vibe groups. Since I felt more comfortable with Vibe, I was allowed to stay. The only thing my parents had to do was pre-register so that I would have access to the club. Inside the club, it has a chill vibe (hence the name) with comfy couches and cool music; the best part is that it’s teen exclusive. No youngin’s to ruin our vibe (LOL!).
NOW, I know you were waiting for this: THE FOOD! It’s amazing! In my prime 14 years of life, I have dabbled with cooking and have taken many cooking classes, so I feel that I am well-equipped to critique, like a true foodie. The dining rooms are spectacular. Eating is a sensory experience, and the dining rooms truly touch on all five senses. In my humble opinion, the Animator’s Palate had the most vivid sensory experience with lighting that color coordinated to the meal and with food presentation that looked like haute cuisine from a fancy restaurant–very bougie.
Finally, a bit about being off the ship. For one, my favorite excursion was swimming with the dolphins in Nassau. Although most people opt to hang out at Atlantis, we chose to steer clear of the crowds and book a session with one of the most elegant sea mammals. They were so cute! They danced around us and twirled their way into our hearts.
Another great off-the-ship place is Castaway Cay. This is Disney’s own private island located in the Bahamas. Imagine crystal clear blue seas, white sand beaches, swaying palm trees, warm ocean breezes, and Mickey Mouse in his best beachwear. It’s truly magical. When we arrived on the island, my parents arranged for a golf cart to drive us to where we would be hanging out (they have sand wheelchairs upon request, if you are interested). Once we found our perfect spot, we plunged into the water to snorkel the undersea spectacular, tropical fish adorned the submerged Disney statues; it was so pretty. We then took a short bike ride to the observation tower. The view was amazing with miles of ocean and preserved land. I highly recommend it. When you’re hungry, head over to Cookie’s Café and grab some grub. They have everything, and it feels like a Disney paradise.
Cinderella sings that, “a dream is a wish your heart makes”. When you’re Disney crusin’, all your dreams will come true on The Fantasy, like mine did. So, add it to your birthday gift wish list; you never know when your fairy Godmother will wave her magic wand. And bibity-boppity-boo! You’re casting a sail on a Disney cruise.