Saturday, May 20, 2017

Novelties Onboard: Disney Fantasy Receives Spring Enhancements

By Georgina Cruz

Minnie & Mickey enjoy Sweet on You
New magic overflows on the 130,000-ton, 4,000-passenger Disney Fantasy, launched by Disney Cruise Line in 2012, after an April-May dry-dock. The makeover, just in time for the line’s busy summer season, has added new features for young sailors, a new ice cream shop for all ages and a store from one of the world’s most famous names in jewelry and gifts.

These novelties were unveiled in mid-May and offer children the chance to explore the universe of the “Star Wars” movies and the world of Marvel and give young and old opportunities to enjoy new spaces and features. Here is a summary of the major aspects of the makeover:
• In the kids’ Oceaneer Club, young sailors have the new space “Star Wars: Command Post” where they can undertake a journey to the “Star Wars” universe to train with heroes of the popular series, and they can help in missions against the evil doers of the First Order. Here, kids can interact with holographic models on a unique holographic table that features images of the Millennium Falcon, Death Star and other famous spaceships of the “Star Wars” series and they encounter members of the Resistance to learn how to join the Force. The cute android BB8 makes an appearance in person, er, androidhood! Oh, to be 3 to 12 years old again—the ages the Oceaneer Club caters to!
“Cool!” an eight-year-old boy told me of his encounter with BB8. It is indeed such a cool place that, as expected, kids don’t want to leave, and surprisingly—or not so surprisingly, perhaps—adults really want to enjoy it too, so “Open Houses” are available during the cruise, and during them, “there are more adults than kids in here,” a staff member told us, so Moms and Dads and other adults can also enjoy these features from a galaxy far, far away.
Doctor Strange
• The new Marvel Super Hero Academy, also in the Oceaneer Club, is another fabulous place, offering exclusive programs themed to Marvel, and kids can learn from Marvel heroes who appear in person in the club, such as Thor. The heroes teach heroic qualities like bravery, dignity and loyalty. Children can also learn about the mystic arts from Doctor Strange, who is appearing for the first time in person on a Disney Cruise Line ship.
• A new space themed to Mickey Mouse cartoons is Sweet on You. This ice cream and goodies shop offers 16 flavors of ice cream, 20 types of gelato (Yum!), 32 types of toppings for the ice cream/gelato, sinful sundaes, a variety of chocolates, truffles, and a wide selection of candy. It is located near the family pool, so it is very convenient for a cool afternoon snack after time in the pool. A darling sculpture of Mickey and Minnie sharing an ice cream soda and other artwork celebrates Disney’s short films.
• A first in Disney Cruise Line history is the addition of one of the world’s most famous jewelry stores, Tiffany & Co., located off the Atrium on Deck 4. This exclusive store on the Disney Fantasy features the company’s collections of jewelry and accessories, including the elegant Tiffany T collection of diamond jewelry. One of my favorite features of the boutique is a photo of Audrey Hepburn, the star of the classic film, “Breakfast At Tiffany’s,” wearing Tiffany jewelry. It is a great place to make a purchase or buy a gift to mark a special occasion, and in my case, just to spend time browsing!
In addition to gaining these new spaces and features, the ship received regularly scheduled, wide-ranging maintenance to keep the vessel ship-shape. After a 3-night cruise to the Bahamas on May 17, the Disney Fantasy resumes her regular alternating 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean sailings from Port Canaveral. Eastern Caribbean itinerary ports include St. Thomas, Tortola and Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island in the Bahamas). Western Caribbean runs visit Cozumel, Mexico; Grand Cayman; Falmouth, Jamaica; and Castaway Cay. Since the only port that is repeated is Castaway Cay, the two itineraries are combinable for a two-week cruise vacation.

Many families, my husband Humberto and I included, also add a pre- or post-cruise stay at nearby Walt Disney World in Orlando where novelties abound for the summer, including a whole new “land,” “Pandora—The World of Avatar,” which is in previews now and debuts officially on May 27 at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Inspired in James Cameron’s blockbuster film “Avatar,” the new “land” offers several attractions including “Avatar Flight of Passage,” a thrilling flight over Pandora on the back of a Banshee, and “Na’vi River Journey” a raft ride through a bioluminescent forest with other-worldly flora and fauna. Good centrally located lodgings in Orlando include the Embassy Suites International Drive Orlando (a Hilton property) with free, made-to-order breakfast and complimentary manager’s evening reception with beverages and snacks, and the Buena Vista Palace, another Hilton property, with a lazy river feature and situated across the street from the expanding Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex.

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