Filed under: Disney Cruise Line
TouringPlans is happy to announce that pre-orders are available for the Unofficial Guide to the Disney Cruise Line, written by Len Testa, Erin Foster, and Laurel Stewart. We also encourage anyone planning a cruise to subscribe to our Disney Cruise Line content.
Which Ship Should I Choose, the Disney Dream or the Disney Fantasy?
This month, I’m happy to be returning to the Disney Fantasy for the first time since 2012. It seems impossible that it’s been nearly 2 years since the last time I sailed that ship. One of the questions about Disney Cruise Line that we get here at TouringPlans is, “What are the differences between the Disney Dream and Fantasy?” The following is a partly scientific, somewhat arbitrary comparison of the two ships.
On the surface, the ships are nearly identical, with just some difference in theming. But there are some big differences to consider when booking your cruise.
Let’s start with the draws, where the offerings on both ships are identical:
- Atrium – only difference is theme
- Kids’ clubs
- Main dining rooms (except Animator’s Palate)
- Cove Cafe
- Senses Spa
- Staff – both ships have incredible Cast Members who are dedicated to making sure your cruise is enjoyable
Differences Between the Disney Dream and Fantasy
Cruise Length and Cost
First there are the itineraries. The Fantasy alternates between 7-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. The Dream does mostly 3- and 4-night Bahamas sailings (with the very rare 5 night from time to time). If you want to see an island that’s not Nassau, the Fantasy is your only choice. If your heart is set on Nassau, you’re on the Dream. Happily, both ships dock at Castaway Cay – the best island you’ll ever visit in our opinion. A longer cruise allows for more themed nights, though most cruises include the ubiquitous Pirate Night.
Making two stops at Castaway Cay is always our preference, but we are big fans of the number of days at sea you get on a 7-night cruise if you have the time to spend. You may wonder why we ranked the Eastern over the Western. In our opinion, having the extra day at sea and visiting the less-crowded ports of St. Maarten and St. Thomas beats the pyramids of Mexico or getting to see Falmouth, Jamaica. If you’re looking for a more active vacation, swap the second and third rankings
Here is how we rank the itineraries:
- 5-night Bahamas with 2 stops at Castaway Cay – the ne plus ultra of itineraries – Dream
- 7-night Eastern Caribbean – Fantasy
- 7-night Western Caribbean – Fantasy
- 4-night Bahamas – Dream
- 3-night Bahamas – Dream
Cost is another factor. Not only is a shorter cruise less expensive than a longer one, but the Fantasy tends not to get as many special deals at the Dream. In general, on a per-night basis the Fantasy will cost more than the Dream even before discounting. Our fare tracker is a great way to compare prices on Disney cruises. If cost is a concern, go with the Dream.
The Dream and Fantasy for Adults
The adult areas have some interesting differences. The lounge area on the Dream is called the District and has Pink, Skyline, 687 sports bar, and Evolution. The hub is the District lounge. On the Fantasy, it’s Europa with Ooh La La, Skyline, O’Gill’s, and The Tube. Its hub is La Piazza. Skyline is our favorite bar on any of the ships after Meridian (mentioned later), but The Tube is way better themed than Evolution. We prefer Pink to Ooh La La, and the hubs are usually not very happening to the point that we have no strong feelings either way. Other than a slight greenish tint, O’Gill’s is indistinguishable from 687.
Remy, Palo, and Meridian (the fabulous bar between the two restaurants) are identical on the two ships, though the Dream gets the edge for having the best bartender on any DCL ship, the wonderful Alexandra.
The Dream wins the lounge category by a nose because we like the less literal theming of the District over Europa (with exception of the whimsical Tube, because we’re always suckers for whimsy around here).
Here are our bar rankings:
- Skyline (Fantasy) (on the basis of the drink menu)
- Meridian (Dream)
- Skyline (Dream)
- Pink (Dream)
- Meridian (Fantasy)
- The Tube (Fantasy)
- O’Gill’s/687 (tie)
- District Lounge (Dream)
- La Piazza (Fantasy)
The Dream and Fantasy have identical toddler, family, and adult pools, and both have Nemo’s Reef splash areas for the youngest minnows. Both have the AquaDuck though the length of the cruises means typically shorter queues to ride on the Fantasy. The Fantasy adds Satellite Falls to the adult area on the forward 13 Deck, a welcome addition to the adults-only area. And everyone can enjoy the Fantasy’s AquaLab all-ages splash area. Fantasy wins the pools category hands down.
It’s no secret that we at TouringPlans have coal where our hearts should be and would rather spend an evening at the spa than watching the live entertainment onboard. With that in mind, please take our rankings of the stage shows onboard with a grain of salt:
Extras on the Fantasy
Dining on the ships is nearly identical from the main dining rooms to adult dining. The only difference is that the Fantasy has Animation Magic, which we think is super cool.
The kids’ areas are identical though the Fantasy has the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (Pirates’ League on Pirate night) for parents who want to spend more money on their cruises.
While both ships have interactive art (something sorely missing on the Magic and Wonder), the Fantasy has additional story lines in the Midship Detective Agency to keep you occupied over the longer cruise, including one with the Muppets.
So what is our final recommendation? If you’re unsure if cruising is for you or have a limited amount of time or money, book a 4-night cruise on the Dream. If you have a little more time to spend or want to see the latest and greatest of cruise ship tech, take the Fantasy. Either will be fabulous.
What say you? Disagree with our rankings? Let us know in the comments below.