Rubino’s Pizzeria Broadlands – June 2015

Product:3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)
Service:3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)
Accuracy:4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)
Atmosphere:4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)
Gluten Free Options:2.0 Stars (2.0 / 5)
Average:3.2 Stars (3.2 / 5)

Today for lunch Patty and I went to Rubino’s for Patty’s Softball Party.  Rubino’s is a local chain with 3 locations in Northern Virginia.  It’s a great atmosphere; perfect for bringing kids and watching sports.  

Rubino’s Broadlands

Patty and I got the gluten free pizza.  It was good, but there are definitely better pizzas in the area.


Rubino’s Gluten Free Cheese Pizza

Some of the other girls at the party got Garlic Knots and Macaroni and Cheese.  The girls seemed to like it a lot.

Garlic Rolls and Mac and Cheese

Rubino’s offers an old childhood favorite to drink.  Flavored  ICEE.  All the girls got an ICEE.  Patty enjoyed the blue one.


Nando’s Peri-Peri – June 2015

Product:4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)
Service:2.0 Stars (2.0 / 5)
Accuracy:4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)
Atmosphere:3.0 Stars (3.0 / 5)
Gluten Free Options:4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5)
Average:3.4 Stars (3.4 / 5)

Tonight Laura and I dined at Nando’s Peri-Peri at One Loudoun in Ashburn, VA.  The food was pretty good, but thought the setup was a bit cloogy.  

Nando’s is famous for its Portuguese flame-grilled, butterfly‑cut chicken, which is marinated for 24-hours before being basted and cooked in Nando’s famous PERi-PERi sauce!

They first show you your table with menus, then you get up from the table and then go to the counter to order your meal which will be brought to your table when it’s ready. They have one soda machine with patrons backed up trying to fill their drinks which also happen to block the station for silverware and condiments.


decor at Nando’s in Ashburn

Laura ordered the “Red” Sangria.  This potion was mixed with apples, cinnamon, and orange.  It had a very nice, fresh taste; perfect for summer.

I ordered the 1/2 chicken with the mild sauce and Portuguese rice.  The chicken came out pretty good.  It had a couple of dry areas, otherwise it was very juicy.  The sauce had a little kick to it – I wished they put more on it.  The Portuguese rice was good too.


1/2 chicken with rice

Laura got the Butterfly Chicken Breast with Mango & Lime sauce.  She said her chicken was a little dry.  The Mango & Lime sauce was very fresh and tasty.


Butterflied Chicken with Mango and Lime sauce

The food was good the service was just okay especially for the price.  I think we’ll be back occasionally, probably with the kids next time.  I don’t think it will ever be one of normal eateries, but might be good once in a while.

Fantasy Rotational Dining

Product:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Service:5.0 Stars (5.0 / 5)
Accuracy:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Atmosphere:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Gluten Free Options:4.5 Stars (4.5 / 5)
Average:4.6 Stars (4.6 / 5)

Disney Cruiseline has rotational dining as one of the many perks associated with cruising with them.
For the Fantasy the three dining rooms are Royal Court, Animater’s Palette, and Enchanted Garden.  On a 7 day cruise, you have the opportunity to experience each dining room twice and one of them (your first dining room) for a third time (the last dinner).

On the Key to the World card (your ID card onboard the ship), it shows your rotational schedule.  Our rotation was RAERAER (the first letter of the dining room is the cypher for this code). I.e. We ate at Royal Court the first night then Animater’s Palette the next night, and so on.


Royal Court is a Rotational Dining restaurant located on Deck 3, Midship aboard the Disney Fantasy that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Inspired by the classic Disney films Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty, the décor and atmosphere of Royal Court is especially beautiful.

Our first dinner on board was bad.  First off, we had late dining (8:00 pm), which is ok for Laura and I, but for the kids, it was their normal bed time.  The wait staff seem off, ordering was difficult (they weren’t ready for our food allergies), the food took a while to come out.  By this time the kids were both asleep and we eat whatever they were able to get from the kitchen for us.  

Royal Court Dining Room

This was probably the worst sit down meal we ever had on a Disney cruise :(.  It wasn’t horrible, just not spectacular.  We know that turn over day is hectic for the crew and we figured we had had such wonderful service in the past, that maybe this time we were due for just good.  All of a sudden Faisal, the head server, stopped by the table.  He saw the kids asleep and asked about our meal.  We were honest, but pleasant about our experience.  He insisted that we change dining to the Main Dining and switched our table number to 17.  We thanked him, finished our meals and left for the evening.

Laura with Faisal – Head Waiter


Animator’s Palate is a Main Dining restaurant located on Deck 3, Aft aboard the Disney Fantasy that serves dinner. Paying homage to the magic of Disney animation, Animator’s Palate includes a unique dinner show starring some of your favorite Disney characters.

The next night completely turned our dining experience around.  We were introduced to our new server Andriana and assistant server Elvin at Animater’s Palette.  I could tell right away we were going to get great service for the rest of the trip, I just didn’t realize how incredibly awesome it was going to get.  Right away, they brought out gluten free bread which was devoured quickly.  She had our allergies already and was working with Laura to get the best meals out for us quickly.

The meal was great the service was fantastic and the kids were happy…oh, and we enjoyed a little Turtle Talk with Crush.


Turtle Talk with Crush

So third night, where’s dinner?  Wrong!  We skipped Enchanted Garden, because of our Remey Dinner (Covered later).  Since Remey is an adult only dining experience the kids were at the Kids Clubs, however Andriana made their night by having dinner delivered from the kitchen to the club.  This was particularly important since the food that is usually available to the kids is not safe for them.  Thanks to Andriana, Laura and I were able to enjoy our romantic dinner for two without worrying about the kids.

Forth night, back to Royal Court and back with Andriana.  It’s Pirate Night aboard the Fantasy.  A night where the ship is overrun by Pirates in the Caribbean and some of the guests join the Pirate League.


Pirate Laura and Ryan


Pirate Patty


Special Pirate drinks to celebrate the night


Pirate Shawn


Andriana and Laura had worked out a plan for preordering meals.  This is a great solution, because it gives the chefs time to prepare food that makes their guests happy.  Every night at dinner Laura would order Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner for the next day.  Andriana would tell us where she was and insist we find for that that meal.

I’m sure everyone is following the pattern by now, but just in case, it’s the fifth night which means our second trip to Animater’s Palette.  Tonight everyone tries their hand at artistry.  Guests young and old create their own unique character by drawing and coloring on a magical sheet of paper which is collected by your server very quickly.  Be sure to be on time for this mean and don’t doddle while you dabble into doodling.







Enchanted Garden on the Disney Fantasy is a Main Dining restaurant located on Deck 2, Midship that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Inspired by the opulent gardens of Versailles, Enchanted Garden magically transforms from day to night. 


Ok, this is my least favorite dining room on board.  The decor is ok, the color scheme seems a little gloomy, and the transition to night is a bit understated.  The ceiling is lower on deck two, so it feels a little claustrophobic, unless you happen to get a window seat.

If eating at fancy dinners every night is too much and you are thinking about skipping a dining location; EG might be the best to skip.  I strongly recommend asking your server to see the menu the night beforehand, to make sure your not going to miss your favorite dish.  If you do decide to skip a dinner in your rotation, be kind to your server and let them know ahead of time.

For our last dinner, we return to the first dining room, the Royal Court.  This is the last chance you have for your service staff to “wow” you.


Menu for the saddest meal of all


Andriana serving Ryan

 The pastry chef the last night made a special desert to celebrate Laura’s birthday.  Gluten free and Dairy free.

Happy Birthday treat for Laura

Magical Extras

  • Faisal saw our dining experience was a bit disappointing, so he changed our mealtime and server and completely turned our cruise around.
  • Andriana made sure that the Laura and the kids meals were awesome with several special orders and surprises. 
  • Faisal made sure we had at a gluten free snack when we were at port.  He even stopped me in the hallway once to give me a sealed box of gluten free cookies on my way off the ship.
  • Andriana and Faisal wanted to make sure our breakfasts and lunches were successes too.  They told us where they were going to be each meal and insisted we visit them each time.
  • Andriana offered Patty gluten free macaroni and cheese.  Patty loved the original Mac and Cheese disk from previous cruises;  she was so happy that she could have this dish that she started to cry.
  • For the port of call mornings we had to get off the ship before the dining rooms opened to make our excursions.  Faisal and Andriana each transferred our special orders to Cabanas, the casual dining; all you can eat; buffet restaurant.
  • Faisal also let us in on a secret.  They make gluten free pizza at Flo’s Cafe.  Flo’s is a quick food service perfect for that quick bite to eat (chicken tenders , pizza, burgers, fries, etc.). I never would have expected Flo’s to accommodate gluten free pizza requests.  BTW the pizza is awesome.


Castaway Cay – May 2015

No Disney Caribbean cruise is complete without a visit to Disney’s private island – Castaway Cay.  Disney has a 99 year lease from The Bahamas to improve and use this island as a destination for the cruise line. 

Please note although the island has no permanent residents (there is a small cadre of people who remain on the island for several months at a time to maintain the island), it is part of the Bahamas and therefore you are visiting another country.  Identification is required, but your Key to the Wortis all you need.  Also realize that there is a country imposed tax on the island, so things are a bit more expensive on Castaway Cay then on the ship.

View of Castaway Cay from the ship

I love this port of call.  It is by far the most relaxing stop.  There are no natives trying to braid your hair or sell you illicit drugs.  Just a piece of paradise exclusively for cruisers to enjoy.

Welcome to Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay Family Beach

Castaway Cay has 3 beach areas:  one for families, one for teens, and one for adults.  Ever since the kids came along we’ve just stayed in the family beach, but there was a time when we used to enjoy the adult beach.  The beaches offer serenity with their yellow sand and turquoise water.

Castaway Cay’s Pelican Reef Water Slides

Castaway cay has a floating platform with 2 water slides.  One has an open top giving the rider a fun twist and turn ride to the sea below, while the other is enclosed with a pretty fast pace to the bottom.  It’s best if the participants are good swimmers.  The platform requires a bit of swimming to get to and from the shore.  The lines get pretty long as the day goes by, so you might want to go early to avoid the wait.

Swimmers at Castaway Cay


Head’s Up Bar

In the middle of the family beach area is the Heads Up Bar.  It tends to have few patrons because it’s off the beaten path, but it has great views of the lagoon.


Tables at Heads Up Bar


View of the Beach

Can you spot the fake palm tree in the picture above?  It’s designed to hide the cell tower that provides service to the wave phones (the ships phone service) which extends to the island when the ship is in port.  Also, all of the bars and services on the island are tied into the ship’s system so that you can charge all your purchases back to the ship.  Castaway cay is truly an extension of the ship. 

Whichever way you pick will lead you to paradise


Obsticle Platform

Another platform available for kids to play on when the tide is in.

Laura and Patty enjoying the water

Ryan enjoying the beach

Our spot on the island is a location with a couple of hammocks in the shade.  When we are allowed off the ship after docking, my job is to race to this location and secure this spot. Castaway Cay could have a few more hammocks for its guests, but so far it hasn’t been a problem for us.

Patty in the hammock


Laura and I enjoying the day


A collection of photos for your enjoyment. 

Fantasy at Castaway Cay


Panorama view of Castaway Cay


Some of the rocks that make the reef


Plant life on Castaway Cay


Tram way for the Trams carrying people around the island


One of Many Palm Trees at Castaway Cay


another view of the Fantasy from Castaway Cay


Dock for some sea excursions


Hidden Mickey


Cannon on Castaway Cay (in case of Pirates)


Castaway Cay emblem at Post Office


You can send post cards from the island with a special Castaway Cay, The Bahamas Postmark.  Just remember to take cash, the post office is not tied to the ship.  You will most likely be back from your vacation before your mail arrives, but it’s still a cool unique place to receive mail from.

CC Post office – Cash Only


Random building on Castaway Cay


Disney definitely knows how to give its guests the “kiss goodbye” and Castaway Cay is definitely the cruise line’s way of saying thank you to their guests.

See Ya Real Soon – Island Style

Behind the Scenes Tour – Fantasy Galley

Laura and I decided to spent part of our last day at sea on a behind the scenes tour of the Fantasy galley.  Our tour took us to the kitchen area between The Royal Court and Animater’s Palette.


As you can see, everything, except the floor is stainless steel and is kept immaculate.  It was a short tour (I was hoping to see the food storage and refrigerator areas), but informative.  

St.  Thomas, USVI – May 2015

Our second port destination was St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.  Another beautiful port.


St. Thomas from the ship


Fantasy docked at St. Thomas


Today’s adventure was a Pirate ship/snorkeling adventure.


Pirate ship for our adventure


First stop turtle cove.  There were a ton of turtles swimming in this area.


Our second stop was Honeymoon Beach.  Here we enjoyed lunch and sometime on the beach before heading back to the ship.

On the way back, the captain let Ryan take the wheel for a while.  He did a great job keeping us on course.

Then Patty had a turn.


Patty taking us back to port

Everyone had a great time on this trip.  The captain and crew were pleasant and had a lot of fun with us.

Other pictures in port



St. Maarten, May 26, 2015

After two days at sea, the Fantasy arrived at St. Maarten, which is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.  This beautiful island nation  encompasses the southern 40% of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, while the northern 60% of the island constitutes the French part.

Fantasy approaches St. Maarten



For our port adventure we chose a catamaran/snorkel adventure. 


Laura on the deck of the catamaran


Patty ready for her snorkle adventure


Ryan watching the sea go by


crystal blue waters and golden beach of the snorkle adveture


Patty and I on the catamaran

The snorkeling was fun, with several different  fish to see.  Next time I plan to have a water proof camera.  The beach was also a great spot to lay out and build sandcastles.  The crew were nice.  Overall, a good excursion.

 Fantasy pictures 

Fantasy in port at St. Maarten


Fantasy in port at St. Maarten

After our port adventure we headed back to the ship.  There was enough time, however, if we wanted to shop a little before the ship left, but we were tired and wanted to go back.

We had a great time in St. Maarten and would like to return some day.

Fantasy Cabin 10600

Our new home away from home.

Fantasy 10600


View into the cabin from hallway


Closet Space


Cabin View


Water Glasses


Towel Creatures magically show up each night


Veranda door – kids think they are punishing me by locking out there


Ocean view from veranda


Patty watching as we apporach St. Maarten


Ryan doing kid yoga


desk area of the cabin


view of the cabin towards the door

Door Decorations

Decorating our cabin door is a tradition that goes back to our first cruise.  Magnets are great ways to let other passengers know a little something about you and it helps find your room easier and it’s a fun task for the kids.

Our magnets are family creations made especially for our cruises by my Aunt Kathy.


Our newest additions for this cruise were my creations.  I learned a lot about Photoshop creating these gems.


Patty’s Magnet – Let it Go!


Laura’s Once Upon a Time Magnet


Shawn’s Tomorrowland Magnet


Ryan’s Big Hero 6 Magnet


Castaway Club Reception 

For Gold (over 5 Disney cruises) and Platinum (over 10 Disney cruises) members; the Disney Cruiseline hosts a special reception for their returning guests.
This is a great opportunity to meet the Captain and Senior Officers of the ship, Captain Mickey, and hear about future cruise itineraries.

Exclusive picture with Captain Mickey


Ryan at the Castaway Club Reception

Complimentary Drinks

Merchandise Discounts 

In addition to the reception, Gold and Platinum members enjoy a 10% discount on merchandise on board the ship and Castaway Cay.

Disney Fantasy Welcome Aboard – May 2015

 Welcome Aboard.

“Disney Cruiseline Welcomes Aboard the Murphy Family.”  One of the most awesome things you will hear .  DCL makes a real production welcoming families on board for the first time.

Concept Art of The Beast’s Castle in the Fantasy Atrium

Mademoiselle Minnie the Fantasy’s atrium staute

Art Nouveau-inspired chandelier on the Fantasy

Fantasy Artrium Starboard view

Fantasy Atrium Port Side

 After boarding, head up to the top decks for lunch and activities.  The rest of the ship is scrambling to complete the turnover from the previous cruise, so your stateroom won’t be ready until early afternoon, the stores, restaurants, and bars below are getting show ready.

Many wait until they are on board to deal with scheduling shore excursions,spa treatments, registering kids for the kids clubs.  If you have to do these things, you haven’t been reading these posts.  If you do have to deal with these things consider waiting until after you set sail.

So relax, enjoy the fresh air, pool, Funnel Vision and start telling yourself your vacation has begun.


After the mandatory life boat drill at 4, it’s time to go to the Sail Away Party.  The Fantasy sets sail just before 5, so head to the top decks to say goodbye to your daily cares and goodbye to Port Canaveral.

Fantasy Sail Away Party – May 23, 2015

Port Canaveral Webcam

Of course if you want to be completely geeky you can watch yourself leave on your smartphone.  Yes, we did that.