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You want these pirates on your ship

  • fireworks at sea 1 (supplied by Disney Cruise Line) - Disney Cruise Line is the only one to do fireworks at sea. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • Captain Jack Sparrow (supplied by Disney Cruise Line) - Actor Johnny Depp as pirate Captain Jack Sparrow. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • Disney Fantasy at Castaway Cay - The 130,000 ton, 1,115-foot long, 14 deck high Disney Fantasy docked at Disney's private island in the Bahamas - Castaway Cay. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • Cabana Beach - Grace MacNaull, 9, has Cabana Beach to herself for a while at Castaway Cay. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • cycling at Castaway Cay - Cycling was one of our favourite activities at Castaway Cay. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • AquaDuck from above (supplied by Disney Cruise Line) - Disney Cruise Line has the only watercoasters on a cruise ship. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • Grace in AquaDuck - Grace MacNaull, 9, rode the AquaDuck over and over again. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • AquaDuck - The AquaDuck watercoaster rings the Disney Fantasy cruise ship above deck 12. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • sail away party - Decks 11 and 12 are party central and the site of the sail away celebration. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • Pelican Plunge - The Pelican Plunge waterslide complex at Castaway Cay. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • stateroom - Grace MacNaull, 9, celebrates scoring a deluxe oceanview cabin with oversized balcony on the Disney Fantasy. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
  • fireworks at sea 2 - Disney Cruise Line is the only one to set off fireworks at sea. (Photo by Steve MacNaull)
by Steve MacNaull
From Family Travel
April 2, 2012

All of sudden Jack Sparrow drops from the sky.
He battles an endless onslaught of sword-welding pirates with comic schtick and then sets off a dazzling series of fireworks over the ocean.
No, this is not the next installment in the wildly-successful Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise by Disney (although it could be).
It's the Pirates in the Caribbean Party and Buccaneer Blast Fireworks show on the second night of our cruise aboard the new Disney Fantasy ship.
Jack Sparrow, the hapless pirate made famous by actor Johnny Depp on film, is in this case played by a Disney cast member and his impressive plunge from the top of the smokestack to deck 11 comes with the help of trapeeze wire a la Cirque de Soleil.
The company jumped through a lot of hoops, cleared a bunch of safety hurdles and spends a heap of money to be the only cruise line to have pyrotechnic extravaganzas at sea.
But then again we don't expect anything less of Disney.
After all, it's a masterful entertainment conglomerate that seamlessly spans the movie, TV, theme park, travel, hotel and cruising worlds.
The 1,250 cabin, 4,000-passenger, 14 deck Disney Fantasy is the latest crown in the empire.
It's plying the waters of the Caribbean on seven day sailings round trip from Port Canaveral, Florida, which is close to Disney World in Orlando for pre and post cruise play.
The pirate party and fireworks is by no means the first and only time my wife and I and our nine-year-old daughter are awed on the cruise.
Castaway Cay, Disney's private island in the Bahamas, has ended up being the cruise line's most popular port of call in the world.
“It's the kid factor,” Disney Parks & Resorts chairman Tom Staggs tells me when I bump into him on the Fantasy's inaugural cruise.
“Ask a kid if they'd rather stop in Barcelona (which Disney ships do on their Mediterranean itineraries) or Castaway Cay and I know what the answer will be.”
On Castaway we cycle the island's interior mangroves, swim and sun at the beach, snorkel, ride the waterslides, eat and drink at Cookie's Barbecue and browse the Bahamian gift shops.
Back on the ship my daughter and I repeatedly ride the AquaDuck, the only watercoaster at sea.
It's big on thrills, and views, because its see-through flume juts out from the ship at deck 14 before rollicking down to ring suspended above deck 11.
Disney's hit the perfect family cruising balance.
You want to spend time with your kids at the shows, by the pools, on the AquaDuck, at the ports of call and in the family restaurants.
Our favourite turned out to be Animator's Palate where characters you draw on  your placemat are quickly animated with the magic of Disney (and ultra-powerful software) and integrated into cartoons with Mickey Mouse that are shown on the restaurant's big screens as you finish your meal.
When it comes to adult time there's no shortage of 18-plus cafes, restaurants, pools and nightclubs.
And the kids should be happy to go to the kids' clubs, which are divided in three—It's a Small World for infants and toddlers, Oceaneers for ages 4 to 12 and Vive for teens.
Our daughter, who often rolls her eyes at kids' clubs as lame, loved the Disney version for its kickin' video games, interactive tables and floors, magic shows, cooking classes and, of course, Disney movies.
She lounged in a beanbag at the club and watched Princess and the Frog while my wife and I dined top deck in the elegant French-inspired Remy, considered the finest restaurant on the high seas.



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Steve MacNaull icon

Steve MacNaull

Steve MacNaull is a business reporter at the Kelowna Daily Courier, but loves to travel and write about that too.

Located: Kelowna Canada
Likes: sun destinations, Europe, exotic, adventure, wine and food

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