Monday, 16 December 2013

A Room Fit For a King

USA Trip 2013: Blog Post #10

"Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts". - Oliver Wendell Holmes 

I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing by blogging about our stateroom.  Short of staying in a suite, I feel like I discovered the best room on the ship and I’m not sure I want anyone else to know about it.   However, in all fairness, having learnt so many great tips from the online world, it’s probably only right to share one of my own:  Cabin 5520 is awesome! 

This stateroom is classified as category ‘8a’ which means it has a window but not a balcony. 
On the Fantasy, the price gradient from inside cabin to balcony cabin is not that steep.  This is because all categories of cabin are quite desirable.  The inside staterooms have cleverly designed magic portholes, while the outside cabins have beautiful big circular windows which are ideal for sitting in and watching the world pass by. 

Look at the size of that porthole!  And this room had two!
For less than $100 more we could have upgraded to a balcony.  There was a time during my planning I wondered if I was a fool not to pay for this upgrade. But I had done my research and knew my room was unique, and in the end I decided to put a note on our reservation that we weren’t interested in an ‘upgrade’ even if it was free.  Having stayed in the room now, I know that we made the right choice.  Even access to fresh air wouldn’t have been better than all that extra space.

Small bathtub.
It’s no secret that most cruise ship cabins are the size of a glorified cupboard.  With barely enough room to swing a cat, they are designed mainly as a place to sleep.  To some extent Disney has revolutionised the mainstream cruising industry with some of the largest staterooms around.  They’ve noted that families need a bit more room to move about, and that is what they have provided.  Most of their cabins even have a split bathroom with a toilet in one room and a tub/shower combo in the other.  (The fact that their standard rooms actually have a bath tub and not just a shower, is pretty unique in itself). 

Most cabins are the same rectangular shape that is advertised on the Disney website.  But as with most cruise ships there are a few irregular shaped cabins that require research, and some careful studying of the deck plans, to find more information on. 

4 such cabins are 5520, 5522, 5020 and 5022.  On online forums these cabins have been labeled the ‘8a mini-suites’, because of their abundance of space.   

The square-shaped cabins are partially divided into two sections by an interior wall.  On one side of the wall is a comfortable queen-sized bed and a wall-mounted television.  On the other side of the wall is a desk, sleeper sofa, and yet another t.v.   There is plenty of storage throughout the room, tons of floor space, and a small (non-split) bathroom with a short rectangular tub.  (The bathtub was wide enough for me to sit in, but not long enough to lie in). 

On both sides of the dividing wall was a large porthole window.  Having two windows meant that the whole room was nice and bright throughout the day. 

The dividing wall is the one with the television on it.   Just featuring in the right of the photo is the door for people who also book the connecting room 5522.  For a large family in could work out cheaper to book these two connecting rooms than one family sized balcony.  All that space would be amazing.
Oskar's side of the room.  The back of the sofa flips forward to create a single bed.  
Heaps of storage.  Also note the width of all the unused floor space.
I was worried that it’s position near the teen club and above the theatre might make the room a bit noisy, but we heard nothing.  You do feel a bit more movement at the front end of the ship, but I’d
rather this than the engine vibrations I could feel every time I was near the aft. 

The view that greeted me from the bed each
This is where I get pedantic and come across as a bit of an obsessive researcher; of the 4 rooms I mentioned above, I believe that 5520 is the best.  5520 and 5020 have a slightly different furniture arrangement to the other two.  Their desks are bigger, and the sofa is positioned in a way that provides a bit more privacy between the two areas of the room.   The only difference between 5520 and 5020 is the side of the ship in which they are positioned.  From 5520 we were able to enjoy a beautiful view of Castaway Cay as we backed into wharf.  We were also on the side of the ship where the fireworks were fired off.  Obviously we didn’t see the show as well as we would have had we been up on deck, but we were so exhausted after such a long exciting day, that watching the blasts from the quiet calm of our room was all we had the energy for. 

Because the combined occupancy rate of these four rooms is 12 (each room takes a maximum of 3 people) while the maximum occupancy of the ship is 4000, it does not take a rocket scientist to work out that the odds of getting one of these rooms is going to be quite low.  From memory I had my pick of two of these rooms when I booked 14 months out.  I think that a year or less until your cruise and you would pretty much be out of luck.   If and when I cruise on the Disney Fantasy again, I will be making my plans early and trying to get this room again.

It's the small touches that made all the difference.  Towel animals and chocolates on our bed every night.
Bathroom - small yet functional
Nice nautical touches


  1. We have 5520 on the Fantasy booked for our first ever Disney Cruise. Thanks for the review! I can't wait!

  2. I have 5018, 5020, and 5022 (we are a large family plus my mother in law) booked for next week! I booked these gems the day the cruise schedules were released! I am beyond excited

  3. I've got 5020 booked on the Dream in a few weeks. Thanks for this review, it's made me more excited!

  4. I have this cabin booked on the Dream for early 2017. I so appreciate your pictures as it was hard to nail down which layout exactly that the cabin had, and your pictures assured me that this is exactly what I wanted. Thanks again for your review.