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The Magic of a Disney Cruise

Sophia had been begging for months – ‘Mom, Dad – we NEED to go on a Disney Cruise, I really want to ride the Aquaduck!!’  We enjoyed teasing her for a few months, telling her ‘No way can we do that this year!’  But on Christmas morning, Santa left a big surprise under our tree:  tickets to a cruise on the Disney Magic to kick off January 2015!

Scott and I wondered… what makes a Disney Cruise so special?  If you cruise, you’ve noticed their price per person exceeds that of other mass market and even premium cruise lines.  How do they justify the higher price tag when there are so many fun ships at sea?  Well, duh, its because you are traveling with Disney.

The Magic begins when you approach port and see ‘the gang’ hanging off the bow of the ship in a comical painting display.  Even before that, Disney has contacted all guests to find out when they plan to arrive – this allows them to manage the flow of arriving guests very efficiently, from dropping bags with the valets outside, to quickly registering for the room ‘Keys to the World’ (or wallet we joked!).  The Disney terminal at Port Canaveral is thoroughly Disney-fied, with airy open spaces and lots of smiling crew members.  As you approach the gangway, you walk through an artistic rendering of Mickey’s head.

Each family is welcomed as they step on board:  “Welcome the Ortiz Family!” and enter the Promenade deck.  The lobby décor is tasteful, with deep blues and gold, and plenty of characters mingling with the guests.

The Magic sails from port with a kick-off party, and Disney Style means there is character singing and dancing, as well as smiling cast members inviting the kids to join in the fun.

Scott and the girls actually skipped the Bon Voyage party to head up to the Aquaduck – not surprisingly, they found some of the shortest lines our whole sailing!

  • Cool tip: another time when lines are short is after dinner! Night time sliding is a great way to go.

Throughout the ship special Disney touches abound – the ship’s horn plays ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’, the elevator display is a cruise ship with Mickey’s hand pointing to the floors, throughout the ship hangs Disney Artwork, much of it interactive, and of course, the cabins are especially Disney magical.

We booked a family cabin with a Verandah.  The bathroom configuration is perfect for families, a separate shower and commode so more than one family member can be using the bathroom at once.  The décor is tasteful and the master bed very comfortable.  At night, a bunk bed opened from the ceiling, with Tinkerbell and the Darling children above in a starry sky.  Our steward left us 7 Dwarfs chocolates each night, with decorative animal arrangements with towels and pillows.

If you’ve considered a Disney Cruise, you know about their private island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay.  This is definitely a highlight of the trip.  The ship pulls right up to the Cay’s boardwalk, and guest can walk or shuttle to a selection of beach areas, shops, and bars.  There is a private beach for adults only, a family friendly beach complete with water slides, a snorkel beach with an underwater shipwreck, and the ‘teen only’ beach area, for the tweens and teens to be ‘chill’.  A bar-b-q themed lunch is served on the island, so no need to head back to the ship to eat.

And eat we did plenty!  Once again it’s the special Disney touches that immerse you in the magic.  Even the poolside grills are Disney-fied – with Mater’s Grill and Luigi’s pizzeria.  The evening sit down dining offers a variety of choices, all very family friendly.  Very – so take note, if you would like to dine without everyone else’s kids, take advantage of the adults only venues:  Palo and Remy. The food and ambiance will be more upscale, small up charge applies.

We first dined at the Royal Palace, French inspired cuisine (I tried the lamb) with the staff dressed for a Royal table.  Next, it was Animator’s Palate – the most kid friendly of the 3.  Parents if you are going to take an evening to dine with the adults, this is a good one to do it!  Animator’s is amazing and vibrant, but the acoustics are not great and its very loud.  Food is contemporary, I had a filet! Our final night we ended up at our favorite venue, the Enchanted Garden.  As you enter, the ‘windows’ display a morning sunrise, by the time you’ve had dessert, a dusky skyline appears.

Quick note on the food – even though Disney Cruise Line borders mass market and premium, the food is ‘mass market’.  We gave it a ‘B’.  For Foodies, take the time to visit Palo or Remy so you can get your gourmet on too.

In addition to character meet and greets and events like the Pirate Party with Fireworks, Disney runs current movies in the Walt Disney Theatre, complete with popcorn and drinks.  In Scott’s opinion:

“Being able to end a fun day by catching a free current movie with my daughters was a huge bonus!  Sophia and I stayed up late to watch Big Hero 6 and it was definitely a highlight of my trip.”

There are nightly Broadway style shows with characters and special effects, and an invitation to an Officer’s Pin Trading Party. Our girls are avid Disney pin collectors, and being able to go to a party and trade with the ship’s officers was super cool!

And adults traveling without kids?  No worries, Disney has you covered.  The adults only pool is ‘pretty quiet’ – kids walked through occasionally, but it is a low key place to sun and swim.  There is also an entire section of the ship designated as 18+ after 9PM.  It has a disco, karaoke, a sports bar with comp happy hour snacks, an elegant nightclub the Skyline, so you’ll forget the kids are on board.  And want to really hideaway?  We found room service quick, efficient, delicious.

Ok, last tip.

  • Cool Tip:  if you enjoy sleeping in like we do, order some snacks from room service the night before departure.  Or designate someone to hit the buffet and bring up rolls and coffee.  Last breakfast seating is at 8:00 AM and you WILL be ushered off the boat by 9:00 AM – we had a lovely female officer come knock on our door to ‘assist us’ to the lobby!

Sailing on the Disney Magic really was a very special vacation for all four of us, and we hope to join those characters again soon.

  • Taking in the sites with a friendly guide by carriage ride in the Bahamas!

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