My family and I cruised on the Disney Magic February 4 to 11 on the Eastern Caribbean cruise. Our total number was 10. We included my wife, our 18-year-old son, our 4-year-old daughter, and me. My sister in law and her family accompanied us. They included my sister in law, her husband, a 17-year-old son, a 13-year-old son, an 11-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old daughter. As you can see, many age groups were represented. This is the second cruise I have taken, the first being 20 years before.
Before going further, I want to point out that literally everything is garishly decorated Disney style. Disney music plays constantly, Disney ice cream bars are served; everything has the Disney theme throughout. I adore Disney. I love Disney. For me and mine, the decorations are half the fun. If you do not feel as strongly about the Disney theme as I do, this may get on your nerves.
We arrived at the airport about 9 am. We immediately took the Disney bus to the port. The bus is equipped with TVs along the isle that played a Disney movie to entertain the little ones, and there are many little ones. The bus ride was comfortable and not too very long.
At the port we entered a very large waiting area. Considering the number of people the ship holds, there could have been more seating; much of the hall was just large open area. The lines for check in went extremely fast, in my opinion. About an hour or so before boarding, several Disney characters entered the hall to entertain the kids, big and little, and for photo ops.
As we boarded the ship, we traveled down a hallway and were given an opportunity to have a professional photo taken (one of many, many, many, probably the same on every cruise). When we boarded the ship we were greeted by many of the crew and officers. We were directed to the dining area for a buffet type lunch, nothing special but very palatable. There was a bon voyage party thrown on the deck as we pulled out of the harbor.
Our cabins, we had two connecting cabins between the 10 of us (I’ll get more room next time), seemed spacious enough to me. We had the two older boys with us as well as my daughter. We were in stateroom category 4, with a balcony. The balcony wasn’t huge but very adequate to sit on and read a book or have breakfast.
From what I have read, the dining is unique in that there are three dining rooms and all guests rotate through them during the cruise. The dining rooms are beautifully decorated in (what else) Disney themes. Your wait staff accompanies you on your tour through the different dining experiences. I found most of the food very good, maybe not five star cuisines, but well prepared, presented and tasty. There were several choices at each seating and the meals were themed to the dining rooms. Also, the kids had no problem choosing something to eat on each menu.
The entertainment was excellent, very family oriented and entertaining for young and old. There were full-blown stage performances, comedy acts, and musicians in the lounges and a pirate themed party on the deck one evening including fireworks. There were also many other events taking place, I assume standard faire on cruises, bingo, drink mixology, an art auction etc, etc.
The ports we visited were enjoyable. Being a US Navy Vet, I have had the opportunity to do extensive travel, so I won’t comment too much here. Disney obviously steers its passengers towards family type land tours, which are my preference. I believe we could have gotten away much cheaper and probably with more activities if we went off on our own. My family’s absolute favorite was the private island Disney owns/rents/borrows. They have very nearly created a new theme park on this small island. There are all the standard water sports, beach time, buildings for shopping, and a huge catered beach party. It was a blast! We had reserved seats on the banana boat ride for our son and his older cousin, but they were “too cool” to be seen doing such petty events, so my wife and I went instead. Do not miss this! There is a very large family beach, an adult beach and a teenager beach, so the ‘too cool’ don’t have to hang out with Dad and Mom. There is also a kids (smaller children) area that has counselors and activities geared for the 7 and younger crowd while you go snorkel diving (also very worthwhile) and banana boat riding.
Disney has set up a very good series of programs for children. The areas are segregated into little ones (about 7 down) mid-aged kids (8 to 13) and teenagers (14 to 17). Each of the groups has their own areas to hang out, socialize and have a good time. There are trained people guiding activities for all the kids. The younger children can only enter or leave with a prearranged guardian. I could not pry my daughter out of the play area with a crow bar.
The disembarkation was smooth and painless (there were some tears, mostly mine).
The staff was the most gracious, friendliest, helpful and attendant people I have ever had service from. They work hard and deserve the tips we all should be giving them. My entire family agrees that the vacation was the best we have ever had. I personally found the price a bit higher than some other cruise lines but there is only one Disney. We want to try a different cruise line, we booked on the Freedom recently, but I will definitely travel on the Magic again. Anyone with children will find the Disney cruise line a great vacation.