Get ready to be WOWed by Disney Cruise Line’s (DCL) Magic. The magic begins the moment you step aboard. Follow us and see for yourself all the ship has to offer.
The Magic has been in service since 1998 and was last renovated in October 2013.
The Disney Cruise Line terminal is your first experience of what it is truly going to be like for the next seven days. Things are well managed and organized, people are friendly and accomodating and overall there is that general sense of smoothness in the entire operation.
We went through the process of checking in, getting our pictures taken and receiving our key cards. We were given a board group number and told the wait would be about 20 minutes. We wandered over to where we saw Mickey taking photos with people. It was only a short wait (far different than the wait times at the Disney parks).
Afterwards we spent a few minutes checking out the giant model of the Disney ship at which point we heard our boarding number announced. Of course, in Disney fashion the entrance to the gangway to the ship is shaped like Mickey ears. Making our way through this line only served to build the anticipation.
As we were about to board the ship, we hit a bit of a jam where photos were being taken. Fortunately, you can bypass this and get on board about 10 minutes faster than waiting to have your picture taken.
TIP: If you don't plan on purchasing photos, you can skip the picture at embarkation to board quicker.
We finally turned the corner to be greeted by the sweeping imagery of the ship’s atrium. Upon reaching the threshold to enter, a crew member asks what your family’s name is and they then proceed to announce it and clap as you walk in.
It feels embarassing for a quick second but then you realize you are being greeted like royalty and it’s meant to be fun and you should enjoy it. We made sure to grab a couple pictures of the girls with the Captain Mickey statue which was good because it got too crowded to do so later.
I headed in to the Lumiere dining room, which sits just off the atrium, since I was looking to try and change our dining time. I met with nice gentleman and explained we had two little ones who would have a tough time making it through an 8pm dinner. He took my info and said we would hear back later that day.
TIP: If you need to change your dining preference, do it right away after boarding at Lumiere’s. Grab a Navigator to find the exact time and location for your sail. They make a wait list so you want to be as high up on that as possible.
The stateroom was nicely appointed, and the fact that there were no drinks for sale in the mini-fridge. This is a pet peeve of mine but I can’t stand how cruise ship fridges are packed with drinks you can’t remove, leaving little room for your own items you want to keep cool.
The interior room is surprisingly spacious. There is a queen-size bed (or two twin beds), a single convertible sofa, pullman bed (pulls open from the ceiling but we didn’t use it), privacy divider, and a full bath. The layout worked well for our family of four because when the kids went to bed at night, the privacy divider between the bed and sofa/TV area kept the bed side dark while my husband and I caught up on TV shows (I’ll discuss more about the our TV setup later).
The Magic’s bathroom is bigger than other ships and it has a tub! No more flooding the bathroom floors after a shower with the little ones. Families with young children should definitely appreciate this extra touch.
The toiletries are great by the way, not cheap by any means. In the bathroom, you will find fantastic bath and hand soaps, shampoo, and conditioner.
Your daily schedule is called the Navigator on Disney Cruise Line. It will be on your bed every night after turn-down service. Read it and make your plans for tomorrow the night before, because there’s a lot to do for all ages.
Keep in touch with your family & friends who are on board with you via call and text with Disney’s signature “wave phone”. Just know that it works onboard only and at Disney’s Castaway Cay. You can call staterooms or shipboard services and also receive calls or text from other wave phones. These are great when you have kids in any of the youth clubs.
There are Disney-themed parties everywhere and everyday.
All the live shows were in the Walt Disney Theater. They are Broadway-style production shows and offer stadium seating. Disney really did it right with the scheduling because if you have early dining, it is always dinner and then off to the show. So regardless of your seating times, you will never go to a show hungry. We had early dining and not once felt rushed to make the show on time. All shows cater to all ages and our kids, who were 2 and 3 at the time, joined us every night. If you cannot make the show, check your stateroom TV guide for viewing in your stateroom.
The Buena Vista Theatre is where all first-run films are shown. During our cruise, the new release was Strange Magic. As in traditional movie theaters, the first viewing was at 12:01am on the day of release. Don’t worry if you miss it because depending on the release day and duration of your cruise, they will show it again. Check the Navigator.
On deck 5, the smaller theater is the Buena Vista theater where they show other Disney movies. We did not spend too much time here but we did catch Big Hero 6 in 3D; very comfortable seating. However, do not expect free popcorn and soda. Popcorn and soda is for sale only.
One other thing to note, Disney movies are always playing on the 24-by-14 foot LED screen called the Funnel Vision. There were several occasions where I wanted the kids to wind down so we grabbed some snacks and drinks from one of the three outdoor quick-service restaurants (located near the pools) and the kids watched a movie pool side while I got a nice relaxing view of the ocean.
If that’s not enough, let’s give a nice shout out to the AquaDunk. This is Disney Magic’s thrill slide. You get to drop 40 vertical feet from the ship’s funnel with an amazing view of the ocean below because of the translucent tube that slides out 20 feet out over the side of the ship. Whew!
The little ones are not forgotten. Parents with children who are not potty trained and wearing swim diapers can play in the Splash Zone only. Do not attempt to sneak your kids in the regular pool. This rule is enforced by Disney’s crew
For the older kids who are potty trained. Check out Aqua Lab or Goofy’s Pool. Aqua Lab is great with spill buckets and a pool about 2 feet deep. Also, complimentary pool vests are available at the pool decks.
Always have your camera ready because you will see the Disney characters everywhere. The more popular ones, like Frozen’s Anna and Elsa are scheduled and you’ll need to pick up ticket(s) at Guest Services. On our first day of the cruise, on the way back to our room we caught a bit of one of the first official character meet and greets in the atrium. Minnie Mouse was heading off but Goofy had just arrived for pictures and, well, goofing. If you have young children, or children of any age or you’re just young at heart, these character meetings are one of the highlights of the cruise. The waits are rarely more than 5-10 minutes and the interactions are fun and laid-back.
Get ready for rotational dining! This means you will rotate to each of the ship’s main restaurants at least once during your cruise. And the best part – your dining staff rotates with you! And let me tell you, they are pretty amazing.
Our first dining room experience was in Animator’s Palate. We’d read online how great of an experience this restaurant is but reading is one thing, experiencing it is another. Our first pleasant surprise was the fact that our table not only had two kid’s water cups ready but the lids also had their names on them. They had great coloring pages to go to work on too.
Like all cruises, you’ll never go hungry. For poolside eateries, you have three choices: Daisy’s De Lites serves breakfast and lunch; Pinocchio’s Pizzeria serves pizza during lunch and late-night hours; and Pete’s Boilers Bites serves hamburgers, chicken tenders, French fries, and hot dogs for lunch and dinner.
On Embarkment day, don’t miss the open house hours at any of the youth clubs your kid may attend. The open house times, of which there are several during the cruise, are the only times parents can accompany children in to the club. Our kids are under 10 and under three at the time so we got up close and personal with The Oceaneer Club and It’s a Small World nursery. I should mention the Oceaneer Lab felt like it’s built for the older kids, over 6 and our older daughter who was three at the time had no interest. But it’s pretty cool that the Oceaneer Club and the Oceaneer Lab is seperated by an interior hallway where kids can cross anytime. The space created in both areas is absolutely stunning.
Right down the hall from the Oceaneer’s Club is the “It’s a Small World” Nursery. Since our youngest, Ellie, was still only two, that is where we would need to be dropping her off, as well as paying the hourly rate of $9/hour. Additional children in your family is $8/hour. Reservations are required and there is also a cancellation policy.
This is a nice enough space, with basic toys and things to do as well as cribs if you’ll be leaving your child there to snooze. It’s not as elaborate as the Oceaneer section for older kids, but it is safe and well staffed. We dropped off our daughter in a few two hour intervals, and she seemed to enjoy her time there. However, had we left her in the nursery for more than those two hours, I imagine she would have gotten bored. Because our two year old was on the older age group spectrum, toddler slides and large foam blocks was just not enough to keep her for busy for a short period of time.
The Oceaneer Club and the Oceaneer Lab offer various programs and activities for children aged three to ten. Every time we dropped off our three year old, it was always very well staffed. During registration, each child is given a wristband similar to the Disney Park magic band. This band is basically their ID with its associated on-board information (say goodbye to the standard colored plastic munster station bands). When checking in and out, the child will tap their band to a scanner at the club’s entrance. This pulls up their information on the computer for the crew members and enables the tracking system. Yes, once your child checks in, your child(ren) can be locate anywhere in the club. Cool!
Another great thing with the Oceaneer Club is that the kids are required to wash their hands with jet sprays before they enter the play area.
We did not enter the other youth clubs but they have The Edge which offers tweens (11 to 14 years old) an activity space where they can watch movies, play games, or just hang out.
The Vibe is a teens only club. Cruisers of this age group can chill out, listen to music, watch TV, or play games. At Cabana (buffet area) we always saw kids from the Vibe hanging out together.
Disney’s Private Island
Castaway Cay is the best private island offered by any cruise ship.
When you get off the boat it is an easy to walk to the beaches but you can opt for the free tram if you have lots of bags or little ones. The island has stunning clear waters and white sands. Loungers and umbrellas were plentiful and the beaches were not overly crowded. There is so much to do, sunbathing, waterslides, bike trails, two water play areas, parasailing, fishing and more. You’ll find life guards watching over all water activities. If you get great weather, relax by the beach or bike around the whole island. Bike and water equipment can be rented. The island is very kids friendly and if you plan to drop off your kids, there’s a youth club check-in on the island. Be sure your kids have their wrist bands on.
- Mickey Ice Cream Bars. You can order these delicious bars from your stateroom. You will not see it on the menu. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s true. This is not just a dining room treat. Enjoy!
- Pack some laundry detergent pods or other trial size boxed detergent because you can do your laundry. The cost of the washers & dryers is $2.00 per load and you charge it to your cruise card.
If you forget your detergent (or softener), it’s available for purchase from a machine for $1.00.
Don’t forget to use your laundry bag from your stateroom.
- Have some $1 or $5 bills handy. The baggage porters work hard. Be sure you have each piece of luggage tagged or have the porters tag your luggage. You’ll need to know your assigned stateroom number.
- You get 50MB for free of data for one day, it’s not much and it will go quick. It expires the following morning so hurry up and post whatever you want to Facebook.
- Adults in your party is allowed a carry-on two bottles of unopened wine or champagne (max of 750 milliliters each) or six beers (max of 12 ounces each) at the beginning of the trip and at each port-of-call.
- If you’re driving, park at the nearby Country Inn & Suites for $7.40 day (tax included). This includes free shuttle for your entire party to/from Port Canaveral cruise terminal.
- Use a travel agent to book your cruise to get the lowest price AND get an additional on board credit.
Destination: 7-night Western Caribbean Travel Date: February 2014 Stateroom: Interior
Overall rating: 5 Kid Friendly Rating: 5