I’ve been slacking on writing this series of posts because writing about an experience is often not as exciting as actually having the experience, but I put quite a bit of effort into doing the prep work for the writing so I’m going to follow through.
In this series of posts, I want to share our recent experience on the Disney Magic; we went on a 7-night Western Caribbean, itinerary B cruise during Spring Break in March. This will not be a review in the traditional sense, I am just going to describe the ship and maybe inject a bit of my own opinion into it. Just to be clear, I am in no way affiliated with Disney Cruise Lines, this was a self-financed vacation, and I make no money at all from anything on this series of posts. I just want anyone who is interested in booking a vacation on the Disney Magic to be able to see what the ship looks like, and have a better idea of what it is like than what can be found on the Disney Cruise Lines site. Less corporate, more personal.
Let’s start with a not so great thing: parking at the terminal is $120 and scarce. We arrived at the terminal at 2pm or so and the only parking garage was already full. We were lucky to find one spot on the roof of the garage. Not ideal, but at least we parked.
I have been on many cruises and on different cruise lines, and out of all of them, Disney Cruise Lines (DCL) has had the easiest, quickest, check in. That is actually an understatement, it was a breeze. Curbside luggage check in is on the terminal side of the road, just before the parking garage. If you miss that (we did), do no worry, there is another option. Once you cross the first security point, proceed to the left side of the terminal building for another luggage check in point. However, you do not have to check in your luggage at all, you can carry it on board. You must carry it all yourself though, and be able to pick it up and put it through the X-ray machine. We almost did this by accident, which is how I know you can carry your bags yourself.
When we passed the X-ray check point and went into the terminal, I was expecting to have to stand in line for check in despite the lack of any lines thus far. I was wrong. There was not a single person in line. I don’t use the term ‘literally’ loosely, but we literally walked up to a check in desk. It was marvelous. We are used to having to wait in long lines, many times even outside the terminal, so we were pleasantly surprised. It was a great start to the vacation. Part of the reason check in is such a breeze, I think, is because DCL gives passengers check in time slots/windows when they do online check in. You can choose the window, assuming there is availability at that time. DCL claims that if you arrive before your assigned check in period you have to wait, but I didn’t test that; our window was 2PM to 3PM, or something like that, and we arrived within that time.
When you step onto the ship, someone in the welcoming party will ask your child, or you, what their name and last name are, then they will announce and welcome your party by last name. Boarding is a red carpet affair. If you are shy, suck it up. You walk into the atrium, which is pretty awesome with its Art Deco, old Hollywood style. It sets the tone for the rest of the ship, and the vacation.
If you arrive on board after 1pm, your room is ready, which means if you are carrying heaving things, like your bags or alcohol, you can just drop them off. On that note, as far as I know, DCL is the only cruise line where soft drinks, like sodas, are included in your fare. This means that if you are soda junkie, and don’t really like to pay exorbitant prices for flat cruise ship soda, you need not worry about bringing your own while on a Disney cruise! Back to the cabin; we had a Deluxe Ocean View cabin and did not see anyone else’s so I can only speak for our cabin, but it very clean. The layout is pretty standard, except for the split bathroom. The toilet and sink are in one room, and the bath and another sink are in another room. They are independent of each other. This is very useful when you are traveling with a family as it cuts down on getting-ready time and on waiting. In our cabin, we had a queen sized bed, and a sitting area with a sofa bed that accommodates the third passenger. The cabin bathroom was clean, but it’s an old ship so it wasn’t sparkling. That’s just the nature of old ships. There is a mini fridge in the room, as well as phones you can use effectively like two-way radios if you want to communicate with other people in your party while about the ship. If you have kids in the kids club, the cast members will use these phones to get in touch with you if there is a need to do so.
The highlight of embarkation day is the sail away party, which takes place on the pool deck. The main family pool gets covered and the characters come on stage. If you want to stand up front, you need to get there early, but they also play the whole thing on the giant movie screen so don’t fret if you don’t. My son had a great time at the party, and we did too.
If you want to learn your way around the ship, take some pictures without crowds, etc., embarkation afternoon is the time to do it. Also, there is always an abandon ship drill on the embarkation day of any cruise, and on the Disney Magic you go directly to the area where you would board your life boat, not to a public room inside the ship and then be walked to the actual station like other cruise lines do. You do not need your life jacket.
The next post on the series will be about complimentary dining.