In no particular order, some of my thoughts and impressions about things
we experienced on our Disney cruise.
The Disney Magic is gorgeous. Just what you'd expect a classic ocean
liner to be. Beautifully decorated and themed and appointed. And a lot
of the Disney theming isn't "in-your-face" theming - it's more subtle
and elegant. The ship is just immaculate and well-maintained. When we
were out and about we always saw crew members cleaning or working on
painting or some other kind of maintenance. Nothing showed any
signs of wear at all - I wish all of the Walt Disney World resorts
looked that good! The ocean is a harsh environment, but they
obviously do as much as they can to stay ahead of the wear imposed
by the elements to keep things looking in perfect condition.
There is a lot of space - even with almost 2400 passengers
on board there were times when we were absolutely alone (of course, part
of that is because we almost always took the stairs instead of the
elevators.) There is a huge variety of public spaces, of course - three
different pool areas, and a whole bunch of bars and clubs - most of
which we were never in, except as a meeting place for some other event.
We were in a Category 9 stateroom (the cheapest type that has a
window) on the second deck of the ship, but we certainly didn't
feel deprived at all. It's still considered a "deluxe" stateroom,
and it actually had two bath-type areas. One had a sink and the
toilet, and the other had a sink and the bathtub. Note that it had
an actual tub and not just a shower! It will sleep three - it has
a queen-size bed and a sofa that folds out into a twin bed. The
queen bed can be separated into two twins. (Which is interesting,
since I didn't feel any kind of joint in the mattress.) The bed
was very comfortable.
There is actually quite a lot of storage space - we had empty
drawers. The closet is not overly deep, but Lee's suit coats fit
in there ok. For two of us there seemed like enough space - though
only one of us could pass by the foot of the bed at a time. There
were also plenty of lights, though it took me a while to figure out
where all of the switches were. And the bathroom lights are
located outside the bathrooms.
We were so impressed by the crew members. These people must be the
creme de la creme of Disney cast members - everyone was friendly,
helpful, cheerful - it was really amazing. Any time I passed
someone in one of the passageways or one of the stairways they always
smiled and greeted me. And these people work really hard. They have
very long days with very little personal time, and I'm not sure when
some of them sleep! And they work 7 days a week - as soon as one set
of passengers leaves the ship they have to get ready for the next set
that will be boarding in just a few hours. But when you talk to
them, they all love their jobs, and they never complain about the
hours. My compliments to all of them - I really don't know how
they do it.
We visited four different ports - Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and
Castaway Cay. I can't say we actually visited Cozumel, though - we
never actually stepped foot on the island itself! Judging by the
literature we received from Disney before the first three ports, the
major attraction in each is shopping - something that is totally lost on
me. I'm afraid we really didn't do much to enrich any local economies,
and spent very little money in port apart from tips for the guides.
I can't say that what I saw of the ports left me with any strong
desire to return for a longer visit. But if we came through again
on a cruise I know what I would probably do on those days.
We did two excursions - a third was canceled because of the winds on
Castaway Cay. Both of the ones we did departed not long after the ship
docked, so they gathered us onboard ship and took us off together after
a brief orientation. They were very efficient in getting us to where we
needed to be, which we especially appreciated with the Tulum trip, since
it was quite a lengthy excursion with several different modes of
transportation. The guides were fairly knowledgeable and helpful - for
the Tulum excursion we had guides who spoke very good English.
There are two dinner seatings (early and late) on the Disney Magic,
and each seating is split between the three three main restaurants -
Animator's Palate, Lumiere's, and Parrot Cay. On a seven-night
cruise you eat in two of the restaurants twice, and one of them
three times. Within each seating the restaurant openings are
staggered and each restaurant opens at a slightly different time - our
seating was the very last one, and so we always ate at 8:30 regardless
of which restaurant we were in. I really didn't like eating that
late - we rarely finished with dessert before 10:15, and then I was
too wired to go to bed for at least a couple of hours - but I'd
still be awake at 7:00-7:30 the next morning. We also ended up having
to eat another extra small meal around 5:00-5:30, otherwise we were
starving before 8:30. Late seating also meant that we missed other
events aboard ship that started at 9:30 or 9:45. We chose late
seating because of the flexibility it gave us to stay longer in our
ports of call. But now that I've experienced all of the restaurants,
in the future I will be more tempted to eat somewhere else aboard
ship on certain nights so that I can eat on my own schedule.
There are 5 different restaurants and several snack bars aboard the
ship. Over the course of the week we ate at all of them.
Parrot Cay - As you might gather from the name, it has a tropical
theme. The "Island Dinner" we had here on our second night was
excellent - one of my favorites of the week, actually. It would
not have been my first choice for the restaurant we visited for
Semi-Formal night, but it was very nice. This was where our character
breakfast was, and we also had the breakfast buffet one morning -
pretty typical breakfast fare, but it was good.
Animator's Palate - This is the "special effects" restaurant. For what they
call the "Show Dinner", the decor starts off in black and white,
and as the evening goes one there's more and more color. Lee and
I were both rather underwhelmed - technologically we were expecting
a lot more. But the restaurant is over 10 years old now, and there
have been a lot of advancements in that time. This is one we might
skip in the future.
Lumiere's - This is really a beautiful restaurant, and I was happy that
it was the one we were assigned to on Formal Night, when we had a lovely
dinner here. Lee and I also had lunch here one day. At lunch the food
was very elegantly presented but the portions were quite small. The
regular Lumiere's dinner menu, which we had on our 4th night, did not
impress me - of all the dinners we had it was my least favorite. Not
that the food was bad, but most of the selections didn't appeal to me.
And the thing that was most disapointing was the dessert menu - how can
you serve a dessert menu in a French-themed restaurant that has nothing
chocolate on it?
Palo is NOT on the regular dining rotation - it is fairly small and you
have to make reservations to eat here. There is a $15 additional charge
per person, but other than that it is like the regular dining rooms and you
can order anything off the menu that you want - three appetizers, two
main courses, four desserts, whatever. It's very high-class and
the food and service were excellent. They also serve High Tea and
brunch on certain days - those are extremely popular and difficult to
get into. All available seatings were gone for both of those by the
time I was able to book on-line, and even though we asked to be on the
waiting list we were never called.
This buffet restaurant is open every day for breakfast, and on most days
for lunch and dinner. We never ate dinner here, but breakfast and lunch
were quite good - there was a nice selection of food. It wasn't fancy
but it was tasty. They had some pretty nice desserts.
We probably ate more meals here (though usually small meals) than at any
other restaurant. It was a small counter service place where you told
the crew member behind the counter what you wanted and he/she plated it
for you. They always had fresh fruit - slices of melons and pineapple,
grapes, and whole apples, oranges, and bananas. In the morning there
were some pastries and yogurt parfaits, as well as boxes of cereal.
The rest of the day they had sandwiches and wraps cut into manageable
slices. Much healthier alternatives, and some very interesting
selections, too - lamb and couscous wraps, turkey and cranberry
sandwiches, tuna wraps, mozzarella and tomato paninis, etc. You
could also get a salad made-to-order - in addition to lettuce they
had diced tomato, chicken, and sliced hard boiled eggs. This was
our favorite snack spot after we returned from an excursion, or
when we needed one of those 5:00 pre-dinner snacks since we could
get something tasty and fairly healthy. It's on deck 9 by one of
the pools, so we often ate up on deck. Or I'd get breakfast there
after working out in the gym and take it back to our stateroom.
They always had at least 4 kinds of pizza, and it was pretty good, too.
I enjoyed the Hawaiian pizza several times. The pizzas are only about
9" in diameter so the pieces weren't very large - but that's a good
Pluto's Dog House
Another counter service place, but with quite a variety - hamburgers,
veggie burgers, fish burgers, hot dogs, chicken strips, chicken
sandwiches and even tacos. Served with french fries which were also
pretty decent. They had a toppings bar that I took advantage of just by
itself - there was lettuce, sliced tomatoes, carrot and celery
sticks, pickles and olives.
Our Dining Room Servers
The servers moved from dining room to dining room with us. Yolande was
our head server, keeping things organized and making sure everything was
ok - she usually came around at least once per meal to talk to us, and
she also pitched in to clear tables or whatever else was required.
Definitely not a stuffy maitre'd type - she seems very nice.
TJ was our server, and responsible for the food. He always asked if
things were ok and we had what we wanted. And if we wanted to change
things up with the menu he was happy to do that - or to make
suggestions. Like the night he suggested that Lee and I try the venison
because it was very good. So he brought us a plate of the venison in
addition to our other main courses and we shared it. And he was right -
it was excellent. And not something we would have gotten otherwise. If
we wanted three desserts, that was no problem. And I think he was more
upset than I was the night at Lumiere's when he couldn't get a double
chocolate cake dessert for me from Parrot Cay. And I know he worked
very hard the night of the Pirate Party to try to make sure that I was
finished in time to go to the deck party. TJ is from France, and took
it with good humor when we teased him about French things, or asked him
to say things in French. He was really a sweetheart.
Meg was our assistant server, and responsible for our drinks and
setting/clearing the table, and, most importantly, offering us fresh
ground pepper. :-) That became a running joke over the week. She
quickly learned what all of us preferred to drink, and it would
magically show up after we were seated. We saw her in restaurants all
over the ship all week - she'd be at breakfast in Topsider, or lunch at
Lumiere's, or even serving cookies on the Galley Tour! She was a
lot of fun to talk to - that dry British humor - or is that humour? ;-).
From talking to Meg we learned quite a bit about life aboard
ship as a crew member. It sounds like a lot of hard work to me,
but Meg was obviously enjoying herself, and is one of those people
who has Disney in her blood. She is hoping to get a transfer to
cruise staff, and I think she'd be really good at it - maybe we'll
see her in that capacity on our Med cruise!
As we changed restaurants/themes each night our servers changed costumes
- one thing I now wish I had done was to take pictures of our servers
in their different costumes. They both looked very elegant in their
classic black tuxedo jackets and bow ties on semi-formal night.
I guess this needs to be split up between the theater shows and the deck
parties. We never went to any of the movies or any of the night club
The Disney themed shows - the Golden Mickeys, Twice Charmed, and Disney
Dreams were all excellent. It was interesting to see the same
performers in different roles in different shows. And the staging was
pretty amazing - we kept wondering how they stored all of the sets
and props! It must be quite challenging to perform on a moving stage -
especially when some nights it's moving much more than others. The
other shows featured the on-board cabaret performers - we saw the
"Welcome Aboard" show with the magician and ventriloquist, but that
wasn't really our thing, so we skipped the other two shows that featured
mainly the entertainers. There was also a movie one night, but it was
two hours and we had other things we wanted to do. I would've liked to
have seen Bolt, which they were showing in 3-D, but the times always
conflicted with something else.
The Sailaway party as we left Port Canaveral was fun. Very high energy.
And the Pirate Party was also fun - watching Captain Mickey fly through
the air was great, and it was very cool to see fireworks at sea. Brent,
the cruise director, was up on stage dancing with the other pirate party
cast members, and that was fun to see.
The Personal Navigator
This was the daily schedule - a multiple page "newsletter" that we
received every night with our turndown service that outlined the next
day's activities. So you knew what port we were going to be in, what
restaurants were open and when, what the big theater show was, what
movies were showing, etc. They had activities listed for kids, families,
and adults. It was really informative.
I visited the Spa several times - I had a manicure, a hot stone massage
and a facial. Ahhhhh. All of the services were very nice and I felt
very pampered and relaxed. I think in the past the employees have
pushed the rather expensive Elemis products that they use, but they did
not do that (which I'm sure is a response to guest complaints). They
all opened the door by mentioning that they would answer any questions I
had about products, but when I didn't step through that door, they
didn't pursue it.
The exception was the personal trainer who conducted the Metabolism
Analysis session that we both attended - he was pushing their
"Detoxification" program a bit aggressively. Though when we went back
to see him later in the week for a personal training session he only
barely mentioned it. And the session was very good - even if he did try
to kill us in 20 minutes. :-)
The workout room is quite large, with quite a few treadmills, exercise
bikes, elliptical machines, weight machines, and some empty floor space
that they used for classes or personal training. It's at the front of
the ship on deck 9 and has windows that look out onto the ocean. They
have spinning, pilates, aerobics, yoga and other classes, though we never
had a chance to do any.
We used Disney transportation exclusively on this trip. We used
Disney's Magical Express to get from the Orlando airport to Animal
Kingdom Lodge, and then used the Disney buses to get from the Lodge to
the cruise terminal, then from the cruise terminal to the airport. It
was all very easy. Once we checked our bags in San Diego, we really
never handled them again until we got back to San Diego. We put the
luggage tags that Disney provided on the bags, and Magical Express
picked them up at the airport and delivered them to our room at Animal
Kingdom Lodge. We put the luggage tags the cruise line provided on
them, and they picked them up at our Lodge room and delivered them to
our stateroom aboard ship. We put the next set of tags on them the
night before we got off the ship and picked the bags up back at the San
Diego airport. We had to wait several hours after we arrived in Orlando
before our bags showed up in our room, but otherwise things arrived
If you've read this far - thank you, and I hope you've found it somewhat
useful and interesting. As you can tell, we are now BIG fans of Disney
cruises. And we're quite jealous of the people who are now on the cruise,
sleeping in OUR stateroom, getting to know OUR servers... :-)
We're looking forward to May 2010!