I laughed at a comment made by a fellow Frequent Traveler University attendee upon being introduced last month. That comment? Referring to me as “the happy cruiser.” That is, of course, a highly accurate moniker. I am a happy cruiser, also known as a frequent floater (and flyer). I’ve led a pretty Royal Caribbean centric cruising life so far, with some Celebrity in between. I’m pretty happy with my cruising choices, but also recognize that there are a tremendous number of other cruising options out there. One that I am most curious is about is Disney Cruises. I’ve heard time and time again that nobody does cruising like Disney, and having experienced their parks, I don’t have any trouble believing that. I thought readers might enjoy hearing about a recent Disney experience aboard Disney Magic. Thanks to friend of MrsMJ and MJonTravel Kristina Morgan Rose for sharing the scoop on her recent family vacation.
Which ship did you sail on?
We sailed the Magic, one of their original ships.
How did you reach the decision to take a Disney cruise?
Just a few general thoughts. This was our second 7 day family cruise. I feel like cruising is a great family vacation. Cruises provide, at a more moderate price point, more family activities than you can find in pretty any much vacation type. Additionally, the travel time is play time. Day at sea? The kids are in the pool, or in the kids area. But if you are on a long train ride in Europe, or a long international flight or series of flights, the comfort level is not there. So we knew we liked the cruise experience. Our kids like warm weather and we needed to fill spring break week, so we decided to go Caribbean this time. The deciding factors in picking this cruise were the itinerary (ports were Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Castaway Cay with 2 days at sea), our familiarity with the Disney experience (we have been park passholders for 3 years) and relative value.
Did you consider other cruise lines?
Yes. We were looking at Caribbean trips with Royal Caribbean, also out of Port Canaveral. We had previously sailed Royal Caribbean with the kids. Their children’s offerings were solid, but the Disney offerings for the kids seemed like a better fit.
Once your decision was made, how did you book the cruise? (Travel agent, direct with line?)
We booked two cabins, two different ways. One via the cruiseline and one via Costco Travel. The Costco booking came with a Costco card.
Overall, what were your impressions of your Disney cruise?
Overall we were impressed. The cabins were each over 200 sq ft and included a split bathroom model with a toilet and sink in one bathroom and a sink and tub/shower combo in the other even in the basic cabins. The Disney service is really apparent as well. There were lots of nice little touches. The ships horn plays “When you wish upon a star”. The shipboard entertainment was amazing. Their is a shipboard fireworks show that also features an actor dressed as Mickey taking a zipline across the pool deck. There was a variety of dynamic musical shows. The theater had amazing effects including indoor fake snow. The day spa had a great variety of services. Appointments were flexible. The cocktails of the day were well blended. The shore excursions were well-run. The one in Cozumel in particular involved only 14 guests and it was amazing.
How was the dining experience on board?
They use a rotational dining plan. You and your table mates move through 3 different restaurants. Your table mates and and servers rotate with you. Each restaurant is a unique experience and vibe. On the Magic, there is Lumiere’s (formal, French), Parrot Cay (It looks like a Caribbean resort) and the Animator’s Palate (the restaurant starts out black and white and adds color over the course of the meal. The restaurants are kind of more the star of the show than the food. That said, the buffet was fresh and had great variety.
Did your kids enjoy their activities? Tell us about those.
On this point we are comparing apples to apples, we had previously done a 7 day cruise on another GREAT line. Our kids came out of that experience feeling like they enjoyed cruising. They made art projects that they liked, and the staff reported to the dining room at 9:00 p.m. at second seating to take the kids back to the children’s area. However, when we were in port in Key West, the children quickly asked us to return them to the ship because they so enjoyed the activities. The activities included an opportunity for the kids to appear in an end of cruise show on the main stage. There were science activities where the kids made flubber. There was a variety of toys, lots of computers and each day they provided a good list of activities. The check-in and check out was orderly. Parents had to use a password to check their kids in and out and the children get water proof wristbands that allow them to be tracked on the ship.
How did the experience compare to your prior cruises?
We loved our prior cruising experiences, but this was that much better. The spacious cabins, the children’s enthusiasm for their programs, the amazing entertainment and the attention to detail made for a truly spectacular week.
Were there adults only venues and did the cruise line ensure they really were adults only?
Yes. There was an adults only pool, coffee house and several bars. They were truly adults only. Given the popularity of the children’s programs, even people traveling with children end up having the opportunity to enjoy the adults-only venues.
Do you think adults traveling without children would enjoy a Disney cruise?
Yes. There are more than adequate adults-only spaces. Many of the arts offerings (animation work shops, cooking demonstrations, trivia games) would have adults only sections. There was also a good beverage program including tequila tastings, beer tastings and wine tastings. There was a complex of bars called Beat Street. It included a sports bar, a piano bar and music club. Beat Street is 21 and over after 9 p.m.
Another interesting point, there are refrigerators in the cabins and you can bring on liquor so long as it fits in your carryon. You can bring your own wine to the restaurants, albeit with a corkage fee. Also, there is 24 hour access to free coffee, water and sodas. We thought this was neat.
Will you cruise on Disney again?
We’re already booked for our next spring break cruise. This time on the Disney Dream.
A Word From MJ
Wow! Sounds like a truly great vacation. Considering my first visit to Disney World was for my 40th birthday (and I had a GREAT time), perhaps it’s time I add a Disney cruise to my cruising bucket list! 🙂 Seriously, I’ve always heard great things about Disney cruises, and this interview with a trusted cruiser and friend just confirms everything I’ve heard.