On May 9-14, 2012, my wife, 6 year old daughter, 3 year old son and I sailed on the Disney Magic. 5 nights has been the shortest of my 11 cruises, and I have sailed on RCCL, Princess, NCL and Carnival previously. First time on Disney.
Embarkation/Disembarkation: Very easy, and fast. No lines when we left-how did they do that?
Ship: The Magic is not new- but they were constantly scrubbing /cleaning her. Some of the lighter carpet colors are stained, and carpet baseboards in our room were frayed. As with any older ship, if you really look you will see rust, paint flaking, and other signs of her age.
The buffet- The workers were extremely helpful-but the selection was not as good as NCL Sky (we sailed in Fall 2011.) We ate breakfast here every morning, and also had lunch here every day. Easier for us as our kids won't sit still too long. Plenty of choices to feed them. Fresh fruit included strawberries (Look in the cereal section), grapefruit, oranges and the usual melons. Kids loved the Mickey waffles, and had to have them every day. Scrambled eggs did not taste normal- were they Egg beaters? Did anyone else notice that the shrimp, although you had to peel them, had been de-veined? Lines not too bad. We always found seats inside.
Restaurants- We ate dinner without the kids- only way to enjoy it! Food was "maybe" on par with NCL and other mid range lines. Not as good as a dinner at WDW. Service was good and the food presentation was very good. Every night you rotate restaurants, but your servers follow you.
Palo- Food excellent- Try the filet, and don't forget the Chocolate Souffle. Worth the surcharge.
Ice Cream Soft serve bar- open 11-11pm, no long lines, no toppings but free.
Room- We were in an oceanview deck 2, forward. The 4 of us were comfortable in this one room. When do you ever have so many drawers that you don't need all of them? Room is larger than other lines, and as others have posted there are 2 bathrooms- one with a toilet and a sink, the other has a 4 foot mini bathtub and a sink. Wife loved the bathtub which also made bathing the kids so easy. Great design idea! Beds were very comfortable (although I could feel the meeting joint at the foot of the double bed), and we slept well. I slept on the pull down bunk bed which retracts completely into the ceiling above the sofa. But the railing is only about 2 foot long which is why we would NOT put either of our children up there. But the bed was very comfortable. Sofa converts to a twin bed so our son slept there. Quiet except for when our kids were screaming. Basic hair dryer hose without a handle in bathroom. Holding it can get hot. Never used the iron I brought. I was glad I brought a small travel clock and placed it where everyone could see it as you cannot read the (too dark) clock in the room by the bed.
Oceaneers Club- Ages 3-11. They will take potty trained 3 year olds so both our 3 year old son and 6 year old daughter were together. Free. The club has a slide, computers, games and is set for more physical activities. The Oceaneers lab, which is across the atrium, has more electronics. Workers will walk the kids between the 2 clubs if the children want to change locations. They will also supply food for the kids at mealtimes. Usually open 9am till way past our bedtime, and they
are usually open while in port (unlike other cruise lines). Armbands for the kids identify them, but can be removed say at bedtime which our son wanted so he could sleep. They replace the band on the next visit. But don't lose the sensor or they will charge you $50.
Mickey's Pool- Other posts complained about the small size of the kids pool. Actually the kids pool is larger than others we have seen. But it can be very crowded especially at peak times as there are just many more children on Disney. Mickey's pool is shaped like his head and is actually several pools combined. Specifically, his ears are 2 pools about 10 feet across and 1 foot deep. These 2 pools spill water on the larger pool which is about 20 feet long/10 foot wide, and about 2 feet deep. Surrounding these pools is a splash pad with about 1-6 inches of water. So the entire area is actually quite large but again there are so many children. We went early in the morning usually, and my son loved it. Some days we were there closer to lunch, and even later in the afternoon. The crowds varied but my son and I always had a great time in it. Your child MUST be potty trained to use this pool area. There is a separate splash pad area for the non potty trained children on the other side of the slide. And my son had so much fun on that slide. Almost always found a chair but may have been a little further away from the pools than we wanted.
Family Pool- this is mid ship and for the older kids- about 4 feet deep and 15 by 30 feet. There are 2 hot tubs several feet away. Very crowded but my daughter and I still were able to enjoy it. Thankfully the band only played briefly one time we were there- they just add unneeded noise.
Shows- Let the Magic Begin was good. Based upon previous posts we skipped Villians tonight since we did not want our children traumatized. We were extremely disappointed with Twice Charmed and left within 10 minutes after it started. Regardless of the ending, why would anyone expose impressionable children to envy, jealousy, and wickedness with the intent to destroy the happiness of others, as if this were acceptable behavior? Isn't there at least one creative mind at Disney that could produce a performance that would present a more positive behavioral model for our little children? Teaching impressionable minds that this is normal/expected/permitted behavior was not an example we would ever want to even suggest was appropriate. No wonder my wife refuses to keep many of the Disney videos. The last show was very good.
Character appearances and lines- While this wasn't a priority for us our kids got plenty of photos with Mickey, Minnie and the princesses. Sometimes the lines were long and we just decided we would not wait, but then at another time we would randomly run into them again when the line was short. They seemed to have multiple opportunities for photos with all of them.
Value- Disney did a great job on several things- the Oceaneers club is second to none, and Castaway Cay is like no other. Excellent bathroom design. However, the food, the service, the ship, and the entertainment were not appreciably different than that on most other mid range lines we have sailed. Certainly our overall experience was very relaxing and enjoyable, and we needed a break from the stress of work. But we also had an equally enjoyable time on basically the same cruise itinerary on the NCL Sky in 2011 (and I purchased 2 rooms there, and brought grandma too), and still the cost difference was huge. The Disney brand itself has never been a separate attraction for us, so that does not factor into our opinion. Considering the premium pricing Disney requires, we cannot conclude that cruising with them is even close to being worth the value received. In our experience NCL has done a fine job with our kids, so we are returning to them for our next cruise. But we are also glad that our children were able to have this Disney experience at an age where this type of cruise would mean the most to them.