This was our second cruise on the Magic. Our first was in 2004. We thought the first cruise was great but this one was even better.
We booked our cruise through Disney Vacation Club of which we are members and Disney Cruise Line. Both provided excellent service.
We used the Disney Cruise Line website to make our Palo and excursion reservations. The website could be a little easier to navigate but we had no major problems. It was also somewhat slow but after I got back I upgraded to Shockwave 9 and it is now much faster. Make sure you print out all forms you fill out, credit card authorization etc. and take them with you for check-in at the dock. If you have children that are going to use the Oceaneer's Club, it's a good idea to do the authorizations on the website too. Unless you have your own snorkeling equipment and want to pack it, I would recommend renting some for Castaway Cay. The lagoon is a lot of fun for a family adventure.
We drove down and stayed at the Comfort Inn on A1A in Cocoa Beach the night before. This was a very nice hotel with close access to the beach and the Port.
In 2004 we got to the dock early around noon and there was a large crowd to deal with. This time we came later at about 1:00 PM and the lines were much smaller. The only problem was the traffic where the road split between the Magic's pier and another cruise ship's dock. This was a minor delay. The Magic left at 5:00 PM on our cruise so there was no reason to get there at noon. Embarkation was very smooth but do make sure you fill out a white Bahamas information slip for EACH person in your party. I thought I only needed to fill out one for our family and this slowed things down a little. After check-in and before you board the ship you can finalize the children's enrollment in their programs and get the pager to the right of the main entrance for the ship.
We only had to wait an hour or two for our stateroom to be ready. We had adjoining rooms and this is a great way to travel if you have children. The last time 5 of us stayed in one cabin on deck 8 but it was a little cramped. The two staterooms gave us a lot of room. They were well furnished and the beds and pillows were very comfy. We had just taken a cruise on a nonDisney ship two weeks before and their beds and pillows were thin and lumpy. The cooler in the room is not a refrigerator and will only keep items stored in them at the temperature they were when put into the cooler.
Our trip included two days at Castaway Cay. The first day we all went snorkeling and my wife and I had a cabana massage for two. This was excellent. It was so nice getting massaged and seeing and feeling the ocean breeze along with the view of the beach. Highly recommended! It got us relaxed for the rest of the trip. They used Elemis products which seemed to do a great job. There was a bit of a sales pitch at the end to buy some of the products but it was low key. They had also just towed the Flying Dutchman from Pirates of the Caribbean 2 to the island. It was isolated while they put it all together and we were able to see it much closer on the 2nd trip to the island on the last day of the cruise.
At Costa Maya we went to the Dolphin encounter which was very nice. No cameras or camcorders are allowed in the dolphin area so you will have to purchase a picture taken by them with a dolphin. They were $20 each. The food at the restaurant was quite good and the beach was very nice. There was a gift store there too with reasonable prices. I would recommend an excursion or staying on the ship as the "town" area was very small and crowded with shops.
At Cozumel we went snorkeling and to a very nice beach. We had to tender in because the dock was still being rebuilt from damage sustained by Hurricane Wilma.
Day 2 at Castaway Cay had spectacular weather again and we went snorkeling for most of the day. The lagoon has a lot of neat stuff to see around the bottom. There was even a stingray that swam by.
All of the entertainment was top notch. The Walt Disney Theater is beautiful and the shows were packed so get there early. This is a family oriented ship so the shows are geared at that level. Make sure to see Disney Dreams for sure as it was the best of the bunch. We also saw Cars from Pixar. The Buena Vista Theater also shows movies and is beautiful as well. The other cruise ship we went on showed movies in a cramped area between the casino and the main theater. The picture quality was poor because the seats were nearly vertical and very close to the screen.
The entertainment which ranged from quiz shows, to deck parties, to dance nights was all high energy. Try to get to all the deck parties you can. they are great fun and some feature fireworks at sea. We were told that Disney is the only cruise line allowed to do this.
The food throughout the cruise was very good and Palo was outstanding. I like my food a bit spicier but had no complaints with any of the meals.
The fitness room looks out over the front of the ship and had been redone since our last cruise. It was larger with high quality equipment. I was able to see a school of dolphins go diagonally across the bow of the ship during a day at sea while I was on the treadmill. Perfect!
If you turn in your pager, make sure to keep your receipt. The only problem we had on the whole trip was that someone got our pager number and/or room number mixed up and we got a notice that it had not been turned in and we would have to pay $150.00. I had packed the receipt for turning it in in one of the bags that had been picked up the night before for delivery at the pier. A Disney cast member took charge of the situation and allowed me to go into the holding area and get the receipt out of my luggage. When I took the receipt to Guest Services they looked at my bill and found I had not been charged. To avoid any of this, keep your receipt in your possession.
Debarkation was outstanding. It was very simple and we were out to our vehicle in 15 minutes. If you do drive park near the main doors and your walk will be shorter when you come back. On the other cruise we took we went through a process of waiting for our color and number to be called by a very pleasant person who unfortunately did not speak very good English. They skipped around with the numbers and the colors and we had a hard time determining if our number had been called. It was nerve wracking.
In summary the 2006 cruise was better than 2004 and 2004 was terrific. Management on the Magic listens to their customers and make improvements all the time. The entire crew of the Magic worked super hard to make our cruise the best. I can't remember seeing any of them standing around at any time. They were always cleaning, straightening chairs, getting things ready etc. The cruise director was leaning against the wall one night during one of the deck parties. Obviously very tired, she was still observing and making sure that everything was going perfectly.
The only downside was none of our children wanted to leave the ship. My daughter remarked, "I ain't no happy child!" when we woke her up on the last morning of the cruise.
We can't wait to go again!