It is fair to say that this review is written by a first time cruiser and a disney fan however I will try to keep this as objective as possible.
My wife and two daughters aged 3 1/2 and 18 months booked through cruise a considerable time before the sail date. W booked through a travel agent as we were travelling from the uk and Disney did not seem to offer an air package from the uk to Barcelona. Otherwise the price offered for the cabin and cruise was identical from both the agent and the Disney website.
We chose DCL as I am a big disney fan and I always liked the idea of a cruise. I was delighted to see that DCL returned to the Mediterranean this year. This made the choice of ship easy as I wanted to cruise the med and I wanted to sail with DCL therefore the Magic was the only option.
I researched the cruise in a lot of detail as well as the facilities on the boat this really helped in knowing what to expect. There are very few negatives written about the Disney Magic and I will comment on them as well as the positives.
Embarkation: There was a fairly long line to get into the port. We had been allotted a port arrival time and we were much earlier, this did not seem to prove a problem for Disney and the check in process was well organised. Following check in we were allowed access into a large waiting room. I don't know what other cruise lines do at this point but Disney provided Mickey and Minnie Mouse to keep my children happy. Yes there was a line to see them but it was nothing like the line you encounter in the other disney resorts. We signed our eldest into the children's club and then boarded the ship. We were announced on board and a member of the crew came straight over and explained our options for accessing our stateroom and for lunch. We found this very helpful and there were clearly plenty of staff on hand to offer this service to all the boarding guests.
Stateroom: We gained access to our stateroom at 1.30. Here comes the first negative, everywhere I have read that DCL offers larger than average staterooms. If you have never cruised before please still do not underestimate that staterooms are still much smaller than your average hotel room. That being said after the initial shock there was more than enough space and storage for four people's clothes, suitcases and for the amount of time we spent in it awake it was more than adequate. We selected a stateroom with a verandah, for the extra money this was probably not worthwhile as we did not use it. However I still appreciated the fresh air. I have read negative comments about the upkeep of the Magic, I did not see anything that caused me to comment. There was a tiny bit of rust on the verandah but only noticeable because I was looking. Within the stateroom the room was immaculate and kept so by our wonderful room steward who was never once caught cleaning the room but clearly did it twice a day to an exceptional standard.
Dining: breakfast and lunch were nothing special. For breakfast we tried both the buffet options and the table service option. By far our best choice was Parrot cay for breakfast, waiters took care of table and drinks and we just had to concentrate on food for us and the children. The main buffet always seemed to be a little disorganised. Rightly of wrongly we did not eat in a restaurant for lunch apart from the buffet on the day of embarkation, which we did not like both in food choice or organisation. We were much more comfortable with the fast food establishments which needs no more review, it was plentiful and fairly tasty. It kept the children happy. The main event is obviously dinner. We were on first sitting. We met our servers, Andre and Supatcha, my daughters who are usually wary of strangers at first appeared to immediately fall in love with Andre and it is fair to say that he was excellent both them and us. The food was good, I am not going to rave about it as we have eaten in a number of Michelin starred restaurants and the food on board did not come close but it was good and the choice was excellent. My parents who are regular cruisers with P&O have looked at our menus and commented that the choice was much wider than P&O.
Public areas: These were all very nice, the only comment I would have is that the public restrooms did not all have baby change facilities. This is unusual given the otherwise child friendly nature of the ship. Hopefully they will take this on board when dealing with the refit.
Children's clubs: As far as my 3 year old is concerned Disney get this right. Our difficulty was getting her out of the children club. The staff were excellent. I do have one issue, the age range for the main children's club is 3 - 12. Personally I would prefer that my 3 year old was not mixing with 12 year old children, the age gap is too wide and Disney need to look at this for the future.
Entertainment: I either read this on this site or another but it sums it up perfectly, most cruise lines are cruise lines trying to do entertainment, Disney is an entertainment company doing cruises. One area they really excel is the entertainment. The children are regularly wowed by the scheduled and unscheduled appearances of some of their favourite characters, yes there are always lines but as I said above this is nothing like the lines you experience in the other disney resorts. As for the shows they are superb. Even after a long day on excursions they are unmissable.
Excursions: Disney excursions (port adventures) we did two, they are expensive and having discussed it with fellow cruisers we could have arranged it independently for a fraction of the cost. On this occasion we booked through Disney and the descriptions of the excursions and timings were accurate. Disney organisation was good so for the extra money you do receive considerable peace of mind. One criticism of the Rome excursion. The night before we received a letter stating that Rome was extremely busy at the moment. We were then further advised that Wednesday was the busiest day in Rome and it was! Perhaps not docking on a Wednesday would be a better idea.
Disembarkation: Described by others who have travelled DCL as a shambles. We were assigned early breakfast, attended, wandered off the ship without a line, collected our luggage and boarded the bus to the airport, no fuss no hassle. The only problem was the feeling that none of us wanted to get off the ship as we had had such a wonderful time.