We returned this Saturday from our first Disney cruise on the Magic. We had wanted to go on Disney for sometime but the higher prices tended to discourage us from trying it in spite of the fact we live in the Orlando area and Disney was only an hour away. We ended up getting a Florida resident deal for an outside cabin for about $100 a day per person and decided to give Disney a try.
Just a little background on us, we are in are early 60's with no children or grandkids. This cruise would be our 20th cruise with the most of them on HAL, Princess, and RCL. We are non-smokers and enjoy wine or an occasional drink. As I said above we live near Orlando Florida and have done so for the last 18 years. We are originally from the St Louis Missouri area.
We drove over to Port Canaveral getting to the port around 11:30 AM. Dropping off the luggage and getting checked in was a breeze. By a little before 1 PM we were walking up the ramp to board the ship with our carry-on luggage which included 2 18 packs of diet Pepsi which my wife prefers. Disney serves free Coke products on the Lido deck.
We had not been able to pre-reserve Palo's so we headed to the place where we could do that. We had also requested late dining but had been assigned early so we could accomplish two tasks by visiting one location. Both tasks were done with no problems and by then it was late enough to being able to go to our cabin and drop off our carry-on luggage. Then we could go get some lunch.
The cabin, 2112, was a cat 9 on Deck 2. It was large with a big porthole, more like a small picture window. The bed was correctly arranged as a queen. We dropped off our luggage and went to Parrot Cay to have our first meal on the ship. The food was plentiful and good and service was good. By the time we returned to our cabin one of our checked bags had arrived outside the door and before we had to leave for the lifeboat drill the other had come.
Lifeboat drill went smoothly and after storing away our life jackets back in the cabin we headed up to Deck Nine where the sail away party was already in full swing. After enjoying a little music and singing and getting a snack at Goofey's Galley, we returned to our cabin to unpack and get ready for our first night's dinner.
Disney does dining a little different in that you eat in three different dining rooms during your cruise. You do this in a rotation. The dining rotation is shown on your cruise card. Ours showed LAPLAPL. We began in Lumière's, which is a French inspired restaurant that used a decorating theme based around The Beauty and Beast story. The second night was scheduled for Parrot Cay and third at Animator's Palet. Then you restart the rotation. You keep the same set of waiters except if you eat in Palo's where they have their own set of waiters. We ate there on our fourth night of the cruise because we didn't want to miss Animator's Palet. It meant we missed Pirate's night in Lumière's but it turned out to be worth the trade-off.
We had late dining so we went up to the atrium area of the ship where the main entrance to Lumière's was a little before 8 PM. We were seated at table 16, which was a table for 8 but no one showed up to fill any of the other chairs so we ate alone. Our team of waiters was excellent. One was from the Phillipines, Rodel, and the other from Jamacia, Trevis. They both were extremely personable and friendly. They made our whole dining experience a great one in spite of the fact we never got any tablemates.
Food in this and in all the dining venues was of excellent quality and was corrected prepared. This was one of the few times we ordered beef steak and got in medium rare as we asked for it. The amount of food was correct for a dinner that included an appetizer, salad or soup, main meal and dessert. We ordered a four bottle wine package that worked out well for us and saved us a few dollars. They will hold the wine for you for another night or you can take it back to cabin and drink it there.
After dinner that night we returned to our cabin and turned in. It had been a long day and the bed looked comfortable. Our cabin steward, Benny, was from India and had our first towel animal waiting for us with our nightly chocolates when got back. We had asked for extra pillows and they were on the bed when we returned.
After a getting a good night's sleep, we got up late and made it to one of the dining rooms that was still serving breakfast. Once again good service and good food and plenty of good coffee made it a pleasant meal.
This was to be the first of a total of three sea days and we had planned on looking around the ship and checking out the adult only area of Deck Nine. We both like sea days because you can relax and enjoy the amendities that the ship offers. After a return to the cabin to pick up cameras and brush our teeth we made a trip from near the stern, where our cabin was, to the front of the ship, where the adult area was.
The adult area included a good-sized pool and two relatively large whirlpools. The area is only for passengers over 18 and Disney seems to do a good job of policing it and keeping it that way. There is a bar and a coffee bar in this area that is right behind the spa and exercise areas of the ship. I used the sauna in the spa area several times as it was very convient to take a soak in the hot tub and then go to the sauna. Generally there seemed to be enough seating in this area for people who wanted to use it although occasionally it was tough to get a lounger. The coffee bar area includes a small bookcase with a small selection of books as well as several magazine racks. The ship does not have a library.
We did a late afternoon lunch at Pluto's Doghouse where they serve good hamburgers, hot dogs and other sandwiches with good hot fresh French fries. Tonight'e dinner was scheduled to be our one formal night and we would be spending it in Parrot Cay. Once again the food was very good and the service was excellent. After dinner we walked up to the adult evening area where there are several bars including a sports bar. But we aren't late night people so soon we made our way back to our cabin to be welcomed by another towel animal.
The next morning we elected to sleep late again and this time we went up to the Topsider's Buffet on deck nine. There we found out they had a omlet station as well a wide variety of other options for breakfast. The one negative of this area is the indoor eating space with A/C is relatively small and many people had to go out to the outside back deck to find a table. If you wanted to get an early start on your suntan this probably was fine but we prefer A/C space for our breakfasts.
After breakfast and visit back to our cleaned up cabin (I can't say enough about how efficient our cabin steward was. He always managed to get in and get in cleaned up and ready for us even if we weren't away from the cabin for long), we went down to check out the shops on board and to take some more pictures of the interior of the ship. The shops are very Disney souvenir oriented with a minimum of emergency necessities. So be sure to pack the items you need as they may or may not be available to buy once you are on the ship.
We ate lunch in Parrot Cay that had a Mexican buffet available. Again the food was good and the service as also good. I went up to the adult area to spend some time in the hot tub and my wife stayed in the cabin reading and relaxing. Tonight's dinner was a casual one and was in Animator's Palet. The only disappointment was that they didn't do the color changes for this dinner. A few of the wall painting changed colors but the waiters didn't appear in different uniforms and the whole dining room remained basically the same during the whole dinner. The food was good and plentiful and the service from Trevis and Rodel was excellent.
Once back on the ship we went back to our cabin to clean up and rest up for our evening dinner that was scheduled in Palo's, the Magic's upscale extra charge adult only restaurant. We would be missing Pirate's night in the regular dining room but this had been when we had been able to get into Palo's so we were going.
Palo's is at the stern of the ship on Deck Ten. It uses a Venician and Italian theme in its decorating and in it's menu. We had a different waiter here and he did an excellent job. My wife has an allergy to mushrooms so he helped her select dishes that didn't have mushrooms. You get an antipasto course, a salad or soup course, a pizza appetizer course, a main course and a dessert. My wife had the beefsteak for her main course and it was some of the best steak we have ever tasted. I got the seabass which one of the chef's daily specials. It was good but, after tasting a little of my wife's steak, I wish I had gotten the steak. We both left the restaurant stuffed. We got done early enough that we could go back to our cabin and change into more deck friendly clothes (you have to dress up, coat and dress shirt as a minimum for men no matter what the dress code for the ship is for that night) so that we could to Deck Nine for the Pirate's Night party and fireworks. My wife really likes fireworks so this was one of the highlights of the cruise. Disney is the only cruise line that does fireworks shot off the ship and we were anxious to see them. One of the officers we had talked to before suggested a good place to view them and we got an excellent view of the good but a little shorter than I had expected fireworks show.
Wednesday night was our second visit to Animator's Palet and we were looking forward to seeing the "show". It was a casual night and our waiters seemed glad to see us back. Animator's Palet starts with a black on white theme and then as the evening goes on, the various pictures and screens around the room light up with colors. The waiters also start off in black and white and end up in multi-colored uniforms. The food was again good as was the service. I was a little disappointed in the "show". I guess I was just expecting more and while things do change and light up, it wasn't as good as I expected it to be.
The next day was a sea day so we slept in again and went back to Topsider's Buffet for breakfast. Service there was good and the coffee was better than most other cruise lines in my opinion. The one thing that was lacking was a server checking to see if you needed a refill on coffee or tea. But given how close together the tables were it would have been hard to get a coffee cart between them. We made it up to the adult level again after a break at the cabin and enjoyed some quiet time relaxing on some of the padded recliners they have there. We did a seafood buffet lunch in Parrot's Cay, which we enjoyed, and then my wife went back to the cabin to relax there. I back up to the sauna and hot tub in the adult area. We had dinner in Parrot's Cay that night and again enjoyed the food and service.
Friday was our day to check out Castaway Cay. The ship had long since docked before we made our way off the ship after a small snack and some coffee at Goofey's Galley. Because Disney is the only cruise line with a private island that has a dock it makes it very easy to go ashore (no tendering required). It turned out we had a very hot and humid day and the walk to the first tram that takes you to the main beach areas already had us sweaty and tired. Then after a rather long walk where we made several stops we finally got to the boarding area for the second tram that would take us to the adults only beach (same rules as the adult area on the ship 18 years old or older). This tram runs down an abandoned runway that was on the island when Disney acquired it. Rumor has it that it was used for drug smuggling. At the end we found the adult buffet area where we got in line to enjoy some beach food that included steak sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. There was a small bar area and a really large beach area with many beach chairs and umbrellas. We decided because of the heat and humidity that we would make an early return to the ship. The one complaint about the island is the long walk from the first tram to the second tram and the lack of shade.
Once back to the ship, we had to pack so we could put the bags out once we returned from dinner. After doing that she decided to take a nap and I returned to the sauna and hot tub in the adult area for one last visit. Our last dinner was scheduled in Lumière's and we were looking forward to another good dinner. Rodel and Trevis did their typical excellent job and we had no problems giving them their tip envelopes with a little extra in each one. We also gave our headwaiter, Putra, his tip envelope. He earned it by visiting our table every night we were in the restaurant to check everything was all right. We had also left our tip envelope for Benny, our stateroom host, before we went to dinner. He also had done an excellent job of keeping the room clean and doing it with minimal interuptions. Dinner was as good as all the other nights.
Disney does the last day of the cruise a little different than other cruise lines. You go to the same restaurant that you ate in your last night and have your regular waiter team. You are also expected to bring your carry-on luggage with you so you don't return to your cabin after breakfast. They also offer breakfast at the Buffet that morning if you don't want to wait until your scheduled departure time. Our time was scheduled for 8:15, which was fine with us. So we went to Lumière's and sat down at the same table we had been at the evening before. Rodel and Trevis did one last great job of serving us breakfast before we left the ship for the last time. The breakfast was good and there was plenty of coffee.
We were able to walk right off the ship as the walkway is on Deck three where Lumière's was located. The security people ran our cruise card for one last time and then returned them to us as an additional souvenir. We then went to the luggage area where porters were available to assist you in finding your checked luggage and helping you out to your car. We were in our car and leaving the parking lot by 9:15 AM and home by 10:30. It was one of the easiest ship departures we have ever had.
All and all we enjoyed the cruise. The food and service were both as good as any we have had on any of our previous cruises. We actually didn't like the spilt bathroom arrangement as much as we thought we would. Because of the extra wall, it made both areas very tight for larger sized people, which probably best describes my wife and I. The Disney crew members all really seemed to be concerned that we were having a good time and asked us constantly how they could make it happen.
Bottom line is that we would go on another Disney cruise without any reservations if the price was right.