Background Information. My wife and I wanted to take our son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren ( 5,7, and 14) on a memorable vacation. They opted for our first Disney cruise. It surpassed our expectations.
Air/Hotel. Our travel agent coordinated our AA flights so we came into Orlando together and a van drove the 7 of us to the Radisson Hotel at Port Canaveral. Hotel was just OK. Very large and needs some maintenance, but for the price and for 1 night, it was fine. If you use them book your bus ride to the ship weeks in advance. We did not get on board until 1 PM
Embarkation. This went smoothly and lots of friendly, service oriented people making you feel at home. Goofy and Mickey made appearances and that made it go smoother. Overall good system - part of a magical experience. Our grandkids were totally excited and never got cranky. It was also great getting out of the cold weather.
We had a delicious buffet lunch just as it was getting ready to close at 2PM. Good experience with high level of hospitality and tasty food and lots of free beverages.. We had a brief chance to see our state rooms, which were spacious with lots of storage. We had 3 rooms with ours on 8 and their two rooms were directly below us on 7 ( we could talk from our balconies. (Compared to NCL Epic, our room felt spacious!!) Although Magic is over 10 years old, everything seems new and clean. Heavy emphasis on maintenance.
Over the next few days we got to know the ship and loved it. User friendly., with free soda fountain and coffee machine open 24 hours /day on deck 9 by the pool. 3 Pools worked well (2 for kids - one for adults only). Hard to get great seats, but always found something. All our lunches on sea days were gotten around the pool as no one wanted to change and foods available by the pool were excellent and varied - adult oriented at a little deli and kids oriented at a hamburger/hotdog place and Pinocchio's pizza place. Our 14 year old enjoyed some group activities (10-13, because she did not feel comfortable with older group) Our two younger children did very little with Disney group activities and the room always seemed too warm. They enjoyed using the pools. There were plenty of activities for adults and children, but we just spent time with the family during the day. There were frequent appearances by Disney characters and the grandkids loved that. The characters were always very relaxed and trying to satisfy the kids (and the photo-happy parents and grandparents) They posted times and locations for appearances, so kids tended to want to meet them and get autographs)
Dining. We really enjoyed the Disney dining experience where we moved between 3 main restaurants each nite and our 2 person serving team moved with us. One night, we had dinner alone at Palo, but it was not fantastic, but was very nice. Our evening servers were just great and they made us all feel like part of a family. Children were really atered too with special foods, crayons always available, and always responsive to special needs. Adult meals were very good and if we just wanted to sample something, they took care of that. Wonderful dining experience every night. Great memories. We had a special Characters breakfast!! During this 90 minutes, the food was OK, but there were about 9 characters that made sure they visited each table. A real treat for all the kids. . For breakfast we usually used room service supplemented by items up on deck 9 - one deck away
Entertainment. All the entertainment was excellent and heavily Disney focused. Great dancers and singers. Good comedians and juggler and magician. Disney Movies were shown in the theater and on room TV's . As a family,all 7 of us always caught the 830PM family show and enjoyed it. Tied in easily with 5:45PM dinner setting. Some evenings we would go to an adult show, too
Services. Internet area was small but never had to wait. Exercise area was the same - very small but no waits. Loved the steam rooms and we both had massages. Room service and room cleaning were excellent. Pirate Night around 9 deck was a great event with music and fireworks!
Excursions. At ST Maarten's we did Golden Eagle 4-hour snorkel/swim event with a catamaran going to a private beach. Waves stirred up sand, so snorkeling was not good, but we all enjoyed the beach and the water. Next day at St Thomas we took a 7 hour snorkel/swim/barbecue lunch on a beach. It was fantastic, catamaran crew was superb, and weather was just great!!. Sunburn time!! Wonderful day - totally forgot it was winter back home ?. Last excursion was the fantastic Disney Island Castaway Cay. It was not as worm (in or out of water) and after 4 fun hours of swimming, playing on the beautiful sandy beach. Had a great lunch at first class facilities and a fun bike ride. Then rains came and we scurried back to the ship.
Disembarkation went very smoothly. Once we left the ship (very sad moment for the two youngest) it was 15 minutes before we were outside looking for our van back to Orlando - just 45 minutes away!
Summary. We have been on many cruises (Regent Seven Seas and Oceania) and we were pleasantly surprised at service, stateroom, food, and entertainment. We would recommend a Disney cruise to a family whose kids like Disney!!