My wife and I took the Westbound Transatlantic on the Disney Magic. We were in stateroom 8058, a veranda (balcony) room. We have only done one other cruise before, a Princess cruise in 2009, and the Disney Magic Transatlantic cruise was superior in almost every respect to the Princess cruise. Disney does this cruising thing very well!
Our Magic balcony stateroom was much larger than our Princess balcony stateroom (Disney claims the Magic stateroom was 260 sq ft including the balcony). The Magic cabin was well laid out, with a comfy queen bed, plenty of storage, and plenty of seating. The toilet area was separate from the bathing area, and both had sinks -- a very nice arrangement. I had read some other complaints on this site about noise in other reviews of the Magic, but we had no external noise problems as long as we we kept our balcony doors closed. In fact, we had a German couple in the stateroom next to ours with a child who had a piercing scream (which he sometimes let loose on the balcony), but we could not hear anything from the child -- or any external noise -- once the doors were closed. Our room steward , Ariah, was great, and he kept our room very clean. My wife enjoyed the different towel animal creations left every night in our room at turn-down time.
The food was generally excellent. The evening sit-down meals were pretty much always fresh, innovative, and tasty. In fact, I was sort of wondering if they could keep the evening meal quality up over the five straight sea days between our last European island and our first Caribbean island, and they almost did it -- it was not until day nine of the cruise (and consecutive sea day number four) that my wife got a fish entry that was less than stellar. Also, our dinner servers, Pedro and Jason, were top-notch -- quick, and both with an excellent sense of humor.
We ate breakfast each morning at the Topsiders buffet. It was pretty much the same stuff there every morning but it was good. We sometimes also ate lunch in the Topsider's buffet, and it was also very good. At other times we had a sit-down a la carte lunch in the Lumiere's Restaurant, and this was also generally good, although we did have some starters (e.g. an onion soup once and a crab claw appetizer on another occasion) that were not up to par. Also, by the last couple of days we had decided to avoid any food that we knew was difficult to keep fresh (like certain kinds of fish and shellfish). Palo, the specialty restaurant, was also quite good. In hindsight, though, maybe I would not have eaten here, since the regular dining room food was so good.
The live entertainment on the Magic was of extremely high quality. I don't recall all the live entertainment on our previous Princess cruise, but from what I do recall the Disney stuff was better than the Princess stuff, both in quality and quantity. Of course, the Magic had a couple of house bands and a couple of house pianists that were very good. And every day of our 14-day Transatlantic sail there was something brand new and very well done, such as a new production show; or new dancers (e.g., flamenco); or a new comedian, ventriloquist, magician, singer, etc.. Of particular note was John Charles --wow!! What a performer! And We even had Charo perform for us one night (yes, the ancient Charo!! Cuchi! Cuchi!). I did not go see Charo, but other passengers who did said she played flamenco guitar beautifully. I wonder how Disney keeps the live entertainment quality so high, maybe because they can attract entertainers who are interested in making a name within the bigger Disney entertainment conglomerate. My wife and I also took some dance lessons with Willem and Kate. Willem is an outstanding teacher, full of energy and little "stories" that help one master the various dance steps.
If there was an entertainment weakness on the Magic, it was on the educational side. The only lecturer on the historical and cultural aspects of our trip was a Dr. Dohlberg. His lectures were enthusiastic and contained bits of interesting info, but he was clearly not an expert in all the various subjects on which he was called up to present. So if you are looking for any sort of lecturing depth on history or culture, you won't find it on the Magic. Another word of warning -- there are multiple activities every day aboard the ship that are based on Disney themes (such as Disney character appearances, Disney trivia, Disney movies, Disney production shows, and Disney animation and music discussions). And there are also a lot of cruisers on the ship who are really into Disney and seem to live and breathe it (and may think you do too). You have to either enjoy these Disney activities and people or, at a minimum, be able to tolerate them. We were pretty much in the latter category. Luckily, our assigned table mates were very subdued Disneyites, and we got along with them quite well!
The ship crew and staff are very friendly and helpful. Everywhere you go the crew greets you, and they are constantly cleaning the ship, which sparkles given its age. I was also pleased at how seriously Disney takes sanitation. Every place you go on board that you might be touching a public place there are antiseptic towelettes available. When you enter a food service area, Disney staff are there handing out the towelettes to everyone and encouraging their use. The buffet areas are also set up so as to keep small hands away from the food. And in the public use restrooms Disney has placed signs encouraging guests not only to wash their hands but also, upon exit, to open the door with the paper towel, and they have placed an extra trash receptacle by the exit. Nicely done.
Disney allows you to bring liquor on board from your port calls. My wife and I brought wine and liquor on board the Magic with no problem (other cruise lines, like Princess, do not allow you to do this). Also, the Magic had a large 24-hour self-serve beverage station that included free coffee, tea, and soft drinks (we had to pay extra for soft drinks on our Princess cruise). Internet was not free on the Magic. We paid $55 for 100 minutes, although you can pay more and get additional minutes at a lesser cost-per-minute. The ship's Internet connection was slow and occasionally unavailable (but I understand this is an issue on all cruise ships).
The Magic has self-service laundry rooms on decks 2, 6, and 7. We used the laundry room on Deck 7, and it had seven washers and seven dryers, a great improvement over the Princess laundry room, which only had two washers and two dryers. Unlike the Princess cruise, we could always find an empty washer in the Magic if we planned to use the facility at off-peak times. Of course, I understand that some cruise ships don't have any self service laundry facilities at all (a horrible thought, according to my wife).
Given the time of year (mid September) and the length of the cruise, there were not a lot of children on board the Magic. The ship and its programs seemed designed to handle large numbers of children, but those designs were not tested on our cruise. Also, in fairness, I should note that our Transatlantic cruise on the Magic was only about two-thirds of the Magic's passenger capacity, whereas our previous Princess cruise was probably entirely full and thus there was a greater use of, and strain on, all the Princess ship's facilities.
During our trip the Magic seemed pretty stable and did not roll much. But we had nice weather our entire cruise -- the swell was rarely above six feet -- so we did not really experience how the ship would handle in rough weather.
Embarkation was relatively smooth, and so was debarkation. OK, debarkation was something of a madhouse, but by staggering the breakfast times, the disorder was kept to a minimum -- and once the lines started moving, the Disney staff kept them moving.
Overall, Disney gets very high marks for the Magic. I understand, however, that Disney will not, for the foreseeable future, go back to European cruising, and hence there will be no more Disney Transatlantic cruises (with the exception of the shakedown cruise for the Fantasy in the spring of 2012).