We took this cruise as a 3 generation family group as part of a long vacation that had already included a Carnival Cruise to Alaska and a brilliant cruise on the Oasis of the Seas. As the Disney cruise was substantially more expensive than the other 2 we had high expectations of the added value extras we could anticipate on this voyage. What a disappointment!!!
In almost every respect the Disney Magic experience was significantly below the standard of any other cruise we have taken in the past - and we have cruised many lines. The comparisons with the Oasis of the Seas were laughable and even the Carnival Spirit ended up looking like a high class destination.
The Ship Itself-
Gloomy and dark sums it up. For some the ship design may seem "classic." To me it seemed reminiscent of a troop ship from World War 2- Depressing common areas almost all poorly lit, dark and often stained carpets and a bland colour scheme. The ship is sorely in need of a refit as woodwork, both in the common areas and the staterooms is scratched and scuffed. Strange and unpleasant smells are all pervasive.
The elevators are a nightmare- tiny, so tiny that passengers are forced to constantly shuffle in and out to let other people out. It is not the best beginning to a formal night to be crammed into an elevator next to people in dripping wet swimwear and others carrying hot drinks and food. This ship must be a disaster for those passengers with mobility problems.
The pools, as many other reviewers have noted, are far too small for the number of children on board.
No maps are given out of the ship at embarkation and the signage for gangways on port days is limited and confusing.Printed information often showed poor editing, errors and typographical mistakes. Our Character breakfast was down for the day after the cruise ended, and port information still mentioned tipping in Euros!
I found the quality of the food very mixed. The main dining food was sometimes good but often a little bland. There was very limited provision for ethnic diets. The wait staff were invariably accommodating and pleasant and they could not be faulted.
The biggest problem is the Top Deck buffet area which is to be avoided at all costs. It is of the dated and inefficient one line- wait- in- a -queue- till- your- food- gets -cold design. The food is placed in 2 rows, making the second row virtually inaccessible for all but those with long arms. Asking for assistance from the staff on duty is often fruitless. Tables are not cleared as promptly as on other ships and the floor is frequently littered with spilt food. The food itself is mass produced, school lunch type fare
The limited hours for dining is also an issue. We are not the type of people who cruise to eat, but we do enjoy the flexibility of being able to eat at times which suits us. The buffet and inedible fast food were all that was available after 1.30p.m on a sea day. On one occasion we went to a movie which did not finish till 1.40 and the only food then available was a buffet entirely of seafood- great for those who liked seafood- a day without lunch for those with seafood allergies or who did not like that cuisine.
At night, the option of the buffet, if the choices in the main dining room were not to your taste, was denied those on the late dinner sitting as the buffet closed 15 minutes after the sitting started.
All the formal dining rooms, with the exception of Lumieres, have a distinct canteen atmosphere usually reserved for the buffets on other ships.
This was one area where we expected Disney to excel, but with the exception of one show, we found the production shows no better than on any other line. There was no live band so much of the performance looked to be lip-synced and there was nothing much to dance to.
I have no idea what the other passengers were doing at night- we frequently passed lounges with only 1 or 2 people in them. Perhaps they were watching the endlessly repeated Disney films which ran until after midnight. Other entertainment on board was limited to a bad comedian, a ventriloquist, and a magician. All of these constantly plugged their own DVDs for sale after the shows.
Adult activity on sea days was also limited to 2 activities at any one time. On port days the only adult activity listed for a 4 hour time slot was to read magazines available from the Cove Cafe- there is no library on board. When we booked Disney we expected that it would offer a similar range of adult entertainment to other lines with the added bonus of enhanced children's activities. A glance at the Disney Navigator proves this is not the case.
Again, our expectations were high here and again they were disappointed. My 9 year old enjoyed the kids club the least of the 3 cruises we had been on in these last few weeks. The counsellors were great but for a 9 year old the big problem was Disney's decision to have all the areas and activities open to 3 to 10 year olds. While this may be nice for sibling groups it makes for some very dull activities for those who have almost reached middle school age when they are constantly asked to participate with preschoolers, Age recommendations for various activities were given, but were not enforced ,so invariably all activities were conducted at a slow pace and at a level to accommodate the younger ones. The large grouping of children also mitigated against the formation of friendship groups- this was the first cruise ever where my gregarious daughter did not make friends.
If you want your child to spend their vacation playing computer games or watching videos this is the cruise for you!! Activities were optional which led to many children, mine unfortunately included, being seduced into being glued to a screen.
Staff seemed to have little knowledge of excursion content or facilities. We were booked on the wrong excursion. The excursions themselves seem to be the same as you would get from any line at the respective ports. Castaway Cay was great, however.
Fairly boring, overpriced and dull- badly lit like everywhere else. Lots of extra merchandise was sold all over the ship- e.g glow sticks on deck on the Pirate Party night- to target "pester Power."
Having said so many negative things I must commend the staff as a whole who were almost invariably accommodating, concerned and pleasant. The Disney Magic has a great crew that is the one thing that delivers on the Disney promise. It is a pity that the ship and the system they work with does not live up to their high standards.