We just disembarked the Disney Magic this morning. For a little background, this was my 11th cruise and DH's 7th or 8th (ish, not sure.) It was our first experience cruising with our baby, who is 8 months old. I have a lot to say (for anyone who might be interested), some good, some less than stellar.
Smooth! We arrived 30 m scheduled to our boarding time to allow DH time to take the car to Park N Cruise (no sense taking all our luggage and a stroller on the shuttle so I just sat on a bench with the baby.) Although no fault of Disney's, it took about 55 minutes from the time he dropped us off until the time he returned so if using Park N Cruise, allow some extra time! Otherwise it was flawless and easy- one extra credit point for having tables and pens and hand sanitizer available for filling out your "health survey". Too many other cruises just hand you the paper and expect that you've got a pen handy and what the heck are you gonna write on?
The Magic is showing its age. Our room was somewhat dated and though I'm sure no fault of our steward, the grout and caulk in our tub/shower was disgusting. It seemed to be years of "nastiness" rather than a lack of his diligence. Our carpet was also worn looking and if you peeked into the corners you could see where even frequent cleaning just wasn't getting it. Dustbunnies lived behind the picture over the bed (I could see it when lying down and looking up.) Other areas also just looked tired.
Service:Overall, pretty impressive for what I consider a "mass market" line. Generally folks were more friendly and seemed less frazzled than on many other ships I've travelled. Extra credit points for our room steward, Suresh, who was always pleasant and exceedingly helpful when it came to all the extra tasks which come with an infant (diaper genie changing, more frequent linen changes, lots of towels, etc.) Our dining stewards were nice but seemed a little overworked.
Average. We didn't eat very often in the MDR (again, traveling with an infant requires some flexibility and sometimes she just wasn't in the mood) but the food seemed bland and uninspired. Also, the portions were excessive--- DCL could save a lot of money serving half the amount of food, or just improve the quality and decrease the quantity! I've never been served such large portions on any cruise line and really regretted it, as we just wasted so much. Buffet was REALLY busy in AMs and hard to find a table.
We didn't attend any character visits, theater shows, etc. We just aren't really into Disney at all and there are things I'd rather do with my time than watch a show while at sea, so I don't. We did watch a lot of in-stateroom TV (more on that later) which is uncharacteristic for us. We got pretty bored with the movie selection which included nothing over PG-13. (Not looking for exotic dancer flicks, just a variety of movies, including R rated.) Arcade is OK, has air hockey which is all I really need to be happy! Went to see the piano player one night, he was enjoyable if not exceptional.
Oh dear. Disney really messed up on this one, in my opinion. The "adult pool" is lovely (for the whole 3 hours I got to spend there on my cruise.) Quiet, relaxing music, no screens playing movies, etc. The other two pools are like "heck" on Earth, to me. Around these pool areas there seemed to constantly be music (or a movie) blaring. Tons of screaming kids. Movies showing on the screen. Way too much stimulation. Disney does such a good job of separating adults from kids that there isn't really anywhere on the ship that is tolerable for both (IMHO.) I know I can't take my baby to the adult pool because that's not the right thing to do, but she (or I, or DH) could not stand the loud, crowded, screaming, blaring misery of either of the children's pool areas. This leads to my biggest complaint with Disney- everything is either adults only or KIDDOS GALORE! Neither of these is really suitable to two quiet-preferring adults with a good-natured but easily overstimulated infant whom they promptly remove from any situation where she makes a fuss.
Nursery and infant services:
They were great. Really, really great. A little hard to schedule but they tried to help everyone and it seemed this cruise was extra full of little ones. By 3pm on embarkation day they were out of bottle warmers (!). Felt very comfortable leaving my little one there.
Please, for the sake of human kind, every other cruise line should mimic Disney's disembarkation procedure. It was the least painful of any cruise I've ever taken (except Seabourn but that isn't a fair comparison). We were waiting on the curb for our shuttle by 7:55 am!
Well, it had to happen eventually. For the first time ever, both DH and I were struck with a particularly evil gastroenteritis. He got it a day before myself, which was fortunate so that we could at least attempt to care for each other. We pretty much went under "self-quarantine" with rare exception. We're borderline fanatical about handwashing and sanitizing gel but I know it's hard to avoid everything. 24 hours of pure misery for each of us plus a couple days of recovery kind of put a damper on the whole cruise experience. Extreme dehydration and no (locatable) Gatorade on board was a negative, though.
Family of the Cruise (!):
Our room service telephone operator informed us that she'd chosen us as "family of the cruise" which entitled us to daily deliveries of special little plates (fruit, cheese, cookies, etc) as well as the ability to order from the MDR for breakfast and dinner. Honestly I don't think she could've chosen anyone more appreciative because I really, really like to have full meals in my room (what's better than eating food someone else cooked, IN YOUR PAJAMAS!?) We were delighted to have this honor and thoroughly appreciated it.
Best private island I've been to. They did it right.
I think the likelihood of us sailing DCL again is pretty slim. I won't say "never" because it is convenient for us both geographically and in terms of having a nursery. But, I really didn't feel like it was right for our family, mostly because everything was either loud, boisterous "kids stuff" or adults only. Our infant daughter has been to at least a dozen wine tastings and several nice restaurants in her short life- we never let her get in the way of other folks enjoyment because we know we wouldn't appreciate that either. If she's fussy she goes outside with one of us for a few minutes, if it doesn't stop we simply pay up and go home. But DCL made it hard for our family to enjoy ourselves by limiting us to either "18 and up" (and we're not the type of folks who think we're special and can break the rules) or "screaming noisy misery". Neither one was good for us and ended up having us spend even more time in our cabin than we would've had we not encountered some GI ailments. Frankly, we felt alienated.
Neither of us really care about "the Disney magic"--- I still can't tell Pluto from Goofy and my husband hasn't seem any DCL movies more recent than Peter Pan (until this cruise! In desparation one day we even watched Ariel.)