We are very big fans of Disney Cruise Lines and 3 of our last 4 cruises have been with DCL. The biggest reason for this comes down to service. The crew and CMs on board the DCL ships we have been on are just there to serve you. We decided a long time ago that we would skip taking a cruise yearly on other cheaper priced cruise lines to go every other year on DCL. At some point, as our kids get older, we will move on.
We flew into Orlando on the 13th, coming from Minnesota in January requires you plan for the worst and leave early. We rented a car from Hertz and stayed at a Holiday Inn Express using some of my points from business travel. We arrived around 11AM, so we had most of the day to kill. We didn't want to go nuts and spend 100s of dollars going to one of the WDW parks so we opted for checking out Downtown Disney. We had a blast. The boys and I went to the Disney Quest, a multi-level arcade facility. Imagine Dave and Busters on steroids. My wife walked and More
shopped. After a few hours of gaming, we met up with my wife and went to eat. Nice way to spend the day.
Embarkation Day, we went back to MCO, dropped off the car, dropped off our luggage at the curb with the DCL staff and went in to get checked in. You do all your check in at the DCL terminal in MCO now, which speeds up your boarding process. We had our KTTW and our bus assignment (we did the transfers) and were on a bus in 20 minutes. 40 minute ride to port and we were in the terminal waiting for our boarding number to be called. We had pre-registered my youngest for the Kids Club so we just walked up to get his wristband, and had our photos taken with Minnie. Soon, out number was called and we were on board and heading up to Topsiders for lunch, yum! We had a DISboard meet and greet on Secret Deck 7 and then back to our rooms to get ready for Muster. Muster went smooth except for the group who decided to show up late, holding up our group to be released. After muster we went to our rooms, unpacked and prepared for Dinner. Our dining team, was great. Wira was our restaurant head server, and our table servers were Vlado assisted by Suittibong (Tony). They were all awesome.
Day 1 - At Sea. Lots of exploring the ship. Martini tasting. Swimming.
Day 2 - At Sea. See Above. Beer Tasting. Swimming. Movies on Deck.
Day 3 - St. Maarten. Loved this port. Pirate party that night was rained out before the big show could finish with Mickey Mouse ziplining to save the day, but they still did the fireworks show, and the pirate buffet was awesome.
Day 4 - St. Thomas. We had a lot of fun here going on the Dubloon Sail and Snorkel and getting back to the ship early enough to enjoy it mostly empty, having the pool and a lot of the activity areas to ourselves.
Day 5 - At Sea. RR. Swimming. Hot Tubs. Capatin's signing in the gift shop.
Day 6 - Castaway Cay. AWESOME day. Perfect weather. The fact that CC has been expanded for the bigger DCL ships made it feel pretty spacious for those of us on the Magic. Plenty of room to stretch out and enjoy the beaches without wall to wall people.
Day 7 - Disembark. Went smooth. Did the on-board checkin so our bags were taken the night before and we didn't see them until we got back to Minneapolis. Made customs a breeze. Nothing to carry through.
We love St. Maarten. This was our 3rd time here on our various cruises. We opted to go on an island tour this time around and used Bernard's tours per suggestions from cruisecritic.com. Our driver, Slim, was awesome and took us to many great sites and beach stops. Beautiful island to see!
We opted to go on the Dubloon Sail and Snorkel tour on St. Thomas. Loved it. The crew of the sail boat we were put on (Bones) were awesome. They made a decision early on that due to the weather and wind, they were going to take us to a sheltered bay to snorkel. Perfect!