Disney Magic - Eastern Caribbean - Feb 11th - 18th, 2012.
General gestalt summary - we loved it.
We cannot report many negatives.
However - I think that it is important to be very clear and honest with yourselves about your expectations.
If you expect 5-star luxury, you will not find it here.
If you expect a magical experience for your child(ren) - you WILLNOT be disappointed.
Let me put this review into perspective.
The travellers - Myself (age 35), Wife (30), Daughter (turned 3 on board), and our Nanny.
My wife and I usually cruise alone - although we consider ourselves young, we travel twice per year - this was our 5th cruise - Previous experiences being Celebrity Millenium Aqua class x 2, Seabourn Legend, and the Azamara Journey.
We had the 1 bedroom Suite on the Magic.
We decided to bring the Nanny because , although our daughter goes to early childhood education, we weren't sure how the oceaneer's club would be for her - turns out to be a good call - the one day we dropped her off at the Oceaneer's club, we were paged after 1 hr to collect her as she was 'asking for us'...we don't know how much of an episode it may have been...
in any case, the Nanny allowed for a bit of a taste of, as the Disney advertisments state, "it's your vacation too..." (more on that later).
let's break this up in segments -
#1. the Boat - I've read reviews before stating that 'the Magic is Showing its Age'... well it didn't show it to us.
The boat was Gorgeous....some of the classic nautical design maybe construed as Dated to some, but we loved it. We thought that the ship was beautifully finished, and witnessed no chipped/peeling paint, no dirty carpets, no aesthetic deficiency whatsoever.
the layout was also very well done - the adult section was at the forward side so no children would have to pass through on their way to other venues.
the Gym was a good size with plenty of cardio equipment, free weights upto 65lbs (the highest on a cruise boat so far) and well chosen weight training machines.
( I am a bit of a gym rat - so this is important to me)...
we did not make use of the Spa services...
The pools were pretty much perfect. - the splash pool was perfect for our little girl - and the funnel vision pool was also not too deep or rowdy, I could easily go inthere with my daughter in my arms.
#2. Dining - again, we can't/won't complain.
This is where it is important to have realistic expectations.
Does it compare to Seabourne or Azamara? - don't be silly.
You just shouldn't compare the two -
I did find that dinner moved quickly, appetizer, entree dessert - bang,bang,bang - but in retrospect - it sort of had to - my daughter probably would have found it very hard to sit at the table for a long, drawn out, european style dinner.
although the food is not of the calibre of these luxury ines, it was still very very good, and in fact, one meal from the lumiere's regular menu ranked right up there with the 6 star lines - (seabass on risotto)
Palo was also quite good, but I think that as specialty restaurants go - all cruise lines could learn a thing or two from the Olympic on the Celebrity Millenium - still our favorite.
Breakfast was so-so, but unless you have a carving station and Champagne with breakfast, you can only offer so much...
lunch was a pleasant surprise and was usually terrific.
#3. Entertainment -
3a - Adult entertainment -
we made it to the piano lounge for an hour one night, and really really enjoyed it. - he played music from the Rat pack, and with a grey goose vodka martini on hand...I could have been on any of our previous boats...
However, that was the last bit of " it's your vacation too"
Don't kid yourself - this is all about the kids - and it really should be -
We wouldn't want to just drop our daughter off and not see her - afterall, what we're paying for is tha ability to vicariously live through her eyes, adn witness the wonder and awe in her face...
As far as the kid's entertainment goes - it is top notch.
# b. - "kids" entertainment
- it really isn't "kids" entertainment, but it does appeal to the kid in you - a specialty of Disney.
the shows - Dreams, Villains, Twice charmed - all broadway calibre in our opinions - and we saw Beauty and the Beast and Lion King on Broadway - so I hope that you can trust us when we say that this was Broadway class entertainment.
the Character events - worth the price of admission right there - not only was there an abundace of scheduled photo ops, but at the Dance party (do NOT miss) the characters came out into the crowd and actually tried to dance with everyone...
Same with the Pirate deck party.
The Character interaction was amazing, and really made cruising the better choice than the theme parks for us.
#4. Service - again - you have to have expectations in check -
There is no pampering and ultra attentiveness the way we got on SB or Az, but none of those waiters/attendants did magic tricks, or had to entertain any children either.
The Concierge was very good, and trained in hospitality in Europe.
But again, you quickly submit to the fact that it's not about you.
the wait staff in the restaurants - agian I think that they do the absolute best they possibly could given the venue.
I will say, that I only once had to mention that I would like an Artisanal cheese tray on the menu, and it became a nightly staple.
What did I leave out? - not sure, hopefully your questions - should you have any - will fill in the gaps, but it's late now, so I'm off to bed.
In summary - the trip was absolutely magical. you can argue up and down whether or not a 3 yr old will lay down the memories to a significant degree, but I and my Wife will never forget some of those moments - and I am sure that enough of them had a significant emotional impact for her that they will be ingrained somewhere in her memory.
you cannot put a price on her seeing belle on the floor above her, her waving to Belle, and Belle in return running down the stairs for a hug...
I'll trade that for someone brushing the crumbs off of my table any day...
It would be interesting to re-experience the cruise with a pre-teen who would want to be away from us as much as possible - this allowing us to see if it can be an adult cruise... but I think that Disney works best as a family with young kids...
of course, we are looking forward to our next trip alone...as this really wasn't a 'Vacation'...
So overall - great great trip - zero complaints - highly recommended.