Our family returned from our Disney Magic Western Caribbean cruise two weeks ago and we had an amazing time! Our family consists of my husband and I (in our late 30s) and our children-12, 10, 7 and 4. I really can't say enough about what a wonderful vacation this was for every member of our family. This was our first cruise and it absolutely exceeded our expectations. We always heard how amazing Disney cruises are, so I thought for sure we'd be expecting too much, but we were not disappointed.
Getting on and off the ship was no trouble at all. We waited at the terminal to board for maybe 15 minutes for them to call our boarding group and then walked right on. We did have to get up early to be at breakfast by 6:45 a.m. the day we got off (time based on your dining time on the cruise), but we didn't mind. Once we finished breakfast, we begrudgingly walked right off the ship, quickly found our luggage, and boarded the bus to take us to the airport. I think we were off by 8 a.m.
Rooms: We had two connecting staterooms, deluxe ocean view with two small portholes. To me it isn't worth the extra (high) cost for a balcony when we didn't plan to spend much time in our rooms. The rooms were small but had plenty of storage space. We emptied our suitcases completely into the drawers and closets, which made the room livable for the week. I thought the bathrooms were nice having the shower and toilet rooms separate, each with a sink. The bathrooms were small, of course. After all, you are on a ship. I did feel like the rooms were showing their age, but they were clean and satisfactory. I loved our room attendant. It seemed like he was always in the hall to greet us as we came and went. He changed our towels out when he cleaned our room in the morning and again in the evening with turndown service as we had used them showering before dinner. We loved coming in at night after dinner and a show to find the towel animals he had made and chocolates.
Ship in general: The ship was very nicely done! It is a 14-year-old boat, so it is showing it's age to a degree, but everything was in good condition and nicely taken care of. The carpets looked clean. The pool decks were pressure washed every night.
Activities: There was SO MUCH to do from the minute we woke up until long after we went to bed. We only had two days at sea and spent our port days off the boat almost the whole time. On the sea days we laid in the sun and read and relaxed. The two littler kids spent a few hours in the Oceaneers' Club and then we signed them out to swim the rest of the afternoon. There were always movies playing on the Funnel Vision screen outside as well as in the movie theater inside. We had so much to do that we never made it to a movie inside, and they had some really great current movies playing like The Help, The Muppets, War Horse, Winnie the Pooh, and more. They had bingo and family game shows in Studio Sea, lots of character appearances (all the times were listed daily), a few different short classes like towel folding. The nightly shows were awesome and fun for our whole family! They had Freddie Fusion, a funny group called Boards N' Buckets, a comedian, and, of course, the Disney Broadway quality shows--a different show every night. They were all clean and appropriate for every age. It was not difficult to get a seat, but we did always line up about 20 minutes early outside the Walt Disney Theater just because we wanted a good seat. They had adult shows that started at around 10:30 p.m., but that is too late for our tastes and we were plenty happy with the family shows earlier in the evening.
Pools: The pools were definitely crowded, but my husband and I don't really care to swim on the boat anyway, and my kids aren't bothered by a crowded pool. I felt like the ship was small enough in general that I could always find my kids at the pool or somewhere on deck if I needed to check in. My four year old loved the Mickey Pool and Mickey Slide. Also, we never had much trouble finding a lounge chair or two, even on sea days.
Kids: My 12 and 10-year-old daughters were in heaven being "on their own." The wave phones provided for you were great! On sea days we let the girls take their phones and be in charge of themselves. They could check themselves in and out of The Edge (the tween club), swim, have no trouble finding food for lunch, go to a movie, etc. We could always check in with them on the wave phones. My 7 and 4-year-old liked the Oceaneer's Club and lab just fine, but we really didn't use them much because the kids are at ages where they can swim and we can be sitting nearby and we can all be doing what we want. My son did ask to go to the kids' club a few times, so it was nice to know he was having a nice time.
Food: For breakfast we went to Lumiere's the first morning. It was pretty much the same food everywhere, but at Lumiere's you have to order and be served. We quickly realized going to Parrot Cay was the best option. It was a buffet, but you are seated and have a server to take care of drinks, etc. You can get your food faster this way so you can eat and get on with your day. The breakfast food was probably my least favorite. The waffles, pancakes, and french toast were definitely not freshly prepared, but there was plenty to choose from, lots of fresh fruit, oatmeal, cereal, pastries, good omelets, bacon. You would never be hungry and would be silly to complain. For lunch you could sit down and be served at Lumiere's and it was pretty good with plenty of rotating options on the menu. You could go to Topsiders Buffet instead, and I found the food to be decent, again with plenty of options. The fruit tart for dessert was delicious. One day they had sushi, crab legs, and crawfish. On deck they also had Goofy's Galley which had fresh melon and small sandwiches and wraps, so you could have something healthy and quick or a late afternoon snack. They also had Pinocchio's Pizza open almost all the time as well as Pluto's Doghouse which had burgers, chicken strips, hot dogs, tacos, french fries, chicken sandwiches, etc. This was nice if the kids got hungry late at night or needed a snack because they didn't eat enough dinner. I did think the food on the kids' menu at the sit down dinners was not good and had a lot of room for improvement. But there was always something else they could get to eat. The rotational dining was fun. The service was decent but sometimes slow. The dinner menu always had some exciting things to choose from, but often what came out of the kitchen missed the mark in some way-maybe just a general mass produced taste. We were never hungry though. My kids were in heaven with the self-serve soft serve ice cream that was open all the time. The soda stations were nice and no extra charge. Palo was for sure the best meal we ate on the boat and worth the up charge.
I could go on and on about Castaway Key. It was the most beautiful place I have ever been and my favorite day on the cruise. Disney treats you like royalty there. There is so much to do there while really my favorite thing is to just enjoy the beach and the beautiful water. The food that day was a treat-soft serve banana and strawberry ice cream, fresh melon and whole strawberries, and then a barbecue with lots of yummy food.
Gym and Spa: The work out facility is nice enough with a great view. I had a pedicure one day and it was a good one comparatively. The spa is a very nice and well kept area of the ship.
Service: I thought all the employees were friendly and went out of their way to make it a nice trip and be accommodating. From the people at Guest Services to the people who help you set up excursions, they were always polite and willing to take their time and help with any concerns.
Excursions: I was worried that we missed out on excursions because they filled up quickly when booking ahead of time on line-same with adult dining at Palo. BUT on the ship you have ample opportunity the first day or two to book these same excursions and dinner at Palo, so don't fret.
Overall this was the best family trip I can imagine and we are dying to go again. I am puzzled by the complaints of others in their reviews. It's like they are looking for something to complain about. I listed a few negatives, but the positives of the whole experience made any negatives not worth worrying about. Every single one of my children had the time of their lives, even at their varying ages. Disney knows how to treat people right, how to put on a show, and how to have FUN! We made the best memories. We can't stop talking about it. I also LOVE and appreciate that everything onboard was family friendly, appropriate, and clean!