Updated by Christine Koubek, Cruise Critic Contributor(4.0)
Editor's Note: The 1,754-passenger Disney Magic, which turns 15 on July 30, will head to Cadiz, Spain, from September 7 to October 10 for its biggest-ever refurb. The operation will cover restaurants, bars, the spa, the atrium, cabins and kids' spaces, and will include the addition of a precipitously inclined waterslide that swings out over the side of the 11-deck ship. Get the details.
When Disney executives set out to enter the cruise business, they focused as much on how to bring their popular brand of entertainment to sea as they did on designing a cruise ship. The result: You won't find a few traditional cruise elements, such as a casino, ship's library and teeny cabins on Disney's very first ship. Instead, Disney Magic debuted in 1998 with roomier-than-average cabins that are ideal for families, an entire deck's worth of space devoted to kids and family activities, and two technologically advanced theatres. While many cruise lines offer excellent children's programs, all four Disney ships offer that, plenty of options suitable for families to enjoy together, plus evening theatre that's appropriate for all ages.
There are some differences between Disney's initial sisters and her two new siblings, Dream and Fantasy -- some positive, some less so. Disney Magic is showing signs of age in a few places, with worn fabrics in the fitness center lounges and cabins, some scuffed furnishings and a bit of rust in balcony corners.
On the other hand, one of the nice things about Magic is its smaller size. It has a more intimate feel than its larger, newer sister ships, which makes it easier to get to know folks, keep track of family members and have the sense that you've experienced most of the ship, even on a shorter sailing.
Another thing to note is that, while Magic has teen programs, the ship is less appealing to teens than Disney's newest ship, Fantasy, which has a larger pool deck, a splash park area for kids of all ages, and an interactive, shipwide, Muppet-themed game.
Disney Magic's Art Deco design elements are evident in all of its public spaces, which are, for the most part, refined and understated. There are a few Disney-themed venues that are appropriately colorful and exuberant, but most of the ship's appeal lies in the fact that it is truly designed for everyone, not just Disney fanatics and kids.
Disney Magic Fellow Passengers
Mostly families sail this ship; however, there is a large number of people traveling without kids because they appreciate the quality of the ship, its offerings and its suite-like staterooms. In addition, Disney Magic's changing itineraries attract a higher percentage of past passengers looking to explore new places with Disney.
Disney Magic Dress Code
Dress is casual during the day and resort casual -- pants and Polos and casual dresses -- in the evenings, with one formal night and one semiformal night on a seven-night cruise. Even the formal nights lean toward the casual, with many women dressed in summer or maxi-dresses as opposed to long, formal ones. Swimwear, shorts and jeans are not allowed in the restaurants at dinner.
Disney Magic Gratuity
The recommended gratuities are $4 per person, per day, for the dining room server; $3 per person, per day, for the assistant server; $1 per person, per day, for the head server; and $4 per person, per day, for the room steward. All bar, pool deck and coffee bar drinks have a 15 percent gratuity added to the bill. Spa gratuities are not added and are left to the discretion of each passenger. It is suggested that cruisers tip for room service as it's delivered.
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