Disney Magic has come a long way since its 1998 debut as the first vessel on the Disney cruise line. Continual updates – including a 21-night dry dock refurbishment in May 2023 – have kept the ship up-to-date, and both kids and adults who are young at heart will find plenty of pixie dust scattered throughout their cruise.
Even with its updates, the Disney Magic cruise ship retains a sense of tradition. Like its fleetmates, the vessel sports a nostalgic ocean liner appearance with a navy-blue hull and red funnels (customized with Mickeys, of course). Its Art Deco design is also complemented by nautical decor, and the Disney staple of "hidden Mickeys" stealthily placed in everything from wallpaper to light fixtures keep the magic alive for those who find them.
There are a few Disney-themed venues that are appropriately colorful and exuberant on the Disney Magic ship, but much of the ship's appeal lies in the fact that it's designed for everyone, not just Disney fanatics and kids. This is especially evident in the adults-only pool area, which is strategically tucked away at the front of the ship, away from main pool action (it's actually larger than the family pool); the pool bar Signals, fashioned as an outdoor lounge; and the bars that turn those under 18 away at night. What makes the spaces work is that the rules are enforced; we've never seen so many children (and parents with babies) chased out of a public space before. (Read why Disney is a great cruise line for adults).
Disney Magic deck plans are designed in a way that you never have to go far for food, drinks or entertainment. Cabins are spread over six of the 11 passenger decks, and you can find restaurants, bars and lounges on four others, including a number of them around the triple-deck Disney Magic atrium.
The Disney parks are known for their service, and this attention to the passenger experience carries onto Disney’s cruise ship Magic. Staff beam at you as you walk through the halls, and game medals are given with gusto. Servers in the restaurant steer you away from problematic dishes and the entertainment staff get people moving in the disco. And, unless your heart is made of stone, you'll melt at the characters, all pros at child-wrangling, who embrace the outgoing and coax the timid into pictures of a lifetime.
With a capacity of just over 2,700 passengers, Disney Magic may be dwarfed by the industry’s newest ships – but few will be at want for things to do. Character cameos, water slides, multiple pools, an excellent kids’ club, and a fun activities schedule keep cruisers busy during the day and into the night. For those who wish to stay away from the kids for a while, the ship offers various adult-only options, including a quiet pool, a restaurant, several bars, and a spa.
If you're trying to decide between Disney Magic (or its twin sister Disney Wonder) and the cruise line's newest ships, know this: Magic has a more intimate feel than its larger sisters, which makes it easier to get to know your fellow passengers, learn the floor plan, keep track of family members, and have the sense that you've experienced everything the ship has to offer, even on shorter sailings. (The "fish extender" groups, essentially Secret Santa-style gift exchanges, organized by passengers on many cruises makes it easy to meet people both before and during your sailing.)
Beyond its intimate feel, a cruise on Disney Magic is all about attention to detail. From tubs in all the cabins that make it easy to bathe little ones, to infused water and chilled towels awaiting your arrival after a long day in port, Disney takes care of the things you "didn't think about" to ensure your vacation is effortless. While prices are often at a premium and upsells abound, you'll likely find it's money well spent if Disney is part of your family's DNA.
As to itineraries, Disney Magic sails to the Bahamas, Southern Caribbean and Western Caribbean from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Galveston, New Orleans, and San Juan. Additionally, sailings from San Diego to Baja California or eastbound to Galveston (and vice versa) through the Panama Canal are also available. Disney Magic no longer offers Mediterranean and Bermuda cruises; those are now available onboard sister ship Disney Dream.
Families make up the majority of cruisers on Disney Magic, although a handful of adult couples (sans kids) are drawn to the ship for the "Disney experience." The cabins, which are roomier than the industry average and can fit four adults, if two are willing to take bunk beds, also contribute to its appeal. Kids must be 6 months to cruise on a regular sailing and 1 year old to go on Panama Canal.
Itineraries departing from U.S. cities attract predominantly Americans. While Disney has an impressive track record of returning passengers, it also welcomes a large number (sometimes up to 50 percent of the total passengers) of first-time cruisers.
Dress code is casual during the day and resort casual -- slacks and collared shirts for men and casual dresses or pants with a blouse for women -- in the evenings. Mouse ears and costumes are encouraged, and you'll see little princesses and pirates roaming the ship, as well as Marvel costumes during Marvel Day at Sea; adults often dress up for the latter, as well as Pirate Night.
On short cruises, there will be one "optional dress up" night, which is generally semiformal. Men are suggested to wear a tie and women, a dress or a pantsuit. On a seven-night cruise, there will be one "formal" night in addition to a semiformal night. The clothing requirements are actually the same for both formal and semiformal nights; the biggest difference is on formal night when the characters also dress up for photos.
Not a fan of dressing up? Don't fret. Even these fancier nights lean more toward the casual side, with many women dressed in summer or maxi-dresses as opposed to long, formal ones. Swimwear and tank tops are not allowed in the restaurants at dinner, but shorts and jeans are permitted.
In Palo, the dress code is a bit stricter: Shorts, capri pants, flip-flops and sneakers are not allowed, but you can wear jeans. It's the one place on the ship where you are likely to see jackets at dinner.
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Many great aspects, but dietary needs acomodations were a big letdown