We sailed the Canada five-day itinerary on the Disney Magic from September 7-12. This was our 6th cruise (our third on Disney -- our first two cruises were on the Wonder and the Dream).
We drove down to New Jersey the night before and stayed at the La Quinta Suites in Secaucus (won on Priceline). Decent hotel for a night. It was right next to the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, which gave us quick access to the cruise terminal in Manhattan. Parking on the roof was easy, as was the trip down into the terminal to check in.
We arrived at the terminal at 11:30, and had only a short wait to check in. Actual check in took probably 3 minutes. We were in boarding group 3, with a boarding time of 11:30-12:00. They did not even begin boarding until noon, but they quickly went through the first 2 groups, and we were on board by around 12:10. We quickly realized this was going to be an unusual Disney cruise, as we mainly saw adults waiting to board. We heard later that there were only about 100 kids on board (due to the fact that school had just started, as well as the itinerary being less interesting to kids).
We were in cabin 5520. We loved our cabin, our best yet on a Disney ship! It is classified as an inside cabin because it is an obstructed view, but really, you can see out just fine. There is an outside wall to the one side, and you look out over some barrels, but none are hanging right in front of the porthole. We had a fine view on sea days. The cabin itself was comfortable -- no smaller than any other cruise ship we've sailed on. The split bath is awesome -- with two sinks, there was a lot less fighting over getting ready!
We had the main seating at dinner (5:45). This was an error, as we had requested late seating, but we decided to give it a try and really liked it. It gave us more time to do other things after dinner, and we were not quite so stuffed. Our waiter and assistant waiter were awesome as always, and got us everything we requested. As a vegetarian, I appreciated that all the vegetarian appetizers and entrees were presented in a separate section of the menu so I did not have to hunt around for them. Most all of the food was average to above average.
The buffet on Deck 9 was good if you wanted something quick. It's nice to eat on the patio on the back of the ship. The other eateries around the pool (pizza, burgers, etc) also were decent for what they are (fast food). There is also a soda fountain by the kids' pool. We've found it helpful to bring our own re-usable mugs (the ones from the WDW resorts work perfect). The paper cups provided are pretty small, and it seems like such a waste to throw so many away. Just seems more environmentally friendly. In addition to soda, there is also coffee and cocoa available. There is also a selection of meats, cheeses, sandwiches etc. available in the Cove Cafe (coffee bar by the adult pool). If you can't find something to eat on this ship, you just aren't trying!
By far, the best food on the ship, however, is at Palo. We made our reservations as soon as we boarded the ship (they were actually set up downstairs in one of the clubs the day of embarkation, so make sure to check on their location to avoid going all the way up to the restaurant.) We were able to get dinner and brunch reservations. There is a $20/pp upcharge for each meal. And totally worth it! The food is excellent, and there is a wide variety of selections. Dinner is ordered strictly off the menu, but brunch is a combination buffet/order from the grill. Brunch also included champagne (all alcoholic drinks at dinner are extra). We had the same server for both meals who made sure we had everything we could possibly want (even went to the trouble of sending someone to one of the other restaurants to get soy milk for my coffee). We loved the selection at brunch, and the view was spectacular (it was a sea day). At dinner, it was dark, so we really couldn't see the ocean, even though we were next to a window.
We had two ports (Halifax and St. John). In Halifax, we mostly just walked around the port and browsed in the shops. In St. John, we rented a car. The Enterprise dealer was about a 20 minute walk, but in hindsight, we could have made arrangements for them to pick us up at the port. When we returned the car, they drove us back and saved us the hike.
We drove to the Fundy Trail, along the Bay of Fundy (The beginning of the trail is about an hour drive from the port). Absolutely beautiful scenery! Definitely a must for photographers. We wish we had more than a day to enjoy it all.
Activities on board:
For those who are concerned about taking a Disney cruise without kids, I can only say -- it's not a problem! While this cruise had an abnormally small number of kids, we have been on other Disney cruises that had a high population of little ones. The kids clubs are so popular that a lot of the kids seem to stay in those areas, and the cast members really do a great job of keeping them occupied. We've had more issues with kids on Royal Caribbean cruises, where they just seem to run wild on the ship. At dinner, we have always been seated with other adults traveling without kids -- if you like Disney, you will make new friends who love it just as much as you do! And even though there is plenty of Disney theming on the ship, it is not as over-the-top as you might think.
There are plenty of activities for adults. The quiet pool is very peaceful. We never found the whirlpools to be crowded in the evening. The spa is very nice, and I enjoyed some time in the rainforest, which is a collection of steam rooms, sauna and heated loungers (I think it runs around $15/day for use). Very relaxing. There are also a variety of clubs, which are restricted to adults after a particular time in the evening. We liked the sports bar, which has a variety of board games you can play. It was particularly popular on Sunday for football. They also had a small buffet every evening with finger foods. My husband loved their wings.
We did not see any of the shows, but we did watch Brave and The Avengers in 3D, both of which we really enjoyed. There were several other movies shown as well.
In addition, you can take advantage of tours of the ship (we did tours on both the Wonder and the Dream, and it's fascinating to hear the thought that went into the design of the ships), and animation classes -- I can almost draw Mickey! There are usually pretty long lines to take pictures with the characters, but it's similar to the parks. I did happen to catch Snow White in the hall on her way to a meet and greet and she was gracious enough to strike a pose, so sometimes you just have to be on the look-out. We also enjoyed walking around to see the variety of artwork around the ship. There is a lot of really fun animation.
Debarkation was pretty painless. We were scheduled for breakfast in the dining room at 7 am, which was too early, so we headed up to the buffet just before it closed at 8:30. By the time we finished eating, our debarkation group had already been called, so we walked right off the ship and collected our luggage. It only took about 5-10 minutes to get through customs and we headed up to the car.
My only complaint about this trip was that it was too short! I've read complaints that the Magic was looking unkempt, but we just didn't see it. It definitely is ready for dry-dock to spiff it up, but we really saw very little peeling paint, faded carpeting or chipped wood. If anything, they were constantly cleaning and painting. Little things here and there, but you really had to be looking for them. For her age, she looks fabulous.
Even though Disney cruises are more expensive than other comparable cruise lines, we think it is worth the premium. The cast members go out of their way to make your vacation special. As you walk around the ship, everyone from the Captain on down to the guy painting the railings will stop and greet you and ask if they can help. The ships are classic looking, well maintained and fun. Feel the magic, and you can't go wrong!