Last year on the Mediterranean DCL cruise, we played with the idea of booking a new trip onboard, this time to Norway. The idea nearly felt a bit preposterous - as we were both native Norwegians living in Norway - should we really do a Disney Cruise to our own homeland? Then again, thousands of Norwegians travel the coast of Norway with Hurtigruten, so why should going with the award winning DCL be any less of a choice? Thus, we booked this June 6th inaugural sailing to our "own" Norwegian fjords. We had to go first to Copenhagen, Denmark, to embark the Disney Magic.
Travel To Port of Embarkation
We took the transportation ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen the day before the cruise, arriving the morning of the first cruise day. The Norway-Denmark ferry is rather far away from where the port of the Disney ship (5+ kilometers), and taxis were few and far between. We were waiting in line for nearly an hour, and had no Danish currency to pay for the bus. Finally, several taxis showed up, and we could relieve some stress as we were taken to our "final" destination, the Disney Magic. The taxi was less expensive than in Norway. Checking in was pleasant, as we were met with the regular (in other words, wonderful) cheery Disney service. We had not received our luggage tags in the mail (do to an oddness of more than one address registered in the DCL systems), and could not find the registration print-outs we were supposed to have at check-in. Luckily, this is not a problem, and all things were taken care of swiftly.
As we are budget travelers for the moment, I had asked the booking agent to "give us the most affordable stateroom she had". Which was both spacious and comfortable enough for our liking. We didn't spend much time there anyway. The bathroom was not split this time (we still survived), and the tub is really tiny. I did notice some wear and tear in the bathroom, which is unfortunately expected, especially when running water is involved.
The Disney Magic is one of the two older DCL ships. Everything looks (and is) clean, polished, and working seamlessly. We have started to avoid visits to the spa, however, because of the disappointing visit last year. It's dark (inside, now windows), showers are broken, and in stark contrast to the Disney Fantasy, where it's simply amazing. There is a certain scent to some of the hallways outside the restaurants which I can never place - it's distinctly "Disney food scent" or perhaps it's the scent of Florida. Who knows. It is ALWAYS a thrill to enter the now familiar atrium with the Mickey statue and chandeliers. That is in my opinion the heart of the ship. The bars are great, and as always, there is absolutely no awkwardness in being a childfree couple on a Disney cruise. This cruise line really caters to all sorts of families - and singles.
Animator's Palate is always a thrill. On the main show night (yes, it is a show with a dinner), we were seated with a delightful couple that provided "wow factor" animated figures. I always try to make grotesque figures. Food was good, although I was surprised at some of the "regional inspirations". Norway has a far better cuisine than I could trace here, so although tasty and well done, it could have been even more Norwegian fare. Oh well. Lumiere's is in my opinion just okay as a restaurant, and Cariocas is downright almost boring (as a location). The food in every location, however, is excellent. If you leave this cruise hungry, you have not been on a cruise. We also ate at Palo (with our great Facebook pre-cruise group!), yet another delightful experience. Palo is a must. I am glad it's only available on the Disney cruise ships... The rotational dining system is nice, as always. The Coconut Tres Leches cake at Cariocas which was drenched in a caramel sauce last year was a disappointment this time around. Come on, DCL, gimme more caramel!
Oh and breakfasts at Cabanas were better than ever before, I think! Very tasty food. Kudos for no dry pancakes this time. I almost prefer this to the Lumiere's breakfast, which is nearly dull in comparison.
Because weather was fairly cold (unusual for this time of the year - May and early June was below normal temperature wise), we only used the adult pool once on the final sea day. Usually I am crazy about the pool, but this time we huddled with lots of provided fleece blankets and read books on deck. Cove Cafe provides cakes, food is of course omnipresent, and we brought our own coffee travel mugs (the Bodum french press kind) because the DCL coffee is, well, not as good as we are used to.
We also did the Tequila Tasting, Margarita and Caipirinhia Tasting, and Chocolate and Liquor Tasting. All good fun. We do these on every cruise anyway.
Additionally, we attended the Anna's Chocolate Hunt or whatever it was called. We saw families, both adults and children, doing this. The rice crispie treat we got didn't exactly meet our expectation of an award for a "chocolate hunt". I think it had white chocolate on it... oh well, no biggie.
We tend to really enjoy relaxing on deck with a drink and a book.
Disney service is usually above and beyond. It is always promptly and excellently delivered, so we were happy. It's one of the delights you get to indulge yourself with when on a Disney cruise. I have to say it is great to be recognized an entire year later by cast members.
I finally got to see Twice Charmed! I loved it, what an excellent show! Although every show is great, I found the "welcome aboard" part a bit strange. They could have regionalized it more - this wasn't the Med or the Caribbean. I have to say, the Frozen part of Disney Dreams - An Enchanted Classic, was INCREDIBLE! I was not expecting much as I am already very tired of Frozen, but wow, this was amazing. They have added effects for this part, also with the Lion King bit. Well worth the watch! Villains Tonight! was fun yet again.
We watched Clara Oman singing and playing the piano each night at Keys.
The Frozen Deck Party was really nothing to write home about. Home being Norway, the place that inspired Frozen. No fireworks (which is okay), but not very funny or entertaining either. So many missed opportunities.
We rarely interact with characters, although this time Mickey, Minnie and Daisy wore Norwegian costumes (bunads), and Goofy was dressed in Viking gear!
The non-Disney show The Magic of Light was also great! Kind of a strange storyline, but still not something you would want to miss!
Port & Shore Excursions
The Port Adventures we did through Disney. We did the Lysefjord Cruise (SV01) from where you get to see Prekestolen (The Pulpit Rock) from underneath. It really shows high far up and gigantic this vista is! Several spectacular views on this trip. Also, we did the Iconic Norway By Train And Bus (BG36) from Bergen to Flåm, Voss, and Stalheim Hotel, where we were served a buffet lunch (it was okay). Would do the last one again in a heartbeat. People said they wish we had more time at the different stops. In Ålesund we walked up to Aksla by ourselves, and went to the Atlanterhavsparken Aquarium. Unfortunately, we were met with a very rude and unpleasant service upon entering the aquarium. It made the wolffish on display seem friendly. Luckily, the guy in the shop was nice when we left later on. The Stavanger Oil Museum was just okay. It seems dated to me.
On disembarkation day we were just sad. Having met so many great people, it's sad to know you won't be seeing them again for a while, if at all! We went with newfound friends to Tivoli Gardens in the middle of Copenhagen (I have been many times as a child) and enjoyed a splendy sunny half-day there. You don't need a lot of time to do most things they offer - but at least try the gigantic Danish ice creams "with everything".
To quote Walt Disney: “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality”. Whether it is the cast members or other guests, we always feel exceptionally lucky to be surrounded by so many friendly, interesting, and nice people. We meet new friends from all over the world (oh who am I kidding - it's mostly Americans), and make wonderful memories together.
So is a Norwegian Disney cruise worth it for Norwegians - and everyone else? Only if you love life, and all of the above. Come on. Of course it is.
The stateroom is okay if you are on a budget. No window or balcony is a draw if you want to watch the outside scenery in private. No split bathroom, but roomy anyhow if you are two (men). Did not notice any noise, and the room was serviced twice a day, automagically when we were out doing other things.
Copenhagen is a beautiful city, and we had excellent weather. However, taxis were hard to get by, and ATMs not in abundance when you need cash to pay for a bus.
This is really an exciting trip! Once you leave Stavanger, the landscape is rather flat compared to what you will see - and the scenery keeps getting more spectacular with every moment you spend. They included a stop with Norwegian waffles and tea, coffee and sodas, which we really enjoyed. You will see Prekestolen, but from underneath. If you know what it looks like from above, you will be amazed!View All 68 Lysefjord Reviews
We walked up Aksla (mountain in the middle of the city) by ourselves. Also took the bus to Atlanterhavsparken Aquarium. All this is easily done on your own, and quite enjoyable.
This Port Adventure was sold out on the DCL website, but we managed to book it once aboard on embarkation day. Although I do not appreciate being told by the supplier that "we don't like your kind here" (that is, people from Oslo) the experience was crazy fun. Very fast, very wet, extremely windy and at the same time spectacular. If you want pictures, be fast and bring a waterproof camera. Also, something to wipe the lens with.View All undefined undefined Reviews
While some might find this trip a little too long, I thought it was GREAT! Would do it again in a heartbeat. You really get to see even more spectacular landscapes. If you think Geiranger and Stavanger offer scenery, then add this! The Flåmbanen train ride is magnificent, and all this wows me, even though I am from Norway. Would love to do this again, by ourselves and with our own car, so we could stop when we wanted to.View All undefined undefined Reviews