My family just had the opportunity to sail for the first time on Disney Cruise Line last week. We had originally scheduled our first sailing for March of 2020 but it was canceled just a week before we were scheduled to sail.
Although I am an avid Walt Disney World and Disneyland fan this was our first Disney cruise. We had put it off because we had cruised with other cruise lines in the past and cruising was not our favorite vacation. Boy was I wrong. I wanted to share my first experience with Disney Cruise Line and why I have 4 more Disney cruises scheduled.
Our first cruise was on the Disney Magic. Disney currently has 4 ships: Magic, Wonder, Fantasy, and Dream. The 5th one, the brand new wish, will set sail this summer.
The Disney Magic was the first Disney ship to set sail. It first sailed in 1998. Although the Magic premiered in 1998 we felt the ship was in great condition. It was beautiful and did not show age. We loved the recent addition (2018) of the Rapunzel themed main dining room.
The Disney Magic offers a variety of itineraries throughout the year. The Magic sails the Caribbean in the winter and spring and in Europe during the summer and fall. Currently the Magic has sailings out of Miami, New Orleans, Galveston, Barcelona, Rome, Copenhagen, Dover, New York, and San Juan.
We sailed out of Miami Florida on a 5 day Caribbean Cruise. Our cruise had two sea days and two port days. We visited Grand Cayman and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. We loved being able to have two sea days to relax and enjoy the ship but also had the benefit of seeing two unique destinations.
Disney Cruise Line, like other cruise lines, has a variety of staterooms to choose from. Inside, Deluxe Inside, Oceanview, Verandah, Concierge, and Suites can be booked on the ship. We selected a Verandah stateroom due to receiving a reasonably priced offer booking a guaranteed stateroom. Typically we do not spend much time in the room so typically we choose an inside or Oceanview.
Choosing a stateroom really depends on the person. For us, we did not spend much time on the balcony so this is not a must for us.
I will admit I was skeptical about the entertainment on the ship as I had cruised other lines before and was always disappointed in the entertainment. This was not the case for Disney Cruise Line. It was fantastic. Our ship featured the Tangled show and also had Disney Dreams, a comedian, and a magician.
The Tangled Musical and Disney Dreams were fantastic. I love Broadway shows and I would rate both of these right up there. Both of the shows gave me goose bumps and tears. They were fantastic. The shows are also kid friendly as well. If parents want to enjoy the shows on their own they can also take their children to kids club.
The ship also featured several activities throughout the day such as live music in lounges, trivia, art activities, and more. We participated in the animation workshop and making a 3D craft of the Disney Magic. Both were a lot of fun for the whole family. They are free events and you get a keepsake to take home with you. We also participated in Disney Trivia and the Pirate Trivia. We did not win but the winner did receive a prize.
The dining on board the ship was phenomenal. The Disney Magic had three main dining rooms: Rapunzel’s Royal Table, Animator’s Palate, and Lumiere’s. Since we sailed a 5 night cruise, we were assigned to two dining rooms twice on our cruise. Guests could also enjoy the dining rooms during breakfast and lunch. Breakfast usually had one dining room open and lunch would have one or two open as well. The Disney navigator app allows guests to see what is open.
Guests can also enjoy the buffet cabanas and pool deck food as well included in their fare.
We also enjoyed Palo’s on board. Palo is an adult only experience which costs $45 a person. We participated in the brunch. The service and the food are excellent. We wanted to try Palo as this was our first experience but it is not necessary as again we enjoyed the food in the main dining rooms.
Disney Cruise Line provides character interactions throughout the day. Due to COVID, the interactions were socially distanced but we still enjoyed the experience. The main atrium is where guests could meet the characters. During our cruise we met Belle, Ariel, Mulan, Cinderella, Tiana, Captain America, Jack Sparrow, Captain Hook, Captain Marvel, Thor, Smee, Chip, Dale, Minnie, Mickey, Goofy, Donald, Daisy, and perhaps more that I am forgetting.
It was a great experience. Unlike Disney World where the lines can be quite long to enjoy the characters, these interactions usually were short lines. Castaway Cay also had opportunities to meet characters. We saw Daisy, Goofy, and Jack Sparrow on the island.
Another fun feature is during Pirate Night, many of the characters featured pirate outfits. Pirate night was really fun! We were provided a Pirates of the Caribbean bandana during our main dining. The atrium had Pirate photo backdrops and guests and cast members also dressed up like pirates.
One of the highlights of our trip was the free kids club. We loved this. The kids club allows parents to be able to enjoy some alone time and participate in the adult only sections of the ship and private island. Kids 3-17 can enjoy different kids clubs. Our kids are 3 and 7 so they participated in Oceaneers Club and Lab. The week before we sailed Disney Cruise Line no longer required reservations for kids 5 and up.
Previously the required reservations post COVID. This change means that children 5 and up can stay for an unlimited amount of time. Our youngest 3 was unvaccinated due to age so her age group was separated into certain area of the club and needed a reservation. You could make unlimited reservations through the app.
Young children under 5 also needed to wear a mask in kids club. The separation requirement is important to know in advance as our kids were upset when they were separated from each other but eventually adjusted. I suspect this will change in the coming months as younger children get approved to be vaccinated.
Teens can participate in Edge and Vibe clubs depending on their age. It’s a Small World nursey was still closed during our sailing for kids younger than 3.
As parents of young children, we loved having the free option of kids club. Vacationing with kids can be exhausting and it’s great to have a safe place for them to interact with other children. Children are all given a magic band to check in and out of kids club. Parents also provide a code word for pickup. The counselors were amazing. They were all well trained and friendly with parents and children. All of the kids clubs have daily open houses throughout the day for parents to visit and to acclimate children to the club.
I highly recommend selecting an itinerary that includes Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. It was beautiful, relaxing, and had Disney theming. The island had shallow safe beaches for children and adults to enjoy. The island also has a private adults only section, Serenity Bay, and a kids club.
We enjoyed some family time on the island and then took our children to enjoy the kids club while we relaxed at Serenity Bay.
The island has a water slide, shops, food, bars, and lots of places to relax. Guests can also see stingrays for a small fee, and rent snorkeling equipment, ride a bike, or just lounge. It’s simply breathtaking.
The crew members on Disney Cruise Line deserve their own accolades. They were phenomenal. Everyone from the wait staff, guest services, photographers, entertainers, camp counselors, and cabin stewards were top notch. We never had a negative experience while on board. Crew members went over and beyond.
With Disney Cruise Line during rotational dining your wait staff will follow you to your dining each evening. Our wait staff knew our names, our preferences, and helped to entertain our kids.
Our parents were traveling with us during our trip and had a flight cancellation and delay and arrived to their port without luggage. They talked to a wonderful crew member at the airport who worked at the Disney transportation counter. She talked with the airline and helped to find their luggage. They sent my parents to the port, so they would not have to rush and miss the cruise.
Once arriving guest services told my parents they had found their luggage, picked it up from the airport and delivered to their room. This was truly exceptional top notch service. Disney Cruise Line told my parents that if they weren’t able to get their luggage by the time they left Miami they would deliver to the Cayman Island, our next stop. I could not believe this level of service.
As you can tell, I loved my first Disney Cruise. It was honestly one of the best vacations I’ve had in a long time and we traveled several times a year. I was skeptical at first as we had cruised with 3 other cruise lines and were not overly impressed. Disney Cruise Line changed my mind. I have several upcoming Disney Cruises booked and cannot wait. Make sure before you leave the ship to book a placeholder for $250. This will give you the chance to book another cruise at a 10% discount. Your travel agent can still assist you with a placeholder booking.
Disney Cruise Line has almost returned completely to normal since the pandemic. The only time we had to wear masks was at the terminal and while in the Disney Walt Disney theater. Unvaccinated children just need to wear them during kids club and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Our cruise director told us that we had 1450 passengers and 900 crew members. Personalized service was evident while on board with the high crew member to guest ratio. I cannot wait to cruise again!
Do you want more help planning your next Disney vacation? As an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, my goal is to help you plan the magic your way. I also create customized itineraries, book advanced dining, monitor for discounts for your vacation, and much much more! Guest who book at Disney Cruise with me also receive a FREE on board credit. Also, did I mention that my services are FREE!!!! Contact me at SLoehrlein@MickeyTravels.com or follow me on Facebook @MickeyTravelsShannonLoehrlein