Fodor’s Expert Review
The Magic makeover of 2013 brings a new water slide; kids’ Oceaneer Club and adds Marvel Comics characters.Read More
Best For People Who Want
More Disney! Bring it on, Goofy, Mickey, Tinkerbell; a family-oriented vacation with the focus on spoiling your kids to pieces with a lifetime experience they will never forget.
Disney characters are everywhere, whether we are talking about costumed actors dressed as Mickey and Dopey hugging your kids for a photo-op, or just referring to the wall-art, statues, banisters on the stairways and wallpaper. Even the ship’s horn sounds “When You Wish Upon A Star” instead of the traditional blast as it departs a port. Still, grown-ups as well as kids are likely to enjoy this stunning ship, whose cabins are huge and beautifully decorated, because it has that Disney quality of attention to detail and finding something interesting in everything you see. Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay may well provide the best private island experience of any cruise line. The dining program is marvelously innovative; you dine at the same table number with the same dining companions and servers each evening, but in a different restaurant. There’s non-stop fun for all, including some adults-only lifestyle and enrichment courses with guest lecturers, wine tastings, cooking classes and a champagne brunch.
There are a few odd notes amid all the opulence here. The 24-hour coffee station has only styrofoam cups, and instead of butter, what you get with your meals is a margarine blend called “butterine.” In view of the fact that everything from soup stock to all of the breads and pastries, is made fresh on board, this can only be adjudged as “oddly out-of-place”.
Sumptuous fabrics, wood, and hand-woven carpets and furnishings – and the Disney logo – are ubiquitous. The cabins are decorated almost identically, combining modern design with nostalgic ocean-liner elements such as a steamer-trunk closet for kids, globe- and telescope-shaped lamps, map designs on the bedspreads, and a framed photograph of Mr. and Mrs. Walt Disney aboard the ocean liner Rex sometime in the 1930s.
Some of Disney’s vast archive of animation cels, production sketches, costume studies, and inspirational artwork is displayed around the ship.
When passengers first arrive and enter the majestic Disney Magic atrium what do they behold but a large bronze statue called “Helmsman Mickey” somewhat reminiscent of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square. The Walt Disney Theater, which features Disney on Broadway-style productions, is popular at night (though, to be clear, you will not see the same shows Disney has on Broadway such as “The Lion King”). PG-rated Disney movies may be viewed in the Buena Vista Theater.
The ship’s sophisticated, elegant adult-only areas are often all but deserted. The art deco Sessions piano bar has large circular windows and cozy leather chairs. Rockin’ D Bar features country and western and rock every evening, while the adjacent Beat Street offers comedy. The main Internet center, adjacent to the Promenade, is small and cramped. Not so, though, Cafe Cove, a coffeehouse with books, newspapers, magazines, and a small Internet center, a favorite of most grown-ups.
Two large boutiques sell Disneyana. Logo apparel and suitcases, duty-free perfumes and liquor are also available. (Do note that you can bring your own booze aboard to enjoy in the comfort and privacy of your stateroom, but if you buy duty-free from the shop, it’s held for you until the end of the cruise.)
Five areas are dedicated to kids and teens, three of them dating back to 2005, when three conference rooms were converted into the Ocean Quest play area for kids, with a scaled-down replica of the ship’s bridge on which the more fanciful among them can vividly imagine themselves steering the vessel.
Teens have new area all to themselves (formerly the ESPN Sports Zone).
Gratuities can be charged to your shipboard account. The recommended tipping guidelines per person (including children) are as follows: Dining Room Server $25.75 Dining Room Asst. Server $18.75 Dining Room Head Server $ 6.50 Stateroom Host/Hostess $25.25.
Dining Manager and Room Service tipping is at the passenger’s discretion on all cruises. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar, beverage, wine, and deck service tabs.
Most other cruise lines would call Magic’s standard cabins, in which up to four passengers can feel comfy, mini-suites. Standard inside and outside staterooms are a generous 173 sq. feet, while those with private balconies measure 253 sq. feet. Disney’s popular suites can comfortably accommodate four or five people in their 291 square feet. One-bedroom suites are 591 sq. feet. Deluxe suites have two bedrooms and private concierge service. Standard stateroom amenities include color TV with CNN and Disney PG movies, a bath and a half, hair dryer, and good storage space for a short cruise.
In all but the least expensive inside cabins, Magic’s bathrooms are divided into a “bath and a half” configuration. One room has a toilet, sink and shelves for makeup and sundries; the other a shallow tub, shower and sink.
The ship has age-appropriate children’s programs that are the best at sea separated as follows:
6 to 36 months
3 to 11 years
12 to 14 years
15 to 17 years
Kids can stay with siblings upon request. Kids all get tracking bracelets that allow the “keepers” to keep track of their locations.
The days are filled with fun activities; movies, dress-up like pirates and princesses, massive video games for up to 16 simultaneous players, jungle gyms, etc.
With the exception of the Captain’s Dinner, at which formal attire (dress or gown for women and dark suit or tux for men) is recommended, evening attire for gentlemen is pants and shirt, skirts or pants for women.
Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer
Adult oriented cruising including quiet time in the sun, a casino at night; a library; adult-oriented (rated PG-16 at least) and to be around as few children as possible.
Disney’s cuisine has improved dramatically since the ship was introduced, to the point at which it can now be said to rival Princess’s, with All-American and Continental fare likely to please all but the most sophisticated palate. Hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, and pizza are available until 6 p.m., and late nights snacks are served in the adults-only lounges. Room service is available 24 hours. The exceptional adult-only Italian restaurant, Palo, has a refined and elegant atmosphere and levies only a $10 surcharge.
In a system invented by and unique to Disney Cruises, each evening passengers dine in a different restaurant with a different theme. Parrot’s Cay is tropical, Lumiere’s art deco. In Animator’s Palate, the room gradually changes from black and white to color during your meal. Palo, an alternative adults-only restaurant, is chic and elegant, but tough to get a reservation for; make your reservation soon after boarding and choose a time either early in the evening (6-6:30 p.m. or 8:45-9:30 p.m.).
A lot of past passengers have pronounced Parrot Cay, the vibrant Caribbean marketplace-themed dining room, their favorite place to eat. Here the waiters bellow Buster Poindexter’s “Hot Hot Hot” and encourage any kids present, to the horror of at least those parents eager to instill in their progeny a sense of decorum, to join them in a mid-meal conga line.
The casual dining restaurant Topsider’s, high up and aft, serves breakfast and lunch buffets and is open for dinner as well. Its location is splendid, but its indoor layout makes it difficult to navigate.
Those seeking a casual luncheon menu should head for the self-service Topsider Buffet, but only after being forewarned of its frequent long lines, especially on embarkation day. Limited 24-hour room service is also available.
On that hotbed of outboard activity otherwise known as Deck 9, there are two fast-food locations and a fruit and ice cream bar. Pluto’s Doghouse serves burgers, fries, tacos and crisp, juicy chicken breast tenders loved by all non-vegetarians. Pinocchio’s Pizzeria isn’t nearly as popular, but Scoops, the ice cream station, is a major crowd-pleaser.
As you might expect, it could hardly be more upbeat, especially in children’s areas.
Though the Broadway-style productions aren’t nearly as glorious as you might expect, given that Disney is so successful on Broadway with the Lion King and adult shows like Aida. But, nevertheless, they are known to be some of the most elaborate and expertly executed shows at Sea, with huge casts, wonderful costumes and jaw-dropping special effects.
Meanwhile, the performers in the family lounges also excel at getting everyone involved. Studio Sea, one of the liveliest spots aboard Disney Magic, is a dance club where parents and children actually dance together. In 2005, a giant screen was added to the ship’s funnel to show movies and broadcasts around the pool area.
The deck parties on Magic are some of the most enthusiastically attended at sea, with the Pirates of the Caribbean one being a particular highlight.
For the grownups, there are adult-only nightclubs like the Piano Bar, a lively Jazz Club, and hilarious comedians in different lounges at various times.
There are three pools, one adults-only. Kids love the long water slide. The Vista Spa and Salon, operated by Steiner’s of London, has hydrotherapy and all the usual massage and beauty treatments.
During the major refit in 2005, the spa and fitness areas were expanded, and now include three indoor/outdoor spa treatment rooms, new exercise equipment, a spinning class area, and private consultation rooms. -oriented passengers will love the gym, with more equipment than many passengers from small towns in the Midwest would find at their local YMCA. Additional sports activities include basketball, paddle tennis, volleyball. There is a quarter-mile separate track for jogging.
The Walt Disney Company set a course for a new kind of Disney experience when it formed Disney Cruise Line and launched the first of its twin sister ships Disney Magic in 1998. With its classic beauty and modern conveniences, it blends technology and comforts into a comfortable family vacation. In 2013, Disney Magic received an upgrade that added new upper-deck water features, redesigned kids clubs, and fresh decor throughout the ship. Disney Magicoffers four- to seven-night Mediterranean cruises sailing from Barcelona, as well as seasonal Caribbean cruises from Miami or Galveston.
Reminiscent of classic ocean liners, Disney vessels have two funnels (the forward one is nonfunctional) and high-tech interiors behind their art deco and art nouveau styling. Whimsical design accents cleverly incorporate images of Mickey Mouse and his friends without overpowering the warm and elegant decor. Artwork showcases the creativity of Disney artists and animators. The atmosphere is never stuffy.
More than 15,000 square feet—nearly an entire deck—are devoted to children’s activity centers, outdoor activity areas, and swimming pools. Theaters cater to family entertainment with large-scale production shows, movies, dances, lively game shows, and even 3-D movies.
Adults-only hideaways include an avenue of theme bars and lounges tucked into the area just forward of the lobby atrium; the Promenade Lounge, near the aft elevator lobby; and Cove Café, a quiet spot adjacent to the adult pool to relax with coffee or a cocktail, surf the Internet, or read.
With the launch of Disney Cruise Line in 1998, families were offered yet another reason to take a cruise. The magic of a Walt Disney resort vacation plus the romance of a sea voyage are a tempting combination, especially for adults who discovered Disney movies and the Mickey Mouse Club as children. Mixed with traditional shipboard activities, who can resist scheduled opportunities for the young and young-at-heart to interact with their favorite Disney characters?
Although Disney Cruise Line voyages stuck to tried-and-true Bahamas and Caribbean itineraries in their formative years, and sailed exclusively from Port Canaveral, Florida, where a terminal was designed especially for Disney ships, the line has branched out to other regions, including Alaska and Europe.
- 11 passenger decks
- specialty restaurant, 3 dining rooms, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
- Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator, DVD (some)
- 2 pools, children’s pool
- fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa
- 6 bars, dance club, 2 showrooms, video game room
- children’s programs
- dry cleaning, laundry facilities, laundry service
- Internet terminal
- no kids under 12 weeks, no-smoking cabins
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Staterooms & Cabins
Designed for families, Disney ships have some of the roomiest, most functional staterooms at sea. Natural woods, imported tiles, and a nautical flavor add to the decor, which even includes the touch of Disney-inspired artwork on the walls. Most cabins can accommodate at least three people and have a seating area and unique bath-and-a-half arrangement. Three-quarters of all accommodations are outside cabins, and 44% of those include private balconies with kid-proof door handles and higher-than-usual railings for safety. All cabins have adequate closet and drawer/shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves.
Suites are truly expansive, with master bedrooms separated from the living areas for privacy. All suites have walk-in closets, a dining table and chairs, a wet bar, a DVD player, and a large balcony.
Though not luxurious, Disney cabins are comfortably furnished. Each has a flat-screen TV, a small refrigerator, a personal safe, and a hair dryer; bathrobes are provided for use during the cruise in the top-category staterooms. All suites have concierge service.
Sixteen cabins are wheelchair accessible.
Food & Drink
In a novel approach to dining, passengers (and their waiters) rotate through the three main dining rooms in assigned seatings. Tiana’s Place (Disney Wonder), Carioca’s (Disney Magic), and Animator’s Palate are casual, while Triton’s (Disney Wonder) and Lumière’s (Disney Magic) are a bit fancier. Palo is a beautifully appointed Northern Italian restaurant for adults only that requires reservations for brunch, dinner, or tea and carries an extra charge. Breakfast and lunch are open seating in dining rooms. Disney characters make an appearance at a character breakfast on seven-night cruises. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are also offered in the casual pool-deck buffet, while poolside pizzerias, snack bars, grills, and ice cream bars serve everything from pizza, burgers, and hot dogs to fresh fruit, wraps, and frozen treats during the day. Specialty coffees are available in the adults-only Cove Café for an extra charge. Room service is available around the clock.
After the energetic production shows, deck parties, and activities designed for the entire family, adults can slip off to bars and lounges reserved for them after dark, including a sports bar or nightclub where the entertainment staff offers activities such as karaoke or themed dance parties. For quiet conversation and a drink under the stars, there’s a cozy bar alongside the adult pool.
Spa & Fitness
Spas feature a complete menu of facials and massages. The Tropical Rainforest is a soothing coed thermal suite with heated tile lounges and is complimentary for the day if you book a spa treatment; it’s available on a daily or cruise-long basis for a fee. SpaVillas, indoor–outdoor treatment suites, each have a veranda with a hot tub and an open-air shower.