Looking for an amazing family vacation? Wondering if a Disney Cruise is right for you or if you can still book a cruise in time for the holidays? Maybe you’re just intimidated to try something that you’ve never done before with a family in tow? If this is you, why not let my own first-time family vacation on the Disney Magic help answer your most important questions!
Is a Disney Cruise Worth It?
Let’s answer the first question that anyone asks when I mention Disney cruises. It’s not a pretty question, but when balancing budgets and time away from work and school are paramount in our vacation planning, it’s an important question.
I have to admit that even I wasn’t convinced that a Disney cruise was the best use of my vacation time, particularly if there was any chance I could go to one of the parks, instead. Let’s say I walked the plank with skepticism.
Oh my goodness, I was so wrong. From the moment you step aboard the Disney Magic, the Disney Cruise Line’s original ship, you are ensconced in the world of Disney, through and through. Hidden Mickeys are everywhere, the music filling the air is enchanting, and you quickly realize that they have thought of everything.
Above all else, aboard the Disney Magic, you gain a sense that it is yours. They thought of everything and that everything is there for you.
You will always have what you need: Something fun to do, a relaxing spot to call your own, a quick bite to eat or a leisurely meal with a view, and a staff universally seen as unparalleled in the industry (according to every single guest I spoke to that had ever sailed with another company). The Disney Magic anticipates your every necessity and whim, and is ready at your service.
Because it’s for you.
Budget: How does it compare to Disney World?
I was pleased to find that a Disney cruise rivals the cost of a vacation in one of Disney’s parks and resorts. A family of 4 could (right this second) book a 3-night Disney Magic cruise in an oceanview stateroom to the Bahamas on short notice (say, for 3 weeks from now) for less than $1,850. That’s based on leaving from Port Canaveral, Florida and sailing to the Bahamas, but there are many other choices. Many!
Recreating the same all-inclusive amenities of a Disney cruise in one of the moderate resorts for the same amount of time currently runs roughly $2,900. Of course, all of this varies depending on choice of stateroom (or resort, if you are price-comparing), but it’s the all-inclusive nature of the Disney Magic that is difficult to beat.
Our sailing was 5 nights, but after looking at upcoming available sailings, I could easily choose a 3-night cruise and feel like I enjoyed the full experience.
The 3-night Bahamas sailing, for instance, gives you a day in Nassau (you can select an excursion to the Atlantis!) and a day at Castaway Cay (pronounced “key”), Disney’s private island. Although I highly recommend the longer sailings for the days at sea, even the shortest trips are completely worth it.
Why book a 5-night cruise or longer? For the days at sea! My favorite moments of the cruise happened on board, not on the excursions or even at the gorgeous Castaway Cay in the best of weather. In addition to all of the activities mentioned above, wandering the ship reveals the most magical moments of all: Meeting your favorite characters! And on a much more intimate scale.
Is The Disney Magic Right For My Family?
Our family sailed as three generations: Grandparents, me (the mom), and my pre-school age kids. Although it was my daughter’s and my first time on a cruise, my parents are avid cruisers and know what to look for in a quality cruise experience.
All three generations utterly adored the Disney Magic.
Grandparents: My parents spent most of their time in the adults-only section of the pool deck, the Quiet Cove Pool. When not hanging out there, my mom indulged in the Senses Spa & Salon while my dad explored the open-air views from the walking path on Deck 4 and getting his fill in the casual dining options found mere steps from any point on board.
Kids: Iris lived for the Disney’s Oceaneer Club on Deck 5 and basically all of the open deck space of Deck 9, including the AquaLab kids’ pool and splash area.
We have to stop for a second and rave about the Oceaneer Club. Parents, the Oceaneer Club is awesome! A private and highly secured play zone for kids only, it is broken into areas like Andy’s Room (a larger-than-life-size version of the Toy Story bedroom, designed to make you feel that “You! are! a! toy!”), Pixie Hollow (with a hollow tree full of costumes), and the Mickey Mouse Club.
Best of all, it features the brand new Marvel’s Avengers Academy. A multi-day, immersive play experience, kids can train to be an Avenger and interact with favorites like Captain America. I can’t even tell you how much fun it is. I can’t even. So much fun!
Parents: Finally, mom here was simply beside herself, loving every moment. I enjoyed our days at sea the absolute most, as I truly never wanted to leave the ship. I could wander for hours on the top deck or quietly sit on our private stateroom balcony and just watch the waves.
Fortunately for my lackadaisical tendencies, this was a press trip, which meant I was up early and out late, my itinerary filled-to-bursting with discovering every hidden corner of the ship. So, as much as I advocate relaxing on your balcony, I experienced instead what it was like to not miss a thing.
My best tip? If you schedule anything, schedule your evenings to accommodate both the nightly stage shows and the rotating dining schedule. I was exhausted at the end of each day and dearly wanted to just order room service and curl up in a ball in front of the TV, but I fought the urge to crash and, oh, am I ever glad I did so.
What Should I Expect?
Dining to entertain the whole family
The Disney Magic features a rotational dining schedule that lets you dine in a different sit-down restaurant each night. On your first night, you will meet your Server and Assistant Server who will then rotate with you to each different restaurant on the following nights. This creates a comforting sense of having your needs not only met, but anticipated, and by friends.
Side note: Our Server was Nathan, and we loved him dearly. He always squatted to get down on Iris’s level and made us laugh every time he came to the table. By the second night, we began looking forward to telling Nathan all about how our day had gone and what kind of adventures we had. Well done, Disney.
Entertainment as only Disney can
Opposite of your dining time each night is a Broadway-style stage show, presented in the Walt Disney Theater. These are not to be missed. We chose the later dining time of 8:15, which meant attending the nightly show at 6:15pm. You would flip those times if you prefer an earlier dinner, which many parents do.
The shows on our sailing were Walt Disney: The Dream Goes On (an emotional retrospective of the life of Walt), Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story, Villains Tonight (a special production starring your favorite Disney villains that absolutely brought the house down), and Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic (featuring many of your favorite classic Disney tales). Iris is only four, and she was completely taken by these shows, on the edge of her seat and fully committed to the magic. As was her mom. 100% can’t miss on your cruise.
Have teens? Most nights ended with a dance party on the top deck (love love love) and, in addition to the adult nightclubs, the Disney Magic has a teen club called Vibe for the 14-17-year-old set, Edge for the 11-14-year-olds, and D Lounge for the whole family.
Just walking from the stunning Atrium to pick up Iris at the Oceaneer Club, I ran into Snow White at the elevators. There wasn’t a line of people waiting to meet her or handlers ushering her away; it was simply Snow White, doing Snow White things. All it took was the smile bursting from my lips, and she stopped to visit. You know, no big deal, just hanging out with Snow White.
Best of all, after I picked up Iris at the Oceaneer Club, Snow White was still hanging out, so Iris met her, too. Totally amazing.
psst … Don’t tell the kids, but the castmember who is Snow White also appears in most of the stage productions as a dancer. On our last night, at the ‘Til We Meet Again bon voyage party, I visited with Snow White again.
With Iris by my side, I told her in hushed tones about the girl who looks so much like Snow White in the stage shows. I asked her to tell that dancing girl how thrilled I was to recognize her, what an outstanding job she does at so many things, and to thank her for me. Snow White giggled as only Snow White does and said in her twinkling voice, “Oh my, I’ll be sure to tell her. I know she’ll appreciate that!”
Even more impressive than her charm? When Iris and I approached her across the crowded Atrium, Snow White said, “Oh, Iris! How nice to see you again! Did you have fun?” Days after meeting one of hundreds and hundreds of little kids, she remembered my daughter’s name. How is that for Disney magic?
Have Your Own Questions About Booking A Disney Cruise?
Hit me with ‘em!
I could talk about the Disney Magic for days on end as, seriously, this incredibly long post only lightly touched on a handful of highlights. There is so much to discover and explore, so much care taken with each detail, leaving me endlessly confident in saying that the Disney Magic is simply worth it. If you can take your family on a vacation, take them on a Disney Magic cruise.
Thank you to Disney Cruise Line for providing this experience on the newly reimagined Disney Magic. Despite an optional itinerary packed full to bursting, I was free to spend my time as I saw fit and write about it likewise. All opinions are my own.
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