Lou Del Vecchio
Age: 41 to 50
Number of Cruises: 3 to 5 Cruises
Cruise Line: Disney
Ship: Disney Magic
Sailing Date: August 26, 2000
Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean
Lou Del Vecchio
Trip Report - 7 Day Disney Magic - 8/26/00
This was the 3rd cruise of the Disney Magic on her new 7 day route. This was our 5th cruise and the 2nd for our 2 boys (age 7 & 9). As much has been posted about the 3 & 4 day cruises, I'll limit much of my report on what's been added on the 7 day cruise. Disney must be doing something right as we ran into many couples who were on their 2nd Disney cruise! Not bad for a cruise line in business for just over 2 years.
The seven day cruise leaves Port Canaveral on Saturdays and visits St. Martin, St. Thomas and Castaway Cay (Disney's private island). We arrived by car at 11:15 am, dropped our bags at the curb and parked about 50' feet from the front door of the terminal. Parking is $7 per day and they do take charge cards. There were plenty of people working the check-in desk so it took all of 5 minutes. The ship does not allow boarding until 12:30 so don't bother getting there too early.
Following the advice of the newsgroup, we sent one of our party to Palo's (the adults only restaurant) for reservations. Waiting in the Palo lounge were 2 other fellow newsgroup readers who expected a big line. There wasn't any this early. The restaurant manager stopped by and told us they would start taking reservations at 2:00 PM. He did us a favor and wrote our reservations on a piece of paper and told us to go enjoy ourselves at lunch. The first of many nice gestures by the Disney cast. While the line for reservations got very long by 3:00 PM, they did not sell out the first day on our cruise. Obviously the extra days for the 7 day cruise is helping the demand issue for Palo's.
In addition to Palo dinner ($5 extra per person), Palo's also will let you reserve a champagne brunch for days at sea (Sunday, Monday and Thursday). It's $10 per person and includes a glass of champagne. It is worth going to. My advice, skip breakfast, get an early reservation (10:30 AM), so you will feel like eating dinner later. Brunch starts buffet style with a starter course of cold cuts, cheese, crab legs, shrimp and breads. You pass by the open kitchen were the chef describes the main course. Your waiter delivers the main course to your table when you request it. They have little pizzas which my wife and I split in addition to our main course - fabulous.
Disney went all out on the entertainment. The theater is state of the art with the stage taking up 5 decks in height. Even the movie theater is first rate with dolby sound and first runs film. Gone in 60 Seconds and The Kid were showing for example. The live entertainment was good in all the clubs also. People were enjoying themselves.
St. Martin is quite a distance, so you spend the first 2 days at sea. The opening show is a variety show which features the ships dance and show cast as well as some of the night club acts. All shows are at 6:30 & 8:30 PM with some afternoon shows added to handle the demand if needed. Sunday is the first of the Disney major production shows, Hercules the Muse-ical. The production is very good and not just for kids. Lots of laughs for the adults too.
Monday hosts another Disney production Voyage of the Ghost Ship. The kids liked it better than I did. There is no show Tuesday as you are in St. Martin until 10:30 PM. Wednesday is at St. Thomas but since we sail at 4:30, there is a show. It's a standard magic show like you might see in Vegas (sorry, no tigers). Not bad, but not spectacular.
Thursday hosts the main show of the cruise, Disney Dreams. Based on Peter Pan, many of the Disney characters are included. If you like Disney (why else would you be here), do not miss this show. A special 3:30 PM was added to ensure everyone could see it
Finally, Friday is the Farewell Variety Show. By the way, the Bingo jackpot hit $3,800.
You are assigned the same table number for all dinners as you rotate through the ships three main restaurants. All the tables are numbered so check out your assigned table after lunch Sunday. Your dining rotation ticket will be in your stateroom. If you don't get the dinner seating you requested, or you wanted a table for 4, go to the sessions lounge immediately (deck 3 forward) and request a change. They will not change your rotation but can do most anything else if you are early. We had hoped for a table for 4 at the early seating but got a table for 8. They quickly reassigned us to the late seating table for 4. As it turned out, the late seating had no small children and we were never hungry at 6:00 PM anyway.
Pizza, hot dogs and chicken are available afternoons and evenings pool side (no charge). Our kids would rather eat pizza than join us for dinner so about half our dinners were very relaxed.
Breakfast and lunch are open seating with no early or late times assigned. Lumiere's is the sit down restaurant for breakfast and lunch except when in port. It's nice you can eat a sit down breakfast anytime but I miss having my assigned waiter. During days in port there is no sit down lunch - only buffets at Topsider or In Parrot Cay.
We saw our share of shorts, T-shirts and Dale Earnhardt hats at dinner but most people abided by the suggested dress guidelines. Palo's is Jackets all nights. Palo Brunch is resort casual. Sunday and Thursday nights are formal in all restaurants as are some nights at Lumiere's depending on your rotation. Most people were ignored the extra formal nights in Lumiere's and were casual.
Be warned - the arcade is popular and expensive. We had requested that our children's door keys not have charge privileges. Our 12 year old wasted no time testing his and sure enough it was capable of charging video games. You insert your room key into a dispenser and a plastic card comes out with $5 or $10 worth of play. One kid had run up a $200 bill in the arcade alone! I feel sorry for him when dad gets the bill.
Some final thoughts:
We ran into a senior group who were very disappointed. Their travel agent told them that they would not see any children on the seven day cruise - somehow Disney would make them disappear. Hey, Disney can do magic but you cannot make 800 children disappear. Honestly, the kids were there but never an issue. Most hung out in the goofy pool or arcade. If you want to limit your exposure, stick to the late seating and the adult pool. As mentioned earlier, open seating for breakfast will expose you to the occasional screaming 2 year old and they don't keep quiet during the shows. (People - why are you taking 2 year olds on cruises?)
The ship is magnificent - much better appointed than I expected. Touches of Disney here and there but never overpowering. The staterooms were the largest I have encountered. Even our interior category 11 had plenty of room for 2 adults and 2 kids. Meals were good but our waiter had to replace a few items as they were delivered cold from the kitchen.
If there was a wine steward on board, we never saw him. Your server or assistant server takes your wine order and delivers it. It sort of disrupts his routine. Our head server visited our table a grand total of once during our entire cruise but that was the limit of our negatives.
Overall we rate the cruise excellent. We plan to try the 3 or 4 day Disney cruise next year.
Lou Del Vecchio