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Eric Schrader

Age: 32

Occupation:Travel Consultant

Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Disney

Ship: Disney Magic

Sailing Date: 08-14-2004

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

As a travel consultant, it's imperative that I continually set out to new destinations and try new experiences. At the time I hadn't sailed with Disney's relatively new cruise line, nor had cruised with our son (6 months old at the time) before. What an experience! While Disney is always associated with family oriented themes and theme parks, I was surprised at Disney's somewhat split personality with regards to cruising. I noticed that one section is set aside for multi-generational sharing of facilities and another, albeit smaller, caters exclusively for adults not traveling with children or those parents and grandparents who would like a break from the kid's world. The separate adult facilities include bars, lounges, entertainment, restaurant and swimming pool. These numerous offerings make for many different wonderful experiences. My overall impression was extremely favorable for both us and our fellow cruisers.

This was likely our favorite aspect. The ship has three theme restaurants that we rotated through on successive nights, keeping the same wait staff and even table numbers. Very innovative! This set the Magic apart from the other big-ship crowd. The 1930s-era Lumiere's one night, the tropical Parrot Cay another, and finally the signature Animator's Palate restaurant. Here, the high-tech eatery starts out completely black and white, then gradually becomes awash in reds, blues and greens as the walls, ceiling, and even the servers' uniforms take on color. The food throughout is typical cruise fare, geared to kids and adult tastes. The Topsider Cafe serves buffet-style breakfast and lunch, and other poolside options include pizza, hamburgers and hot dogs. For adults only away from the fray, Palo offers a whimsically decorated 138-seat Italian restaurant. It's worth the small service charge.

The stateroom was good, not spectacular, but solid. Bigger than what I'd experienced before with HAL and Carnival in similar categories. We had a verandah cabin.

Disney programs on stage and in films dominant the entertainment program. Children are catered to in specific age groups. In addition, one swimming pool is for young children only, another for families and a third adults only. Adults also have their own entertainment. The nostalgic Walt Disney Theater is better equipped for surprises than most land-based theaters. Kids, divided into five age groups, are looked after by a small army of well-trained counselors. Teens have a separate lounge and video game arcade. Parents can be provided with beepers during the day in case they would like to take some time off. A nursey takes kids in the evening and private babysitting is also available for a charge. Kids can also eat with their counselors in the Topsider Cafe. On the captain's welcome night, Minnie and Mickey are dressed formally and kids flock to have their pictures taken. Disney characters are all around the ship during the day. We got some wonderfully memorable pics with our son. An adults-only enclave offers a piano bar, rock 'n' roll music, comedy club, disco, and films. Couples without children love it.

Ahh. Not much to report on this front. Our ship was diverted because of a storm so we only stopped at Cozumel. We had been before and weren't impressed. Nothing very memorable to share unfortunately.

Naturally, the atmosphere is casual when heading to the Caribbean, and this was exactly the easy-going experience we wanted. The staff on board made our first real trip with a child in tow very lovely and magical. Disney permeates the service excellence and the Disney characters moving about the ship and Disney entertainment - shows and films - in the theaters make it all the more memorable. What I took away from the trip though was that adults who come aboard can have their own cruise experience without children present. Very smart move by Disney!

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