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Sharon

Age: 48

Occupation:Physician

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Disney

Ship: Disney Magic

Sailing Date: 2009-08-1

Itinerary: Eastern Caribbean

This was our second cruise as a grandparents/parents/kids group. All the kids were a little older this time, ranging from 7 to 9, perfect ages for this trip. My biggest piece of advice is to ignore what Disney tells you about flight times home (they tell you to make them late in the afternoon). Everyone has to be off the ship by about 9 am, and it would be almost impossible to get back to the Orlando Airport later than 10:30 am. Disney has a service whereby you can tag your bags the night before departure, put them out in the hall, and the next time you see them is at your home airport. They also print out your boarding passes for you, so when you get to the airport, all you have to do is go through security and go directly to your gate. You can easily, safely, comfortably make an 11:30 or noon flight, probably with time to spare. If you follow Disney's advice on flight times, you will be one of the many unhappy families with tired, melting down kids spending hours and hours in the Orlando airport waiting for your flight home.

The food was good, especially considering the number of people they are feeding. Take the galley tour - it's quite interesting. It was kind of annoying that fruit smoothies for the kids are an extra charge. If there is any way you can do it, buy your own case of water at the grocery store for $4 and bring it with you. You'll be happy to have the water, and even happier not to pay over $40 dollars for a case of water on the ship.

Stateroom was fine, queen bed for the parents, bunk beds for the kids. Kids love the "towel animal" that is left for them on the bed every night. There were 2 sinks, 1 toilet, 1 shower/tub, flat screen TV, fridge and a safe.

Much better for the 8 - 10 age group than on our previous trip with 3 - 7 age kids. One of our kids on this trip was actually 6 (2 weeks short of 7) and they let her be in the 8 - 10 group so she could be with her 8 and 9 year old sister and cousins. We did this by talking to a yellow shirted kids' counselor when registering the kids and getting our beeper at the embarkation center.

The excursions are all very expensive. Bring your own snorkel gear for Castaway Cay - much cheaper than renting it from Disney. We were somewhat limited since some members of our party were in their 80s, but lots of families just get off the boat and grab a cab to a nice beach for the day, or rent a jeep and explore on their own. That being said, my brother paid $90 for 2 hamburgers, 4 cokes, and 4 ice creams on St. Maarten!

Overall it was a great trip, enjoyed by everyone from 6 - 81 years of age. Charges add up fast - for our family of four, tips, excursions, water, wine, and things the kids tortured us into buying for them added up to $1800 for the week. The cabin stewards and meal servers work primarily for tips, and work incredibly hard, so we always give them more than the suggested amounts.

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