Sunday, October 21, 2012

Disney Magic

Disney Magic Cruise Review

October 13, 2012

Just The Facts:
Ship:  Disney Magic
Ship Captain: Captain John
Cruise Director: Mr. Peter
Ports: Galveston, Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel
Weather:  Very good all week

I was excited about this cruise and review as this is my 1st  Disney (DCL) cruise, but 75th overall.  I am traveling with the Dear Wife (DW) and we know that there will be a lot of new experiences this cruise.

Day One--Saturday--Embarkation
Cabin 6543 - Deck Six
We left the ranch about 6:30 am for the drive south and arrived about 11:00 am at EZ Cruise parking.  I was a bit worried if they would have parking space as DD (Dear Daughter) was arriving on the Carnival Triumph and they were not allowing passengers to debark due to a US Customs situation. No problem and they had us shuttled over to the Disney Magic by 11:20.  We proceeded through security and Disney check-in straight away.  They we’re just about to start boarding and since we had a higher boarding number went to the Cabin Upgrade line to see what was available.  We had already lucked out with cabin assignment as we booked an interior guarantee at a very good rate and got a category 11 interior on deck six.  Because of the value fare we had the upgrade charge for us would have been $600 to O/V or $1400 to Veranda so we passed as that was more than we paid for the cruise in base fare.  It was now boarding time and we proceeded up the gangway to the ship.  As you enter the atrium they have a staff of people in uniform who great each party individually and announce you as you enter the ship.  They then assist with directions and questions. Very impressed, the Disney Magic has begun!  It was now about noon so we went to Parrots Caye, one of the MDR’s, for a buffet lunch.  They also have the Topside buffet on Lido deck, but we chose the MDR.  They had a salad area and fair selection of entrees, I had the pork cutlets.  The big item was fresh Peel & Eat Shrimp with cocktail sauce.  Very good.  Since our cabins were not yet ready we went to the Diversions Lounge to watch the OU vs.UT football game.  It was amazing how many Sooner fans, including myself, were wearing their colors as we boarded the ship. I later learned that it was a fall holiday at many schools in Oklahoma and that is why there were many Sooners on board.  The Texas fans seemed to have changed right away as OU won big 63-21.  Diversions is set up well for NCAA football on Saturdays showing the feature game on big screen and most all others on smaller TV sets. It makes since once you realize that Disney owns ESPN sports network.  We went to our cabin (6543) and was very pleased with first impression.  It’s 184 sf and decorated in a very nice nautical theme with a lot of wood trim and brass hardware.  We rested until boat drill was held at 3:45.  We went to our muster station and the roll was taken electronically by a staff member with the roster on an iPad type device.  Good that we went and it only took about 25 minutes.  We got the drink of the day, a Bon Voyage (similar to a Miami Vice), and went to the sail away party on Lido deck.  The entertainment staff and all the Disney characters danced and performed and they shot streamers and confetti into the air at the conclusion reminiscent of sail always from an earlier era.  After sail away we dressed for dinner and went to The Welcome Show in the Walt Disney Theater. It was the best welcome show I’ve seen featuring the production cast and Disney Characters dressed as passengers and crew at ship embarkation.  The routine/show was a great way to introduce pax to the ship.  The CD, Mr. Peter introduced two of the feature performers,  Steve Carte and Brad Cummings who each did a small part of their act as well.  After the show we went back to Diversions that is now set up as a bar and has light snacks such as Guacamole, Salsa, Queso, Buffalo Wings and more. It really reminded me of the Diamond Lounge on RCL ships. I had a Stella Artoi on tap and sampled the snacks.  Still exploring we went to Sessions, the Piano Bar.  It was very nice and we know we will return, but it’s now time for dinner.  On Disney ships you rotate between three themed restaurants although you keep the same wait staff.  Tonight we were in Lumiere’s dining room.  We had a nice eight top table, all adults, including a couple from OKC we had sailed with in the past.  I was very impressed with the wide variety of good selections offered on the first night dinner menu.  Entrees included Duck, Lamb, Choice Angus Steak, also a variety of salads and French Onion Soup.  I ordered the Shrimp Cocktail, Escargot, Tomato Soup, and Sea Bass.  I was very impressed with the Escargot, it was actually the better French variety and was served with a proper cocktail fork. Also a great selection of desserts, I ordered the Grand Mariner Souffle and the Creme Brulee.  After a great dinner and a long busy day we retired to the cabin for the evening.

Day Two--Sunday--at Sea
Signals Bar in Quiet Cove (adult only)
Very nice seas and we had a very good nights sleep.  The weather today is perfect with clear skies and warm, but comfortable temperatures in the mid 80’s.  We slept late and went up to Topsiders buffet for breakfast.  Not a wide variety but all the basics for breakfast.  After breakfast I made some notes in the cabin then we went exploring the ship.  We just happened to walk by Topsiders buffet as they opened for lunch and although early for us we went to see the fresh presentation of the food.  It was Italian themed so I had some Antipasto, Chicken Cacciatore, a Shrimp and Rice dish, and small Tiramisu for dessert.  After lunch we went to Quiet Cove to swim.  It’s a very nice adult only swimming pool and area.  At 2:30 we attended a Martini Cocktail Presentation in the Sessions Bar.  It was interesting and they served us four small martini’s while explaining various types and styles of the drink.  Following we went back to Quiet Cove to relax, swim, enjoy a cocktail, and visit with new friends.  They made an announcement that the evenings feature presentation (our time would have been 6:15 to attend as late dining has the early show times) had been cancelled for tonight so we just extended our little deck party through sundown in the Quiet Cove.  Dinner tonight was in Animators Palate dining room, another interesting MDR.  For dinner I ordered a Slow Roasted Duck & Cheese Quesadilla, The Beast’s Potato & Sausage Soup, and the Peppercorn Crusted New York Strip Steak.  All very good.  For dessert I ordered Cinderella’s Lemon Cheesecake and a Princess Aurora Sundae. After dinner we went to Rockin’ Bar D, a smaller showroom and bar, to see the physical comedy of Steve Carte.  It was an adult only show and very entertaining, we then stayed to watch the Love & Marriage show following. 

Day Three--Monday—at Sea
Minnie at Character Breakfast
Another good sleep and pretty day although more clouds.  We slept as late as possible as we had our scheduled Disney Character Breakfast this morning at 9:45 am in the Parrots Caye Dining room.  Our assigned table and waiters even rotate with you for this event as well as dinners.  I enjoyed a Denver Omelette with sides of sausage and bacon while the Disney characters all came by the table for photographs during breakfast. Very interesting.  After breakfast we looked at the Disney shops then went to the Buena Vista Theater to see the movie: The Odd Life of Timothy Green at 11:15 am.  It’s a great theater designed specifically to show Disney movies on board and the movie was very good.  After the movie we went to the Topsider buffet and the theme was ‘steakhouse’.  They had very nice small steaks they grilled on deck.  I really enjoyed the fresh Crusted Cod with tarter sauce and they again had the fresh peel & eat shrimp with cocktail sauce.  It was an excellent lunch.  At 2:30 we attended the Tequila and Margarita Cocktail Presentation ($15) in Sessions.  They served five samples and they were very interesting, the margaritas were much better than the tequila shooters-IMHO. Just a little cabin time before getting ready for evening activities.  At 6:15 we went to the big production show Twice Charmed in the main Walt Disney Theater and it was a wonderful Disney production with a large cast and amazing sets and costumes.  After the show we went to Sessions, the piano bar, for some tunes and a wonderful Side Car cocktail.  Tonight we had our late dinner in Parrot’s Caye.  It was good, they had some nice Hearts of Palm for me and I ordered the Crab Cake, Mango Peach Chilled Soup, Rib Eye Steak and the Creme Brulee Cheese Cake for dessert.

Day Four--Tuesday--Grand Cayman
Pirate Night Deck Party
It’s a warm and beautiful day.  We arrived at Grand Cayman and anchored off Spott’s Bay not the usual downtown Georgetown location.  We have decided to stay on board and enjoy the ship since we have been here many times.  DW had room service breakfast and I went to Lumiere’s for my first proper breakfast of Eggs Benedict, bacon, hash browns, etc., it was the best breakfast of the cruise so far.  After breakfast it was up to Quiet Cove the adult only area to swim and relax.  They have a large pool, two hot tubs, Signals Bar, padded loungers, tables, and a small cafe: The Cove.  They also have entertainment in the afternoon and evenings, a very nice touch. The three beers on tap at Signals bar: Shiner Bock, Longboard Island Lager, and Bud Light. Everyone knows about Shiner Bock, a great Texas beer, but the Longboard, a Hawaiian beer is very nice as well.  We had lunch in Topsiders and it was again very good.  They had Crab Legs, Sirloin Steak on the carving station, Lobster Rolls, and much more.  A really amazing selection for lunch.  For dessert they had a make your own Sundae station.  After lunch we returned to the Quiet Cove area.  It’s really busier than I thought it would be as many cast members were also enjoying the pool and great weather.  Interesting seeing them and speculating on who is which particular Princess, Prince Charming, Pirate, or Disney character.  We sailed from Grand Cayman about 4:30 and we enjoyed our day on ship.  We returned to the cabin to get ready for the 6:15 show featuring David McWilliams or Magic Dave.  He had an interesting show, very family oriented as he used children in the act.  After the show we went to Sessions for piano music and a couple of Side Car cocktails.  Tonight is Pirate Night on the ship and many guests and most of the crew are dressed in pirate gear this evening.  Dinner tonight was back in Lumiere’s.  The wait staff is dressed as pirates and there were Pirate scarves for the guests as well as a Pirate Caribbean menu.  They again had Hearts of Palm for me and I ordered a wonderful Pirates Golden ‘Pot Sticker’ (a dumpling stuffed with pork) and a Castaway Chicken Breast in light jerk sauce.  After dinner we went on deck for the big Pirate Deck Party.  They had entertainers and Disney Characters dressed as pirates dancing.  Also some new characters: Smee and Captain Hook made an appearance.  The highlight was pirate Mickey sailing down, by zip line, from the top of the stack to the stage on lido deck followed by fireworks.  Very impressive and the first time I have seen fireworks from a cruise ship.  The night was not over though as we went to the Buena Vista theater to watch Finding Nemo in 3D.  It was almost 1:00 am by the time we got back to the cabin...a very long and enjoyable day.

Day Five--Wednesday--Costa Maya, Mexico
Mahahual, Mexico - 100% Agave
Nice weather and a good nights sleep.  We are heading towards Costa Maya with a noon arrival scheduled.  We both had room service for breakfast this morning then went up to Quiet Cove for a swim.  We are enjoying the adult area very much.  We had an early lunch at Topsiders and it’s Tex-Mex day.  If you know how to do the right combinations of the Tex-Mex items on the buffet you can have a very nice meal.  The steak tortillas (I would call them Tacos al Carbon) were very good if you added Pico de Gallo and the Pulled Pork was great especially if rolled in a tortilla.  The guacamole, etc. was just OK, but we are on a cruise ship and not in Mexico or Texas.  We left the ship about 12:30 and took the shuttle to Mahahual.  We found Fernando’s 100% Agave and got a nice table and palpa right on the beach.  We enjoyed a Sangria Margarita and a Mango Margarita and soon were joined by our new friends so we stayed and made a day of it.  We decided on the regular lime Margaritas as the drink of the day and enjoyed alternating swimming with cocktails until 5:00.  Beautiful weather, great beach and view, great drinks and snacks, massages, a perfect beach day.  We took a taxi back to the ship and straight up to the pool for a quick dip to cool off again.  We went to the production show Villains in the Walt Disney Theater at 6:15 and it was a fantastic show featuring the villains from several different Disney shows.  Dinner was again very good, The Mushroom Risotto appetizer was the highlight, I ordered the Veal as an entree and the Dessert Sampler (they have a variety platter available each night that has three smaller portions of the evenings desserts).  Also my Hearts of Palm were there.  After dinner we went back to the cabin to to rest after the busy day.

Day Six--Thursday--Cozumel, Mexico
Disney Dreams cast
It was a beautiful, but hot day in Cozumel.  We arrived very early, but did not chose to leave the ship early.  I had nice a breakfast of Eggs Benedict, et al.. in Luminere’s and DW had her usual room service.  We are docked at Puerto Langosta that is walking distance to San Miguel and I walked over about 9:30 so I could be at Antonio’s Barber Shop by 10:00 opening.  DW stayed on board to swim in the Quiet Cove pool that she had to herself.  After my haircut I went to Woody’s Sports Bar to use their free Wifi and catch up on the internet.  Soon the owner, Nelly, came by and saw me and we had a good long visit on the patio. Soon DW came by and we did a little shopping before going by Wet Wendy’s to split a Mango Margarita.  We returned to the ship early by 3:00 to swim (it was scheduled to leave by 4:00 anyway...much too early IMHO).  We are really enjoying the adult Cove area of the ship.  We relaxed and swam well beyond sail away until we needed to get ready for the evening show.  The production show was Disney Dreams that featured a lot of Disney Characters we had not seen as yet.  A fantastic show, you really must seem them, the costuming and sets are fantastic.  This was the Captains dinner night and the menu was very good. Again my Hearts of Palm were there. I ordered the Oysters Rockefeller, Lobster, a very good Chicken entree and the Dessert Sampler.  After dinner we went back to the cabin to watch Disney programming on the TV.

Day Seven--Friday--at Sea

Caption above cabin bed
Well this was an interesting day.  The plan was to primarily be a movie day as two we wanted to see, Frankenweenie and Brave were being shown in the Buena Vista Theater, then relax in the Cove.  It was not to be.  After 76 cruises I guess it was our time, but we both contracted the norovirus.  It began during the night and it’s not good.  I made a trip down to the Medical Center and got medicine, but basically we were in bed for 36 hours.  The virus seems to run it’s course in just over 24+ hours, but that put us into the second night.  We each had one piece of toast and some crackers for the entire day.  A big difference from the previous 6 days, but I lost all the weight that I gained.  It’s not uncommon for me to ‘catch’ a bug since I live in an isolated place then get around a big group of people, but this is the first time to get the dreaded cruise norovirus.

We arrived back in Galveston just after 6:00 am well ahead of schedule.  We had planned on using the Express Walk-off debarkation, but really had no choice as we were much too weak to pack on Friday.  We began packing about 6:45 am in hopes it would begin early and we could beat even the early crowd.  I was feeling much better and DW was still weak, but we made it down to the Rockin’D the designated Express Walk-off location about 7:15 and yes they were allowing pax off early.  We were through customs about 7:30 am..  We walked to the car, filled with gas at our usual Galveston location ($3.42 gal), and was on the bridge by 8:00 am.  We did run into Texas A&M football traffic that delayed us somewhat, but we were back at the ranch at 1:00 pm..

Maiden Voyage: July 30, 1998
Passenger Capacity: 2,400 | Gross Tonnage: 83,000 tons
Length: 964 feet | Beam: 106 feet | Draft: 25.26 feet
Cruising Speed: 23 knots
We both love the design of the ship.  It has an old fashioned Ocean Liner theme and has a lot of Art Deco and Nautical themes throughout.  It uses large portholes in lieu of square windows and the uses lots of rigging to give it an older feel.  All the public rooms are wonderful, especially the themed MDR’s and Art Deco rooms. 

Crew / Staff
The staff and crew always greet you. From the beginning of embarkation to every crew member on ship they always acknowledge passengers with a greeting. The bar staff all very friendly. The cabin steward, Rohan Murray did a very good job. Our dining room waiters were excellent. Aditya Salian, from India, our server and Servet Yuksel his assistant were probably the best team I have ever had on a cruise.  It helped that they have fewer tables and really well for us that on late setting we were their only table.

We had cabin 6543 a category 11 interior, It’s 184 sf (the same as a Carnival interior cabin). Decorated in a nautical art deco style with a couch, curtain separator, push button safe, small refrigerator (not a mini bar), flat screen TV, radio/phone communication system, and two closets.  The cabin seems larger since there is the full couch, there is good floor space.  Since Disney cabins are designed for families there is a drop down bunk and the uncomfortable couch makes into a bed.  There is not really that much storage for the two of us, I would hate to have any 3rd or 4th along.  The bath room is very small with very little storage for toiletries.  The cabin Television features many Disney channels and programs.  There was a wide variety of Disney classics and newer movies throughout the week.

I have mixed feelings about the food.  Breakfasts are very weak and not a good salad bar anywhere.  The lunches were half and half...some great, some just ok.  Two days were some of the best lunches I’ve ever had on a cruise ship.  The dinners were all very good to excellent. Steak is available every night either on the main menu or the everyday menu.  We had dinner reservations for Palo, but canceled as the dinners in the MDR were so good.  I would do Palo for brunch since breakfast is the weaker meal.  There were ice creme machines and a soda fountain on Lido deck.

We really enjoyed and took advantage of the adult Quiet Cove area. The productions shows in the Walt Disney Theater were all excellent.  The Disney first run movies in the Buena Vista theater were also great.  We also enjoyed the Sessions, the piano bar.  The crew and staff were also all so very well trained.  Also the unlimited soda fountain was great for us that drink Coca-cola products.

It was our first Disney cruise and in spite of the final day we really enjoyed it.  Our initial fear was that there would be too many children.  There are so many scheduled children’s activities that the kids are kept very busy and as experienced cruisers we took advantage of being on ship when most were away and did activities at different times in order to minimize those ‘family’ times. My contrarian cruise theory worked very well. If you are into the Disney experience you will have a fantastic time.  There are numerous Disney character gatherings, the limited addition Disney collector pins, Disney activities & games, and so much more.  You literally can not walk for more than a few minutes on board without running into a Disney Character.

The new 8-day Disney cruise from Galveston next year will be very Disney intensive with calls at the private island of Castaway Key, Key West, and a day at WDW.  I’m not sure I will do that, but DW and DD would.  I will cruise the Disney Wonder when she comes to Galveston.

Disney Magic - Costa Maya, Mexico - 10/17/2012

The End