Our First Family Cruise!
Disney Magic
May 2001
Brent & Cheryl
Alec & Danielle
Magic - Charlotte Amalie
Magic- Alone, St. Thomas.


Alec and Danielle
Alec and Danielle
Our First Family Cruise
It was inevitable; sooner or later we knew this day would come. Cheryl and I have enjoyed ten relaxing years of "couple" cruising and felt the time was right to introduce our children- Alec age 8 and Danielle age 6, to the wonderful world of cruising.

We choose Disney Cruise Line's Disney Magic for our first family cruise. The Magic is a family cruiser's dream come true with 15,000 sq. ft. of deck five reserved for youth programs, two children's pools and spacious cabins that were designed with families in mind.


CABIN

The ship has many things that set it apart from the "adult" ships that we had cruised on in the past. Most notable was the size and layout of the cabins, the family oriented Disney shows and there were kids everywhere! Hey, this is a family cruise so the kids were a welcome part of the package.

Since this was our first time packing for four of us for a seven-day cruise, we were concerned about storage space in our cabin. On some past cruises, with just the two of us, we had to leave some of our clothing stored in suitcases due to inadequate storage space. We actually had a few empty drawers on the Magic!

The cabin layout on the Magic worked beautifully for our family of four.

The bath and a half concept was also greatly appreciated when getting ready for dinner or preparing to go down to the pool in the morning. We will miss the two vanities with sinks the most on our next non-Disney cruise.



THE MAGIC
The Disney presence on the exterior of the ship is done in a nostalgic and tasteful manner. The black hull with gold, white and red make the ship out to be ocean liner from an earlier era. Very tastefully done. On the bow at first glance you see in gold, an art deco vine and leaf motif but closer inspection reveals Disney characters enjoying a day at the beach. At the stern you don’t need to use your imagination to find out who the deckhand painting the ship is.

The Disney touches intensify on the Magic's interior. Everything from the carpet to the bedspreads and even the music in the hallways remind you that you are on board Mickey's ship.

PUBLIC AREAS
The ship is well laid out and we quickly found our way around her. The top three decks sport an impressive array of activities with a balanced mixture of family and adult areas. Deck nine sports three distinct pool areas- one for adults and two for kids and families.
The Quiet Cove Pool Area is the adult pool, which is located forward and conveniently between the Vista Spa and the smallish ESPN Sky Box sports bar. Aft you find Mickey's Childrens' Pool which is sandwiched between two eateries, Pluto's Dog House and the Topsider Buffet. Midship is Goffy's Family Pool which is very near the video arcade and teen hang out, Common Grounds.

With it's pools, table tennis, arcade and food this deck is where we spent most of our time on the sea days. The kids could have hung out on the pool deck for all seven days and were somewhat disappointed when we HAD to go into port!

Deck five features the 15,000-sq. ft. children's activity centers- Oceaneer Lab and Club, Flounders Nursery and the Buena Vista Movie Theater. Decks 3 and 4 are where the promenade, restaurants, nightclubs and the impressive Walt Disney Theater are located.

We were very impressed with the attention to details in all the public areas. The ship is clean and very well maintained although we did notice that the air conditioning was spotty in some areas.



  







DISNEY DINING
Tne innovative Disney touch the whole family loved was the rotating dining program. Your service staff and table number remains the same but you rotate between one of three dining rooms each night. This rotation and the unique themes in each dining room helped keep our kids from getting too restless at dinnertime.

We began our rotation in the playful, Caribbean themed Parrot Cay then moved on to the more formal Lumiere's and ended at our favorite- Animator's Palate.
Animator's Palate, which is themed after an animators studio, was a real show stopper. At the start of dinner the room was black and white but slowly, the interactive Disney art on the walls and the ceiling began to come to life and by the end of dinner the room was in full Technicolor.

In all the dining rooms the dinners were well paced for family dining with fewer courses than you may find on other ships. Food quality in the main dining rooms was good with a nice selection of entrees every night. The children have their own menu but may order from the main menu as well. Alec and Danielle found their favorites on the children's menu and did not stray into the uncharted territory of the "adult's" menu.

For lunch the kids loved the pizza, burgers and especially the ice cream available poolside at Pluto's Dog house and Pinocchio's Pizzeria. We never ate in our dining room at lunch.

On most mornings we ordered breakfast in room. The room service was timely and fresh. We ate breakfast in Parrot Cay at a special Character Breakfast once, and again on the last day of the cruise.

Palo is the Magic's adults-only "alternative" restaurant. Palo offers Northern Italian cuisine nightly, a champagne brunch or high tea on the sea days. The dining room has wrap around windows that offer panoramic views of the sea and features an open kitchen and small bar. We enjoyed the champagne brunch, which featured a nice selection of seafood and antipastos. Dinner at Palo is served at a more relaxed pace than the other family dining rooms. The food and service live up to the upscale adult ambiance of the room. Brunch was not all that busy but if you want to enjoy a dinner at Palo make reservations early in the cruise. There is a $5 surcharge for dinner and $10 surcharge for brunch.

Disney offers a soft drink program whereby guests (children or adults) may purchase a refillable souvenir mug for $35 (yikes!). Soft drinks in the dining rooms are already free so the mug only had value for us around the pools and during the shows. The only draw back to the program is that you have to carry the mug with anytime you anticipate that your children may be thirsty.

CHILDRENS PROGRAM
Once on board we easily found our way to the children's program signup. Most of the children's activities originate from the two Oceaneer activity rooms on deck five. We signed Danielle up at the Oceaneers Club (ages 3-7) and Alec at the Oceaneers Lab (ages 8-12).

The program signup is simple enough; parents fill out an authorization form and the kids are issued id bracelets. Children can only be signed in and out of the program by a parent or authorized guardian. It's designed to be a secure system that keeps the kids safely involved in fun structured activities.

Unfortunately for our family the children's programs were a mixed bag.

Danielle loved going to the Oceaneers Club and wanted to go every day. Her favorite activities were the pirate training exercise, the pajama party with Goofy and the crafts (she created some terrific refrigerator art!).

Danielle really loved getting up close to the Disney characters and meeting new friends.

Alec had fun making flubber (gooey green stuff) during one session but stayed for less than an hour during two of his visits and did not ask to go back to the Lab. He was much happier hanging out at the pools and would have stayed in the pool area all day and night if we let him!

Alec's favorite memories of his first cruising experience were meeting new friends from different parts of the country and swimming in the ocean for the first time. Also "The "free" ice-cream bar was so cool!"







FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT
The entertainment onboard ranged from the standard cruise ship fare steel drum band to the most spectacular stage productions we had ever experienced on a ship.

We attended most of the evening shows in the grand and spacious Walt Disney Theatre. The first show was the Welcome Aboard Variety Show. This production gave us a good preview of the entertainment that we would be experiencing the rest of the week.

The kids loved the "Disney Dreams" show the best. A girl's bedtime story turns into a magical journey through Disney's most popular movies, led by Peter Pan. The stage technicians and production crew deserves a standing ovation for the quick set changes and superbly smooth special effects.

Another favorite was C'Est Magique with it's spectacular effects, classical art backdrops and the drama that was built up before each major illusion.

The shows in the Walt Disney Theatre were spectacular. We all enjoyed them! That is quite an accomplishment- to produce stage shows that everyone in the family can enjoy. But the most enjoyable part of the shows for us was sitting right next to us- our children's faces as they reacted to all that was going on before their eyes.

PORTS AND SHORE EXCURSIONS
After two days at sea or first port of call was St. Martin. We had been to this island before and knew that the kids would love a day at the beautiful Orient Bay beach. We took a cab from the ship over to the French side of the island. The kids were excited to get to the beach and were amazed by the sights along the way. We spent about 4 hours at the beach, ate lunch at an open-air bar and then headed back to town for some shopping in the street markets.

Our next port was St. Thomas. We chose the Coral World and Island Drive excursion for this port. Coral World is a marine zoo and features one of the world's few underwater observatories.

What a great choice, the kids loved seeing the marine life and the scenic drive to get there was just as exciting. We had been to St. Thomas several times prior to this cruise but had never taken in as much scenery as on this tour.

After our visit to Coral World we headed to Havensight for some shopping and then took the Paradise Point Tramway gondola ride to the top of Flag Hill overlooking the harbor. What a great view! We highly recommend this wonderful diversion to everyone visiting St. Thomas.


Orient Bay Beach St. Martin


St. Thomas Paradise Point Tramway

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Next Family Cruise - Pride 2003

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