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Old 12-06-2012, 04:29 PM   #1
pannm
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Join Date: Jul 2011
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NEVER cruised before and lots of Questions...

Ok, first of all- I cannot TELL you in words how excited I am. My husband and I FOR YEARS have wanted to get in on one of these 'kids sail free' promos that Disney has done. BUT, we've never been able to work it out with the timing of it all (end of the quarter in school, or dh's big project deadlines or having a health issue!). We have NEVER cruised before. NEVER.

Our family has one addiction. It's Disney. ALL THINGS Disney. So, we booked a delux ocean view stateroom and got a wonderful deal out of Galveston, TX.

So, here are my questions.

-we are going on Disney Magic. Are there any tips or 'tricks' that you can give me for that specific ship? I would love to hear from passengers who've been on MAGIC. OR, if there's already a thread that's ALL ABOUT the Disney Magic, where can I find it?

-It says that the "ON BOARD" time (on the online itinerary) is 3:30, but typiclly, what time could we plan to board at the EARLIEST?

-we are a family of 4. Can I call and request a table just for 4 and not larger? How do I do that? We are going in Feb. do I have to wait until closer?

- How does the boarding process work with Disney. I have heard other people complain about OTHER cruise lines with really slow, annoying boarding/check in proccess issues. Has Disney got it down pretty good?

-We all have passports, that's no issue.

-We stop at Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Do EITHER one of those ports have a close by beach that is within walking distance? Can you do things at the port WITH OUT buying an excursion? We plan to do one excursion, but either stay on board or close to port for the other stop...

-Galveston port...Are there good hotels in the area that offer park and cruise rates with free parking for 7 days? We don't want a dumpy hotel, but we'd love to not pay port parking.

Last edited by pannm; 12-06-2012 at 04:40 PM.
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:41 PM   #2
cruisecrasher
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I have a trip report linked in my signature that is from the thanksgiving sailing of the Magic from Galveston.
You can call and request a table for four.
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:50 PM   #3
pannm
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Thank you! I'll be sure to read it!
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Old 12-06-2012, 05:34 PM   #4
kcashner
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Generally the terminal opens about 10:30 or 11 (it is listed as 11, but usually opens earlier), and boarding starts about 11:45. That is the earliest anyone can get on. You'll get a boarding card with a number on it when you check in--you'll board when your number is called. If you are at the terminal at 11,you'll be on board in time for lunch. Boarding is not bad. It was quicker and easier on another line we did this year, but it's not bad on DCL.

Yes, you can call DCL and request a table for "just us." Ignore the This is only a request and cannot be guaranteed" song and dance. Then after boarding, go to "Dining Changes" at the location listed in the Welcome Aboard Navigator (usually in Rockin Bar D, but I've seen multiple other locations used) and ask if your request was granted; if not, ask if it can be granted at that time.

Grand Cayman--all beaches are free to the public. There are little brown signs that indicate public walkways to the beach. However, the best beaches are not those right by the tender terminal. There is a public bus that will take you to 7 Mile Beach for $1 per person. Again, beach is free, lots of vendors will happily rent you chairs, etc. You can also take a taxi for about $4 per person.

Cozumel--Paradise beach is a $15 each way taxi ride away. Price is per cab, not per person or family. Entry to the beach is free. A beach chair is $2. A wrist band good for all "non motorized water toys" is $12. Think a bit before you plunk down the bucks--do the kids really need a chair? Do all the adults really want a toy band? Examine the contents of a "package" that your taxi driver may try to sell you to be sure it is a good deal before you jump. There is no beach in Coz that I am aware of within walking distance of the pier.

Especially at Grand Cayman, you don't need to buy an overpriced Disney excursion. Things to consider--the Turtle Farm (good for about 45 minutes, included in most island tours), and Stingray City. We did a 1/2 day snorkel which included Stingray City thru Captain Marvin; on another trip we used this same company for an island tour which included the turtle farm. Cost for our tour was the same as the turtle farm admission alone, but the rest of the tour was nothing to write home about. Both times, we were offered a "drop off" at one of the beaches or return to the tender terminal--our choice. Or, do 7 Mile Beach for the cost of the bus ride.

Cozumel--there is a shopping area right at the port with a Starbucks (free internet with purchase if you have a computer).
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Old 12-06-2012, 06:09 PM   #5
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Just a thought, if your children are taking advantage of Dine and Play it might be nice to have some one else at your table to be social with. We got desterted every night by the DD and I really liked the table mates we had. (we had second sitting and it was really nice to sit and talk with other aduults over coffee and desert.)
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:56 PM   #6
pannm
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What types of food/what restaurants are available early on boarding day? Are they ready to go around 11/12? That's neat!

Also, with the kids club. It says that we need to go there right away to register the kids. Do we go there as soon as we board? So we aren't wasting time with it when other things start? I am sure our kids will love the kids club, but my youngest is very worried as she deals with some major separation anxiety issues. They stem from some health issues she's had, and it's completely understandable for what she's dealt with- but it stinks in situatons like this- because I know she'll love to go to the club on occasion. It just won't be as often as some kids want to go...which is fine with us, because we know what to expect in that area of our vacations.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:09 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pannm View Post
What types of food/what restaurants are available early on boarding day? Are they ready to go around 11/12? That's neat!

Also, with the kids club. It says that we need to go there right away to register the kids. Do we go there as soon as we board? So we aren't wasting time with it when other things start? I am sure our kids will love the kids club, but my youngest is very worried as she deals with some major separation anxiety issues. They stem from some health issues she's had, and it's completely understandable for what she's dealt with- but it stinks in situations like this- because I know she'll love to go to the club on occasion. It just won't be as often as some kids want to go...which is fine with us, because we know what to expect in that area of our vacations.
On boarding day Parrot Cay and Topsiders will both be serving lunch I believe they started around noon last May. On the first day it buffet style the navigators once you check in will have information on it. On other days there will be Lumiere's for lunch that is order of the menu and then buffets in Topsiders and Parrot Cay. The breakfast in Lumiere's I prefer over the buffet it was less chaotic. I do not have children but it might help taking her to the open house so that she can get use to it and you can be there too during open house hours.
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:10 PM   #8
kristinfly2
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We went on our first ever cruise in November! We took our 4 youngest. You can register them for the kids club after you check in at port. We had the first port arrival time (11) and were given number 4 as our boarding number. We checked in then registered the kids at the club and then only waited about 10 or 15 minutes to board. Our cruise wasn't full so it all moved very quickly!

I recommend parrot cay for lunch when you get on board. It has sit down service (they seat you, bring your drinks, and clear your plates) and a nice buffet with lots of options for kids and adults!

We did the turtle farm in grand cayman on our own. If you book through their website they give you a 20% discount! . We were on the same busses as the DCL excursion people but paid way less. We bought the package for the whole park. Our kids love to swim and they have a huge pool, water slide and man made lagoon you can snorkel in. In costa maya we just went to the pool in the port and swam for a couple of hours. We were the only ship in port that day and it was a nice relaxing FREE excursion. . In Cozumel we went to a private beach club that was all inclusive. It was a little pricey but it was our big excursion.

We loved our cruise!!! Kids cried like crazy on our last night!
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Old 12-06-2012, 11:13 PM   #9
kcashner
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There are NO restaurants open at 11 because boarding generally doesn't start till 11:45. The restaurants will be open as soon as boarding starts.

There will be one sit down restaurant open, but on embarkation day it will be a buffet with beverages/refills served at your table. On the Magic, this will be Parrot Cay on deck 3 aft. Your other options at this time are Topsiders (we've heard this is due to be remodeled in the 2013 dry dock), which is a buffet with the same food options as Parrot Cay and the various fast food type outlets serving roll ups, salads, hamburgers, tacos, pizza, chicken fingers, etc. These are scattered around the pool deck.

You do not have to go to the Oceaneer's Club or Lab "right away." You will pre-reg the kids on line. Then you go to confirm the on line info and get their bracelets at any time before they wan to play. It is actually better if you wait a while as there will be fewer crowds.

Immediately after boarding, you'll want to go to "dining changes" to check on your table assignment, to "Palo ressies" if you did not get what you wanted on line before boarding and plan on adult dining, and to Guest Services to make reservations for any tastings or other ticketed events you might want. You can "divide and conquer" for this--send DH to Guest Services while you deal with the dining issues. The go to lunch...by then your cabin is likely to be ready (1:30) After you drop your carry on bags, do a tour of the ship, go to the spa for a tour/reservations, or whatever you want.
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Old 12-07-2012, 09:27 AM   #10
mikehn
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When in Galveston last spring, we stayed at the Hilton on the Seawall. Free parking for the duration of your cruise, free shuttle to and from the port. Lastminutetravel has good rates on Hilton brand properties
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