I have included a trip report on the 4 night Magic to Western Caribbean from Galveston. I hope everyone finds this information helpful! Pre-Trip in Galveston: We stayed at The Hotel Galvez. It was a beautiful hotel at a great location on Seawall Boulevard. The rooms were a little small, but overall a great hotel. The pool is fabulous! It is heated so we were able to swim. We ate at Rainforest cafe (primarily for the kids). IMO, the food is overpriced and not that great, but the kids loved it. You should try Brick House for lunch or dinner (we actually ate there twice) it has wonderful pub food, lots of beer on tap, and great appetizers! I highly recommend it. Make sure you check the days/hours for Pleasure Pier. We didnt look at the days it was open and planned on going Monday, but it is currently only open on the weekends. If you get a chance, grab a beverage and sit on the pier at Murdochs. It is very relaxing and peaceful to sit and watch the ocean. Shuttle at The Hotel Galvez: It costs $17.00 to leave your car there for the length of the cruise. You have to schedule a time at the Valet desk them to take you to the cruise terminal. We didnt think it would be a big deal, so we didnt schedule a time until the day before and most of the early slots were taken. So schedule your shuttle as soon as you arrive! Day 1: Embarkation I was confused on the whole PAT/boarding, etc. Be sure to check-in online ASAP to ensure an earlier boarding number. I booked when we were able (75 days out) and we were in group 5. I was told by a few Disney Crew members that you can just arrive whenever and will be able to get on the ship sooner. This was not the case. We arrived at 11:00, were through security and checked-in by 11:30. They do not start boarding until noon. Your online check-in determines your boarding number and PAT, not the time you choose to show up at the terminal. We sat for 30 minutes until they started calling boarding numbers. Just because you pre-register your kids in the kids club, you still have to pick up their bands. You can do that in the terminal while you wait for your boarding number or once you are on the ship. Once we boarded, we headed straight up to topsiders (deck 9) and went through the buffet and were able to get a table outside on the deck! It was a fabulous way to start the vacation! They will try to sell you the water package and beer package. Dont waste money on the water! Bring your own water bottles and refill at the beverage station. The beer package is worth it if you buy it early and plan to drink at least 6 beers, so if thats you, buy it the first day. We went to the room after lunch which wasnt ready until 1:45. We went straight to the room and put on our swimsuits, which were packed in our carry-ons. Our checked luggage didnt fully arrive until 4:00. We went to Mickey Pool and it was not crowded at all. The kids were able to slide several times and had a blast! We had late dinner, which we really enjoyed! We didnt feel as rushed to get ready for dinner and felt like we had more time. We went to the show, Villans at 6:15 and it was over by 7:15, then we went back to the room and took showers for dinner. Day 2: At Sea The first night we did not sleep at all! We have never cruised before so the movement of the boat really affected our sleep. We were up and ready by 8:00 and went to deck 9 to the pools. If you can arrive at the pools by 9:00, they arent crowded and you will get a chair. We did the princess gathering and arrived at 8:45 to get in line and it didnt start until 9:30. by 9:15 the line was all the way to the back of the ship. So show up early! This was our dress up night. A big tip here is, if you have late dinner, to see the matinee show (at 2:00) then go to the pools around 4:30. Everyone is getting ready for dinner or the early show and the pools are not crowded. Day 3: Cozumel We pulled into port around 7:30 and could disembark at 8:30. We booked the Dolphin Discovery at Chankanaab National Park for the Dolphin encounter. When we booked online we chose a time of 10:00am but our tickets said to meet in Rockin Bar D at 9:45, which would have put us late to the excursion. We spoke with Port Adventures desk and they said the online times are just a guess because they wait to see how many people book the excursion. If this is your first cruise, I highly recommend booking through Disney instead of booking on your own. It took the stress away for us. Take an underwater camera!!! It says no cameras allowed but our tour guide allowed them in the water with the dolphins. (Actually, it appeared that Disney got the royal treatment because our cruise ship was the only group allowed to bring cameras in the water). Chankanaab has snorkeling, see through Kayaks, tequila tour, beach area, dolphins, sea line show, shops, pool, lagoon, and botanical gardens. There is alot to do there! We really enjoyed it. Tip: eat a large breakfast at Luminears or topsiders, take a few snacks and fill up your own water bottles, then eat lunch when you get back on the ship. This way we didnt have to pay for food or spend time eating in Cozumel. We could sit back and enjoy all there was at Chankanaab. This is pirate night! I wish I would have ordered some cute t-shirts from etsy for this! We took swords, glow necklaces, eye patches, tatoos (and we got lots in our FE). That was fun to dress up a bit. I would arrive to deck 9 or 10 by 9:15 to get a good spot. Deck 9, you can dance and interact with the characters, but there is more room on Deck 10. So either is fine, depending on your interests. The fireworks were amazing!! Do NOT miss this! It is late, but so worth it! Day 4: At sea We woke up early and went to Goofys pool by 9:30 and got great chairs. We enjoyed the character dance party, seeing the rest of the characters we missed, Goofys rockstars and guitars, Disney Dreams porformance and the Til We Meet Again show on this day! The Til We Meet Again show, allows you time to get those last minute pictures with the characters and autographs, so if your kids are into that, dont miss it! IMO, this day had the best entertainment for my childrens ages (3 and 5).
Day 5: Disembarkation Okay...again really confusing for me! If at all possible, do the express check out and carry all your lugguge off the ship. You can disembark by 7:15-7:30 with very little lines. We checked out lugguge because we have 2 small children who arent really able to help carry lugguge. However, as soon as we were off the ship we had to get our lugguge and carry it off so it was NOT worth checking it in! If you absolutely must check in your lugguge, then be sure you have some small bills to tip a porter so you dont have to carry your lugguge and you get through customs earlier. Hotel Galvez Shuttle: This was a big stress for us. We waited exactly where we were dropped off (which is what the shuttle driver told us) but because there was another shuttle in the way, the Galvez Shuttle was at the end of the waiting area. We waited for 40 minutes and people who had been waiting for 5 min got on the shuttle first!! This was really frustrating!! We ended up taking a cab ($20 with tip) back to the hotel and we left the hotel before the next shuttle arrived. We would have been waiting at the terminal for 2 hours for the shuttle if we didnt take the cab. So if you are ready to get on the road, It would almost be worth it to pay to park your car at the terminal rather than taking the shuttle. General tips: We enjoyed the late dinner! Get to the pools early Luminears was great for breakfast Kids Club: My son hated the kids club. I honestly did not think this would be a problem. He goes to preschool, daycare, church and is very social. However, keep in mind that your children are in a strange place far away from home which causes a different set of anxiety. The first night we did dine and play and got a message that he was ready to be picked up, then 2 minutes later that he had gotten sick. Sure enough, he had thrown up. I was a nervous wreck! After reading about how quick DCL is to quarantine people, I thought we would be banished to the room. All we had to do was take him to the infirmary the next morning and the nurse took one look at him and signed off for him to attend the club. Then when we were eating in Palo we got a call that he had thrown up again! Our server was wonderful and delivered our main course to the room. We had to take him to infirmary and get him signed off if we wanted to take him back to the club. By that point, we realized that he was making himself throw up because he was crying. So we didnt even bother going back to the infirmary or kids club. Take your own water bottle and cups Take your own disney items (princess dress, pirate attire, mickey ears, toys, etc.) This way we only let the kids pick out one souvenir from the gift shop. It is so much cheaper than on the ship!!! Take your own liquor, wine, and beer. There was no limit and we would fill up our own cups with liquor then add soda from the beverage station. There is a small refrigerator to keep your beer cold. Get a prescription for the patch!!! I got sea sick one night and slept in the bathroom, it was aweful! I met a lady who had an extra patch and gave it to me the next day. I would not have made it through the trip without it!!!! Take imodium, allergy meds, emetrol (nasuea), tums, and any other meds you may need. Pack some comfy pants, yoga pants, etc! You may see a late movie in the theater and will want to be comfy Only pack 2 swimsuits per person Book Palo!! Bring small bills (at least $50.00 in ones) the only bills you will use is for tipping. We had too many twenties. Bring a lanyard for your KTTW card Do the FE exchange and a meet and greet! It was a blast. Enjoy your cruise, it will go by very quickly!!