We were on the Disney Magic for the 6/30 seven day cruise. I have not seen any other postings on this cruise so I thought Id post a trip report. Background_ Me DH-46; DW-42; DS- 9.5; DD- 4. This was our second cruise, the first being on the Wonder for a 4 day cruise over the 4th last year. We are WDW addicts and have been going there 1-2 times a year for past 20 years. Most years we get annual passports as it is cheaper for the return trips. We always talked about taking the cruise but did not want to give up park time till we made the plunge last year. We always stay at Caribbean Beach Resort ( have since they first opened) and last year we went to the parks a few days, then on the cruise, and then back to the parks for four more days. We vowed never to do that again! What a letdown coming off the cruise and going back to the parks with their hustle & bustle, long lines, and rude people. The cruise is another world away from the parks. This year we went to the parks at spring break (used annual passports and FF plane tickets) and only on the cruise the next visit. Rather than touching on everything that happened on the cruise and all of what we ate (which would be impossible to remember with my aging mind) Ill touch on the highlights that I feel are of interest. Prelude- Last year we took the 4 day cruise over the 4th and had a fantastic time. We really enjoyed the relaxing day at sea and we had some surprises on the 4th so we were really looking forward to what DCL had in store for us. We also were looking forward to 3 relaxing days at sea and the ports of call. On last years cruise we were at Castaway Cay on the 4th and they had a special character parade that was fun. We knew something else was planned but did not know what. We left CC at the usual time and sailed out to sea for our day at sea before returning to Port Canaveral. After we started heading out to sea Capt. Henry came on the PA and said that we would be changing our itinerary slightly. We were going to cruise for a while and wait for the Magic to sail from Nassau to join us in the July 4th celebration. He said that he would keep us informed. As the night went on we got periodic updates and then about 10 pm we could see the Magic approaching. She pulled up next to us about _ to 1 mile away and everyone was taking photos of each others ships. By now we were both a couple of miles off CC and both ships were pointing towards the island. They exchanged whistles and then the deck parties started. A short while later we were told to look towards CC. There was a barge anchored off shore and music began to play on both ships PAs. A fireworks show began set to the music on the PA and lasted about 20 minutes. It was as good as any show we have seen at the parks! What a treat! We then left and continued our sailing. So, after last years cruise we were very excited about what was in store this year. We knew we would be in St. Thomas and that it would be impossible for both ships to get together again but we still anticipated a special 4th. The trip begins: Friday 6/29- We caught an evening flight form Nashville to Orlando. Arrived at 9:55 and collected our luggage. Got a skycap to help us get the bags to the Hyatt and checked in for the night. Had a nice room on the 10th floor overlooking the main airport hall. Got some dinner in the coffee shop and went to bed. How nice not to have to worry about getting to another hotel or renting a car. Sat 6/30- The next morning we ate breakfast at the 9th floor restaurant and then checked out. Took the elevator to level 1 where the Hyatt has their valet park and waited on Tiffany Town Car to pick us up at 9:00. Jack showed up precisely at 9:00, loaded us up, got in the car and said " youre going to Port Canaveral, right?" I said yes, and he said "good, how do we get there?". After a millisecond of panic on my part Jack then said "just kidding" and we were off. It turned out that Jack was a great driver. He is retired and has 5 cars he contracts to Tiffany and really enjoys driving people around. I asked him to make a soda run near the port and he said "no problem". He even had a Disney CD that he put on for the kids to get them all excited. We had a great ride and just before the Port he pulled off at a convenience store so I could make my soda run. I bought two 12 packs (reg & diet) and a 6 pack of beer for late night verandah sipping. We put them in my nylon bag that I bought just for this purpose and we were off again. We were at the Port in about 5 more minutes and got there a few minutes before 10. Dropped off the luggage, said goodbye to Jack and he said that he would not pick us up next Saturday (awww) because he was driving the president of Papa Johns and his family around the next week. Check in started about 10:30. We checked in and then went in line to board. While I waited mom took the kids to the bathroom so she would not to leave line when it got crowded. We were about 10th in line. While in line we met a family from NY that were first timers. She was amazed as I was reviewing my spiral notebook with all my notes in it. Now that I knew my dining assignments (APLAPLA) I could plan the Palos nights and brunches. I gave her some tips to help her get through the "boarding rush". Her son & my son hit it off and became fast friends all week long. Finally at about 12:15 we were able to board. Got our picture taken, they announced our family and off we went to the welcome aboard lunch. They tried to get us into Parrot Cay but we told them we wanted to go to Topsiders (closer to Palos). The cast member said that they werent open yet but if we wanted to go we could. Took the elevator to deck 9 and got off at Topsiders. Just as we arrived they opened the doors. Note: As we arrived on the ship and at Topsiders there were fairly aggressive people selling wine packages for the cruise. We got hit up several times the first day. A bottle a night from selected wines for about $145. Supposedly about a 25% savings. We passed as we do not have wine every night with dinner. Sometimes we have a cocktail and sometimes we have wine. We got our food and a prime round table at the back of the restaurant. (food was very good, shrimp was smaller and a little chewy than LY) Since I knew my dining rotation we did not have to go to the room till we were ready. We ate and while the kids were still eating I went up to Palos at 12:45 (right above us). They were supposed to open at 1:00 but they were already open (3 people in line) when I got there. I had to get through the wine presentation again and then I could get my reservations. Tuesday at 8:00 while we were in St. Maarten (city lights off the back of the boat) and brunch Thursday at 11:00. Even though Thursday is seafood day there was plenty of seafood at brunch (Alaskan crab legs piled high and giant shrimp much better than Topsiders) so we didnt mind brunch then. It took about 8 minutes for all this and I was confirmed right then and there. Next, back to the family as they were finishing up lunch. We gathered them and went to the kids club to get them set up. This was much better than LY as we tried to do it before dinner LY and they were slammed. We got the kids registered, got my 9 _ yr old son bumped to 10-12 so he could be with his new found buddy and went to the room. By now it was about 1:30. So far, right on plan. We got to the room (only 6 down from LY on the Wonder) and opened the door. There was a bag on the bed and we thought someone was in our room already till we realized that it was our Castaway Club gift. I grabbed the excursions form, filled them out for the St. Maarten Under Two Flags tour and the St. Thomas Atlantis Sub tour. While there our two largest bags arrived at the door. At 1:50 I was off to the excursions desk while mom unpacked and the kids played on the verandah. When I got to the excursions desk there was about 20 people in line. They put the box out at about 2:05. Now back to the room as we were almost done. No spa reservations for us. Mom has no interest in it and I cant talk her into the Surial Bath this trip. Shes not into mud. We relaxed for a while and then went up on deck about 3:15 to watch the Delta rocket launch. Since the launch was at 3:46 the dreaded lifeboat drill (my daughter has dreaded it since LYs trip) was delayed till 4:30. Saw the launch (like a big pop bottle rocket but much more expensive) and then went to get our life vests. Made it through the drill by promising my daughter that all was well after the drill and there would be no more during the week. Then we went up on deck for the sail away party. Then off to get ready for dinner @ 6:00. Went to Animators Palate and met our servers- Agi from Hungary & Passayu from Thailand along with Head server Tamer from Turkey. Ill discuss the service later in the review. The show started late and never got going. Technical difficulties. But the head server and our server both told us that the next time we were back (Tues) we would have the show. We got our tickets for the character breakfast at 8:15 (I believe) the next morning in Parrot Cay from our server. Now, in the interest of not being too long winded Ill touch on different subjects that might be of interest to you. Days at sea- Absolutely our favorite part of the trip. Sleep late, spend time at the pool (get there by 9:30 and chairs should not be an issue) let the kids spend time in the clubs, and enjoy the adult navigator series. Adult series / behind the scenes- We did the Captain Q&A, the making of the Magic, the galley tour, the behind the scenes stage tour/presentation, the pastry demo, the ice carving demo, and the cocktail mixers demo (more of a show). All were great. The galley tour is awesome and you must get there early as supposedly 400 people were expected. Bingo- We played 3 times. Theres 5 games each time with the last being a blackout game for the pot. If you dont win in the specified calls then it rolls over to the next day. Each game is more progressive with the winnings being from $80 to about $230. The pot on the last day was $5267 in the final game and they play till its won. By then the crowd is quite large and bingo is held in the WD Theatre. Lots of fun but we spent about $100 with no winnings. Kids Clubs- Our kids could not wait to get back to "their clubs" from LY. They were in the 3-4 & 10-12 groups. We ate breakfast & dinners together. They usually ate lunch with the clubs unless we were at the pool. We highlighted their Navigators and reviewed their activities each morning at breakfast. They told us what they wanted to do and we could plan the day around their activities. We drew the line at dinner or major show times but otherwise let them pick what they wanted to do. They absolutely love the clubs (except the 4 yr old does not like quiet time after lunch and we would "rescue" her for an hour during this time) and the activities they had. My son would sign himself in but we would sign him out. Not because we did not trust him but because we knew where he was and could get him out before we had to be somewhere without tracking him down. Got paged twice. Both from the older one. One time was about 5:00 as we were going to get him and it was only because he wanted to be sure he ate dinner with us and not the club. The other time was when we were playing bingo I was paged to pick him up in Animators Palate while they were having an activity there. I figured he wanted to play bingo with us. When I got there I asked him what was up and he said that I needed to take the cels he painted back to the room as they were wet and he was moving to a new activity. He did not want to leave but just wanted to get his cels taken care of. So I took them back to bingo with us. By the end of the cruise both kids made several friends and had favorite counselors. They both were sad to leave. The older one took it harder though. Note: The last night the kids put on a show at 5:00 in the WD theatre. They have to be in the clubs by 4:00 for rehearsal so you have to be on the ship by 3:30 or so. If your kids are in the clubs a lot DO NOT MISS THIS SHOW!!! They get t-shirts to wear and sing some songs while photos of the week are displayed on the big screens with a special appearance on stage with them from the big cheese himself. It choked us up to see this as we knew both kids had so much fun and would be sad to leave. Later, the older kids get their t-shirts signed by each other and the counselors. Also, the older ones in the Lab get Oceaneers Lab bucket hats on Thursday night. Movies- From memory the movies were- Pearl Harbor, Atlantis, 102 Dalmatians, Chocolat, Recess- Schools Out, Spy Kids, and a few others that escape me right now. I went to a 10:30 showing of Pearl Harbor and it lasted till 1:30. The theatre was about 2/3 full. Note: At night the theatre is fairly cold for some reason. If you dont have a sweater grab a blanket from your room. St. Maarten- We got there Tuesday morning about 6:00 and docked at their new dock (1/01). It was a nice dock and had facilities at the end for bus and taxis. A short while later The Monarch of The Seas docked on the other side but down from us. We faced the bay and had a fantastic view. Had room service deliver breakfast at 7:30 and we ate breakfast on the verandah while taking in the view. At 8:45 we met in Studio Sea for the island tour and the club was soon full. They just add buses as needed for this tour. We made our way to the dock and walked to the end where the buses were waiting. Because of the little ones short legs we were near the end of the group. Because of this we got a bus that was only about 1/3 full. How nice. We enjoyed the tour for what it was. Two stops. One at a high point for photos and on in Marigot for 45 minutes. We did a little shopping there. On the way back they gave you an option of being dropped off in Phillipsburg to shop or going back to the dock. Since the kids have no interest in shopping we went back to the dock and back on the ship. Ate lunch, checked the kids into their clubs, and headed back out shopping. We took the water taxi from the dock to Phillipsburg ($5 all day, 5 minutes across the bay) and shopped. We went to Del Sol and bought the color changing t-shirts (the kids love them) along with some nail polish for my wife and daughter. On to the Guavaberry Liquor store and bought a couple of bottles to take home. Did some emerald and tanzanite shopping (great quality but more than we wanted to spend) and looked for a digital camera. Not the savings I anticipated as it was priced the same as the states. When you haggled they just kept throwing in extras (bag, memory chip, batteries, charger, etc) but really wouldnt go below the prices in the states. Maybe if I spent all day at it I could have done better but I did not want the hassle. Oh well, maybe in St. Thomas. We liked St. Maarten for what it was. A third world island. While we saw some shacks there overall we had a good impression and would like to spend some more time there some day. We had heard of people bothering you to get you into stores but everyone that did that to us we just said "no thanks" and they were very polite back to us. When we got back on the ship and got the kids the Monarch was getting ready to leave. As it blew its horn the Magic blew the Disney horn. Everyone was on deck of the Monarch and when we blew our horn they all cheered. The Monarch then blew three short blasts and again the Magic blew the Disney horn. Boy, we felt lucky to be on the Magic! Down to dinner the AP show with the kids (appetizers) and then onto Palos. Palos was as fantastic as always. We both had the soufflé and split a Tiramisu. Great view of St. Maarten from our table by the window. We saw our friends from line there and ended up sitting with them after dinner and talking. They were already raving on how great the cruise was and comparing it to the three other cruises they have been on including the QE2. So far, this was their best ever cruise. We left Palos at almost 11:00. (8-11) Got the kids and went to the room to watch our pull out of Phillipsburg. St. Thomas- We arrived in St. Thomas about 7:30 on July 4th and docked again facing the bay. What a view! We could tell St. Thomas was more built up just looking at the bay. The dock was not as big or as nice as St. Maarten but it served the purpose. Again, breakfast at 7:30 and down to Studio Sea at 8:30 for the Atlantis Sub excursion. A lot less people there this morning as the sub only holds 48 people. We walked to the end of the dock, had our picture taken by the sub people with the Magic behind us, and waited for the boat to take us to the sub. It was there shortly and we took the boat for a 20 minute ride to Buck Island where the sub was tendered. There we boarded and off we went. The sub is very spacious with 2 wide windows down each side. It seats 24 people back to back on each side (48 total) with each having a window to look out or share and A/C vent above. We went on a 1 _ mile loop through the coral reef down to about 75 feet. We saw some nice coral formations a fair amount of fish and Pablo (transplanted blond American) did a good job at narration. After 50 minutes it was back to the surface. We all loved this excursion as we are not divers or snorkelers and the $250 for the family was highly worth it. The kids are still talking about it even two weeks later. Back to the dock where they take you to their shop by taxi in the mall right by the boat. You can look at your photos and shop for gifts. We bought our photo because it looked good. It was $10 and they put it into a holder that tells about the sub plus they give you a pen and 3 St. Thomas post cards. Back to the ship for lunch and to put the kids in their clubs. Then out for shopping. Once again we were not successful at gem or camera shopping. I found the camera I wanted but again they only wanted to throw in extras and would not come below US discounted prices. In retrospect it was about $120 worth of extras (although they valued them at about $300 with inflated retails) and was a good deal but I really wanted to save $50-100 too. Since I got back I found the same camera (Olympus c-3000) at Sams Club for $50 less but with no free extras. Bought some island gifts and also another Del Sol t-shirt and back to the boat to claim the kids for our 4:30 AMEX bridge tour. Pretty interesting except the tour is from the overlook and not on the bridge itself. Then to the deck for the sail away party. Because it was the 4th there were red, white, and blue banners (or bunting?) all around the rails of deck 9 & 10. There was waiters pouring champagne and apple cider into red, white, or blue bottomed flutes with clear plastic tops that had imprinted on them "DCL July 4th 2001 Celebration" . Unlimited champagne and souvenir glasses to keep. Not quite last years celebration but anytime you get free drinks from Disney its a good deal! A live band played down by the family pool stage and everyone was dancing. The Capt spoke from the bridge as we pulled out of St. Thomas and wished us Americans a happy July 4th. Then the horn blew and the Disney Characters came on stage dressed as colonials and the party continued. Off to get ready for dinner. Another two nights and a full day at sea as we sailed to Castaway Cay. We arrived about 9:00 Friday morning and as we pulled towards the dock we made our way to Deck 2 for the exit. They had deck 1 blocked off at the deck 2 stairs. When we arrived there were only about 30 people there but by the time we got off 45 minutes later we were wall to wall. I liked the 4 day arrival time better (8ish) as not so many people leave the ship all at once. My son and I got on the tram while mom & DD walked leisurely with a radio to keep in contact with. We went on the paths behind the beach and ended up by the jungle gym in the water right where we were last year. Two chaises, two chairs and an umbrella. Just as I planned it ! In fact, I think it was exactly the same spot as last year. DW was on the radio by now and we told her exactly where to find us. Then DS & I went back to get the floats and we were ready for fun. Note: As most people leave the ship they hit the beach and take the first chairs / umbrellas available. If you bypass this and go further down everything is more spaced out and takes longer to fill up. Also, if you eat early (11ish) the lines are shorter and by the time you get back to the beach the swimmers start to thin out as they go to eat. Back on board after a stop for souvenirs at about 3:30 and then get ready for the kids show. Shows- The 1st night was a welcome aboard variety show with some comics and the cruise cast performing. It was a pretty good show and the comics were above par. They then performed in one of the clubs over the next few evenings. We skipped Hercules, we never have been interested in it. Saw the new Cest Magique. I believe we were the first cruise it was performed on. It was pretty entertaining. Tuesday night they showed Atlantis and Wednesday was Who Wants To Be a Mouseketeer. The guy behind us was picked and it looked like he was going to win the cruise but he answered a question wrong at the $400 level. Disney Dreams was as great as usual and the last night was a Farewell Variety Show that again included professional comics and jugglers. It looks like DCL is bring in some outside entertainers for these shows and the talent is pretty good. Hercules and Disney Dreams both had 3:15 matinees which was great for the kids. They went to Disney Dreams with the clubs and had reserved seats down front. Then that night they were able to join in the club activities while we went to the show. Service- The service was outstanding this year as it was last year. Our stateroom host always took care of our room yet it was almost magical the way we would go to breakfast or dinner and come back to find our room made up for day or night. Kenroy was from St. Vincent and was always visible in the hall if we needed him yet was almost invisible too. We had a new towel animal each night and on the last night when we went to dinner the kids made up a balloon man in the bed with a balloon for the head (face made by marker), a Old Navy t-shirt stuffed with a pillow, towels for arms with one holding a champagne glass (from the 4th ) and the over holding his tip envelope. Later when we saw him he said "good one mon, nobody ever did that too me before". Agi & Passayu were great dining room servers and took time to talk to us and the kids each night. Every need was attended to and by the last night it was tough to say goodbye. Tamer the head server made the mistake the second night to stop by and ask DD (4) how her day was. She proceeded to tell him in detail for the next 15 minutes all that she did that day. After that each night he would make it a point to stop by and ask her about her day and then be stuck there for the next 10 minutes or so as she filled him in. He was the best head server we have had and really made a point each night to see that everything was ok. When it came time to tip these people we were more than glad to give them their tips and I even included extra in Passayus (asst. server) envelope because I felt he contributed as much to our experience as Agi (server) did. We even tipped the head server willingly as he did his part to see we were taken care of. Food- The food was better than LY and then it was pretty good. DCL has worked on their menus and added quite a lot. The special themed menu nights really were nice. Be sure on the Captains Gala night (Thurs) that if you want surf & turf you get your server to put a filet mignon on your plate. The lobster tails are little small so DW & I split a filet. Palos for both dinner and brunch was outstanding. We did not try high tea. Formal Nights- We enjoyed the formal nights. DW had two new formals for these nights and I wore a new navy suit with white French cuff shirts and dressy ties. DS wore slacks, a long sleeve oxford shirt with a Mickey Mouse tie. DD had a new silk pink dress and looked like an angel. Most people dressed these nights. There were a lot of formal gowns and the men were either in suits or tuxes. Some men just wore ties but they looked a little underdressed. A few boys were in tuxes but not very many. Of course we took advantage of the family portraits these nights and finally ended up with one nice family picture and one of the kids. Note: At the risk of sounding snooty. Please do not wear shorts & or t-shirts to the full serve restaurants. We saw several tables around us who did this and felt they were being rude. The Navigator says "No Shorts Please". If you want to dress really casual then go to Topsiders, order room service, or eat by the pool. We and most others make the attempt to change from our sweaty day clothes and we wish these people would too. Back to reality- On the last night we met the couple we met in line for drinks and asked them how their experience was. They said that it was their best cruise ever and were ready to start planning the Western Caribbean cruise for next year. We vowed to keep in touch and book the same cruise. Saturday morning we stayed in our room till about 8:00 and then went to Topsiders for breakfast. Since our flight was not till 2:15 we were not in a hurry. We ate a leisurely breakfast and then walked around deck 9 one more time before heading off the ship. Captain Henry was there to see us off and we thanked him for another fantastic cruise. After collecting our luggage we went out to the curb to wait for Tiffany Town Car to pick us up for the airport at 10:00. Eric was there a few minutes early and we were at the airport by 10:45. After we checked in we went to get some lunch and we ran into our friends from NY who had a 3:15 flight. We sat in the middle of the floor of the terminal and talked while the kids played. How nice to recap the cruise one more time. The boys both had their Magic t-shirts from the kids club on and DS wore his all day Sunday before he would let mom wash it on Monday. The flight home was uneventful and soon we were back at our house. Final Thoughts- The 4 day cruise was great but the 7 day cruise was fantastic. It was not just 3 extra days but was 3 times as good. All the activities and events made it a very special vacation. Save, charge, get a second job, put off retirement an extra year, eat macaroni three times a week, do whatever you need to but TAKE THIS CRUISE !!!