My report from 3/25-4/1 Magic

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by riggins, Apr 5, 2006.

  1. riggins

    riggins You can't always get what you want, but if you try

    Mar 14, 2002
    We’re back from 7 nights on the 3/25 Magic to the Western Caribbean. I enjoyed reading everyone else’s trip reports before our trip, so I thought I’d take a few minutes and share my thoughts and our experiences. For background, the cast of characters included me, DH, DD4, and DD2. This was our first cruise. We are huge fans of WDW and visit the parks 2 or 3 times per year. We’ve always heard good things about DCL, and decided to give it a shot. We booked the cruise at the last minute - about 3 ½ weeks in advance. I was shopping for trips in late ’06 and early ’07 and found this was the best price I could find, so we decided to go for it, despite the late notice.

    Cabin- I booked a Cat 12 Gty and was upgraded to a Cat 10 on deck 1- cabin 1071. Our cabin steward was great and after the 1st day, he learned our routine and he always was done with our room when we returned from breakfast and dinner. My 4-year old slept on the upper bed and my 2 year-old slept on the bottom. We thought the queen bed was pretty comfortable and we slept better than I thought we would. The only problem with our cabin was the engine noise (at least I assume it was engine??) We frequently heard a loud sort of squeal/creak noise that would last about 3 seconds. Sometimes, it happened as often as every 10 minutes and sometimes, hours would pass without us hearing it. The first couple nights, it woke us up, but after that, we got used to it. At first, it scared my kids because it sounded kind of like some kind of alarm, but they got used to it too.

    Food- Since we booked so late, only the late seating was available. My kids normally go to bed at 8:00, so I was very concerned about it. I went straight to Rockin’ Bar D as soon as we boarded and was able to get it changed to 5:30. We often felt rushed to be ready by 5:30, but it was much better than 8:00, so we were pleased. Our servers were outstanding and greatly enhanced our overall dining experience. We thought the food at dinner was consistently good. All four of us ate dinner every night in the dining room. We weren’t able to get a Palo reservation, but weren’t really too disappointed because we enjoyed the meals with the kids and get opportunities to go to nice dinners alone at home. While we enjoyed dinner, we struggled with the other meals. I found the buffet food at both Topsiders and Parrot Cay to be consistently cold and generally not very good. Also, we didn’t like the new set-up where you are served food from the buffet rather than serving yourself. At Parrot Cay, there was a person standing next to the buffet every 5 feet or so, which seemed to greatly slow down the traffic flow. At Topsiders, the employees could stand behind the buffet, like a cafeteria, which worked better- but overall the whole set-up was awkward- although I did appreciate such a great effort at avoiding the spread of germs. After the 1st couple of days, we just gave up and had room service breakfast every morning and ate at the quick serve places by the pool for lunch. This was a bit of a disappointment because we prefer the restaurant environment.

    Kids Club- My 2-year-old turned 3 the day after the cruise and has been potty trained for months, so I was hopping she could join her big sister in the Club. When we went to check them in at the port, the CM noticed DD2’s birthday and without us even asking, called the Manager over and asked if our youngest could participate in the Club. He asked if she was potty trained, we said yes, and that was it- she was in. We visited on embarkation day and let the kids play a little. The next morning after breakfast, the kids wanted to go play in the club for a while. They had fun, but didn’t object to leaving when we arrived to get them a couple hours later. The 2nd day, we had the same experience- they wanted to go, we returned a couple hours later, and they were ready to go with us. On the 3rd day, they didn’t want to leave when we came back and that continued for most of the week. They loved the activities and had a lot of fun. My only complaint with the club was that they didn’t have many morning activities. My kids are early birds and there was usually not an activity, just free time, until 11:00. And often some of the best activities were fairly late in the evening.

    Shows/Entertainment- We enjoyed the Golden Mickey’s and Twice Charmed- both were really great. I’m a huge Disney fan and love all the “faith, trust, pixie dust” sort of stuff, but I thought Disney Dreams was a little sappy. We thought Rich Purpura, the magician/comic, was excellent. The Huber marionettes were totally bizarre, although my kids thought they were neat. DH played a lot of bingo with Travis which was fun. We also saw the juggler one night, and while he’s really talented, I thought it was boring. Overall, we thought the entertainment was good.

    Key West- Our 1st stop was Key West. We hadn’t booked an excursion and planned to just walk to the aquarium and/or butterfly conservatory. We borrowed strollers from the ship and headed out after lunch. DD2 fell asleep in the stroller and we didn’t want to wake her, so we ended up just walking around. It was nice day for a walk (low 70’s- so way too cold for any water activities!). We spent a couple hours walking around and headed back to the ship.

    Grand Cayman- Our 2nd stop was Grand Cayman and we booked the Nautilus undersea tour. You ride in the bottom of a deep hulled boat as you sail over reefs and shipwrecks. At one point, a diver got out and fed the fish so we could get a closer look. This is a great excursion for little kids who are too young for snorkeling. We got to see just as much as I’ve seen on previous snorkeling trips, but from within the comfort of the boat. It was not very crowded and was a lot of fun. The excursion was short, which was great, because after we finished we headed back to the boat to FINALLY use the pool for the 1st time (more to come on the pools).

    Costa Maya- Our 3rd stop was Costa Maya. We didn’t plan any excursions and used the time to swim on the boat, so I can’t add much about the port. There were a lot of people who stayed on the boat that day, but it was still a nice day on the ship without the crowds like on days at sea.

    Castaway Cay- Our 4th stop was Castaway Cay and we LOVED it. We frequently visit the SC coast and my kids have spent a lot of time at the beach, so I expected it to be a typical sort of beach day. I underestimated how great this place is!! I loved that the water barely had any waves and is fairly shallow. We were able to sit in chairs near the edge of the water and relax while the kids played. When we go the beach at home, I have to stand over them so they don’t get swept away in a big wave. It was the best part of the entire cruise. We had a great lunch at Cookies and the food was MUCH better than the buffets on the ship. I now understand why everyone raves so much about Castaway Cay!! It was the best.

    Pools- I have to say, this was the big disappointment of the trip. On days at sea, there were so many people in the pools, I wasn’t sure how they all physically were able to get in there (think 12 clowns in a VW). The Mickey pool is a fabulous kid’s pool and my kids loved it. However, it was so busy, even on port days, that DH and I both had to sit on the edge the entire time, each of us watching one of our kids, to feel safe with them in there. There were just a couple of rowdy big kids in the pool at any given time, but that combined with the shear number of kids in there made it a terribly hectic place. So, while the kids enjoyed it, it was not at all relaxing for DH and me. I met a couple of other moms, also sitting on the edge, who we having the same trouble. We only went in the Goofy pool once- it was always packed!! The adult pool was usually fairly empty. It was disappointing to see such a nice pool (much nicer and bigger than the Goofy pool) so empty, while so many families were packed in the other pools.

    Overall- All in all, it was a nice trip. We had great weather, it was a new experience, and the service was outstanding. We had really intended on spending a lot time doing family activities together, but had trouble getting into a good schedule groove that allowed us to do as much as we’d hoped. As I mentioned before, we’re early birds, but there typically weren’t a lot of activities going on in the morning. We’re also an early-to-bed family, and the best activities got started when we were ready to go to sleep. For example, we all really wanted to attend the Pirate Party, but it started at 9:30 (and we’d crossed time zones on our way to Costa Maya, so it was really 10:30 to us) and all 4 of us were fast asleep before it even started. My 2-year-old fell asleep twice during shows and my 4-year-old asked to leave the Shaggy Dog movie early because she was ready for bed. When we do the parks, our early schedule is an asset because it’s easy for us to be at the parks at opening and napping in the middle of the day. On the cruise, we just couldn’t seem to figure out how to match our schedule with the cruise schedule. So for the next few years, we’ll stick with the WDW parks and beach vacations. Maybe when our kids are older and can stay awake past 9:00, we’ll try DCL again.

    If anyone has questions or wants more details, just let me know!

  2. spencersmom

    spencersmom Mouseketeer

    Oct 20, 2004
    Leslie-we are very early birds too and experienced the same feeling. A lot of really great stuff happens at night and we missed all of it on our cruise as well.

    I loved your report and thanks for taking the time to share it! Ginny :cool1:
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  4. tinkerbellmagic

    tinkerbellmagic don't hate me because I loved the castle cake

    Apr 15, 2003
    Thanks for the great trip report. I'm glad you had a wonderful time. Castaway Cay sure is paradise. :smooth: I agree about the pools.. wish they were bigger. I guess they need a bigger ship! :thumbsup2

  5. michelle9343

    michelle9343 DIS Veteran

    Dec 9, 2004
    Great report. I also agree that there should be more planned activities for early risers.
  6. gimpeaux

    gimpeaux Go Blue!

    Oct 14, 2002
    riggins, thanks for the excellent trip report on our cruise. I agree with one of your key points -- that the onboard activities are too heavily loaded to late night. I guess it is because not everyone is finished with dinner until 9:15 or so, but it does seem odd to go "out" when we would typically be going to bed at home! With our DD being 12, that was not a problem for her, but her dear ol' dad and mom sometimes had a harder time of it. :faint:
  7. lindaso

    lindaso DIS Veteran

    May 24, 2001
    I found your trip report very informative. My kids don't do well staying out late so it was interesting to hear from early-risers. We know from experience that too many late nights equal vacation meltdown (for kids and mom!!). We also don't have much luck at buffets so I like your plan of room service and deck food...we'll probably wind up doing the same. I know the size of the pools will make us all nuts...our backyard pool is bigger than the Goofy pool!! sounds like you managed fine and had a great time which is exactly what I hope we have!! Thanks for taking the time to post.

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