written by Crystal Boston, Travel Specialist
I just returned from my first experience on the Disney Magic and also my first Very Merrytime Cruise!
It had been a couple years since my last cruise and once we booked the Disney Fantasy in May we got the “cruise bug”! It’s a good bug to have…
On this 4-night itinerary, not only was this my first experience on the Disney Magic and a Very Merrytime Cruise, it was also our first experience in Key West – and, YES, Key West is open for business and ready for you!!
The Disney Magic is one of their smaller ships and we learned our way around quickly. Our dining experiences were also new to us – we enjoyed Carioca’s and Lumiere’s for dinner and, of course, we always enjoy Animator’s Palette – it’s my favorite in the rotational dining options. We dined at Animator’s Palette on our final night so our breakfast on disembark day was also at Animator’s Palette.
My husband was cruising with me and we chose a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah for our first Disney Magic experience – we prefer the starboard side so that we can see our ports of call on arrival. The staterooms are good sized with under-bed storage for your luggage and we have never felt crowded in our stateroom when cruising with Disney, even on this smaller ship. The Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah design features include:
- A sitting area with a couch, TV and desk
- A heavy privacy curtain to separate the sitting and sleeping areas
- A “split bath” (in most) that includes a bathroom with a vanity, sink, shower and tub and a half bathroom with a vanity, sink and toilet
- Cabinets with abundant storage space in the living area
- And my favorite feature – Elevated bed frames for under-bed storage of suitcases and other large items
This Very Merrytime sailing offered many fun holiday activities in addition to the normal onboard fun! There was a gingerbread house, Santa, Christmas trees, holiday music throughout the ship and more. As a special touch, many of the characters were also dressed in their holiday themed costumes.
We had 3 ports of call – Key West, Nassau and Castaway Cay. While Castaway Cay is always my favorite port of call, we chose this cruise itinerary because of the stop in Key West. This was our first experience in Key West and we enjoyed a beautiful day – seeing the Southernmost Point with lunch at Gas Monkey Bar & Grill and then met up with friends that were also cruising with us at Bourbon Street Pub. The locals were friendly and we definitely plan to go back to Key West!
Our preference for our Nassau port of call is to stay onboard and enjoy the ship – movies, pools, water slides, games, dining, entertainment – it’s all included.
Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island, consistently rated by Disney Guests as their favorite port of call – and MY favorite port of call when cruising with Disney!! Castaway Cay is reserved exclusively for Disney cruisers and the ship will dock right at the island to allow you to come and go as you please while enjoying experiences such as snorkeling, boating, swimming and sunbathing and bicycles can also be rented if you want to explore the island’s nature trails. While all areas of the island can be reached by walking, an island tram offers four stops to help you easily get where you want to go.
Your “Key to the World” card works for all purchases on Castaway Cay except at the local post office where you can send mail to your loved ones back home with a Bahamian postage stamp; the post card postage rate is approximately $0.65 USD each. Dining is also included as part of your cruise package with covered outdoor restaurants serving burgers, BBQ chicken and ribs. Alcoholic beverages are available for purchase and, if you are traveling without children, Disney offers “adult only” areas at Castaway Cay – Serenity Bay is a secluded beach exclusively for adults and families can have fun together at the Castaway Family Beach.
We are runners and weather permitting, Disney Cruise Line offers a 5K on every stop at Castaway Cay. It’s very informal but you do get race bibs and a medal at the finish line. If you want to participate in the 5K on Castaway Cay, you can register at Guest Services when you board your cruise. Your registration ticket, “Key to the World” and photo ID are required the day of your event to participate. The 3.1-mile out-and-back event is free and family friendly; it’s open to walkers and runners ages 10 and older. The race takes place first thing in the morning on the island, typically with a meeting time onboard of 8 am. The vibe of the event is casual, a fun experience worth the early wake-up!
Cruising with Disney is a very casual experience – I wore sun dresses and flip flops while my husband wore shorts and polos – even to dinner. The only exceptions are if you reserve adult only dining experiences at Palo or Remy which both have dress codes. We enjoy the rotational dining exclusive to Disney Cruise Line, experiencing a different restaurant and menu with the same servers each evening. And, unlimited room service is also included!!
In addition to exceptional dining experiences, Disney Cruise Line offers many entertainment options including Broadway-like musical productions, viewings of recently released Disney movies, character meet & greets that you often cannot find at the parks, deck parties, dance clubs, karaoke, trivia and so much more! O’Gills Pub even offered a buffet of light snacks early evening with another buffet for late night snacks later each night of our sailing. There is definitely enough to keep you busy on a Disney Cruise if you aren’t the lounging at the pool or beach type.
And don’t miss Goofy as you disembark, he’s busy helping the crew prepare the ship for the next cruise…