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Disney Cruise Line Trip Report Part One!
DisneyDan  Friday, March 9, 2012 11:18:32 AM
Hi all,

Welcome to this first part of my Disney Cruise trip report! In this report we'll be going through the embarkation process and first days' events aboard the ship.

As you all know, Jon and I travel frequently to all the parks around the world, but until this trip had yet to experience a Disney Cruise.
I can't say for sure why we hadn't done one sooner, but life has many things that it brings our way, and we can't be everywhere at once, sadly!

To begin with, for your reference, we sailed on the Disney Magic, on the 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral, Florida.

We had two full days and a morning in Walt Disney World before hand, and a day and a half afterwards. Of course, we travel to WDW often so I won't bore you with all the details, except we had an amazing time as always, and got to see our favourite characters, shows and parades.

Meeting Terence

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Festival of the Lion King

On Saturday 25th February we were collected from the Pop Century Resort at 12.45pm. We thought that this was a late time, but of course trusted Disney to work its magic!
What is stranger, is that when you check in online for the Cruise (which you can do several months in advance), it asks you which time you want to be picked up from your resort, and so we chose the earliest available time, which was 11am.

When we got the pick-up notification on our door at Pop the night before, and it said 12.45 we were somewhat surprised.
Anyway, the bus did come, and it was a fairly smooth process. It is just under an hour to Port Canaveral.
We know that Mickey and Minnie usually meet in the terminal before boarding, but of course being as late a pick-up as it was, we missed them.
Thankfully they wear the same outfits there as they do on the ship, although of course it would have been nice to be greeted by them.

The arrival process at the terminal is very easy. You go in the glass doors, go through airport style security, then up to the check-in desks.
You hand over your documents, have your picture taken, sign a form, get your stateroom key - and you're all set!

The terminal is Disney operated, and comes complete with a cut away model of one of the ships, Disney-esq theming around the walls and floors (such as Hidden Mickeys etc), and even a Mickey Mouse ears shaped portal direct to the ship!

Arriving at Port Canaveral

Arriving at Port Canaveral

Preparing to board the Disney Magic!

When you walk down the gangway to the ship you have to present your stateroom key card, and they swipe it.
Once done, you proceed directly into the Lobby Atrium, Deck 3 mid-ship aboard the Disney Magic!

Atrium Lobby, Deck 3

When you enter, you are supposed to have a special "greeting" by the crew. They call out your name over the PA system, and clap. Of course, in typical style, they thought we were with the group ahead, and our names were missed. Not a big deal, but they are supposed to be on the ball with these things, and part of the magic is having the full-on personal experience.

Anyway, we headed to our staterooms (from here in I'll just call them rooms as it's much easier lol), and dropped our bags etc.

Our room was on Deck 2, number 2519. We were one floor directly below the Lobby Atrium, and two floors directly below the Walt Disney Theater, Preludes and the two onboard stores. We had a fantastic location to say the least!

The room is probably about as big as I expected. Definitely smaller than any US style hotel room I have stayed in, but probably not too much smaller - if at all in some cases - than a lot of European hotel rooms.

Our Cabin

There is a main double bed, which can be split into two singles, which is behind a curtained area, and in the living area a desk, chair, coffee table and sofa bed.
There are a a number of storage units and a wardrobe, as well as a fridge.

The bathroom has a bath/shower and a sink unit, as well as mirror, hairdryer and shelf.
Overall I have to say I liked the room, and thought that it more than catered for our needs while aboard.

When you arrive in your room, if you have any pre-booked amenities they will be waiting for you, as well as any messages and notes (for example notes regarding how much onboard credit you have etc).

You will also find that days Personal Navigator, which we'll discuss in report two.

As for the theming of the room, well, this is something that I'll be going into in more depth when I talk about the rest of the ship, but we both did feel that the rooms were a little un-Disney. I realise that not everything all the time should be themed to the max, but just like the parks have extensive theming and Disney nods, the cruise ships are also a Disney property, and should have that same filly immersed feel.
Unfortunately we don't feel that the rooms had that "I'm in Disney" feel. There were Disney related things of course, but not many. Like I said, the ship's theming is something that I'll go into in more depth later.

Anyway, from our room we decided to go and get lunch at the buffet restaurant on Deck 9, called Topsiders.
Topsiders is both your best friend and your worst enemy while aboard the ship, to be honest! It is a convenient place to grab breakfast, lunch and dinner if you can't be dealing with the sit down restaurants, and has a good selection of food on the buffet. The food is always well prepared and tastes good too. The downside is that it is way too small to accommodate all the people who decide to use it, and again, has very little theming (well, none really to be honest).
If you manage to find a window seat, you can just see over the side of the ship to the sea beyond. Although the restaurant has windows on three sides to the outside, there are of course obstacles on deck and people walking past etc. There is an outdoor seating area that overlooks the back of the ship, and again, out to sea.

From what became a very late lunch, it was time to have our boat drill, then head up to the first of the events on this 7 night cruise, Adventures Away at the Goofy Pool Stage on Deck 9.

Boat Drill is mandatory and takes about 15 minutes. You have information in your cabin about where to go.
For those of you who are in the know about DCL, our group was A, and met in the Walt Disney Theater, two decks above our cabin.

In between all that though, we also found some random characters wandering around near the Lobby Atrium. We managed to meet sailor Chip and Dale, and Daisy Duck in her seafaring finest.

Meeting Chip and Dale

Meeting Daisy Duck

We tried to get up to the Adventures Away Deck Party early as we wanted to be sure that we had a good place for pictures. Being only a small area, and over 2000 people on board we wasn't sure how crowded it would get.
Annoyingly, as with everything aboard this ship (which we'll discuss in more detail in report two), the boat drill was right beforehand, and so timing was a little awkward.
As it happened, not as many people were bothered about this unique happening as you would think, and we ended up with pretty good places on Deck 10 facing down towards the stage.

Adventures Away

Anyway, the show basically involved some performers singing and dancing, then the VIP characters (Mickey and Friends) came on stage dressed in their Cruise Line outfits. They stayed a while, before leaving again and the singing and dancing continued for a while longer.

A little later on Captain Mickey had a meet 'n' greet in the Atrium, so we of course met him!

Meeting Mickey Mouse

On our trip, we had the second seating of dinner, which meant that we had to see the 6.15pm showing of the main shows when they were being presented (our dinner time was 8.15pm, and the second show was always the same time).

The first night's show was All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin, which is the welcoming show, and ties in with the finale show on the last night (the story starts at the start of your cruise, and finishes at the end also).

All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin

It was an ok show. I won't go wild about it, mainly because it was constantly interrupted by the Cruise Director, Peter Hofer, who would come on and give more and more information about the sailing. Also there were two other interruptions whereby performers who were providing the entertainment in the bars for the first half of the cruise, would perform a sampler of what was on offer the next few nights. I have to say that between this preview, and the other entertainment (excluding Disney shows) we saw aboard, we didn't miss much! The club/bar/adult entertainment aboard ship is mediocre at best (incidentally, the Lobby Pianist Angela Johnson, was fantastic, and much underrated I thought!)
We soon discovered the most annoying and disappointing thing about cruising and the shows - you aren't allowed to take pictures at all. No electronic devices allowed on in the theatre whatsoever apparently. It felt like Tokyo Disneyland all over again!!
We are of course character fans, that is blindingly obvious, and we love to see all character shows etc, but also like to capture them all with photography. We have DSLR cameras, and don't require flash to get good pictures. In fact, with our cameras, pictures are better without the flash. We don't use LCD screens so there is no light emissions there, so we cannot understand what the big deal is.

We both agreed that we would go so far as saying that this was probably, along with one other major thing I'll discuss later, the single most annoying thing about the cruise, and one major factor that would actually affect whether we do another Disney Cruise sooner rather than later. To not be able to capture the memories of the shows is a big blow, and if we can't do that then DCL will see less return business from us than it otherwise would.

Anyway, after being bored with mundane comedy routines, we headed down to meet Minnie in the Atrium who had a set time. She was of course in her cruise outfit.

Meeting Minnie Mouse

Dinner on our first evening was at Lumiere's, which is one of the main five restaurants aboard ship, and one of the three main rotation dining restaurants.
For those of you who know about DCL, and are interested, our rotation was LAPLAPL.

Lumiere's is a nice restaurant, but as with the staterooms, I feel they could have done more. Apart from a large Beauty and the Beast painting on the back wall, and some roses in the light shades, there was nothing to suggest this was anything to do with Lumiere. If you missed the painting, which was part hidden behind a serving area and tables anyway, you could be mistaken for being in any other decent looking restaurant.
Our first night was cruise casual, which meant no shorts or vest tops. So jeans and tees were fine. This was all good with me, except that this meant that the next night, Animator's Palate was the formal night, which worked out a little weird - but we'll come to that shortly as there are other complications involved with that one!
The menu on the first night was French - which was the restaurant's standard menu when there wasn't a themed night (again, we'll come to the weirdness of some of that later!)

This was probably one of my least favourite nights, along with the seafood night. On saying that, everything that I did have was really good, but I just felt limited for options due to the acquired palate of the menu.

After dinner, our day was done, and we wandered the ship taking photos and soaking up the atmosphere.

Beat Street

Exploring Deck 10 by night

Exploring Deck 10 by night

Having now been on the ship a few hours, we had been surprised at how rocky it was. I have to say that we both went into this thinking that cruise ships, being as large and advanced as they are these days, would be fairly smooth. I was taken back at how much the ship moved and swayed. A serious consideration for those who get motion sick. We were also really surprised about that amount of noise the ship emitted, not just on the deck areas, but in the cabins and restaurants. Sitting at your table in any given restaurant your table would rock and you could feel the rumble of the engines.
Our cabin was at the front of the ship, thankfully, and was subjected to less noise than ones towards the back. We took a stroll of the corridors on more than one occasion, and there was certainly a lot more noise and rumbling towards the back. If we do a cruise again, we would have to have a room near the front, as I had trouble sleeping with the noise and swaying as it was in our room, let along right above the engines. This would be a major factor when considering a cruise, and if we couldn't get a forward cabin again, I probably would not go.
Apparently the newer ships do not suffer with this as much, but I would still err on the side of caution. Our room didn't have a window/porthole, and to be honest I'm glad. If I could see the water as well as feel the ship rolling around as much as it was, I would have probably been sick!

The following day would prove to be an interesting experience - our first whole day aboard ship, and it was a sea day.

I'll be writing about that in the next few days, so stay tuned!

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