Disney Magic was designed with families in mind, so it's no surprise that most of the programs onboard tend to appeal to all age groups. While there is no in-cabin baby-sitting on Disney ships, the areas designated for kids are probably the most extensive at sea, with activities for every age level and hours available so that you can have a night out.
One of the nicest (and most unique) things about Magic's children's programs is the way they group the kids by age. While organized activities still cater to small age groups (3 to 7), all children, ages 3 to 10, have access to the same two clubs (Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab) and can move freely between them. Activities in Oceaneer Club are designed for (but not limited to) smaller children, ages 3 to 7, with hundreds of hands-on activities and art projects in a gigantic space that resembles a pirate ship. Computers and TV monitors are cloaked in plastic replicas of treasure chests. Activities in the Oceaneer Lab are geared (but again, not limited) to kids 8 to 12 and provide for computer time, cooking classes, games, gab-fests, pool parties and contests.
Each family is given a pager, which can be used to receive a text message about children's whereabouts. Kids younger than 10 have to be signed in and out by a parent, but 8- and 9-year-olds can sign themselves in and out with written permission from a parent. Kids 10 to 12 can sign themselves in and out; parents can be notified by text messaging only if requested.
Tweens (11 to 13) have their own small hangout space called The Edge, which has computers, arts and crafts, video games and a replica of the ship's bridge, where they can simulate navigating. Teens (14 to 17) also have their own special area, Vibe, which is housed in the nonfunctioning funnel, midship. It has a lounge feel, with oversized couches, flat-screen TV's and video games. Although it is supervised by Disney personnel, no parents are allowed. Nonalcoholic drinks and coffee are served; there are a variety of activities, from dance parties to karaoke.
Kids get their own version of the Personal Navigator and can join their groups at any time during the day, including dinner with fellow kid-clubbers, while parents dine alone.
The programs for children from age 3 are provided at no additional charge.
Flounder's Reef, the nursery onboard, takes babies as young as 3 months and children up to 3 years of age. Typical open hours are 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. The nursery is stocked with baby swings, walkers, books, toys, games and a TV, as well as a quiet area with cribs.
There is a per-hour charge of $6 ($5 for the second child) for this service, but it allows parents time to be on their own for dinner in Palo or a trip to the spa, for example. You can reserve a limited number of hours of nursery time for your child online up to three days prior to sailing: 10 hours for cruises of seven nights or less, 18 hours for seven-night cruises, 28 hours for 10- to 12-night cruises and 35 hours for cruises of 14 nights or longer. You can also sign your child up in person onboard.
Disney has an online service that allows passengers to order baby supplies in advance of their cruise and have them delivered to their staterooms (provided by Babies Travel Lite). There are more than 1,000 brand-name baby products to choose from, including diapers, baby food, infant formula and specialty travel items. The dining room can also provide mashed or pureed food for babies upon request.
All services are available on Castaway Cay.
Editor's Note: The 1,754-passenger Disney Magic, which turns 15 on July 30, will head to Cadiz, Spain, from September 7 to October 10 for its biggest-ever refurb. The operation will cover restaurants, bars, the spa, the atrium, cabins and kids' spaces, and will include the addition of a precipitously inclined waterslide that swings out over the side of the 11-deck ship. Get the details.
When Disney executives set out to enter the cruise business, they focused as much on how to bring their popular brand of entertainment to sea as they did on designing a cruise ship. The result: You won't find a few traditional cruise elements, such as a casino, ship's library and teeny cabins on Disney's very first ship. Instead, Disney Magic debuted in 1998 with roomier-than-average cabins that are ideal for families, an entire deck's worth of space devoted to kids and family activities, and two technologically advanced theatres. While many cruise lines offer excellent children's programs, all four Disney ships offer that, plenty of options suitable for families to enjoy together, plus evening theatre that's appropriate for all ages.
There are some differences between Disney's initial sisters and her two new siblings, Dream and Fantasy -- some positive, some less so. Disney Magic is showing signs of age in a few places, with worn fabrics in the fitness center lounges and cabins, some scuffed furnishings and a bit of rust in balcony corners.
On the other hand, one of the nice things about Magic is its smaller size. It has a more intimate feel than its larger, newer sister ships, which makes it easier to get to know folks, keep track of family members and have the sense that you've experienced most of the ship, even on a shorter sailing.
Another thing to note is that, while Magic has teen programs, the ship is less appealing to teens than Disney's newest ship, Fantasy, which has a larger pool deck, a splash park area for kids of all ages, and an interactive, shipwide, Muppet-themed game.
Disney Magic's Art Deco design elements are evident in all of its public spaces, which are, for the most part, refined and understated. There are a few Disney-themed venues that are appropriately colorful and exuberant, but most of the ship's appeal lies in the fact that it is truly designed for everyone, not just Disney fanatics and kids.
Disney put a great deal of thought into the design of its public spaces. Most are located on Decks 3, 4 and 5, and we had great appreciation for the way they seamlessly flowed from the rowdier kid-centric activities to the quiet family or adult-oriented spaces. We enjoyed pre- and post-dinner music in the Promenade Lounge, a quiet, family-friendly environment around the corner from Lumiere's. In Studio Sea (located a deck above), we participated in the game shows, exhibitions and karaoke. The Atrium is fairly small, and aside from being a great meeting point, it's rarely used, except for the Disney character autograph-signing, the Captain's cocktail party and Disney pin-trading.
There are three shops onboard Magic, two on Deck 4 (Mickey's Mates and Treasure Ketch) and one (Up Beat) on Deck 3. Mickey's Mates has Disney memorabilia and postcards, everything from oversized Mickey hands and stuffed animals to miniature souvenirs and T-shirts. Treasure Ketch has lots of logo apparel, jewelry and watches, while Up Beat has duty-free perfumes and liquor.
Note: You can bring liquor onboard Disney ships, and you may use it in your stateroom, but if you buy duty-free from their shop, it is held for you until the end of the cruise.
The Internet Cafe is located adjacent to the Promenade Lounge, with 10 computer stations for getting online. You won't, however, have access to any Microsoft applications here (like Word) or be able to connect a camera or other device to these computers. Wireless Internet access is available throughout the ship, including in staterooms. While access is fairly good, it can also be unpredictable and slow at times. Rates are the same for wired or wireless, but they vary based on the length of your cruise. For sailings of fewer than seven nights, the rates are as follows: pay-as-you-go for 75 cents/minute; 50 minutes for $27.50; 100 minutes for $40; or 250 minutes for $75. For sailings of more than seven nights, the rates are as follows: pay-as-you-go for 75 cents/minute; 100 minutes for $55; 250 minutes for $100; or 500 minutes for $150.
Wi-Fi-enabled laptops are available for a fee in the adults-only Cove Cafe on Deck 9, midship. The cafe, located adjacent to the adults-only pool, serves specialty coffees and bar drinks. This was a favorite -- another spot that was conducive to quiet pursuits and the closest thing to a library onboard the ship. Comfortable sofas and loungers, little cafe tables and chairs are scattered around the smallish room, which looks out onto the adult pool and the port side of Deck 9. Racks of books, magazines and newspapers separate the seating areas.
Check the ship map to locate the nearest self-service laundry room. Each has an ironing board and iron, washers, dryers and automated machines selling laundry detergent and dryer sheets.
The genius who devised the unique dining scheme on Disney ships should win an award for creativity on the seas. Although we enjoy traditional two-seating dining, it is rare that we actually show up in the dining room every night on a seven-night cruise, often choosing room service or the casual buffet at least once. Magic's special "dining rotation," though, made it fun and exciting to go to dinner. We plan a date night at Palo or a night at the buffet that's based on a restaurant we might not care if we miss or, on a four-night cruise, for the night we'd be at the same restaurant twice.
There are three main restaurants on Magic, and every cruiser gets to dine in each of them at least once (twice on weeklong cruises). You remain at the same table number with the same dining companions and servers, but show up at a different location each night. Dining times are set at 5:45 and 8:15 p.m.; as always on family-friendly cruise ships, the earlier dining times cater to families with young kids, so plan accordingly.
Lumiere's is the fanciest and most traditional dining room of the three, with Art Deco decor and a French-inspired menu. The restaurant is inspired by luxury liners from the heyday of transatlantic crossings.
Animator's Palate uses Disney's unique ability to create magic from the mundane: the restaurant starts out in stark black and white, but during the course of dinner, it changes slowly into a room filled with color. At one point, near the end of the meal, the various screens around the restaurant come alive with a montage of Disney animations past and present. When the waiters reappear to take dessert orders, their black vests have been replaced with brightly-colored ones, delighting the youngsters at the table. There is a nice variety of seafood, beef and pasta choices on the menu.
The third restaurant, Parrot Cay, is a bright and cheerful Caribbean marketplace-themed dining room. There you'll find waiters singing "Hot Hot Hot" and engaging the kids, who join a mid-meal conga line to dance around the floor. Parrot Cay is also open for breakfast and lunch buffets.
The actual rotation you are assigned makes little difference in the overall dining experience, except that you may dine in the first dining room on your rotation more than others, depending on the number of nights in your cruise. Preferred rotations can be requested at time of booking, but they are not guaranteed.
The food is very good, and the portions are ample. Everything, from soup stock to breads and pastries, is made onboard. With such an emphasis on quality, we found it surprising to be served only peel-packs of margarine at even the most elegant of meals in the main dining rooms.
Younger kids can order off a separate children's menu; our young tablemates, 6 and 8, said that the viscous-looking macaroni and cheese was "yucky," and no one seemed to like the thick pre-packaged-looking pizza, but they enjoyed everything else. The adults really appreciated the range of salads and fresh vegetables offered at each meal and found the variety of seafood, meats, pasta and fish excellent and beautifully prepared. Many of the desserts were so-so, but by the time we got to them, we were full enough not to mind.
Topsider's, the casual dining restaurant, serves breakfast and lunch buffets. It is open for dinner, as well (excepting the first and last evenings of the cruise), and serves freshly tossed salads, grilled steaks and fish, in addition to selections from the main dining room menus. The location, high up and aft, is terrific, but the indoor layout is cramped and difficult to maneuver -- one of the rare poorly planned spaces on the ship. On nice days, you can dine outdoors overlooking the stern.
There are three fast-food locations on Deck 9, which is where most of the outdoor action is to be found. There you can grab a bite without changing out of your swimsuit or interrupting your child's fun time in the pool. Pluto's Doghouse serves burgers, fries and fabulous crispy, juicy chicken breast tenders, a big hit with everyone. Pinocchio's Pizzeria serves slices day and night, and Goofy's Galley is very popular for its salads, sandwiches and paninis, as well as fresh fruit and soft-serve ice cream.
Palo, the adults-only fine dining bistro, levies a $25 per-person charge for supper and for its popular Champagne brunch. Located aft on Deck 10, this intimate and brand-new-looking restaurant is decorated with handmade Italian glass finials and table lamps, a calming color scheme of burnished ochres and blues, and window walls on three sides. There you'll find wonderful Italian/Mediterranean cuisine to rival that of any similar upscale land-based dining establishment. We swooned over the portabella mushroom with polenta appetizer, which was large enough for a meal. All of the fish and seafood dishes were superb, as was the perfectly prepared filet mignon. The brunch is an even better bargain ... Champagne, cold buffet with seafood and meats, breads, salads, cakes and desserts, plus a hot made-to-order selection of eggs, meat or fish. Book early: the restaurant is small, and while supper is available nightly, the Champagne brunch takes place only three times per seven-night cruise.
Room service was fast and efficient. The people who take the orders are obviously used to dealing with kids, and they seem to enjoy the exchange over the phone. The menu is relatively simple, with cold sandwiches (including focaccia with zucchini and portabella mushroom, and a chicken fajita wrap), salads and a variety of hot items, including hot dogs, lasagna, pizza and burgers. There is not much flexibility in the menu, but when we requested warm milk to go with our hot chocolate packs, it was cheerfully delivered along with yummy chocolate chip cookies. In-room breakfast is continental only and relatively boring, ordered via a pre-hung door card the night before.
Suite passengers get hot breakfast options and dining room meals delivered when requested.
One thing to note is that Disney broke the barrier and is now offering soft drinks (Coca-Cola products) free of charge. They are available at meals and at the 24-hour drink station on Deck 9 aft, but if you get them from a bar or room service, you'll still have to pay.
|Fitness and Recreation|
The three swimming pools on Disney Magic are all located on Deck 9, each with a different theme or purpose. Mickey's Pool, at the aft, is for kids only. It has a one-deck-high curly slide, is very shallow and has small toddler pools at the "ears." Goofy's Pool (and pool deck) is for families; located midship, this is where many daytime deck activities take place and is the scene of the nighttime deck parties. Kids must be toilet-trained to enter any pool. Quiet Cove, forward, is the adults-only area, and it is indeed quiet and peaceful. There are two large hot tubs at one end, a bar and coffee house at the other. It's large enough for laps early in the day when it isn't yet crowded.
Deck 10 has a basketball hoop and volleyball area, plus foosball and Ping-Pong tables. Shuffleboard courts are on the promenade, Deck 4. Both Deck 4 and Deck 10 have full-circuit walking/jogging tracks, but the lower deck is shaded and less crowded. A small but well-equipped fitness center is located on Deck 9, adjacent to the Vista Spa; classes in Pilates and yoga are available for a small charge.
Hint: Looking for a really quiet place to rest and relax in the sun, or to stargaze in peace? All the way aft on Deck 7 is a small, little-known deck area overlooking the stern's wake. There are chaises and a couple of tables, but no bar or food service; this quiet space is accessed through an unmarked wooden door, opens at 7 a.m. and is locked again at 11 p.m.
At first glance, the adults-only Vista Spa looks like any other Steiner of London-run operation, but there are hidden delights. A room just off the spa lobby, called The Rainforest Room, has neither rain nor a forest, nor is it particularly tropical. Decorated in Tuscan-inspired tiles, with a fountain in the middle, it's a coed steam room/sauna/aromatherapy environment, with heated ceramic tile chaises and scented showers. It costs $15 per day to use it, or you can purchase a cruise-long pass for $50. If you have a treatment at the spa, you can use the room at any time during that day at no additional charge.
Spa treatments range from the usual (Swedish massage, aromatherapy facials) to the unusual. Rasul, or "Mud Room," is a treatment room with sundry types of mud body masks, scrubbing salts and scented oils, used on an hourly basis with no therapist involved. Though designed for three people, it's usually only occupied by two. It's a chamber with two rooms -- one for steam after applying the mud and the other for showering the mud off. The cost for the Rasul is $89; other treatments include the $118 Swedish massage and a $115 facial, or you can spend several hundred dollars for a day of pampering. The Personal Navigator will indicate which specials are offered; port days usually have the best deals.
It might be unusual to mention a cruise line's private island retreat in a ship review, but Disney's Castaway Cay in the Bahamas is actually an extension of the shipboard experience. (Each of the Caribbean and Bahamas cruises has a full day at Castaway Cay.) This beautifully groomed island's amazingly organized "day of leisure" offers a variety of recreational opportunities for families and adults. There is no charge to use the chaises, chairs and hammocks along the beach; tube, floatie and snorkeling equipment rentals are reasonably priced. Highlights for kids are two fantastic water-play areas: Pelican Plunge, a platform with waterslides that spit you out into the sea, and Spring-a-Leak, an area with sprayers and soakers, great for cooling off. Teens have their own private activity area on the beach.
Castaway Cay has an adults-only section with oceanfront massage cabanas, and the Oceaneer's Club and Oceaneer's Lab age groups have their own excursions, as do the teens. You can rent bicycles, go for a nature walk or take advantage of motorized water sports offerings like Jet Skis, parasailing and banana boat rides offered by a concessionaire. Visitors will also find music, dancing, a barbecue lunch and family games throughout the day.
Dress is casual during the day and resort casual -- pants and Polos and casual dresses -- in the evenings, with one formal night and one semiformal night on a seven-night cruise. Even the formal nights lean toward the casual, with many women dressed in summer or maxi-dresses as opposed to long, formal ones. Swimwear is not allowed in the restaurants at dinner, but shorts and jeans are permitted.
Magic's roomy cabins are designed with family comfort in mind. Cabins aren't made to wow kids but, rather, to provide respite from the child-friendly public spaces onboard. They are placid, quiet and comfortable havens of privacy, and it's no surprise that they are popular, even with people traveling without youngsters. The overall color scheme is a nice nautical blue with gray and burgundy, and while there are "hidden Mickeys" everywhere, you have to look to find them. On Magic, Disney's oldest ship, the cabins are beginning to look worn, with bedspreads that are showing signs of age and shower tile grout that could use replacing.
The 214-square-foot outside cabins and 223-square-foot balcony staterooms (each with a 45-square-foot verandah) are comparable to mini-suites on some other ships, each with a distinct bedroom area and living room. Twin beds, which can be made into a queen, are divided from the living area with a full pull-across curtain. The living rooms include deep, full-length sofas, which can be made into third single beds; many rooms also have berths that descend from the ceiling for a fourth person. The slightly larger 259-square-foot Deluxe Family Oceanview stateroom, with a 45-square-foot balcony, can fit five with an additional wall-mounted Murphy bed. Inside cabins (184 square feet for standard, 214 square feet for deluxe) are, for the most part, configured similarly to the outsides and offer the same amenities.
Editor's Note: As of November 15, 2013, cigarette smoking on cabin balconies will no longer be permitted.
The honey maple furniture with inlaid Art Deco designs is elegant and warm, as are the triple-paned etched-glass balcony doors, which have childproof locks. There are plenty of drawers for storage, including six in a chest at the end of each closet and eight in the deep double-pedestal desk/dressing tables. The closet has sliding doors and is fairly small, but most rooms also have an upright "steamer trunk" wardrobe for more clothing storage, which also happens to be the perfect height for kids. There are shelves above the TV in the desk area console, too high for little ones to reach. The beds are very low, too low for most suitcases to slide under -- an issue thankfully rectified by Disney on their newer ships, Dream and Fantasy. All cabins come with two portable Wave Phones, which have texting capabilities and can be used throughout the ship and on Castaway Cay. (Four phones are provided in the Royal Suite and two-bedroom suites; passengers can rent additional phones from Guest Services for $3.50 per day.)
Each stateroom comes with a "cold box." It's not a refrigerator, but it does keep already cold items cold. Also included in each stateroom: a safe large enough to fit a Macbook Pro, two small end tables with a single drawer each, a sofa, a coffee table that rises to table height, a large desk with a crescent-shaped stool and a small television. The TV programming is mostly Disney-owned channels (including ABC, Toon Disney, the Disney Channel and several ESPN channels) and Discovery, Discovery Travel, CNN, CNN Headline and BBC World. There were several stations with movies produced by Disney-owned companies, including Miramax, Buena Vista and Touchstone.
The bathrooms on Magic are unique in that they are divided into a "bath and a half" configuration in all but the least expensive inside cabins, which have single baths with one sink each. In all other cabins, one bathroom has a toilet, a sink and shelves for makeup and sundries; the other has a shallow tub, shower and sink. The tub is mainly to wash little ones who are too young to shower, and while it seemed a bit shallow for an adult bath, it can be used for that purpose as well. Crisp white tiles with bright blue accent pieces, faux granite sink tops with molded honey maple surrounds and round chrome sinks made these little rooms appear elegant. Though most people love them, we felt claustrophobic in them.
Bathroom amenities are decent and include soap, shampoo, a collagen conditioner and lotion. There is a wall-mounted hair dryer in the bathroom that houses the toilet, which we found oddly inconvenient ... after showering, you have to change bathrooms to dry your hair.
The ship's exterior "modern classic" design dictated several interior space nuances. Outside cabins have large, round windows that replicate portholes. Most of the balconies have bars and Plexiglas inserts, but at the aft end of Decks 5, 6, 7 and 8 are balconied staterooms with either a "Navigator's Balcony" (with a solid wall and a round cutout) or a half-height white metal wall as the staterooms angle toward the pointed stern. This angle, too, allows for larger verandah spaces because of the curve. We had a stateroom at the "corner" of the aft curve; our balcony was nearly six feet wide at one end, narrowing to about three and a half feet at the other, slightly longer than the standard midship balconies. We loved the extra outdoor space but missed the ocean vista since the solid metal wall prevents a view of anything but the sky when you are seated.
Caveat: Some of these "aft corner" staterooms (5150, 5650, 6150, 6650, 7134, 7634) are narrower than others, with no extra wardrobe for clothes and a tight fit at the living room end. Ours was fine for two people; three would have made it uncomfortable.
The wheelchair-accessible staterooms on Magic are enormous, and they are available in inside, outside, verandah and suite categories. The aft balcony accessible staterooms have huge verandahs, as well (some 30 feet long).
Hint: The ship has six staterooms known by insiders as "The Secret Porthole Rooms." They aren't secret at all, but they are a great bargain. They are staterooms all the way forward on Deck 5 that have portholes that are -- to varying degrees -- obstructed, and they are sold at the cost of the most expensive inside stateroom. Staterooms 5020, 5022, 5520 and 5522 have virtually nothing blocking the windows except rails and a pulley; 5024 and 5524 are almost completely blocked with barrels. Still, if you are considering an inside stateroom but would love the light of day for no extra charge, these cabins are your best bet.
The suites are all located on Deck 8 and include the following: 524-square-foot one-bedroom suites with 90-square-foot balconies, 805-square-foot two-bedroom suites with 140-square-foot balconies, and two 845-square foot Royal suites with 184-square-foot balconies (one of which has a baby grand piano). The one-bedroom suites sleep five, and the two-bedroom and Royal suites sleep seven. Each suite comes complete with a concierge team, more upscale design elements, upgraded mattresses and feather pillows, granite countertops and full-length whirlpool tubs. All of the suites have large verandahs.
In addition to shampoo, conditioner and body butter, suite passengers get a sea salt body wash and sunburn relief gel, as well as robes and slippers. They'll also find mouthwash, toothpaste, a toothbrush and a vanity pack with cotton balls and cotton swabs, plus a little sewing kit.
First of all, there is no casino on this ship, which we really thought would make us crazy. But there is so much to do and see that we honestly didn't miss it at all. There is, however, bingo with pretty good jackpots.
Second, those folks on Magic sure know how to throw a party. The deck parties on Magic were the most widely attended (by all age groups) of any we have ever seen, and no one quit until the lights were out. The Pirates in the Caribbean Party was the highlight of the cruise, with every cruiser wearing a red bandana and some donning Captain Hook hats, eye patches and other piratical paraphernalia. Pirates rappelled down the ship's smokestack and flew over the balconies while everyone danced and cheered and booed and danced.
Anyone who assumes that the entertainment onboard is all Mickey, all the time, would be wrong. Several production shows ("Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story," "Disney Dreams," and "Villains Tonight!") do feature the Disney characters, and they are wonderful ... bright, colorful, perfectly executed and intricately elaborate. Trivia tidbit: There are three sets of costumes onboard, and they're custom-made of the finest fabrics -- two for the performer, in case something happens to one of them, and one for the understudy. Performers use some 250 wigs and 350 pairs of shoes in a week's worth of production shows!
However, depending on sailing length, additional theatre shows might include a comedy and magic show with a special guest performer (not Mickey- or Disney character-related), as well as a "Welcome Aboard: Let the Magic Begin" revue-type show.
These events take place in the the Walt Disney Theater, which is large enough to hold half of the ships' occupants, offers fantastic lines of sight with no posts or pillars, and seems to have a two-deck-high stage. What is unseen is that the stage area actually encompasses many decks, from its mechanics underneath to the top where the people-flying wires, drop-down scenery and intricate lighting systems are hidden. It's sophisticated enough for the most comprehensive Broadway musical or Las Vegas-style review, but what the passengers see is a lovely theater with comfy stadium-style seating.
One entertainment perk is that whenever a Disney-owned movie production company has a theatrical release, Magic passengers get to see it at the same time. These are first-run movies, ranging from kid-friendly, G-rated flicks to PG-13 and even R-rated films, shown in both the Walt Disney Theater and the smaller Buena Vista Theater (depending on length of sailing). In addition, Disney Digital 3-D movies combine the cinema experience with lasers, fog, streamers and special lighting effects.
In the onboard clubs and lounges, daytime family-oriented activities include the Playhouse Disney Dance Party, bingo, Family Magic Quest (a scavenger hunt game) and several trivia games. Other activities include shuffleboard tournaments, golf chipping and putting contests, pool games, shopping talks and our personal favorite, the Mickey 200, in which you create a racecar out of vegetables. Oh, and don't forget family karaoke, music trivia "game shows," dance lessons, family cabaret and talent shows ... and all of that doesn't even touch the adults-only entertainment.
At the very front of the ship on Deck 3 is an entertainment complex called Beat Street, consisting of lounges, bars and cabarets that become adults-only after 9 p.m. Before that time, these spaces are used for various all-ages activities. Rockin' Bar D hosts family-friendly individual performers or family dance parties early in the evening. Between dinner times, a short and squeaky-clean version of the cabaret show is performed for families with younger kids. After hours, the adult version is suggestive (and really, really funny), but not a single curse word was used, and the performers never went out of bounds or crossed over into indecency. It was adult humor that was acceptable to everyone. Additional adult-themed activities at night include a Singles' Mingle, a College Club Social for passengers ages 18-25, and Match Your Mate, where you test your knowledge of your significant other (a la the Newlywed Game).
Sessions, all the way forward, is a low-key and comfortable lounge and one of the few public spots where you can engage in quiet conversation. It features a pianist from 6:30 p.m. to midnight, who is occasionally accompanied by a vocalist. Diversions, also all the way forward, is the ship's sports bar, open to families during the day for games of checkers, foosball, Sorry and assorted other board games.
Three adult programs take place during the day: the Navigating the Seas series, which allows passengers to see the inner workings of the ship via lectures and video; the Disney Behind the Scenes series, which gives fans a "backstage" perspective of the Disney experience, from food to entertainment; and the Art of Entertaining series. The latter takes place in Studio Sea, a family-friendly bar/game show space, and is set up as a cooking show, in which a chef prepares a portion of a meal -- appetizer, salad, dessert or main course. The audience can watch the action via overhead mirrors, and the chef explains what he's doing as he goes along. At the end, everyone gets a taste of the delicacy and a thimbleful of compatible wine. The event is free of charge, as are the corollary classes on napkin-folding and plate-decorating. Wine, martini and margarita tastings are also available for $15 per person.
Disney's shore excursions offer a variety of experiences, usually including a family-friendly option with activities geared toward kids and an adults-only choice. Several new shore excursions are available, thanks to Magic's variety of upcoming itineraries. For example, in typical Disney style, families can attend a garden party with Disney characters in Saint John, New Brunswick, or cruise on Theodore Tugboat in Halifax, both offered on Disney Canada sailings from New York City. The ship's eight-night sailings from New York City also include a day at Disney World in Florida. From Galveston, the Western Caribbean itinerary offers a chance to take the Nautilus Undersea Tour to see coral reefs and tropical fish from a partially submerged submarine, or you can choose from one of several tours that get you up-close with dolphins, turtles or stingrays.
The recommended gratuities are $4 per person, per day, for the dining room server; $3 per person, per day, for the assistant server; $1 per person, per day, for the head server; and $4 per person, per day, for the room steward. All bar, pool deck and coffee bar drinks have a 15 percent gratuity added to the bill. Spa gratuities are not added and are left to the discretion of each passenger. It is suggested that cruisers tip for room service as it's delivered.
Mostly families sail this ship; however, there is a large number of people traveling without kids because they appreciate the quality of the ship, its offerings and its suite-like staterooms. In addition, Disney Magic's changing itineraries attract a higher percentage of past passengers looking to explore new places with Disney.
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