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Old October 10th, 2014, 08:52 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Fort Lauderdale, FL, USA
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Arrow DISNEY MAGIC Southern Caribbean - Review & Photos!

Link to over 500 photographs including Navigators: https://www.flickr.com/photos/erolle...7648216743008/

My partner and I recently returned from a 7-day Southern Caribbean cruise aboard the DISNEY MAGIC out of San Juan. I'm pleased to say that Disney continues to impress and we had an amazing time. Overall this was my 106th cruise and 4th time on Disney Cruise Line. We are two adults with no children just to provide some perspective.

We chose this cruise mainly because I wanted to experience the "re-imagined" DISNEY MAGIC and we are both fans of Disney. Our previous DCL experiences were on the DISNEY WONDER and twice on the DISNEY DREAM. I was very impressed with just how new the 16 year old DISNEY MAGIC looked so it's obvious the refit was successful and as usual Disney keeps its ships spotless and pristine. Having now sailed the larger Dream Class and both the smaller original Disney ships, it's hard to pick a favorite. Each has their advantages and disadvantages. We found the MAGIC to feel far less crowded than the DREAM, but in part this could have been because there were fewer kids onboard and the ship wasn't filled to capacity. It was never difficult to find a deck chair by any of the pools even on our sole sea day. Also I never had to wait to use either of the slides but I only used them during off-peak times. Getting a seat in Cabana's buffet was never an issue even during rush times, and elevators were never a problem although they are small. What I preferred on the DREAM is the grander scale of everything, the adults only district, the AquaDuck over the AquaDunk, and little enhancements like the Enchanted Art. I also felt the restaurants on DREAM were more attractive than those on the MAGIC. On the MAGIC I much preferred the larger and more spacious adult pool and I loved Keys, which is the piano bar. In fact it's one of my all-time favorite venues on any ship. The pool layout on MAGIC is better as well with three distinct areas (kids, family, adult), where as on the DREAM class the family and kids pool are in the same section. At the end of the day I would be ecstatic to sail on either class of ship again!

What really sets Disney apart is first and foremost the staff and crew. Highly motivated and sincerely happy, we have never come across a finer group on any cruise line. Azamara comes closest, but I give Disney the edge. There were too many instances of above and beyond attributes to list here, but one example was on the very first night at dinner. Our superb server Mirka greeted us by name right away, which in itself always impresses me on such a large ship. She learned my partner Chris loves the banana soft serve ice cream up on deck so after the main course she left the dining room, ran up to the top deck, and brought back a very creative bowl of the banana soft serve! She did this without us asking or knowing and we certainly would never expect it! These kinds of surprises continued throughout the cruise from a variety of staff members, and they also seemed to truly enjoy their jobs and were quite proud to be working for Disney. Several crew members we became friendly with had worked for other cruise lines, but jumped at the chance to work for Disney and all mentioned how well they are treated on Disney. This is so great to hear because the crew work so hard and deserve to be treated extremely well! From a guest perspective it was obvious just how happy the crew was compared to other cruise lines.

The Disney attention to detail is alive and well and this is another reason we love Disney and will continue to sail them. Little touches like Frette linens and towels and lots of logo items from the towels and sheets to even the shower curtain! Of course there are the duel bathrooms which are fully tiled, individual bottles of bath amenities, and a TV with a fantastic selection of programming especially if you love Disney animated classics. Even the service carts the cabin stewards use are made to look like steamer trunks and the vacuums are expensive Dysons. I enjoyed having unlimited towels by the pool that don't have to be checked out, fireworks at sea, and the included soft drinks are a nice touch as well. Our balcony was what Disney calls a "Navigator Balcony". It's more enclosed than a typical balcony and we loved it. Again the attention to detail is impressive as Disney could have just left the balcony bare like any other cruise line would do, but instead they added a built in teak bench, a wall map, and even built-in navigational equipment. Very cool!! No detail is overlooked and as a very detailed person I can't say how much I appreciated it. I can't list all the details here, but have a look at my pictures and you will see the attention to detail in just about everything Disney does. It's impressive to say the least.

What is a Disney cruise without exceptional entertainment and the DISNEY MAGIC is no exception. We went to every production show and enjoyed them all, but "Disney Dream - An Enchanted Classic" was by far our favorite. What an amazing production that has justifiably won many awards. It easily ranks as a top three show I have ever seen on a cruise ship. Of course there were some additional smaller shows with guest entertainers, and the usual Disney family and kids oriented activities as well. We are pretty low key and don't need 24/7 activities to satisfy us, but when we wanted to be entertained it was never an issue. DISNEY MAGIC has three adult only bars and nightclubs, and all three are well done but Keys was a favorite. This lounge could easily be transplanted from the original QUEEN MARY or NORMANDIE with all its art deco glamour. Linen cocktail napkins and martini's brought out on a trolley with custom ingredients are the norm here. Soft piano music and diffused lighting. An elegant affair!

As many already know, Disney has a unique rotational dining concept where you dine in different theme restaurants each night but still retain your same table number and dining staff. I really like the concept as it adds variety but familiarity at the same time as your dining staff doesn't change. This way they remember your preferences and even have your drinks waiting for you when you arrive. I found all the cuisine quite good and beautifully presented. It was equal to or better than premium lines like Celebrity and Cunard, but not up to the luxury lines which I certainly don't expect on a ship that carries 2000+ passengers. We enjoyed all the theming of the restaurants but the upgrade of Animator's Palate was especially impressive. We dined here twice and there are two completely different shows, one where you draw your own character at the beginning of the meal and by desert your character comes to life and is animated on the large screens around the dining room. Pretty cool & impressive technology and the children and adults alike loved it. I know I did. We also dined in the adults-only Palo one evening and the experience was excellent all around. We have found that Palo never disappoints and could easily dine here every night and be quite content.

As two adults with no children the adult-only areas are important to us. One thing that keeps us coming back to Disney is that unlike most cruise lines, Disney takes the adult-only areas seriously and enforces them quite strictly. On more than one occasion we witnessed kids or adults with kids very quickly but politely requested to vacate the adult-only venue we were sitting in. This is certainly appreciated and it's refreshing to see that Disney respects the importance and integrity of these areas. While we don't have kids I have to say we enjoy watching the kids interact with all the Disney characters around the ship. It's really cute and I think it brings out the kid in all of us! Speaking of demographics I would say 50% of the passengers on this cruise were from Puerto Rico and the rest from the US mainland and a scattering of other countries. Everyone was well behaved and I noticed many more adult only passengers on this cruise compared to the short cruises out of Pt. Canaveral. The adult-only venues really got a lot of use but were never overcrowded. Don't get me wrong, there were still plenty of kids which you can always expect on Disney, but just more adults without kids than I have seen in the past. I also noticed more cabin door decorations than I've seen before on any Disney cruise. It seemed like the majority of cabin doors were decorated and some very elaborately. Perhaps there were more repeaters on this cruise as well? I saw a lot of Disney Vacation Club magnets on cabin doors. It was fun walking down the corridor and enjoying all the creativity. This was also a "Halloween on the High Seas" cruise and the ship was decorated for Halloween including a Halloween Tree which sort of comes to life as the cruise progresses, and plenty of Halloween themed activities along with daily announcements from the "Master of Scareimonies" which was cute.

We did call at several ports on this cruise, including Grenada, St Lucia, Barbados, St Kitts, and Antigua. The weather was quite good in all them, perhaps on the hot side especially in Barbados and St Kitts. This was one of only four Southern Caribbean cruises that Disney offered this year so it was somewhat unique. Personally I prefer more sea days but I did enjoy each of the ports although we didn't do a whole lot. We have been to them all before so there was no urgency to rush off and see everything. We just took everything at a leisurely pace and the fact we docked at each port with no tendering made this easy to do. I have to say I really missed calling at Castaway Cay which is one of my all time favorite ports. I love that island!

Overall I'm sure you can tell this cruise was a great success. Would I change anything? Very little. My only two suggestions are very minor and inconsequential, but with Disney being so detail & quality driven they could improve these two small items. The toilet paper is cheap and scratchy and not up to the high standards of everything else, and the butter at dinner lacks finesse. It's in little packets just sitting in a bowl and is not up to the presentation standards of everything else on the table. How about fresh made butter in unique Mickey shaped china dishes? As I mentioned very inconsequential in the big scheme of things but all the little details add up to something substantial. Based on this most recent Disney cruise we will continue to sail DCL as often as possible. People complain about the high cost of DCL but I feel it's worth every penny to experience such a detailed and quality product that stands out from the mediocrity of many cruise lines. I'm actually happy Disney has some pricing integrity and doesn't resort to bargain basement pricing like many other lines. There is still a lot of value even at Disney prices but generally a Disney cruise is not booked based on price. There are plenty of other cruise lines that can be the price leaders. Of course value, perceived or otherwise varies from person to person and you will have to decide that for yourself. I will continue to sail other cruise lines because I love variety and with only four ships the itineraries Disney can offer is limited. This being said Disney Cruise Line ranks as one of my all-time favorites and I look forward to many more cruises with them!

Please enjoy the pictures and let me know if you have any questions.

Ernie
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