Before our trip, I didn’t know if we were “cruise people.” I did, on the other hand, know we were “Disney World people.” But I’d heard great things about Disney Cruise line. And I’m nothing if not game to try new Disney experiences, so…
So I booked the cruise, and thoroughly researched all aspects of it, like any good Disney Mom would, but I didn’t go into it totally convinced that we’d love it.
We loved it.
We boarded the Disney Magic on a beautiful October Saturday morning. Not having ever boarded a cruise ship before, I wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect. And I was, admittedly, a tad intimidated by the whole citizenship form/cruise documentation verification process.
I needn’t have been.
Disney Cruise line has a gorgeous terminal – all light and open and airy. They also have a streamlined, efficient procedure of getting all those passengers on the ship. The procedure begins outside where the nice gentlemen come and take your bags (14 in our case, plus a car seat!). They direct you inside where you are required to go through a security checkpoint which is very much like those at the airport. From there, you take either the escalator or elevator upstairs where there are plenty of people (cast members, or crew? I’m not sure what they’re called.) waiting to check your forms and make sure you have everything in order. If you don’t, they provide the necessary forms and assistance you need. If you do, they send you to a counter manned by cast (crew?) members where you show your citizenship papers and provide a credit card. You are then given your key to the world cards and a boarding group number. From there you just need to get a security photo taken and then wait until your boarding number is called. Easy peasy.
Then comes time to board the ship. And friends, once you do, the fun really begins.
As first time cruisers, I was fairly unsure of what we should do, where we should go, etc, once we were on board. But I can assure you that within a couple of hours we had our bearings, not only with the ship and her layout, but also with the flow of things. They made it so easy. Really. And I suppose it helped that I’d read the PassPorter Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call 2009 book cover to cover three times over, long before we set sail.
Even if I hadn’t, I couldn’t possibly have missed the important stuff because Clayton, our cruise director, made announcements over the loudspeaker anytime something big was happening. Including the mandatory emergency drill – which was a barrel of fun letmetellyou.
Luckily, it didn’t last long at all.
Once it was over, the real fun began. Namely, the Sail Away party! It was such a fun way to get the party started. For real. There was upbeat music, the introduction of our cruise director (Clayton) and characters, of course. It lasted about thirty’ish minutes I’d guess. And really, the only downside was that it was flaming hot and humid out there in that sun. I was a total sweat fest by the time it wrapped up. For future cruises, I certainly won’t skip the party, but I’ll know to snag a spot in the shade for sure.
Our main dinner seating at 5:45 came soon after the deck party had wrapped. Dinner is a big event on a cruise. And on a Disney cruise, they do rotational dining, meaning that you rotate through the three main dining rooms on a schedule. You sit with or near the same passengers each night (which may or may not be a good thing) and your servers remain the same (for dinner at least) throughout the cruise.
Our servers (Paul and Branislov holla!)–by the way–totally rocked.
The obnoxious and really, really loud family we were seated near? Not so much.
We enjoyed dinner in Animator’s Palette that first night. It’s the famous Disney cruise ship restaurant that changes from black and white to living color as your meal progresses. So too do the servers change uniforms, from boring black and white to vivid, colorful vests by night’s end.
We were given menus with impressive selections and permitted to order as much or as little as we wanted. That first night we were conservative. But that trend didn’t last. By the time our last dinner rolled around, Jeff and I ordered three desserts between the two of us. For research purposes of course. I wanted to be able to deliver a full report to all my blog readers after all. :)
As far as service, our servers were oh so friendly and incredibly attentive. We had two servers; one who was responsible for the bulk of our meal and the other (assistant server) who handled drinks, condiments, that sort of thing. He even served up ketchup Mickeys (that he poured table-side) for the kids. One of the coolest things though? Anytime either of them saw Jeff or I cutting Cassidy or Jayce’s food, they insisted on taking over. No lie. I was impressed. Disney Cruise Line absolutely deserves an A+ when it comes to servers in their restaurants.
And the food? The food was quite good. Not great, but definitely good. In other words, it was no Jiko. But we definitely never went hungry. And there was a wide variety of soups, salads, appetizers, entrees and desserts offered every night. Overall, I’d give the food a “B”.
Back to Animator’s Palette though. That first dinner set the stage for the remainder of our cruise. I decided–after that meal–that we’d under dressed for dinner, and I didn’t let that happen again. But otherwise, we were totally into the swing of things. Natural born cruisers if you will. :)
I know there is way more to cruising than dining. Like on-board activities, entertainment, shore excursions, etc. But I’m going to save that for later. For now, I thought I’d share a few cruise pictures for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!