We are now home, unpacked and settling back into to normal life following 7-nights on the reimagined Disney Magic. We wanted to provide you all with a follow up to our first impressions, as well as some final thoughts on the Disney Magic. As you’ve likely read by now, things started off on a sour note when we boarded the Magic on October 25th, but I’m happy to report things progressively improved over the course of the Magic’s second cruise, a 5-night Western Caribbean sailing which sailed to Cozumel and Castaway Cay.
This sailing had a version of Radio Row on it, as there was a row of radio stations set up in a line at the Quiet Cove pool area. It was apparently morning show DJs from various cities doing their shows from the ship, along with doing lots of interviews. This was an interesting thing to see for the week, and the Quiet Cove was definitely not quiet when the area was buzzing with activity.
The Captain was correct in saying that they were continuing to sprinkle pixie dust around the ship. On the morning of October 27th, as we were leaving our stateroom to begin the back to back re-boarding process (more on this later), three maintenance crew members were waiting to enter to replace the missing railing on the balcony.
Finally, on the second to last night, we received a letter in our stateroom from the Chief Officer that there would be some ‘routine maintenance’ on our verandah while we were at Castaway Cay. At this point, we were not sure what to expect. Upon returning to our stateroom after spending the day on the island, we found a crew member on the balcony. He was finishing up after adding a fresh coat of varnish to the wood, a new coat of white paint, and replacing the missing compass.
Last, but not least the drawer pulls were installed on the night stands flanking the bed. By the way, look close at the nightstand… Do you see that? An outlet on both sides of the bed!!!! This additional outlet is pure genius! A side note, the alarm clock on the other side of the bed has the 30-pin Apple connection, so if you want to charge and play your new iPhone or iPod with a Lightning connection on the alarm clock you will need to bring a 30-pin to lightning adapter.
Another stateroom upgrade is the addition of the same hair dryers that were introduced on the Dream & Fantasy. We found ours in one of the stateroom desk drawers. This hair dryer plugs into the outlet near the desk. In our stateroom, this meant unplugging the wave phone charger. The old staterooms do still hang mounted in the bathroom, but who is going to use them? I think it’s safe to say no one will.
The Back to Back (B2B) process at PortMiami on October 27th was a little rough. We all started by meeting at 9:45AM in D Lounge. During the debarkation process our larger B2B group became fragmented with some being instructed to exit the terminal, which resulted in having to walk outside to the pickup and arrival area & then back in the terminal through security. The check-in process was smooth and took no time at all. Then, there was a breakdown in communication. A number of us were given boarding group numbers (with some as high as 3), when in reality we all had a re-boarding fast pass that was delivered to our staterooms the night before. Thankfully, Robert (the go-to guy in the Disney terminal at PortMiami) made the right calls, and got us all back on the Magic well before boarding numbers were called.
The upgrades to Animator’s Palate are amazing, and the transformation of Parrot Cay into Carioca’s was a welcome change. Both venues were still working out the kinks, but that did not detract from what really mattered; the excellent food and more importantly, the exceptional service! It was disappointing to see that Disney decided to move the Animation Magic show to only the longer cruises after originally stating the show would play on every cruise. Regardless, the Drawn to Magic show is spectacular and we will cover it in more detail another day. Brunch at Palo was as tasty as ever (albeit we used our Castaway Club benefit to pay for the brunch); it was still worth the extra charge including the recent $5 increase per person.
The 5-night sailing was the one and only 2013 Disney Magic cruise to include Halloween on the High Seas events. The halloween activities were all featured on the second sea day with some events overlapping. Halloween banners were set up at various points around the ship as well as a candy station outside Cabanas with an elaborate pumpkin carving. Between dinner seatings, there was a Halloween on the High Seas costume party on the pool deck. The cruise staff invited everyone in costume to walk up on stage with Mickey and the gang dressed in their best costumes. Isabelle can be seen below dressed as Tinkerbelle’s fairy friend, Silvermist (dressed in blue with the purple wings).
Compared to the Halloween activities which debuted on the Disney Dream this year, the events on the Disney Magic felt almost like an afterthought. This sounds worse than it really is, and is meant more as a compliment to the team that developed the exclusive events on the Disney Dream. Hopefully next year, some of what made the Halloween events special on the Dream will propagate throughout the fleet.
The laundry facilities aboard the Magic were hit and miss early in the 5-night cruise, as there was only one working washing machine and no irons were available in any the guest launderettes. As a result, Disney was kind enough to offer free ironing and washing of your clothes. When the launderettes were open the washers, dryers and even soap were free! We took advantage of this and did 3 loads of laundry – for free! I even stopped down at Guest Services to thank them for offering the free laundry.
The upper decks were empty while in Cozumel. My family had the pools, slides, and their very own wait staff as our awesome serving team of Evandro and Wayan were working on deck that afternoon; the things you miss when you head ashore in search of some high speed internet….. The one thing that was lacking on the pool deck were movies scheduled in the morning hours on Funnel Vision, as the movies didn’t begin until 3pm.
We were invited to tour a one-bedroom concierge stateroom on deck 8 during our voyage as well. Deck 8 had fans in the hallway and they were also installing fiber optic cable as well. Once we got into the room, we went out to view their verandah, which looked like what all of the verandahs should look like – it was beautiful! It had been sandblasted and newly painted for sure. This is proof that some were done in Cadiz, but not all, as we toured other rooms besides ours that looked in less-than-good condition. One thing that did surprise us was the condition of the bathroom tile in the concierge room, which had dingy grout in between the grey tile. Out of all of the staterooms, one would expect the concierge rooms to look the best, as those guests pay a premium to stay in concierge.
One thing that we found interesting (but not surprising) was the Castaway Club Reception. In case you are not familiar, the Castaway Club reception is a reception held for Gold & Platinum Castaway Club members. It is typically held on a sea day on voyages 4-nights or longer. You receive a letter in your stateroom with information as to where and when it will be held. Once you enter the reception, the offer you various complementary drinks, as well as fruit and some small hors d’oureves. Then, a fair amount of officers mingle, Captain Mickey (or another character) is announced to meet guests and take photos, and then the Cruise Director speaks and introduces the Captain, who talks and/or entertains a Q&A session before showing a video of some sort. However, this time, we noticed two, maybe three officers mingling, and we couldn’t help to think that perhaps they were avoiding the guests due to the myriad of issues that may come up. Captain Mickey came out without an introduction or fanfare. Brent (cruise director) did come in and take the mic from the back of the room at first, and then did do a little introduction of the Captain, who briefly spoke and then showed us a time-lapsed video of the exterior of the Magic in dry dock. Then, it was over. Just like that. It was definitely less personal then others we have attended, as well as lacked the myriad of officers that usually attend and mingle. Our daughter did get her Mickey rice krispie treats, so all wasn’t lost.
Overall, the second sailing on the reimagined Disney Magic was much better than the first two nights. There were definitely still issues around the ship, both major and minor. We talked to one couple that had no cold water, which he said was weird for brushing teeth. There were still definite plumbing issues around the ship including staterooms, as was on the 2-night cruise. We encountered leaks in interesting places, and we didn’t go looking for them; we noticed them because they dripped on us. We were walking to the Promenade Lounge from the aft stairwell, and the ceiling was leaking; nothing major, just dripping, but a leak nonetheless. We noticed another leak as we were walking down the hallway back to our stateroom on deck 5 aft, again, because we got hit in the heads with the leak. Although the stateroom(s) still need to have the walls cleaned and updating to the bathroom(s), Disney Cruise Line did a great job in addressing the concerns brought to them the day we boarded the ship on the 2-night cruise for our particular stateroom. We have no doubt that the crew aboard the Disney Magic will continue to iron these issues out over the next few weeks. For now, I think these first few sailings should be considered a soft opening of the Disney Magic. She will most likely be a work in progress for a while, as there are still a number of things that need updated and refreshed. We will all stay tuned…….