Mediterranean Trip Report: Disney Magic

I started writing this entry way back during Thanksgiving weekend. ?!? Totally forgot about it in all the craziness of the holidays.

Oh! Before I forget – my blog celebrated it’s 12th birthday on 1/17! WOWOW. Awesomesauce.

So I’ve recapped all the ports we visited while on our Mediterranean cruise and now I thought I should share some thoughts and pics from the time we spent on the ship itself.

Neither Rob nor I had ever been on a cruise before and I have to admit we were a little apprehensive. I mean, what if we hated being stuck on the ship with no other options for food and/or activities? And the recent disasters on the Costa Concordia and the Carnival Triumph were fresh on my mind. But we figured a Mediterranean itinerary would be a good way to get our feet wet since we’d be spending more time on shore and using the ship primarily as a hotel.

We had no reason to worry, though — we had a GREAT time on the cruise! I’m pretty sure we’ll go on another one just as soon as I find an interesting itinerary. 🙂 I’m also convinced that a cruise is a great vacation option for a family with young kids because accommodations and most food and beverages are included and there are tons of activities and kids clubs available on board to keep them busy.

The first sight of the Disney Magic was amazing — I got goose bumps! It’s such a beautiful ship! When our taxi driver asked us where we were going, he said “Mickey?” Haha. Then he even took a photo of the ship for his kids. Love it.

The entire security & check-in process was easy and we even lucked out and got an upgrade to a navigator’s veranda for only $340. Woohoo. When I completed our check in online, I got a port arrival time of 11am which put us in boarding group 4 but by the time we arrived and got through check-in, they were already on boarding group 25+. OOPS. Since we weren’t in a rush we got our picture taken with Minnie and then hopped in line to board.

When you get on the ship, they ask for your family name and announce you as you board. Such a fun, welcoming touch.

Random note since everyone seems to ask — I DEFINITELY felt seasick that first night after we set sail. Like an idiot, I had packed Bonine (motion sickness medicine) but forgot to take it the night before as recommended. The movement really got to me for a few hours making me feel really nauseous and just unbalanced somehow. It completely went away after a good night’s sleep (and a dose of Bonine!). Rob had no issues at all.

Our stateroom was much bigger than I thought it would be with lots of storage space too! I particularly loved that the water closet was a separate room from the shower which made it easier for us to get ready each day.

A peek inside our stateroom (#5638 – great location on deck 5 aft).

Loved having a navigator’s veranda for the easy access to fresh air.

Each night our stateroom attendant turned down our bed linens and left us chocolates along with the next day’s Navigators (basically a daily schedule of activities).

We tried to explore as much of the ship as possible each day but even on a 7 night cruise, we didn’t have the opportunity to spend time at the pools (too tired after touring each day – and the sun was SO hot) and I think we missed one or two of the lounges as well. But here’s a look at where we spent our time (shortly after our cruise, though, the Disney Magic went through a massive renovation so a lot of this is completely different now)…

On deck 9 where we spent a lot time hanging out with drinks in hand (alcoholic for Rob, non for me) from Signals.

Played ping pong each day.

Deck 4 was home to shuffleboard and the running track (I had grand dreams of “jogging” on the cruise – yeah, never happened).

Hanging out in the lobby.

One of my favorite places was the Cove Cafe. It’s an adults-only coffee lounge where you can get a variety of espresso drinks (there is an additional charge, though). I loved sitting here with my iPad and a coffee!

Blurry photo but this is the Promenade lounge, which is an all ages area — they had various crafts for the kids and a bar for big kids.

Beat Street is an entertainment/lounge area that becomes adult-only after 9pm each night.

Rocking Bar D has a club-like atmosphere with a dance floor and a DJ. It was never packed in here and I think that was partly due to the itinerary. Other guests mentioned it’s more of a draw on Caribbean itineraries.

Sessions is the more low key piano lounge. I was enjoying a pina colava. 🙂 Clearly we spent a lot of time at the bars/lounges. Funny considering I barely drink! Rob sure does, though. Our bar tab ended up being well over what I budgeted, lol.

Dining is so subjective so I’ll just say that we LOVE to eat good food and we were really happy with pretty much everything we ate. Disney has a rotational dining system so every night you rotate to each of the three main dining rooms along with your servers. There are two seatings each night — usually around 6pm and 8pm. We originally requested the later seating (which they honored — requests are not guaranteed) but when we found out we could get a private table by switching to the earlier seating, that’s what we did.

Parrot Cay was my favorite because of its island theme. Oh man, they had the most AMAZING banana bread as part of the bread service. I had seconds! The crab dip appetizer, lemon grouper and the banana bread french toast dessert were also particularly memorable. NOM NOM.

Animator’s Palate features an animation theme complete with character sketches on the wall and screens showing clips of classic animated movies and shows. Characters make appearances here too! We saw Sorceror Mickey and Beauty and the Beast.

Lumiere’s has a french theme and is the most elegant of the three dining rooms. We only had dinner here once and it happened to be our last night. Our last dinner was so sad — it was hard to leave! Obviously it was the end of the cruise but we’d also be leaving the cast members who made our trip so wonderful like our amazing servers Anita and Paulo.

We truly enjoyed getting to know them!

In addition to the main dining rooms, there’s a reservations-only, adult exclusive restaurant called Palo that specializes in Northern Italian cuisine. There’s a minimal charge to dine here but it’s WORTH IT. We dined here twice.

We experienced dinner first and it was an amazing 2.5 hour event. From the antipasti platter, cioppino, lobster ravioli, grilled tuna to the decadent chocolate souffle, I was in foodie heaven.

BUT THE BRUNCH! I think I’m partial to the brunch. The way brunch works at Palo is that you start at the buffet which features tons of options – breads, cheeses, vegetables, seafood (shrimp cocktail, crab legs, tuna, salmon mousse), breakfast pastries (mmm, cinnamon bread), fresh fruit, desserts. This is all more than enough food but there are also quite a few made to order options that you order at the table. Oh man, I’m still drooling over the gorgonzola and grape pizza. We walked out so stuffed.

On the other end of the food spectrum, there are also a few “fast” food options if you don’t feel like having a sit-down meal. We popped down to Pinocchio’s Pizzeria for late night slices of pizza.

You definitely can’t go hungry on the ship.

There are TONS of things to do & see on the ship — from trivia, crafts, mixology sessions, etc to nightly live stage shows. We managed to fit in a movie (Monsters University) and a morning at the spa (massage for Rob, pedicure for me).

I’m a big kid at heart so I also had fun taking pictures with characters whenever we saw them out and about…

Ahhh, the end of the cruise came way too soon.

We bid our new friends adieu at the party on our last night…

Farewell to the Disney Magic! Until we meet again!