Disney Cruise Line Feb/March 2012 Trip Report

Author

DisneyDan

Resort

Disney Cruise Line

Dates

Thursday, February 23, 2012 to Monday, March 5, 2012

Guests

Dan, Jon, Sheila (Dan's Mum) and Pat (Dan's Grandmother)

Hi all,

Welcome to my Disney Cruise trip report!

As you all know, Jon and I travel frequently to all the parks around the world, but until this trip had yet to experience a Disney Cruise.
I can't say for sure why we hadn't done one sooner, but life has many things that it brings our way, and we can't be everywhere at once, sadly!

To begin with, for your reference, we sailed on the Disney Magic, on the 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise from Port Canaveral, Florida.

We had two full days and a morning in Walt Disney World before hand, and a day and a half afterwards. Of course, we travel to WDW often so I won't bore you with all the details, except we had an amazing time as always, and got to see our favourite characters, shows and parades.

Meeting Terence

Kilimanjaro Safaris

Festival of the Lion King

On Saturday 25th February we were collected from the Pop Century Resort at 12.45pm. We thought that this was a late time, but of course trusted Disney to work its magic!
What is stranger, is that when you check in online for the Cruise (which you can do several months in advance), it asks you which time you want to be picked up from your resort, and so we chose the earliest available time, which was 11am.

When we got the pick-up notification on our door at Pop the night before, and it said 12.45 we were somewhat surprised.
Anyway, the bus did come, and it was a fairly smooth process. It is just under an hour to Port Canaveral.
We know that Mickey and Minnie usually meet in the terminal before boarding, but of course being as late a pick-up as it was, we missed them.
Thankfully they wear the same outfits there as they do on the ship, although of course it would have been nice to be greeted by them.

The arrival process at the terminal is very easy. You go in the glass doors, go through airport style security, then up to the check-in desks.
You hand over your documents, have your picture taken, sign a form, get your stateroom key - and you're all set!

The terminal is Disney operated, and comes complete with a cut away model of one of the ships, Disney-esq theming around the walls and floors (such as Hidden Mickeys etc), and even a Mickey Mouse ears shaped portal direct to the ship!

Arriving at Port Canaveral

Arriving at Port Canaveral

Preparing to board the Disney Magic!

When you walk down the gangway to the ship you have to present your stateroom key card, and they swipe it.
Once done, you proceed directly into the Lobby Atrium, Deck 3 mid-ship aboard the Disney Magic!

Atrium Lobby, Deck 3

When you enter, you are supposed to have a special "greeting" by the crew. They call out your name over the PA system, and clap. Of course, in typical style, they thought we were with the group ahead, and our names were missed. Not a big deal, but they are supposed to be on the ball with these things, and part of the magic is having the full-on personal experience.

Anyway, we headed to our staterooms (from here in I'll just call them rooms as it's much easier lol), and dropped our bags etc.

Our room was on Deck 2, number 2519. We were one floor directly below the Lobby Atrium, and two floors directly below the Walt Disney Theater, Preludes and the two onboard stores. We had a fantastic location to say the least!

The room is probably about as big as I expected. Definitely smaller than any US style hotel room I have stayed in, but probably not too much smaller - if at all in some cases - than a lot of European hotel rooms.

Our Cabin

There is a main double bed, which can be split into two singles, which is behind a curtained area, and in the living area a desk, chair, coffee table and sofa bed.
There are a a number of storage units and a wardrobe, as well as a fridge.

The bathroom has a bath/shower and a sink unit, as well as mirror, hairdryer and shelf.
Overall I have to say I liked the room, and thought that it more than catered for our needs while aboard.

When you arrive in your room, if you have any pre-booked amenities they will be waiting for you, as well as any messages and notes (for example notes regarding how much onboard credit you have etc).

You will also find that days Personal Navigator, which we'll discuss in report two.

As for the theming of the room, well, this is something that I'll be going into in more depth when I talk about the rest of the ship, but we both did feel that the rooms were a little un-Disney. I realise that not everything all the time should be themed to the max, but just like the parks have extensive theming and Disney nods, the cruise ships are also a Disney property, and should have that same filly immersed feel.
Unfortunately we don't feel that the rooms had that "I'm in Disney" feel. There were Disney related things of course, but not many. Like I said, the ship's theming is something that I'll go into in more depth later.

Anyway, from our room we decided to go and get lunch at the buffet restaurant on Deck 9, called Topsiders.
Topsiders is both your best friend and your worst enemy while aboard the ship, to be honest! It is a convenient place to grab breakfast, lunch and dinner if you can't be dealing with the sit down restaurants, and has a good selection of food on the buffet. The food is always well prepared and tastes good too. The downside is that it is way too small to accommodate all the people who decide to use it, and again, has very little theming (well, none really to be honest).
If you manage to find a window seat, you can just see over the side of the ship to the sea beyond. Although the restaurant has windows on three sides to the outside, there are of course obstacles on deck and people walking past etc. There is an outdoor seating area that overlooks the back of the ship, and again, out to sea.

From what became a very late lunch, it was time to have our boat drill, then head up to the first of the events on this 7 night cruise, Adventures Away at the Goofy Pool Stage on Deck 9.

Boat Drill is mandatory and takes about 15 minutes. You have information in your cabin about where to go.
For those of you who are in the know about DCL, our group was A, and met in the Walt Disney Theater, two decks above our cabin.

In between all that though, we also found some random characters wandering around near the Lobby Atrium. We managed to meet sailor Chip and Dale, and Daisy Duck in her seafaring finest.

Meeting Chip and Dale

Meeting Daisy Duck

We tried to get up to the Adventures Away Deck Party early as we wanted to be sure that we had a good place for pictures. Being only a small area, and over 2000 people on board we wasn't sure how crowded it would get.
Annoyingly, as with everything aboard this ship (which we'll discuss in more detail in report two), the boat drill was right beforehand, and so timing was a little awkward.
As it happened, not as many people were bothered about this unique happening as you would think, and we ended up with pretty good places on Deck 10 facing down towards the stage.

Adventures Away

Anyway, the show basically involved some performers singing and dancing, then the VIP characters (Mickey and Friends) came on stage dressed in their Cruise Line outfits. They stayed a while, before leaving again and the singing and dancing continued for a while longer.

A little later on Captain Mickey had a meet 'n' greet in the Atrium, so we of course met him!

Meeting Mickey Mouse

On our trip, we had the second seating of dinner, which meant that we had to see the 6.15pm showing of the main shows when they were being presented (our dinner time was 8.15pm, and the second show was always the same time).

The first night's show was All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin, which is the welcoming show, and ties in with the finale show on the last night (the story starts at the start of your cruise, and finishes at the end also).

All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin

It was an ok show. I won't go wild about it, mainly because it was constantly interrupted by the Cruise Director, Peter Hofer, who would come on and give more and more information about the sailing. Also there were two other interruptions whereby performers who were providing the entertainment in the bars for the first half of the cruise, would perform a sampler of what was on offer the next few nights. I have to say that between this preview, and the other entertainment (excluding Disney shows) we saw aboard, we didn't miss much! The club/bar/adult entertainment aboard ship is mediocre at best (incidentally, the Lobby Pianist Angela Johnson, was fantastic, and much underrated I thought!)
We soon discovered the most annoying and disappointing thing about cruising and the shows - you aren't allowed to take pictures at all. No electronic devices allowed on in the theatre whatsoever apparently. It felt like Tokyo Disneyland all over again!!
We are of course character fans, that is blindingly obvious, and we love to see all character shows etc, but also like to capture them all with photography. We have DSLR cameras, and don't require flash to get good pictures. In fact, with our cameras, pictures are better without the flash. We don't use LCD screens so there is no light emissions there, so we cannot understand what the big deal is.

We both agreed that we would go so far as saying that this was probably, along with one other major thing I'll discuss later, the single most annoying thing about the cruise, and one major factor that would actually affect whether we do another Disney Cruise sooner rather than later. To not be able to capture the memories of the shows is a big blow, and if we can't do that then DCL will see less return business from us than it otherwise would.

Anyway, after being bored with mundane comedy routines, we headed down to meet Minnie in the Atrium who had a set time. She was of course in her cruise outfit.

Meeting Minnie Mouse

Dinner on our first evening was at Lumiere's, which is one of the main five restaurants aboard ship, and one of the three main rotation dining restaurants.
For those of you who know about DCL, and are interested, our rotation was LAPLAPL.

Lumiere's is a nice restaurant, but as with the staterooms, I feel they could have done more. Apart from a large Beauty and the Beast painting on the back wall, and some roses in the light shades, there was nothing to suggest this was anything to do with Lumiere. If you missed the painting, which was part hidden behind a serving area and tables anyway, you could be mistaken for being in any other decent looking restaurant.
Our first night was cruise casual, which meant no shorts or vest tops. So jeans and tees were fine. This was all good with me, except that this meant that the next night, Animator's Palate was the formal night, which worked out a little weird - but we'll come to that shortly as there are other complications involved with that one!
The menu on the first night was French - which was the restaurant's standard menu when there wasn't a themed night (again, we'll come to the weirdness of some of that later!)

This was probably one of my least favourite nights, along with the seafood night. On saying that, everything that I did have was really good, but I just felt limited for options due to the acquired palate of the menu.

After dinner, our day was done, and we wandered the ship taking photos and soaking up the atmosphere.

Beat Street

Exploring Deck 10 by night

Exploring Deck 10 by night

Having now been on the ship a few hours, we had been surprised at how rocky it was. I have to say that we both went into this thinking that cruise ships, being as large and advanced as they are these days, would be fairly smooth. I was taken back at how much the ship moved and swayed. A serious consideration for those who get motion sick. We were also really surprised about that amount of noise the ship emitted, not just on the deck areas, but in the cabins and restaurants. Sitting at your table in any given restaurant your table would rock and you could feel the rumble of the engines.
Our cabin was at the front of the ship, thankfully, and was subjected to less noise than ones towards the back. We took a stroll of the corridors on more than one occasion, and there was certainly a lot more noise and rumbling towards the back. If we do a cruise again, we would have to have a room near the front, as I had trouble sleeping with the noise and swaying as it was in our room, let along right above the engines. This would be a major factor when considering a cruise, and if we couldn't get a forward cabin again, I probably would not go.
Apparently the newer ships do not suffer with this as much, but I would still err on the side of caution. Our room didn't have a window/porthole, and to be honest I'm glad. If I could see the water as well as feel the ship rolling around as much as it was, I would have probably been sick!

The following day would prove to be an interesting experience - our first whole day aboard ship, and it was a sea day.

On day 2 of our Disney Cruse we started off with a buffet breakfast at Topsiders. As I mentioned above, Topsiders is very busy and chaotic, and probably my least favourite place to dine. It is strange because we got the impression from various things, that some people didn't actually attend their rotation restaurants a lot of the time, which seems a complete waste of money to us. The cruise costs enough, and the other dining offering are far superior, so why eat there?

Goofy's Galley, Deck 9

Anyway, after breakfast we decided to hunt characters. Easier said than done!
Here we hit our second major drawback of the cruise experience - the other one that would prevent us from immediately returning (the other was the no pictures in the shows, you may recall from part one).[more]
Yes, there are set times. Yes, the characters do meet. But we had thought that maybe the characters would roam around too, or make random appearances outside of the set times. We were wrong.
The most irritating thing about the whole character experience aboard ship was the fact that some days, all day there would be nothing, then right before dinner there would be about 8 characters all meeting.
The timings of everything aboard ship was bizarre to say the least. There would be nothing during the day remotely interesting - not unless you want to learn how to cook some weird food dishes, or do paper crafts - and then right before dinner and the evening shows there would be a bunch of character meets.
We got the impression from the (fantastic) crew that they didn't have much control over this, so I'm not sure who decides it all. I don't think it was anyone's fault necessarily, just what "had to be done", but it was frustrating to say the least.
The fact that the characters had some weird times, and also that there were very few unique characters onboard would be the other main factor we would consider when deciding whether to cruise again. We got to meet about 30 unique characters (counting all Mickey only once etc - outfit changes are not counted), which may seem a lot, but that was in 7 days. If we had 7 days in the parks, we'd meet more like 50-60 characters, if not more (one trip to WDW we met 100 unique characters I think!).
The other weird thing is that they have character experiences in the kids clubs that are only for the children and nobody else can attend. Not even the parents to my knowledge - unless they happen to fall within an "open house" time.
This really disappointed us, as we know for a fact they have some really neat things like Detective Goofy (who we managed to get a snap of as he passed by one day), Terk - who doesn't meet at all for regular guests (again, we managed to snap her in passing though!), and even a Green Army Man. They do some fun things such as learn to do-si-do with Snow White, and have story time with Belle in her blue dress (she only meets in her yellow dress during public set times - but again, we managed to grab her!).
We found this really annoying on a number of levels. Again, the lack of characters during the day was bad enough, but finding out the kids get to meet them and can't' even have their parents present to share the moment was bizarre. Also, wasn't Walt's whole philosophy when building Disneyland all about keeping families together and having fun in the park with each other. So why is it on the cruise the kids clubs are open from dawn 'til near midnight, and have long lines of parents dumping their kids off there, only to have them have experiences all on their own that nobody else can see? I know adults want a break too, but if you want to take your kid on vacation, then you need to do things together - especially on a Disney vacation!
Parents wouldn't dream of leaving their kids at the park entrance and then going into the Magic Kingdom alone, so why do it on the ship?
Sorry to rant on, but we found this a hard concept to get around, and it seemed really un-Disney like. I've gone off on a tangent, so i'll get back on track with the characters now!

As for the actual characters themselves, their attendants and organising crew, they were all completely wonderful. The interactions were fun, and felt more personal, and always felt welcomed by characters who were genuinely pleased to see us.
The character manager, Eric (hello if you're reading this!), was obviously under a tight schedule, but did what he could to help us get the most out of our character experiences. We really appreciate all his efforts. Thank you Eric.

On day 2 there was a Character Dance Party in the Atrium, which lasted about half an hour. The VIPS appear in their vacation shirts and basically dance and parade around the lobby area.

Character Dance Party

Like the dance parties at seasonal events in the US parks, it was near impossible to get pictures of them.
This was also annoying as it featured Daisy, but she didn't meet at any other time during the cruise in that outfit - so we only have pictures of her in that outfit during the dance party.

Character Dance Party

Later in the day there were some set times, thankfully, as we'd had a fairly dull morning at sea, and was kinda wondering what the big deal about Disney Cruises was.
We managed to meet both characters who had set times up on Deck 9 - regular Max and vacation Pluto.

Meeting Pluto

Meeting Max

Day 2 was also Formal Night aboard the ship, which means you have to dress up in your best clothes. The characters also dress up in the tuxes and dresses, and make appearances throughout the dinner and show times (like I said above, bizarre timings). In some cases, such as Donald and Pluto and there was only one set time - and Pluto wasn't advertised either, we only caught him by chance.

Character who wear formal outfits are: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale. We managed to meet them all.

Meeting Daisy Duck

We did enjoy Formal Night though, and it was nice to see the characters dressed in their finest outfits. Minnie and Daisy looked especially glamorous!

Meeting Minnie Mouse

Meeting Chip and Dale

Meeting Mickey Mouse

Meeting Goofy

Meeting Donald Duck

The Formal Night outfits are also worn by the characters on Semi-Formal Night later in the cruise, which means if you miss any you can try to meet them again.

Meeting Mickey Mouse and Pluto

Meeting Mickey Mouse and Pluto

So, aside from Max and Pluto, the Dance Party where you can't meet the characters, then the Formal Night later, that was pretty much day 2. Then it was time for dinner and the first real show - Twice Charmed.
Twice Charmed is basically a sequel to Cinderella, and runs along similar lines to the direct to video Cinderella 3 movie. Although not the same, the concept is similar. The Tremaines find a way to try and stop Cinderella form ever meeting Prince Charming by going back in time.

Twice Charmed

Twice Charmed

It was a good show, and had some nice moments. It does feature a few unique characters, such as the Grand Duke, The King and the Footman, as well as a brand new character for the show, Franco, the Evil Fairy Godfather!
Of course, the major draw back is you're not actually allowed to take photos (as I discussed in Part One).

Dinner was interesting because it was at Animator's Palate, the multi-million dollar restaurant that is supposed to be the piece de la resistance of your rotational dining experience - except we got it on Formal Night, which ruined it!

Animator's Palate

Formal Night means of course a themed menu, and you of course have to dress up. Everything becomes more "upscale". This is all well and good, except it means you don't get the neat light show and finale experience that is usually offered during dinner here. When I asked why the restaurant hadn't changed colour I was told it only does it on the restaurant theme nights, not on the ship theme nights (complicated, yes). So we would have to wait until the one single other time later in the cruise to experience Animator's Palate. Lumiere's would have been much better for formal night. Maybe next time we'll be lucky?...
I guess some lucky people had the right combination and got to experience Animator's on both nights when there was no dress code. In fact, based on our own rotational dining setup, others may have even got it THREE times (we had Lumiere's three times, much to our disappointment). And while we're on the subject of the weird rotation combinations, our Pirate Night was at Lumiere's, when I feel Parrot Cay would have been perfect. Again, I guess some people got lucky, but we didn't.

I guess at least Animator's was semi-ok for formal wear. I can't imagine eating at Parrot's Cay for Formal Night, that would had been plain weird. But like I said earlier, a lot of things and the way they are organised aboard ship are bizarre!

I have to say that after day 2, we were both left feeling somewhat disappointed with the offerings on board. Between the noise and rocking back and forth of the ship, the no photos during shows, and lack of things during the day, we were a bit bored already. Factor in our disappointment with our rotational dining setup, it made for, not a bad first impression, but a disappointing one. We had heard so much hype about the cruises, and we felt that maybe people had over inflated the experience somewhat.

The major anticipation every night was the receiving of the next days' Personal Navigator in your room right before bedtime. Would tomorrow be better? Which characters would we be waiting all day to see next?!...

The Personal Navigator is the equivalent of the programme guide at the parks. It tells you what is open and when, what times all the entertainment offerings and characters are, and any other important information for that day. They were reasonably detailed and we loved to get them each evening to see what the next day had to offer. If you ever need more (we love to collect multiple of everything!), you can go to Guest Services in the Lobby Atrium, Deck 3 and pick up as many as you want.

So that is day 2, and a lot of other thoughts discussed. I want to add that, despite it sounding so far like we didn't have the best experience on board, I want to give people a feel for how we felt day-by-day about the Cruise, and how our thoughts and feelings evolved over the course of the seven days - because trust me, they do.

Ok, so there are a few negative things I want to mention, then of course all the character awesomeness of day 3 (and believe me, it was GREAT!)...

View over the front of the ship

One thing that kinda annoyed me while aboard was the fact that Disney don't seem to miss any opportunity these days to ram DVC down your throat.
The Cruise offers no escape from this form of hard sell, sadly. Every day - sometimes twice per day - we would get leaflets through our cabin door inviting us to a DVC presentation.
Their desk was up on Deck 4, right on the corner of one of the main walkways through the Lobby Atrium, and of course the guys there would ask you every time you went by if you were coming to their next presentation. Being a limited space, and limited people too, they remember everybody, and if you don't go to one of their presentations, just be prepared to be bombarded even more!
I think if you're on a Disney Cruise, you are probably fairly well informed about Disney in the first place. I can't imagine too many first time Disney-goers do a Disney Cruise on their first trip.
Which means of course you have probably heard of DVC, and know whether it is right for you or not. Please Disney, can we finally have a break from this already?!
Disney is profit making business. It has to satisfy it's shareholders otherwise there could be trouble. No profit making business truly gives anything away, and DVC is no exception. They are for one thing - profit. You can't tell me Disney do it for the love of it and to make your vacations more affordable. Not when it costs tens of thousands of dollars and many, many years of repayment and commitment. I think Disney prey on people who are bedazzled by their Disney experience, and lure people hook-line-and-sinker with this. I guess for some people it might work, but for the vast majority of people probably not.
Anyway, that's enough of that rant! Just be warned that you'll have it shoved down your throat on the cruise even more so than the parks!

Being in the same place for 7 nights, you get used to the same people, and I have to say I have mixed feelings about some of the people who were on our sailing.
I felt that sometimes people looked at us weird. Why were we lining up for the princesses? Why were we carrying these large cameras around all the time?
I did feel a little intimidated at times by people, who for some reason, seemed to feel intimidated by us.
I think that people felt that we should be sitting in the adult bar or by the pool or something. I don't know why this felt different to the parks. Maybe we just had a strange bunch of people on our sailing, but I did feel put off by some of the Guests aboard.
In the parks people tend not to care what you do. So yes, sometimes you get the annoying parent who thinks it is solely about their child only, but for the most part people are fairly easy going. For some reason on the cruise they seemed more, snobbish? Not sure that's exactly the right word, but it was odd.
We DID of course meet some completely lovely people though, and enjoyed talking to the many other character fans on board.

At this juncture I need to mention some of the amazing crew aboard the ship. In particular I want to mention our servers, Antonio and Luis. They both were completely amazing and we couldn't fault their service.
Every other crew member we encountered was great too. Everyone aboard the ship seemed to be more focussed on Guest service than at the parks, and took their roles very seriously. There was never anything they weren't willing to do for us, and we deeply appreciate all their efforts and assistance.
Just a shout out to some crew members who said they'd check the website…
Hello to Eric, Brigid, Laura, Laura, Jose Chavez, Jelise and Suellen. Hope you're all well, and thanks again!

So on the night of day 2 we of course got the Personal Navigator for the next day, and we were pleased to see that there would be quite a few more character sets throughout the day.
Day 3 actually worked out to be probably the best day we had on the cruise for characters.
The third sea day we had which was later in the week was also pretty good, but it was a repeat of sets that already happened. Day 6's day time characters were basically the same as day 3, and the evening characters were formal, so the same as day 2.

Anyway, back to day 3, and all the neat things we did!
Day 3, for us at least, started off with the Mickey's Island Jam Character Breakfast at Parrot Cay (everybody has their character breakfasts on different days, ours was day 3).

Parrot Cay

You get to meet Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy in their special vacation clothes (the same ones they attended the Dance Party in on Day 2, and meet at the Gazebo in…)

Meeting Minnie Mouse

Meeting Pluto

Meeting Mickey Mouse

Meeting Goofy

I really enjoyed this breakfast. As with the rest of the food on board, it was excellent. I also really like the restaurant and the theming. While Parrot Cay serves buffet on non character mornings, when you dine here on the one character breakfast it becomes table service. Your regular evening servers join you and take care of you the same as they do at dinner.

For everybody else, and after breakfast, day 3 started off with a special Princess meet 'n' greet in the Lobby Atrium. There are only five princesses on board, which we had confirmed by various attendants and the character manager Eric. Strangely enough Ariel isn't one of them! Three princesses, Aurora, Tiana and Snow White all meet in one hit down on the main level of the lobby (deck 3). You line up once, and get them all consecutively (much like the Princess Room or Fantasy Faire at the US Parks).

Meeting Princess Aurora

Meeting Princess Tiana

Meeting Snow White

Then upstairs on the balcony is Cinderella, and along the side, upstairs is Belle. Belle has her own special backdrop for some reason, but the others do not.

Meeting Cinderella

Meeting Belle

At Preludes on Deck 4, just behind the Atrium Minnie Mouse meets in her Princess outfit.

Meeting Princess Minnie

The only odd thing is there is only one set, and they aren't out for long. So you have to plan ahead! Our best advice is, line up for the three big ones first, then see who has the shortest line after that (in our experience was Princess Minnie, as her set started a few minutes later).

While the Princesses are greeting their fans, you may also find Peter Pan and Alice wandering around Decks 3 and 4.

Meeting Peter Pan

Meeting Alice

Later in the day there were some character sets at the Gazebo on Deck 9. We met Lilo and Stitch (strangely BOTH missing their leis! Not so weird for Stitch, but I have NEVER seen Lilo without it!), Donald, and Goofy (both wearing their vacation shirts as seen at other events - in fact we had seen Goofy just that morning at the Character Breakfast!).

Meeting Goofy

Meeting Lilo and Stitch

Meeting Donald Duck

In the evening around dinner time there were some sets in the Lobby Atrium with the VIPs in their Cruise outfits. There was Sailor Goofy, Sailor Donald, Sailor Pluto, Sailors Chip and Dale, Captain Mickey, Cruise Director Minnie and Cruise Hostess Daisy.

Meeting Daisy Duck

Meeting Pluto

Meeting Donald Duck

Meeting Minnie Mouse

Meeting Mickey Mouse

Meeting Chip and Dale

Meeting Goofy

Oddly, this was the only time during our cruise that we saw Donald, Pluto and Goofy meeting in these outfits.

Today's show was Villains Tonight! We found this to be an enjoyable show, but not as spectacular as we had thought. It was funny, and had some neat characters though. Of the three "Broadway style shows" on board, we ranked this one third (Dreams being first, and Twice Charmed second).

Villains Tonight!

After day 3 we definitely felt that we had had a MUCH better experience. There had some been some good sets throughout the day and we'd had the character breakfast.
Our Disney Cruise experience and opinion vastly improved, though the lack of wandering characters when there were vast gaps in the day was still disappointing.

Day 5 was our first port of call, the Dutch owned St Maarten.
The ship docked early in the morning just before breakfast and we were allowed to debark any time after about 8am (if I remember correctly).
So, after breakfast we made our way down to the tender lobby on deck one.

Heading down to debark

To debark the ship you need your Key to the World card, and they also recommend ID, but all 3 days we were in ports we were never asked for additional ID.
When you leave the ship at St Maarten you find yourself at an area just outside the main town, where there are a few shops and bars.

The Disney Magic

Exploring Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

You can either walk down to the main town from here or take a short, pleasant boat ride directly to the beach in the main town of Philipsburg.
The ferry ride offers a cheap return and is an efficient way of getting across.

Exploring Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Your personal navigator will tell you what time the ship closes it's doors, and the last ferry will always be well before this, from what we understood. So, so long as you can get a boat back to the dock, you should be fine.
I have to say that we really liked St Maarten. It was very lush, pretty and friendly.

Exploring Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

As for shopping, well to be honest, unless you are really wealthy and are interested in jewellery, there isn't too much to buy.
But, St Maarten is an enjoyable, clean and friendly place to be. The beach is lovely too, but very popular.

Exploring Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

McDonald's on the main street has free wifi, and offers the usual western fare.
We had a beautiful day in St Maarten; the sun was shining (after an early morning downpour), and we felt like we had had a nice break from the confines of the ship where we had been for 3 days.

Exploring Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Exploring Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

There isn't too much more I can say about it, just that we really enjoyed spending the day on St Maarten, and as I said, it made for a welcome break off the ship.

Exploring Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Exploring Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Exploring Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Exploring Philipsburg, Sint Maarten

Once back on board, at about 4pm, then the real fun began!
Arriving in St Maarten meant we had arrived in the Caribbean, and in true Disney style there was a big party!
Pirates IN the Caribbean Night was our favourite night aboard ship by far.
Starting at around embarkation time, and throughout the evening, Mickey and Friends could be found in various places in or near the Atrium Lobby dressed in their swashbuckling finest!
Special appearances this evening were:
  • Mickey, Minnie, Chip, Dale and Stitch all in pirate clothes (you can imagine my excitement about Pirate Stitch!)
  • Jack Sparrow
  • Captain Hook and Mr Smee
  • and Peter Pan.

Meeting Chip and Dale

Meeting Captain Hook and Mr Smee

Meeting Pirate Stitch! :D

Meeting Peter Pan

Meeting Jack Sparrow

Meeting Mickey and Minnie Mouse

There was special pirate merchandise on sale in the stores and lobby, and a drinks cart in the lobby with Peter Pan/Captain Hook cups and other pirate themed glasses.

Pirates merchandise appears for Pirate Night

PIrates merchandise appears for Pirate Night

Pirates merchandise appears for Pirate Night

Dinner was a special pirates menu, and everyone was given a pirate bandana to wear!

A very Pirate dinner at Lumiere's

A very Pirate dinner at Lumiere's

Dinner for us was at Lumiere's, so it was a little odd - the people who got Parrot Cay would have had the best setting for this themed night.

The main event of the evening was the Pirates IN the Caribbean Deck Party up at the Goofy Pool Stage on deck 9.
Warming up with interactive LEGO Pirates games on the Funnel Vision, the deck party then proceeded into a mixture of dance party and pirate takeover of the ship!
Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip, Dale, Stitch, Hook and Smee were all there, dressed in their pirate best.

Pirates in the Caribbean Deck Party

Pirates in the Caribbean Deck Party

Mickey had a particularly impressive entrance, which I won't spoil for now! I did think it was odd that Goofy was in the show, but not out for meets in his pirate costume, though.
The party led right into fireworks, yes, right there at sea!
The whole thing was nothing short of amazing!
After the deck party had finished, a special pirate themed buffet appeared on deck 9 next to the pool.
Funnel Vision proceeded to then play the first Pirates movie.
And that was pretty much that day!

Crew Member Chris dressed for Pirate Night

We really loved the whole day.
Stopping in St Maarten made a nice change, and the Pirate Night was wonderful.

The next day was another port of call, St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands.
The ship cannot always dock directly at St Thomas and so instead uses something called tenders. This was the case when we sailed.
Tendering involves having to wait in the Walt Disney Theater for your debark time, then going as a group down to the tender lobby, boarding another boat and chugging across to Charlotte Amalie (the main town).

The Disney Magic

It was definitely a bit of a pain to say the least.
Charlotte Amalie itself is not a patch in Philipsburg in St Maarten either. There is no beach, the town is more run down and crowded, and overall just doesn't have a pleasant a feel as St Maarten did.
There isn't much to buy there, except jewellery once again, and the only place with free wifi is a pricey bar near the main road/waterfront.
Nobody we spoke to spent anywhere near the time they had spent in St Maarten the day before, and neither did we.
To get back to the ship you wait at the DCL tent at the waterfront and board a ferry once again. That's pretty much all I can say about St Thomas!
If we were to go again on a sailing that includes St Thomas (which seems unlikely), we would either have a lazy day aboard the ship, or do one if the tours (if they were offering one we liked).
Once back on ship that afternoon, the character fun began!
They had a bunch of character sets today that were only for that day.
Some were repeats, but a lot were one-time opportunities on the whole sailing.
The entire list was:
  • Timon
  • Goofy and Max
  • Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket
  • Snow White and Dopey
  • Belle
  • Princess Aurora
  • Princess Tiana
  • Cinderella
  • The White Rabbit
  • The Queen of Hearts
  • and Sorcerer Mickey

Meeting Timon

Meeting Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket

Meeting Princess Aurora

Meeting Goofy and Max

Meeting Snow White and Dopey

Meeting Belle

Meeting Cinderella

Meeting Tiana

Meeting the White Rabbit

Meeting the Queen of Hearts

Meeting Belle

Meeting Mickey Mouse

Also this evening there was a special Officers Pin Trading event at Preludes on Deck 4.
The senior officers were there for about half an hour, including the Captain, and you could trade pins, talk with them and get your photo.

Meeting the Disney Magic's Captain John

It was neat to meet Captain John, but also to see the officers pins.
They obviously spend most of their time on the bridge or doing other important duties, so they actually have some more interesting, rarer pins, as they don't trade often.

This evening was finally our turn to dine at Animator's Palate for the dinner show (you may recall our first time was for Formal Night, where they don't do the show).

Dining at Animator's Palate

Basically the restaurant magically transforms before your eyes, and there is a very special guest near the end to conduct the finale...



The next day would be our last sea day, followed by Castaway Cay and the grand finale!

Stay tuned over the next few days for the final part of my Cruise Trip Report!

Dan.
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Pictures of Disney Cruise Line Feb/March 2012 Trip Report