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The Disney Magic Blog

October 7, 2006 — After a final breakfast in Parrot Cay with our tablemates (a multi-generation family of five, an aunt and her two nieces, two young singles, and Mel and I, an "older" couple without kids) we took a final look-see in the cabin to make sure we had everything, and then it was time to debark and head home with a week's worth of memories. 

We had some initial reservations about the ambiance of a Disney cruise, but found it wholesome, fun for all ages, and one of the best cruise vacations ever. Best of all, I got to connect with Alice, the character I portrayed at Disneyland so many years ago.

Castaway Cay--land, and the ghostly ship from Pirates of the Caribbean, ahoy!

October 6, 2006 — The only thing better than spending the day at Castaway Cay (Disney Cruise Line's private island) is spending TWO days there. Alas, that two-day opportunity is only available to passengers on select "Costa Maya" itineraries, but we crammed a lot of activity into our single day. Upon arrival, we claimed bicycles to explore as far as Serenity Bay, the tranquil beach area reserved for adults and then explored the biking and hiking pathways until it was time to parasail. Not me (I'm too chicken) but Mel loved the experience with Alonzo Johnson and T.J. from Abaco as his 'flying' guides. From there we hit the beach barbeque on our way to Castaway Ray's for a stingray adventure.

How we'll always remember Castaway Cay

Mind you, this was no ordinary stingray adventure. Yes, we swam with them and, yes, we fed them... but the difference was that they enjoyed their 'buffet' luncheon served on Mickey Mouse plates. Our trainer introduced us to the tame stingrays, which all have names and swim across a ramp for their feeding. We put bits of food between our fingers and, with our hands flat on the plate, the rays scooped it off as they passed by. In response to our petting their velvety bodies, they seemed to delight in splashing us with their wings.

All good things come to an end and we bid farewell to Castaway Cay, but we still had dinner in Palo's to look forward to on our last evening onboard. Our calamari appetizers were far more appealing than those we fed the stingrays and the entire dinner was sublime, especially the chocolate soufflé dessert. With only a $10 per person surcharge, the adults-only restaurant is a great deal. Tables fill fast so make your reservations the minute you board. You won't want to miss this superb dining treat.

Then... there was final packing. 

Clifford's "Blanket" Creation

October 5, 2006 — You might wonder, like I did, how a Disney cruise would stack up against other cruise lines. While the ships are large at 83,000 tons and there are from 1,754 to 2,400 passengers on board, Disney restricts the number of children in each age group to what they can reasonably handle in the various program facilities. (Make your reservations early to avoid disappointment.)

I've encountered very few lines throughout the ship, even when Mickey Mouse makes an appearance for a photo op. I haven't had to wait at the complimentary drink station for serve-yourself coffee and soft drinks or at the pizza and ice cream parlors. When there are people waiting, courtesy rules. Don't even think about cutting in a line, the children will correct your bad behavior.

The service staff meets or exceeds the quality found on even upscale ships. Kids are catered to in the same manner as adults and they love their own menu for meals. Clifford Clarke, who hails from Jamaica, is one of the best cabin stewards we've had the pleasure to meet. His specialty is "blanket animals" and he's delighted us with nightly creativity. Our stateroom is always tidy (with extra towels) and no request is too difficult for him to fulfill. Briana in Cove Cafe makes an outstanding Mojito!

Just a word about the accommodations—comfortable! Lots of storage helps us keep everything neat and I love the sliding closet doors and the bathroom doors that open inward, which means no door wars as in a typical cruise cabin entryway. Fantastic design! We really couldn't ask for more in terms of efficiency and coziness.

October 4, 2006 — It was Wednesday, so that was St. Thomas out there, but before we could go ashore we had to clear U.S. immigration, which meant a very early wake up call. Oh well, I was hungry for some Mickey Mouse waffles anyway. Once off the ship, the weather was hot, hot hot so we re-thought our plan to take the tram up the mountainside overlooking the port and just shopped instead. I happened to meet Nancy from Miami who was a passenger on another ship. She seemed surprised that Mel and I were cruising without children on Disney and said she and her husband left their teen at home and didn't look forward to being on a ship full of kids. In reality, her much larger ship probably had more children on board than ours did. The look on her face when I described the fireworks at our deck party was... well, can you say envious?

Rubber chicken, anyone?

The early start to the day called for lazing about after lunch and a mid-afternoon nap. But first we took time to stop by Ocean Quest during family 'open house' to watch a young Captain-in-training learn to steer the ship through a challenging channel and out to sea on the Disney Magic ship simulator. He was promoted from third mate to second mate and was visibly proud, as was his father.

Dinner was back in Animator's Palate and we had more than just an excellent meal. As it turned out, our servers have quite a sense of humor and surprised Mel with a "special" chicken entree. Our tablemate Georgina was presented with a birthday cake. Then it was time to celebrate the 80s in Rocking Bar D where we rocked with the band until well past my bedtime. 

I need some sleep because I'm meeting Alice in Wonderland tomorrow.

October 3, 2006 — We awoke this morning dockside in St. Maarten and went ashore to enjoy a lovely Caribbean day. After a stroll through town and along the "boardwalk" we stopped for tropical refreshments before returning to Disney Magic and lunch at Pluto's Dog House. Does that sound just too cute to you? To be honest, without children of our own, I was afraid Mel and I would be overwhelmed by kids and the entire kid-centric theme on board. That hasn't been the case, though. The ship is stunning and there are quiet adult spaces to retreat to when we're inclined, although it's a pleasure to be with families who are obviously having a great time together. And, as I learned from Wray and Carol Williams of Bradenton, Florida, their four-year old daughter Cadie loves the children's program so much that she doesn't want to leave. Wray and Carol loved the Spa Villa for couples so much that they didn't want to leave either!

I haven't encountered a single grouch onboard. There are smiles everywhere, especially when Disney characters make an appearance. Something Wray Williams pointed out that I hadn't noticed—even the "villains" smile. Nowhere was that more evident than at the Pirates IN The Caribbean deck party. Captain Hook wasn't at all menacing as he led the dancing along with the cruise entertainment staff. Of course, Chip and Dale were there along with Goofy and Minnie Mouse. I won't spoil the surprise, but Mickey Mouse made quite an entrance and the fireworks were spectacular. Disney ships are the only vessels at sea that present a fireworks show from ON board while at sea. It was quite a party and now we're off to sleep to dream of pirates, fair maidens, and the great time we had all evening. It was truly fun for "kids" of all ages! 

October 2, 2006 — Talk about a "goofy" way to start the day... a character breakfast on Disney Magic. Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Chip & Dale, and Goofy stopped by to help us begin the day. The kids at our table had a great time. But so did we. There are four youngsters in our small group and eight adults. It's hard to tell who's having more fun.

After breakfast Mel headed to the fitness center to ride a recumbent bike. Instead of watching the mini-television, he listened to tunes on one of the complimentary iPods. We then met up for a couples massage treatment in a Spa Villa, a Disney Cruise Line exclusive. We started on the Villa verandah with a foot exfoliation and some alone time in the whirlpool for two before moving inside to adjacent tables for hot stone massages. To wrap up our relaxing morning we had tea and fruit back on the verandah. Available for one or two, it would be impossible to find such nirvana at sea on any other ship (until the Villas are installed on Disney Wonder this month).

The absolute highlight of the day for this wannabe princess was "Twice Charmed," the day's magical production show. Landing the Prince and living happily ever after is certainly every girl's dream, but what would happen if a wicked Fairy Godfather stepped in to rewrite history? You'll have to take a Disney cruise yourself to find out, but I will share this... Cinderella's inner beauty prevails over the dirty tricks pulled by her nasty stepmother and stepsisters. 

No one puts on a show like Disney characters and I really love the timing of mid-afternoon matinees in addition to evening performances. I'm totally charmed.

Disney Magic's Bridge Simulator

October 1, 2006 — So, just who IS driving the ship today? From the looks of it, the kids are in control. When I stopped by Ocean Quest, the really cool area for 'tweens, they seemed to be in charge. The niftiest video attraction I've ever seen is the simulator with an actual feed from the Disney Magic's bridge that allows young passengers to take over the controls. (Sorry, parents, they won't let us big kids try it out.)

Oh well, there are adult things to do. Like the Disney Behind the Scenes lecture and Q&A hosted by Kevin Neary, author of "The Ultimate Disney Trivia Books." Before testing passengers' trivia knowledge he shared Disney facts and answered questions. I must admit that I didn't quite understand fans' Disney mania until attending Kevin's talk. Disney embraces their company's unique history and Disney creativity captures the imaginations of young and old alike.

Rather than wait until after dinner to attend today's "Golden Mickeys" production show, I went to the afternoon matinee (lots of good seats!) and thoroughly enjoyed the show. A celebration of Disney Studio's classic movies in song and dance, I was surprised at how many characters and how much of the music I recognized, being an... ahem... somewhat less than youngster. What's my favorite? The one that grabs my heart is "Beauty and the Beast."

And how's the food? Wow, the pizza is terrific! Dinners in Lumiere's and Animator's Palate have been quite good, with a lot of variety. It's difficult to choose what to order and I'm trying to watch the calories... but tonight in Animator's Palate I threw caution (and calorie counts) overboard and had one of the best desserts of my life. Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with Vanilla and Coffee sauce. The biggest WOW, though is the restaurant's setting that changes from stark black and white to warm and wonderful color. Naturally, Mickey Mouse made an appearance. I love the surprise character appearances and look forward to our Character Breakfast in the morning.

September 30, 2006 — If it's possible to experience a more efficient cruise embarkation, I have yet to come across it. Much like at Walt Disney World, once you reach the cruise ship terminal, you are in Disney's capable hands and "cast" members guide you effortlessly to drop off luggage and park right across the street. They then efficiently walk guests through the check-in process once inside. We aren't new to cruising, but even to us (novice Disney passengers), it was a joy to encounter no stress and no lines when we arrived at 11:30. With boarding card number 8, we were greeted at the entry to the ship's lobby and heard our name "Coffman family" announced at 12:30 when we stepped on board.

We couldn't go to our cabin to drop off carry-ons until 1:30 (and they are very strict about that, with stateroom corridors closed off) so we headed to Parrot Cay for a relaxing and casual lunch. On board Disney Magic the first afternoon was fairly typical of any ship with unpacking and the muster drill. Then two other ships left port and anticipation built for...

The sail-away party! Everyone gathered on deck at the Goofy Pool beneath the huge outdoor movie screen while the entertainment staff led dancing and singing until it was time to introduce Captain Mickey, Minnie Mouse, and their friends. The Disney Magic's horn sounded "When You Wish Upon A Star," streamers exploded from overhead, and we were on our way. Following the frenzy, we now have two sea days to look forward to (and lots of food and fun). 

September 29, 2006 After only a day of exploring the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, my feet were complaining, but it was certainly worthwhile. The entire resort is wondrous, but the highlight came Friday night as the sky over Epcot lit up with the most spectacular fireworks display. Afterwards, it was time to pack up in preparation for the drive to Port Canaveral and our Disney Magic cruise.

Not a real pirate ship, but close enough. In 1960-something Cruise Diva posed at the wheel of Disneyland's Chicken of the Sea Restaurant.

September 2006 Do we every outgrow our childhood dreams? I remember mine and they haven't faded over the years.

I dreamt of being a princess. Cinderella would do, but I preferred Sleeping Beauty (she didn't have to scrub floors to earn her glass slippers). Yet I grew up to be Aliceas in Wonderlandwhere nothing was as it seemed. 

However, one constant throughout my growing up years was the magic Walt Disney created. I barely remember a day that I didn't attend the Mickey Mouse Club (okay, it was television, but I knew Annette would be my best friend if only she knew me). 

The moment Sleeping Beauty's castle rose over the nearby orange groves in Anaheim, California, the dream was real and I began badgering my parents to take me there. They finally relented and I've spent many happy hours at Disneyland... many a working day as well. 

My earliest Disneyland memories include driving the mini-cars around the Autopia, being wowed by the House of the Future in 1958 (all plastic, with a futuristic kitchen featuring a microwave oven!), and the thrill of being scared silly during the jungle cruise. My husband missed out on those childhood thrills so we're both looking forward to embarking on a Disney Magic cruise. Join us on October 1st for the first Disney Magic Blog installment. Mouse ears are not required, but wear 'em if you've got 'em!

Sailaway Photo © M.D. Coffman
All Other Photos © Linda Coffman

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