Clan Garside sailed the majestic Disney Magic from February 24th through 28th, and while it was a welcome break from the ridiculous winter that we’ve been dealing with back home, it wasn’t exactly the “magical experience” that others have raved about.
We’ve been on two other cruises, both by Royal Caribbean…and we were recently spoiled with an all expenses resort vacation to Le Blanc in Cancun (which was one of the most amazing vacations I have ever taken).
This was our first “big trip” with our kids. The first time either of them have flown, the first time that either have travelled 6-8 hours in a day, and the first time that either of them have been at sea. I have to say that they were amazing little travellers and are among my favourite people to travel with. They were easy going, listened well when we needed them to stick with us for safety, and enjoyed exploring off on their own then the opportunities presented themselves.
They had an amazing time – so much so that Maks cried when it was over because he didn’t want our vacation to be done. This review is just how I felt about things.
Disney gets top marks for the kids stuff. The Oceaneers club was spectacular, and by the second day both Kaylin and Maks were asking if they could go off and play in the club. Kaylin made a friend, and Maks just wanted to go draw and make comics on the computer all the time.
The kids weren’t huge into the characters, until I made a fun game out of “capturing the characters” the last day. We “captured” all of the princesses, and bagged ourselves a Stitch that day as well. Maks and Captain America had a sprinting contest around the entrance to the Walt Disney theatre that was pretty hilarious (spoiler: Cap let Maks win). I have to admit though, seeing the little girls light up when a princess walked by, or watching the little boys get excited when Captain America came through was pretty great.
Disney’s private island is pretty great. We really enjoyed our day there, and Kaylin had a great time at the kids club (but Maks just wanted to hang in the ocean with us).
From the in-room movie selection (Avengers, Captain Philips, Gravity, Little Mermaid, Wreck It Ralph, Mary Poppins, and Tangled to name a few) to the on-board shows, to the movies that played both on the swimming pool deck, and in the full movie theatre (where we saw Thor the Dark World and Frozen Sing-A-Long the last day), there are plenty of things to do on the ship. The pool areas were quite fun, and we really enjoyed the water slides (the Aquadunk is one of the more fun rides I’ve taken).
It was incredibly smooth, took us no time to get off and get out, and was generally pleasant. I’m not sure if this is because we chose to bring our own bags with us, or if it was because Disney just does a better job of this than Royal Caribbean.
There were a LOT of brown choices, very few veggies, and lunches tended to be a meat, a starch, and a wad of spinach or lettuce, the kids meanwhile ate plates of brown. Dinners were better, but the food wasn’t great…it was good, and that’s about all I can say for it. My steak was “okay”, my lobster skewer was over cooked, my salmon was over cooked, veggies were nearly non-existant, about the best I can say is that the ribs were quite good. Everything seemed under-seasoned, the most obvious example being the tomato and jalapeno bisque that I ordered, which had no heat at all.
Disney Vacation Club shilling
It felt like everything was a shill for the Vacation Club, at the end of every “dance party” the cruise director was telling us what a great time we were having, and how this was the kind of memory that we could be buying with a Disney Vacation Club membership, which was 20% off while we were onboard!
High Pressure Sales Tactics
We paid $32.00 for two fruit smoothies and two rum based fruit drinks. Five minutes later the dude was back asking if we wanted more. There was always someone walking around trying to foist buckets of water or fruity drinks on you. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood, but it felt forced and constant.
The wine selection
I’m not a wine snob. My favourite wines right now are a cheap Californian blend called Cupcake, and a more expensive version called Apothic…but the stuff they had on ship just wasn’t very good, and it was expensive (8.00 per glass PLUS a 15% automatic gratuity, making that okay glass of wine suddenly $10.00). Admittedly you can bring your own wine and beer on board which is pretty cool…but I didn’t do that.
Times of things
I really noticed this the last night. We decided to go to the early showing of the Frozen Sing-A-Long and skip early dinner service. By the time we got up to the casual restaurant, it was closed. They had also shut down the sandwich area, and the only thing left was the burgers and fries station (although I figured out a clever hack by having a donair without bun, and adding a bunch of tomato salad to my plate).
I honestly felt like I was on a tighter timeline than I am when I am at work. My days were broken up into one hour chunks with hard stops all over the place “gotta be here before they close or no lunch”, “gotta be at dinner for 5:45”, “gotta go check on the kids” (although that last one could have been avoided considering most times they said “I don’t wanna leave”).
Seriously babies…at meal time, why not just chill out?
The last night
I felt like everything closed up early, there was nothing to eat by 9pm, and we had a minor problem in our room that was totally ignored by staff when we called for assistance. Char and I waited up for over an hour, and when we called back to Guest Services, our call was never picked up.
I should note here that Char got quite sick the last day, she has chalked it up to a bad crab cake. I’m not so sure, one of our servers was apparently sick as well…and he served her food up the night before she got sick.
We’re not really a Disney family, the kids have never seen a lot of the Disney classics, although they love Wreck It Ralph, Tangled, Frozen and the Pixar fare (some day I will write a post on how John Lasseter has revived the Disney animation studio with his Pixar brilliance), but they’re not huge princess, Mickey or Minnie fanatics.
Royal Caribbean has a great kids service as well, and I remember the food being much better – one of the five best meals I have ever had was on a Royal Caribbean ship. Coco Cay (RC’s private island) was also a spectacular day, but geared a little bit older.