Thinking of going on a cruise holiday, but not sure which company to go with? Getting the balance between being family-friendly and relaxing is crucial, and Disney does a great job of doing both. We opted for a seven-day Mediterranean Cruise aboard the Disney Magic, perfect for families and couples alike.
Ok, so we have to admit that we had massive preconceptions before going on the cruise (it was our first time). Would we get bored, would we get cabin fever, would it be Disney overkill? In other words, was it going to be right for us? Our concerns were soon put to rest: we were delighted to discover that out of the 2,400 guests aboard the Disney Magic (yes it was fully booked) over 60 per cent of those were repeat visitors – so the odds were definitely in our favour!
10 reasons why you should try out a Disney Cruise
Ten reasons to take a Disney cruise
Launched in 1998, the Disney Magic was the first of the Disney fleet of cruise ships. We joined the ship on its penultimate journey before being whisked off to be ‘reimagined’ offering guests brand new experiences. Disney Cruises are incredibly well organised. Guests can pre-book a wide range activities online before embarking: great if you are travelling with the family as you can all decide (and budget for) what to do for the week. Don’t feel pressured to fill up your week with excursions (it’s also quite nice having the ship to yourself on port days!). Once on board you are given a ‘key to the world’ card. Take this card everywhere with you and any little extras that you pick up can be automatically charged to your room. Watch out as these charges can add up, so keep an eye on your tab.
Like the Disney Parks, the Disney Cruise fleet is all about the magic. Loads of little touches make it feel Disney, from character ‘meet and greets’ to the fantastic Pirates of the Caribbean party. Disney go the extra mile on fine detail too: think towels shaped into animals during turn-down service, pre meal canapés in your room. The boat’s horn also played ‘when you wish upon a star’ when coming into dock – an unexpected surprise! Top tip: Don’t miss the Adventures Away party – starts the holiday off beautifully!
The service on board the Disney Magic was impeccable. The crew are passionate about the ship and Disney. Their relaxed nature and friendly attitude made you feel like part of the Disney family without it feeling forced. Attention to detail is obviously high on the agenda: Disney and the crew are on hand 24 hours a day to make sure that your every need is taken care of.
One of the best surprises about the Disney Magic was the size of the staterooms. Light and airy, they can easily accommodate a family of four with ample storage for luggage. Should you wish to have an early night with the kids, there is an Entertainment system with TV shows and movies. The in-room fridge is also very handy for some late afternoon in-room drinks. Top Tip: It’s definitely worth splashing out on a room with a verandah, perfect for spending the afternoon reading a book in privacy.
Young or old, there are plenty of places to put your feet up on the ship. There are three themed pools in total, one for kids, one for adults and one for families. We spent most of the time in the ‘Quiet Cove’ pool (over 18s, chilling in the spa baths whilst listening to some of the ship’s great performers (we loved the acoustic guitar sessions). Goofy’s pool was also great as adults can kick bag and watch a movie as the kids splash around in the pool. Top tip: On "Port Adventure" days the ship empties out so if you don’t fancy getting off the ship, enjoy the peace and quiet!
Of course, Disney takes children’s cruise entertainment extremely seriously. We were particularly impressed with the plans for the re-imagined Oceaneer Club for 3-12 year olds. Kids can choose whether they want to enrol in the Marvel Avenger’s Academy, hang out in Andy’s room (straight out of Toy Story) or enter the enchanted land of Tinker Bell’s Pixie Hollow.
Disney also does pampering very well and a voyage aboard the Disney Magic isn’t complete without a visit to the fab Senses Spa and Salon. Treatments are fairly reasonably priced and all use Elemis Therapy Products (the Swedish Massage is not to be missed!). There are also roman baths, steam rooms, a hair salon and even a teeth-whitening service!
On the Disney Magic you do not go hungry. Yes, as food is available 24-7, so you can gorge yourself on breakfast and lunch buffets during the day, then enjoy a more formal rotational dining experience in the evening. If you really want to splash out you can pay an additional supplement and go to the ship’s wonderful Palo restaurant for either brunch (pictured) or dinner. There are also a number of deck snack bars offering lighter bites, and you can order whatever you want, whenever you want from your room at no extra charge. Top tip: Don’t miss the Animator’s Palate – it’s a dining experience to remember.
The Disney Magic takes in some of the best sites on the Med. From visiting the palaces of Monaco to wandering the streets of Rome, there are literally hundreds of experiences to choose from. Our personal favourite was sailing around the beautiful villages of Cinque Terre – truly breathtaking (pictured). Of course, you can always go off piste and arrange your own trips – just make sure that you get back to the boat on time! Top Tip: Trips get booked up FAST, so avoid disappointment by booking all Port Adventures before you set sail (this is also great for budgeting).
The options for onboard entertainment are endless and there is fun to be found for all of the family. Each day you get a timetable outlining the day’s on-board activities. These include everything from dance lessons to wine tasting, cooking classes, quizzes and acupuncture (to name but a few). You can also catch all of the latest Disney blockbuster movies in the huge on-board cinema. Each night, the Walt Disney Theatre puts on a lavish broadway style show. The production values in the shows are amazing - don’t miss the Disney Dreams show (pictured) – there won’t be a dry eye in the house! For night bunnies there are clubs and bars to take you into the small hours.
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New for 2014:
Disney were kind enough to give us a sneak peek of what to expect from the new shiny ship and you won't be disappointed. Our journey began in Barcelona and our itinerary included Villefranche (Monte Carlo, Cannes, Nice), La Spezia (Florence, Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome) and Naples (Pompeii).
- A Grand First Impression: A new elegant art deco lobby, bringing guests back to the days of the early 20th century ocean liners.
- Disney-Pixar & Marvel mayhem: The Oceaneer Club (for 3-12 yr olds) will be completely re-imagined with brilliant new areas including; the new Marvel Avenger's Academy (complete with Iron Man's suit, Captain America's shield and Thor's hammer), Andy's room (A Toy Story themed room stocked with Andy's favourite toys – the slinky dog slide is amazing) and Pixie Hollow (the enchanted land of Tinkerbell and pals).
- H2... OH!: For thrills seekers, don't miss the Aquadunk - feet a three story near vertical drop into a translucent slide that extends 20ft over the side of the ship. Kids will also love the AquaLab – an interactive water playground.
- Re-designed Dining: Disney Magic favourite, the Animator's Palate has been updated with new 'Drawn to Magic Experience' which sees the room's blank canvas explode with colour and your favourite Disney characters – all in glorious HD.
- After Hours: Sleek and sophisticated this brand new destination is designed to keep you going till the early hours.
- Bedtime: The staterooms have been redesigned to give families even more space.
- For the morning after: The senses Spa has had a makeover to include sweeping ocean views and a host of brand new treatment rooms.
Booking for 2014:
For a seven-night Magic Med Cruise prices start from £949 per adult & £699 per child
Virgin Holidays Cruises offers seven nights on Disney Magic from Barcelona, calling at Villefranche (for Nice, France), Pisa, Rome and Naples, including flights from London Gatwick and transfers. Prices are per person based on two adults travelling and sharing an inside cabin on a full-board basis. Based on a departure on 30 August 2014. Offer is subject to availability and includes all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change.
To book: Visit virginholidayscruises.co.uk, call 0844 573 4398 or visit one of 60 stores located in Debenhams and House of Fraser stores nationwide.