Magic Abounds Aboard The Disney Magic
By Paula Conway
Vacations that claim to have something for everyone are usually a bad idea. One crowd gets the attention while the other languishes with some half-hearted gimmicky attempt to appease everyone else, or worse, there is very little for everyone and nobody is happy. There is a shining exception to this rule: Disney magic aboard the Disney Magic. Somehow, the Walt Disney Company knows the trick for finding just the right blend to bring family fun for everyone, and they have turned the trick in the most difficult vacation arena to please everyone: cruise vacations.
Aboard the Disney Magic, the kids can pretty much be taken as a given for having a great time. Mickey and his friends make an appearance, the wee ones enter the “too-much-fun zone” and all bets are off. Aboard the Disney Cruise Lines, the Disney imagineers have put together a series of fun activities to keep kids up to age 12 busy and active. The Oceaneer Club is where children 3 to 7 feel like they’ve entered Peter Pan’s Never Land, themed to Captain Hook’s pirate ship complete with a play area with slide and rope bridge. Costumes, toys, games and an open area for arts, crafts and movie watching make this one of the most popular activities aboard the Disney Magic. The Oceaneer Lab caters to kids ages 8 to 12 with a space theme replete with star-like twinkling lights, giant planetary spheres and an oversized Buzz Lightyear figure. A bank of computers loaded with games are on hand, or they can join Professor Goo at the interactive science lab to participate in some crazy experiments.
Teenagers are the ones usually left out in “family” vacation packages because they are too old for the organized kids’ events and too young for the “adult” entertainments. Not so on a Disney cruise; there are a whole host of parties and events specifically designed for teens including pool parties, video games, survivor-style games, parties and late-night movies. There’s even a private club for teenagers called The Stack on the Disney Magic which is packed with comfy couches, a soda bar serving soft-drinks and smoothies, Internet access, plasma-screen TV’s, MP3 players, board games, and other chill-out necessities.
Adults tend to write off Disney as being for children; and most are surprised to see how “grown up” Disney entertainment can be. From quiet relaxation in “adults only” sections of the boat, to the superb fitness center, to an afternoon in the spa and salon and finishing the day with romantic dinners in Palo, Disney Cruise Line’s upscale restaurant, couples and parents enjoy a surprising amount of alone time while the wild Indians are off with Donald Duck and Goofy being, well, wild Indians. Or pirates. Or space explorers. Whatever floats their boat. The important thing is that the kids are happy and safe (that’s all any good parent wants, right?) and you and your spouse have a few hours of peace and quiet to relax—or you can be wild Indians.
For some extra-special pampering and privacy, the Vista Spa Villas provide guests with a tranquil oasis without leaving the ship. Upon arrival, guests are pampered with a soothing foot cleanse on their own private outdoor veranda. A bubbling hot tub awaits, ready to ease away tension and relax guests as they enjoy the incredible ocean vistas and warm tropical breezes from this ideal perch. Guests transition to the Mediterranean inspired suite for a massage, facial or other treatment of choice. The experience culminates back on the veranda with a traditional tea ceremony and a restful respite on a luxurious chaise lounge. There’s also an adult-only pool, the Quiet Cove pool, where adults can soak up some sun and fun in tranquility pre or post spa treatment.
Just as their terrestrial resorts, Disney Magic has a wide variety of cabin options to suit a variety of budgets and family sizes, but they are all well designed and comfortable. Disney engineers thought out all the basic amenities and found a way to accommodate substantially more space for relaxation than you’d find on most other cruise ships, sleeping up to five with ease, split baths, ample storage, natural woods, imported tiles and superior attention to detail in your home away from home.
Also like Disney’s land-based resorts, there are a number of dining options. There is a rotational dining plan so that guests can enjoy a different restaurant every night while keeping the same staff. Lumiere’s features a grand dining room with French elegance resembling those reminiscent with transatlantic ocean liners of the past. Animator’s Palate offers more than great food, and in fact it may be hard to turn your attention away from the artwork on the walls as scenes from Disney films magically turn from black and white to color throughout the meal. Parrot Cay is inspired by a cheerful style with vibrant colors in a more relaxed atmosphere. The Topsider Buffet prepares breakfast and themed lunch buffets daily and is conveniently located near the three pools for casual dining in a pinch. Character breakfasts allow families a chance to wake up with Mickey and friends and meet the characters for pictures, hugs and autographs. Wendy Darling of “Peter Pan” even hosts occasional afternoon teas with children and families where iced tea and cookies are served. There are also buffets, fast food snack bars and around the clock room service.
Regardless of the itinerary of the Disney Cruise, all trips eventually find their way to Castaway Cay, Disney’s own private Caribbean island in the Bahamas. Castaway Cay has beach areas for kids, teens, families and adults. From the moment you hit the manicured white sands of Castaway Cay, you are at the very core of what Disney does best. The entire island is engineered for perfection—it is the flawless vision of what everyone would imagine the ideal Caribbean island getaway would be like. The attention to detail is uncanny. Castaway Cay offers more than a chance to just lie in the sun and make sand castles, there are hiking and kayaking “adventures,” bike trails, snorkeling trail (including a submarine from “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”), sail boats and other water sports and eco tours.
There are myriad ways to escape with the Disney Magic from 3-, 4- and 7-night Bahamanian and Caribbean cruises to the more extensive 14-night transatlantic cruises. But whatever itinerary you select, you’re sure to be sprinkled with pixie dust from bow to stern.
For more information, visit disneycruise.com.