There are SO many things we want to share with you from our Northern Europe trip. But we know many of you are waiting to hear more about the Disney Cruise. So let’s start with just that!
Disney Cruise Line, at the time of writing, has four cruise ships. We sailed with Disney Magic, because we specifically wanted to sail in Europe. Other cruise ships on the Disney Cruise Line included Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, sailing mostly in Alaska, Bahamas and the Caribbeans respectively.
During our cruise, the staff told us that Disney Cruise Line was in the process of building two new ships. And it was JUST announced on their Facebook page that there is going to be a third new ship! The scheduled completion dates were in 2021, 2022 and 2023. So if you love new stuff, you may want to hold your Disney Cruise dreams for a couple of years till the new ships are launched, because more ships would also mean a wider range of itineraries to choose from!
In this post, we are going to share with you our Disney Cruise experience. Activities, facilities, dining, stateroom etc. which you can find aboard Disney Magic ship.
If you would like to read more about the cost of our Disney cruise and how to book your Disney cruise, check out our Disney Cruise Cost & Booking Guide!
Initially I thought a Disney cruise ship would be decked out in bright colours and covered with pictures of Disney characters everywhere.
Turned out the only place that fulfilled my vision of a loud Disney themed ship was the pool deck.
The rest of the Disney Magic ship was actually pretty classic looking. It was kind of subtle. Like you wouldn’t really realise it was a Disney cruise ship on first sight.
But once you take a closer look, you would start to notice the beautiful Disney artworks around.
Before you go on your Disney Cruise, the one thing I highly recommend you do is to install the Disney Cruise Navigator app onto your handphone. The app doesn’t do much until AFTER you board the ship.
It’s a pretty cool app really. What it does is, it will connect to the ship’s WIFI when you are onboard. While internet access using the ship’s WIFI is generally chargeable during the cruise, you can use the internet access freely for the Navigator app.
The most useful function of the Navigator app is the messaging function. Because when you are on the cruise, especially if in a large group, chances are that you may want to split up to move around. So the messaging function allows you to stay in touch with your travel companions while on board the cruise ship using the app’s messaging system. Complete with Disney emoticons.
The app also stores the schedule of all the programs for the day – so just flick it on and you will be able to quickly check what activities are going on around the ship.
All cruises offer essentially the same thing: A moving hotel that brings you to different destinations while serving a never-ending supply of food. But what makes a Disney cruise special, imo, are really the Disney-themed activities and the appearance of Disney characters on the ship.
Sail Away Party
The cruise started with a Sail-Away Party – which got everyone totally into the vacation mood.
The atmosphere during the Sail Away Party was absolutely amazing, as Mickey & gang came out to dance around with the crowd and blow the horn to start the ship sailing. It really got us psyched up for the cruise!
I admit, I’m a sucker for character meetings. I went to Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo Disney and spent more time queuing up to take photos with Disney characters than queuing for rides. And there were SO MANY meet-and-greet sessions throughout our entire Disney cruise!
You could spend your entire cruise attending meet-and-greets. Because besides the fact that there were so many characters, some of the characters don’t just come out once – they come out more than once, each time in a different costume. So you can meet Mickey Mouse like 3 times to take photos with him in 3 different outfits. It’s crazy!
While MY was super happy to meet Donald Duck, I admit that I was a lot more excited over meeting Thor. :p
What a lot of the guests did during the cruise was to bring an autograph book to these character meeting sessions. If you do, the characters will gladly sign in your book for you! At the souvenir shop on board the ship, they even sold autograph books with photo slots for you to slot in the photos you took with the characters.
When will the Frozen craze ever die? Apparently not any time soon. While most character meetings happened rather often and you could just turn up without an appointment and join the queue, you need to get a timed ticket to meet the Frozen characters. Find out how to book these timed tickets on my Disney Cruise Booking Guide.
All girls go “Awwwww…..”. This one is guaranteed to please your Disney Princess-loving girls. Being able to get up close to hug their favourite Disney princesses, talk to them, get their autographs and take photos with them must have been a dream come true for these girls.
I’ll be honest and tell your my boys didn’t care much for the Princess Gathering. They took one look and skipped it. I went anyway to meet the princesses on my own. And they were really professional, taking the time to chat with every guest, whether they were little girls or grown men, and posing for multiple photographs.
Just like the Frozen Gathering, the Princess Gathering was ticketed and guests had to reserve a time slot to attend.
Walt Disney Theatre Shows
Don’t miss a single of the nightly shows at Walt Disney Theatre. They were amazing and totally made me feel like the money I paid for the cruise was totally worth it. Because every night, we were treated to a Broadway-calibre show – the kind that I would pay $100 per ticket to watch. The brilliant cast, the elaborate stage effects and props.. The level of production of the shows here were really no different from those musicals we caught at Marina Bay Sands Theatre. Photography and videography were strictly prohibited during all the shows, so you really do have to go on board the ship to catch them.
Disney Movie Screenings
Throughout the cruise, Disney movies from classics to recently released movies were screen at 3 locations on the ship:
- Funnel Vision (the big screen on top of the middle pool)
- Walt Disney Theatre
- Buena Vista Theatre
Some of the movies were even screened in 3D. We caught Beauty and the Beast (2017) in 3D on board the ship. And during our cruise, Cars 3 premiered in USA, and they screened the movie on the cruise ship as well, both in 2D and 3D. So we were among the first in the world to catch Cars 3! Muahaha…
Frozen Deck Party
And how can we claim to have been on a Disney cruise without singing ‘Let It Go’ right? At the Frozen Deck Party, fake snow fell on us as Elsa (accompanied by Anna and Kristoff) got everyone singing ‘Let it Go’.
Till We Meet Again
On the final evening of the cruise, we gathered at the Lobby Atrium to say goodbye to the Disney characters in one final farewell.
There were numerous club rooms for children on board the Disney Magic ship, catered for children of different ages. There was a nursery for the smallest of guests, but since our kids have outgrown it, I can’t tell you much about it other than the fact that there was a nursery on board. Which in itself sounds awesome.
The club rooms for kids available on Disney Magic were:
Oceaneer Club (3 – 12 years old)
Oceaneer Lab (3 – 12 years old)
The Edge (11 – 14 years old)
The Vibe (14 – 17 years old)
The various kids clubs were strictly for kids. You basically drop your kids off there and say bye. They were open from 9am to 12 midnight. Yes, 12 midnight. No kidding.
In order to drop your kids off, you need to register your kids for the Youth Activities Program at the start of the cruise, where your kids will receive a wristband.
When we checked in for the cruise at Copenhagen’s cruise terminal, the check-in counter staff got our kids registered for the Youth Activities and gave us their wristbands on the spot. But I’m not sure why some other guests didn’t receive their Youth Activities wristband during check-in and had to queue up at a separate counter at the cruise terminal to register for the Youth Activities Program.
In the event your boarding number is called before you have the chance to register for the program at the cruise terminal, don’t worry, you can register on board the ship. A table was also set up on the cruise ship on Level 5 (where Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab was) to allow guests to register for the program after boarding.
A deposit of USD12.95 was charged to our account for each wristband, but this was refunded when we returned the wristband to the kids club at the end of the cruise. So don’t forget to return your wristbands on the last evening of your cruise after your kids have checked out of the kids club for the last time.
Adults were only allowed to enter the kids clubs during ‘open house’ timings. There were several open house timings throughout the cruise to allow for family time, and you would need to refer to the navigator to find out when they are happening. So if you would like to join your kids in the kids clubs, you can do so during open house timings. And during open house timings, you cannot drop your kids off as the club will NOT be secured. The gantry will be opened for everyone to enter and exit freely.
You may wonder, what happens to your kids if you had dropped them off at the kids club and forgot to keep track of the open house timings. Say you dropped them off at Oceaneer Club at 1pm, but at 1.30pm there will be open house at Oceaneer Club (which means the club will not be secured from 1.30pm) – does that mean you need to come back at 1.30pm to pick the kids up? And if you forget to do so, does that mean your kids will roaming around an unsecured kids club? Well, no. They have got it figured out for you.
For younger children (3 – 12), there were two clubs: Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab, located side-by-side on Deck 5. These two clubs were connected by a corridor which could be closed off. So when Oceaneer Club was having open house (non-secured), they would move all the kids who had been dropped off over to the Oceaneer Lab and close up the corridor, so the kids stay secured at the Oceaneer Lab. Or vice versa. It’s a really good system, so you don’t have to worry about your kids once you have dropped them off at either Oceaneer Club or Oceaneer Lab. Just enjoy your adults-only time.
The only time when all the clubs were having open houses was on the day of embarkation. So no, you can’t drop your kids off the moment your board the ship. (I know you can’t wait to do that.) Secured program at the kids clubs only started on the evening (can’t remember the exact timing, something like 7pm) of the first day.
Next, you may wonder, what if your kids start to look for you after you have dropped them off? How would the staff contact you?
There are two ways they will contact you:
- Using the wave phones inside your stateroom (which you can bring with you around the cruise ship – so no, you don’t have to camp in your room to stand by the phone.)
- Using the Disney Cruise navigator app’s messaging system
So when your kids are at the kids clubs, be sure you have either your wave phone or your handphone with the Disney Cruise navigator app connected to the ship’s WIFI with you in case the staff needs to contact you.
Note that if your kids are inside the kids clubs during meal times, the staff will serve meals to them. Toilets were also available inside the kids clubs. So yeah, you can essentially leave them at the kids club the entire day and they will be well taken care of.
On top of letting the kids play with the toys and facilities in the clubs on their own, there were back-to-back activities conducted for them by the staff throughout the day. Such as cooking (making cookies / cupcakes), painting, Super Sloppy Science and game challenges. Disney characters also made their rounds to visit the kids at the kids clubs.
One of the highlights of the kids club program was the Friendship Rocks show. Where the kids performed a simple dance at the Walt Disney Theatre, together with Micky & Minnie. You need to check the Navigator to see what time you have to drop your kids off at the kids club if you want them to be part of the show (about an hour before the show). Then during show time, just head to Walt Disney Theatre to catch the show.
One of the first things that attracted me to Disney Cruise Line (besides the word ‘Disney’) were the slides and pools they had on board.
On Disney Magic, they had pools catered for guests of all ages. From water play area for young children.
To a pool for adults only.
Among Disney Cruise Line’s ships, Disney Magic’s slides were considered relatively boring. Aboard their Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy ships, they had an Aqua Duck water slide which looked mad awesome. But our Disney Magic ship didn’t have that. What we had was the Aqua Dunk. Which started with a steep drop and lets you slide out of the ship through a see-through tunnel before coming back onto the ship. There was a minimum height requirement of 1.22m. Which MF missed by a weeeeee bit!
Over at the kids pool, there was the Twist n Spout slide. Which was a lot more gentle. So gentle that MF got stuck halfway through the slide. Lol… It sounds comical now, but at that point in time, with the cold wind of the Baltic sea blowing, it was not very fun to get stuck on the slide. You want to get back into the nice temperature-regulated water of the pool asap.
And yes. The temperature of the water in the swimming pools on Disney Magic were controlled. Absolutely essential when cruising Northern Europe which was pretty cold even in summer. Especially when the ship was moving out at sea – the wind was biting cold. So staying in the pool was fun. I could just stay inside the pool and watch a movie. But the moment you had to leave the water and step into that cold wind… Brrrr!
Kids life vests were available beside the pools if your kids need them.
One of the things that impressed us a lot during our Royal Caribbean experience was the range of sports facilities they offered on board the cruise ship. Disney Magic paled in comparison in this aspect.
We only spotted some basketball courts that were perpetually occupied by the large groups of teens. And some table tennis and table soccer tables.
We also found shuffle board. But I think that was about it. No fancy ice-skating or rock-climbing or mini golf etc. like on board the Voyager of the Seas. I guess we can’t get the best of both worlds!
While the youth activities on board Disney Magic was absolutely PACKED with super fun games and activities, I found the range of activities for adults somewhat lacking. Adults were encouraged to enjoy the musical performances at the various pubs & lounges (trying to get you to spend money on drinks I suppose?), spa (money) and bingo (more money).
The adult activity I enjoyed most were the ‘Anyone Can Cook’ cooking demonstrations. Too bad they only took place twice during the entire cruise.
The other activity I enjoyed was the lecture series. Yes, I enjoyed the lectures. My friends must all be bursting out in laughter now, considering I skipped lectures like crazy when I was a student. But I really appreciated the lectures on board the Disney Cruise which talked about the history of each destination that the cruise visited. Our ship called at Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn and Copenhagen – so there were 5 lectures in total during the cruise, one for each destination. I felt the information we got from these lectures really enhanced our visits to the various cities, especially when we were exploring the cities on our own.
One of the adults-only activities I wanted to join (but didn’t) was the tour of the ship. Where they showed guests the art pieces that could be found around the ship. But somehow I kept missing the tour.
And of course, you could go shopping at the souvenir shops on board. It’s kind of hard to leave without buying anything from the souvenir shops.
One of the best things about cruising is never going hungry. On Disney Magic, there was one buffet restaurant called Cabanas, and four ala-carte restaurant: Lumiere’s, Carioca’s Animator’s Palate and Palo. Dining at Palo is not included in your cruise package, but dining at the other restaurants are.
I loved that the Disney Magic had a drinks bar at the pool deck which was always open. So we could go up to grab a soft drink or hot drink or just water anytime we were thirsty.
For breakfast, we usually went up to Cabanas to fuel up for the day.
For lunch, if we were at a port of call, we would be out sightseeing so we wouldn’t be eating on the ship. But for sea days, we could choose to eat at either Cabanas again, or order ala-carte at Lumiere’s.
On the first two days, we ate at Cabanas as it was easier to feed the restless kids there. They enjoyed going around the buffet bar to get their own food and drinks.
But when the kids were in the kids club during the last sea day, hubby and I went to enjoy a slow lunch at Lumiere’s – complete with sparkling wine. Shiok.
Throughout the day, snack kiosks were opened around the pool deck to grab pizza, kebab, sandwiches, burgers etc. But when I say ‘throughout the day’ it doesn’t mean that all the snack kiosks were opened throughout the days. They each had different opening hours, so sometimes we found the pizzeria open but the burger kiosk close and vice versa. And they were generally closed during dinner times. You can check your cruise navigator app for opening hours.
Disney Cruise has something called ‘Rotational Dining’ during dinner times. You will be assigned one dining time slot (either 6pm or 8.30pm), and you will rotate among the 3 restaurants (Lumiere’s, Carioca’s and Animators’ Palate) throughout your cruise.
The order you follow will be printed on your ‘Key to the World’ card. For example on my card, you see ‘CLACCLA’? C refers to Carioca’s, L for Lumiere’s and A for Animator’s Palate. So we followed that order for our 7 nights.
If you plan to have dinner at Palo on one of the nights, it means you will miss your usual rotational dining for that night. I suggest that you DO NOT go to Palo on a day where you are assigned to Animators’ Palate.
Of the 3 restaurants, Animators’ Palate was the most Disney-ish and fun. It was surrounded by screens that usually played Disney animation clips.
During our second dinner at Animators’ Palate, there was even a special activity that you absolutely should not miss. We were each given a sheet of paper to draw a character. Any character. They took our drawings and scanned them and strung them all into an animation clip. It was super cool!
During dinners, we could order appetizers.
And noticed I used plural. Because you were free to order more than one portion. So if you cannot decide which appetizer to choose from, you can order more than one. Or if you liked a dish so much, you could order a second serving.
As for the kids, they would have their kids menu. But if they wanted, they could order from the adult menu too. The menu itself was pretty cool. It was essentially an activity sheet featuring a different Disney animation each day.
Our kids weren’t very adventurous when it came to eating, so they always ordered the Mac and Cheese. And ended the meal with a Mickey Mouse ice-cream.
During the dinners, the two servers who serve your table will rotate with you. So you would be served by the same servers every evening. If you like their service, you give them a big tip at the end of the cruise. You can even request to have back the same server for your next Disney Cruise! Provided your next server is on the ship you’re sailing of course. I know that if I ever go back on Disney Cruise, I would definitely put in a request for Joe (from Thailand).
If Royal Caribbean could have a Madagascar character breakfast, I expected no less from Disney.
And without fail, we had a character breakfast during our cruise, where we met Mickey, Minnie and Pluto over breakfast.
The character breakfast was held at Animators’ Palate and you would have to pre-book your time slot, just like the Princess Gathering and Frozen Gathering I mentioned earlier.
Food wise, we managed to find some Mickey waffles in the menu, which we ordered just to make the whole experience more Disney-ish. But actually you can find the same waffles at Cabanas. It was not something unique to the character breakfast.
So far we have always booked inside staterooms when we cruised. Because they are the cheapest. Disney cruise’s inside staterooms were listed as one of the best inside staterooms for families by Cruise Critic.
We stayed in a Deluxe inside stateroom. Which was a wee bit more expensive than the standard inside stateroom but slightly more spacious. I was pretty happy with the size of our Deluxe inside stateroom.
We picked a room on Deck 1 mid-ship. Which turned out to be a rather good choice because we didn’t feel the ship rocking much while we were in the room. When we were dining in Animator’s Palate (located in the Aft), we always felt a bit dizzy from the rocking. But once we returned to our room, it didn’t seem to rock as much.
The decor inside the room may not look very Disney-ish on first sight. But if you look closely, you would start to notice the little Mickey Mouse prints all around.
If you have four people staying in the room, the sofa area would be converted to bunk beds in the evenings. The room steward would come in during your dinner time to set it up.
The room steward would also fold a towel animal and leave the next days’ Navigator on your bed. And if there was going to be a time zone change the following day, they would adjust the clock in your room then.
One of the things I was most amused by was how the regular cruisers had magnets to decorate their stateroom doors. I saw the souvenir shop selling some of these magnets. So you can grab some onboard if you would like to do the same.
If you follow my blog closely, you will know that I have a slight obsession with self-service laundries. I travel very light and always wash our clothes every 2-3 days when we travel. So I was super happy to find laundry rooms on board the Disney Magic.
There were 3 laundry rooms available, located on Decks 2, 6 and 7. Since we stayed on Deck 1, naturally I would want to use the one on Deck 2 right? Unfortunately the one on Deck 2 was PERPETUALLY occupied. So I would go all the way up to the one of Deck 7 as there were more machines there.
It cost USD2 for washer and USD2 for about 40min of dryer. You can also buy detergent for USD1 per pack.
Iron and ironing board were also available, so you need not worry about wearing crumply suit and pants on formal night.
If you want to do laundry on the last day of your cruise, be prepared to hang around the laundry room to wait for an available machine. EVERYONE wants to do their laundry just before disembarking. LOL…
I found Disney Magic to be an extremely kids-centric cruise ship. Which can be both good and bad. Good in a sense that it keeps the kids well-occupied and allows adults to have a good break while our kids were well taken care of in the kids clubs. However, I felt the range of activities for adults somewhat lacking.
To be very frank, I think MF would have enjoyed a cruise like Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas more. Because he was more of the sporty kind of boy and he would have loved to do the sports activities like rock-climbing, ice-skating, roller blading etc. which were available on the Voyager but not Disney Magic. The hubby also preferred the Voyager.
MY, on the other hand, enjoyed the Disney Cruise a lot and looked forward to going to the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab. And I loved Disney Cruise for the shows and the character meetings.
So my conclusion at the end of the day was: Go for Disney Cruise only if your kids (or you) are absolutely crazy over Disney stuff. Like if they love watching Disney shows and meeting Disney characters. If you or your kids aren’t super huge Disney fans, you may find other cruise lines better value-for-money. Because Disney Cruise is really not cheap at all.