Monday, June 18th, 2012
My family and I just spent 2 nights on the Disney Magic which, for the first time, is offering weekend cruises out of New York City this summer. You depart Friday afternoon, you sail the Atlantic for a day or so, and you’re walking off the boat by 9am Sunday. If you don’t think it sounds like enough time, my 6- and 3-year-old daughters would agree with you–but it felt perfect to me and my husband. This is a Disney experience, after all, which means you can pack a ton of fun into your one full day at sea. These are the five things I loved the most.
1. The staff. For anyone who complains that customer service is dead (like I often do), take a Disney Cruise and have your faith restored. I know this is the cornerstone of the Disney philosophy, to treat every guest like a celebrity. But I didn’t expect it to start in the passenger terminal, as we waited to get through security and board the ship. Every single employee stationed throughout the terminal, and there were dozens, greeted us with a smile. Caught up in the Magic of it all, I found myself believing they were as excited about our weekend as we were. Our favorite staffers were Giuseppe and Keneisha, our servers at each of our three sit-down meals. Their magic tricks left my girls mesmerized, and me and my husband stumped.
2. The rooms. Our stateroom came with a verandah, which felt downright luxurious, especially when my husband and I kicked back there with drinks on Saturday afternoon as the sun shone brightly. Julia and Lila were blown away when we returned from dinner on Friday night to find that our couch had been converted into a bed for Lila, and the wall now featured a top bunk for Julia. (I know it was just a lucky guess, but I was still impressed that the person who made up the beds managed to match them to the correct stuffed animals.) The ship gets major points for completely soundproof rooms; we didn’t hear a peep from anyone on either side of us, or above or below us, or even walking past our room. Drifting off to sleep on Friday night, I would have thought I was at home, not on an 11-level ship with some 2,700 fellow passengers.
3. The spa. When my precious daughters awoke, giddy and giggling, at approximately 5:13 a.m., I told myself, “Girl, you just have to make it to 9:00 a.m.” That was my scheduled hot-stone massage at the Vista Spa. It was incredibly soothing and restorative, and I grabbed back at least a half hour of sleep. Word to the wise: When you shower after your treatment, pick the stall on the right. That one has a rainfall shower head with the best water pressure EVER. (I’m a water-pressure snob, so this is high praise.) It took everything I had to turn it off and end the bliss.
4. The Oceaneer Club. AKA “The kids’ club,” as in “Wait–you can just drop them off at the kids’ club?” or “Let’s bring them to the kids’ club” or “Come on, girls, you’re going to the kids’ club!” This is what a Disney Cruise has over the Disney Parks–free age-appropriate, imaginative childcare for kids ages 3-12 that starts at 9:00 a.m. and goes until midnight (I’m assuming it’s mostly the older kids who are still there at this point!). For little ones younger than 3, you can pay a small hourly fee and bring them to the nursery–but that fills up quickly, so you may want to reserve a spot before your cruise. There’s also an activity center for kids 11-14, and another for the 14- to 17-year-old set.
Security is taken very seriously, as you can imagine: Your child wears an electronic bracelet that gets scanned upon arrival and departure; your child can only leave when you show your I.D. and give a password; if your child needs you, you’ll get a text or call on the boat-issued cell phone. I’d show you a picture, but photos aren’t allowed, for safety and privacy reasons. While the children are there, they can play games, use the computer lab, do all kinds of arts & crafts, and meet Disney characters who stop by for surprise visits. I couldn’t have been happier when we dropped the girls off the first time and saw that the very first order of business was for them to each get a squirt of soap in their hands and to head straight to the bathroom, where a staffer would make sure they washed up before playing. (That reminds me: The Magic is germaphobe-friendly, with wipes stationed outside every single food and beverage facility. Yippee!) I should add that there are also equally awesome “open house” kids’ activities in which parents are required to participate, if you don’t want to leave your child (or more likely, your child doesn’t want to leave you).
5. The way you feel when it’s all over. Need I say more?
Disney Magic starts at $512 per person.
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