Posted on March 14, 2017

Disney Halloween Cruise Review – Magic 7-Night Bahamas from NYC

Disney Halloween Cruise Review

Disney Halloween Cruise Review

I have a brand new Disney review for you! This Disney Halloween Cruise Review will walk you through what was an absolutely EPIC vacation for our family. Epic for many reasons, including the fact that it was the longest Disney Cruise that we have ever taken (7 nights) AND that the sailing was over Halloween. It was our first holiday cruise and actually ended up being a split holiday cruise because we got to see some of the Christmas decorations before the week’s end. It was our first time cruising out of NYC (Manhattan Cruise Terminal) and also our first cruise during the fall.  We surprised the kids with this trip – you can check out our Disney Trip Reveal Scavenger Hunt!

After you read this post, make sure you check out my all-time most popular Disney Cruise posts:

I just added a whole bunch of Disney trip videos to my reel, check them out below and more will be embedded throughout the post!

I will lay it all out for you in this review, but I will NOT make you wade through the entire post to know that we had an incredibly fantastic time aboard the Disney Magic.

So grab a drink, kick back, and breathe in all the Disney that follows!

Our Cruising Experience Thus Far

In addition to our numerous trips to Disney Parks over the years, we have sailed on many cruises.  Bob and I logged cruises to Bermuda and Alaska before having kids.  We love cruising – you may recall our Bahamian Carnival Cruise or our Western Caribbean Carnival Cruise that I reviewed, both of those trips were with Lily on board.  Then came Landon and we needed a cruise line that catered to the baby crowd.  At just 5 months, he took his first cruise vacation when we enjoyed our first Disney Cruise.  (Note: sailing age limits have recently changed and children must now be at least 6 months old to cruise.)  That trip was a 3-Night Disney Magic Cruise from Florida.  The following year we took a 3-Night Disney Dream Cruise, also from Florida.  Between the two Disney Cruises, we liked the Magic a bit better than the Dream.  It is smaller, yes, but not only did the Magic not lack any of the entertainment, etc that the bigger ships have, we also enjoyed the lower number of passengers that you get with a ship that is physically smaller. We sailed with an 8 year old and a 3 year old.

Booking

We actually booked our October 2016 cruise on the very first day it opened for booking which was all the way back in May 2015.  We booked that early for a couple of reasons.  First of all, if you are familiar with the 5 dates you need to know before booking at Disney Cruise, you know that the first day of booking is the cheapest the fares are going to be.  The prices for Disney Cruises only go higher as the trip gets closer – very different than some other cruise lines who offer deep discounts to fill empty cabins at the last minute.  We also booked early (nearly 1.5 YEARS before our vacation) because we decided to book a 1-bedroom suite since this would be our big 10th anniversary trip.  We wanted to have as much time as possible to pay off our trip in small increments.

Embarkation

This was our 2nd sailing on the Disney Magic. We booked a Halloween week Disney Cruise out of New York City (Manhattan Cruise Terminal).  Our cruise was a 7-night sailing with 2 port days (1 at Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay, and 1 in Port Canaveral, FL).  The booking included a 1-day Disney Park Hopper ticket with transportation for everyone on board.

We only live about 1.5 hours from the NYC cruise terminal which was AWESOME!  We cruised from Saturday to Saturday, so we left nice and early and hit absolutely zero traffic.  Before we knew it, we were pulling up to the port and our entire car was freaking out with excitement.

Kids Next to Disney Magic

Parking at the port was very easy. Unfortunately, it is also VERY expensive. Keep in mind, you are in NYC where most things are more expensive. Yes, there are some other options that will save you some money, though likely not much unless you are renting a shuttle or limo service and splitting it with a big group. For us, the convenience of parking right at the ship outweighed saving a few dollars by parking at a garage several blocks away and cabbing it (with 2 kids and much luggage) to the port. Parking for our 7-night cruise ran us $280. Ouch.

When you pull into the cruise terminal, you pay for parking first. Then you navigate over to the parking area for your sailing. A porter was waiting at the curb to take our luggage (don’t forget to tip him or her!). We unloaded everything minus our carry-on bags. Disney sends you luggage tags with your boarding documents several weeks before your cruise. We put our tags on our bags the night before we left, so parking and unloading took just minutes.

We got down to the security check-in point a few minutes before they started letting people through. Our timing was literally perfect. Within minutes, the line was moving and we were walking towards the check-in counters. With our suite came Disney’s Concierge Service so we also got priority boarding. We skipped right past hundreds of fellow passengers and in less than 15 minutes we were completely checked in, got the kids registered for kids’ club and were sitting in the Concierge waiting area. There is nothing special about this area, it’s just a small corner of the room, roped off from the general seating. The reason there is a separate waiting area is because Concierge passengers are the first passengers on the ship once the boarding process begins.

We were the very first group to board the ship and the third family on board. No matter how many times I hear it, the “Welcome, Weaver Family” greeting on a Disney Cruise ship never gets old!!

The First Few Hours

Our Disney Cruise was jam-packed with activities and things to see, do and eat. The very first thing that we did was head to the Concierge Lounge up on Deck 12. (The Concierge Lounge and also a small Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique are recent additions to the Magic.) The lounge had one of their many complimentary happy hours going on, as well as a nice lunch spread. This is the time to meet your Concierge Staff who will literally bend over backwards to give you the trip of your dreams. If you are not sailing Concierge level, the buffet (called Cabanas) is open with a big delicious lunch offering. The pools were open too, though it was pretty windy and chilly so only the bravest of the brave were taking a dip.

Concierge Lunch Disney Review

Disney Cruise Halloween Shirts

Our cabin was ready by 12:30 pm (another perk of Concierge) while the rest of the ship gets into their cabins by 1:30 pm.

Cabin (#8032, Midship Deck 8, Category 00T)

Our one bedroom suite was breathtaking. We were directly off the midship elevator. The suite included a living room area with a table and chairs. The sofa folded out into a bed at night and that is where Landon slept. There’s a twin-sized murphy bed that drops down from the wall next to the wet bar where Lily slept. The living room area has a full bathroom with shower stall, a big television, and a door to the balcony. There is a wet bar and a mini fridge in the cabinet underneath. Concierge guests get unlimited bottled water and cans of soda, so we kept our fridge stocked all week long. This room is SO spacious and loaded with storage areas like closets and cabinets!! With 4 full days at sea during this sailing we had a lot of time to enjoy the cabin. We ordered lots of room service that was easy to enjoy at the table. The kids could jump and dance and let off steam while we sat on the balcony watching the oceanscape.

Disney Suite 8032 Living Room

The living room gives way to the bedroom. The bedroom features a desk area, a queen bed (SO COMFY!) another tv, a large walk-in closet, and a nice master bathroom. The bathroom includes a soaking tub, double sinks and through another door the toilet and shower stall.

Bedroom Disney Magic

Cabin 8032 Disney Magic

Bathroom on Disney Magic

Since this room has a longer versus wider layout due to its location (which sort of hugs the midship elevators), our balcony was nice and long!

Random Fact: The Concierge cabins on the Magic carry high end toiletries from the Elemis Line.

Elemis Spa Products

If you know me, you know I am obsessed with the standard Disney Cruise Line branded H2O line of sea salt products. I requested to receive the H2O products and our Concierge team hooked me up with a complete set in the kids’ bathroom every single day. (And my wonderful kids thought it was hilarious to deliver them right to me each and every time!)

Disney Cruise H2O Sea Salt Products

Sail Away Party

By late afternoon we were rocking out at the sail away party!  Lots of fun and music, PLUS Mickey and friends join the fun.  Amazing bonus  – we sailed right by the Statue of Liberty on our way out of NY harbor!  NY Harbor actually has a port cam that live streams 24 hours a day.  We gave the link to our family and friends and they had a blast “watching” us sail away.  We even pulled up the port cam ON the ship and watch OURSELVES sail away!!

Disney Cruise Sail Away Party

Weaver Family at Disney Cruise Sail Away Party

Statue of Liberty Disney Cruise

Ship Features on the Disney Magic

Adults Only Area – Well, in addition to standard features like a spa, gym, jogging track, etc, the Magic has some really fun spots that are well worth checking out. On the very front of the ship is an adults-only area. There is a pool and lounge area, along with a great little coffee shop called Cove Cafe.

Pools and AquaDunk Water Ride – A big drawback that we have found on other cruise ships is a huge lack of water entertainment for the non-potty trained kids. Disney is the complete opposite! Not only is there a fun kid pool with an elaborate splash-area and twisting water slide for young children, there is a toddler splash zone specifically for anyone in a swim diaper. The kids spent a couple afternoons in the pool and Lily rode the slide on several occasions.

Kid Pool on Disney Magic

In the middle of the ship is the regular pool for the masses with two hot tubs on the end. There is a huge movie screen (called Funnel Vision) that plays, you guessed it, Disney movies! Landon and I enjoyed Cars for a bit while we waited for Lily and Bob to ride the AquaDunk. (This pic is from our first trip on the Magic. Mary Poppins was playing that day!)

disney magic cruise ship aquadunk 2

Aquadunk – A water slide that is NOT for the faint of heart!  Climb up many stairs and head over to the ride. You stand on a platform inside an enclosed tube.  The floor drops and so do you (about 3 stories) – twisting and turning out over the ship!  Bob loves this ride.  Lily tried it for the first time and was NOT a big fan of the free fall.  LOL

Aquadunk Disney Cruise

Shutters – The Magic has a photography area where you can look for pictures taken of your fam throughout the trip.  Check into the photo packages before you cruise (they are cheaper when pre-purchased) if you think you’ll want to buy a bunch of pictures.  We ended up buying the $150 package that included our choice of 10 digital images.

Shopping – There are a couple of gift shops brimming with Disney merchandise. The prices in the gift shop didn’t appear to be too inflated (if at all) than what you’d pay at the parks. One store is pretty much a giant Disney store with plush, character toys, dresses, etc. The other store has all sorts of DCL branded merch.  We were thrilled to find an entire wall in the DCL merch shop that was full of NYC 2016 sailing shirts and other items, all 50% off.  We definitely came home with Christmas ornaments, a Tervis tumbler, a couple of mugs and a shirt (or 4).

The Food

There are many places to eat on the ship.

Quick Eats – For quick food on-the-go try Daisy’s De’Lites on the back of the ship – by the kids’ pool area.  Lighter fare like sandwiches and plates brimming with fresh fruit are available there.  Find pizza at Pinocchio’s Pizza, Pete’s Boiler Bites for burgers and dogs, ice cream at Eye Scream.  They are all located by the pools.

You can stop at Preludes before entering the Walt Disney Theatre to grab popcorn (flavored or fresh-popped butter), drinks, etc.

Room Service – Available 24 hours a day (except on the last night of your cruise), if you’re hungry, just pick up the phone!  We ordered from room service many times throughout the week and it always came quickly.  Don’t forget to tip your waiter a couple dollars – it’s always appreciated!  Hot tip: You know those premium Mickey Mouse ice cream bars that are all the rage in the parks?  You can order ’em from room service even though they’re not on the menu.  FOR FREE.  :D

Mickey Bar

Fine Dining – The Magic has a fine dining restaurant, Palo.  For $30 per adult (plus alcohol and any additional gratuity you would like to add), you can enjoy a Northern Italian cuisine for dinner.  On our last cruise we enjoyed an out-of-this-world brunch at Palo on the Disney Dream.  On this cruise we had a lovely dinner date at Palo and it was just top notch.  The atmosphere, the service, the food – 4 stars.

Table Service Meals – There are 3 different restaurants on the Magic.  On your first night on the ship, you head to your assigned restaurant (main seating or late seating – we chose main seating at 5:45 pm).   You are rotated through the three restaurants during your trip and your waitstaff (waiter, assistant waiter, head waiter) travel with you!  We loved this.  It gave us the chance to check out each unique restaurant on the ship while enjoying the camaraderie that comes with having consistent waitstaff each night.  For the kids – each night the kids can choose from the same menu of kid-friendly foods.

Animator’s Palate – Our first night on the ship, our dinner was at AP.  This is absolutely our very very very favorite restaurant on the ship and we love the version on the Magic more than on the Dream.  Truly – if there is a night not to miss a table meal, it’s this one.  As is implied by the name, Animator’s Palate celebrates the art of animation.  You enter to find a very black and white colored restaurant with large screens on the walls all around the restaurant.  The meal begins and simple pencil sketch drawings begin to appear on the screens.  Beloved Disney movie characters are recognized as each drawing receives more and more detail. Throughout the meal, the pictures evolve.  The pencil sketches start to receive color, then more refined detail, then they move a little. By the end of the meal, the screens come to life as you watch a visual spectacular showcasing some of the most famous scenes from Disney animated movies.  As the music swells and crowd sits in amazement, the entire waitstaff enters the restaurant, led by Mickey Mouse himself.  Servers have changed from their black and white vests to colorful versions.  They have thought of every last detail and it is UNBELIEVABLE.  Here are a couple of videos I took – they scarcely do the place justice.

On longer sailings (including our 7 night) we got to eat at AP for a 2nd time. When we arrived for dinner, we each had a paper and a marker at our place setting to draw a person. At the end of our meal, our characters came to life on the big screen. It was really really cool!!

Carioca’s – Our 2nd night on the Magic would have been dinner at Carioca’s, a restaurant themed after Disney’s Three Caballeros.  We missed Carioca’s completely on this cruise because we ate at Palo and were in the Disney Parks during the two nights we would have eaten there.  From our previous cruise on the Magic, I can tell you that the food is very good there!  The Brazilian-inspired menu was mouth-watering and tasted as good as it sounded on the menu.

Lumiere’s – The 3rd and final restaurant in your nightly dinner rotation on the Magic is Lumiere’s – a French-inspired cuisine in a setting based on Beauty and the Beast.  The atmosphere was really nice, definitely seemed the most “upscale” of the three main dining restaurants.  This restaurant sits directly off of the atrium on Deck 3.  We had dinner at Lumiere’s twice with the kids and Bob and I enjoyed a lunch there one day while the kids played in the Oceaneer’s Club.  Each meal was wonderful!

Itinerary – 7 Night Bahamas

We were aboard the Disney Magic for 7 nights.  We had 4 full days at sea and 2 days in port.

Castaway Cay (Disney’s private island paradise) – I have trouble believing that this was our THIRD visit to Castaway Cay.  It is truly a slice of heaven on earth and it is literally the exact postcard perfect image that comes to mind when you think of a dreamy tropical beach local.

Okay, picture it: sandy beaches dotted with umbrellas, gorgeous (clear!) turquoise water, just ready to be swam, snorkled and floated in…slight warm breeze, sun shining down.  That was our day on Castaway Cay (Cay is pronounced Key btw).  We had perfect weather for a day on the beach.  Our ship had a nice long port of call in Castaway Cay – from about 9 am until 5 pm.

You get off the ship and walk a short distance to a tram stop.  The tram takes you to the family beach where you can find loungers, chairs, umbrellas and a beach paradise that’s yours for the day.  The island has a tiny post office (cash only!) and a couple of shops selling Castaway Cay branded merch, sand toys and other beach supplies, etc.

Disney Castaway Cay Island Photo Spot

If you get off the ship and onto the island nice and early, you can find some Disney characters for photo opportunities on your way to the beaches.  We found Mickey and Pluto on our way to the beach.  I saw Captain Jack Sparrow and I think Captain Hook on the schedule too but we didn’t see them.

Pluto at Castaway Cay

Floats, tubes, bikes, snorkel equipment and more can be rented for the day if you so desire.  Castaway Cay even has an extension of kids’ club, called Scuttle’s Cove.  Kids can stay and play as they wish.  There are organized games and activities for them to enjoy all day long.  Lily went to Scuttle’s Cove for about an hour’s worth of activities and then she also opted to stay for lunch.

Scuttles Cove

You are handed a beach towel as you get off of the ship so there’s no need to bring one of your own.  You can return your towel before you re-board.

Castaway Cay is comprised of three different beach areas.  There is a large sprawling family beach where most people settle in for the day.  A little further down the beach there is a roped off area with family cabanas that can be rented for the day.  The fee is rather steep for these cabanas but the perks are pretty amazing.  They can be split between multiple families and are very hard to attain because they are so popular.

Beach on Castaway Cay

Set back behind the family cabanas is another set of cabanas on an adult-only beach.

Your day on Castaway Cay can be entirely cashless – EXCEPT for the post office which is cash-only.  Purchases in the gift shops and beach equipment rentals can all be charged using your Key to the World cards.  Lunch is served for several hours midday at two different locations on the island.  All food and drinks (even soda!) are included, except for alcohol.  The spread for lunch was great – it’s a typical summer picnic spread.  Burgers, hot dogs, chicken, various salads and some delicious desserts.

Of course, the whole day that you spend on Castaway Cay is with your Disney cruise ship docked in the background. This works as a great backdrop for your pictures!

An interesting observation:  This was our 3rd time on Castaway.  We were there on the Magic in ’14, then the Dream in ’15, then on this trip it was with the Magic again (’16).  This time around, we kept remarking how EMPTY the beaches looked over on the family beach.  SO many chairs and loungers up for grabs!  Lots of room in the water!  WHERE WAS EVERYONE?  Had they really stayed on the ship instead of taking in some beach time?  Then we realized – THAT was one of the huge differences when you sail on one of Disney’s larger ships versus a smaller ship.  Only one ship docks at Castaway at a time.  The Magic and Wonder each hold 2400 passengers.  The Dream and Fantasy each hold 4000 passengers.  So when we docked with the Magic, we were docking with 1600 FEWER passengers than our last visit with the Dream.  The difference was VERY noticeable to us and definitely something to keep in mind when choosing between the ships.

We got a Cabana for our day on Castaway.  Check out the video below for a tour of Family Cabana #6:

Port Canaveral, FL: You have your choice to stay on the ship or head into Florida on this day.  Like I said earlier, everyone on this sailing receives a 1 day Disney Park Hopper plus it includes transportation from the ship to the Parks and back.  You need to book your bus transfer before you cruise – just as you would book any other Port Adventure, Spa Appointment, etc.  It’s free but you need to reserve your ticket because the buses leave at different times.  If you want to be in the first wave of people off the ship (as we did) you need to book as soon as your booking window opens.

I might end up writing a whole big post about our 12 hour day in Disney, but I’m going to try to just include the digest version here.

Tickets: They are delivered to your stateroom the night before your day in Florida.

Disney World Tickets

Fast Passes: Our tickets each included 3 Fast Passes that we could use on ANY ride in ANY park at ANY time.   TIP: If you have old magic bands lying around, bring them.  As long as their batteries still work,  you can load up your My Disney Experience app during your drive to the Parks and score 3 ADDITIONAL (timed) fast passes in any ONE park!!!  This meant we entered the Parks having 3 Fast Passes in Magic Kingdom on our old bands and another 3 Fast Passes on our Park Ticket.  SWEET!!

My Disney Experience

Make your game plan BEFOREhand: Of course, you might just want to get to the Parks and wing it.  That’s A-OK!  We had certain things that we really wanted to see and do, so I planned it out as best as I could.

Book any dining reservations for the Parks at 180 days out: You can book your dining (if you desire a reservation) 6 months ahead of time.  We booked lunch at the castle as a fun surprise for the kids and then dinner at Crystal Palace with the Winnie the Pooh characters.  These bookings were made back in May for our November trip.

Our day: We got the first bus off the ship which left the port at 7:30 am.  We got to the parks just after rope drop, around 9 am.  We started in Magic Kingdom and spent the morning riding rides until our 12ish lunch at the castle.  After lunch we hopped the monorail to Epcot.  We used our “golden fast passes” from the ship to ride the new Frozen Ever After ride TWICE back to back (while the non-fast-pass standby line was over 60 minute wait).  We hit Starbucks for cold beverages before grabbing the monorail back to MK.  We rode some more rides and then had dinner at Crystal Palace.

We skee-daddled from dinner JUST in time to see Elsa light the castle with Christmas lights!  We got a few more rides under our belts before settling down on Main Street for the fireworks display.  Fireworks over, we got to a bus to head back to the ship.

Unfortunately (and as seems to happen to us on almost every trip to Florida) the main (and only straight shot) highway back to the ship was closed due to an accident.  Our re-route easily added more than an hour to our return trip (so more than 2.5 hours to drive back), but I just had to feel grateful that we weren’t stuck on the closed down highway for hours, as several buses from our ship were.  When we got back to the ship we found some extra Pixie Dust, as the ship had been transformed from Halloween to Christmas during our day at the Parks.  A-MAZING.  The crew even stayed up and kept the late night buffet open extra late for us because they knew we had a marathon journey back to the ship.  It’s exemplary customer service like this that keeps us coming back!  We got to bed a little after midnight and definitely slept in the next morning.  The best part, was that even though we were completely and utterly exhausted, we had two full luxurious days to relax while our ship sailed us back home!

Main Street Magic Kingdom

Entertainment

In the large Walt Disney Theatre there is a Broadway-esque show each evening.  Your showtime depends on what dinner seating you have.  Late seating for dinner watches the show first, then they go to dinner.  Main seating for dinner eats first, then goes to the show.  Shows are usually also broadcast on the stateroom tvs, so if you can’t make it to the theatre, you can watch it from your room!

We saw two of the three shows on our ship and they were FABULOUS! I actually sat through BOTH showings of Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic which showcased MANY of Disney’s favorite characters and songs.  That’s because Lily was in the Oceaneer’s Club during the afternoon performance and I just knew how much she would have LOVED the show.  So I took her to the evening performance and we both smiled and sang throughout the entire thing!

The second show that we saw on the Magic (and the one that we were MOST looking forward to for months) is the new Tangled Musical.  Tangled is my very favorite Disney movie and I just could not wait to check out this stage version (which plays exclusively on the Disney Magic).  It did NOT disappoint and (even better!) Disney really thinks of families with young kids and they added an afternoon performance of Tangled.  That made it so much easier to take the kids and not risk missing the later after-dinner performance because we were tired.  Another fun thing about Tangled day is that the bar called O’Gills transforms into the “Snuggly Duckling” from the movie, complete with a sing-along!

Tangled the Musical Disney Magic

Tangled the Musical Snuggly Duckling

Also on the ship was a movie theater that played first run Disney movies.  The Buena Vista Theatre was playing Finding Dory and other current Disney flicks throughout our cruise. Daily showtimes are plastered all over the ship – on your daily schedule, on the ship’s app, outside the theatre, even on your stateroom tv.  Marvel’s Dr. Strange premiered on the last day of our cruise and the theatre held an advance showing of it the night before!

Pirate Night

On most of their Caribbean sailings, Disney cruise ships have a pirate night.  This night is so much fun, we couldn’t help but get into the spirit. This was the first year that we ALL dressed up as pirates.  It was hilarious! (Other years the kids have dressed up while Bob and I wore pirate-themed shirts along with bandanas.)

Disney Cruise Pirate Night

On pirate night you will see every single level of pirate-wear on your fellow cruisers.  There will be hardcore-in-complete-pirate-regalia kids and adults down to people wearing nothing pirate-themed.  You can choose your comfort level and go with it.  On pirate night, we received Mickey-themed bandanas in our cabin before dinner.  Look for various picture opps with Disney characters in pirate garb on Pirate Night!  We saw Captain Hook, Jake, Minnie and Mickey as we walked around.

There is a Pirate Deck Party that USUALLY takes place AFTER the 2nd dinner seating.  HOWEVER (and again, I applaud Disney for thinking about families with young kids) on this sailing, the Pirate Deck Party took place BETWEEN the dinner seatings.  This was really brilliant for a couple of reasons.  First of all, we had just spent the entire day soaking up sun on Castaway Cay.  We were EXHAUSTED.  Second, the very next day was going to be our marathon 12 hour day in the Disney Parks, and we had reserved seats on the first bus off the ship – 7:30 AM!

So while the pirate party USUALLY starts around 9:45 pm, we headed there right after main dining. I would estimate the party started closer to 7:30 pm that night. The party itself has lots of loud music and dancing with various Disney characters up by the pool.  At the end (maybe 20-30 minutes or so) there is a fireworks display right off the side of the ship!!  Stand midship (by the pool or above it), in front of the smoke stack, to have the best viewing spot for the fireworks.

Pirate night tip – Bring glow sticks for the kids to wear and wave on pirate night for even more fun (plus it totally helps you keep an eye on them on the dark ship deck)! We found TONS of great pirate night supplies at Dollar Tree.

Character Experiences

One of the huge (HUGE) bonuses of a Disney Cruise is that there are character meet and greets all day/night long!   You get plenty of advanced warning regarding where and when you can find specific characters, which makes it easier to plan for your kids’ (or your!) favorites. Look on the daily Navigator schedule (paper or app format) to see exactly when and where characters will be. We never waited more than about 15 minutes in line to meet a character, even when we were at the back of the line.

Kids with Captain Mickey

In addition to the scheduled meet and greets, there were a couple of ticketed Character Meet and Greets on our sailing.  Tickets are free but you need to book them well in advance to secure them.  We were able to get tickets to the Frozen Meet (Elsa, Anna, Olaf) and Princess Gathering (Rapunzel, Belle and Cinderella) without a problem.

Kids and Rapunzel

Some sailings also offer a character meal! We had a blast at the Disney Jr Breakfast on our first full day on the ship. This breakfast required an advanced reservation and was held in Animator’s Palate. We enjoyed full service dining while several characters made their rounds, stopping at every table for pictures and autographs. Our breakfast included visits from Mickey, Jake and Sofia.

Disney Junior Breakfast Cruise

Concierge guests get a private Meet and Greet with a surprise character during one afternoon of the sailing.  Ours was with Daisy Duck.

Youth Activities (Oceaneer’s Club and Oceaner’s Lab) and Nursery

Like other cruise lines, Disney offers an extensive program for all ages – babies through teens can find activities and facilities that cater specifically to them.  One of the other main reasons that we booked this sailing instead of an earlier one was that it fell AFTER Landon’s 3rd birthday.  That meant (since he was potty trained), he was old enough for the very first time, to join his big sister in the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab.  (Not sure who was more excited about this – him or me and Bob.)

Both kiddos thoroughly enjoyed many visits to the kids’ club.  There are two huge play areas in the Youth Activities zone – the Oceaneer’s Lab was very hands on and jam-packed with educational crafts, presentations, etc.  Kids can learn about animation, work on a craft activity, use computers and more.  Lily especially loved the crafts and the organized games and activities.  They both ate dinner in the club on the night that Bob and I dined at Palo.  It worked out great and all of us had a wonderful evening.

Over on the other side is the Oceaneer’s Club which has several different themed areas – Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, MARVEL’s Avengers Academy, Pixie Hollow and Toy Story (Andy’s Room).  There are computers, dress up costumes, art activities, counselor-led games and more.    Landon never wanted to leave the Toy Story playground area.

On your first day on the ship, your kids will receive an identification bracelet for the youth activities (resembles a Magic Band from the Parks).  This bracelet held more than met the eye – it actually contained a tracking piece that allowed the counselors to CONSTANTLY monitor kids’ whereabouts for safety, current location, etc. When we went to pick them up the counselor could immediately pull up their current locations within the kids’ area so that we knew where to go get them from.  It was a fantastic piece of added security.  Make sure you return your bracelet before getting off of the ship – otherwise your shipboard account will be charged $$ for keeping it.

Check out our walking tour of the Oceaneer Club and Lab in the Disney video player at the top of this post!

At the end of the week, the kids have the opportunity to participate in the “Friendship Rocks” show with the Youth Activities Staff. Each child receives a free shirt and they get to perform some songs and a dance on stage. Mickey and Minnie joined the kids – it was great!

Friendship Rocks Disney Magic Cruise

What was Halloween like on a Disney Cruise?  In one word?  AWESOME!  But I have so much more information to give you about Disney’s Halloween on the High Seas Sailings.  Head over and check out this post: The Ultimate Guide to a Halloween Disney Cruise

Halloween on the High Seas

Debarkation

If we thought getting on the ship was a breeze, getting off the ship was a complete cakewalk.  We had to put our checked luggage outside of our cabin by 10:30 the night before where it was collected for debarking.  On the last morning on the ship, we were served a tasty table service meal in one of the main dining rooms.  After that, it was time to leave.  Getting off the ship was 100% seamless.  When we made our way down to the baggage claim area, we were met by friendly porter who offered assistance with our bags.  She helped to gather and transport our luggage through customs and right to our car.  This service probably saved us about an hour of luggage hauling.  (Don’t forget to tip your porter!  Customary tips are $2-$4 per bag, at your discretion.)

BIG RANDOM TIP FOR MANHATTAN CRUISE TERMINAL PARKING: Please take note that there are TWO piers. When you board your ship, remember which pier you’re on. (You can use the USS Intrepid Museum as a landmark – you’re either right next to the Intrepid or there is another cruise ship pier in between. Yeah, so… when we arrived and boarded, we were right next to the Intrepid. That’s where our car was. When we returned, we docked at the OTHER pier. ONE OVER from where our car was. We spent about 5 minutes becoming convinced that our car had been stolen, before realizing that the parking lot only LOOKED identical, but it was not the same one we had sailed away from. THAT was a close heart attack.

Final Thoughts

Our 3rd Disney Cruise was even better than the first two – something that we didn’t really think was possible because the first two were so great. This was our first 7-night Disney Cruise and Bob and I both agreed that the amount of time was PERFECT. Our two previous sailings were only 3-nighters and they just were not long enough. It always felt like we had just unpacked our bags only to have to pack them back up again.

This cruise would have been a blast without the Halloween fun, but that definitely added to the excitement.

Sailing out of a port so close to home was the icing on top. No planes, no hotels, no long road trips. Easy, easy, easy! Plus when we got off the ship and couldn’t wait to be home and unpacked, we were there in what felt like the blink of an eye.

I can’t recommend this sailing or ship or cruise line enough. It was truly the trip of a lifetime!

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