When I tell you I have missed Disney, I mean it. I’ve missed the Disney magic from some deep seated place in my soul. I knowwww that sounds so OTT but I had big plans pre-pandemic for sprinkling my life with all the Disney magic – trips to the new Marvel stuff in Paris for Reuben, a wonderful family trip to Walt Disney World and, like a lot of people, my plans didn’t go through. If you’ve read the blog for a while you will have read about how much I wanted to visit Disney as a child and how it’s something that I adore, it really means the world to share it with my family and as the kids are now all huge Disney and Marvel fans, it’s perfection. So when we were given the opportunity to board the Disney Magic at Sea cruise from Southampton as part of a collaboration with Disney (this blog isn’t a part of that but I thought it would be useful!), I dived at it like a feral toddler diving in a paddling pool. I may or may not have cried a bit – reports are unconfirmed.
When I first read the itinerary I won’t lie, I was a bit skeptical – is two nights going to be enough? How would it match up to a weekend in Disneyland Paris? Would it be fun for the kids and would it be worth it when they can’t squeeze Pluto or high five Black Widow? I’m here to tell you – it’s 100% worth it. It was one of my favourite Disney trip experiences to date, so much so, I’m now revising my 2022/23 plans for a major Disney trip to potentially include a cruise.
We started the process of boarding the ship in Southampton at 12pm, which included a lateral flow test for everyone and a little bit of waiting for the results – once we got the all clear, we headed thorough the port check in and straight onto the ship. I loved the fact that the kids don’t need any passports, just a birth certificate, and I could have used a driver’s license. So easy!
Once we got on the ship, it was time to explore. The ship is amazing – you’re greeted by Mickey and Minnie in their Captain gear, given a full introduction to the ship as crew member’s shout welcoming “The Shearsmith Family” when you step aboard. It’s met with giggles and the biggest smiles from the kids. Once we had been welcomed we headed straight to Rapunzel’s Royal Table to have some lunch and play a game of spot the Pascals. The menu is different at lunch and dinner, so we got to experience Rapunzel’s Royal table in very different ways. The food on board is amazing – I can’t help but feel that it surpasses anything we have had at a Disney park before, and I don’t say that lightly as we have had some truly special meals in WDW.
Post lunch we took ourselves up to the pools on deck. There are three pools – the main one, the toddler one with a splash park and slides, and the adult only one. Whilst you’re in the main pool you have a perfect view of FunnelVision mega screen which is showing movies all day and late into the night. The pools are open until late too around 10.30pm, so you can really get the benefit.
Once we’d enjoyed a splash and watched a bit of Ratatouille on the megascreen, we headed to the cabin. We had an ocean view cabin with the most wonderful view of the open waters. It was spacious and had such lovely decor with a screen that pulls across the bedroom to divide the bunk beds from the main bed for a bit of grown up peace! The room is set up every morning and night by your housekeeper, who comes in and changes the beds to bunks and the towels into all sorts of magical creatures – so no trapped fingers or bumped heads trying to set up the bunk beds!
Our first evening we ate at Animator’s Palate and it was AMAZING. I think it could well be one of my favourite Disney restaurants ever… I know, high praise indeed when you consider what is out there but we LOVED it. The concept is that your “place mat” is your animator’s pad where you draw your very own character and then the ‘show’ will feature your character in full animation! It was so clever, the kid’s were wowed – especially Reuben who is incredibly creative and loves to draw and design. This was his kind of thing! The food was sublime again, I really couldn’t fault it. I didn’t think our first evening could get any better but then we headed to the show, and when they tell you it’s Broadway level, they aren’t making it up. We watched the award winning Disney Dreams Show, and it was captivating. Edith got a little teary (I got very teary) it was just so beautiful to watch, if you’re a Disney lover, it’s unmissable and absolutely unforgettable.
The following morning we had breakfast in the exceptionally tasty Lumiere’s – make sure you look up for the roses! The day was then packed with character findings and Marvel as the ship transformed into Marvel Mornings. Reuben was in his element! If I could give you one tip, I would say sit down as you are on the ship or heading off to bed and plan the following day/trip. I used the app (which is a must) to navigate where the characters we wanted to meet would be, where the experiences (like the Marvel Quiz) would be and what time we would need for each. We got to meet everyone on our list AND do the quiz and character drawings that we wanted to do, all by 12pm. After lunch, which we took in the ship’s buffet Cabana’s (not to be missed!) we went to the pool areas for a few hours. I loved the fact that the water was warmed, it wasn’t too cold even though it was an overcast and slightly drizzly day. One of the best things was that if we didn’t want to be outside, there are multiple theatres on the ship showing different movies (new releases too!), places with activities and I haven’t even told you about kid’s club. Kid’s club was so good that my kid’s club-hating children *requested* to go in. It’s essential that you book a slot on board asap otherwise you might not get one, but Edith chose to go at 5pm for an hour whilst me and the boys went and washed up for dinner then went for a little drink in O’Gills Irish Bar with friends. In that time she made slime with Stitch, painted a gold fish bowl magnet and played on the Slinky Dog playset. She declared it her second favourite thing!
That evening we had dinner in Rapunzel’s Royal Table – which has a show all of it’s own! The food was wonderful (highly recommend the Scallops and the creme brulee cheesecake) and the service was exceptional. For dinners on the cruise you have a pair of servers that will stick with you for your evening meals in the table service restaurants. What I love so much about this is that they remember who you are, they remembered all the kid’s names and what food they did and didn’t like the night before. Edith was always addressed as Princess Edith too because she chose to wear her Princess outfits and they remembered that it made her smile. The servers work incredibly hard, and they really *make* the Disney magic on board come to life.
We finished off the day with The Rapunzel Musical in the Walt Disney Theatre, it was a very Punzie themed evening! It was beautiful, Maximus was just SO cool – the family was split though, me and Toby thought Disney Dreams was the best show and Reuben and Edith felt that Rapunzel was the best. The only thing we agreed on was that neither of them should be missed!
The final day meant breakfast was devoured early and then it was time to disembark. We found it quite surreal… you just walk off and to your car! Simply hand your pass to the crew member as you leave and thats it! You can opt to put your luggage outside your cabin by 10:30pm, where they will take it off the ship for you, or you can keep it with you and take it down yourself. Everything is waiting for you if you do choose to have it removed for you, it’s not like a carousel system in an airport, you’re given a zone card and you just walk up and pick it up!
All in all, I couldn’t fault the whole experience. If you get chance, check out my Disney Cruise highlights on instagram – I’ve answered a tonne of questions. I can’t wait for our next cruise!