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Denise M. Williams -- August 1998 -- Walt Disney World (PBR / WL) / Disney Cruise Trip


Trip Report - Disney Magic, Aug. 14 - Aug. 25

We are on the plane coming home after a wonderful trip. We are Peter and me, 40's, and daughters Amy and Heather, ages 15 and 9. We have never been on a cruise before, but have been to WDW many times.

We booked the 7-day WDW/cruise package, and then added 4 more days at WDW after the cruise. We were at the Poly before the cruise, and WL after. On the cruise we had a family suite on Deck 8.

Everything went smoothly, but when we do it again, we will probably not do the 7-day package, but will book everything separately. Not only may this save us some money, but also we will have more control over the transfers. While it was wonderful to be met at the gate in Orlando by a Cruise line cast member; we did not leave the airport for an hour, waiting for other flights to arrive. We also had to stop at the Contemporary on the way to the Poly (and then the bus went to the GF). If we had done this ourselves, we would have been at the hotel much earlier.

On the day we departed for the cruise, we ended up sitting in the lobby for an hour because we had to leave our room by 11:00 and our bus was not leaving until 12:00. None of these were problems, but we probably could have had a little more flexibility if we handled the transfers ourselves. Also, since we went back to WDW after the cruise instead of to the airport, we had to pay an extra $50 per person for a "transfer deviation". There was a Mears van at the Port waiting to take us to the WL, but booking everything separately would have saved us that $200.

When we registered at the Poly, I tried to get a room in Moorea, but was told that cruise people were in "certain buildings". They wanted to place us in Maori, but I talked the clerk into Oahu. We were also told right up front that we couldn't get into our room until 3:00, and we actually didn't get it until 3:30. We hung around the pool and had lunch, so the 3 hour wait wasn't too bad. Our room faced the quiet pool, but we couldn't really see it. We could see a bit of the lagoon from our balcony, so it was a really nice room location. We love the Poly and enjoyed it very much.

On Monday, we left for the Port. We were very excited when we came over the final hill and saw the Magic in the distance. We walked into the terminal and right onto the ship. The lobby atrium is gorgeous and the elevators took us right up to Deck 8. We had no lines at all and our room keys worked fine.

Our stateroom was beautiful, and we loved having the veranda. We were on the starboard side (facing the terminal) and it was great waving to people on the shore when we departed. We unpacked quickly, signed our older daughter up for the Teen cruise in Nassau, registered our younger daughter in the Oceaneer Lab, and went to Deck 9 to get lunch.

We had requested the first dinner seating, and we got this and the 8:15 show, which worked out great for us. We were told we could go to Guest Services if we wanted to change either times. Our steward, Praveen, and servers Lynda and Romeo were wonderful to us and our kids. They worked very hard and were always happy to help us out.

We ate in Animator's Palate the first night, then Parrot Cay, again in Parrot Cay for Junkanoo night, and Lumiere's the final night. I obtained copies of all the menus if anyone is interested. We felt the food was very good in all the restaurants (including the Topsider Buffet where we ate breakfast and lunch) and felt the selection would satisfy anyone.

The shows were fantastic. Some of the lead performers had wonderful voices and could possibly go on to Broadway. For some reason Island Magic was cancelled. We don't know why, but it didn't bother us because that gave us an evening where we could do some of the other activities.

I have read all the negative reports about the earlier cruises. We were on the 6th cruise and a lot must have been fixed, because we didn't have any problems. Of course there are some people that are the type to go to a buffet lunch at 12:30 and expect there to be no line. You need to plan things just like at WDW. We always tried to eat a little before or after the bulk of people, and then lines were almost nonexistent. The longest we waited in line for anything (ice cream at Scoops) was 5 minutes.

I also felt there was plenty to do on the ship and was sorry I didn't have time to try everything. I was very happy on the day at sea to sit by the pool and read, sit on my veranda, and just relax. There were things planned for people who wanted it.

We arrived at Nassau at 8 AM and left at 3 AM. There was no problem leaving the ship and coming back at any time during the day.

We arrived at Castaway Cay at 6 AM the next day. It is a paradise. We got off the ship right at 8:30 so we had our choice of location on the beach, and then went snorkeling. We brought our own equipment but had to use their life vests. They are now free and when you return them you get a Castaway Cay pin. They are really nice. The beach is so beautiful and the view of the ship being right there is incredible. We had the buffet lunch at about 11:30, and again the lines were minimal.

It was sad leaving there, and when we woke up the next morning we were back in port. We had the first breakfast seating and were off the ship by about 8:30. We had no problem locating our luggage, and were through customs in less than a minute. We got onto a Mears van and went back to WDW, to the WL.

While at WL we talked to the people at the Disney Vacation Club, and are now members! I would love to hear from anyone who is a member to give us pointers, etc!

Now for some observations/tips:

Complete your paperwork before you leave home. There are 4 forms in your cruise documents to complete. Get them done. It will save a lot of time when you arrive.

When you attach the special Magic luggage tags, write on your Baggage Confirmation form in your packet the number of bags you are checking. This helps the Cruise Line locate all your baggage. They asked us to do this in the terminal once we had arrived and were waiting to board the bus, and of course I did not have a pen or pencil to do so. They will give you a blue envelope in the airport to insert all the completed documents and your citizenship papers. Have them ready to save time. When you check in to the hotel you will get the Citizenship documents back. Children need only their birth certificate. Adults also need a photo ID.

Before you board, study the ship layout so you have an idea of where things are. This saved us a lot of time in locating everything. We saw others wandering around looking for things and we knew right where to go.

We got a note in our stateroom on the 3rd night regarding the tips for the crew. We filled out the dollar amounts and requested they be placed on our shipboard credit. We then went right to Guest Services and were given cards with the amounts written on them, and envelopes to place them in. We then passed them out the next night without anyproblems. Again, if you don't wait to the last minute, you will not encounter any lines.

Read your Personal Navigator. It tells you when activities take place and where things are located. There is a general schedule, then one for families, one for teens, and one for kids. The one for kids is even broken down into 4 age categories. People who complain obviously didn't read their navigator.

Our teenager, who is quite shy, wasn't sure about the teen program at first. We encouraged her to go to Common Grounds and hang out and she did end up making some friends and having a good time.

Our 9 year old enjoyed Oceaneer's Lab. They have many computers setup, plus plenty of tables and chairs. They have times where there is free play, plus many organized activities. You are given a pager for the entire trip and if you are needed they page you. One night our daughter got bored and had them page us, and we came to sign her out.

There were not many items in the shops regarding the "inaugural season", but we did find some shirts that say "Disney Cruise Line -Discover Uncharted Magic - Inaugural 1998". We bought them for all 4of us and wore them the last day to the WL. We should be paid by Disney for all the free advertising! Many people, including Cast Members, asked us about the cruise. On the last night of the cruise we found Maiden Voyage T-shirts. They were on sale for $12, so we bought 2 of those. If anyone wants one, let us know! I guess they didn't sell out on the first cruise.

My husband had a digital camera with us and took about 200 photos of the ship, Castaway Cay, etc. We will be placing about 20 at a time on our web page (we don't have enough room for them all at once) and about once a week he will rotate them. Our web page address is: http://home.att.net/~pete-williams/magic.htm.

If anyone has specific questions about anything on the cruise, pleasee-mail me and I will be glad to answer you. We absolutely loved the cruise and would do it again in a minute. I am sure Disney has improved things a lot since the first cruise, but it appears a lot of the negative reports I read had to do with people not getting documents ready which caused delays later on, or trying to change schedules without going through Guest Services. We had no problems at all and would recommend this cruise to anyone.

Denise M. Williams

dwilliams4@metlife.com


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