Captain Marvel Debuts and Sails Disney Magic During a Marvel Day at Seaby Alan S. Dalinka, contributing writer
Disney is well known for employing synergy across its businesses. Since Disney acquired Marvel Studios in 2009, it has been actively integrating characters and stories from the Marvel Universe into Disney Parks and Experiences around the globe (albeit with some pre-existing contractual obligations that limit that expansion at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida). Today, March 8, 2019, the next film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe opens in theaters, Captain Marvel.
The movie Captain Marvel follows the the story of "ace" Air Force Pilot Carol Danvers who finds herself in the middle of a galactic war between alien races. Disney and Marvel Publishing are rolling out official tie-in materials about her backstory, retail items are becoming available, and Captain Marvel, herself, has flown into Marvel digital games in February. In other words, she is a character that Disney intends to make waves across its brands (pun intended).
Disney is using Captain Marvel to "inspire fans and guests to go #HigherFurtherFaster in 2019 in celebration of Earth's mightiest hero." Video ©Disney.
Ahead of Captain Marvel's big screen debut, Disney Cruise Line passengers got to encounter her first, aboard Disney Magic during its Marvel Day at Sea sailings this winter. Disney invited media (including me) aboard Disney Magic for Captain Marvel's debut Marvel Day at Sea voyage, a five night Western Caribbean sailing from Port Miami, Florida, January 6-11, 2019.
Marvel Day at Sea sailings were exclusive to select five night Disney Magic cruises from Miami in January through early March this year. DCL announced that Marvel Day at Sea will set sail aboard Disney Magic again during the same period in 2020. DCL has published the itineraries and prices, and you can see them by following the links on this page DisneyCruise.com. You can also find more information about all DCL sailings, including the special Halloween and Winter Holidays sailings, at DisneyCruiseLine.com, or by calling (888) 325-2500 or your travel agent.
Captain Marvel made a special appearance for invited media aboard "Disney Magic" the day before her first Marvel Day at Sea "Heroic Encounters" and appearances around the ship. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Marvel Day at Sea is available on select "Disney Magic" sailings from Miami, Florida, again in 2020, from January through early March. Video ©Disney.
Today, March 8, Captain Marvel also touches down at Shanghai Disneyland at the Pepsi E-Stage in Tomorrowland. For a limited time this Spring, starting in March, she will be appearing at Disney California Adventure, making arrivals aboard an armored S.H.I.E.L.D. vehicle, escorted by a team of agents on her way to Hangar 12 in the northeast corner of Hollywood Land where she will gather recruits for Heroic Encounters and inspire them to go "Higher, Further, Faster." She will also drop in at Disneyland Paris Resort on March 23, at the Blockbuster Café to join guests for Heroic Encounters during the Marvel Season of Super Heroes event in Walt Disney Studios Park.
The rest of this article will not focus on the film or the character. While I have now experienced the "Heroic Encounter" with Captain Marvel, and saw her in action aboard Disney Magic, I have not yet seen the film (but I will before too long). I also have not seen the other media or video games in which she has appeared. There are far better storytellers out there—devoted fans of Marvel characters and stories—that can better explain the interwoven stories of the Marvel comics, films and other media. Indeed, before I got to experience a Marvel Day at Sea, I had seen only some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, some of the other Marvel character movies from different eras, a few television shows including Spider-Man cartoons on TV long ago as a kid after school, and I had visited Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal's Islands of Adventure (which was licensed by Marvel before Disney's acquisition of the company and is reason there is a Disney Parks Florida expansion conflict).
A Marvel Day At Sea aboard Disney Magic
Fortunately, a deep understanding of the Marvel Universe is not a prerequisite to enjoying the Marvel Day at Sea experience. While knowledgable Marvel fans will find the experience that much richer, it is designed to offer something for everyone, much like the whole Disney Cruise voyage itself.
A Marvel Day at Sea sets the itinerary for one day of a five night Disney Magic cruise from Miami, Florida, in the North Atlantic Ocean off the Southeast Coast of the United States: sailing the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean Sea, and around the Bahama Islands. Unlike some cruise lines that offer "themed cruises," DCL's Marvel Day at Sea sailings give center stage to the theme for just the one day.
Disney Magic, like all DCL ships, has a state-of-the-art movie theater aboard, the Buena Vista Theatre. During all DCL sailings, passengers have numerous opportunities (at no extra charge) to catch up on the latest films released by Disney-owned studios. DCL boasts that if a Disney studio has a scheduled film release during any of its cruises, that film is available on board in the theaters on its ships the same day as on land.
During my cruise, the recently released Ralph Breaks the Internet and Mary Poppins Returns were shown quite a few times (sometimes even taking over the ship's larger, Walt Disney Theatre, when it was not being used for one of the ship's Broadway-style shows or other live stage entertainment offerings). As a sailing with a Marvel Day at Sea, the entire cruise also provided opportunities to those who wanted to catch up on some of the latest Marvel movies, including showings in 3D, and even Venom (which, I am told, falls outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Many Marvel movies, as well as other Disney-owned studio movies (and even some other studios' movies) were also available for no extra charge on-demand on the TV in passengers' staterooms, including some of the same movies shown in the ship's theaters. Throughout Marvel Day at Sea, the "Funnel Vision" video screen above the ship's upper decks showed Marvel animated TV shows and, at night, more Marvel movies.
The large video screen facing one of the ship's pools (which are sometimes covered over by a floor during deck parties and shows) is "Funnel Vision." During a DCL voyage, it shows Disney movies and television programs and, during major sports events, can show live video as well. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
During a Marvel Day at Sea, there are also plenty of other opportunities for passengers to learn or deepen their knowledge about the origins of Marvel, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year, its characters, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On my sailing, there were opportunities to attend a Marvel Origins presentation including a tribute to one of its founders, Stan Lee, who recently passed away. Meet the Masters presentations featuring Walt Disney Imagineer John Mauro (responsible for the Marvel Portfolio) and Brian Crosby from Marvel Themed Entertainment covered the creation of Marvel-themed attractions and character experiences in Disney Parks and Resorts, during a Marvel Day of Sea, and some of Marvel's other ventures like the Marvel Avengers S.T.A.T.I.O.N interactive exhibit at Treasure Island in Las Vegas, The Marvel Experience touring exhibition, and even Marvel Stadium in Australia. (Unfortunately, though, for Disney Parks fans and Marvel Experience fans looking for new information, none of the discussions included previously un-announced offerings.)
John Mauro, Walt Disney Imagineering's executive producer for the Marvel Portfolio, explained the guiding principles behind the addition of Marvel characters and stories at Disney Parks at a Meet the Masters talk. Like the Marvel Day at Sea, itself, he explained that the goal is to create experiences that appeal to all guests "from first-timers to life-timers," and pull them all into the "Marvel universe in an engaging way" inspired by the look and feel of the films. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
During the Marvel Day at Sea on my sailing, passengers had the opportunity for "Heroic Encounters" with Spider-Man, Black Panther, and Iron Man in front of a New York cityscape backdrop. (If you have not realized it by now, "Heroic Encounters" is how Disney describes Marvel character meet-and-greet experiences.) There was also an opportunity to encounter Groot (at well-over six feet tall). Captain Marvel, Thor, Loki, and Captain America all had published encounter times and locations aboard ship too, while Star-Lord and Gamora of The Guardians of the Galaxy, Black Widow, and others roamed about the main areas of the ship a bit more informally.
Star-Lord and Gamora roamed about the ship's atrium lobby during the Marvel Day at Sea. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Doctor Strange presented a "Journey Into the Mystic Arts," on stage at Walt Disney Theatre several times throughout the day. For those familiar with Jedi Training in the parks (and during Star Wars Day at Sea aboard Disney Fantasy), the presentation style was similar. Parts of Doctor Strange's show included kids on stage that had registered ahead of time to learn some of his special techniques, while the whole theater audience watches the story (and special effects) unfold. When he was not presenting on stage, Doctor Strange roamed about the ship more informally too.
Of course, like all DCL sailings, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald, Daisy, and Chip & Dale were all aboard too. For Marvel Day at Sea, they all also dressed up for their meet and greets in tribute to their favorite Marvel characters.
Daisy wore a costume honoring Black Widow during a Marvel Day at Sea. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Marvel Day at Sea also offered opportunities to take a Marvel Comic Academy Drawing Class, show off Marvel knowledge in trivia contests, watch the "Little Hero Dash" (or participate if you were young enough), and, for kids 3-12, there were lots of Marvel-themed activities available in the kids-only Oceaneer Club. The Tweens ages 11-14 club, The Edge, and the Teens ages 14-17 club, Vibe, had organized activities too.
Kids ages 3-11 can be registered to participate in the activities in the counselor-supervised Oceaneer Club and its connected Oceaneer Lab. Marvel Super Hero Academy is one of the regular offerings aboard "Disney Magic" and there are additional Marvel Day at Sea programs as well, like one named "Doctor Strange Defy the Dark Dimension." Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
The evening featured two Deck 9 (outdoor) stage shows beneath the Funnel Vision screen: in the early evening, the "Mickey and Friends Super Hero Celebration" had the gang all dressed in their costumes saluting their favorite Marvel characters, and, late in the evening, the "Marvel Heros Unite" action-packed show spectacular featured an "epic battle at sea," with a large collection of Marvel Super Heroes and Villains battling around the ship, capped off with Captain Marvel's grand high-wire entrance and fireworks at sea.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Like a hard ticket party in a Disney Park, Marvel Day at Sea features themed food and beverage selections throughout the day and at dinner. Additional banners saluting Marvel characters can be found all over the public areas of the ship, and even the dining rooms and guest staterooms received added Marvel details. A sailing that includes a Marvel Day at Sea, of course, has a large selection of special Marvel-themed merchandise, including Day at Sea exclusive merchandise. Just last week, Disney Parks Blog provided an inside look at all of the exclusive merchandise available aboard.
During Marvel Day at Sea, the quick service pizza counter near Funnel Vision served a Vibranium Pizza, a pepperoni pizza with blue corn tortilla chips arranged to ("kinda-sorta") look like Captain America's shield.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Exclusive Marvel Day at Sea merchandise is available aboard "Disney Magic" when the ship is at sea. The ship also has a selection of other Marvel-themed merchandise, as well as Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars merchandise. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Even guest staterooms are decorated for a Marvel Day at Sea. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Even More Disney Vacation Experiences aboard Disney Magic and the Rest of the Disney Cruise Line Fleet
Sure, for the Marvel fan in the family (or however you describe your traveling party), a Marvel Day at Sea alone may be the reason to plan a future voyage. But, as DCL likes to say, there is something aboard for everyone on all of its sailings, and I found that to be true aboard Disney Magic, as I did last year when Disney invited me aboard Disney Dream for my first ever cruise. Last year, I wrote about the fun available for all age groups on a Disney Cruise following that voyage.
The rest of my five night voyage aboard Disney Magic was just as much a classic Disney Experience, with lots of entertainment and activity options for everyone. Drawing from my two experiences, the hallmarks seem to be the same no matter the specific DCL itinerary: Disney-quality service and attention to detail; rotational dining with dinner at different restaurants with different themes and no extra charge for soft drinks; kids-only spaces (divided by age range); adults-only spaces (including fine dining at an extra charge); character meet and greets; Broadway-caliber shows; no extra charge buffet-style and quick service dining options (including soft serve ice cream); and 24-hour complimentary room service and fountain beverage stations on deck.
Each of the DCL ships, including "Disney Magic," have passengers rotate to Animator's Palate, a themed restaurant that includes some animated entertainment during the voyage. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Even the cover of the dinner menu at Animator's Palate is animated. Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Many DCL itineraries departing from the Eastern Seaboard or the Gulf of Mexico also enjoy a "Pirates in the Caribbean" night, which includes a deck party with fireworks at sea and Pirates-themed characters and dining options. For my Disney Magic sailing that included the Marvel Day at Sea, this meant that we actually got two nights with deck parties that included fireworks at sea!
The "Pirates in the Caribbean" deck party aboard my "Disney Magic" cruise included Mickey and Minnie and friends dressed as and mixing with pirates. The "Disney Dream" version of the party that I saw last year featured Jack Sparrow. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Disney touts that DCL was the first cruise line to offer a fireworks show at sea (and may, currently, be the only one to do regularly do so). Most DCL itineraries include fireworks at sea, and a Marvel Day at Sea sailing can include two (weather permitting). Photo ©Disney.
No matter which dining room guests visit during a "Pirates in the Caribbean" night, dinner is themed too. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Disney Magic was the first ship in the Disney Cruise Line fleet. Last July marked twenty years since its maiden voyage. It has 11 passenger decks and can carry 2,713 passengers in its 875 staterooms, plus a crew of 950. Its passenger areas have an Art Deco design. Its "sister" ship, Disney Wonder (celebrating the 20th anniversary of its first sailing this year), has an Art Neuvo inspired interior. The larger DCL ships (each with 1,250 staterooms) repeated the styling patterns of the first two: Disney Dream, launched in 2011, is Art Deco; Disney Fantasy, launched in 2012, is Art Neuvo.
Starting with the launch of Disney Magic, all DCL ships look like the classic ocean liners of the early 20th Century. Like other Disney Experiences, DCL tries to create a sense of adventure, discovery and wonder for its guests while de-emphasizing the "cruise" part of its name. When you have the opportunity to see one of the DCL ships, you do not see a giant floating skyscraper or a modern white cruise ship reminiscent of 1970s TV's "The Love Boat," but, instead, you see a red, white and "Monica blue" (which is almost black) vessel similar to famous ocean liners like The Queen Mary, long retired at dockside in Long Beach, California, or even the romanticized but ill-fated Titanic (as a ship tour guide acknowledged). DCL was the first cruise line to get U.S. Coast Guard permission to have yellow life boats, and that yellow completes the ship's exterior color scheme so that it is similar to Mickey Mouse's traditional colors.
When a tender is required to travel between the ship and shore, be sure to enjoy the majestic view of the bow of Disney Cruise Line ships like "Disney Magic." Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
During the "Disney Magic" sailing including the Marvel Day at Sea, the ship visited George Town, Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean Sea. Because of a coral reef surrounding the island, passengers going ashore at George Town from cruise ships must transfer to tender boats. A similar sized, mostly white ship of another line was also in port nearby. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Three more DCL ships, slightly larger but of the same capacity as Dream and Fantasy, are scheduled to be built for service in 2021, 2022, and 2023. Disney has not yet announced the ship names or specific details about their styling or special features.
Disney says, "the new ships will embody the elegance and romance of the golden age of ocean cruising with unique touches all their own. The new vessels will offer more innovation, new technologies, spectacular entertainment and more Disney stories and characters than ever before." Concept Art ©Disney.
In case you were wondering, Disney Legend John Hench, a talented artist responsible for many things in his 65 years working at Disney, including the art direction and color selection of many Disney animated films and park attractions, was responsible for choosing "Monica Blue" as the color of DCL ships. As the story goes, he was searching for a dark color to resemble black for the Disney Magic's hull when he spotted the dark blue pants worn by a Disney colleague named Monica. He replicated that color for the ship's design and it came to be known as "Monica Blue."
Disney says it has pioneered the category of "family cruising" which did not significantly exist before the launch of Disney Magic (or, at least before Disney's "The Big Red Boat" licensing deal with an outside cruise operator that preceded the launch of DCL). While you will find bingo offered aboard, you will not find a casino on any of its ships.
Since "family cruising" means that there will be kids aboard, and since those kids may have a "late" scheduled dinner seating, Disney Magic offers families that have the late dinner seating an opportunity to have their registered 3-12 year old kids picked up by Youth Activities Counselors immediately after an expedited dinner service and be taken to the Oceaneer Club and Lab for nighttime activities, leaving the parents free to enjoy other activities (or rest). Disney likewise makes traveling with very little ones (subject to a minimum age requirement) easier with the "It's a Small World Nursery" (open late into the night too), and by offering diaper disposal units, bottle warmers, bottle sterilizers, cribs, playpens, strollers and high chairs for complimentary passenger use during the cruise. Likewise, fresh pureed vegetables can be prepared at the main dining rooms and through room service, upon request.
The absence of a casino aboard does not mean there is an absence of things to do just for adults. All four DCL ships offer adult-exclusive areas. Palo, an Italian restaurant, is available to passengers ages 18 and over on all four DCL ships (for an additional charge per diner). Disney invited me to dinner at Palo aboard Disney Dream last year, and I wrote afterwards that it may have been the best meal I have ever had at a Disney dining location because the food and quality of service were beyond reproach. On the Disney Magic, Disney gave me the opportunity to try brunch at Palo, and it did not disappoint either! Even all these weeks later, I wish I had access to that properly-aged, fresh, imported Italian Parmesan cheese served at the buffet!
Palo is an adult-exclusive (extra charge) Italian restaurant found on all four DCL ships, including "Disney Magic" and is inspired by and named for the pole used in Venice to power gondolas, as Venice is where "Disney Magic" was originally built.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
Each of the four DCL ships also have bars and lounges open only to adults, and each has an entire area of the ship that is adults-only at night, including a night club with entertainment meant for a more mature audience (but tempered by being aboard a Disney ship the way the clubs at Pleasure Island at Walt Disney World were back before they were closed to eventually make way for Disney Springs). On deck, there is a separate pool area and café reserved for passengers age 18-and-over too.
As an ocean vessel, Disney Magic, like all of the DCL ships, constantly gets cleaned and refurbished, even while at sea! And like any Disney Resort, the cast and crew seem to go above and beyond all the time. Combine the legendary Disney quality and service guests expect during a Disney vacation with "the magic of an ocean voyage" and you get what DCL aims to deliver on all of its sailings.
Ship cleaning on "Disney Magic" even goes on while at sea! Video by Alan S. Dalinka.
Even during days at sea, crews continue to wash, varnish, paint, and clean the ship. This freshly varnished countertop aboard "Disney Magic" is in the Quiet Cove Pool area, reserved for guests 18 and over, near the Cove Café which also was recently enhanced. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
A Visit to Disney's Castaway Cay in the Bahamas
Like most DCL itineraries departing from the Eastern Seaboard or Gulf of Mexico, my Disney Magic voyage included a day-long visit to Disney's award-winning private Bahamian island, Castaway Cay (which is pronounced like "key" rather than rhyming with "hay" or sounding like the Cayman Islands). Some DCL sailings actually include two visits to the island, and several such itineraries are being offered this year and next.
At Castaway Cay, like on the ship, Disney characters meet and greet guests, and they may even host dance parties. There are also several included Disney dining options, soft serve ice cream, and even fountain beverages on the island. For an extra charge, adult beverages are available at bars on the island too, all of which are charged to the same ship stateroom account passangers charge shipboard purchases.
Also like on the ship, Castaway Cay has areas and beaches for everyone to enjoy together, like the Family Beach, as well as areas separated by age group, including the adults-only Serenity Bay. Guests can also find a number of extra-charge opportunities including Port Adventures, bicycle rentals, tube rentals, and even private cabanas for open air massage and other spa services.
Since DCL ships dock at the island itself, guests can come and go from the ship throughout the day without the need to take a launch or a tender. That leaves guests free to enjoy the ship's daytime activities and dining options or head back to the ship to visit Cabanas buffet, or the quick serve dining locations, bars or lounges, take nap back in the stateroom, or go for a swim in one of the ship's pools, and still have time to go back to the island's beach or explore before the final time for all passengers to be back aboard for departure.
"Disney Magic" arrived at Disney's Castaway Cay not long after sunrise. DCL ships are able to dock at the island, thus eliminating the need to transfer passengers by tender or launch. When you wish to get on or off the ship, you simply walk. Panoramic Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Folks that do not wish to walk longer distances can take a tram from near the boat dock to several locations on the island. Another tram is available to take guests the length of the runway (the island's retired airstrip) to get to and from Serenity Bay.
Photos by Alan S. Dalinka.
"Mt. Rustmore" is a familiar site to those who have visited Disney's Castaway Cay. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Recent Disney Magic Enhancements and Future DCL Sailings
Like Disneyland and the Disney Parks that followed, DCL ships never are completed either. Since I first visited Disney Magic in port in 2016, it has undergone further enhancements that debuted last March. The most recent additions to the ship included Rapunzel's Royal Table, a Tangled-themed restaurant featuring Rapunzel, Flynn Rider and some friendly Snuggly Duckling Thugs leading music and interactive fun around the evening meal. (Disney Magic sailings also include the Broadway-style showings of "Tangled: The Musical" as well as a Snuggly Duckling takeover of the ship's sports bar named O'Gills Pub). Vibe, the teen club reserved for passengers 14-17 years old, also was transformed into a loft environment that includes a coffee and smoothie bar. Vibe also includes activities like a "DJ spin-off" and movie making hosted by trained Disney counselors.
Rapunzel's Royal Table, a restaurant themed to the movie "Tangled" features live entertainment that all passengers have the opportunity to experience during at least one night of their voyage aboard most sailings of "Disney Magic," including itineraries with a Marvel Day at Sea. Photo ©Disney.
Thugs from The Snuggly Duckling entertain in Rapunzel's Royal Table and, on the night that the ship's entertainment includes "Tangled: The Musical," they take over O'Gills pub and turn it into The Snuggly Duckling. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Since my sailing in January, Disney Magic and its sister ship, Disney Wonder debuted a brand new sail-away experience named "Mickey's Sail-a-Wave Party" encouraging passengers to "wave" goodby to work and school and to say hello to their Disney Cruise vacation. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald invite passengers to dance with the crew on the top decks before the official sail-away countdown and the ship's horn blows.
The sail-away party on the January 6 sailing of "Disney Magic" was the older "Adventures Away!" party which also featured the characters and crew ahead of the sail-away countdown and blowing of the ship's horn. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Given the early sunsets in winter, not long after sailing away from Port Miami on January 6, it was possible to watch the sun set into the South Florida coastline from the deck of "Disney Magic." Panoramic photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
While Port Canaveral is DCL's home port, Disney Magic often sails from Miami, and it will be heading to Europe for sailings this summer and next. DCL ships also sail from San Diego, New York, Vancouver, and other ports around the world, with itineraries including Alaska, Hawaii (though already sold out for 2019) and Europe. All four of DCL's current ships sail under the flag of the Bahamas.
Last week, Disney Parks Blog posted the highlights of DCL's 2020 announced sailings that will include Disney Magic's long-awaited return to Greece with 9- and 12-night Greek Isles voyages from Rome. Two of its sailings include visits to Sicily and one includes a return to the "Pearl of the Adriatic," Dubrovnik, Croatia. Disney Magic will also visit Gdynia, Poland, Nordfjordeid, Norway; Plymouth, England; and Zeebrugge, Belgium, offering new ways to see the Baltic, British Isles and Norwegian fjords that summer. Bookings for all DCL itineraries through Summer 2020 opened to the public on DisneyCruise.com yesterday, March 7.
DVC Members interested in DCL voyages should note that eligible Members can get a 30% discount off original points chart values for select Bahamian sailings aboard the Disney Dream out of Port Canaveral (5-night sailings departing June 28, and July 7 and 12, 2019, each featuring two stops at Castaway Cay), as well as select Mexican Riviera sailings aboard the Disney Wonder out of San Diego, California (7-night Halloween on the High Seas voyages departing October 20 and 27, 2019). Visit this page of DisneyVacationClub.com for more information or call Member Services at (800)800-9800. Last week, Disney Parks Blog also announced that the DVC Member Cruise will return to Alaska in 2020, sailing from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, August 24, and returning August 31, 2020. Eligible Members may begin booking staterooms through Member Services starting on April 6, and everyone can learn more at DVCMemberCruise.com.
Disney Cruise Line Navigator App
For those that decide to sail any DCL voyage, just like my first cruise aboard Disney Dream last year, staying connected with the latest in ship-board news and events requires downloading the Disney Cruise Line Navigator App from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store ahead of sailing. Before your sailing begins, all the App shows you is a countdown until your departure. But, once you set sail, and even if you put your iOS or Android device in Airplane mode to prevent you from incurring international roaming fees, the App comes alive when you connect to the ship's WiFi (even without purchasing an internet package) with all sorts of useful information about your sailing, including that day's entertainment offerings, character meet and greets, and tips.
The App even includes a messaging feature that allows you to send text-like messages back and forth to your fellow passengers (again, even if you have not purchased an internet package and without incurring international roaming charges). When visiting Castaway Cay, much (but not all) of the island also is within range of the ship's WiFi (and boosters). Alternatively, each stateroom includes two portable "Wave Phones" which can be used for communicating between passengers when aboard ship and on much of Castaway Cay.
According to folks I have chatted with that have sailed both DCL and other cruise lines, one of the criticisms of DCL is that it does not offer free or nominally priced internet service while on the ship as some other cruise lines do. On my Disney Magic sailing, the internet provider offered the opportunity to sign up for a free 50 MB data package before midnight of the first night at sea that could be used during the entire cruise. Of course, 50 MB does not go very far in our data-intensive times. Additional metered data packages are available, but are not inexpensive. (To share posts while sailing, Disney provided MousePlanet and the other invited media outlets with additional data). If you choose to stay connected to the rest of the world while aboard, remember to be aware that many apps use data in the background; you should turn off any that are not essential to conserve data if you want to conserve whichever data plan(s) you buy.
Speaking of staying connected while sailing, DCL does provide an emergency phone number that you can leave behind with those who may need to contact you at sea. The number comes with a warning that the satellite phone rates can be high too. Be aware that most cellular phones may also try to connect with cell-at-sea service or other international carriers while traveling. You should investigate what your carrier's policies are and see whether any international plans may be economical for your voyage and, if not, disable international roaming before sailing. My cellular provider, for example, offers a plan that has a fixed $10/day of use fee that allows my unlimited domestic cellular calls and data plan to be used in a long list of countries, including the two ports on my sailing: Cayman Islands and the Bahamas (Castaway Cay). That meant that on my two in-port days on the cruise, I was free to use my phone to call, use social media, and email just like I do anywhere in the U.S.A., even from the ship when it was within cellular range.
I share my DCL experiences here as a Disney fan and well-seasoned world and Disney traveler. My sailing on Disney Magic was only my second cruise ever, and both times I have done so as a Disney-hosted guest. In my time writing for MousePlanet, I also have had the privilege of being invited to Port Canaveral, Florida, DCL's home terminal, to tour Disney Magic, see its ship-exclusive "Tangled: The Musical" stage show, and taste a sampling menu at Animator's Palate restaurant; to tour Disney Wonder (first launched in 1999), see its ship-exclusive "Frozen, A Musical Spectacular" stage show and dine in its ship-exclusive Tiana's Place (you can read what I wrote about that visit here), and to visit Disney Fantasy for an abbreviated dock-side sampling of its Star Wars Day at Sea activities (which you can read more about in my prior article and which will take place on special 7 night sailings of Disney Fantasy in 2020 from Port Canaveral).
During my 2016 visit, "Disney Magic" was docked at the Disney Cruise Line Terminal at Port Canaveral, DCL's home port which was specially designed with Disney theming throughout. Panoramic Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
"Tangled: The Musical," a Broadway-style show is presented exclusively aboard "Disney Magic" in the Walt Disney Theatre. I have had the privilege of seeing it performed both at a special showing for media and other invited guests at Port Canaveral in 2016 and at sea during my recent sailing. Photo ©Disney.
Of course, notwithstanding the privilege of being invited to tour and sail DCL ships, as I wrote in my article about last year's sailing on Disney Dream, "I have spent tens of thousands of dollars on Disney vacations in my lifetime, including [my purchase of] points in the Disney Vacation Club. My bias, if I have one, is that I am a Disney fan; indeed, I am now writing for, and you are reading, a Disney fan site."
Disney Vacation Club Members receive a special "Welcome Home" on their Stateroom's door aboard Disney Cruise Line ships, and there are other Member activities and opportunities aboard. File Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
Readers of our weekly MousePlanet Walt Disney World Resort Updates may know that I chat with National Radio Hall of Fame inductee Garry Meier on his podcast from time to time about my various Disney Experiences. Shortly after returning from my recent Disney Magic voyage, I appeared on Episode 440 to chat about Disney Cruise Line.
Jump to 18:55 to listen to me talk with National Radio Hall of Fame inductee Garry Meier about my Disney Cruise Line experiences, including sailing aboard "Disney Magic" with a Marvel Day at Sea. Note, earlier portions of the podcast may not be suitable for all ages or environments. Listener discretion is advised.
Some folks that often cruise DCL prefer the original smaller ships, Disney Magic and Disney Wonder. Last year, when I sailed the larger Disney Dream, as an adult sailing without kids, I personally was very impressed that, while I knew there were a lot of kids aboard, I did not see many of them except when passing the kids-exclusive areas, or during the family activities like the deck parties and Walt Disney Theatre shows. On the smaller Disney Magic, that was much less the case. Though the smaller ship has adult-exclusive areas and kids-exclusive areas, the kids were more visible. This is not said as a complaint, of course, but something to be aware of when considering a sailing. Indeed, even having selected the late (8:15 p.m.) dinner seating time, I "noticed" more kids around—whether there was an actual difference in a percentage sense, I do not know.
The final night aboard "Disney Magic" is capped with 'Til We Meet Again, a combination show and meet and mingle opportunity in the ship's atrium lobby featuring lots of characters, crew and other entertainers. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.
If you want to see more photos and videos from the January 6-11 voyage aboard Disney Magic, including greeting several more Disney Princesses, our Heroic Encounters with Captain Marvel and Groot, and more, be sure to check out this Instagram Story Highlight. There is even more to see on the rest of feed @MousePlanet on Instagram and on Facebook. In fact, if you would like to see even more beyond what I posted during the cruise, I could be persuaded to share more photos and even videos by some polite requests in the comments below or in response to the MousePlanet posts of this article on Facebook and Twitter.