I was in need of a little Holiday spirit after finding out my Christmas Market cruise was canceled last minute so a Disney cruise seemed like the next best thing. Since I had already been on the Dream and Fantasy this year I loved the idea of getting onboard the Magic. It had been so long since I sailed on the Magic so I was so excited to get to see her again! The Magic is currently sailing out of Miami - which for me is about the same amount of driving as Port Canaveral so that didn't play a part in deciding. However I always forget how much I hate driving around Miami.
Port of Miami
There are other drawbacks to cruising on Disney out of Miami. Since Disney doesn't have their own terminal in Miami that means you are using a shared one (I am so happy Disney announced plans for their own terminal in Fort Lauderdale). I wondered how the pre cruise testing would be different. In Port Canaveral as I reported we were able to do the test in our car after entering the garage and then just hang out until the test results came back. In Miami the first issue came when finding out the parking garage closest to the ship was closed so we had to go park in one that was at least a mile away. Disney of course had shuttle buses ready to take us back to the terminal.
Having already experienced check in at Port Canaveral I knew that you should only arrive at the time you were given for your port arrival - however in Miami no one even asked or checked our reserved arrival time so it seemed we really could have arrived anytime. In Miami you will go into the terminal building through security and then you arrive at the testing location. After your test you will head upstairs to wait on your test results. This is the area with all the chairs where you would normally wait for your boarding time. Disney has a few large screens set up and they were posting the reservation numbers that were clear to check in as the test results came in. This was helpful since wi-fi in the terminal didn't seem to be working and even my cell service was very spotty. TIP - always print out any important papers since you just never know if your phone will work. After you get the good to go test result you can head into the next room where you will get to check in for the cruise. I was disappointed that they did not have a separate line for the different Castaway levels but it wasn't very crowded so the line wasn't too bad. We got checked in and like the Dream and Fantasy we were told our room keys would be waiting on the door when we get to our room.
Onboard the Magic
We were welcomed onboard in usual Disney fashion except this time the atrium was also decked out in holiday decorations too since this was a MerryTime Cruise. It was just the holiday pick me up I needed with the large tree and gingerbread house greeting us in the atrium! Rooms were not ready yet even though it was after 2 pm. We were told we need to wait until 3 so we figured we would go grab a bite to eat in Cabanas. On our way up the crew was really encouraging everyone to do the safety drill check in so we figured might as well knock that out of the way now. Just like the other ships you use the app and find your meeting location and take a photo. We were done with that quickly and back on our way to food. We hung out in Cabanas until our room was ready so that we could drop off our carry on bags before exploring more.
Dining and Shows
When checking out our schedule on the app I saw that on this 5 night cruise we would be in Lumiere's the first 2 nights and then Animators the next 2 nights with just the last night in Rapunzel's. I had not been onboard Magic since Parrot Cay was changed over to Rapunzel's so I was a little bummed to only get 1 night in there. I was happy that I hadn't booked Palo for that night at least. I got lucky and had picked Palo night for the same night as Pirate night and was so glad since that is my least favorite night in any dining room. Sorry pirates but I am over you.
Lumiere's and Animators are very similar to their counterparts on the Dream and Fantasy. I was so happy that my husband got to experience the drawing part of Animator's this time since I had really hoped we would do it on Fantasy and they didn't. Rapunzel's was a new experience for me and I have to say right away walking in I just loved the whole design of the restaurant. It has very cozy feeling and I love the purple and the lanterns! This is a dinner and a show type dining room and the storyline is that it is Rapunzel's birthday so you have appearances by her and Flynn of course along with a couple of the Snuggly Duck regulars. It was fun but make sure you stay until the end so you don't miss the lanterns.
For the shows on this 5 night cruise Disney was offering 2 main shows that would each be performed 2 nights in a row. So the first 2 nights there was Tangled and then the 3rd night they showed a movie in the theater and the last 2 nights were Enchanted Dreams. I was excited to get to see Tangled the Musical for the first time! I have seen Dreams before but it has changed a bit since last time I saw it. I found myself trying to remember which song was taken out to make room for Frozen. I also noticed that Annemarie got new PJ's since last time I saw it. Even though Disney was doing them each 2 nights to make sure there was enough room for everyone to get to see them and be socially distanced there seemed to be a lot of people saying that they went both nights and saw each show twice. Our sailing wasn't very full which I was very happy about. It also appeared that there weren't many families with kids over age 12 and I am not sure if that was due to the vaccine requirement or just that school was still in and it isn't as easy to take the older kids out.
Since this cruise was in December it was a Merrytime themed cruise - which was one of the main reasons for picking it since I had just lost my holiday travel plans. Besides all of the beautiful decorations around the ship and also on Castaway, there were holiday activities offered each day. Storytime with Mrs Claus was very popular and there were also holiday crafts you could make. Santa was in the atrium posing and waving in front of the tree - you did have to take a distanced selfie or photo but that was OK with me. While we did see a good amount of characters at different times during the cruise but I was disappointed to never see them dressed in any holiday outfits. Maybe we just missed those times but on our Halloween cruise we were always seeing the characters in costumes. Character meets are still kept distanced and on the schedule they are listed as character appear and wave events. The ship photographers have come up with a way to add some characters to your photos too. I was happy to try it out and let the photographer direct me on what to do. He had me pose in funny ways like dancing and when I saw the photo Daisy had joined me dancing. There were others too and you might feel silly doing the poses but the photos are cute.
Stops - Cozumel and Castaway
Our cruise stopped in Cozumel and Castaway Cay. For me I have been to Cozumel many times and this cruise was about enjoying the ship so we opted to stay onboard instead of getting off in Cozumel. Many people did opt to get off and at the time of our cruise if you were vaccinated you could go off on your own but if you were not you did need to be on a Disney excursion. That did mean that any families with little kids would have to be on a ship excursion to get off. It might sound funny but I was very happy to see 3 other ships in port with us that day! Of course during normal times there probably would have been double that in Cozumel.
Our cruise ended up with an extra visit to Miami as the night before our Castaway day the captain came on to tell us that unfortunately a guest needed to be medically evacuated so we had to head into Miami to do that. He assured us we would still be getting to Castaway the next morning but maybe just a little later. I liked the idea of watching us pull into Miami since I am always asleep when the ships return to port at the end of the cruise. I enjoyed watching the city get closer from our balcony. It was also a bonus to have cell service again for about an hour.
Castaway is always my favorite stop and this visit we were greeted by a rainbow over the island as we pulled in! Of course a rainbow meant there was also rain close but we lucked out and besides being a bit windy the sun came out and it was a wonderful day! We headed right to the adult beach to grab a spot and enjoy the day. The water was so shallow that we could walk in only about knee deep water all the way out to the buoy that marks the furthest out guests can go. It was fun walking all the way out there and we even found one of the famous Castaway starfish. I have seen one every time we have been there and if I hadn't seen someone pick one up last time I would maybe think they were not real. The lunch at the adult beach always offers some better options than the family buffet but I do wish they would find a better way to do it. As of now you have to go all the way through the line to find out what the main course options are and then it can get kind of confusing and crowded in there. This time around they were grilling rib-eye steaks to order so that meant a long line of people waiting on their steaks. I feel like if they just posted the main menu outside so you could see it before walking in that would really help a lot. Then you could put your entrée order in and then make your way through the line so that it might be ready once you get down there. I like the way Blaze pizza does the ordering process in Disney Springs so I think the adult buffet on Castaway could work well like that.
It was a great cruise and I really enjoyed being back on a classic ship again! I love the smaller ships and have always felt the Magic and Wonder were designed very well. Next blog I am writing will be a comparison of the Classic and New Disney ships so I will talk more about that then.
It was great to get to soak up some holiday excitement while cruising! If you would like to add a little holiday magic to your next cruise you might want to think about going in November or December.
I am back from my 2nd Disney Cruise in less than a month! This time I sailed onboard the Fantasy and it was Fantastic! There have been a few changes to cruising since I went in August though.
The biggest change was the Bahamas announcing that all guests age 12 and older must be vaccinated to sail to any Bahamian port, even the cruise line private islands. This went into effect on September 3 but was only announced 8/20. I am sure this changed things for a lot of families especially since the Bahamas didn't allow enough time to get everyone vaccinated if they were already booked on a cruise.
Next up the CDC updated their requirements for cruising starting September 13.
This did mean that we had to take a test when arriving at the port when we didn't last time. The process was pretty simple though. We drove our own car over to the port so we entered the parking garage like before but this time we were directed to a parking space where someone gave us the test kits and explained how to do them. They were an easy test and you do not have to go as far up your nose as the other test. You put the swab in the vial and hand back the sealed baggie and then are directed to go park in the garage and hang out until your results come back which should be within 45 minutes. We parked went to the bathroom and then found a cooler spot to hang out in the parking garage while we waited. I can understand why Disney hasn't set up a seating area in the garage but having somewhere other than your car would have been nice. We got the message on our phone that we were clear to board so we headed over to the terminal to check in. This process was the same as before however what we hadn't factored in was that it would take pretty much an extra hour from our scheduled port arrival time to when we were actual able to get on the ship. By the time we did we were very hungry so next time we will plan our time better. Please note that while Disney is providing this test at the port not all cruise lines are offering that so if you are sailing with another line be sure to check if you will need to acquire your own test before boarding.
Besides these big changes we did see a few smaller ones. There was only one night for fireworks this time. We were up on the top deck for the fireworks and there seemed to be plenty of space for anyone wanting to watch up there so I am guessing that is why they went back to just 1 night.
Even though all adults had to be vaccinated the mask rule seemed to be more enforced than before. While on Castaway you are pretty much always outdoors except for the bathrooms and when getting lunch. Even though the food area is an open air area they were really strict about having your mask on and even had a box of disposable one handy as you entered for anyone that might not have brought a mask to lunch. We ate at the adult only lunch location so it really surprised me that they were so strict about it. I was glad to see hand wipes come back to all dining entrances instead of having to always use the sanitizer stations that squirt way too much for me.
This cruise was a Halloween on the High Seas so it was nice to see how Disney was handling that with new protocols. I had been on a Halloween sailing a few years ago and I honestly didn't notice that much of a change this time so the new policies did not take away from any of the festivities.
Even with the new rules in place I had an amazing time and would go back and do it all again without thinking twice!
I just returned from a wonderful cruise onboard Disney Dream. This was my first big ship cruise since December 2019! For me that is a really long time between cruises. I was first booked to cruise Disney in August of 2020 but we all know how that went - cancellation after cancellation but I was always hopeful that each time I moved my cruise date would be the last. Finally almost exactly 1 year from the date I was originally booked to cruise, I was able to get onboard the Dream!
Yes it is true that some things have changed due to the pandemic but it was still very magical! So much was still the same so here is a quick recap of things I found the same and some that were not.
Before you go to the ship
Hasn't Changed - Disney wants you to check in online and choose your port arrival time and you do still need to do the health questionnaire. You will get an email and an app notification to do it before arrival.
Has Changed - They are much more strict with the scheduled arrival time. We arrived just 10 minutes before our scheduled time thinking it would take 10 minutes to park and get into the terminal but the scheduled time applies to the parking lot as well. If you arrive early they will direct you over to a waiting parking lot until your time. I am not sure how they are handling if you arrive early in a shuttle but I assume it is similar and we did see a bunch of tents set up in the parking lot so maybe one of those is where guests not arriving in their own car will wait.
Things have changed since my cruise but for my cruise if you were not vaccinated you had to test before the cruise at home and again at the port. Now the Bahamas has ruled starting September 3 every cruise passenger coming to any Bahamas island - which includes the cruise line's private island - must be vaccinated. You will need your proof of vaccine and a mask with you when you head to the port. Masks are currently required anytime you are indoors, except when in your own stateroom.
At the Port and Boarding
Has Changed - You will now check in on the lower level of the terminal. Here you will show all of your documents and get checked in and then are allowed through to the metal detectors and then the escalator upstairs.
Hasn't Changed - There are still designated lines for Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Concierge guests for check in. You will be assigned a boarding group and you cannot board the ship until your group is called. Your group is determined by your pre-scheduled arrival time.
Has Changed - You will not get your room key at check in. Instead your room key will be waiting in a sealed envelope on the wall by your room door. Stateroom hosts seemed to be hanging out in the halls so that they could make sure everyone got to the correct room and got their keys.
Hasn't Changed - Your party will still be announced over the microphone as you enter the atrium and characters and crew are there to greet you.
Has Changed - Only a small group at time is allowed to be in the atrium for the greeting and there are designated spots to stand on to allow for distance.
Hasn't Changed - There is still plenty of food available to you when you board, including Cabanas.
Has Changed - Speaking of food when you board, yes Cabanas is still open but just slightly different in that you will not serve yourself but instead let a crew member know what you would like from their station and they will plate it for you. You also have the option to choose one of the main dining rooms that will be open for lunch as well. I am so used to only the buffet when I got onboard that it was nice to actually be able to go and sit down and be served after going through the whole arrival process.
Hasn't Changed - The Kids Clubs are still open but in a slightly different way.
Has Changed - You do need to make a reservation for the kids club. This can be done in the app once onboard. I was not cruising with any kids but when I looked in the app I was always able to find open slots for the kids club so at least on my cruise there wasn't an issue getting kids in.
Hasn't Changed - The spa is still offering most treatments with the exception of a few. The fitness center is also open with some social distance in place.
Has Changed - If you enjoy the Rainforest room like I do this is a change you might like. You can now have the Rainforest room all to yourself (and anyone in your party up to 10). You can book a 1 hour and 45 minutes time slot to enjoy all the relaxation with no strangers! I don't know about you but to me this was the most perfect thing ever and I couldn't wait to book my spot so I headed right to the spa as soon as we got onboard. I was able to grab a nice afternoon slot on our sea day and I can't think of a more perfect way to spoil myself after the stressful last 18 months!
Hasn't Changed - Disney still puts on the most amazing Broadway style shows at sea! They also play all the new and old Disney movies in their wonderful movie theater at sea and funnel vision on the pool deck.
Has Changed - Social distance is being applied in the theaters so the available seats are much fewer. You will also be directed to your seat by a crew member in order to make sure the distance is kept. Your entire party does need to arrive together to be seated. Since less people can enjoy the shows at one time Disney is repeating just 2 different shows throughout the cruise to allow enough times for everyone to be able to get in to see them.
Hasn't Changed - All pools, splash areas, and Aquaduck are open.
Has Changed - Social distance rules are in place for the pools and splash areas. That means there might be times when the pool or splash area are too full and you have to wait until someone leaves. We never saw any lines during our cruise but we were told if there is a line they will limit the time guests can swim or splash.
Hasn't Changed - There are still lots of characters making appearances throughout the ship and on Castaway Cay.
Has Changed - You cannot get autographs or get too close for photos. I found the distance selfies to be pretty fun but I can understand that kids might want to hug their favorite character.
Hasn't Changed - Disney still does fireworks at sea.
Has Changed - In order to keep crowds smaller they are doing fireworks on 2 nights. You will get a notification in the app on your night for viewing and your dining staff should also let you know. My guess is the nights were split by dining times so all guests in the Main dining got a notification for fireworks the first night they did them and those of us in second dining got it the next night.
Hasn't Changed - Disney still offers plenty of adult only entertainment too. Drink classes, Happy Hour, Trivia, and music are all offered still in the bars and lounges.
Hasn't Changed - Disney still does the rotational dining so you will move between the 3 main dining rooms during your cruise and your servers will go with you.
Has Changed - You will now only be seated with your travel party so no meeting new strangers at meals.
They are trying to not hand out menus so you can check the menus on the app or scan the QR code on the table to see the menu. If you are having issues like I did a few times with he QR codes they will bring you a paper menu that you can keep since they cannot give it to someone else.
Hasn't Changed - there is still daily housekeeping twice a day and yes there are still towel animals too!
Has Changed - All staterooms undergo deep cleaning after each cruise and you will see the magnet on your room door that shows the commitment to cleanliness so you know it is ready for you. Many of the touch items have been removed so don't worry when you don't see throw pillows or room service menus in your room.
Hasn't Changed - Disney still has the most amazing crew members that are so very happy to have guests back onboard!
Has Changed - If you need to speak with a Crew Member in Guest Services, Port Adventures, or Dining you will need to use the app to either chat on there or make an appointment if it is something that can not be done over chat. You can also take advantage of the onboard booking offer right in the app!
Has Changed - When getting off the ship in a port of call such as Castaway Cay you will need to use the app to get in a virtual queue to get off the ship. This is to keep guests from crowding on the gangway. You do not need to get in a queue to return to the ship though.
Hasn't Changed - For me it seemed like nothing has really changed with this process. You do still have to get up early, grab breakfast, and get off the ship. You can still leave your bags out in the hall the night before to have them transported to the terminal but Disney was recommending guests carry off their own bags since they won't be sanitized going off like they were coming on. On these short cruises, at least for me, it is easy to pack just a carry on size bag so I always have preferred to just carry off myself.
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