Back in April, I joined my family on a cruise through the Caribbean on the Disney Magic. The cruise was for 7 nights and left from Cape Canaveral, Florida. I had not been on a cruise in over 10 years, and this was my first time on Disney Cruise Lines. The extra premium pricing that Disney charges wasn’t worth it at all with the product they offer not as competitive as it should be. In the end, I had a lot of fun with the family but overall, but I will most likely never do Disney Cruise Lines again for two reasons which I’ll go into.
The cruise departed on a Sunday and returned the following Sunday. The home port was Cape Canaveral, but these were the ports of call where the ship visited:
- Tortola, British Virgin Islands
- St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
- Castaway Cay, Bahamas (Disney Cruise Lines’ private island)
- If you ever find yourself on a Disney Cruise that stops here, make sure you participate in the Castaway Cay 5k.
We were in a deluxe ocean view stateroom on Deck 1. The ocean view is through two port holes. You hear the ocean water splashing on the windows when the ship is moving. You are also “ground level” when in port so it might be a bit disorienting to wake up to people walking by. They can comfortably fit two adults and two children. The couch easily turns into a bed, and additionally, a bunk bed can be dropped from the ceiling.
Our stateroom attendant was excellent, but a little bit too friendly for my liking. On several occasions while we were napping he’d knock on the door to ask us if he could help with anything or make sure things were taken care of. I appreciate the effort, but it got overbearing at some points because he seemed to always be lurking the halls at all hours and we’d end up shaking hands 3-4 times a day. I found myself running into my room before he could pop out to interact with me.
The food was above average. Nothing was terrible and they do a good job of providing meal selections. At the lunchtime buffets, I loved that they had stone crab claws available almost everyday. The servers you get at dinner are assigned to you throughout your entire cruise. You’ll typically dine at a different assigned themed-restaurant each night. Our assigned waiters were terrific and impressive in their attention to detail and patience with the kids in our group. They would cut up the steaks for the children and show them cheesy jokes/magic tricks.
This is probably the worst part of the cruise and one of the two reasons I’ll never do Disney’s cruises again. Disney does not vet their third-party excursion vendors well. One excursion we went on was terribly unsatisfactory and even dangerous at times.
In Tortola, we did an excursion to Jost Van Dyke beach which is supposed to be a simple beach transfer. At the port, we boarded a ferry that took us over the other island. From there, we were to take shuttle buses to the beach. The “shuttle buses” are open air pick-up trucks with benches in the back. While loading one shuttle bus, the driver moved the vehicle forward for no reason and without warning—people getting on almost fell backwards! Disney Cruise Lines caters to families and children and this was highly unacceptable.
At the beach the facilities were abysmal with a rinky dink “bar” which was a wooden table and dirty bathrooms. We know there were better options because we walked by where the Norwegian Cruise Lines guests were set up. It was night and day the difference between their accommodations and Disney’s. Our tour operator also told us that we’re entitled to one free alcoholic beverage but the woman staffing the bar told him he was mistaken and didn’t allow it. The description of the excursion also said lunch was included but the tour operator said it wasn’t and for us to take it up with Disney. The food options available ($10) were either a terrible hamburger or hot dog.
When we got back and complained to the Port Adventures team they did acknowledge it was a third party operator that they don’t have control over. They also reduced the price we paid from ~$109 to $79 per person for everyone who went on the excursion because lunch wasn’t included. They gave us free float and snorkel rentals to be used at Castaway Cay later on to apologize. When you pay a big premium to cruise with Disney versus the competition you expect the “Disney experience” and for everything to be taken care of. This wasn’t the case at all and I was very annoyed Disney went with a third party they didn’t vet very well.
Disney has a great babysitting program for kids of all ages where they get to play games and do activities. However, there aren’t many entertainment options for the adults unless you enjoy lounging around for hours doing nothing (which gets old). There is usually one half-hour adult entertainment variety show each evening and the option to hang out at the bar, but not much else. I was bored out of my mind in the evenings after the variety show and this is the second reason I would not go with Disney again. Yes, Disney’s cruises are geared towards family fun but while the kids are occupied with their activities the adults should have something to do also.
I did get to enjoy a massage at the spa. However, it is also contracted out to a third party and there is a lot of up-selling involved. They mostly try to sell you products to use when you’re back home. It wasn’t too bad for me but can be a bit annoying at the end of a relaxing treatment having to say no repeatedly. However, my sister did get offended by the up-selling when the attendant asked if the reason she didn’t want the extras was because if it was too expensive.