Disney Magic At Sea Staycation Cruise Part 3 – Debaraktion Day, Merch And Final Thoughts

Still here? It’s been a bit of an epic one sharing details of my recent Disney Magic At Sea cruise experience, but with so much on offer it’s hard to do it justice otherwise. In this third and final post, I’ll recap our final morning, debarkation arrangements and share the merch I bought (there’s probably a reason the latest Disney earnings call was so positive haha!). If you missed the previous posts you can catch up on part 1 here and part 2 here.

Now let’s go…!

Tipping and Debarkation Arrangements

Tipping is the norm on board and on the final night of the cruise information is delivered to your stateroom to help you organise this. There are envelopes for your stateroom attendant and dining service team, and a standard amount is added to your onboard account to cover this. If you’re happy with it, all you have to do is pop the slips detailing the tip in the relevant envelope and either hand it directly to the recipient or leave it in an appropriate place (your stateroom for your attendant or your breakfast table for your service team). Of course if you’re unhappy with the tip amounts added, you can visit guest services to amend things. Similarly, if you would like to leave cash then you can pop that in the envelope. We Brits aren’t used to tipping so this is a very straightforward way to manage the process, and by sticking to the amounts added to your account, there’s no risk of insulting someone by tipping too low!

You should also tip your server when purchasing drinks, but this can be added to your bill when you sign for the payment on your account. It’s easy to keep track of your spending in the Navigator app.

As for debarkation arrangements, this is all detailed in the app throughout the cruise so you can plan accordingly. You have the option of leaving your suitcase outside your stateroom the night before (luggage labels are delivered to your stateroom alongside the tipping information) so your luggage is transported off the ship for you, or you can do the “express walk off” where you take everything with you. We only had small cases so were happy to do this. You are also given a time to go to one of the dining rooms for your breakfast. Times are staggered to streamline the process and will likely be dictated by the onward travel information you provide when completing online check-in. Our flight wasn’t until late afternoon so our breakfast slot wasn’t until 8:40, meaning we were around 10am before we were ready to leave the ship. You should note, however, that when you leave your stateroom to go for breakfast you should have EVERYTHING with you as you won’t be able to return afterwards – it will be getting cleaned and sanitised already! Our stateroom attendant came to our door to remind us of this and say goodbye shortly before we left.

Also in our stateroom was a form with a survey to give feedback on our cruise. This helps to identify any issues there might have been and hopefully prevent them happening again. We had a fantastic experience so were happy to rate everything very highly and include the names of staff members who had helped to make things magical.

Animator’s Palate

I mentioned rotational dining in part 2 of my recap. Since there are three dining rooms it doesn’t take a genius to work out that on a 2 night cruise there will be one location you don’t get to have dinner in. To mitigate this, that third dining room becomes your final morning breakfast location on a 2 night cruise. For us, it was Animator’s Palate.

This was actually a restaurant I was keen to have dinner in and would actually have preferred to switch this with Lumière’s so that we could enjoy the show in this one (no show at breakfast time). Lumière’s was great, but I was a little disappointed to miss out on the show in Animator’s Palate and breakfast in Lumière’s would still have allowed me to see the stunning space.

This restaurant is themed to Disney animation and was still stunning even without the dinner show.

Our service team was still there for us and, like at dinner, we could order whatever we wanted form the menu and they would bring it to us. We had juice, coffee, a pastry and a cooked breakfast with some toast on the side. I may have let our server keep on refilling my coffee cup to prolong our time left on board! It was good to fill up before hanging around Southampton for a bit as it meant we didn’t need to get any more food while we waited.

Debarkation

When we finally tore ourselves away from the breakfast table, there was nothing for it but to leave the ship (they keep everywhere else closed so there is nothing to distract you from leaving – they need to get everything cleaned and ready for the next set of guests!).

We took our suitcases to the atrium where we scanned out with our key to the world card and soon found ourselves making our way back down the gangway and into the terminal. We hadn’t left British waters so there was no need for our passports to be checked or anything, and since we had our luggage with us we could walk straight out of there. Very simple.

Merchandise

Let’s face it, there was NO WAY I was going on a Disney cruise without buying loads of merch! I actually had a list of things I was looking for, mostly created from my knowledge of the sort of merch Disney makes anyway and then refined once I watched a couple of vlogs from another cruise. I had plenty of space in my suitcase and after doing relatively little for a year (and more!) was in the fortunate position that I had the means to treat myself. There were some disappointments as some items sold out super fast, but all in all I was happy with my purchases. Here’s a look at my haul:

Loungefly: backpack, lanyard/card holder and Christmas ornament.

Face masks. These were not in the packs I got on Shop Disney.

A lanyard and pins.

Spirit Jersey.

Front

Back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

T-shirts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plushes (Captain Duffy and Captain Minnie – Captain Mickey was sold out so I’m hoping to find him in future 🤞).

And of course, EARS!!

A pretty decent haul of things I tend to collect anyway, but in their Cruise Line versions.

Final Thoughts

Overall it was an absolutely brilliant experience and I’m so glad I did it. I’ve long wanted to go on a Disney cruise and was disappointed I didn’t get the chance while my sister was working her Cruise Line contract, so this experience scratched that itch. Of course it’s also now made me want to go on a longer cruise, with it now being a bucket list item for me to go on a sailing that includes a stop at Disney’s private island Castaway Cay. I also, of course, want to cruise with Steve as I know he would love the food options and variety of things to do. It may not be any time soon, but I will be back on the Magic or one of her sisters (Wonder, Dream, Fantasy or, currently being built, Wish) one day. I can highly recommend it.

Oh, for interested, here’s where we went:

And if you’re going on a Magic At Sea cruise this summer, I’d love to hear all about it.

Have a magical day and I’ll “sea” ya real soon!

Disney Magic At Sea Staycation Cruise Part 2 – Day At Sea

In this second part of my Disney Magic at Sea recap, I’ll cover what we got up to during our full day on board (part 1 is here if you missed it). We were certainly spoilt for choice as far as things to do were concerned and there was far more on offer than we we could possibly fit in. We did have some “must do” activities in mind, and used the Navigator app to favourite everything we were interested in. This was handy because it meant that 15 minutes ahead of the start time, we got a notification reminding us of the activity and, more importantly the location – make sure you have notifications on so you get these (mine also went to my Apple Watch, which was really handy).

Join me as I recap our magical day at sea…

Cabanas

We had both made an active start to the morning – my sister to the gym and me to the running deck – so were both in need of some food. We chose not to go to one of the main dining rooms as we had a reservation for brunch later in the morning and didn’t want to be too full, so chose Cabanas instead so we could opt for something lighter, just enough to take the edge off! Under normal circumstances Cabanas would be a buffet, but since buffets aren’t happening right now, it is set up with a number of identical stations, each featuring the exact same selection of food, and you simply tell the member of staff behind the counter what you would like and they serve it for you – if you want to pile your plate high with something, they’ll do that for you, no limits! We were required to wash or sanitise our hands before entering and we were greeted by a member of staff who explained the process, reminded us to wait until the party in front of us was finished before going up, etc.

I opted for a Mickey churro (all food tastes better when it’s Mickey-shaped!) and a chocolate chip pancake. The server seemed surprised when I said that was all I wanted, so I felt obliged to explain that I had a brunch booking so really only wanted a snack!

Drinks were also served to us at the drink station rather than it being self service, and here I went for orange juice and coffee. But not just any old coffee, the Joffrey’s coffee I have come to love in Walt Disney World. The first sip transported me to WDW, it just tasted like Disney parks in the morning!

We didn’t stay long as we wanted to fit in some more bits and pieces before changing for brunch, but the food all looked really great – fruit, cereals, cooked items, baked goods – so on another occasion I would have a decent go and trying lots of different things!

Marvel Morning

Although there were no themed events (Disney cruises in the “olden days” were known for things like Marvel Day at sea, Star Wars Day at sea, Pirate Day, etc) we were told that this particular morning would have a Marvel theme. This meant that the background music playing around the ship was Marvel, there were Marvel characters appearing in the atrium, Disney characters were wearing Marvel-themed clothing and there were Marvel activities like quizzes and animation classes. A brilliant morning for the Marvel fan. Since one of my lockdown projects had been to watch all of the MCU movies (just Black Widow to go now), I was looking forward to this.

The characters began appearing in the atrium not long after 8am and this was the first thing on the activity list for the day. With our stateroom being so near, we were able to see Captain Marvel on our way to breakfast, then later in the morning we saw Black Panther and Thor. These were great interactions, with the characters taking time to talk to guests or, in the case of Black Panther, encourage us to pose with our arms crossed over our chests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We didn’t have time for any of the quizzes or the animation class (I would have liked to do that one) but we did join the queue to meet Disney Pals in the cinema (where we had met Belle shortly after boarding). We were there before this started so were one of the earlier groups in and we got to meet Minnie Mouse and Pluto. Pluto was sporting a bandana with an Avengers motif, while Minnie had a Spider-Man logo on her top. Again, we had a lovely interaction.

I imagine the characters would have changed throughout the morning, but the queue was quite long when we passed again and we didn’t have time to wait.

Youth Activities Open House

The various Youth Activity areas are normally the sole preserve of the youngsters using them, however during the cruise there is also an “open house” to allow other guests to see that part of the ship. Having done my homework (read: I watched some vlogs) before our sailing I knew that Toy Story characters could be found in the Andy’s Room section of the Oceaneer’s Club, so we made sure to pay a visit after breakfast. While we were in Jessie was in attendance at one point there was nobody there getting pictures so we were able to spend a bit of time interacting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next to Andy’s Room there was also the Marvel Superhero Academy and although there were no characters there, it did offer some great photo ops and things to look at. I’d definitely recommend popping in here to see it.

Palo Brunch

Palo is positioned as a “chic, adult-exclusive” location and does have a dress code “to preserve the elegant ambiance”. In practice, this means dressing smartly (so no swimwear, shorts, torn clothing, etc). We had both packed a dress to put on so after Open House we headed back to our stateroom to change then went by the atrium to take some photos on the staircase while we were smartly dressed. Of course since we were inside we still had to have our masks on and my sister couldn’t stop laughing at me in my Mickey/Minnie face (as in their actual face) mask as she thought it was a bit too seamless looking on my face haha!

Palo is an additional charge of $45 per person, but I had heard that this was a must-do and my sister, despite working a contract on the Disney Wonder, had not had a chance to experience it so booking a table had been discussed before we even booked our cruise. If you’re thinking about it, I definitely think it was worth it.

We were greeted on arrival and shown to our table, which was by the window, although unfortunately this was at the part of the day when the weather was at its most iffy so mostly we watched a few brave souls stepping out into the rain and clutching their Minnie ears to prevent them blowing away 😂

The meal does include a mimosa (is that American for Buck’s Fizz?) but any further drinks would have a further cost. It was 11am so we were quite content with our mimosa and some water.

Our server David was superb. He was knowledgeable and attentive, without ever feeling intrusive. Although there is a menu, much like any other dining location on board you can order absolutely anything you want. I went so far as asking if there were any limits or “rules” and he told me not at all, whatever we asked for he would bring. And bring food he did! Again, in normal times there would have been a buffet as part of this experience but now everything is served to the table.

Having already eaten sweet foods for breakfast, I wanted savoury options, but we did also have a bread service and some pastries. By far the easiest choice was dessert – Warm Ameretto Chocolate Fondant, yum! This was David’s recommendation, but we had pretty much already picked that one out when we saw the menu!

We didn’t have any tea or coffee (which would have been an additional charge) as my sister was keen to get a coffee in the Cove Cafe and I was happy to go with that.

Overall a fantastic experience with AMAZING food. The only trouble is managing to eat enough of it!

Afternoon Activities

We did get changed again after Palo (I was on my holidays so regardless of the weather I was wearing shorts…with a jumper haha!) Then we got on with the important business of experiencing as many things as possible.

  • We went shopping (I’ll cover more about merch in part 3 of my recap)
  • We returned to the atrium to see the Disney Princesses – Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, Tiana and Ariel
  • We took lots of photos at various locations around the ship
  • We went to a Disney trivia quiz.

Highlights for me were the princesses and the quiz. I really enjoyed the socially distanced character interactions as even with guests spread out, the characters took time to interact with everyone and often there were two or more characters there. I would say that any character interaction will be greatly improved if you can bring something to the experience to further the discussion, so knowing a bit of a character’s story is really helpful. I’m definitely getting better at this as I had some great interactions on board. I also noticed that if you happened to be a small child in a princess dress, you got a REALLY great deal when it came to interactions with the princesses!

The quiz was in the Promenade Lounge and there were 20 multiple choice questions. I think we got 15 right, which wasn’t bad since there were some we had to guess. There was quite a moment when the entertainment staff member read out the answers at the end. We had been asked what season Frozen takes place in (Answer: summer. The whole point is Elsa accidentally freezes summer and Anna needs to find her to reverse her magic and bring back summer. Olaf even sings an entire song about summer). But the answer was read out as winter (apparently the presence of snow made it winter – that’s not how seasons work!) and there was such an outcry from around the room that the poor guy had to give a point for summer AND for winter. I bet he went back later to check his answer sheet afterwards – can’t get anything past a Disney fan!

There was also a surprise at the end of the quiz as Donald and Daisy arrived to pose for photos (top tip: characters will likely turn up at most of these kinds of activities). Each table was brought up in turn to get a photo so that we could maintain a safe distance and not form a crowd.

Taking photos was also good fun as there are a number of places on board that make great photo locations. My suggestions include by the funnels on the top deck, by the statue in the atrium and in the large porthole windows along by the clubs and bars. And of course there are frequently characters in the atrium. As we passed back through there after the quiz we had a great interaction with Rapunzel.

After all that my sister wanted to go for her speciality coffee (one she used to have when she was on the Wonder) but I didn’t want to hang around in the cafe so went for a bit of a wander on my own. I got myself a Minute Maid lemonade (another taste of being in America for me) then an ice cream but that made me a little chilly so I got a Joffrey’s coffee (from the beverage station, so no charge) to warm me up again. By the time I got back my sister was having a lovely catch up with the server in the cafe who had worked with her on the Wonder.

By this point it was time to return to the theatre for our evening show, this one titled Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic. Another excellent show and another one that brought a tear to my eyes as it included songs from a number of my favourite Disney movies and had a heartwarming message. We sat a bit closer to the front this time and enjoyed bubbles and “snow” falling on us at appropriate points in the performance. Honestly if you love Disney music and/or live theatre, absolutely take the chance to see these Broadway-style shows if you’re on board. A very talented cast and there is something for everyone. We also got a bonus surprise before this show started as Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald were brought out on stage to perform a little song and dance. I enjoyed that!

When it was our turn to leave the theatre we headed off to get changed (yes, again. I promise each change was necessary and I actually did wear everything I had with me bar one T-shirt). Out turn-down service had already taken place so there was another towel animal waiting for us, alongside our debarkation information.

On the way past the atrium I spotted Pluto who was doing a brilliant job interacting with guests, then on the way back Captains Mickey and Minnie were there again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before dinner we wanted to go to  one of the lounges where the performer who had played Mother Gothel in Tangled the night before had a half hour slot to sing some classic Disney songs. It turned out she was actually Scottish and her performance was excellent. The venue felt safe as tables were spaced out, numbers were limited and we had to leave a space between parties. All very pleasant.

Lumière’s

In case you didn’t know, Disney cruise ships operate on a rotational dining basis. This means that rather than one main dining room, there are three and you “rotate” from one to the next. You have the same table number and service team each time, but get a different experience in each venue. On a cruise longer than three nights you would repeat one (or more) of the locations.

Lumière’s is, of course, themed to Beauty and the Beast. It is an elegant room reminiscent of a ballroom and while there is no show in this dining room, there is a pianist playing live music. The entrance is just off the atrium so we were treated to seeing the princesses again during our brief wait to enter.

Here the food was again fantastic. I’ll never say no to a bowl of French onion soup, the steak was cooked perfectly and as for that dessert…if you get the chance to have this signature offering of a classic Opera Gateau, you have to do it – your taste buds will thank you!

Evening Entertainment

After dinner we passed back through the atrium where Pluto, Mickey and Minnie were once again greeting guests.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were on our way to the piano bar Keys. We wanted to have a drink and enjoy the live music. It felt very classy and the pianist was excellent – in the background yet aware of his audience as when we eventually left at the end of the night he drew us into his performance by switching seamlessly into the Mickey Mouse Club’s “Now it’s time to say goodbye” to wish us goodnight.

We both ordered a glass of fizz (we were on a fairly special trip after all!) and while we hadn’t intended staying as long as we did, we were having a lovely chat with our server Natallja and ended up hanging around. That’s something I’ve heard about the service on Disney ships before, that staff take an interest, engage you in conversation and, in the case of servers, remember your order so they can have it ready for you night after night if that’s what you want. From my experience, I would wholeheartedly agree with this. I wouldn’t normally sit on a bar chatting to my server, but this felt really nice, and you get to learn a bit about someone from a different part of the world.

The piano music from Tim Moss was actually the last thing on the activity list for the day, so we closed it down (and managed first activity to last – go us!). By the time we tumbled into bed it was already past midnight (but unlike Cinderella, I still had both my shoes and there wasn’t a pumpkin to be seen!).

 

We both had a really fantastic day and there were plenty of other things we could have done had there been time. For example, the cinema that had been used for character meets was, later in the day, used to screen movies. Had we wanted to we could have seen Cruella, Black Widow or Jungle Cruise, the latest Disney offerings currently only available for an additional fee on Disney+. On a longer sailing I might have considered it, but was reluctant to use up a couple of hours of precious cruise time to do something I could do at home (albeit without the additional fee). Instead, I wanted to do things that were more unique to the cruise experience.

Either way, once on board you can make your experience whatever you want it to be, whether that’s character meets, other activities or simply relaxing by the pool or eating as much as you can possibly squeeze in! I was really happy with our choices and we never had any “dead” time or time I felt was wasted, I just wished I could stretch the day out to fit in more!

 

Look out for my third (and final) Disney Magic At Sea post where I’ll go into a bit more detail about debarkation, onboard merch and my overall thoughts on the experience.

Disney Magic At Sea Staycation Cruise Part 1 – Pre-Trip Planning and Embarkation Day

If you read my most recent Week In Review post, then you already know that I went on a 2 night “Staycation Cruise” on board the Disney Magic, sailing out of Southampton. Even with just 2 nights there is SO much I can tell you, so thought it best to write separately about my experience. With so much to include, I’ve decided to split this into three parts, each looking at different aspects of the cruise. It should be noted that some of these things may change (some things were already different from the initial sailings) and there was so much more available to do than we could possibly fit in, so my account will barely scrape the surface of all the magical opportunities available on board.

Ready to learn about booking and embarkation day? Let’s go!

Booking and Online Check In

When these UK-only cruises were announced, my sister and I found the idea intriguing. In the absence of any other Disney-related travel opportunities this summer, it sounded like something we could do to get our Disney fix, so we kept an eye out for further details being announced. Unfortunately, when those details were announced we initially believed we would not be able to go due to the requirement to be fully vaccinated (which I totally understood and supported). At that point I hadn’t even had my FIRST dose of the vaccine, and with the gap between vaccines standing at 12 weeks back then, there was no way I would meet that requirement within the summer holidays. However when the gap between doses was later reduced to 8 weeks and I found myself with a blue envelope detailing my second appointment date before the end of term, we looked at it again to see if there were any sailings still available at a price point we were prepared to pay (and a time we could sail!). The 2 night sailing out of Southampton was really our only option as everything else fell within the Scottish school term, and the price was ok – a bit more than I would normally pay for a 2 night trip, but in a climate of “revenge travel” and several cancelled trips from 2020, I was happy to pay.

Booking was very simple online. We initially booked the cheapest stateroom available – Oceanview (so a porthole window) on deck 2. We could have paid a little more to go up one deck, but we really only planned to be in there to sleep so it didn’t seem worth it for us. We could either pay in full or pay a deposit, but we just went ahead and paid in full since it was already late June at the time of booking and full payment had to be made before you could check in online (30 days before sailing).

We were also able to book any paid add on experiences we wanted such as spa treatments, wine tasting or photo packages. The only one we wanted was brunch at Palo, an Italian inspired dining experience, since I had heard this was a “must do” and booking brunch rather than dinner meant we wouldn’t miss out on seeing any of the main dining rooms.

30 days out from our sailing date we were able to begin the online check-in process, again fairly simple, just a little time consuming. We had to upload ID (we used our passports), an up to date photo (which would be attached to our account so our ID could be easily verified at any time), attach a payment method to cover each of us for any onboard purchases and then choose a port arrival time.

This was also the moment at which we could book an arrival time to attend an evening show (at this point, just one show which would be performed, twice, on both evenings to allow as many guests as possible to attend) so as to facilitate reduced capacity in the theatre and social distancing, and my sister wanted to use the onboard gym so was required to book a 45 minute time slot (again, a safety measure to reduce numbers). These were both added to our plans in the Cruise Line Navigator app (a necessity to keep up to date with onboard activities and get reminders of plans). This actually changed a few days before our sailing as restrictions began to ease. Rather than have an arrival time for one show, we were notified that there would now be more performances available to us and we could simply choose which one to go to without booking – even go more than once if we wanted to! Similarly, the need to book a time to use the gym was removed, although other safety measures such as arriving ready to work out remained in place.

Health Requirements

As well as being fully vaccinated, there were some other health requirements to consider. Firstly, we had to upload our proof of full vaccination to the account we set up with the third party Disney was using to manage this. Everyone over 18 needed to provide this proof and anyone under 18 (who did not as yet have the option of the vaccine) needed to take a (paid for) PCR test and upload the result to the same website. Once verified, this generated a QR code which was checked at the port before we could advance any further.

In addition, EVERYONE had to take a rapid antigen (lateral flow) test at the port and have a negative result before being allowed to board (no additional charge for this one). Anyone testing positive (and those in their party) would not be able to board the ship. Throughout term time I had been taking these tests for work and my sister had used them too since her job is customer-facing, so neither of us were too bothered by this. But since we were travelling from Scotland to Southampton, we both took tests at home in the days before leaving, particularly the night before, so we knew we were negative for Covid at that point and were unlikely to get a nasty surprise!

These requirements, in addition to the enhanced measures on board – reduced capacity, social distancing, masks, enhanced cleaning, extensive use of hand sanitiser – made me feel confident that this was a controlled environment (unlike going somewhere at home when you have no idea what the vaccination status of others might be) and I was perfectly comfortable to be on board, much like when we visited Disneyland Paris last summer and felt incredibly safe on Disney property, even at a time when case numbers were rising.

Embarkation

All guests have a designated time to arrive at the port, this prevents everyone arriving at once and streamlines things a little more. We left ourselves plenty of time to get to the port and got there about 15 minutes ahead of our port arrival time. We fully expected to have to wait, but one of the many members of staff on hand told us we were fine to go ahead and drop off our luggage then join the queue to begin the pre-embarkation process.

First, our QR code for our proof of vaccination was checked alongside our booking number. Then we were put in the queue for the lateral flow tests. The queue moved quite quickly and there were loads of cubicles in operation (a whole party would go to a cubicle together).

A member of staff from the third party company guided us through the testing process (in essence what we had been doing at home, but with a couple of tiny differences) then took the tests away to be processed. Meanwhile another member of staff guided us to a waiting area and took us to specific seats (think school assembly hall being filled from the front) so we could wait safely. My sister was the lead name on our booking and had also set up the account with the third party testing company (with profiles for each of us) so the results of the tests were sent directly to her email really quickly.

Negative test results in hand, we were able to move into the next room to show ID and confirm our check in, go through security, then into the departure lounge to wait for our boarding group to be called. They were a couple of groups ahead of us so we maybe had 20 minutes to wait, then were called forward to join the queue to board. Our boarding documents/ID photos were quickly checked, and we were on our way!

At Southampton the ship is right there (I think at some other ports there was a bus to take guests to it) and we walked through a gangway to the ship. The part I was most excited for at this point was being announced on board. They have a member of staff to greet you, check the family name then announce over microphone:

“Disney Magic, please welcome on board the [insert name] family!”

During the announcement, guests move into the main area (known as the atrium) and are guided to a spot to stand (social distancing). Meanwhile the staff, other guests and, most importantly, Captains Mickey and Minnie (who were waiting on the atrium stairs) applaud.

Once a certain number of parties have boarded, a crew member steps forward to welcome everyone and everybody’s favourite mice dance to “Come on Everybody, Get Your Ears On”. I loved that the Disney touch was immediate, so there was no doubt about where we were.

From there, a couple more things have to be done and we were guided the whole way. Come to think of it, from arriving at the port there was quite a lot of being shunted from one thing to the next, but everyone is so lovely that you don’t really notice.

First up, we were taken through to Fathoms, one of the evening entertainment venues, where a member of staff made sure we were all set up with the app so it could be used on board.

Finally, we had to go to our muster station for the modified muster drill. Rather than have everyone gather at a certain time and listen to safety instructions, we had to visit the muster station fairly soon after boarding then use the app to take a photo of the sign there to show we had attended. The safety instructions played as a video within the app and on the stateroom tv.

With all that done, we were able to go to our stateroom. Oh, and when we got our stateroom assignment a week or two before sailing, we realised we had been upgraded from deck 2 to deck 5. I liked that location as the atrium covered decks 3-5 so it was easy to pop over throughout our sailing to see what characters were appearing there to wave and interact with guests.

Every guest gets a “key to the world” card which is basically your room key but is also scanned before any purchases to verify identity (that photo uploaded during the online check in), this also allows crew members to address guests by name, which is a really nice touch. On a cruise with port excursions, this would also be scanned as guests leave and return to the ship The cards are on the wall outside your stateroom when you arrive, and your luggage is delivered there too (I believe cases were being sanitised before being brought on board). Our cases weren’t there immediately, but there was still plenty of time for them to get there and next time we returned to our room they were waiting for us.

Within moments of arriving there was a knock at the door and our stateroom attendant was there to welcome us on board, let us know what he would be doing to look after us and see if we needed anything. Our attendant Gede, much like other crew members we encountered, drew our attention to his name badge and repeated his name during the conversation to ensure we knew who was looking after us. He was appropriately friendly and any time we encountered him in a hallway he would wave and call hello. Another touch I really liked as it made me feel welcome, comfortable and at home on board.

Things To Do

We spent a few minutes looking at the app as we were now able to see the activities available. This was when we noticed that a different show was listed for that evening. This was confirmed later when the Cruise Director made a ship-wide announcement letting us know that they were now able to offer TWO shows (one per evening, performed twice each time) and that we were on the first sailing to have this. For our first evening, we were going to see Tangled. A recording of this was actually released on one of the Disney YouTube channels during lockdown last year and I had enjoyed watching it, so was excited for a live performance. At time of writing, the recording is still available here.

We headed off to explore a bit and almost immediately a member of staff outside the onboard cinema asked us if we would like to meet Belle. Of course we did! She was doing a meet and greet and there was nobody else in there, so I had a great interaction with her. I happened to be feeling mermaid-y (what else would I pick for an at-sea adventure?) and on our way out another member of staff gave me a hint about where I might find Ariel the following day.

From there we headed to the top deck where we took some pictures, grabbed a snack then sat down to listen to the mandatory pre-sailing safety announcement. That done, we headed to the theatre (pausing only to peer in the windows of the not-yet-open merch locations!) for the first performance of Tangled (because we were on the second sitting for dinner – the show times are designed to work around that and those on first sitting would see the second show).

The show was excellent and unsurprisingly I shed a tear or two. I think it was a combination of really relating to Rapunzel in lockdown last year, finally being on board and seeing a live theatrical performance. I’m one of those people who cry at Disney anyway so I knew it was going to happen (if I’m honest, I’d already had a few tearful moments) but I think it was the live aspect that really got me.

On our way out of the theatre the shops were open (although there was a queue to get into each of them) so we decided we had time to go into just one (the one with the shorter queue!) whereupon I made sure to buy a pair of ears – I never feel like I’m truly at Disney until I’ve done that! Had I known how quickly some items were going to sell out, I might have got a couple more things at that point rather than leaving it to the next day, but you live and learn. If you’re going on one of these cruises, my advice is if you see an item you want to buy, don’t wait!

Rapunzel’s Royal Table

Next up, we got changed for dinner. While there is no requirement for formal dress (attire is described as “cruise casual”) I did want to put a dress on, not least because I had been in my other clothes since about 3am!

I loved the theming in the restaurant, with replicas of “wanted” posters from the movie, the sun logo from the Kingdom of Corona and lanterns everywhere. Perfect for the Tangled fan.

Menus for each restaurant were accessed through the app, or there was a QR code on each table to help you if you needed it. The menu looked great and although we opted for a standard three courses, the beauty of all-inclusive cruise food is that you can have whatever you want, for example multiple dishes within one course because you can’t decide or want to try something. I was pretty hungry, but was also feeling rather tired by this point and had probably gone past the stage where I could manage to eat a great deal. A bit of a shame, but I did try something from each course (my starter was particularly delicious, and as for that dessert…yum!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We chose to have soft drinks to accompany our meal (included with the cruise price we already paid) but could have purchases an alcoholic beverage should we have wanted it.

Throughout our meal there were mini shows on a stage in the dining room featuring Rapunzel, Flynn Rider and a couple of ruffians (no doubt regulars at the Snuggly Duckling). Each one was a different short scene, with the final one bringing in the service team to parade through the room with lanterns. I suspect this may be a modified version of a show from pre-Covid times, but it was still good fun. My only quibble would be that while the sound was excellent, the view from our table wasn’t the best.

Freezing The Night Away

There were further activities available in the evening, including quizzes, bars with musical acts and adult only areas (for a quiet drink sans children). We wanted to see the Frozen-inspired show on the top deck, Freezing The Night Away. This had been performed a couple of times already and this was the final one (it was only on for this one night). We knew it was set up to be socially distanced, with each party standing in a marked off area, and with it being later on I wasn’t worried about it being really busy.

We had plenty of time and, realising it was quite cool (we were “at sea” by this point, after all) we quickly nipped back to our stateroom. My sister actually put her pyjamas on, along with a hoody, and I grabbed the spirit jersey I had been wearing when we set off early in the morning and flung it over my dress. Not my finest look, but I was glad of the extra layer!

The show was fun and included all the main characters from Frozen either on deck in front of us or on the “funnel vision” screen. At one point it even “snowed” on us! A great way to round off our day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the show we thought it would probably be best to get some sleep,. We both wanted to be up sharp to really maximise our day at sea, and were already exhausted from a looooooong day. We made our way back to our stateroom for the evening (where our stateroom attendant had already been in for the turndown service which included a chocolate each and a towel animal – love those!).

On the way there I ran into my good friend who works in Youth Activities. I had managed to see her briefly not long after boarding, but we had time for a good chat at this point and a quick picture – we hadn’t seen each other since November 2019 since up until the world stopped, she had been based on one of the other Disney ships and was mostly sailing out of Port Canaveral. It was so good to see her in person (plus Chip and Dale were interacting in the atrium at that point too!).

And so, to bed. Next up, details of what we got up to on our day at sea…