View Full Version : Ed Knowles - Land/Sea (September 1998) - Polynesian, DCL Magic

Trip Reports
02-22-2007, 09:16 AM
* Time of Year: Fall
* Travel Method: Plane
* Resort: Polynesian
* Accommodations
* Ages Represented in Group: Elementary, Teen, Adult
* Disney Cruise Experience Represented in Group: Rookie (but everyone is now, right?)
* Comments: Ed's report covers a nice few days at WDW followed by a wonderful cruise on the Magic. The report is the most detailed one I've posted so far on the cruise. Ed did a great job of describing life aboard the flagship of Disney's cruise lines.

Ed Knowles -- September 1998 -- Walt Disney World (PBR) / Disney Cruise Trip

1998 Disney World/Disney Magic Trip Report


We (Myself (Ed), wife (Jan), daughters - (Shannon) 5, (Jenna) 11, (Alison) 13, and my parents) did the 4-day WDW, 3 day cruise from 9/14/98 to 9/21/98. I will only briefly cover the WDW part of the vacation since I have nothing new to add to the numerous great trip reports I have read on this group. I will try to cover the cruise part in detail since I have not seen too many trip reports on the Disney Magic as of yet, especially positive ones. My goal is not to describe the details of the ship, just provide information to help others plan appropriately. I read another negative trip report from the inaugural cruise in this Sundayís paper. While I concede that the inaugural cruise must have been full of problems, Iím fed up with reading about it. These reports scared me and they are scaring other people scheduled for the cruise. Our experience aboard the Disney Magic was the best time any of us have ever had by a long shot. I am still dreaming exclusively of the cruise and have been waking up the last few nights thinking I am still on the ship. What a let down when I realize I am back home. It probably helped that we are all first time cruisers, so we didnít have any expectations of what a cruise is "supposed" to be. This was our second time to WDW (first for Shannon). I lived for 25 years within a few miles of Disneyland, visits too numerous to count.

Day 1, Monday, 9/14

Thanks to the great information in RADP, Deb Wills, Brian Bennett, Jeff Spencer and many others, we were able to "do" WDW in 3 1/2 days without going commando. I had selected must-do attractions rather than try to systematically hit all rides. This kept us from getting too tired and still allowed us to see most of the parks. Weather every day was 85-90, and humid with occasional rain that never inconvenienced us. We loved the tropical feel this gave us.

We arrived in Orlando at 3:40 PM on a non-stop from Denver. Cruise Line employees escorted us to our DCL bus and an informational video was shown during the drive, and an envelope to put our cruise documents in handed out. We were at the Polynesian by 4:40 PM and in our beautiful rooms in the Oahu building (pool side, 2nd floor, lagoon end) by 5:00 PM. We gave the Polynesian desk CM our filled out paperwork and showed him our birth certificates (with raised seals) plus picture IDís for the adults. We were then given our "magic" cards that got us in to everywhere, even the cruise ship. Very painless operation.

We were at EPCOT (via monorail) before 6 PM. No crowds, everything a walk on. Did some rides (Spaceship Earth, HISTA, Figment), ate at the Land food court, then watched Illuminations from the point of land near the bridge where the boats gather (the "secret" garden next to the Rose and Crown was closed for a private party). Great view, crowds only 1 person deep with openings all around. Started our quest for pressed coins. The girls kept their eyes out for the machines and we were able to get quite a collection (40 pennies, 5 quarters) during the trip, representing much of what we did. I had saved quarters for eight months, so we had more than enough for this fun endeavor. Back to the Polynesian by 10 PM, swam in the slide pool until midnight.

Day 2, Tuesday, 9/15

We bought 5 refillable mugs from Captain Cookís and got more than our moneyís worth during our stay at the Polynesian (coffee, coke, pink lemonade, hot chocolate), as well as nice souvenirs. We brought a lot of breakfast snacks along in order to save money and time on breakfasts.

We were at MGM (via bus) by 9:30 AM. Somewhat crowded, but everything except TOT was a walk on (TOT 10 Minutes). Did TOT, VOTLM, Star Tours, Muppetvision 4D, and the HISTK playground. After VOTLM, we decided to skip the rest of the live shows due to the large amount of time they took, and due to the fact that we would be seeing three very good live performances on the cruise. I realize we missed some great shows, but we just couldnít fit them in.

Went back to the Polynesian for a rest and swim. Got to the MK (via Ferry) by 2:30. Ate at the Plaza Restaurant, no wait. Thanks to RADP, I knew to split entrees and have a milkshake. Great meal, but we should have split the milkshakes as well since they were indeed huge! Did most of the rides in Fantasy Land (Carousel, Dumbo, Peter Pan, Snow White, Itís a Small World (oh the horror!)). Hit all the rest of the non E-Ticket rides since we had E-Tickets for 7-10 PM (Autopia, Pirates, Tiki Birds, Splash Mountain, Jungle Cruise). Hit all the big rides except BTMRR which was closed (Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Alien Encounter, Circlevision, Astro Orbitor) and were back to the Polynesian by 9:30 PM. Swam until 11 PM.

Day 3, Wednesday, 9/16

At AK by 9 AM (via bus). Did Kilimanjaro Safaris and saw everything except cats. Did Itís Tough to be a Bug, CTX (twice) and the dinosaur playground. Walked around the rest of the park, but didnít do any other attractions. Went to Rainforest Cafe (no wait) and once again split entrees.

Back to Polynesian by 1 PM and to Typhoon Lagoon by 2 PM. TL wasnít crowded at all. We did everything without any lines or body bumping. Even did Shark Reef several times with no wait and no rush. The CMís even encouraged us to linger and watch them feed the fish. The colder water of Shark Reef was very refreshing, and not even that cold. Great wave pool. We loved the way people would scream when the big WOOSH of the 6 foot waves was heard. TL was our favorite experience of the WDW part of the trip. It even poured rain at one point, but it was 85 degrees and we just kept going without even noticing the rain. I guess a water park without crowds on a hot humid day is pretty close to paradise. Even Shannon did everything, including Shark Reef, but couldnít and wouldnít do the wedgie slides (too short, too scared). She loved the raft and winding body slides. We left TL at 5:30 PM. Had a pretzel (hard) and a funnel cake (hit the spot) on the way out.

Next came the one bad experience of our trip. The BUS from HELL. Being unfamiliar with the WDW transportation system, we boarded a bus at the stop marked for the Polynesian. I mentioned that maybe we should wait for the TTC bus since it wouldnít be making a bunch of other stops, but we couldnít resist getting on a bus already waiting. We got to see about 7 resorts which I didnít mind, but we had now been on the bus for an hour, and we were beginning to become very impatient. Then we started repeating some of the stops. I asked the driver when he would stop at the Polynesian and he told me never. Turns out the TL bus stop was for two different bus routes, and we were on the Y&BC, BW, CBR, etc. one.

Finally got back to the Polynesian by 7 PM. Went to Disney Marketplace and ate at McDonalds and shopped. Got back to the Polynesian just in time to catch the electrical water pageant. Swam until late once again.

Day 4, Thursday, 9/17

Got to EPCOT by 10 AM to do the lands. Did Ellenís Universe of Energy, and Ice Station Cool until World Showcase opened. Did Norway Maelstrom (no wait) and saw the Voices of Liberty (excellent a cappella singers) and the Great American Adventure. Had a bit of rain, but donned our ponchos and saw all of the lands. Finished off the rest of the rides in Future World (Body Wars, Horizons). Ate lunch at the Garden Grill rotating character restaurant at the Land. Since the restaurant was only half full, we got many visits by the characters.

Back to the Polynesian by 5 PM. Rode the Water Sprites in the Seven Seas Lagoon for 1/2 hour. My girls really enjoyed this. Alison drove one boat with Jenna, and I drove the other boat with Shannon. The clouds started thickening and let loose with a 1 hour downpour which turned to a light rain for the next 3 hours.

We went to Disney Quest with the idea of leaving the girls there and going to the Adventurerís Club. First, we needed to go inside to make sure Shannon could handle it. Turns out you have to buy credits to get in, and anyone under 12 must be accompanied by an adult. The ticket CM said we would love the place and browbeat us into an $86 family package (375 credits). Turns out we couldnít have left Shannon alone anyway since the older girls did different types of games. We barely managed to spend our credits before closing. Some of the virtual reality games were fun (raft and Hercules), but way too expensive, up to 16 credits per person. It may be that weíre not big arcade buffs, but we felt Disney Quest was a big ripoff due to their mandatory credit buy policy. Also, itís very difficult to navigate and hard to exit and re-enter. Nevertheless, the girls did have a good time.

Got back to the Polynesian at midnight and Shannon just had to go swimming and sliding, even though the pools closed at midnight. Since I had noticed other people swimming before opening and after closing, we went for it. Swam till 1 AM without anybody bothering us. One other item: We never saw a mosquito on this trip.

Day 5, Friday, 9/18

The big day is finally here. We have to have our checked bags by the door (inside) by 8:30 AM. They are picked up promptly. We have until 11:45 to get on the bus to Port Canaveral, so we take the monorail to the Grand Floridian and check it out. Walk back to the Polynesian along the lagoon and explore the wedding chapel. What a spot for pictures. See the Polynesian Luau area and head for the lobby with our carry on luggage. Did some last minute shopping and are on the first bus by 11:35 AM. Watched DCL video and then part of Home Alone.

Were at the DCL terminal by 1:10 PM. All we had to do was get our carryons x-rayed, pass through a metal detector, and let them scan our cards (ALWAYS have your card on you for the entire cruise). People on the cruise only package had to get their paperwork handled at the terminal, but the lines were not long. The ship is absolutely exquisite inside and out. I canít begin to describe it. We were in our Staterooms by 1:30 PM (Deck 7, with verandahs). Went to eat at Topsiderís Buffet. Good food, but I noticed the lines got pretty long after 2 PM. Note: Juices and coffee are available at the buffet, not soda. Sodas are only free in the restaurants at dinner. Otherwise they are about $1.50 or $2.00 (not sure). Alcoholic beverages were $3.75, even fancy drinks. The same drinks (strawberry daiquiri, pina colada, etc.) without alcohol for the kids were $2.75. All bar drinks have a 15% gratuity added automatically. I found these prices to be quite reasonable. Even this huge 2 foot glass filled with your choice of drink, hung around your neck with a DCL strap was under $7. Coffee, ice and water, and I believe milk are available 24 hours a day on deck 9 aft at a self service station.

After lunch, I went to find a "one stop" station to discuss shore excursions and make any changes in dinner and show times. Turns out they were all over the place (CMís at a makeshift podium with a laptop), midship, deck 4 (I think). Locations will be on your Personal Navigator in your Stateroom. There was no line. I decided our times (6:00 PM dinner and 8:15 PM show) were perfect and did not purchase any shore excursions since I was not able to find any decent information on Nassau shore excursions and didnít want to risk lots of money x 5 people. Note: Contrary to what the cruise brochure led me to believe, you do not get a "personal" itinerary. You get tickets with your dinner times and locations and show times printed on them. You only need your tickets for the first night to confirm youíre at the right table number and time. Otherwise, each evening, when the room steward makes up your room (very special), he/she leaves a paper that lists all the entertainment, docking/cast-off times, character appearances, food served, etc. for the next day. It is very important for you to look this over frequently. There is always something to do and eat, but you need to be at the right place at the right time. Ship made ice cream from 1-3 and 4-6, pizza from 7-12 Midnight, snacks (a la midnight buffet) from 11:45 to 1 AM, etc. Same goes for entertainment and pool/whirlpool hours. If you donít have anything to do, then you are very hard to please, or you arenít paying attention to whatís available.

We never experienced long lines for anything. The longest was about 10 minutes for ice cream. Unlike other cruise ships I saw on this cruise, there are several decks outside you can walk on the Disney Magic. Decks 4 and 9 you can walk all the way around the ship, as well as portions of deck 10. You will have no problem finding your special places out on deck. I checked in Jenna and Shannon into the Oceaneer Club and Lab programs and Alison went to check out the teen lounge. Note: Neither of my younger daughters liked the Oceaneer activities and participated very little, but they also never gave it much of a chance and we did not push them. Fortunately, there were plenty of other things for them to do, and they were never bored or unhappy. If they do participate in the kids play rehearsed and given the final full day of the cruise, they will get a cool T-shirt worn by many of the CMís on Castaway Cay that says "Discovered the Magic". After hearing about this, we did get Shannon interested in the play and she really enjoyed herself and got a T-shirt. Alison made lots of friends and we hardly ever saw her since she was in the teen lounge whenever possible. Jenna and Shannon went swimming and down the Mickey slide several times.

Next came the one thing I had been dreading, the muster or evacuation drill at 4:15. You had to wear a very uncomfortable vest, stand out on a deck under a lifeboat and try to hear your room number called over the crying of kids and talking of some rude men who the crew had to quiet 5 times. You then get to hear a 5 minute announcement on why this drill is so important. I fully agree this is important (icebergs, fires, etc.), but was hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable the whole time.

We settled in and proceeded to deck 10 forward to watch the ship leaving port (5 PM departure). This, unknown to me at the time, was right in front of the seven "when you wish upon a star" horns. They are extremely loud, beautiful sounding, and made chills run up and down my whole body, but they scared the sh.. out of us when they first went off. The entire ship cheered as the people on the nearby "Big Red Boat" (Oceanic) looked jealously on (Iím sorry, but that ship is relatively small and dumpy looking). I was figuring out how I could get the horns on video without taping randomly in hopes of catching them. I found the perfect opportunity and will share it with you later in the report.

We slowly got underway and then put the petal to the metal when we hit open sea. Waves were supposedly 5 feet, but you could feel the vibration from the engines more than you could any kind of swaying movement, so seasickness was not even an issue for us. Went back to the room to get ready for dinner. Plenty of space, even for 5 of us (Alison was listed as with my parents in the adjoining room, but stayed with us). Watch out for the turbo flush toilets. The kids flushed and ran to avoid the noise.

Time for our 6 PM dinner. The variety of food choices at all of the dinners was excellent. There were 5 to 6 appetizer choices (you could get them all if you wanted to) and about 6 entree choices. We found the food very good and satisfying at all of the restaurants. The two younger kids had meals from the childrenís menu which was the same at all restaurants. Our first night was at Animatorís Palette. The entire meal was a show that I wonít try to describe. We had an Italian waiter and Jamaican assistant waiter. They were both excellent and entertaining. Many people wore shorts even though pants/skirts/dresses were required I wore a nice pair of jeans at dinners except for dress up night at Lumierís. Dinners ran about 1 1/2 hours leaving us time to do whatever prior to the 8:15 show.

The show for tonight was Voyage of the Ghost ship. It was entertaining with good singing and dancing. I wonít try to describe the theater, but it was beautiful, well laid out, and never full, so seats were not a problem. All shows ran about 1 hour long. After the show we checked out the shops. Note: No taxes are charged on anything purchased on the ship; and nobody handles cash, so you must use your card to purchase things. We found the merchandise adequate and expensive as usual, and bought hundreds of dollars worth. I was just hoping for more DCL/Disney Magic merchandise choices. Iím sure more will come out as time goes on.

Jenna realized she had left her little backpack with money and important "magic" card in the theater. I snuck back in while they were rehearsing, got shot at by a cannon, but didnít find the backpack. Went to Guest Services and it had already been turned in, everything intact. Disney Magic! I returned three lost items I found during the remainder of the trip in gratitude, including a very expensive looking diverís watch.

For the rest of the evening, we checked out the nightclubs, ate pizza, walked the decks, sat out on our verandah and watched the sea go by in the warm, humid air, etc., etc. Note: Only important shipboard announcements were piped into the rooms. All others were not. Alison in room by 11:30 PM (It gets later each night).

Day 6, Saturday, 9/19

Something woke me up early just as we were about to enter Nassau harbor/bay. I pulled open the drapes and was blown away by the view. Lighthouse, crystal clear blue and turquoise water and bright sunshine. I was out on the balcony so fast I almost went over the edge. The balconies are very private (walled on sides) so being undressed on one is not a problem unless you are docked next to another large ship. Pretty soon my whole family was up watching us come into dock. It was very warm and very humid at 7AM, so we must be in the tropics. We got dressed and headed to Parrot Cay restaurant for breakfast (you have a choice of the buffet, Lumierís, or Parrot Cay for breakfasts). It was a pretty standard breakfast fare, but very good.

We put our bathing suits and sunscreen in a carry bag and headed off the ship at 9 AM onto the dock. We boarded a ferry (scow) on the dock to head to Paradise Island and the Atlantis Resort. They waited about 15 minutes until every last space was filled, collected $2/person, and took off for the 15 minute ride. Some guy comes out and starts giving us a "tour" of what homes belong to who. He then says he is only paid by our tips and goes around with a hat. I gave him a buck. It was more amusing than anything else. The walk from the Paradise Island dock to the Atlantis Hotel/Casino was hot and about 10 minutes long. After wandering around for awhile we found caves that allowed for viewing of numerous ocean fish in their large man-made lagoons. We finally found the beach after wandering through gorgeous waterfalls, gardens, ponds with different sea life including large sea turtles, and pools (for hotel guests only). We found a restroom near a snackbar and changed into our suits (should have just wore them in the first place).

Went down to the beach to see about getting a lounge chair. This is where we found that if you are not a resort guest (with wristband ID), you are scum. If you even touched a lounge chair, some guy would run up with a clipboard and try to charge you $15. We ended up just putting our bag of stuff on the beach and covered it with a poncho, which was not a problem. As I fended off the jewelry and hair braiding vendors, we entered the water. We were in heaven. The water was warm, crystal clear and even had a scattering of tropical fish. We must have spent 2 hours just floating in the water watching the parasailers, various other water sports that probably cost a fortune, and the amusing scenes when scum like us tried to grab a lounge chair. Drinks at the beach bars were $5.75 for a small plastic glass.

We got dressed, headed to the casino, and tried our luck there, just $10 each. No luck at all. From what I could see watching other people, their machines are very tight. Donít waste your money. Grabbed a taxi (limo) back to the town area near the docks. $4/person or $28 for a ten minute ride. Iím sure you can start to see a pattern here: Tourist ripoff. Checked out the 50% off T-shirt store recommended by the DCL handout. 50% off outrageous prices equates to full price ($18 for a bottom of the line T-shirt). Passed on the shirts and picked up a 6-pack of Pepsi for $4.50 from a liquor store to put in our refrigerator in the room. I later heard that there was a "Straw Market" somewhere that had reasonable prices. Overall we had a great time for very little money, but I was not very impressed with Nassau. If I return, I hope to have a better idea of what to do there.

We were back on the ship by 2:30, plenty of time to enjoy some ice cream sundaes from Scoops on Deck 9. Very good! Got on our suits and headed to the family pool and whirlpools. Bought the 2 foot drinks (Strawberry Daiquiri and Pina Colada) and laid in a lounge chair and the whirlpool and drank, soaking up the atmosphere. We then explored the ship, and watched the vendors and other amusements on the dock from our balcony. Showered and dressed in our bright colors for dinner at Parrot Cay. I found the large choice of unusual appetizers to be the highlight of the meals. My kids seemed to enjoy the fancy drinks (sans alcohol, $2.75) the most. Had our pictures taken by a photographer. Relaxed a bit after dinner watching various activities in exposed staterooms on the Ecstasy docked next to us. The show tonight was Hercules the Muse-ical. A good show, but too much humor and not enough story. Also, had a 10 minute delay due to a failing microphone. Did the shopping/nightclub/wandering/pizza stuff. Was never able to make it to midnight to see what their snacks were, but was told they were meat, cheeses, etc. Alison in room by 1:00 AM.

Day 7, Sunday, 9/20

I set my alarm early so I wouldnít miss our approach to Castaway Cay. Got up (still pretty dark) and put my camera and camcorder out on the verandah. I learned in WDW that you need 15-30 minutes for the camera equipment to warm up, otherwise you will get fog on the lenses and the camcorder will often refuse to run due to moisture detection. I heard warming it up with a haidryer also works. Saw land up ahead and woke the rest of the crew. What a gorgeous sight we had of the business side of the island from our port (left) side stateroom. Got dressed and headed up to Topsiderís Buffet for breakfast. No lines and a very wide array of food. I liked this better than breakfasts in the restaurants.

Put our bathing suits on and threw a shirt on, and headed off the ship. Got our picture taken with the entire ship in the background. Got on the tram for the short drive to the family area. Staked out some loungechairs with umbrella and went to rent three sets of snorkel equipment. Very expensive ($66). We took turns snorkeling. The only reason I had to buy 3 sets was because of the varied sizes required. They told me I could exchange anything if it didnít fit, so it might be best to buy 1 kids and 1 adult outfit and exchange as required. The snorkeling was very disappointing. For some reason, the water was cloudy (~20 ft. visibility) and there wasnít much to see. Possibly due to the residual silt from the dredging of the docking area nearby. Lots of cement cones with fish around them, some "planted" shipwreck pieces, and seagrass, no natural rock formations. The cones will be beautiful coral formations some year. Turned in the snorkel equipment and got 3 Castaway Cay pins that you could only get there. Turns out they were also at She Sells for $2.75.

Went to Sea Sells to look at the merchandise. Very disappointed in the selection. Only a few white shirts with Castaway Cay logo. The only good looking shirts said "Disneyís The Wild Side", and I wasnít sure what that meant. Disney had better get a larger selection. They could have made a few more hundred off of me if they had a selection equal to that on the ship. We ended up buying a water proof container and numerous cup holders shaped like a life jacket with the Castaway Cay logo on them, no shirts.

My wife and I headed to the adult beach by tram (otherwise a long hot walk). The water was shallow for 100 yards out at least, and very clear. The beach was narrow and very long. Nice area, but not worth sticking around for us parents. Saw the hiking trail leading from this area and went down it a ways. It would be worth renting a bike for $5 and riding the trail if it took you all the way to the other side of the island, otherwise there is only low brush and a few pine trees. Went back to the family area and had the barbecue lunch. Minimal lines and OK food.

Went swimming some more and took the girls to get their hair braided, $1/braid, half the price as in Nassau. There was an hour wait because some lady was getting about 40 braids. I think they should limit braids to keep waiting times down. While Jan was waiting with the girls, I bought a can of coke for the girls ($1.50) and a Caribbean Freeze (rum and fruit slush) for Jan ($3.75). Shannon asked to taste the freeze and I said sure, whatís a sip going to hurt. I turned around to get my camcorder and when I turned back, she was still sipping away. It was really a tasty drink. Got Shannon to pose with Minnie, cute picture. There were characters scattered about throughout the day. Various water craft were available for $8 per 1/2 hour and up, but the lagoon used for this was fairly small. Flotation rafts were available for $5 for the day. The visuals on this island are fantastic. You can get a lot of nice pictures here and feel you are in paradise as you walk, swim and sit. We did not want to leave, but headed back to the ship at 3PM so we could get some before dinner ice cream sundaes at Scoops.

I would recommend snorkeling first thing since people tend to kick up the sand/silt. Rent a bike and ride around and/or rent a raft and float in the water with a drink. There are numerous hammocks to lay in including 6 under some small palm trees, behind the snorkel rental hut that nobody was ever using. This is one big relaxing experience.

On the way back to the ship, I sent my family onto the ship and headed along the dock towards the back of the ship to get a picture of Goofy hanging from the ship. The dock was blocked before the end of the ship and I was getting bummed until I saw a marked trail to the left. This trail led to the end of the point with a great view of the open ocean, unused side of the island, a sign showing where Castaway Cay is located in the Bahamas, and to my delight, a great view of the stern of the ship and goofy. Got my pictures and headed back on board.

Got our now traditional sundaes from scoops and relaxed. At about 5 PM, I went on Deck 10 forward with my camcorder to film our leaving and try to catch the horns. Missed the first horn, then the second. Randomly camcorded and rewound. Finally resigned myself to hitting the record button when and if the horns started, probably missing the first or second notes. To my joy, as soon as we cleared the island (~5:10), they sounded the horns. I pushed record and caught part of the "song", and then they played the horns three more times in succession, and I got all of them complete. After picking myself off of the deck (they are very loud), I headed back to the room to shower and dress up for pictures and dinner at Lumiers. We got our pictures taken in front of the Captain Mickey statue in front of Lumiers and in a Castaway Cay type scene in front of a Disney Magic life preserver. We are all pretty red in the pictures due to the sunny day on the beach. Our table was right next to one of the 6 foot diameter portholes, so we had a beautiful view of the ocean as we ate. Dinner was very enjoyable.

I had gone to Guest Services on Deck 3 earlier and charged tips to my card and received receipts for each crew member to be tipped. I placed these into envelopes provided and handed them out to the Head Waiter, Head Server, Assistant Server, and our Stateroom Hostess. Recommended tips total about $30 per person in your stateroom. I was pretty put off by this amount at the start of the trip, but was so pleased with the service that I gave even more, with the Stateroom Hostess getting the lionís share. Total tips was about $153 since my parents sprung for Alison.

Headed down to Shutterís after dinner to look for some of our pictures. We did this every night and it was loads of fun. Pictures are $6.95 each for one 5x7 print. Reprints are not possible on the last night, I believe, so you can only get what is laid out on the display boards the final night. Sometimes, our pictures didnít show up till about 10:30 PM, so you need to keep checking. Digital pictures could be viewed and ordered (for next morning pickup) from computer terminals. You could even add a boarder to these. You will know if your getting a digital picture taken because the photographer will scan your room card to identify your group to the picture in the database. The best picture ended up being us in front of the ship at Castaway Cay, so donít pass up the photographer when you disembark here. I also saw some good pictures of people in front of a large fake fish near the family lagoon on Castaway Cay. This one seemed to be everybodyís favorite, but we missed it.

Tonightís show was Disney Dreams, by far the best of the shows since it has many of the Disney movie characters and the associated songs. Did some final shopping, ate pizza, walked around, etc. Alison in room by 3 AM, and she paid for this one the next day, but she had fun.

Day 8, Monday, 9/21

Your final breakfast is scheduled with your waiters in the last restaurant dined in, but you can also eat at Topsiderís Buffet if you decided to stiff them on the tip (please donít do this as cruise ship employees are not that well paid and rely on tips to make a living). We ate with our waiters to enjoy one last time with them. Breakfast was early (6:30 AM) since you had to be out of your stateroom by 8 AM and off the ship by 9 AM. Make sure to note on the luggage tags they give you the previous night which color zone your luggage will be at in the terminal. Reluctantly left the ship, picked up our luggage, cleared customs within minutes and were on the bus to the airport. At the Orlando airport by 10 AM. Fortunately, we were able to change our 3:15 PM departure to 11:50 AM. This gave us some time to buy some more souvenirs at the Disney store in the terminal. Got on the plane and slept through an uneventful flight. Back at the house by 3 PM Denver time.

Concluding Thoughts

We had a great time at WDW, largely due to the lack of crowds, but had an even better time aboard the cruise. I canít begin to tell you how much fun we all had : Children 5-13, early 40ís parents, and mid 60ís grandparents, all had a great time. The staff on the ship were helpful, friendly and fun throughout. I would recommend the 4 day cruise since a day at sea would give you a chance to unwind, sleep in, explore the ship in detail, watch the ocean in daylight hours, and extend a wonderful time by one more day. I never made it to the ESPN lounge (peeked in and saw it was fairly small), and did not spend nearly enough time in the nightclubs. I heard the lunches on board were 5 course, so it would pay to try one of those out as well, skipping lunch in Nassau or the Castaway Cay Barbeque.

DCL Merchandising needs to get on the ball. They need to put out way more Castaway Cay merchandise. I would also like to see some of the other character dolls with cruise clothing and a DCL logo for purchase on board ship other than just Mickey and Minnie. Nassau is not the best choice for a destination in my opinion. Disney should explore going to somewhere a little more relaxing and scenic.

It is obvious that DCL listened to the complaints from the first cruises and corrected them quickly and quite satisfactorily. I am sure they will continue this improvement, making an even better experience for future cruisers (which will include us). I hope the Disney Wonder offers something different (someplace other than Nassau, greater than 4 day cruises), but I hear they will have the same itinerary as the Disney Magic. I am already planning our next cruise for 2 years from now. I will wait to see what the Disney Wonder has to offer, and even look into other cruise lines. I am pretty set on the Disney Cruise for now due to our dreamlike experience, but will remain open minded since I have heard many good things about 7 day cruises. After having had a taste of a room with a verandah, I donít think I could ever give that up.

Please e-mail me with any questions and feel free to repost this trip report.

Ed Knowles