Arrrgh! Pirates IN the Caribbean on Disney Cruise Line

Avast ye Cruisers! Most Disney Cruise Line itineraries feature a Pirate Night during the voyage to allow you to immerse yourselves in the Pirate’s Life as much or as little as you choose. There is a special pirate theme at dinner, pirate games to partake in, a high-spirited deck party awash with buccaneers, and on many cruises, a fireworks spectacle at sea! Here’s a quick rundown of the events our family enjoys participating in. Savvy?

Pirate dress & more at dinner

Some cruisers go all out with their pirate getups: eyepatches, striped stockings, scrawled-on scars, the works. Don’t fret if you neglected to pack your seafaring togs; the dining room has you covered. Our daughter models the Pirate Mickey scarf above that each family member will receive. Your waitstaff will also be donning pirate attire and the menu will likely feature themed dishes. Depending on the length of your cruise, you may also be in for a more immersive experience at dinner!

A Pirate’s Life For Me game show

The D Lounge, a hub for family entertainment on the Disney cruise line fleet of ships, hosts this pirate game show. Our girls were among the brave souls who spun the “Wheel of Destiny” and showed off their pirate prowess. It’s a fun way to get in the spirit, mateys. Other opportunities abound on the ship for games, dancing and general carousing.

Pirate Character Appearances

All the classic Disney characters are on deck for unique photo opportunities. You can choose to queue up for professional snaps or simply ogle Mickey, Minnie, Goofy & Co performing in their garb. As far as I’m aware, Disney Cruise Line is the X-marks-the-spot when it comes to catching this crew in pirate attire.

Mickey’s Pirates IN the Caribbean deck parties

Train to be a member of Pirate Mickey’s Crew at this high-energy dance party on the ship’s Deck Stage. It’s loud, it’s exciting, and all ages are encouraged to get their little landlubbing grooves on alongside the Disney characters. Your ship’s itinerary determines who’ll be starring onstage: will the nefarious Hook succeed in crashing the party? Will Jack Sparrow be sparring with a band of merry deckhands? And — our personal favorite — will a certain VIP Captain zipline in to save the day?

Buccaneer Blast fireworks at sea!

All Disney Cruise Line ships get to experience the spectacle of fireworks at sea. We find it the perfect way to call it a Pirate Night — though there are far more activities buzzing on the boat much later. A special Pirate Buffet is served to curb midnight munchies, many cruises continue the dance party at “Club Pirate”, and a movie plays up on the deck past our bedtimes. Pirates of the Caribbean, anyone?

Splash with Huey, Duey & Louie in Nephews’ Splash Zone on the Disney Magic

This post is short and sweet, just like the toddler who loved the Nephews’ Splash Zone on our cruise on the Disney Magic this past spring. The water play area features three spurting mini-boilers shaped like Uncle Donald’s nephews as well as a few pop jets for added thrill. It’s also completely shaded and glassed-in. Check out the nephews’ hand-drawn splash zone blueprint on the wall!

Location: Nephews’ Splash Zone is located within the AquaLab pool area on Deck 9, Disney Magic cruise ship.

Touring tip: Nephews’ Splash Zone is intended for children under 3 years of age and is great if you’ve got toddlers who are not yet toilet trained.

Slides and thrills on Disney Magic’s AquaDunk!

disney magic aquadunk“3-2-1 blast-off!” chorus nephews Huey, Duey and Louie before the trap door beneath your feet falls away and you plunge twenty feet out over the side of the Disney Magic before a dramatic splashdown. Wow! The new AquaDunk waterslide on Disney Cruise Line’s re-imagined Disney Magic ship is a total rush – at least from my mom-to-4 perspective. I’ll admit when I climbed into the launch capsule and the door closed over me I was feeling some butterflies. I had to slide, though, because I’d just bribed my 8-year-old before me to ride and assured him he would love it.

Love it might not be the best words to describe his reaction to the slide…though I’m convinced that if he gave it a few more go-rounds he’d change his mind. This is, after all, the kid who would ride the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror back-to-back for hours if given the chance. I think the AquaDunk lost a few points with him because you’ve got to deal with sprays of water in the face.

If you get the chance, head up to the forward funnel of the Disney Magic and give the AquaDunk a try. No way do the kids get to have all the fun on the pool deck!

Location: Find the AquaDunk waterslide on the Disney Magic, part of the Disney Cruise Line fleet of ships.

Touring Tip: Riders must be at least 48″ tall.

Spring Break Cruise on the Disney Magic

I should have followed my gut instinct and booked our family’s first Disney cruise months in advance. I didn’t, however, and instead drew up a much different spring break jaunt. My reasoning mostly had to do with cost; Disney is not exactly renowned for their budget-friendly cruise fares. But even with our second-choice destination’s airfare purchased, hotel booked and a game plan in shape, I was having nagging regrets about not going with the cruise. We were two weeks out from spring break when – after much persistence – a deal popped up while I was online getting cruise quotes. There was no time to waffle; we pounced. (In truth, as it usually goes, I persuaded the tolerant TourDad to pounce along with me.)

MH disney cruise line disney magic Two weeks later, we were boarding the Disney Magic in Port Canaveral, Florida. I was especially excited to be cruising on the Magic because I’d done lots of research about the extensive refurb the ship underwent in 2013. “Re-imagined” was how much of the press put it. The dining rooms were re-themed, the children’s clubs were updated, and a thrilling drop waterslide had been added to the ship among many other changes. I won’t go into exhaustive detail; suffice to say that the Magic was incredible. We were captivated immediately.

The itinerary was short but sweet: we departed on a Friday afternoon (kicked off by a high-energy deck party), spent much of the weekend docked in the Bahamas (we opted to stay on the ship in Nassau, but debarked on Castaway Cay for the beach!), and were deposited back in Florida on Monday morning. It was a great “starter cruise” for a family with kids who were cruising for the first.

MH disney cruise line castaway cay

MH disney magic aquadunkSpeaking of the kids – obviously, they were a big reason I was so keen to cruise Disney in the first place – it was virtually all smooth sailing with them. They adjusted well to eating a late dinner (we were assigned second seating at 8:15pm) and, in our toddler Erin’s case, she didn’t mind at all being shipped off to the nursery during that meal. The older kids were eager to spend time in the kids’ clubs (included in cruise fare), the pools and waterslides, and they all sat rapt through the Broadway-style shows presented nightly in the theater.

Was the price of our cruise worth not only the money spent but the hassle and stress that came with changing our plans? Absolutely. I hate to “go there” and use this word, but the trip was totally magical. The level of service from the crew was top notch. I loved that we were assigned beautiful staterooms with a connecting door – though our quarters were snug, it was invaluable to have a space apart from the older children. I loved that our dining room staff rotated through the various restaurants with us, and our servers were so attentive and friendly to our kids through late dinners. And I especially adored spending a day on the white sand beaches of Castaway Cay, soaking up the sunshine and warmth that had been absent from our Minnesota home for months. (Castaway Cay, I should clarify, is an island in the Bahamas developed and used exclusively by Disney Cruise Line.)

You’ve hooked us, Disney Cruise Line. Until next time…

Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story

Suppose Cinderella’s bitter stepfamily had gotten their paws on her glass slipper before the Grand Duke arrived for the fitting? That’s the twist this talented cast explores in the musical stage show Twice Charmed, performed exclusively on the Disney Magic cruise ship. Lady Tremaine’s Evil Fairy Godfather – Franco DiFortunato – is the villain responsible for throwing a wrench into Cinderella’s happily ever after. With Franco’s help, the clumsy, bickering Stepsisters get a second chance at snaring the heart of the Prince. It’s up to Cinderella (with a little aid from her own Fairy Godmother) to believe that her inner beauty will be sufficient ammo to win the prince back.

The 52-minute production, which plays in the grand Walt Disney Theatre, is generally fast-paced and feels familiar with classic characters and a couple of songs from the film. Our daughters loved it, and even our 9-year-old son (who tried to suggest that “Cinderella’s for girls”) had his eyes glued to the stage until the final bow.

Location: Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story is performed in the Walt Disney Theatre on all Disney Magic cruise ship itineraries.

New Experiences and Reimagined Spaces Onboard the Disney Magic

Later this month, Disney Cruise Line will unveil exciting new enhancements and reimagined spaces onboard its pioneer cruise ship, the Disney Magic. After completing a month-long dry dock in Cadiz, Spain, we can anticipate the following highlights when the ship re-launches:

Make a Splash!

The upper deck pool areas of the Disney Magic have received a major makeover. Three-story thrill slide AquaDunk will wow with a near-vertical launch and a translucent tube extending out over the side of the ship. Interactive water playground AquaLab will feature the looping Twist ‘n Spout waterslide in addition to pop jets, bubblers, and geysers. The youngest cruisers can enjoy water play in the shaded and enclosed Nephews’ Splash Zone, themed after Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie.

Cool Spaces for Kids and Tweens

Both the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab children’s programs have been re-themed to bring new stories and characters onboard. Activities for kids 3 – 12 will continue to include games, crafts, movies and characters within new play spaces such as Pixie Hollow, Toy Story, and Marvel’s Avengers Academy. It’s a Small World Nursery, a whimsical child care facility for cruisers ages 3 months to 3 years, replaces Flounder’s Reef.

Adults Only

Beat Street, the current adults-only nighttime entertainment district on the Disney Magic has been transformed into After Hours with three newly re-themed spaces to enjoy. Fathoms nightclub will offer live music, variety shows and a full bar. For a quieter spot to wind down, Keys piano bar offers a relaxed retreat. O’Gill’s Pub will be the perfect place to catch televised sports and enjoy a pint or two.

Vista Spa & Salon has been reinvented as Senses Spa & Salon expanding both its space and menu of treatments. An added barbershop for the men as well as a Smile Spa for teeth whitening services are among the new offerings.

Delicious Enhancements

The popular Animator’s Palate restaurant will present the brand new “Drawn to Magic” show in addition to the “Animation Magic” show originally found exclusively on the Disney Fantasy. In other dining news, Parrot Cay restaurant has been reinvented as the Rio-themed Carioca’s and Topsider Buffet has become Cabanas for buffet meals by day and table-service dining by night. The elegant, adults-only Palo restaurant was made over with a Venetian motif.

Finishing Touches

To complete the Disney Magic’s new look, staterooms and suites received a redesign focused on maximizing space for families. And finally, the ship’s grand atrium lobby has gotten a fresh palette of colors, new chandelier, and a stately staircase. For sneak peeks at these upcoming changes and more information about the Disney Magic’s relaunch, check out the following video:

More magic coming to the Disney Magic!