These days, Disney is well known as one of the big names in cruising, at least where family vacations are concerned. However, that wasn’t always the case.
Disney Cruise Line didn’t launch its first cruise ship until the late 1990s, with Disney Magic, putting the cruise line decades behind other family-focused brands, like Carnival (which launched the first iteration of Mardi Gras in 1972).
But while Disney didn’t have the initial longevity that other cruise lines boasted, it quickly caught up. Today, you can still experience all the wonder of that very first cruise ship, with a family cruise aboard Disney Magic.
While this cruise ship may be the very first of its kind, it hasn’t lost its luster since its debut more than two decades ago. Here’s what you can expect.
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Disney Magic Stats
Disney Magic was built with a very classic, ocean-liner look, inspired by the RMS Queen Mary. In fact, the two ships aren’t that far off in terms of size. The Disney cruise ship measures in at…
- Gross Tonnage: 83,338
- Length: 984 feet (300 meters)
- Decks: 11
- Guest Capacity: 1,750 at double occupancy
- Maximum Guest Capacity: 2,713
- Crew: 945
- Staterooms: 875
The ship’s smaller size and relatively few number of passengers, even at maximum occupancy (at least compared to many other cruise ships on the seas today), means that you can enjoy a more intimate environment.
Unlike as you might on other cruise ships, this is one where you won’t feel overwhelmed by everything going on and all the different options. You can fully immerse yourself in the true magic of Disney Magic, even on shorter itineraries.
Disney Magic Construction and History
Disney Magic was first designed in 1994, and then ordered in 1995. The ship was built by Fincantieri in Italy, simultaneously with sister ship Disney Wonder. The ship’s construction was delayed slightly, as was the later maiden voyage, but the ship finally launched in 1998.
The ship boasts an Art Deco style and you’ll see similar motifs on later Disney cruise ships, including Disney Wonder, Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wish. The overall aesthetic blends vintage ocean sailing with modern appeal, plus a hefty helping of Disney magic.
Since the very first sailing, the ship has offered little surprises and Disney-style touches throughout its design, from the yellow lifeboats that deviate away from the required orange lifeboats you’ll see on other ships (don’t worry — Disney got a special waiver for this) to the subtle Mickey Mouse-hued hull art.
Disney Magic’s first, largest overhaul came in 2013. Updates included new features for children based on Disney’s Marvel franchise, as well as new water features. Cabins, restaurants, the spa and public spaces were also given a refresh. In later years, other, smaller updates were made, including updates to restaurants and children’s programming.
If you’ve been disappointed by cruise ship staterooms in the past, and found that they’re just overall lacking when it comes to style, as well as function, then you might be pleasantly surprised by Disney Magic’s staterooms.
Here, the staterooms are spacious, with lots of storage space, and the interior design manages to feel upgraded and classy, while still remaining family-friendly. There are three main types of Disney Magic staterooms:
The interior staterooms feel much larger than the cardboard box-like interior staterooms you might see on similar branded cruise ships. Sleeping spaces are tucked away on one side of the stateroom and hidden behind a curtain, for privacy.
An entertainment space with generous seating takes up the other side of the stateroom. The interior staterooms embody that vintage sailing motif that you’ll see throughout the ship.
Oceanview staterooms are likewise roomy and airy, with more of that Art Deco vibe. Think lots of nautical theme-ing, stripes, bright red and navy blue. The oceanview rooms offer large beds with separate seating areas and large, round windows.
The verandah, or balcony, staterooms are very similar to the oceanview staterooms, but, instead of a window, you get glass doors that lead out to a spacious balcony. Verandah staterooms are designed with multiple cruisers in mind, and are suitable for groups of up to five.
Disney Magic’s suites aren’t really called suites. Instead, they go by the name “concierge staterooms.” Still, they have a separate bedroom, so they’re suites.
The most spacious option on the cruise ship, sadly, these staterooms also feel the most outdated. The style of luxury that they were designed with initially just didn’t hold up over the years.
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Still, you can find lots of space and extra amenities when you book one of these concierge staterooms. Depending on the concierge stateroom you book, your stateroom might be outfitted with a whirlpool tub, more than one bathroom, a verandah, etcetera.
Disney Magic boasts three main dining rooms, plus a selection of other, smaller, free dining options. As you might expect, each Disney Magic restaurant fully embraces a theme and an experience, just like you would find in a restaurant at any Disney park.
Do note that cruisers on Disney Magic are required to rotate through the three main dining rooms, with set dining times each night. While some may appreciate this routine, others may find the strict regiment oppressive. Disney Magic’s free dining options include:
- Lumiere’s, the first of three main dining rooms, with a Beauty and the Beast ballroom feel
- Animator’s Palate, the second of three main dining rooms, with an animation theme and interactive decor
- Rapunzel’s Royal Table, the third main dining room and the newest, added 2018, with a Tangled theme, mid-dinner entertainment, character visits and German-inspired eats
- Cabanas, the ship’s buffet, with a Finding Nemo theme
- Duck-In Diner, a more casual spot with international eats
- Pinocchio’s Pizzeria, another casual restaurant, serving bites by the pool
- Eye Scream Treats, for — what else? — ice cream
- Cove Cafe, an adults-only spot for coffee (and alcoholic drinks later in the day)
You can also order room service, though options are limited.
There are only three other, for-a-fee dining options, which is a little disappointing, since most cruise ships do have quite a few other, extra specialty restaurants in addition to their main dining rooms and buffet.
However, since the free dining options are likewise few on Disney Magic, you might find yourself drawn to these three regardless. Specialty, for-a-fee restaurants aboard Disney Magic include…
- Palo, an adults-only, Italian eatery
- Preludes, a snacks-only bar near the theater
- Frozone Treats, for smoothies and beer
Bars and Lounges
Just because this is a family-oriented cruise ship, that doesn’t mean you won’t find a few bars and lounges on Disney Magic. The bars and lounges are situated in a specific area of the ship, easier for keeping kids and adults separate after the nightlife fun commences. Bars and lounges on the ship include…
- Keys, a piano bar hosting tribute nights
- Fathoms, a true nightclub setting, with DJs and dancing
- D Lounge, a lounge where the focus is on the games and activities
- Promenade Lounge, a central bar near the dining rooms, outfitted with the ship’s main, vintage theme
- O’Gills Pub, an Irish-style pub
- Signals, the adults-only poolside bar
Activities and Entertainment
You’ll find tons to do while aboard a Disney Magic cruise. Where this ship maybe lacks a little in the dining department, it makes up for that lack of variety with a huge number of entertainment options.
Disney puts on a range of high-quality theatrical shows. However, beyond the standard cruise ship theater fare, you can also head to the ship’s cinema if you want to catch a flick during your cruise. Of course, the movie theater plays Disney films.
Throughout the ship, though, beyond the two theaters, you’ll also find live entertainment taking place in all sorts of spaces. Characters abound and the kiddos should keep an eye out for their favorites, no matter where they are or what time of day.
There are three pools aboard Disney Magic. The three pools are all situated on Deck 9 and each pool is different.
One is just four feet deep and suitable for everyone in the family. Another offers some kid-friendly water slides and similar features, but it’s strictly kids-only (though, do note, the AquaDunk is a singular water slide that’s open to older kids and adults). The third pool on the ship is adults-only, flanked by hot tubs.
Just about every family-friendly cruise ship boasts a sports court and that’s the case on Disney Magic as well. The Wide World of Sports sits on Deck 10 and offers basketball, volleyball, shuffleboard and ping pong.
There’s a small number of shops on the ship, selling a variety of souvenirs and duty-free items. Expect your standard cruise ship shopping options, with perfume, jewelry and spirits.
One cool feature on Disney Magic is the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a salon and store that’s aimed at children. Kids can go in and get their hair styled, makeup done, nails done and more, and then leave outfitted in a favorite princess costume or superhero look.
While the kids enjoy the fairy godmother-esque magic there, the adults enjoy the Senses Spa and Salon, an adults-only space. There are steam rooms, couples treatments, standard spa treatments, salon services and all the rest.
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If your idea of a great, relaxing time also includes a trip to the fitness center, you’ll find the ship’s fitness center sitting right next door to the spa, offering all your standard fitness equipment, plus personal training sessions available for an extra cost.
Of course, the kids get their own spaces as well on a Disney cruise ship. Here, kids will enjoy a range of options.
The Small World Nursery offers nursery and babysitting services for children ages 3 months to 3 years old. In addition to providing this infant-specific service, Disney cruise lines will also allow you to place orders for baby must-haves, and order them kind of like you would room service, whether you need diapers, formula or baby food.
For older kids, ages 3 to 12, the Oceaneer Club gives elementary-age children multiple spaces themed after Disney movies and franchises. With lots to do, from the group activities to play spaces, kids can spend all day in the Oceaneer Club without ever getting bored.
For preteens, ages 11 to 14, the Edge area provides a less structured setting but still lots to do, with video games and a snack bar. Teens ages 14 to 17 enjoy a coffee bar and scheduled events in their own space, too.
Disney Magic Itineraries
Ready to book your Disney Magic cruise? See what this very first Disney cruise ship has to offer your family during one of its upcoming sailings.
Disney Magic FAQ
Disney Magic is on the smaller side, with a gross tonnage of 83,338 GT; length of 984 feet (or 300 meters); 11 decks; a guest capacity of 1,750 passengers at double occupancy; a guest capacity of 2,713 passengers at maximum occupancy; a crew of 945 peoples; and 875 staterooms.
Adults traveling with children will find a good mix of family activities and adults-only activities on Disney Magic. However, adults traveling without children may find that other cruise lines are a better fit for their needs, with more upscale dining options, bars and adult-friendly activities.
Disney Magic was designed in 1994, and then ordered in 1995. The ship’s construction was delayed slightly, as was the later maiden voyage, but the ship finally launched in 1998.