Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Setting Sail For More Magic!

By Editor Simon Veness

It's time for us to set sail again, which means another 'live' cruise blog from Time Spent At Sea - and a chance to be the first to run the rule over the newly-refurbished Disney Magic of Disney Cruise Line.

We are heading down to Miami later this week where we will be taking a short preview cruise aboard the 15-year-old ship which is fresh from major renovations in the Navantia shipyard in Cadiz.

Having sailed on the maiden voyage of the Disney Magic back in 1998 after an unforgettable naming ceremony starring Tinker Bell (yes, they really did manage to pull off that trick!), I am keen to see how this big refresh has treated what was already a classic ship.

Unlike most cruise vessels built in the 1990s, Disney's newcomer avoided much of the monolithic, slab-sided look that was so prevalent then, and is still largely the case today. The Magic - and sister ship Disney Wonder a year later - boasted a more traditional profile, with a raked bow and two funnels (albeit the second one being fake, but then that was not uncommon even in the 1920s and 30s) and a distinct Art Deco period touch aboard.

And, while the duo were packed full of child-friendly facilities and amenities, Disney were also head of the pack in providing adults-only areas where parents could relax on their own or couples without children could benefit from a distinctly more 'grown-up' atmosphere, free
of Mickey and Co if they preferred.

Now, 15 years later, we will get another 'maiden voyage' as the new-look version showcases what should be some dramatic additions and upgrades to the original formula.

First among them is the AquaDunk - a 40ft freefall water slide (right) that goes out over the side of the ship and then back again to land riders with a pronounced swoosh on the pool deck.

More water features include the AquaLab outdoor play area for kids, where young 'uns can splash and slide to their hearts' content in a completely developed area that was the Mickey Pool. The indoor kids clubs have been totally transformed, too, with the Oceaneer Club, Oceaneer Lab and Its A Small World nursery all getting dramatic new looks and facilities.

The adults-only area - formerly Beat Street - will become After Hours with three distinct but interconnecting elements, O'Gills Pub, Keys piano bar and Fathoms nightclub.

The unique Animator's Palate restaurant has been tweaked with some of the more recent technological advantages from recent duo Disney Fantasy and Dream to include the 'Animation of Parade' show, while the Parrot Cay restaurant has been transformed into Cariocas, a vibrant Brazilian-style dining room (picture, below) that is intended to be both elegant and fun,
and buffet restaurant Cabanas will have more buffet stations rather than the old single buffet line idea. 

Finally, all the staterooms have been refreshed with new linens and mattresses, and more underbed storage, while 44 cabins are now inter-connected to allow for larger family groups. 

So, there will be a LOT to report on in our preview experience - we will just have to hope there is enough time to fit it all in!

Be sure to follow along here at Time Spent At Sea this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Have you subscribed to World of Cruising magazine yet? We have a fabulous offer for all new subscribers this year - 50 per cent OFF the regular rate AND the chance to win a cruise in our free prize draw offer. See this link!