Sailing the Disney Magic to the Bahamas

My suitcases have been sitting idle since my last visit to Walt Disney World in December. Three months was way too long for this travel fanatic! Spring Break arrived for my family at the end of March so we packed up and hopped on a plane to Florida. A sailing on the Disney Magic from Miami to the Bahamas was a perfect way to kick off the warmer weather season!

A party of seven, sailing the Magic, what a motley crew! The hubs, the kid, my mom and the old man, and two nieces rounded out the gang. We flew into Fort Lauderdale for an overnight, enjoyed the town for the day and then shuttled down to Miami to board the beautiful Disney Magic. While in Fort Lauderdale, we visited the Wiener Museum of Decorative Arts to see the Chihuly exhibit. It was amazing! So many beautiful glass pieces to view!

Chihuly art glass

Chihuly art glass sculpture at the WMODA

One of the original two Disney Cruise ships, the Magic is a smaller ship with a more compact layout, making navigating the decks super easy. Characters and Disney magic were found throughout the ship at scheduled times and impromptu meetings…

Pluto

Pluto stopped by for a pic while we were hanging out on the pool deck

The Cove Cafe provided us with some delicious beverages onboard and the staff goes out of their way to make the experience extra special. Check out the latte art and complimentary Madeline cookie!

Mickey Latte

Mickey makes this latte even more fancy!

Key West was our first and most anticipated port. We are huge cat fans and the Hemingway Home in Key West is home to over 50 cats, many polydactyls. At home, we have a polydactyl kitty and couldn’t wait to see more of those funky felines. It didn’t disappoint! The tour of the home and grounds was also super informative and definitely worth a listen.

Hemingway Cat

Look at those extra toes!

The required ‘Mile Marker 0’ and ‘Southernmost Point’ stops were also checked off the to-do list. It was such a beautiful day, hot but not oppressive, and so sunny.

Mile Marker 0

Mile Marker 0! I should’ve taken a picture of the lonely flip flop on the road right beside the sign. Trying to figure out if that was a Jimmy Buffett fan’s memento left behind…

 

Southernmost Point

90 miles to Cuba! Let’s go!

The next stop was Nassau in the Bahamas. That’s always a ‘day at sea’ for us and we stay onboard to enjoy the ship instead of exploring the port. Once was good for this bunch. Brunch at the adult-only restaurant, Palo, was a delicious way to start the day for me and the hubs. So much great food but only one stomach, LOL.

Champagne Jello

Champagne Jell-O and fresh berries at Palo capped a delicious brunch experience

After we left Nassau, we sailed to Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island. Truly a tropical paradise, we could’ve handled the water being a bit warmer but, by midday, we had adjusted quite nicely. Floating around the family beach, followed by lunch on the island, and then snorkeling in the (huge) snorkeling lagoon filled much of the day. Our first time snorkeling on the island, we were super happy to find many of the underwater treasures that Disney has placed for the enjoyment of its guests. So many colorful fish and fun things to explore but man, a lot of work for all those goodies!

Disney Magic docked at Castaway Cay

The Magic looking magical while docked at Castaway Cay

Castaway Cay was our last day of the cruise and we had our final dinner at Animator’s Palate that evening. One of the best things about the Disney Cruise Line is that you have a dedicated waitstaff in the three main dining rooms. Their system is called ‘rotational dining’ and you rotate each night between the three dining rooms. For the Magic, the dining rooms are Animator’s Palate, Lumiere’s, and Rapunzel’s Royal Table. When you board the ship, you are assigned the order in which you rotate between the restaurants and a table number. That table number remains the same in each restaurant and is associated with a specific main and assistant server. Our main server was Yhokey from the Philippines and his assistant, Harish from India. The kids (and adults) loved them and truly regretted having to say goodbye on the last evening. (So much so that they went back the next morning just to tell them goodbye one last time.)

Yhokey and Harish

The girls with Yhokey and Harish in Animator’s Palate

As always, leaving a Disney Cruise is such a sad moment. It definitely helps when you’ve booked a placeholder for a future cruise — basically a small deposit that can then be put toward a sailing within the next two years, comes with a 10% cruise discount and onboard credit — so you know you’ll likely be back soon. I’m sure it won’t be two years before I’m back on a cruise though. Mickey knows how to sink his hooks into me every time.

Sailing off into the sunset

The sunset on our last evening was so beautiful. Watching the sun go down from our verandah was breathtaking.

Until next time!

Amber

A WONDERful cruise to the Southern Caribbean

Disney Cruises are one of my favorite things and my recent Southern Caribbean cruise on the Disney Wonder certainly didn’t disappoint! Seven nights sailing the Caribbean from San Juan, Puerto Rico with stops at the islands of Antigua, Saint Lucia, Curacao, and Aruba resulted in my best cruise experience yet and will be hard to beat. White sand beaches, seashells galore, crystal blue waters, a lush rain forest, even cacti! I’ll hit the highlights as I fondly look back on the new memories I made during this trip.

The cruise began in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Puerto Rico? Wasn’t the country demolished by Hurricane Maria? Yes, they definitely have had an unfair share of destruction and hardship as a result of Maria last fall. Yes, there is a large portion of the country that is still reeling from the affects of the storm. San Juan itself is recovering and open for business. We had zero power, water, communications, comfort issues, etc. during our stay. Taxis were running, restaurants and hotels open, airport operational, you name it. The countries that were devastated by the hurricanes last fall need tourism to return to sustain their livelihoods so it is important for all of us to get down there and help the residents rebuild their lives.

Back to San Juan. Lovely place. Lots of beautiful architecture, sunshine, and smiling people. I would gladly return to explore more of the city and outlying areas in the future. But alas, the Disney Wonder was calling. The ship set sail late into the evening and we were on our way to Antigua. My oh my, Antigua. That’s somewhere else I’d happily return. My activity for the day was an excursion to the western coast of the island to Castaway’s Beach Restaurant. The restaurant fronted an amazing beach where we were able to relax and play, only breaking for lunch, until time to return to the ship. So, this beach. Wow. Crystal blue water, white sand, more seashells than you could ever dream of collecting… pure beach fantasy. I thought the beaches in the Turks and Caicos were pretty but man, they have a definite contender in Antigua.

Antigua

It was almost painful to pack up and leave that beach but we had to keep moving. The next port was Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia is shockingly green. We’re talking lush, green rain forest as far as the eye could see. I was set to venture into a rain forest to enjoy an aerial tram tour up to the top of the forest. Not sure what to expect, I was overwhelmed by the peacefulness of the forest ride. The cool air with a light breeze, soft sounds of the trees, and occasional squeal of a zip-liner, made for a delightful journey. The height we achieved on the tram was astounding and being able to look out across the forest to the gigantic ferns and strangler ficus trees, waterfalls, and streams blew my mind. It felt like we were at the top of the world, and what a beautiful world that was.

Rain forest in Saint Lucia

After leaving Saint Lucia, we had a day of rest as the ship traveled on to our next port. Days at sea on a cruise can be filled to the brim with activities or turn into days where you lazily hang out at the pool and watch movies on the funnel’s screen. Of course, we had to catch a few movies on the big screen in the Buena Vista Theater (Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi) plus Coco on the bigger screen in the Walt Disney Theater. There were many movies viewed on the pool deck’s funnel screen though, that’s for sure. While my family snacked on ice cream (ice cream is endless and so, so good on the Disney ships), I setup GototheMouse’s portable office on the pool deck and worked away into the evenings. It is super handy to be able to pack up and work from wherever I need to, although admittedly a little more movie time would have been fun.

The following day, we awoke in Curacao. Curacao is a Dutch Caribbean island and that was easy to detect based on the distinct building coloring and architecture. What a beautiful island! This was the first time Disney had ever sailed, on any ship, to Curacao and the local tourism officials were treated to a celebration onboard to commemorate the milestone. We spent the day at the Sunscape Curacao resort and, while I likely wouldn’t return there for a future stay, it was nice to enjoy their infinity pool and visit a new (to me) resort. The port in Curacao was very modern and many vendors selling non-“Made In China” wares, so that was refreshing. A short proximity from the pier was a Starbucks, so another ‘You are Here’ mug was added to my collection. (I love those things!)

Curacao

Next up was Aruba. Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao are known as the ‘ABC Islands‘ and although we didn’t stop at Bonaire, I would love to visit that one too to see how different it is from Curacao and Aruba. Aruba is very ecologically interesting. It has natural bridges formed from pounding surf, cacti, Divi Divi trees, clear blue water, and white sand. The island group is very close to Venezuela in South America, for a point of geographic reference. Aruba is also a Dutch island and very modern. We spent the day at a private island on the West Coast of Aruba called De Palm Island.  This island is comprised of an all-inclusive day experience (no lodging) with water slides, snorkeling, beaches, banana boats, zip-lining, and so much more. I enjoyed snorkeling with huge schools of the most beautiful tropical fish, picking up even more seashells, watching a giant iguana and several smaller iguanas sun themselves, and had a tasty lunch. This was my favorite excursion with the beach in Antigua being a very close second. With a view like the one below, who would complain?

De Palm Island, Aruba

After a late departure from Aruba, we enjoyed another day at sea before returning to San Juan to fly home. Yes, more movies and ice cream plus some shopping and pin trading with the ship’s officers. Pin trading is huge on the Disney ships, just as it is in the theme parks — maybe even more so.

I can’t wait to be back onboard the Wonder and booked my next cruise for 2019. Where will I sail to next? Stay tuned and you’ll find out! In the meantime, there are plenty of other trips in the works for 2018 that I’ll be sharing throughout the year. Looking back at my blog, I missed posting about a wonderful getaway to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina over Thanksgiving and a quick trip to Washington DC to enjoy “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre. It looks like I’ve been slacking but I’ll do better in 2018. I keep my bags packed… do you?