Disney Magic at Sea UK Staycation cruise: Here’s everything you need to know
By Helen Wright
Did you know you can do a UK Staycation cruise on the Disney Cruise Line? Over the last year, it’s fair to say the pandemic has put an abrupt stop to Disney holidays for UK-based families. With Florida, California, Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo fully off-limits to non-essential travel, it was a blow to Disney fans who had planned dream trips to the parks and resorts. However, in an entrancing story twist, Disney (doing what they do best) dropped the magical news that the glorious Disney Magic cruise ship, part of the Disney Cruise Line fleet, would be making her way to our shores, providing a unique opportunity to get the Disney fix we’ve all been waiting for.
Cover image: Disney
What is a UK Staycation Cruise?
Cruising is officially back after a wave of UK staycation sails were announced over the summer. If you’re not familiar with the UK staycation cruise concept, it’s a fantastic idea: Children and fully vaccinated adults are welcomed on-board the spectacular cruise ships – which are essentially floating destinations for all-things holiday; including restaurants, west-end shows, pools, kids clubs and elegant state rooms, to name but a few. The ships are declared Covid-safe with vaccinated staff, distancing efforts and rigorous cleaning procedures a top priority. The idea of a ‘staycation sail’ is that staff and guests are fully tested for Covid-19 before boarding. The ship then sets sail around the British Isles and guests stay on board for the duration, docking back at the same port, thus allowing for a fun-filled pandemic-free party at sea. Genius, right?
What is the Disney Magic at Sea UK Staycation sail?
Sea-cations are the new staycations, and with two kids under five in tow, the Disney Magic at Sea offers families a dream Disney trip right on our doorstep. How could we resist? The Disney Magic at Sea staycation sail is being offered for the first time, for this summer only. So, for Disney fans, it may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience the magic of a Disney cruise here in the UK. The exclusive, first-of-their-kind Disney cruises set sail from four ports on select dates. Departures from Liverpool ended at the start of August, but guests can still leave from Newcastle, London Tilbury and Southampton on select dates in August, September and October 2021.
Is the UK Disney cruise worth the money?
With UK destinations and resorts fully booked with sky-rocketing prices this year thanks to overseas travel restrictions, the opportunity to enjoy a Disney Cruise with no flights to consider (and pay for) is well worth checking out. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and 24-hour room service are all included in the cruise package and the Disney Magic has four impressive restaurants, each with a different, lavish theme and interactive storytelling. There is so much on board for families to enjoy together. Of course, there is a huge variety of entertainment and activities, including a supervised kids club with themed playrooms based on Toy Story and Marvel Super Hero Academy, pools, crafting workshops and games.
There is also a huge theatre showing a Broadway-standard Disney musical (Disney Dreams – an enchanted classic) and an on-deck party inspired by Frozen called ‘Freezing the night away’. Not to mention Marvel characters, Princesses and 30+ Disney Characters making appearances throughout the cruise. Covid rules mean traditional meet-and-greets have been replaced with Character walk-and-waves at a safe distance, enabling guests to snap selfies with their favourites in the background. This has eradicated the need to stand in line for a Character experience and is a far better and fun way to interact with them in my opinion. The kids get so excited when a familiar face just appears out of the blue or passes them in the hallway. It adds the element of surprise to their enjoyment.
Can you go on the Disney Magic at Sea UK cruise without kids?
Of course! In fact, Simon and I sailed on the Disney Magic before we became parents and had such an amazing time. View the video below, but please remember it was filmed pre-Covid before new distancing and mask measures were in place, as well as any ship modernisations.
The Disney Cruise Line is known for its elegant interiors and luxury facilities and its ships are some of the finest on the seas. As well as the wonderful Disney theming, there is a range of adult-only areas, from intimate dining, to evening entertainment, bars and clubs, a gym, spa and an adult-exclusive pool. This is where Disney’s Oceaneer Club (the kid’s club) really comes into play – excuse the pun- as adults can thoroughly enjoy the grown up experiences knowing the children are safely entertained and having a great time below deck.
TOP TIP: On the UK Staycation cruise, both the Oceaneer Club and adult-exclusive restaurant Palo, along with some other experiences, do require an advance booking under new rules. Aim to have an idea of when and where you want to eat before you board the ship.
What to expect from the Uk staycation aboard the Disney Magic at Sea
Even though Simon and I have sailed on the Disney Magic before, the new Disney Magic at Sea UK staycation sail will be a completely different experience. For starters, we have our two children Finn and Isobel with us! Navigating the ship with a four-year-old and a one-year-old will certainly be entertaining. I can’t wait to watch them become immersed in the Disney Magic. I already know the kids will love it, but the staycation sails could not have come at a better time for us. This UK staycation cruise will be a special trip for Simon and I to enjoy with the kids before Finn starts school in September.
We are boarding the Disney Magic at Sea on 18th August 2021 and will be updating live from our Instagram @passportstampsuk. After the sail I plan to update this post with our personal experience of the Disney Magic at Sea UK staycation sail. Until then, I have added a summery of what to expect on-board. I don’t know about you, but I am excited!
To book your own trip on the Disney Magic at Sea, go to disneycruise.co.uk
So, what is there to do on the Disney Magic at Sea?
Freezing the Night Away Party With Anna, Elsa and Friends: Deck Party.
A star-studded show featuring Frozen favourites on deck under the stars. There is dancing, Frozen songs and a glimpse at Elsa’s powerful ice magic.
Live Broadway-style shows:
Disney Dreams – An Enchanted Classic: An original musical about the power of dreams and family, starring a cast of recognisable Disney characters.
Tangled: The Musical: The animated classic comes to life in this dazzling production featuring world-class performers.
The main pool is Goofy’s Pool, a large open pool on the main deck. During busy times, a line for social distancing might be in place to ensure guest safety.
If the weather is nice, splash around in AquaLab, a cool water area for youngsters. Ride the AquaDunk drop-out waterslide and drop three storeys. Eek!
Shh, don’t tell the kids! Located on deck 9 is Quiet Cove, an adult-only swimming pool offering a tranquil kid-free setting for grown ups. Delightful!
Disney-themed family-friendly entertainment like trivia game shows and dance parties can be found in D Lounge. This is also a top spot for special appearances by Disney Characters too, so keep a look out.
On-board cinema: Catch a beloved Disney film or watch a new flick from the comfort of the state-of-the-art Buena Vista Theatre.
Tweens head to a cool club called ‘Edge’ for video games, music and movies. Older teens tend to hang out at ‘Vibe’, a parents-free, hipster space to have fun and be cool (so i’m told).
Choose from four family restaurants:
Animator’s Palate is one of my favourite restaurants on the ship. It celebrates the magic of Disney animation with a unique dinner show featuring some favourite Disney Characters. The food is Asian/Californian and absolutely delicious. Plus, I love the Mickey chairs!
Rapunzel’s Royal Table has a great international menu and Flynn Rider and Princess Rapunzel may even drop by for a visit during your meal.
At Lumiere’s, guests receive a royal welcome from the Princess Promenade as they enter, before enjoying a very regal four-course contemporary French menu.
Cabanas allows you to eat in a casual buffet style (with updated Covid-safe measures). This was Simon’s favourite because he was spoilt for choice!
As you can see, there is a lot to see and do. Upcoming cruises depart from London Tilbury, Newcastle and Southampton and it’s not too late to book!
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