Hello everyone – it’s been a while since my last post, but I wanted to check-in and I hope that you and yours are keeping well during these challenging times.
As travelling looks unlikely anytime soon, I thought I’d sporadically post a couple of my favourite memories from holidays over the past decade or so. Today I am going to share the fun I had whilst I enjoyed a Disney Cruise Line voyage in the Mediterranean aboard the Disney Magic in the Summer of 2011. How time flies! (I feel old now…)
The Disney Magic
The Disney Magic was the first cruise ship in the DCL fleet and set sail for the first time in 1998. Since then, Disney Cruise Line have certainly taken the cruise experience to a whole new level through their renowned levels of guest service, unrivalled entertainment offerings and pixie dust which only Disney could bring to the high seas!
I embarked the DCL Magic in Barcelona for a 7-night voyage around the Western Mediterranean; which included visits to Villefranche, Nice; La Spezia, Italy, Civitavecchia, Italy (for Rome), and Naples, Italy. With the exception of La Spezia, I had visited all of the ports-of-call on previous cruises – but enjoyed revisiting them nonetheless.
One of the fun-aspects of a DCL cruise is their innovative rotational dining concept. During each voyage, guests and their assigned table staff “rotate” around the three main restaurants, each of which has a different theme. When I sailed on the ship, these were Lumiere’s (French), Parrot Cay (Caribbean) and Animator’s Palate (American). My favourite has to be the latter, especially because the entire restaurant transforms from a black and white canvas into full colour during the course of your meal. Magic!
Being a self-confessed cruise geek
As the sub-heading suggests, I am indeed a lover of all things to do with cruising, travel and Disney. Around the time of this voyage, I had the ambition to become a Navigational Officer which is simple terms, mean work on the bridge of cruise ships. I couldn’t think of a better way to see the world!
During the cruise I had the opportunity to meet the Captain who was in-charge of the Disney Magic at various meet and greets including the typical Captain’s Gala Reception. He was very friendly, certainly no Captain Hook let’s put it that way. Whilst having my photograph taken during the formal evening, I mentioned I had an ambition to become an officer on the bridge and the Captain was very pleased to hear this. So much so, he asked for my details which he passed to the secretary and a couple of days later, I was invited to step onto the bridge of the Disney Magic for a tour with the ability to speak to some of the officers.
I made sure I had a number of questions to ask the officers, including how they started their careers at sea and what advice they could give me for the future. A number of them began their seafaring careers working for other cruise operators, on cargo ships or even within the Navy before joining Disney Cruise Line – it truly was fascinating to hear about their experiences and challenges they had to overcome.
Here is a photo of a very young Ben sitting in the Captain’s chair!
If that wasn’t enough of a thrilling and inspirational experience, the next thing that I got to do was even better…
The Captain asked if I wanted to press the button which sounds the ships whistle, and this isn’t just any whistle… the one on the Disney Magic whistles to the tune of “When You Wish Upon a Star!” Everyone was certainly very envious of me and it is one of those cool things I can share if asked that thought-provoking question “Tell us about something fun you’ve done in the past…”
I very much enjoyed that experience, could you tell by my reaction in the video?
Admittedly, I was looking for a big red button compared to one the size of a 50-pence piece, but it was still such a cool experience – and I am very thankful I had the opportunity to do something not many people have done. I also got to visit the bridge of the Disney Dream whilst it was docked in Disney’s Private Island – Castaway Cay, that was pretty awesome too. Especially as I could compare the technology between a ship built in 1998 vs 2011.
All of the officers provided me with advice to continue to study hard, explore all opportunities and mentioned a rather well-known quote from Walt Disney… “Keep Moving Forward” – something that I still do to this very day. Unfortunately due to health issues I was unable to continue with my ambition to become a deck officer, but you never know what the future holds. People do change careers at any age…
Cruising is one of my favourite types of holiday, where you have the ability to visit a number of destinations during one holiday whilst travelling in comfort and style. It’s also a great way to make new friends and create memories. I think it may be a while before the cruise industry returns due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, but look forwards to setting sail and enjoying a cocktail under the sunset again in the future.
But for now stay safe and healthy…