Appropriately enough we flew on Thursday with Tinker Bell to get to New York to join our Disney Cruise Line ship.
The Tinker Bell in question was a Virgin Atlantic Jumbo jet from Heathrow to the Big Apple rather than the character out of Peter Pan. But the effect seemed the same as we were whisked on the transatlantic flight in less then seven hours for a luxury hotel stay before joining the 2,700-passenger Disney Magic for eight days sailing south to the Bahamas and Florida.
Excitement amongst the many children on the full flight was palpable, not least amongst those travelling to join the Magic.
It was the first trip to America for our seven year old son, Hal, and his ten year old sister, Tilly, and they just could not wait to see the sites they have become so familiar with on TV such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and NYC’s famous yellow taxis.
Tilly was desperate to see the city lights at night while Hal just could not contain himself over prospect of munching hotdogs from a street vendor and spending his greenback pocket money in Bloomingdales.
But that is all for later – we have a cruise to catch on a ship that will being sailing the waters of the Mediterranean in summer 2013.
New York, New York
First we had to negotiate landing formalities at JFK airport. A spiralling queue fortunately wound around quickly enough to find our passports being stamped by the friendliest immigration officer you could imagine.
He was a welcoming face to the land of the free and showed real interest in our cruise while sharing his experiences with Cunard on transatlantic assignments in a broad New York accent. The chaotic UK Border Control should take note.
We may have been feeling tired after our long flight but suddenly felt at home ahead of our new adventure.
After a huge American breakfast of French toast with blueberries and classic pancakes with bacon and Maple syrup, we had a couple of hours to walk a few blocks up from our hotel to sight-see around Times Square and take in the special one day sale at Macy’s before the short hop to board Disney Magic at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal.
Imagine boarding your ship in the centre of London and you get the picture. No wonder more cruise companies such as Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Lines are basing ships in New York.
It really is quite stunning embarking from a city centre terminal surrounded by high rise buildings and couldn’t be more convenient.
And it goes without saying that the sailaway was spectacular. We waved the Statue of Liberty goodbye as we set out on Mickey’s maritime adventure, heading south to the Bahamas, Disney’s Castaway Cay private island and, last but not least, a day at World Disney World in Orlando.
Each family was personally greeted on board as they were ushered in to the art deco-style atrium while annoncements were preceded by the ‘When you wish upon a Star’ theme.
The Disney effect was beginning to take hold as we were welcomed with high five’s from cheerful crew wearing giant Mickey hands. The younger the passenger, the greater the level of anticipation as we checked out the swimming pools, water slide and various places to grab burgers, wraps and chicken pieces on deck while waiting for cabins to be prepared.
It soon became clear that Mickey Mouse rules the waves on board Disney Magic with logos of ears everywhere the eye can see – even down to the soap and loo paper in our cabin.
Balcony cabins consist of a double bed and a pull down bunk bed for the children plus a loo with a sink plus a separate bathroom with small tub and shower – really handy for families.
The vast childrens’ clubs are broken down into the Flounder’s Reef Nursery for infants and toddlers, the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab for youngsters aged between three and 12 years old. These are available until late at night, allowing parents to participate in the adult-only parts of the ship – I will report back with more details for next week’s blog.
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