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About my least fave DCL cruise – PREP 394

About my least fave DCL cruise – PREP 394

Shannon sailed on the Disney Magic for a 5-night Western Caribbean cruise. This January cruise provided a mixed-bag of positive and negative experiences. She details those plus what she’d do differently to improve her next cruise.

The Basics

Shannon cruised out of Galveston which was really nice because it is just a 4.5 hour drive from her house. The cruise was on the Disney Magic and stopped in Cozumel and Progresso.

Shannon has been on 5 Disney Cruises prior to this trip. She has been on the Disney Wonder twice, which is very similar to the Disney Magic. She has also cruised out of Galveston before and felt very prepared.

This was Shannon’s first time cruising with Gold status. This was nice because she was able to book excursions early and got discounts on merchandise on the cruise.

She also got some gifts in her room for her Gold status including a wet/dry bag and a gold lanyard.

The day before embarking on the cruise, she stayed at Harbor House Hotel. Shannon always recommends staying the night near the port prior to embarking.

Shannon booked this hotel because she wanted a hotel that had parking for her car and was convenient to the port. She would stay here again.


Prior to leaving their hotel, Shannon tagged her bags. She received tags in the mail before leaving and put those on her bags so that they would be delivered to her stateroom.

She also filled out a health questionnaire. This is necessary to fill out the morning of embarkation. Shannon also made sure that all of her alcohol was in her carry-on bags. You can bring two bottles of wine or two 6-packs of beer per person.

The hotel where Shannon stayed offered a shuttle to the port. It was only about 7 blocks, but they opted for the shuttle. It took about 30 minutes because it stopped at multiple terminals.

Thankfully, they got on the shuttle early and when they arrived, it was time to get on the ship. They left their bags with a porter (be sure to have cash to tip $1-2/bag).

They entered the terminal to begin the embarkation process. You will need your port arrival form, either a digital copy or a print out version. They will need to scan the QR code on this form. You will also need your passport.

At the desk, Shannon was able to link her MagicBand+ for the cruise. She couldn’t do this on her own, but the cast member at the registration desk was able to do that.

When they arrived on the ship, it was very chilly. Shannon was thankful she packed for cooler weather! Shannon boarded at 11:30 a.m. and her room wasn’t ready until about 1:30 p.m. She opted to go to Daisy Delights to get some lunch. Many people go to Cabanas while they wait as well.

Shannon was on deck 2 and in a room without a Verandah this time for the first time. The location of deck 2 was really convenient. However, they were all the way on the end of the ship (room 2144) which was a long walk.

Shannon didn’t mind not having a verandah either for this cruise because there wasn’t a whole lot to look at. It was nice to have a window with an ocean view.

The verandah can be used as an additional room, which is nice if you are traveling with other people and need a bit more space.

When they got onboard, the DCL app was not working for about half the ship, including Shannon. This was very disorienting because everything is posted in the DCL app.


I purchased the internet package. If you do not purchase the internet package, you can connect to the free wifi on the ship. This will allow you to send imessages, use the DCL app, and WhatsApp.

You can purchase different levels of speed or number of devices. Because Shannon would be posting so much, she purchased the top level of speed. She also purchased it for two devices.

While at port, if your phone has a cell connection, you will be able to connect while at port.

The First Evening

After getting a great drink (Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale) and watched some of the Chiefs game. Then they went to their dining experience. They had late dining but would have preferred early dining.

This was especially inconvenient because the service was slow. They had their first dining at Lumieres, which was not the most fun.

This was the first meal that was disappointing. The food quality and service was all very low quality. This was a rough way to start out the trip.

At Sea

Our day started with breakfast before a spa at Senses. Shannon notes that you can get a couples massage even if you are not a couple. She loved this spa experience.

This cruise had very rocky days at sea today and the next day. Many people were very sick from the turbulence. It took a few days before the ship was able to reach calmer waters.


Shannon originally booked an excursion that was cancelled to low participation. They were very disappointed but scrolled through the 34 options available and booked a dune buggy excursion.

They met the group and went to get on the dune buggy. They went through town, highways, the jungle, and it was really fun. There was someone in the group that was far too cautious and ended up at the end of the pack because they were going very slow.

Some of the group went snorkeling. The water temperature was absolutely perfect. After they arrived back on the ship, they got cleaned up for dinner at Rapunzel’s Royal Table. This is normally a wonderful experience with great food and entertainment.

However, this was another disappointing evening. The characters visited every single table except for theirs. Shannon tried to take video and kept stopping to wait for them but then they didn’t come over to their table.

Shannon alerted the server that the characters didn’t go to their table. She was told that he couldn’t talk to the characters. That might be true, but he did nothing to help fix the problem. Shannon went to his supervisor to get the characters to come to their table.

Two people ordered the same thing at their table and they looked very different – there wasn’t any consistency in the quality. Finally the characters came to the table at 10:15 p.m.


Many people choose to stay on the ship at this port. Shannon booked an all-inclusive beach getaway. They were taken to a resort with drinks, food, and amenities. They took the shuttle about 40 minutes to this resort for the day.

This resort is advertised as the nicest resort in Progresso, but Shannon didn’t think it was nice at all. The beach was covered in seaweed. The pool was very cold and no one could use it. The excursion was a 5.5 hour excursion but they were told to meet 2.5 hours after they arrived.

They enjoyed their time at the beach and met in the lobby as requested at 2:30 p.m. No one else was there and they continued waiting. They ended up waiting a full hour before leaving.

Shannon cannot recommend her excursion, but she spoke with other cruisers who had a great excursion experience. Shannon assumes that excursions by Disney will be excellent, but sadly they are not. However, if you book an excursion through Disney the ship will not leave without you even if you are late.

They were back from their excursion around 4 p.m. and got ready for Pirate night! The festivities began at 10 p.m. or so and Shannon wanted to line up at 9:15 p.m. In order to do that, they shipped their main dining experience this evening.

They lined up on deck 10, which is one level up from the party but has a great view. Because they skipped dinner, they were hungry after the fireworks. They stopped at Pinocchio’s for pizza. Shannon was traveling with someone who eats a vegan diet for health reasons.

Shannon ordered her pizza when they tried to order the vegan pizza, they had to call a supervisor. It took 20 minutes to get the pizza and it wasn’t good. There was very little vegan cheese and raw tomato slices on the pizza. It was shocking.

Day at Sea

Today also included a couples massage. Shannon got $50 off per person because they had a return discount.

Shannon took a lot of photos on this cruise for content. She got soft serve ice cream several times during the trip. These machines are not self-serve anymore. There was often a line and the cast members gave very small amounts of ice cream.

Shannon also wanted to take a video of a blue tooth speaker she purchased. This was purchased as an onboard gift prior to getting on the ship. The speaker is so cute and better than expected.

When Shannon got it out everyone around her was so impressed. They wanted to know where to purchase it. Unfortunately it cannot be purchased in a shop on the ship.

They got room service for lunch. It is free but you do need to pay for tip. You can order room service by dialing 0 on your stateroom phone. You can also see the menu in your DCL app.

You can also order continental breakfast by finding the door hanger in your stateroom and hanging it on your door the night before.

This evening Shannon went to the Disney Dreams show. She loves the shows on the cruises but this cruise she didn’t make it to any of the shows until this evening.

Shannon’s so thankful they went to this show because it was the best show she’s ever seen! She’s sad she didn’t see any of the other shows because the performers were so incredible.

Their dinner tonight was at Lumieres again. They had better luck asking the servers their suggestions on what to get for dinner. After dinner the entertainment was a character parade and they enjoyed that. The characters had meet and greet opportunities after that, which was a very fun way to end the night.

This evening there were luggage tags left in their room for disembarkation. You must put your bags outside by 10 p.m. with your luggage tags and they will take it off the ship for you.

If you do not do this, you will carry your own bags off the ship. This is called express walkoff. If you wait for your bags, you need to wait for your group to be called before you can exit.

Tip envelopes were also left in the room for you to leave tips for stateroom attendance, head server, assistant server, and head of the dining room. Shannon always does prepaid gratuity on cruises. She will then add cash to envelopes to go over the prepaid gratuities.

This is the first cruise that Shannon opted not to tip above the prepaid gratuities.


Shannon purchased a small bottle of crema tequila in Cozumel and needed to pick it up before exiting the ship. They held the bottle when they got back on the ship in Cozumel until they disembarked.

Some choose to have a slower morning and a breakfast before disembarkation.

What would Shannon do differently?

  • Book a room mid-ship
  • Request a different dining rotation if assigned to Lumieres both first and last night. This would be true for any of the less entertaining dining rooms.
  • Put in a server request. Shannon has never done this before, but after this experience, she’s highly considering doing that for the future. She made note of the servers other people enjoyed to request them in the future. You can also switch servers after the first night if you do not think things are going well.
  • Get a reservation at Palo (or the signature restaurant) on Pirate Night. Every dining room has the same menu on Pirate Night and it’s not Shannon’s favorite. (The Facebook group for your cruise will often have the schedule)
  • Go to the Ruins or Cenotes in Progresso for an excursion… or just stay on the ship
  • Go to the shows on the ship.

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