This fall I had the opportunity to sail on the Disney Magic from Dover, England with stops in Denmark and Norway.
I never thought I would have the opportunity to do a cruise like this, let alone get back to Norway. This is a cruise that I would go on again and again if I could! Everyone should visit these Northern European countries if they have the chance.
Arrival in Europe
We flew into London’s Heathrow airport prior to our cruise departure. The cruise was going to sail on Sunday, so we left Chicago on Friday night and arrived in London early Saturday morning. There is a Hilton Garden Inn connected to Terminal 2 at Heathrow, so it was convenient to stay there. We left the arrivals area at the airport, claimed our bags, cleared customs and walked across the walkway to the hotel. I highly recommend this hotel if you are doing a short stay in London.
After we checked into the hotel, we walked back into the airport and headed to the Underground (subway) Station, purchased our tickets and went to get our train. We went into London and visited a few of the well-known sights. It was so easy to use the subway to get around. Everything is easy to navigate and marked very well. If you have questions, there are people willing to answer!
Tip: It is always recommended to fly in at least a day ahead of your cruise’s departure date, so you do not risk delays that may cause you to miss the boat.
Day 1: Embarkation Day
The next day we headed to Terminal 3 arrivals which is the meeting point for Disney Cruise Line. You are greeted by Disney Cruise Line cast members with the big Mickey Mouse glove and a large Mickey Mouse balloon.
You check in then they take your bags and give you a sticker, so you know what group you’ll be in to head to the coach for the ride to the ship. Once they call your character, they take you to the coach and then off you go towards Dover, England to board the Disney Magic. Along the way the coach stops about halfway for a restroom and snack break. After a short stop, you are on your way. It is about a two hour drive to Dover. Because everyone is excited about the cruise, the time goes by very quickly!
Tip: Be sure you have your passport and boarding documents in your carry-on bag.
Boarding the ship is very quick and easy. After going through security, you see the next available agent who checks you in, takes your picture and issues your Key to the World card. By this time, I was beyond anxious to just be on the ship. I mean…Disney Cruise in Europe!!!! What’s not to be excited for?
Even though I have been on the Magic before, it felt different because we were in a different country. The app worked amazing for showing us all the activities and events onboard as well as menus for the main dining restaurants. You tap on a heart to favorite an event, and about 10 minutes before that event a reminder notification is sent to your phone. One other new thing is that iMessage is free across the fleet. This was really nice as we were able to iMessage with the kids and not worry about the cost.
We had joined the Facebook group for our sailing prior to our departure and were able to attend some meetups. It felt like we were connecting with long lost friends when we finally met in person. We did a second seating for dinner and were seated with two very lovely couples. I think it was fun meeting people and getting to know them over the course of the week.
Tip: For those with food allergies, we recommend you order your meal for the next day at dinner. They do prefer you to order in advance, especially if you want to make modifications. They do have items on the menu clearly marked.
Day 2: At Sea
Our first full day on the ship was spent sailing on the North Sea towards Copenhagen, Denmark. We had brunch at Palo (18 and over only dining venue) and worked on adjusting to the time difference. We checked out the shops, but held off on some purchases to make sure we really wanted the items. If you see something and it has limited availability on the shelf, grab it because that could be all they have. The shops sometimes have items on clearance. Be sure to check the tags!
Day 3: Copenhagen, Denmark
We booked an excursion through the cruise line to see some of Copenhagen’s highlights. With limited time, we wanted to see the city, but didn’t know where to start. This excursion was perfect!
We had a great day and saw the Little Mermaid Statue, the Royal Palaces and Tivoli Gardens. We even walked around in the court of the Royal Palaces and saw one of the Royals return, which was fun!
Day 4: Oslo, Norway
This day was rainy, but we still had a great time taking a walking tour of Oslo that included a stop at the Ice Bar. We met our guide right outside the ship to start our tour. Having a local as a guide is a lot of fun because they provide so much information that you would never think to ask.
We walked toward the Nobel Peace Museum and learned how that process works. Then we walked to City Hall. This is where the Nobel Prize ceremony is actually held. They had beautiful murals on the walls of City Hall that displayed the history and information about the country. After the visit in City Hall, we walked to the Royal Palace and were just in time for the changing of the guard!
Our next stop was the Ice Bar. Every guest receives a very warm poncho and gloves to wear in the bar and a welcome drink. The ice artwork throughout the bar was amazing. We looked at the art while we enjoyed our drink.
We also saw the Akershus Royal Fortress. Many of you may recognize this name from the Princess Meal at Epcot. It is a real location!
Day 5: Stavanger, Norway
This was probably my favorite day. We took another boat to the fjords and saw Pulpit Rock. It was a rainy day, but as we got into the fjord the weather cleared up. There were many ways to see Pulpit Rock. We chose the guided boat tour. If we were feeling adventurous, we could have hiked up to it.
On the way back to the ship, we stopped and were treated to Norwegian waffles, which were rather tasty! We ate at Palo for dinner and then we went to the Frozen deck party. On the European cruises, they do not have fireworks at night.
Day 6: Bergen, Oslo
This day was gorgeous! The sun was out and the temperature was amazing. We took the funicular up to the top of Mount Floen. From here we could see the beautiful Disney Magic from above as well as the city of Bergen. We also walked along the pier and saw the Unesco World Heritage site.
Day 7: At Sea
Sadly, this was our last full day spent at sea as we sailed back across the North Sea to Dover.
Sailing Disney Cruise Line Without Kids
On this cruise it was just my husband and I and it was a different type of vacation than we normally do with Disney Cruise Line. We have sailed on the Magic before with our kids, but this was the first Disney Cruise without our kids! If you question whether or not to do a Disney Cruise without kids, DO IT! It is so amazing! You will not be disappointed!
The entertainment is top notch. They have both family-friendly shows and then at times the same shows geared more towards adults. Trivia, crafts, and games are all included. Bingo is an extra cost, but even if you do not play, it is worth going to watch. There are adult-only pool areas, adult-only dining options and the adult-only entertainment district.
There are many things for adults to do without kids. You can sign up in advance for different tastings, including cognac, wine, champagne, tequila and mixology. The tastings include samples and information about the drinks.
Shows! Oh my, so many shows! There are the nightly shows on board that are performed by the extremely talented cast—Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story, Tangled: The Musical, and Disney’s Once Upon a Song. All of these are Broadway caliber shows and are not to be missed!
Visit the After Hours area that includes O’Gills Pub, Keys, and Fathoms for more entertainment options. We saw a performance by JUNNK that was great. They even performed a family-friendly version earlier in the evening. Other activities included trivia events, Bingo, game shows and karaoke. One night a really good Irish trio performed. Another night there was Just John & Paul, a Beatles tribute show, and whoa was it great! If you didn’t know better, you would think you were actually seeing them live!
Food, so much food! My husband could not pass up the soft serve ice cream. They even have a flavor of the day. For breakfast and lunch, Cabana’s buffet is a good choice. Daisy Delites is an option for sandwiches in the afternoon and evening. And for pizza, Pinocchio Pizza! I stopped there many times for the gluten-free pizza. When you order, the manager comes and takes care of your order. Pete’s Boiler Bites also has burgers and they will take good care of you there too!
The stateroom hosts are great about keeping your room tidy. It’s always fun to walk through some of the halls. Many people make magnets for their stateroom door to make their rooms easier to find. The creativity of some of the magnets is unbelievably amazing!
For a cruise in Europe, you do need a passport if coming from the United States. Make sure it is valid for six months beyond your return date. It is always important to check to see if any of the countries you are visiting require a Visa for entry.
I was able to exchange money for England prior to going to Europe. I figured having some British currency for the day we were there would be a good thing. When we were in Denmark and Norway, I just used our credit card to get the current exchange rate. If using a credit card, make sure you notify your credit card company of your travel plans and check to see if there is a foreign transaction fee.
Tip: Adding extra time before or after your cruise is a great idea. The best way to do this is with an Adventures by Disney short escape. You can also add Adventures by Disney to the sailing if you want to have the best excursions in each port and know all the details are taken care of.
Norway has stolen my heart! The people are very friendly; the landscape is beyond beautiful; and there is so much to see and do. I need to go back! Denmark is just as amazing. We didn’t have enough time there, so I guess I need to plan another vacation!
If you are thinking about taking a cruise, you will not go wrong with sailing on Disney Cruise Line. The ships are nice and on the smaller size, so you do not feel overwhelmed with people. You get to experience guests from all over the world, even more than you do on the Caribbean and Bahamian cruises.
Let us help you plan your magical cruise vacation and make sure you have the most memorable trip.