Day 1: Happy Birthday To Me! Our First Disney Cruise 2021! UK Staycation

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Once inside the historic terminal building (which had Disney touches added for these cruises!), we went through check-in and security. Passports were not required, just photo ID (our driving license was fine).

It was also vital to know (or have to hand), your reservation number and stateroom number as these were asked of us several times during the process.

Our hand luggage was scanned and we had to walk through metal detectors as you would at an airport, then we were on our way to the gangway to board the Disney Magic!

The process of arriving at the port to boarding the ship was about an hour and a half.

Unfortunately, the gangway was on a fairly steep incline, with an even more steep ramp to get up. It was going to be impossible for Steve to push me up it, so I had to navigate it on foot. We were left standing there wondering what on earth to do, and I just wanted the floor to swallow me up. We heard later, that a lot of people with mobility issues had trouble with the ramps boarding the ship, so I know it wasn’t just me.

This had a knock-on effect, as by now I was embarrassed and anxious, and I totally missed the crew announcing us onto the ship. DCL announces every group of guests and everyone claps and cheers, and we had been looking forward to this Disney touch – but completely missed it. I was nearly in tears by this point, and it was so good that Captain Mickey and Minnie were up on the stage ready to welcome everyone too, as it sprinkled that magic onto me, just for a moment.

For social distancing in the atrium, there were spots to stand on, for the welcome show from Captain Mickey and Minnie. We were guided to one by the side of the stage and watched as they sang an alternative version of “It’s A Good Time” from Mickey’s 90th birthday celebrations.

As an adult, it feels so silly to get so much joy from a couple of cartoon mice, but Disney is my happy place, and this short little song and dance was the tonic we needed!

One thing Steve and I noted was how small the atrium felt. After seeing it so many times on various vlogs, it certainly looked a lot bigger on screen!

We didn’t have much time to take things in as we were ushered through into Fathoms (one of the ship’s bars/lounges) for a quick lesson on how to use the Navigators App and to then be guided to our Muster Assembly Station, which for us, was Deck 4 (G).

To prove that we had gone to our Assembly Station we had to use our phone to take a scan of the sign which registered that we had done it. It was very clever! Later on, we would watch the Muster Drill on our stateroom televisions, and the ship’s horn was blown to demonstrate the sound you would hear in an emergency.

The way Muster Drills are conducted has changed because of the pandemic. We found this to be a very quick and practical process and felt safe knowing all the emergency details. Attending your Assembly Station is mandatory, so make sure you get it done as soon as possible so you can enjoy your cruise.

London International Cruise Terminal (Tilbury)

We had been told that our stateroom wouldn’t be available until 3pm, but while we were on Deck 4 taking photos of the port views from the ship, I had checked the Facebook Group and people had mentioned that the rooms were now available (at 2:30).

We were struggling getting around with me and the wheelchair, plus a large piece of carry-on luggage, so I suggested to Steve to go and see if our stateroom was ready – taking the luggage with him.

The reason for said large carry-on? Well, you are allowed to bring your own alcohol on board, but it must be in your carry-on bags and not your checked luggage. We didn’t actually bring booze, but several large bottles of water, and that too had to be in your carry-on. The bottles are HEAVY, hence the large luggage.

And for those wondering if you need to bring water onto the ship – you don’t have to. You can get water from the drinks dispensers on Deck 9, and the water in your stateroom bathroom is actually drinkable too. I knew I wouldn’t be a fan of the latter, and I drink a lot of water, so it was easier to bring our own.


Stateroom 6500 Tour

Anyway, back to the room situation – it was indeed ready early, so Steve came back to get me and we headed to Deck 6, room 6500. It is an accessible oceanview room which means it has a (large) porthole, but not a verandah (balcony).

This is one of the (very few) accessible rooms on the Disney Magic, and I think it may also be one of the smaller ones because of its placement at the ship’s forward.

Our room was at the end of the corridor at the front of the ship. The closest elevators are the Forward ones (these do not go to Deck 10).

In the photo above, which is of the carpet that lines the corridors of the staterooms, you will notice that there is a row of stars at the very top. The top tip of the star will always point forward, to the front of the ship, so that way you know which direction you are going!

To get into your stateroom you need your Key To The World Card (KTTWC). In pre-covid times you were given to you before you boarded the ship. On these Staycations, they were in an envelope and held on the fish decoration next to your door.

The KTTWC is your room key, so make sure you take it with you! It also has your dining rotation*, dining time, and table number, along with your muster station location. You also need your KTTWC to charge purchases to your stateroom, such as merchandise or drinks (that are not included, such as alcoholic beverages, cocktails, etc.), as well as identifying you to the Kids Clubs, photography staff, and more.

One thing not included in your stateroom number! This is of course for safety reasons – you don’t want to lose your card and someone enters your room. If you do lose your card, head over to Guest Services, and they will deactivate your old card and issue you with a new one.

*This is indicated by the first letter of each restaurant. Ours was Lumiere’s, Animators Palate, and Rapunzel’s Royal Table, so it showed as LAR on our cards. However, this is now being changed, and will no longer be shown on the KTTWC, and instead, you will find this info on the Navigator App.

Stateroom Fish

I mentioned the fish outside our room. You can see what it looks like in the photo above. The type of fish it is will depend on where on the ship you are. On the Disney Magic, the port side has fish, and the starboard side has a seahorse.

They are primarily used for Crew Members to communicate things with you such as reservations, excursions, or other notes. Think of it as a little mailbox -envelopes can sit neatly on top and behind the fish.

There is a fun activity that a lot of cruisers take part in and that is something called “Fish Extenders”. Sadly, because of Covid, this was not allowed on board for our cruise. I won’t go too much into Fish Extenders, but in short, it is where a group of guests all swap gifts that are left in little tote bags that hang from the fish.

It sounds like so much fun, and if we ever go on another Disney cruise and it is allowed again, I’m totally signing up (this is done through Facebook Groups). This is a guest-run activity and has nothing to do with Disney Cruise Line.

One fun thing we could take part in, however, was decorating our stateroom door! The doors are metal and that means they will hold magnets! Not everyone decorates their door. Some will go all out (a bit like we did) and some may only put one or two magnets.

You can (sometimes) buy magnets at the gift shops onboard, or you can bring some with you. Etsy is a great place to buy Disney magnets, or you could DIY them using printable magnetic sheets (like we did!).

When we arrived at our stateroom, there was a birthday wishes marker board on it! This was part of a decoration package that my husband had paid to have in our room. But we did add a LOT more magnets as you can see below!

We found a lot of them in a Facebook Group, plus I made some of our own to use. Decorating your stateroom door is not only a fun thing to do but it’s also a great way to recognize your door along the corridor of rooms!

It’s fun to see how other people decorate – some people get REALLY creative, and I’m sure I’ve got some more photos of doors that I will come across as I write each day of my trip report. I will certainly share them when I find them!

At some point during our cruise, someone had left a little bit of Pixie Dust and left us a gift of 3 cute magnets. This was such a sweet surprise, and something I would think about doing on a future cruise.

Sadly, on the flip side of all the good things, there are those mean people who actually steal magnets. I’ve seen it mentioned in the Facebook Groups and this makes me so sad. The best thing is to make sure you only put things on your door that you wouldn’t mind going “missing”, rather than important magnets that you love or collect.

Stateroom Door Magnets
My Birthday Cards
My Disney Ears
Magnetic Ceiling Hooks
Lack of Storage!

The doors and ceiling on the Disney Magic are magnetic (on some cruise ships the walls are too); and a huge tip is to bring magnetic hooks and clips with you. Staterooms in general are smaller than hotel rooms, and you are going to want all the storage space you can get!

We used the back of the stateroom door to clip up my birthday cards using magnetic clips, and my Disney Ears were hung on magnetic hooks which we attached to the bathroom door.

And since I’m talking about magnets, we also hung all of my dresses and tops from strong magnetic hooks from the ceiling! This was not the original intended use for them, but we had a severe lack of wardrobe space in our room, and the hooks were a wardrobe lifesaver! More on that shortly.

Back to the celebration package that my husband had purchased!

It started with the birthday message board stuck to our stateroom door, but also continued inside with banners featuring Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald hanging from the ceiling! To see them hanging there when I first walked in was so exciting! You’d have thought was 5 years old, not 45!

The banners were also magnetic, and we left them up for the duration of the cruise. There was a window cling banner on our porthole, as well as a huge towel and for some random reason, a huge, comedy necktie!

To book these room extras, my husband had to phone up and order them. That is because we booked and paid for our cruise in Pounds Sterling (GBP), and of course, DCL is an American cruise line, so everything is in US Dollars. Ordinarily, you would be able to book extras such as this on the Navigator App.

Also waiting for me, on the desk, was a Magical Moments certificate (?) and a DCL birthday badge, as well as a $50 gift voucher for the onboard spa (which sadly, I didn’t get around to using).

In the early evening, I had a Minnie Mouse cake delivered too – all such wonderful surprises for my birthday!

Minnie Mouse Birthday Cake

Disney Magic Accessible Stateroom 6500

As I previously mentioned, there are not many accessible rooms onboard the Disney Magic, so if you need one, I highly recommend booking as soon as the itinerary is released.

These rooms are generally larger than regular staterooms and have amenities that are suitable for guests with disabilities. You can find full, and up-to-date details about staterooms on the Disney Magic on the DCL website.

This particular room sleeps 3 people with a queen-size bed and a single sleeper sofa. The bed is pretty high from the floor, and I really struggled to get in and out of it! There is space under the bed for your suitcases which is very handy.

The mattress was very soft, and the pillows were comfy – however, for me, sleeping was an issue as it was just a little too soft for me, and turning over was tricky for me too. This is more of a personal size issue than anything else. Steve slept okay, but he doesn’t sleep particularly well when we go on vacation anyway.

The bed linens were all white, with some blue accents and tiny Mickey Mouse detailing on them. There was also a runner at the foot of the bed which our Stateroom Host would turn into a towel animal each evening! (More on that later.)

On either side of the bed were small shelves (my side had the clock on it, which rendered the shelf mostly useless), and a small drawer. The clock did have some use though – there were 2 USB ports on it. Steve’s side of the bed was a telephone for calling Guest Services.

The drawer was handy for a book and some personal effects like my pillbox, lip balm, etc.

The lamps had their own switch on each side, and the lampshade showed the location of Disney Parks and Ships around the world.

Between the bed and the large porthole was an armchair, which I was able to fit in, which I was very pleased about. Us plus-size folk are often not fans of chairs with arms for the fear of not fitting, but I would say for most people the armchair in this room would be just fine for anyone up to 500lbs.

There was also an oval-shaped table which was handy for keeping things on. In some rooms (or maybe on other Disney ships) they have the table as a chest which opens up so you can store things inside. This is a much better option in my opinion, and I do wish we had that instead of the regular table. We seriously lacked storage in this particular room, and on the Facebook Groups I am in, some people said it was because of the shape of the room with its position on the ship.

The sofa was blue and white stripes, and in this particular room can be turned into a single sleeper sofa – which the Stateroom Host will do for you.

Speaking of the Stateroom Host, this is the person who takes care of your room during your cruise. They do the housekeeping every day, turn down your bed in the evening, and are available should you need have any requests. Depending on how you cruise, you may see them a lot, or a little, or even not at all!

Our host, Victor, was lovely, really helpful, and would greet us and ask how our cruise was going every time we saw him.

Disney Magic Stateroom Bed
Drinking Glasses

The photo above of the sofa shows my celebration towel gift, and a box to keep all the decorations in when leaving. This is the tidiest the sofa would ever be as it turned into the place where we kept our packing cubes and stacked our folded laundry!

Above the sofa is a sweet piece of art with some musical notes for The Second Star To The Right.

Next to the sofa is a desk with a mirror above it. There was also a tray with four drinking glasses, as well as a privacy door hanger and a room service breakfast hanger. The important Emergency Sheet was also located here so make sure you have a read of that.

The plug situation by the desk was as follows – American and European plug sockets, 2 USB ports, an electric razor port, plus switches for the lights around the mirror.

You are NOT allowed to bring extension leads onto the ship, so I highly recommend bringing a USB bank/strip to charge up any tech you may bring with you.

Under the desk was a stool and a small garbage bin. We also brought a pop-up laundry bag with us which fit neatly under the desk too.

The two photos below show a [mostly] whole room shot – looking into the room from the front door, then looking toward the door from the porthole.

We would have struggled with an ECV (Mobility Scooter) in this room for sure. Definitely not enough room for a large one.

Looking into the Stateroom from Front Door
Looking Towards Front Door from Porthole

The desk was part of a larger unit with some cupboards and a wardrobe. This was not enough space for the two of us for a 6-night cruise! If three people were staying in this room it would really be a struggle.

The television is small but can be pulled out and angled slightly. It was fine for our viewing needs.

The TV provides a lot of info for you, from a daily weather forecast, a map of the route you are on, to Daily Activities, Port Adventures (if you have ports of call, which of course, our cruise didn’t!), and even a Bridge cam that offers a real-time view from the ship’s bridge!

The Muster Drill also takes place on the television. A ship-wide announcement is made when it is about to be screened, and you should stop what you are doing to watch this important broadcast.

There are also Disney Movies and TV shows on-demand – we watched a lot of Disney Movies on this cruise! Today it was Lilo & Stitch and Robin Hood. As well as other popular TV channels like ABC, ESPN, as well as lifestyle, entertainment, and news channels.

The cabinet below the television is a small fridge to keep your drinks cold. You can request ice – which I did every night via the Navigator App.

You can see from the photo below the clothing storage set up – and as stated, is not enough for 2 people, let alone 3 (in my humble opinion). One and a half shelves are taken up by life jackets, but we turned them the other way and got three on the top shelf instead of two.

The wardrobe really needed another shelf between the bottom and top ones as there was a HUGE gap between the two that felt like wasted space.

As you can see from the hangers, there is barely any hanging space. Half is taken up by a few more shelves – one of which is taken up by the safe. I understand that the rail is low for accessibility, but it’s almost as if the designers of the room thought “Nah, people with disabilities don’t wear many clothes”.

And upon seeing the hanging situation you now see why we hung all of my dresses and tops from the ceiling with magnetic hooks! The hanging clothes were actually a good indicator of whether the ship was moving on not!

Disney Magic Stateroom 6500 Closet

The bathroom was very large with a roll-in shower with a fold-down seat, grab bars, and adjustable-height showerhead. Large bottles filled with H2O shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are provided by the shower, as well as a bar of H2O soap and a large bottle of hand wash and body lotion by the sink. These are refilled as required.

Of course, we all miss our small bottles of Disney/H2O bath products that we can take home as little free souvenirs, but there is always the bar of soap!

There are grab bars located around the bathroom and an emergency pull cord (which you must call Guest Services to activate).

There are not any drawers below the sink – this is so a wheelchair can roll underneath to reach the sink. There is a small rubbish bin as well as a sharps box should you require it. Which I did, so this was very handy to have been in the room. You can request these from your Stateroom Host if there isn’t one in your bathroom.

I do wish that there had been some extra storage here – even a little shelf or something to store products on.

Towels are provided – but are not plus-size friendly, which is par-the-course for hotel towels. Bring your own from home if you need a big towel. Toilet paper is also provided, but we brought our own from home as well for softness!

I think that covers everything in the room – any questions, please leave me a comment and I’ll do my best to help you!


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