No longer will Long Islanders have to schlep to Florida to get their Disney fix. Disney Cruise Line is bringing a ship to Manhattan for the first time for a summerlong series of cruises starting May 25.
The Disney Magic will offer three different itineraries -- eight nights, five nights and two nights. Eight-nighters call at three ports -- Nassau in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay (Disney's private island) and Port Canaveral, Fla. The five-night sailings call at Saint John and Halifax in the Canadian Maritimes. Two-night cruises remain at sea the entire cruise, giving passengers the opportunity to really immerse themselves in the many onboard activities.
ABOUT THE SHIP
Passengers, especially the younger set, will enjoy some of their best times aboard the ship. In addition to the usual recreation facilities, costumed Disney characters roam the vessel and are available for photos. Stage shows and movies have Disney themes and kids have their own pool and water-play areas.
Youngsters also can hang out in special areas reserved just for them: the Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab for ages 2-10, Edge for ages 11-13 and Vibe for ages 14-17. Group baby-sitting is available for children 12 weeks to 3 years old.
Adults, too, have special areas if they so choose. Quiet Cove is an adults-only pool, Palo is the ship's adults-only restaurant. Staterooms are good-sized. All have split bathrooms with tub-shower combination and a privacy divider to curtain off the sleeping area.
Three Broadway-style musical shows are performed in the evening on the eight- and five-night cruises, two on the two-nighters. Variety acts, movies and deck parties also are on the schedule. Adults only are allowed in the Beat Street nightclub district after 6 p.m. There is no casino.
The eight-night sailings will have four days at sea in addition to port calls. Included in the fare is a free day excursion to Walt Disney World from Port Canaveral. Passengers are provided a pass to one Disney theme park and complimentary bus transportation to and from Disney World, which is about an hour away. Other excursions, for which passengers must pay, are available, among them a tour to nearby Kennedy Space Center.
Disney's private island has a beach for all ages, an adults-only beach and a beach area reserved for teens. A variety of shore activities are offered, even parasailing.
Passengers can walk straight from the dock into the heart of downtown and its many shops and British Colonial ambience. A variety of shore excursions are offered as well.
On five-night cruises to the Canadian Maritimes, the ship will have two days at sea in addition to the port calls. A major attraction at Saint John is the Bay of Fundy and its tides, the highest in the world. In town, passengers can see the famous Reversing Falls, created when the huge incoming tide forces the river current to run backward upstream. Tours are available to Fundy National Park, where visitors can see effects of the 40-foot tides.
In Halifax, passengers can explore the Citadel, a well-preserved hilltop fortress, visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, see the cemetery where 121 victims of the Titanic sinking are buried, go shopping or sample Canadian cuisine.
Once each summer month, the Disney Magic will make a two-night cruise to nowhere. On these sailings, the ship will spend a full day at sea, enabling passengers to enjoy the ship's onboard activities.
ABOUT THE SHIP: Disney Magic
PASSENGER DECKS 11
FARES Rates for all cruises apply to the first two people in a stateroom, regardless of age. Fares are lower for third, fourth and fifth passengers in same cabin as well as for children 3-12 when traveling with two adults in the same cabin (and even lower for ages 0-2). Rates below are starting prices for a standard inside stateroom.
8 NIGHTS From $1,240 a person
5 NIGHTS From $715 a person
2 NIGHTS From $370 a person
GETTING THERE All cruises will depart from Manhattan Cruise Terminal on 12th Avenue. On-site parking for cruise passengers is $35 a day.
INFORMATION 800-951-3532, disneycruise.com
On deck: Disney's newest ship, the Fantasy
Anchors aweigh! The Disney Fantasy, the fourth and newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line, sets sail on its maiden voyage from Port Canaveral, Fla., on March 31. The ship can carry 4,000 passengers on its 14 decks and will make seven-day trips through the eastern and western Caribbean. Fares currently start at $952 (double occupancy) for inside staterooms.
The Fantasy has many of the same amenities found on its sister ship, Disney Dream -- including a top-deck watercoaster that juts out over the sea.
Features unique to the Fantasy:
DINNER SURPRISE Every Disney cruise ship has an Animator's Palate restaurant, but there's a new show called Animation Magic at the Fantasy's restaurant that's created by the guests. Place mats and markers await all diners -- adults and kids alike. The wait staff instructs everyone to draw a character on the template, collects them when taking orders and promises a surprise by dessert. That's when the TV screens throughout the room light up with an animation of each person's creation: The new characters dance across the screens to diners' delight.
AHOY MATEYS The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a hit on land at Disney World, and for the first time, kids can visit a boutique at sea to be transformed into princesses and pirates; Disney suggests reservations be made in advance of the cruise to ensure a spot. Another new kiddie spot is the AquaLab, where footprints and notes from Huey, Dewey and Louie lead families through water experiments that will create soaking geysers and jets. As for drier entertainment, a new show called "Wishes" hits the stage in the Walt Disney Theatre, and families can play a scavenger-hunt game that sends them around the ship for clues to help The Muppets solve "The Case of the Stolen Show."
FOR GROWN-UPS The Fantasy doesn't just engage the kids' imaginations -- grown-ups can also escape. By day, the Satellite Sun Deck for guests 18 and older offers Satellite Falls, a circular pool with benches and a gently falling rain curtain. After sundown, bar hop in the Europa nightclub area, where seven themed bars arranged door-to-door make changing scenes a cinch. Ooh La La takes parents to Paris; The Tube lets them dance in London; La Piazza is a dash of Italy. And the ambitious Skyline lounge attempts it all: the video-scenes in its row of virtual windows change every 12 minutes, taking guests from Barcelona to Athens to Budapest and beyond -- nary a Mickey or Donald in sight. -- BETH WHITEHOUSE