Texas touches on our Disney Magic cruise

Ace Sowell poses for a photo aboard the Disney Magic with Captain Hook.
Ace Sowell poses for a photo aboard the Disney Magic with Captain Hook.

ABOARD THE DISNEY MAGIC-I’m perfectly capable of climbing stairs. But I do enjoy riding the glass elevator on the Disney Magic. It’s fun to zoom from the lovely atrium past the glittering Dale Chihuly glass chandelier to the top of the ship.

After watching a bunch of excited youngsters meet with Disney princesses in the atrium, I step aboard the elevator and find a family from Texas. The two little girls in matching dresses – Olivia, 3, and Rylie, 4 – are happily chattering about meeting their favorite Disney characters, while their grandparents -Trudy and Herman Falterman – are happily listening.

“Olivia said the most wonderful thing to me last night,” Trudy tells me. “She said, ‘Oh, Grandma, thank you for taking us on this boat cruise. I will never ever forget it.’”

Being able to drive to the Galveston port helped make the cruise possible, Trudy adds. Instead of the added expense of airfare, the family traveled about an hour from their Texas home to Galveston. “It saved us a lot of money,” Trudy says.

Although this is the start of their first Disney cruise, the Faltermans are already planning another one with their children and grandchildren. “I know everyone would love it,” Trudy says.

Holly Lail, public relations manager for Disney Cruise Line, says that Disney likes to try new ports so that more folks have easy access to the ships. “Two years ago it was Vancouver. Last year it was Seattle,” she says.

The Disney Magic began cruising from Galveston last September.  Several Galveston cruises are scheduled for this year, heading to the Western Caribbean and the Bahamas. On our six-night cruise, we will be going to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Also new this year, Disney Cruise Line will be using a second homeport in Florida, with Caribbean sailings departing from the port of Miami for the first time.

Grace Miller gets her hair braided by Janice Clark aboard the Disney Magic.
Grace Miller gets her hair braided by Janice Clark aboard the Disney Magic.

Paige Sowell estimates it would have cost her family of four almost $2,000 to fly from their Arkansas home to Florida for a Magic cruise. Instead, they drove to Galveston. On this balmy cruise day, 4-year-old Ace Sowell is hot on the heels of Captain Hook for a photo opp on the top deck.

“I was so thrilled when I heard Disney was going out of Galveston,” Paige says as she snaps pics of her son and the infamous Disney pirate. “This is Ace’s birthday present. He will turn five on Wednesday.”

Watching her daughter get her hair braided near the ship’s pool, Valerie Miller  says her family of five also could more easily budget a cruise without airfare from their Dallas home. “It was about a five and a half hour drive,” she says. “No problem.”

Having a hair braiding station on the ship is a nice touch. I’ve seen it many times on shore but, this way, youngsters or adults can get the popular braids while they are still enjoying the ship and they know that the hair design is being done by Disney professionals at a fair charge. Fees depend on how many braids are being done and what kinds of beads are being used.

Of course, 7-year-old Grace Miller had no idea what I was talking about when I mentioned Bo Derek and her braids in the 1979 movie Ten. That was long before Grace’s time. Grace considers that her braids will be an eye-catching souvenir when she gets home, plus they will help keep her hair out of her eyes when she is swimming on the Magic’s windy top deck.

“This is part of our culture,” explains braider Janice Clark of Jamaica. “I was born doing this, darling. I can even braid my own hair if I want.”

The addition of Shiner Bock beer on draft is popular on the Magic cruise out of Galveston.
The addition of Shiner Bock beer on draft is popular on the Magic cruise out of Galveston.

Other Texas touches I saw on the Magic were cowboy boots, Dallas Cowboys T-shirts (as compared to my grandson Logan’s IU Hoosiers shirts), and Shiner Bock beer on draft.

“We have Shiner Bock because we are sailing out of Galveston,” bartender Fernando says. “It has been one of our best sellers on these cruises.”

So what did Logan, my sister Elaine, daughter Kelly and I do on this leisurely cruise day? I’ll tell you more tomorrow. Right now we have to get ready for the Captain’s Welcome Reception and the live production of the musical “Twice Charmed” in the Walt Disney Theater.

Disney productions are always top notch and this is the award-winning song-and-dance show that poses the interesting question – what would the evil stepsisters do if they had a second chance to stop Cinderella from fitting into the glass slipper and finding her prince?

Of course, we’re also heading to dinner at Palo, the adult restaurant on the Magic. Looking forward to their lobster ravioli. Yum! Then a good night’s sleep listening to the ocean’s lullaby outside our stateroom balcony.

Photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch

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