The Disney Cruise Line first began as a pilot test in 1995, with the first of Disney’s own ships — the Disney Magic — coming into service in 1998 and the second — the Disney Wonder — arriving in 1999. The operation grew rapidly throughout the late 90s and can without doubt be hailed as one of the greatest modern success stories for Disney. The good news for Disneyland Resort Paris fans? Karl Holz, CEO of Euro Disney SCA, was president of Disney Cruise Line before moving to cheif operating officer role in Paris, and can be thanked somewhat for the huge boom in popularity for Disney’s cruise intinerary.

It’s the Disney Magic that will complete the Mediterranean cruises scheduled for this Summer. Apparently the more daring of the two vessels, she spent the Summer of 2005 on the West Coast of the USA, rather than the ships’ usual Caribbean route, as a try-out during Disneyland’s 50th. Now, for Disneyland Resort Paris’ 15th, she’s gone trans-atlantic and arrived in the port of Barcelona, Spain for a Summer of 10 and 11-day cruises around the Mediterranean. With two more, far larger, ships now on order for 2011 and 2012, success for these holidays could eventually mean a more permanent spot for Disney in the Med…

This isn’t quite the same as building a Sleeping Beauty Castle or Earful Tower amongst the landscape, though. The Disney details are kept to a minimum, and a subtle yet very high quality look takes over. It’s almost like Paris’ Disneyland Hotel floating on water – elegant and stylish, but with small Disney details to make sure the fun is always there.

The Disney Magic’s version of the Mickey Mouse Clock? Try the Mickey Mouse funnel!

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The Disney Magic logo is discreet and whimsical…

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And the golden detailing of the ship’s bow features not only hidden Mickeys, but hidden Minnies (riding jet skis no less)…

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…Along with hidden Plutos and even hidden Daisys.

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The 10 and 11-night cruises include stops at: Palmero (Sicily), Naples (Italy), Olbia (Sardinia), Sivitavecchia (Italy), La Spezia (Italy), Marseilles (France), Villefranche (France). The ship also offered guests the chance to book a 14-day cruise on its Eastbound and Westbound route across the Atlantic, with calls at ,Cadiz (Spain), Gibraltar (UK), Tenerife (Canary Islands) and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

For guests arriving via shuttle bus at the port from the city of Barcelona, they’re also met with a fairly subtle Disney touch. As a temporary try-out itinerary, the biggest signs of Disney might be the uniformed Cast Members or the “Welcome Home” banners.

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“Is there a Disneyland Resort Paris connection with the ship’s arrivial in Europe?” I hear you ask. Well, yes! It was several years ago now that we first heard rumours a Disney Cruise Line ship would be sailing the Med, but no-one could ever be sure if the two Disney destinations would be able to team up the way they do in Florida. In April of this year, the Mediterranean cruises were given a prominent spotlight at the 15th Anniversary press conference, guests booking a cruise were given the option to add a stay at Disneyland Resort Paris onto the beginning or end of their time at sea, and there’s also a little surprise waiting at port…

The walkway to the ship also features a giant banner showing the Disney Magic and her new Mediterranean itinerary. But as we know from Paris, where there’s a Disney banner this year, there’s bound to be Lumière! Flying the flag for the French and for Disneyland Resort paris, he appears in the familiar design covering about a third of the entire display.

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Should these cruises in honour of Disney’s 15th Anniversary in Europe be a success, maybe –just maybe — Spain will get a full-time dose of Disney (Magic or otherwise) for the 20th, particularly if Wikipedia (and the findings of many guests trying to book on these trips) are to be believed…

“These trips have proved to be very popular; not only did most rooms sell out immediately after the reservations opened, but the side excursions that were made available also were sold out within hours. For Castaway Cay members side trips that were opened as of March 18, 2007 were almost completely sold out within 18 hours.”

With the Disney Magic returning to the West Coast of the USA in 2008, an encore could certainly be in sight here too.

More information about Disney Cruise Line can be found at the official website.

All photos by Dream_Maker (Jordi).

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