I was invited to sail the 7-night Western Caribbean Disney Magic out of Galveston. Here is a glimpse of my experience last month. Part II… Read to the end for discounts!

Just two months ago, Disney Cruise Line started sailing out of Galveston with the Disney Magic, its first ship built in 1998. Exciting news for Texans — especially those in the Houston area.

Many folks are giving cruising a try for the first time (me included!) now that Disney has arrived at the Galveston port. Are you curious why Disney Cruise Line is renowned for its cruise experience earning awards such as Travel & Leisure‘s No. 1 Cruise Line for Families in 2012 (4 consecutive years) and Conde Nast Traveler’s No. 1 in Reader’s Choice Awards 2012? Here are 5 things to love about Galveston’s Disney Magic based on my experience:

1. Broadway-style shows and entertainment — The costumes, props, and talent in Disney Magic‘s entertainment is amazing, but certainly not surprising. Disney just does things right! The cruise line hires triple threat entertainers, according to Disney officials, meaning they can sing, act and dance. One dancer I spoke with in her off time shared how she auditioned in NYC with 500 others, and she was the one selected to work on the ship. They have a unique schedule where they train and rehearse for two months in Toronto and then sail on Disney Magic for six months.

Our 7-day Western Caribbean cruise included three big stage shows (Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story, Villains’ Tonight, and its famous Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic), as well as the Adventures Away deck party and Pirates IN the Caribbean Deck Party. This spectacular event featured fireworks at sea — and Disney is the only cruise line to offer fireworks. Since it can cost several million dollars to set up a stage show, according to Cruise Director Peter Hofer, they run for several years depending on their popularity. One entertainer on the Magic was from Houston and two others are Texans! That’s amazing considering they hold international auditions…

2. Kid-friendly spaces from babies to 17 — Although I traveled without my kids on my 7-day getaway, I certainly heard the raves from other bloggers whose kids didn’t want to leave their kid-friendly escapes. Disney Magic offers Flounder’s Nursery, Oceaneer Club, and Oceaneer Lab for ages 12 weeks to 12 years plus the Edge (tween space for 11 – 13 year olds) and the Vibe (teen space for 14 – 17 year olds). The daily schedule in each of these spaces was amazing including cooking classes, crafts, dress up, dance parties, Gaga Ball, science fun, and more. Not to mention the kid-friendly pools and splash pad…

3. Free dining in three restaurants plus free room serviceDisney Magic offers three sit-down restaurants that are free including Parrot Cay (Caribbean theme), Lumiere’s (French theme), and Animator’s Palate (featuring an innovative dinner show starring Disney characters). As I mentioned in my previous Disney Magic post, Disney is the first to implement rotational dining, where your serving team follows you to each restaurant during your cruise. This provides exceptional customer service because your servers get to know you and your needs. And they made silly napkin hats one breakfast! We were completely spoiled with four-course meals each night.

Palo is the adult-only restaurant featuring Northern Italian cuisine. This restaurant charges an additional fee but the cost is totally worth it. To top it off, if you ever get hungry outside of dining hours, there is always 24-hour room service for free. It’s the ultimate, especially when I enjoyed the Mickey ice cream bar!

4. Rooms that cater to family needs — Disney Cruise Line understands that families have different needs. As a result, they designed the staterooms with a bath and-a-half featuring a bath tub (perfect for young kids), shower and sink in one space and a toilet and sink in the other. This was ideal for my friend and I, as well, because we each could spread out and take over a mirror and sink! Our Deluxe Stateroom with a private verandah also included a curtain that could be pulled for privacy and separation for those using the bunk beds and Murphy pull-down bed.

5. Hang time with Disney characters — For me, access to the Disney characters was a major plus — and is obviously unique to Disney cruises. I loved getting my photo made seven different times with the Disney characters. Imagine what kids would think! The Personal Navigator (your daily bible with complete schedule) lists the times and locations for character greetings.

The Princess autograph session in the lobby featured five different princesses and was repeated two days. And I took photos of it both days I was so mesmerized by it!

We also enjoyed a free Character Breakfast where 6-8 characters personally came to each table for photos.

The last night on the cruise included the “Till We Meet Again” party, which is a final farewell reception at 10 pm in the lobby. The characters walk down the dazzling lobby staircase and share goodbye hugs and take photos once again with guests.

Additional big moments on my cruise: Meeting cruise director Peter Hofer (like Julie on the TV show The Love Boat), collecting our towel animals from turn-down each night, and meeting the other bloggers who cruised with me for our special media sailing. Loved them!

Take advantage of Kids Sail Free January 4 – March 1, 2013 on selected Disney Magic itineraries out of Galveston. Disney is sailing out of Galveston on the Disney Magic through May 2013 with  excursions to the Caribbean and Bahamas. Disney will begin sailing to Jamaica from Galveston in late 2013! It is adding new routes featuring 4-, 6-, and 8-night options including admission to Florida’s Walt Disney World Resort and Park Hopper passes. In October 2013, Disney Wonder will take over the itinerary.

Disney provided me a 7-night cruise on the Disney Magic so I could experience the magic firsthand. All opinions are my own.