Repo & Med B2B Cruise July\Aug 2010 - FINALLY COMPLETE
England to Espana Repo & Med Cruise B2B July\August 2010
NOTE: This trip report stalled with the loss of my trip notes! I have used photos and vague memories to finish it as we only have a month before we go on another Med cruise and I wanted to complete this report before we go. It only took THREE YEARS to finish the report! Oops :)
**Scroll To Bottom For MAJOR Update!**
OK I am going to make a start on our trip report. This will be our third DCL cruise and last time I was determined to write a trip report as I have thoroughly loved reading other peoples and living vicariously through them in the times when we have not had a cruise countdown in my signature!
Our trip in August 09 was part of a 17 night visit to WDW; 5 nights at OKW, a 7 night Eastern to Tortola which changed into a 7 night Western double dip due to weather problems, followed by 5 more nights in Orlando in a villa. I did really well with the first half of the trip report and then somewhere in the middle of the cruise I stopped writing. It is still on my laptop and I have some notes so maybe I will get it written but for now, THIS IS IT - I am going to complete a trippie for this cruise!
So hang on, Who is the WE I am talking about??
Me - Mel, 31 loves WDW and DCL this will be cruise number 3 on DCL
DH - Darren, 37 not the biggest Disney fan but loves cruising on DCL
DD1 - Isabelle, 5 Talks every week about going on "Mickeys Special Boat"
DD2 - Olivia, 2 Loves Disney films, wasn't so sure about life size characters!
Here we are on Castaway Cay last summer
and again in a lifestyle portrait taken by Shutters
We live in Suffolk in the UK about an hour and a half drive from London. It is such a treat for us that we will be able to cruise on The Disney Magic WITHOUT the 9 hour flight across the Atlantic to Florida!
This cruise was not in all honesty our first choice. Before the itineraries were announced we knew there were rumours of a Baltic cruise on DCL in 2010 and DH has always wanted to go. What we didn't bank on was the price. We are very lucky in that I am able to stay at home most of the week to look after our two young girls. At the time neither were in school and I was working just one day a week teaching. DH teaches full time. However, on one wage and in the middle of a house rennovation there was no way we could swing the Baltic cruise so we decided we wouldn't be cruising in 2010.
Fast forward to our 2009 summer cruise and we were utterly hooked on DCL. Our first cruise was on the Wonder and was a three day before the children were born. I loved it Darren thought it was "ok." Our 7 day totally upped his opinion of it. The food was better than he remembered, he realised that you could minimise or maximise the "Disneyness" (for that read characters etc...) as you wished and the best thing of all was that our kids loved the programming.
Now don't get me wrong, it is a family vacation and we like to spend lots of time as a family, but it is also OUR vacation too and the fact that they were so happy in the club \ flounders meant that for the first time since having the girls we felt like we actually had a vacation too!
I rebooked a dummy date onboard for August 2011 thinking we wouldn't cruise in reality until 2012 when we hope there will be either a Baltic return or an Eastern Med cruise which we can save for.
When we got back we really didn't want to wait that long and I had a little look at the other 2010 itineraries. DH didn't want to do a standard Med as we cruised there (not on DCL) for our honeymoon and he wanted to try different ports so although for me the ports didn't look great we switched to the Dover to Barcelona cruise. It has the advantage of only one short flight, it is 8 nights so a little longer than our last cruise and the good news is the ports are really growing on me! It further appealed to me right before Christmas when a great 12 rate came out - our cruise price including transfers went from $around $6500 to $2660. No way could I get us a cheap package tour to Spain in the school summer holidays for less than that and yet here we were going on the Disney Magic for 8 nights at what we consider an absolute bargain price! Woo Hoo!
**Update! - Our cabin assignment was made around 43 days out and we got an upgrade! We knew we would get at least a cat 11 as there are 4 of us book in a cat 12 but we got a cat 8!!! Room number 5010, just down the hall from the SPH room we had last year which is great not only because we love the upgrade we got but we also loved the location too :) :) :) **
I am going to stop waffling now and post replies in the next few boxes so I can fill in the spaces and it will read easily and coherantly when it is finished. Did you see what I did there, "WHEN it is is finished", now I have posted this I will just HAVE to make myself write it all out as I have made a commitment to finish it!
If you survived to the end of this lengthy waffly intro, well done for making it this far. I will fill in info before hand about our plans and then we will see how it all pans out!
**UPDATE 6th July**
I have been watching for cat 12 prices on the august 7th Med cruise, they appeared, we couldn't decide if we should book it and then they disappeared. Well there is NOTHING like realising you can't have something to make you realise you really want it! The rate popped up again yesterday and we booked. So our 8 night cruise just turned into a 19 night B2B cruise :) Woo Hoo!
Pre Cruise Plans
Living close to the Port (between two and three hours) is such a novelty for us. Port Canaveral is a 9 hour flight then a 90 minute drive so this seems ridiculously close!
My Dad will drive us to the Port in our people carrier then pick us up from Stansted airport when we come home, no parking fees Yay! Although we have no flight there we will have to fly home so we are still trying to keep packing under control! I am aiming for two suitcases and two carry ons which should easily fit everything we need including formal wear.
We will probably leave mid morning. Although I love to board as early as possible I am swayed by the chance to get my own hairdresser to do my hair for me on the morning of departure. She does it way better than me and it will last in curls for three days so I can have fancy hair for formal night which is on Day 3. So my plan is to get the earliest appointment I can, have the car packed and ready to go so we can leave as soon as I am back!
**Update** Appointment booked for 8:30am should be home by 9:50am and with the car packed the night before we can leave at 10am - should be at Dover by 12:30pm
Oh, I forgot to mention but Shhhhhhhhhh! this is a surprise cruise. The children don't know. Izzy talks all the time about going on Mickeys special boat and she loves looking at the photos and movie we took on the cruise last summer. She has asked if we can go back and I said we had to work hard and save hard (very true I have done a ton of supply teaching - I think in the US you refer to that as substitute teaching to help pay for the cruise) and that "one day" we will try to go back! Olivia, being a lot younger doesn't really have the concept of holidays (vacations) and saving for them so all that is irrelevant for her!
I can't wait to see the look on her face when we drive in to Dover Port and she sees the MAgic, she WIL recognise it and I know she will be so excited!
One of the appealing things about this cruise is that the ports are largely very doable on a DIY basis. With young children even on a Disney excursion there is always the worry that they will get tired, cranky and annoy the other passengers or they will need a bathroom stop in the middle of a drive through the countryside or they will be extra hungry and want lunch at 11am or whatever. We plan on doing all our excursions DIY style, partly because of the cost but mainly so we can do the bits we want to do at the pace we want to go.
I will post a "The Plan" section in each port post so we can record our ideas and plans then we will see how it turns out! At this point I should say I totally stole this report format from LMHall2000 so thanks for a great idea holding the posts and adding plans and reality sections! :)
:) :) Pre Cruise Shopping :) :)
Well yesterday (June 20th) I went shopping to look for a new dress to wear on the cruise. I spend very little on clothes for myself in the year, I prefer to spend the money on the girls and up until last year I really didn't enjoy shopping for clothes for me. In 2009 I lost around 35lbs and rediscovered the joy of shopping so I did need to do some basic shopping then so I had clothes that fitted but aside from that I rarely get chance to shop on my own without the kids so tend not to buy much in the way of clothes for myself.
Anyway, yesterday I went to see if anything took my fancy... and I bought two nice dresses for formal and semi formal night. These are the pictures from the shop website:
I totally LOVE them both :)
Now I just need to get a few things for the girls and Darren and we are all set!
Day 1 - Embarkation At Dover
The plan is to get up nice and early and finish any last minute car loading jobs (I hope to have done that the night before) DH will get the children up and dress them in their pre planned embarkation outfits! Now I don't dress them the same but I do like to ensure that their outfits go together ok. I am a scrapbooker and so a little thought about outfits goes a long way towards making life easier when I come to scrap the pictures. The lifestyle photo above shows that although they are in different dresses the colour of DD2s dress matched the colour of the roses in DD1s dress - a little strange I know but there we go!
I will head to the hair dressers for opening time and get my hair washed, dried and curled. I have the GHD straighteners that my hairdressers uses to curl my hair but although I CAN do it she does it so much better aand I know it will last!
Straight home from the hairdressers and all in the car to head for Dover with Dad driving us. We dhould still make it for early afternoon traffic permitting. We will probably take some soft drinks, water and a little alcohol onboard. We didn't last time as we didn't have time to stop for supplies on the way to port but here I can buy them in advance and take them with us. I prefer Parrot Cay for embarkation lunch so we will head there and wait for a table if necessary.
Now being UK residents we know that the weather is unpredictable. If we are having good weather the children will have their swimming stuff in their carry ons and use the pool but we won't worry if we don't get this done! Last summer in the Carribean they used the splash zone a few times but Isabelle didn't use the pools (Livvy is still in a swim nappy and isn't allowed) and it didn't really bother them.
I got up at 6:30am to finish off the packing which I had just about completed the night before. I decided I would be more productive on my own so left DH and the girls sleeping!
My hair appointment was at 8:30am so I had some breakfast and left at 8:15am and spent a relaxing hour or so having my hair curled. The past few days had been so manic it was lovely to have a little bit of time to just sit and contemplate our holiday without running around like a hamster on a wheel trying to get things done.
As per my plan I got home around 9:50am and we had decided that rather than wait to get to port we would tell Isabelle where we were going before we left. We share a house with my parents and my Aunt and Uncle were staying so everyone wanted to see her reaction. We asked her what she had wished for most to do this summer and she said she had been wishing really hard to go on "Mickeys Special Boat" so it was great to see an enormous smile when we told her that her wish had come true :)
We packed all the last minute stuff into the car, loaded the children in, said our goodbyes and were off by 10:30am, I realised within a couple of minutes that I had left my phone and charge behind so we turned round and came back for it - we left for the second time at 10:40am!
Despite not being that far from the port (should take between 2 and 2 and a half hours on a decent run) we found tha 2 of the three major roads we needed to travel on were SLLLOOOOOOWWW. We stopped for petrol and snacks and then later for a bathrom break and we were at the terminal by around 1:50pm. Later than planned but luckily it did mean zero waiting, our luggage was taken, we went in, straight to check in and through onto the ship.
On our way through we got the embarkation photo taken by the shutters team, as soon as we walked in Grace (who we remembered well) said, I know you guys, you cruised last summer right? It's Isabella isn't it? Well actually it is Isabelle but considering the number of guests I think the CMs and other staff (I know Shutters is not run by Disney) do amazingly well on this and it makes the guests feel great.
We were onboard and in our room by 2:20pm and we loved it. Our room was 5010, we stayed in 5020 last year so we knew we loved the location and as this was a pixie dust upgrade we really appreciated the space, the view and most of all the layout. With small children that sleep early we appreciate the set up where the children sleeping in the sitting area are NOT between the adult bed or the door. This maks it easier for one of us to pop out and get drinks, snacks or to go for a walk with minimal disturbance to the children.
Because we were later than planned we didn't get our Parrot Cay embarkation buffet as it was closing, we went to Topsiders instead. As I posted in the Plan section I really do prefer to go to Parrot Cay but hey, we are on the Disney Magic so i would eat in the engine room if i had to!
I had a light lunch of Leek & Potato soup which was delicious, the girls had assorted breads and cheeses and other cold items and Darren had a selection of things including some seafood and some other bits and pieces.
By this time I am quite preoccupied with getting to Rockin Bar D to check that our reservatipns for Palo are ok, to waitlist for the swapped Brunch and check our dining request for a 4 top at dinner had been met. So I grabbed a chocolate brownie from the dessert counter and a plate of assorted desserts for Darren and the girls and left agreeing to meet them back at the room.
I arrive in Rockin Bar D and find some guys in the front doing some kind of set up - of course I think I am too late for dining changes but ask anyway... Read the navigator (I thought that afterwards they weren't rude enough to point out I should have done that) because I needed to be in Studio Sea this time.
Once at Studio Sea i visit Pietro at the Palo desk and he kindly wait lists me for the brunch on the first sea day, and says he will do his best. I then check at the main dining desk and find that yes indeed we do have a 4 person table for dinner.
My kids are not little demons by any stretch but like all 5 & 2 year olds they have some moments when they are superbly behaved and other times when there is room for improvement :lol: I personally find meal times are much less stressful when I am not worried that the family we are seated with thinks I should make Isabelle eat more of her dinner, or that they are annoyed that Livvy is grumbling because she can't sit through a 90 minute dinner just yet. So believe me, I am not anti social but for now, with small children it is a table for four all the way!
By this time it is nearly 3pm and time for our Dis Meet. I ran to the Promenade lounge - well actually I limped because I wore my new shoes today thinking that in the car they wouldn't rub. Foolishly i hadn't worn them in properly so by 3pm they were making my feet very sore :(
I found Deborah (AKA Scottishwee) who had organised our lanyards. I was worried that I wouldn't recognise people but I recognised her daughter Olivia from some photos Deborah had posted of Olivia at a football (soccer!) tournament. I managed to get our lanyards, chat briefly with Deborah and also met "MiniJaffaCakes" and yes we did discuss how when you choose your screen name you don't give much thought to introducing yourself by that name! but then I had to rush back to the cabin as i had forgotten to let Darren know that I was going straight there from sorting the dining reservations.
Back in the cabin the girls were chilling out admiring the view and looking at our home for the next 8 nights. I started the unpacking of our carry ons which also had some of our clothing in which we continued with until Lifeboat Drill. This was better than last year but after the role call and during the announcement Olivia started to fuss so the CM said we could take the jacket off her and then Darren could take her in so long as one of the family stayed and listened so Izzy and I took in all the safety info while Darren and Livvy chilled in the cabin.
i popped out onto Deck 4 to take a few photos of the view of Dover while we waited for the kids clubs to open.
At 5pm when everything opened up again we went and registered the children for the club and nursery. We had done this already online so it was pretty quick and simple. One thing i was really surprised about was the number of staff who I recognised from our cruise last August. I had prepared myself for not recognising any of the counsellors but in reality there were quite a few and some who remembered us - As soon as she walked in Isabelle saw Crystal in the Oceaneers club. Izzy loved the club last year and she really enjoyed the counsellors and Crystal was one of her favourites. When Crystal saw her she called her by name and Izzy ran for a hug which was fabulous to see :) We also saw Lee from Wales and Sherman from Canada who Isabelle remembered from last time too. In Flounders we saw Katie from England and Lisa from Australia who both looked after her last year. She didn't remember them but it was lovely seeing familiar faces. I checked my reservations for Flounders and rearranged a few.
Then it was back to the cabin and get ready for dinner. We went to dinner in Animators Palatte. Our dining tickets said we were table 1 but the podium guy said he had had to move some people around to accommodate a family who were not seated together but wished to be so we we now on table 77. We were taken there and met our server Jayson from the Phillipines and Assistant Server Matt from Poland.
Dinner was, as is typical we find on the first night, slow. The food was good and the service team seemed fine, not outstanding on that first night but very good. It later transpired that they had only got our table assigned at the last minute and were led to believe it was for one night so I think that combined with the slow dinner meant they probably concentrated more on their large table than on us which I don't hold against them. As I said the service was good but there were no added extras... but they came in abundance later in the cruise!
The kids ate fruit and pizza and then went to the club \ Flounders at 7pm, our main course arrived just as Darren got back from dropping them off. Olivia had run in to play which made a change from last year where we had the guilt trip tears from her when going in - the tears miraculously disappeared when she thought we had gone but as we could see her having fun through the genius Flounders mirror we left her to play - there were no tears this time though she was eager to play.
Darren had Calamari & a seafood risotto, I had no appetiser and then the Mesquite Chicken, we both enjoyed our meal very much. By dessert the servers had ascertained we were here to stay and spent a little more time chatting with us persuaded us into a thrid dessert to share so between us we ate Kahlua Creme Brulee, Apple Tart Tatin and a Banana, Caramel & Mint sundae - they were all very good :)
After dinner we went and got drinks for the room from the drinks station, collected the kids and had an early night. We were all tired and we were losing an hour with a time change over night. Of course we returned to the room to find our first towel animal and the little chocolates - Isabelle thought these were wonderful (animals and chocolates!)
Tomorrow - Cherbourg and "why is the weather just like at home?!"
Day 2 - Cherbourg, France
I will admit that Cherbourg is the port which least excites me. Our children are only 5 and 2 and in my opinion they are not old enough to participate in long shore excursions and they just are not at an age where they can appreciate the history associated with trips to the Normandy Beaches and war memorials. So instead we will treat this as an extra sea day and use it to get reaquainted with the ship, maybe watch a movie and enjoy a leisurely lunch. If we haven't managed to use the pools the previous day then perhaps we might take the kids for a play in the splash zone \ pool.
I am also going to be on the look out for a port day special in the spa on this day if there isn't one I may book a massage for later in the week we'll see!
We woke up at 8:30am local time and as we were not planning anything more than a brief stroll round Cherbourg we took our time ambling down to Parrot Cay for breakfast at around 9:20am. I had been looking forward to the lovely cooked to order omelettes and so I had one of those, Darren had a cooked breakfast and the girls chose cereal, fruit and pain au chocolat.
Having explained the plan to Izzy she decided she wanted to stay in the club and not come ashore so we dropped her there and explained that we were planning on going ashore for an hour or two after doing a couple of jobs and that Isabelle didn't want to go. We borrowed a stroller from Guest Services and headed off the ship. We had just got to the bottom of the gangplank and through the non existant line at passport control and into the cruise terminal when the pager went off to collect Izzy from the club! I turned round and went straight back to the club where the counsellor explained that they knew we were planning on going ashore but that Isabelle had decided she wanted to go too so they paged us in case they could get hold of us before we went. I have no doubt they would have entertained her very well if we had been out of range of the page but as it happened we all went ashore and caught the free shuttle into the town.
We strolled around aimlessly for a while just looking at the shops and general comings and goings of French life. As expected Cherbourg didn't wow us but in many ways it was nice to have a port like that first rather than straight into the ports with lots to fit into the day. We spotted this sign outside a bar:
We took a few photos and drooled over some of the food displays in cafes and shops before stopping to grab a drink and a snack. We ordered a Tarte Au Fraise (Strawberry Tart) and a Crepe with bananas, chocolate and cream which the girls and I shared, they were delicious!
After this we walked back towards the shuttle stop past some nice looking buildings and took some photos.
The shuttle stop was quite full. After waiting about 10 minutes we decided as it was only a short distance and we had Olivia in the stroller we would walk it. Of course we were about a third of the way there when the shuttle we would have got came past us but we didn't mind; the weather was fine and dry if a little overcast and we were happy to stroll back to the ship.
We decided before the trip that as we had extended it to become nearly three weeks long we would have to be sensible on the souvenir buying and not go mad both for cost and space in the cases as we were flying home. It was while in Cherbourg that I settled on my plan to buy a magnet and a postcard (or three) in each port as a keepsake so we purchased these inside the cruise terminal then headed back onboard for some proper lunch after our sweet snack!
Once back onboard we headed up to Topsiders where we had a variety of items, the kids had a sort of selection platter we made up with cheeses, chicken pieces, bread and vegetables. Darren had a mixed plate including some curry and I had salad and breads.
After lunch we headed back to the cabin so Livvy could have a sleep, Isabelle went to the clubs for a couple of hours and Darren and I chilled out in the room reading and generally relaxing.
Olivia didn't manage much sleep and after we got Isabelle from the club we got drinks from deck 9 and the girls played for a bit in the cabin with the small selection of toys they brought with them for the trip. We put out some laundry to be pressed, called home and the changed for dinner.
As we left the room we saw Minnie walking past our stateroom door and although she was clearly on her way somewhere she stopped to kiss Olivia who was in the corridor with Darren. Despite missing Minnie Isabelle got a treat as when we got to the end of the corridor we met Belle walking up the stairs all alone. She stopped to chat to Isabelle and walked hand in hand with her down the deck 5 hallway and down to shutters which made Izzys day!
In shutters we talked with Rubin and clarified the situation with back to back cruises and CD's - as we thought there was no way to combine and pay a surcharge it was totally separate technically. However he did suggest we purchased prints in the first cruise (it was 8 days compared to 11 days) but also that we order the CD in the first cruise so our prints would be half price - he then put a note on the rder that the CD was for the next cruise so this way we saved some dollars!
Dinner tonight was in Parrot Cay. I skipped the appetizer, Darren had Crab Martinique and we both had rib eye steak with twice baked potato. The girls both had fruit and roast chicken. I do love the little things like the colouring sheets and crayons which kept them amused every night!
The children went to their clubs after they had eaten and skipped dessert. Olivia slept well in Flounders that evening and Isabelle enjoyed Where's Tink and Pixie Dust Crafts in the Oceaneers Club. Darren and I ate dessert together once the kids were dropped off in the right places, I had the Creme Brulee cheesecake and Darren had both the banana bread french toast pudding and the lemon meringue pie.
During dessert Jayson our server came back and asked if we liked puzzles which we both do - he made a shape with crayons and challenged us to solve a little challenge which we failed miserably at but it was fun! Mario, our head server also came round and spent some time chatting with us and he seemed very nice.
After dinner we took a walk round, got drinks from the drink station before collecting Olivia from Flounders. It was our routine last summer on the cruise to get Livvy to sleep first and let Isabelle stay late in the clubs so that they didn't keep each other awake and this worked well for us again this trip. As this report goes through you will see that we didn't do a lot in the evenings other than chill out in the cabin or take it in turns to fetch drinks \ food etc... I guess with our kids being young it was more important for us that everyone had fun in the day and got as much sleep as they needed at night and while Isabelle was easily able to cope with the late nights Olivia has always needed a lot of sleep so was rarely up later than 9pm - at home she is in bed by 7pm and asleep by 7:05pm usually!!!!!
Our towel animal tonight was this gorgeous elephant which was my favourite of the trip:
Day 3 - At Sea
We have no plans yet for this sea day. I wanted to book Palo Brunch for today but being only a lowly silver castaway club member the reservations for todays brunches had already gone. We booked it for Thursday but I will try to switch to Sunday if I can when we board. I booked Flounders for Livvy from 10 - 12:30 just in case we can switch.
If we manage to get Palo Brunch for today we will just hang out with the kids the rest of the day enjoying various activities before getting ready for formal night. I don't have a new dress yet for this. I have the gown I wore last summer but I don't often buy a lot of clothes so feel like I want to treat myself to a new one - we will see if I see anything I like between now and then.
With the exception of the Character Breakfast day and the last day we had already decided to just relax, not set any alarms and take everything at a very chiled out pace. We are very lucky that our children are, in general, very good sleepers and so we intended to make the most of this. So, on this first sea day we slept in until 9:15am. There was a message light flashing on the phone and when we checked it was from Palo - we had asked to be waitlisted for the brunch today and it was a confirmation that we could indeed show up at 10:30am for our brunch which was great.
With this in mind we got up, took the kids to Topsiders to grab some breakfast before heading to deck 5 to drop Isabelle in the Oceaneers club and take Olivia to Flounders which we had pre booked just in case we were able to switch our Palo reservation.
Darren and I then went up to Palo for our first of what would be four visits this trip!
We met Ferhat from Turkey who was our waiter. He was very pleasant and who took us on a refresher tour of the buffet.
Darren had seafood to begin and I enjoyed the breads with balsamic dressing and a selection of fruit.
We ordered some hot items; I tried the Fritata which was absolutely wonderful and Darren ordered and very much enjoyed the Veal.
For dessert Darren had a selection of fruits and pastries, I had some creme caramel which I have to say was possibly the least enjoyable food I tried in Palo. I do enjoy the brunch but my favourite is dinner - Darren on the otherhand prefers brunch... oh well, we just have to do both each time!
After brunch we said farewell to Ferhat and to Palo but left knowing we would be back VERY soon!
Olivia was booked into Flounders over lunch time and Isabelle decided to stay and have lunch in the club so we just relaxed for a bit before collecting Olivia at 1pm. I was feeling a little rough at this point and took half a dramamine - this was the only time I felt at all ill on the trip and as we were crossing the Bay of Biscay which is apparently notoriously rough I think I fared quite well!
Olivia played in the room for a bit while we read \ uploaded photos - then she announced that she wanted some breakfast! I should say at this point she has a very strange food preference and would live on cereal and sandwiches if she could. As it was around 2pm and a good few hours til dinner we ordered some room service: Frosties, Fruit, & Cookies plus an order of tomato soup for me (I LOVE the DCL tomato soup on the room service menu!) While we were waiting Darren went to get Isabelle so when the food arrived everyone had a little to eat and the kids watched Ratatouille on the stateroom TV while Darren and I sorted FE gifts.
Tonight was formal night and I knew i wanted some photos done but Isabelle was desperate to go and do a Little Einsteins activity in the club so she went for an hour between 4pm and 5pm. Once we had collected her we all got ready and went to the lobby for some photos, including of course one with the captain.
We also took a few of our own out on deck 4.
Our dinner tonight was in Lumieres and while I know it doesn't *really* matter I do like it when we are in this restaurant for formal night and so I usually try to request a dining rotation that places us here on formal night. Although the new Prince & Princess menu is the norm for formal night now we are actually having Lumieres rotational menu tonight because the way the days and theme nights worked you would miss a rotational dining menu if they served Prince & Princess menu tonight (There are enough nights but with formal night and pirate night on nights 3 and 6 you wouldn't get another chance to eat in that restaurant and have it's own rotational dining menu)
I am totally happy with this as my favourite appetizer onboard in in Lumieres - possibly the messiest looking dish on the table but oh so delicious... Mrs Potts French Onion soup!
I followed this with beef tenderloin and mashed potatoes, Darren had the escargot followed by both the lobster ravioli and the sea bass at Jaysons insistance.
The children ate fruit and then burgers, neither ate much and Olivia was very tired so we took her a little early to Flounders and they were able to accommodate her. She went straight to sleep in there! By 7pm Isabelle was ready to ditch the formal attire and head to the Oceaneers club for plutos PJ party so I took her before returning to enjoy Creme Brulle Cheesecake while Darren had the pannetone bread pudding.
After dinner we took the rare chance to have some photos taken together and then went for a stroll round the ship. At 8:30pm we went to fetch Olivia and carried her, half asleep, back to the cabin and put her to bed. Darren watched TV for a bit before going for drinks and a walk while I caught up on writing the trip report. At 11pm I collected a reluctant Isabelle who was having a whale of a time.
Our towel animal for this evening was of course waiting for us on the bed...
Note that there are only 3 chocolates - Darren hadn't quite got the hang of NOT eating them before I had taken the picture!
Day 4 - Vigo, Spain
Like most of the ports on this cruise the DCL excursions didn't really inspire me! This, I have decided, is a good thing! We always intended to do a lot of the ports in a DIY style so we could go at our own pace, come back when we wanted and generally tailor our day to suit the needs of our family.
Now there is no mention of a beach trip in any of DCLs excursions but I read here and on Cruise Critic that there is a nice beach area called Samil Sands, not too far from Vigo so the plan at the moment is to take a bus there for the morning and then back at lunch time - partly because we can get lunch onboard and partly because by early afternoon the sun may well be too hot for the girls. If we like the look of the area where the ship is docked Darren and I may take the children to the clubs in the afternoon and get off for a stroll on our own but we have no firm plans.
I am currently experiencing a slight disaster as my notebook with all my trip notes is AWOL. However I can't stand the fact that the trip report is incomplete so I am going to upload photos for the remaining days and some brief notes about what we did. If the notebook surfaces then I will re-edit!
In Vigo once again we had no big plans, we went ashore and explored the area around the Port. Particularly interesting was the huge statue right opposite the port building.
As they were in every port there were maintenance crews working quayside on the Magic for most of the time we were docked.
We enjoyed wandering around the quaint streets, bought the obligatory magnet and postcards and headed back on board for lunch.
Tonights dinner was Animators Palette and as always we enjoyed this restaurant. Olivia who is used to a day time sleep which she hadn't had on any of the days so far fell asleep at the table!
I can't remember everything we ate but I do recall that I very much enjoyed the Strawberry Sable I had for dessert!
Our towel animal was waiting for us as always
Day 5 - Lisbon, Portugal
So the plan for Lison is to visit the aquarium they built for the Expo show. It is supposed to be a really good attraction. I think we will buy HOHO bus tickets here and use that to get to the aquarium then do a little sight seeing. I am planning on going ashore as early as possible so we can go back to the ship in time for a late lunch. If we fancy it we may put the kids in the clubs and go for a little stroll and sightseeing using the HOHO tickets in the afternoon.
In Lisbon we headed across from the port to the Metro station and with a little help from a local we go the right tickets.
We headed across the city and headed to the Park of Nations which was the EXPO site.
From there we walked to the Oceanario De Lisboa. The planning paid off and after a few days of relatively easy going wandering in ports we enjoyed something a little more adventurous but that was suitable for the children.
After the Oceanarium we had hoped to go and see a stadium which Darren wanted to visit but it was a lot further than it looked on the map and the heat was too much for the children so we headed back to the ship for a late lunch.
Olivia had a booking in the nursery which we were late for due to a metro mishap. The Flounders staff were very understanding and accommodating and took her for a later time slot without charging the missed booking. Isabelle went to the club and we enjoyed some fresh air on deck, took some photos and stopped by the Quiet Cove area which was a novelty as were didn't make it there on our previous cruises.
Day 6 - Cadiz, Spain
DH is a big James Bond fan and I like the films too. So today we are hoping to visit La Caleta. Someone here on the Dis posted about going to La Caleta beach which is where the beach scenes set in Cuba were filmed for James Bond - Die Another Day... Halle Berry doing an Ursula Andress impression! Then on the way back is apparently a lovely park called Parque Genoves which looks beautiful. We really aren't usually into beach trips all the time but our girls will love to play in the sand and a stroll through the park and feeding the ducks on the way back will be nice. I think we will try to take a taxi there and then walk back but it will depend on how far it is although breaking it up to stop in the park for ice cream and a play may help if it is a longish walk!
Probably off the ship earlyish and then back for a late lunch then just chilling out at the pools or in the kids clubs for the girls if they want.
Tonight is Pirate Night, perhaps this year we will actually get to see the fireworks and go to the party, last year it was all too much for both girls and although they got dressed up for dinner we missed the evening party and fireworks entirely! Here we are at dinner in Parrot Cay on Pirate Night last summer, the girls are doing their best fearsome pirate looks!
This morning was our character breakfast. It has been such a relief this time that Olivia has not hated the characters up close like she did the previous year! It took until the last full day of our 2009 cruise for her to tolerate the characters and that was after 5 days and three character meals at WDW beforehand!
We enjoyed the breakfast very much - even without my notes I know I had the pancakes with whipped cream and dulce de leche! mmmmmmmmmmmm :)
Jayson our server was on good form and made my usually sensible husband some very attractive head gear!
After our character breakfast we went ashore and began exploring what ended up being one of our favourite ports.
The walk to La Caletta was beautiful and easy going. There were beautiful public gardens along the way like this one
We got to the beach area and enjoyed an hour or so on the beach where Halle Berry and Pierce Brosnan filmed for Die Another Day. It was well worth the walk and overall Cadiz was just so amazingly pretty. It is definitely on our list to return to for a longer trip.
Day 7 - Gibralter, UK
One of my good friends spends quite a bit of time in Gibralter as her husbands family are from there so she is going to give us the low down on touring here. We will probably get off the ship early ish and do the cab tour that I have read about for around 20 Euros a person. That way we will see the main sights and head back to the ship around lunchtime. I will do some further investigations as we won't want to spend a lot of time in caves and siege tunnels with little ones but do want to go to the top of the rock and have a general look round.
Reading these back we are definitely taking the relaxed low key approach to this cruise with a lot of short and simple trips rather than full day extravaganzas!
This evening is Semi Formal night and Captains Gala evening and shock horror, we skip the main dining rooms and are going to Palo. Well that is the plan except DH got wind of the Lobster tails and thinks we should take the kids to the main dining room and just get hima lobster tail to "keep him going!" Typical man!
Well Gibralter was nearly the scene of a messy divorce!
The day started off ok, we walked past all the taxi tours with a plan to walk through the town and take the cable car. It was HOT, very hot. The walk to the town was pleasant but it took a lot longer than we had planned and the girls wanted to stop and rest frequently. One of our DD's best friends family come from Gibralter so every time we stopped for a rest Isabelle would say "I wonder if Maddie has seen this statue, I wonder if Maddie has sat on this bench!!"
We finally got to the cable car line, the prices were high and the lines were looooong. All the while taxi drivers were walking the line touting for business - eventually we caved and went ofr the taxi tour - boy did we regret not taking it directly at the port for the same price!
The view from the top was spectacular and well worth it. The apes were inquisitive and interesting and their antics kept us amused for a while.
We were dropped off in the town and strolled around for a while getting the magnet and postcards. We also got some cold drinks which were most definitely in order. It all went a bit pear shaped from here, we had all enjoyed Gibralter but the extremely high temperatures meant that we were all tired and hot and when we got lost on the way back to the ship DH and I were a little snappy with each other!
Back onboard and after a very large drink and some lunch everyone cooled off (physically and mood wise!) and we spent the afternoon relaxing, the children played in the splash area and then we got a quick dinner for them before taking them to the clubs as we were off to Palo.
I love dinner in Palo - I had the tomato and mozzerella salad without the mozzerella!!!!! You can laugh but it was delicious! Followed by the Palo Tenderloin with the red wine sauce and then my usual naughty option of Chocolate Souffle AND Pannacotta! Palo is the only restaurant where I order double of anything but I love both those desserts so much I just had to have them!
Day 8 - At Sea
Well as mentioned above our current Palo ressie for Brunch is for today. I hope we will have already done that and be spending the late morning and lunch time relaxing, taking in a couple of family activities with the girls and then in the afternoon we have the Exotic Rasul booked :)
Now remember i said that despite not being a Disney fan DH loved cruising DCL - well the mud room as he calls it is pretty high on his priority list along with Palo brunch and dinner!
Of course by this time I will have been and booked another cruise, I plan to book the May 28th Med cruise for 2011. Whether we actually sail on that cruise depends quite heavily on what DCL announces for 2012. As per my signature I am hoping for either more Baltic trips or Eastern Med and if either of these come up we will switch the cruise to one of those as I have an elaborate spreadsheet organising on how I am going to fund a more costly cruise on our "nearly" single income family - I am a SAHM 4 days a week and teacher one day a wekk! My spreadsheet says if I go on a big cruise in 2012 "I MUST NOT BOOK A CRUISE FOR 2011!!!!!!"
Having rebooked I can kid myself that the 'end of cruise blues' won't be kicking in. I hate to waste time wishing the trip would go on longer but as it gets to packing time we will no doubt be feeling sad to be preparing to leave the MAgic again.
Well I have no photos from today. What I remember minus my trip notes is that one of the children seemed a little off colour and we ended up cancelling our Exotic Rasul appointment in case they were coming down with something. We spent the morning hanging out in the cabin and I took the opportunity to pack up some stuff. Even though we were back to back we still had to pack as we were switching staterooms. However our luggage was taken from the stateroom on the last morning not the night before. Darren took the well girl for lunch and I stayed and ordered room service - the tomato soup is lovely from room service and we also had some cookies and fruit.
As it happened by afternoon whichever girl it was who we thought might be getting sick was actually fine and we put it down to over tiredness and too much sun the day before, we continued to take it easy and enjoy the comfort in knowing that even though most people around us were suffering end of cruise blue we had another 11 nights to look forward to - we weren't even half way through!
I can't remember if it was on this night or the previous night but Mario our head server stopped to speak to us as we entered a restaurant and asked how we had found our serving team. (Jayson is very experienced but Matt was very new and not quite fully in the Disney style just yet - we found him to be really fun and didn't feel his inexperience was detrimental to our cruise at all.) Mario asked if we wanted the same serving team or to change in the second leg and we had already discussed this before he asked so we were both on the same page about keeping the same team. The kids knew and liked both of them and we felt that we were getting the sort of service we hoped for and expected so we said yes we would like to keep with this team. Mario seemed pleased with this feedback.
Day 9 - Barcelona & Flying Home Without The Flying home
Well the plan for today was to disembark very early and fly home but as per my update in post one we are now doing Back to Back cruises so instead we will disembark and re check in! Yay!
Our cabin assignment for cruise number 2 is 6571, a cat 11 inside room. Now we are definitely very excited to be on the ship, especially at the bargain price of $3630 for four od us. However with our pixie dust upgrade to cat 8 on the first of our B2B cruises I am slightly worried that going from an ocean view to an inside room may not be ideal so I will ask at the port the cost of upgrading to a window. If there are any available and the price is right we will, if not I will be sure to have packed a night light and we will be just fine in the inside room!
Now I read that people on the EBTA who did the first Med cruise as well checked in for the second cruise then were able to get off and tour Barcelona as noraml for a port day. DH and I have visited Barcelona together and I have been for a long weekend and I think it is likely we will just use this as some extra down time, relocate our stuff and perhaps do some laundry rather than tour Barcelona with the girls.
The turnaround between cruises was not as smooth as we have read about on other trips today but despite the delys we were kept informed of what time we would be let off and asked to rebook in the terminal and in the meantime we waited in one of the lounges with a few other groups who were also doing back to back.
We got into the terminal around 10:30am and asked about possible room upgrades. We were told that there were none available but as I mentionned we were happy to just be onboard and knew that although it would be sad to leave our lovely big window for an inside room we would be fine!
We were able to access our new room very soon and dropped stuff off. We met our room host and to my great shame I can't remember his name without my trip notes but he was very affable and friendly. We got our pool stuff together and went to enjoy the near empty ship taking photos along the way in the atrium and at various locations on the ship. Then out on deck the girls enjoyed playing in the splash area and the Mickey pool (Izzy only as Livvy was still in a swim diaper) While we were out on deck the girls were excited to see a few favourite faces...
We had a little lunch in Parrot Cay and then tried to unpack in our new room. Now we were definitely ok with losing our window, we much prefer the deck 5 location but we were ok with deck 6. What we found REALLY hard was the unbelievably minimal storage in 6571. Having only sailed in rooms with the steamer trunk and more desk type drawers we were really at a loss as to where to store all our stuff. So much so that I even tried guest services to see if there were ANY other rooms available for a paid upgrade - as the port staff are locals who are not necessarily completely up on procedures I thought it worth trying in case the check in agent had not got the right info. Sadly it was confirmed that there were no available upgrade rooms. We got through it but the steamer trunk spreadsheet on the Dis is one of my new "go to" information pages!
Then it was time for the drill!
We re-registered for the kids club and then off to dinner to "meet" our serving team! They seemed happy to see us, I guess that from their point of view it is a little easier if you have b2b guests as you already know names, favourite drinks etc...
I am not sure what we did in the evening, probably just chilled out, adjusted to our new room and let Izzy play in the club.
Thoughts On The Trip
Ah loved reading that - your daughters are beautiful.
We are doing the 7 night med cruise in September 2011 (fingers crossed) - want to try it now but got three weeks in WDW this year so run out of leave - shame as the prices are very good.
Look forward to more updates.
Enjoy your trip to WDW - our first trip in 2004 was a three week trip and we managed to squeeze a 3 night Disney cruise in! It's always worth checking as sometimes if there is a Cat 12 GTY available a 3 night trip is an affordable way to dip your toes in and tide you over til your 7 nighter - you could also reshop your cruise and get the 10% discount (although the discount is not applicable to cat 12) and $200 OBC!
One thing i was disappointed with was that disney did not give any onboard credit ($25 if did on line) - that $200 OBC sounds brill
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