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Old 06-27-2014, 07:17 AM   #1
3Down1Up
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June 2014 12-night Barcelona to Venice

Wish I was more creative with trip report titles LOL!

We literally returned 12 hours ago from our much-planned, long-awaited 12-night Med cruise, and since I appear to be a victim of massive jet lag, I am using these early morning hours to start my first-ever trip report! I'm going to do a "highlights" trip report - minimize the details on what we ate for breakfast and such LOL, and include the main points of each day: excursions, menus, shows, and other tidbits. I am hoping to do this over the next few days - let's see if that happens!

Some background:

Who we are: myself, DH, DD11, DD8, and DS8. Also along for the ride was my dad, to be known as DG. This was our first trip to Europe, except for a week DH and I spent in Venice pre-kids. Also, this was our fourth DCL cruise - we did a 2008 Mexican Riviera, a 2011 Alaska, and a 2012 NYE Fantasy cruise, all 7-nights. I loved the longer cruise - there was a certain thrill of it being night six or seven and not even thinking about disembarking. But for those who are more homebodies in our family (namely DH and DD11), this was plenty of time away, or even too much time away.

More to come!
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Old 06-27-2014, 07:36 AM   #2
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Day One - Embarkation in Barcelona

For a lot of reasons, we weren't able to leave for the cruise before Thursday the 12th, so we didn't have any time to sightsee (or get adjusted to the time-zone change) in Barcelona. We arrived Friday evening via Lufthansa and used Autos Vilar to get from the airport to our hotel, the Hilton Diagonal Mar. Many thumbs up for Autos Vilar (our driver was Juan himself!) - 60 euros to get all six of us and our many suitcases to the hotel; he was prompt, friendly, and the car (well, van) was in great shape. Side note - in talking to some DCL cruisers a few days later, I learned that there was a taxi strike in Barcelona on June 11th when they arrived, and their pre-arranged car service canceled on them out of respect for the strike. They ended up walking from the airport to a subway station and taking the subway in. It sounded like a nightmare - I guess we were lucky to have arrived when we did. One of many things I learned - there are a lot of transportation strikes in Europe, and they are kind enough to give everyone lots of warning about them LOL. Do your research.

We chose the Hilton purely because of the fact that the DCL transfer to the ship left from there, and out of the two DCL was using (this Hilton and a Renaissance), this was cheaper by about 30%. We booked it ourselves for a lower rate than what DCL was offering, and we booked three rooms total: a room with a king bed, a room with two twins, and a corner room with a king bed and the nicest, most sturdy rollaway bed we had ever seen. Breakfast was included in our rate and it was a really good breakfast buffet. The hotel was modern, in a pretty generic area with tall (20+ floor) office buildings and condo buildings, a big mall across the street, and the water about two blocks away (with a stone-walled promenade, but I didn't see any beach). In short, it served our purpose of food and shelter, and was way more new and modern than I had expected, but if we were sightseeing in Barcelona and staying longer, I would have chosen a hotel in an area closer to tourist attractions and with a more historic feel.

Our luggage was picked up at 8am from our rooms, and we were on the first bus to the port at 10:45am. We were on the ship by 12:15. Smooth check-in, no problems at all. Lunch in Cabanas, which wasn't that crowded, considering it was embarkation day.

I went to Guest Services to sign up for alcohol tastings and anything else needed. No character breakfasts on this cruise, no Princess Tea, and I was surprised by the low number of alcohol tastings offered. I had assumed with a 12-night cruise that there would be activities like these offered all the time, but I didn't think about the itinerary: so many ports would lead to very busy at-sea days (since there were so few on this cruise) and therefore less time for activities like these. In fact, I booked a wine tasting for DH and myself for the last sea day and we ended up canceling it because there were so many other things we wanted to do with the kids. We both did a martini tasting (four drinks, which I found to be plenty but DH thought was paltry), and DH did a tequila/margarita tasting that included six drinks, and he had a great time at that (all he could remember was it was hosted by "a woman from Jamaica" and according to DH she made the whole thing way more fun - super entertaining and a great party host). They also offered a champagne tasting, a whiskey tasting, and a chocolate & liqueur tasting, but we didn't partake of those either because of the times or lack of interest on our part.

Great news - I secured Palo Brunch reservations when we got on the ship as well! I had kept trying to get something online but everything had been booked from the moment our booking window opened. But on the ship, they had plenty of availability for two of our three sea days. I was so happy about this!

Dining rotation for us: LAC, so four times in each room.

I will edit later with show info, menu info, etc., once I dig out our Navigators from our luggage LOL!
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Old 06-27-2014, 08:33 AM   #3
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This sounds like such a lovely cruise! I took a Mediterranean cruise in 2005 and can't wait to go back. Looking forward to more!
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Old 06-27-2014, 09:32 AM   #4
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Thank you for taking the Magic to Venice, I'll be boarding her on the 14th and taking her back to Barcelona.. Looking forward to reading about your cruise.
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:40 AM   #5
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A wonderful start! Can't wait to read more. And I'm with LyndaC - we are also boarding the Magic in Venice on the 14th, so I am excited to hear more about your "delivery" of her to Venice.
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Old 06-27-2014, 11:18 PM   #6
mattykin
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Cant wait to read your report! We took the Magic on the EBTA to Barcelona in May and I miss her terribly
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Old 06-28-2014, 09:09 AM   #7
Face Like Fizz
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Like LyndaC and Cam we're on the 14th July Venice-Barcelona sailing. Can't wait to read more about your trip in the opposite direction!
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Old 06-28-2014, 12:21 PM   #8
DJinPA
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Can't wait to read your report either! We were on this incredible cruise and also used Juan from Autos Vilar for transportation from the Barcelona airport to our hotel in Gava Mar(we did more of a beach day because we didn't want to tour with the kids and jet lag) and from our hotel to the port (a different, but excellent driver that stopped for beer and translated for us so that we could get a case instead of the six packs shown in the cooler). Apparently, when we arrived Friday morning, the majority of overseas flights were coming in late and very close to each other, so there were a ton of private transfer drivers waiting - but the line for taxis was crazy long. I would highly recommend Autos Vilar.
I hope I can relive this incredible trip by reading your report.
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Old 07-10-2014, 08:40 AM   #9
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Subbing!
We were on the 6/26 cruise out of Venice following yours.
The Lady behind the Keys bar is Claudette "Big Mama from Jamaica no problem" and she is terrific.
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