If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Barcelona! 7/18/07**Two Updates Added**!!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by CarolAnnC, Jul 17, 2007.

  1. CarolAnnC

    CarolAnnC <font color=blue>Caught Smuggling Jello Shot Syrin

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    I have enjoyed reading so many Med Cruise blogs and trip reports that I thought I would try to make a journal of my own here.

    We are a family of 4 - myself, DH John, DD's Kristen and Jennifer.. We are heading off for our Trip of a Lifetime! We booked the Med cruise totally on DVC points but feel it will be totally worth it.

    We left Chicago Sunday afternoon and arrived at O'Hare Airport via limo. Nice sunny travel day and flight was on time. I had not been to the international terminal at O'Hare before and have one suggestion for those who will be going there. We thought we would just pickup a quick snack there for lunch prior to boarding. The "quick snack" ended up costing $50 for the 4 of us! Prices are outrageous and selections are few and far between. I would suggest bringing food and snacks from home instead.

    Security was long and crowded. Good thing we arrived 3 hrs early as we needed all that time to get through and out to our gate. Weren't there long at all then we were boarding.

    We flew on SWISS airlines which was our first time with them. I was very impressed. The staff were very polite and attentive. They must have come by at least 6-8 times with the drink cart and also provided dinner and breakfast as well as a little snack. They even gave a light lunch on our connecting flight from Zurich to Barcelona. This was the first time since the 1970's that I had real silverware in Coach class on a flight!

    We changed planes in Zurich, and it was very convenient that our checked luggage was transferred by the airlines instead of us. We just headed off the plane with carry ons and got on the new flight. I will mention that the Zurich Airport was rather unique in that the ladies room did not have any handicapped accessible stalls at all in the ladies room. I was surprised at this, and I guess we sometimes take the US amenities for granted.

    Upon arrival in Barcelona (which was on time yay) we were met by our driver right after we picked up our luggage. Youtransfers was excellent! Very nice, good driver, friendly and lumped all our luggage (16 pieces total including carryons) into the vehicle. No small task I might add for this family lol.

    We headed off to our hotel Rivoli Ramblas where we were able to check right into our rooms. It was about 3:30 pm when we were settling in our rooms. The location is excellent here right on Las Ramblas and our rooms look right over it. We headed out and were starving so had dinner right away. We crossed the street and found the first restaurant and headed inside. Food was ok, not great but beware of something here. I had seen this previously on Samantha Brown's show on the Travel Show but had not experienced it before. Remember, just because the waitstaff places food on your table, does not mean it is free nor "included". This waiter brought a small basket of breads and a plate of olives. Only John likes olives, so he proceeded to enjoy all of them. That plate of olives ended up costing us $9 US on our bill! So diner beware!

    We found our way to a small supermarket on Las Ramblas after dinner trying to find distilled water for DH's CPAP machine. No luck there. It was sort of like an embellished Seven Eleven store lol. We then backtracked to a Farmacia (pharmacy) which we saw. We were able to purchase two small bottles there which will be a start but certainly not enough for the whole trip.

    By now we were so tired, most of us having no sleep or very little for the past 24 hrs that we headed back to the hotel to crash. Slept in and not counting several wakeup times, lol, was asleep about 12 hours. More on our second day in Barcelona later....
     
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  3. bellelinus

    bellelinus <font color=deeppink>You have liberally applied fl

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    Good luck and take care of the Magic for us -- we'll be on as you get off, July 28th . . .

    Looking forward to your report.
     
  4. CarolAnnC

    CarolAnnC <font color=blue>Caught Smuggling Jello Shot Syrin

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    Day two!! I was so exhausted I slept about 12 hours last night! Funny thing is I still do not feel well rested. The rest of the family tried to catch up on sleep as well but some were not as successful as I was.

    We got up and headed out for breakfast. If you stay at the Rivoli Ramblas, there is an excellent coffee shop next door that is very reasonably priced. Much cheaper than the hotel restaurant at least. We had croissants, orange juice, and an "American" breakfast for John. That consisted of eggs, bacon and a roll. Very tasty.

    Afterwards we headed out on foot on the Las Ramblas. This is a place of constant activity, and lots of fun things to do. There are many street performers here who play very creative rolls. If you throw a Euro or two in their buckets, they become very animated and pose for pictures with you. There were two particularly well done characters who resembled an angel and a centurion. They also gave us a gift of silver heart charms after we took pictures. The characters will hide and not pose for pictures when people to do not tip them. When we would tip them and pose for pictures, others would run up and take pictures at the same time to have a full view of them. One woman even jumped in front of John as he held the camera and focused on us after we had given the money. He had to ask her to move lol.

    There are many stands with postcards, magazines and souvenirs along the street. We headed up towards Playa Catalunya (excuse spelling please). This large plaza had a "Triangle" Mall that had many interesting stores. Kristen picked up her contact solutions in an optical shop and John tried a Gelato from a stand. There were even such American icons as Subway, McDonald's, Burger King and Starbucks in the area.

    After touring here, we found our way over to El Cortes Ingles. This is the largest department store in Spain - it is a chain of them. I would equate it to Macy's in NYC. Very large, very crowded and lots of sales going on. We found some distilled water for John's CPAP so he is now all set for the entire vacation with enough agua, lol. We took our time, and also did some periodic sitting on benches to people watch.

    We headed down a street parallel to the Las Ramblas and found more interesting shops. Then we turned down an alley to take us back towards Las Ramblas. There was a Patissiere (bakery) where we purchased some snacks for later. Then we found an excellent restaurant for lunch - Santa Anna Cafe. Lunch here is the main meal and it was very crowded while we were here. Lunch was long and leisurely. We enjoyed some delicious Sangria, sauteed mushrooms, seafood paella, roasted chicken, toasted sandwhich and a flat pizza with ham/pineapple/mushrooms. Quite a variety between the 4 of us. I would highy recommend this restaurant as the food was delicious, excellent variety, and very accomodating waitstaff. The address is "C 8" but it was located just the street after Rivoli Ramblas on the right. It forked and bearing to the left road, you will run into Santa Anna Cafe just down a bit on the right.

    After a brief rest period back at the hotel, we once again headed out on Las Ramblas, this time heading towards the Port end. We did not make it as far as the Port but did walk quite a ways down.

    We headed for a restaurant for dinner recommended by our hotel's map. It was called Fresc Co. I would not recommend this establishment. It bills itself as a buffet (all inclusive) restaurant. But, the selection was very poor, food was cold, tables dirty, and unappetizing overall. Perhaps it is better earlier in the day, but I would not chance it.

    I might let you all know that we got a very good return on Euros purchased at an ATM machine right outside our hotel. We obtained 70 Euros per $100 US.

    We once again hit the little supermarket and picked up more waters to lug to the ship. They were only .22 Euros or 30 cents US per bottle. Problem is getting them there so we only grabbed two six packs. We will plan still on purchasing one of the water packages once on board ship.

    We have been watching CNN news on TV as this is the only English channel we have been able to receive. Good enough for the short time we have been in the room though.

    Going to bed so excited with anticipation for our big day tomorrow boarding the Magic! We are just thrilled to be at the point of the night before the cruise!

    Off to bed so that we are up bright and early for our YourTransfer pickup.
     
  5. Shercara

    Shercara ArE wE tHeRe YeT?

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    Enjoy the MAGIC CarolAnn - we are just back from the 070707 and had a fantastic time! I know what you mean about the TV channel selection - we stayed in an apartment we rented right by the Arc d'Tromph in BCN - ( beautiful) and the channel selection in English was slim to non! Our boys enjoyed watching the security camera on the front door channel most of all!) LOL!

    If you or anyone reading this does not have an excursion booked for Villefrance - I strongly recommend doing Eze Village on your own - you can take a cab from the port to the bottom of hill to the old village for $35 Euro each way - ( we took the bus #100 from Villefrance to Nice then transferred, after a 1/2 hr wait to bus #112 - trip took us about 1.5 hrs after walking up the hills in VF trying to find the bus stop - and cost us almost $20 Euro in bus fairs for the 4 of us) we took the $35 Euro direct taxi return ( there was a police officer at the bottom of the hill in Eze who called a cab (BMW!) for us. It was worth the extra $. You can spend as much time as you would like in Eze - Note that the resturants at the bottom of the hill stopped serving lunch at 3pm -but we were able to get pizza at the cafe in the hotel across the street at the bottom.
    I highly recommend you go to Les Trois Etoiles in Eze Village - stop by and tell the owner Horst - that Sherri from New Jersey says HI! He is a great guy! You can sample any of the wonderful olive oils, vinegars and liquors that he sells in beautiful bottles. He wraps them VERY well -tell him all of ours arrive home in perfect condition! Eze Village, and the time spent in Horst's company was one of the highlights of our trip! Beware - there is a lot of climbing, but once up in the village - the inclines are not that steep and very worth the effort! He also told us of the short cut to the Fragonard Perfume factory - the tour is free - and your guide then gladly helps you select your purchases. It was fun, especially the begining of the tour where they let you try to be a "Nose" and see how well you can identify scents!

    Anyway - ENJOY you trip! If anyone has SUDA (Natsuda) as you stateroom hostess, or HEMANT and GIGI as you server and head server - tell them we say HI - you are in great hands!

    Ciao Ciao!
    Sherri
     
  6. Mary Jo

    Mary Jo Techarita Moderator

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    Here's hoping Carol, John, Kristen, & Jennifer are having too much fun to talk to us. :)

    Carol, we'll be getting on when you get off. It'll be fun comparing notes.

    Have fun guys! :grouphug:
     
  7. OurDogCisco

    OurDogCisco DIS Veteran

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    That's so funny we had Hemant & Gigi too for dining. We were at table 68 for early dining. We loved them and I miss them already..
     
  8. CarolAnnC

    CarolAnnC <font color=blue>Caught Smuggling Jello Shot Syrin

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    The adventure begins! Today is embarkation day for the July 18 Med cruisers! We awoke early and headed next door to the little coffee shop for breakfast. We found a menu in English there today which made ordering much easier lol.

    After breakfast we headed right back to the room to pack up our stuff and lo and behold the YourTransfer driver was a half hour early! No problem though, the girls headed down to the lobby and we followed shortly after with our caravan of luggage.

    Once on board the van we were thrilled beyond belief! As we approached the Port we got our first glimpse of The Magic! As we drove into the parking lot we could see a large welcome home banner hanging over the open gangway into the ship. It was so exciting to find the ship there, so very far away from its home in Florida.

    Boarding was somewhat different here. We arrived around 11:30 and was expecting to have a wait since official boarding time is 1 pm. We checked our luggage with the porters, tipping them in Euros as recommended by DCL. They went off happily with our bags and we entered the terminal. There was the routine security checkpoint and then table for those who needed to fill out documents. We proceeded to the general line, seeking out the Castaway Club line which is the majority of the passengers lol.

    Once there, an employee told us only one of us could enter the line. I tried to reason with her, but she would not listen. My DH continued on in the line while this woman was just not listening to me. I told her over and over that I had the passports, cruise documents etc. Then she finally relented and said ONLY ONE MORE OF YOU CAN GO IN. Geez. Well long story short, when we got to the check in person, she first of all needed all of us since my girls are over 21 and need to sign. Plus they are in their own room, using own credit cards etc and charge authorizations etc needed to be matched to the credit cards themselves. Well we had to go past the hard headed one and call them over. All this held up the line since we had no choice but to wait for them to return.

    This is one area where they are lacking. The employees need to qualify and find out if they are shooing away people who need to check into their own separate rooms, and listen to what the passengers are trying to say. I assume these are people just hired for this particular series of cruises, and it shows.

    Once we were through this line, we were sitting for a bit in the waiting area here. We were organizing our room keys, signing them, reading the handout on flu and cold viruses and checking out the small shops there. Before long we figured out we needed to proceed to another area in the terminal for boarding. We snaked through a line and then were directed outside where we walked the red carpet and onto the Magic! What excitement!

    There was the obligatory roll call announcement of our names, picture taking and then the water package salesperson got us lol. We missed our photo being shown on the large Ariel View Television out by the pool since we were busy purchasing the water. Most people do seem to be buying the water packages as evidenced by the large amount of them sitting outside staterooms later in the day.

    We headed up to Topsiders where the girls sat and ate while John and I ran up another floor to Palo's. This is where dining questions are now taken care of. We confirmed our table for 4 for each evening and then were able to fix up our Brunch ressies so we were on the same time reservation for the 4 of us. After that we enjoyed the buffet ourselves.

    We headed off to our staterooms once 1:30 arrived and unpacked our carryons. Our luggage all arrived within the next couple of hours except for one bag which was a straggler. That came shortly before dinner.

    Before we knew it we were heading to the Promenade Lounge for our DIS Meet. It was so much fun to meet so many DISers and to put faces with all the names we have been following on our thread for so many months. Many brought small gifts or mementos and we gave out Chicago key chains and magnets. Some people were very creative in their gifts and it was heartwarming to see so much effort put into this for the DISers.

    The first night show was a special welcoming performance for the Med Cruisers. It was excellent and Cruise Director Brent from Australia provided us with so much interesting information.

    Our first dinner was in Parrot Cay and we were happy to meet our waiters Ronald and Kendall. Our head waiter is Jareev who is also very attentive. We could not be happier with them.

    We were able to head up to the Sailway Party though we were afraid we may have missed some of it since we were at dinner till 10 pm (late seating). Not to worry they had not yet done the countdown. Even after the countdown there was a delay till we finally were given the ok to head off into the Mediterranean.

    All in all it was a most wonderful day! We are so comfy here in our home away from home and we are looking forward to our first Day at Sea tomorrow!
     
  9. CarolAnnC

    CarolAnnC <font color=blue>Caught Smuggling Jello Shot Syrin

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    Our first day at Sea! Being on the 10 day Med cruise means we will have two days at sea instead of 3 that the 11 day cruise has. We took advantage of this day to spend time around the ship doing activities that we will not be able to do while we are in port.

    We started our day by sleeping in a bit which felt really good. Then we headed up to Palo for our first ever Palo Brunch! It was sooooo very good. Our waitstaff person (Zita) gave us a tour of the buffet tables. I cannot even begin to list the wondrous foods that are offered here. There are cheeses, breads, appetizers, everything from crab to caviar! There are breakfast and/or lunch main courses to choose from, and the desserts are just phenomenal! This was a big hit with us and we highly recommend it!

    After that we headed down to Rockin Bar D for the DVC Member Meet! This cruise is setting history by having the largest number of DVC Members on board (besides DVC Member cruises) in DCL history! There are 700 members on board this cruise!

    They have been very good to us! We found a magnetic DVC Member sign on the outside of our staterooms, we were given DVC member gifts that contain lanyards and key card holders. At the DVC meet we were given gift packs that contained more key card lanyards, hats and a nice beach type carry bag. They served us coffee, tea, juices and pastries. Very nice and lots of fun to hear about the offerings for trading out our points. I thought I had a chance at the gift for most DCL cruises (I have been on 7) but there was another woman who was on #12 now! And she has another one booked, lol.

    We then hit a shopping in Europe seminar in the Promenade Lounge. Tara was extremely informative and provided information that caused me to quickly go and change two of my excursions.

    The first issue that arose was the departure time for Palermo was moved up to 5 pm per the Italian Navy requiring us out of Port by then. Can't argue with them I guess, lol. Problem was my Mondello Beach excursion was scheduled to not arrive back till 5:15 pm. We decided to change to the 8:15 am one because I did not want to worry about missing the ship, though they said the ship won't leave without excursions. I envisioned the Italian Navy pointing their guns and shooing us out of here without the Mondello Beach people, lol.

    The other issue was that we will be in Olbia on a Sunday. ALL shops are closed in Olbia on Sunday. The Costa Smeralda excursion that features high end boutique shopping will not be doing that then. It basically will be a bus tour of the area only. So I decided that almost $400 for all of us without the desired shopping was not going to be worth it. Instead I booked Coda Cavallo Beach for us. This will give us a second beach day, and will be more exciting for us than just riding around on a scenic tour.

    We saw the 6:30 pm Golden Mickey's in the theatre and loved it just as much as we did the first time. They played to a full house and sure seemed to be a crowd pleaser.

    We had dinner in Lumiere's which was very nice since it was formal night for us. Only saw one family that was quite casual (jerseys, no button down shirts etc) but to each his own. If they don't mind then neither do I.

    After dinner we headed down to Rockin Bar D where we saw magician Mike Super. He did some crowd pleasing illusions and we had a couple of drinks.

    Headed up to bed very tired, but very happy after our first day at Sea. Tomorrow we are docking in Palermo and heading out to Mondello Beach! Ciao!!!
     
  10. 3riverscruiser

    3riverscruiser <font color=darkorchid>We will be "training" for t

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    Sounds like you are having a great time. We are set to depart on the 7/28 11 night and we have seen Mike Super on land and have always wanted to see him on the ship. Will he be on next week's sailing?
     
  11. miclen

    miclen Mouseketeer

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    CarolAnnC -

    Thanks for the great trip report! I love all the detail including the shows, dinner menus, etc.! We are on the 08-08 10ntg cruise and I am making notes of everything you are saying. We will have the same issue with shops closed in Olbia, so I may rethink that excursion.

    Keep the great reports coming!!

    Michelle:goodvibes
     
  12. Mary Jo

    Mary Jo Techarita Moderator

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    Thanks, Carol. You gave us a lot of good info & detail. :)
     
  13. Deb T.

    Deb T. DIS Veteran

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    Hi CarolAnn,

    We were on the Med cruise just before yours. We're so sad our vacation has ended, but we're enjoying reliving it through your trip reports. :goodvibes

    I just wanted to point out that the family who was at Formal Night dinner in casual clothes just might have lost luggage - as we did. Guest Relations said that 8% of the cabins on our cruise had luggage lost by the airlines - over 200 people! Even though we were encouraged by everyone (Guest Relations, Head Server, Server, Cabin Steward, and our wonderful tablemates) to go ahead and attend Formal Night, we still felt very embarrassed and awkward amongst everyone else who were dressed in their finest. I'm so glad that you weren't bothered by the way they were dressed and only hope that everyone on our cruise was just as forgiving. :)
     
  14. professorandmom

    professorandmom <font color=green>I was on the beach without going

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    Can't imagine the stress of lost luggage! Went to a formal wedding once and the luggage was stolen out of the car. I felt terribly out of place in casual clothes and that was only one night....my heart feels for you

    Glad you had a great trip!
    Barb
     
  15. jlawall

    jlawall <font color=royalblue>Captain Lucky, the Great Pro

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    Hey Carole Ann........thx for sharing, you're still onboard! I have a quick question......if you have time! Why were you allowed to change excursions? In the past, you weren't allowed to change, once onboard......is this trip different? Let me know, or anyone else who's already sailed if possible.......THANKS.........have a wonderful rest of trip.........:goodvibes
     
  16. Deb T.

    Deb T. DIS Veteran

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    Hi JoAnn - we didn't do this, but I heard from others onboard last week that even though you couldn't cancel a Disney excursion and receive a refund, you could still switch to another Disney excursion without penalty as long as the other excursion still had space available. :)

    Barb - thanks for the heartfelt thoughts. :goodvibes We did have a wonderful time, and really celebrated on the 5th day when our luggage finally caught up with the ship! :cool1:
     
  17. jlawall

    jlawall <font color=royalblue>Captain Lucky, the Great Pro

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    Thx very much, I'll share that with the thread that I'm on for next week's trip!:hug:
     
  18. CarolAnnC

    CarolAnnC <font color=blue>Caught Smuggling Jello Shot Syrin

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    Greetings from the Med! Well it has been so incredibly busy that I have been remiss in posting. I will give a brief summary of the excursions we have taking and then I will catch up on regular trip reports when time allows.

    We took the Mondello Beach excursion in Palermo. We actually switched this to the morning session at the last minute. The problem was the the Italian Navy moved up our departure time to 5 pm this day and our excursion was scheduled to return at 5:15 pm. I just did not want the stress of wondering if we would be on time, even though they say the ship will wait for excursions. Brent had told us at the evening show the night before that they were going to have to be out right on the dot of 5 pm and I felt my beach excursion would end up being shortened (it was actually).

    Anyway we headed off on the morning excursion to Mondello Beach. I would recommend this, but I feel it was not the best of tours that we have been on. The beach was fenced off for our private group, but many vendors were wandering in and out all day peddling their wares. I was pretty tired of telling them no. I was not interested in cheap jewelry nor flea market types of clothing.

    The beach was crowded, but our area was nice with outdoor showers, changing rooms and toilets albeit without toilet seats. That seems to be prevalent on many of our bathroom stops though.

    The next day we headed out on Timeless Sorrento and Pompeii. We loved the Sorrento portion of the tour. There was time for shopping, a beautiful drive along the coast, a lovely tour of a working farmhouse and luncheon there as well. We then headed off to Pompeii for the afternoon, and boy was it hot! The ruins are obviously all stone and picture a sauna where the hot rocks radiate out the enormous heat. I thought the temperature was hot enough (high 90's) but the dusty, hot ruins just about did me in. I adored the history of them, but I would rate this tour more strenuous than moderate given the heat of the summer.

    Our day in Olbia found us enjoying the Coda Cavallo beach excursion. I loved this one! The private area is grassy and just in back of the beautiful sandy beach. The water is pristine and very enjoyable. The facilities offer us lounge chairs with grass type umbrellas and tables too. They provided a lovely catered lunch of a variety of sandwhiches, desserts and liquors. Beverages were endless all day. This is well worth the price.

    Today was Jumping Back Into Eternal Rome. I was apprehensive after the day in Pompeii. We had temps around 102 today and the guide said it was a record temperature for the past 200 years. Yikes! Anyway, I did just fine and was able to tolerate the touring even in the heat.

    We were driven by shuttle bus a short way to the private Roma Express train. This is air conditioned, bathroom on board, and very nice. I will mention the seats are a tight squeeze, even smaller than airline seats! But we did manage.

    The morning consisted of the Colusseum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and a walking tour as well. After a leisurely lunch, we headed to the Vatican which was very important to me. I had asked at least twice about shopping time here so that we could pickup some religious artifacts that were blessed by the Pope. AFter being told yes, when the time came the guide said we only had 10 minutes to shop since we were running late. I had to run like crazy choosing items and paying quickly. Then had to quick run and get water and gatorade outside in order to replenish fluids that we sweated out all day. My next visit to Rome will be definitely more time in the Vatican.

    Point to note - our tour for tomorrow was cancelled due to low signups. Sarazana and Wine Tasting will not be happening. We signed up a little while ago for Cinque Terre Scenic Boat Tour instead. Will let you know how this one works out too. Hope to post more tomorrow....
     
  19. CarolAnnC

    CarolAnnC <font color=blue>Caught Smuggling Jello Shot Syrin

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    Glad to see folks are enjoying my reports! Yes, we had 95 pieces of luggage missing off the ship when we departed Barcelona. As of yesterday we had one family still missing their luggage. In fact, the mother won the DVC giveaway of a $300 shipboard credit and was ecstatic that she could now buy more clothes at Treasure Ketch. She has called the airlines and I heard they were most unhelpful to her. So plan on some essential clothing items in your carry ons. One never knows...

    You can change your excursions once on board, but only exchange and no refunds. We have done this twice this cruise for the reasons mentioned above. Off to bed, exhausted but happy from Rome day...
     
  20. buck4568

    buck4568 Mouseketeer

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    We visited with Horst on the 6/27 cruise. I had read about his shop on the 5/26 thread. We brought a few bottles home and will be enjoying some dipping tonight. :yay:

    We did the Monaco, Monte Carlo, Eze excursion whch was very nice. Almost missed the bus back to the ship, held it up for a few extra mineuts as we ran down the narrow walkways to the parking lot. Lots of neat stuff in Eze!! ;)
     
  21. PURTYPAT1

    PURTYPAT1 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks Carol, for sharing your report. I am enjoying it very much. It was 101when we where in Sicilly (in June)

    There were 94 bags lost on our June 16th cruise too. We got ours after the first night.

    Looking foward to reading more.:thumbsup2

    Have fun
     

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