La Belle et le Bête of Barbary Coast ~ Aug 28 Med Cruise TR ~ Final Photos UPDATE!!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by jitsb, Aug 19, 2010.

  1. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

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    **NOTE**I'm forcing myself to create this Trip Report thread so once we return, there will be loads of extra incentives to organize my photos and my thoughts! //We're back and I'm updating my posts with photographs. Thanks for reading! :)


    "La Belle et le Bête of Barbary Coast"​

    or... what happens when the military lets crazy people loose in Europe! A Cautionary Tale​


    While I may well be deluding myself, I'm also desperate, so here is my first ever trip report. I joined the DISboards a few weeks ago and was impressed at the information provided in other TRs, so I thought I would return the favor. Seeing as my current, unfinished scrapbook is taunting me from across the room, I will hastily add this is supposed to help inspire me to keep this cruise organized and swiftly placed into its own scrapbook. Wish me luck!

    Introductions:
    My DH, the military man, Jason (34)
    Myself, your intrepid reporter, Sarah (33)
    My DS, the quintessential oldest child, Ian (6 and a half!)
    My DS, the consummate rebel, Tyler (4 and a half!)


    Background
    As you may have guessed, we lead what Paul Child referred to as "a curry of a life"! My DH and I met in college and we haven't settled down since! Seeing as I :love: Beauty and the Beast (having loads in common with Belle) and his ROTC nickname was "BEAST" (having frightening determination), we think it's a perfect match! :lovestruc

    Since those far off college days, we've literally moved halfway across the world and, more recently, developed a love of DCL. Now the hard part is convincing Uncle Sam that we need to always be stationed near something Disney and be consistently provided with ample vacation at the times we desire in order to take advantage of it. No prob! :rolleyes:

    During our first Magic cruise in May of 2009, we realized there would be no better way to visit the Mediterranean than with DCL... especially since we were moving to Europe! And it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made. We moved to Germany last summer and after 11 weeks, we were told we were moving back to the US, in December of 2010. :eek: Due to the wild unpredictable nature of our lives, it turns out there's no way we would have had the time or money to see a fraction of these scheduled places if it weren't for the Magic of DCL. :yay:

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    So, after 15 months of anticipation, our big trip is just around the corner! We are so excited (and so in need of a vacay!!) that we can hardly sit still. Most of my info will be pictures *cough*scrapbook*cough* and funny stories, seeing how we always end up with the strangest things to share! Guess we should be surprised seeing that our family motto, since the first move, has been "Always an Adventure!"
     
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  3. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

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    Armed with my notebook and trusty pen, we're heading out tomorrow! Hoping I can make regular updates... if not, look for a whole bunch of posts once we get back! :surfweb:
     
  4. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

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    Friday August 27th
    Arriving in Barcelona


    We’re finally on our way! :cool1: All in all, the trip down to Spain was really a breeze and the DH and I agreed the US airline system and airports could stand to be more like Luftansa and Frankfurt!

    Our family was all packed up and ready to go a bit early (for a change!!), so we headed on our way, which turned out to be a good thing! While driving to base to fill up on gas, we detected a slightly suspicious “snirk” in the youngest DS’s voice and nasal passages. Having been trapped in a foreign city before with a sick kid, I insisted we stop and pick up cold medicine. Good thing we did! :idea:

    Our arrival at Frankfurt airport went without a hitch and even though we’d never been into the parking garage before, we found a great spot, tucked out of the way of oncoming traffic and right near the elevator. In deference to a fellow TR writer’s experiences, we made sure to park in spot number 12, not 13!!! :eek:

    We had lunch at the new airport city area and let the kids play in one of the kid zones on our long way to our gate, which made for a very pleasant lunchtime. We boarded and took off, arriving at our destination without a hitch. Picking up luggage took a lot longer than we would have liked, but it took no time for us to find a taxi to our hotel.

    At this point, I would like to observe there *are* actually drivers out there that are crazier than Germans... Barcelona taxi drivers! :scared1:. To top it off, the man had all the windows down in 90+ degree weather and refused to turn on the AC. Thank goodness it was a short trip!

    We stayed at the Hotel Senator Barcelona and it was a great family hotel! The boys loved the fountain in the lobby and it was a nice, big room which easily slept 4 people -- quite unusual in this city. :thumbsup2

    We had a wonderful dinner at Taller de Tapas, a restaurant that our hotel recommended, about a 10 minute walk through the lovely city. Unfortunately, due to 2 very tired kids, that was really all we got to see of Barcelona. We’d never experienced tapas before, but I had Goggled it for the DH just the day before, as I’d figured we’d run into it on our visit. :rolleyes1

    It was an early night for us, including a does of cold medicine for young DS, but once the boys were out, the DH and I had a “grown-up” drink in the hotel bar before heading to bed. :cool2:

    Quote of the Day: Ian ~ “Hey, that’s a nice, small sink...” *pause* “No, dear, that’s a bidet!!” lol
     
  5. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

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    Saturday August 28th

    Boarding the Mickey Boat!


    One of the best parts about our hotel, is it being on “Barcelona time” :thumbsup2 We didn’t have to checkout until noon, so we took our time getting ready in the morning. We all enjoyed the complimentary breakfast in the restaurant and scheduled a taxi to pick us up at 11 a.m. After the boys spent an interesting morning watching the Disney Channel in Spanish, we checked out and met our very cordial driver.

    This charming man had been sitting waiting for us, with the AC running (already two thumbs up in my book!) and between his limited English and my limited Spanish we managed to figure out where we were going. The DH said it was most entertaining watching us trying to communicate about the local sites. Apparently, waving your hands in the air with a big grin on your face and saying “AAHHHH” is the universal symbol for a roller coaster! :rotfl:

    As we approached the port, I simply couldn’t help myself. I squealed like a school girl when the Magic came into view. Our awesome-sauce drive actually slowed down as we drove over the bridge, so I could get a long-distance photo. Of course, it doesn’t look that great, seeing as I was too short to see over the railing. ;)
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    Another interesting European difference, the Port of Barcelona is way more attractive and comfortable that Port Canaveral! After breezing through the check-in process, we sat in some very comfy chairs and browsed the shops waiting until our boarding party was called.
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    Sadly, the youngest DS decided to cop an attitude, so despite our best efforts, only 3 out of the 4 of use look like we’re happy to be getting on the boat! :confused3 We were welcomed back on board the Magic by around noon and headed straight to Parrot Cay for a healthy, much needed lunch.
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    Youngest DS attempted to make up for his previous behavior by snarfing down some Strawberry Mint soup for lunch... of course, we told him it was “yogurt” :rolleyes1 and we were delighted to see that the Sommelier was walking around the tables to offer the wine packages! Since we were already planing to pick one at dinner, the DH and I were more than happy to sign up for the Premium package before we even got into our stateroom. :cloud9:

    It was simply amazing how memories that were fuzzy before, suddenly became clear once back on board. Returning to the Magic, almost felt like coming home! Having been upgraded to a deck 8 stateroom, we were very happy to see the extra room available and my OCD was quite soothed that the “orientation” of the room was exactly the same as last cruise. I would have been totally freaked if it was all “backwards” from what I remembered! According to my oldest DS, the Mickey boat rocks even more because it has TWO bathrooms. :)
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    Thanks to the fantastic recommendations of my fellow DISboarders, we were greated at Animator’s Palatte by the outstanding team of Summer from Australia and Collin from Trinidad!! :woohoo: This particular cruise seems much less full than our previous sailing and we had the early dining rotation, so we have our own little table of 4, got lots of personal attention and a chance to chat with the servers.

    We dropped the boys for a little while at the Club after it opened officially at 7 p.m. They were most reluctant to leave, but we insisted on an early night. DH and I sat on the verandah, toasting our vacation with champagne, as we pulled out of the port at 9:30 at night. Adventures Away!
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    Quote of the Day: Me~ “Wait... heart of palm salad... I ate a palm tree for dinner?!” :eek:
     
  6. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

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    Sunday August 29th

    First Day at Sea

    Today started a bit early for me, as around 5:30 a.m., I was woken up by the sound of... nothing. My sub-conscious prodded the rest of me awake by recognizing the engines had stopped...huh? :confused: It took my sleep-fuzzed brain a few minutes more to realize the AC had also stopped and the room was REALLY dark, right about the time I heard a quick “Zero zero to the bridge” over the intercom...wait, what? This early...whoa...something’s not right.

    Right about now would be a good time to mention I’m the *tiniest* bit claustrophobic. It doesn’t really bother me in parking garages, elevators or large areas like Carlsbad Caverns. It does, however, rear its ugly head when I feel trapped, oh say, on the back of a crowded airplane, unable to get off or in a small, dark stateroom with no air and no light.

    Yup, this is the perfect time to panic. After arguing with myself (and envisioning all kinds of bad things involving lifeboats) for what seemed like at least 10-15 min (but was really only 3 or 4) I finally decided to prod my DH. Yeah, he’s been asleep the whole time. After snorting himself awake, I insisted there was something wrong, with no air going, and he was just about to tell me to go back to sleep and forget it when the captain comes over the intercom at 5:45 a.m., apologizing for waking everyone up. Told you!!

    Apparently, the ship’s onboard computer pulled a SkyNet and decided, when it disliked a few readings most likely due to the rough seas, that it had to shut *everything* on board down, including air, engines and lights. :scared1: The engineering team spent about an hour opening everything up, making sure there were no big problems and bring them slowly online, one at a time.

    The swells outside were still hitting 20 feet or more, but at least, there was air and lights. We were all awake anyways, so we decided to get ready for our character breakfast at 8 a.m. My shower was quite an interesting experience! Shaving your legs in a small, slippery tub while a large boat tries desperately to re-assert itself to the correct course after drifting for an hour is not something I’d recommend, especially for those with sensitive skin!

    The rest of the day proved to be just as turbulent, making breakfast and lunch an interesting affair of the stomach. However, that was mitigated by our children’s delight in meeting the Disney characters! :wizard:
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    Daddy got dreadlocks!
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    Tyler really didn't want a hat...
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    But we got him to pose for one picture!
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    Last year, they were both either unsure of the big characters or down-right terrified. Previously, the youngest DS actually hid under the table, but this time, they were all smiles and big hugs!
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    Later, it was wonderful to get a chance to meet some of the DISers also on board and, then, we introduced the children to the Magic’s version of BINGO. We love Natalie, the Bingo Queen!! :D

    A pedicure this afternoon helped get me in the mood for our formal night in the evening. I was a tad disappointed that our seating assignment put us in Parrot Cay (the least classy of the restaurants) for the “fancy dinner” but it also turned out that would be the same place we would miss on our Palo night. Fair trade, I suppose!

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    My little princes did a great job of making the “Prince and Princess” night special for Mommy. Dinner was yummy, the Pinot Noir was perfect, so good in fact, I forgot to take pictures! Interestingly enough we saw “them”. The infamous people we had heard about who refused to dress up for dinner -- and it was formal night! The man was not only wearing jeans and a short sleeved shirt, he even had on a baseball cap! And My husband, who’s usually motto is live and let live, raised an eyebrow at this and said “Well, that’s just blatant!”

    Fortunately, the evening took a much better turn as we actually got to see Twice Charmed in the Disney Theater! Last time around, circumstances prevented us from making it and seeing as I worked in theatre in high school and college, I was just delighted by the entire thing. popcorn::

    The best part about the night: watching my 4 yr old DS experience a Broadway-caliber show! :thumbsup2 He was literally on the edge of his seat, eyes all agog at the costumes, lights, music and was clapping his little hands off at all the right moments! I can’t wait to show him the real thing! :love:
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  7. MagicMe

    MagicMe DIS Veteran

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    Love hearing about your trip! Take care of my ship!! I'll be on in 19 days (oops - 18 days in Europe) to bring her home!
     
  8. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

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    Oh, I'm super jealous! We so do not want to leave the boat... suppose you could stash us in the closet as "castaways'?!

    Ok, finally getting around to posting more... I have several days worth, just haven't had time to get online...such a SLOW connection! :surfweb: I would, however, like to take this opportunity to say that we really owe our cruising addiction to my dear Disney-nut friend, Angie! :banana: If it wasn't for her ever-so-gentle prodding, we would never have agreed to take that first trip or had so much fin since then. Thanks, hon!!

    Monday August 30th

    Valletta, Malta

    Our first port, and we’re doing it on our own! After such a late night, we decided to go slow in the morning and ordered a room service breakfast. I love these guys! :lovestruc They bring me coffee and bagels and cereal for the kids and I can plop the DS’s in front of the TV while taking my time getting ready and planning for the day. :surfweb:

    Despite having breakfast ordered and delivered, my oldest DS still did an amazing thing and slept in until 7:45! At this point, both boys have full-fledged colds and I woke up with a sore throat this morning. :sick: Hopefully, they’ll rebound quickly and we won’t run out of medicine!

    Our door decorations!
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    We were a bit frazzled trying to get ourselves organized for our trip to the island. It started when we noticed land outside our verendah and that threw us into a panic over what time we were docking (we lost at least an hour in travel time due to the power failure).
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    Then we discovered that despite what the navigator said, there was no “Destination Guide” in our stateroom, so that required a trip to Guest Services to sort out. But this time, we barely had a chance to get some pictures from deck 10, before we were pulling into the port and needing to get off ship!

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    Regardless, we still seemed to be one of the first families of the ship and we headed through the terminal and headed right to the parked taxis. We negotiated with a nice older gentleman for a ride to the Blue Grotto, followed by a trip to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk. Even though it seemed pretty reasonable to us, I’m pretty sure we got swindled on the price. :upsidedow

    I’m not sure what I was expecting on Malta (perhaps something more tropical?) but what we saw was hot, dusty, windy and poor.

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    The architecture was amazing and the people were very friendly (the #1 industry on the island is tourism) but there are a lot of people crammed into a rather small space and it makes for close quarters. Regardless, the whole family was delighted by the Blue Grotto boat trip.
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    (Yes, the front of our “dinghy” pointed straight up in the air in front of us!)
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    The oldest DS spent the whole time fretting about how many caves there were left to see, and then what would happen if he feel overboard, Mommy snapped tons of pictures and DH tried to keep one hand on the backpack and the other on the youngest DS who was whooping in delight at the tiny boat literally jumping the waves. :eek:

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    After driving all over the island in a taxi with the windows down, we went shopping in the marketplace of a typical Maltese fishing village and met our driver’s “connection” for a good seafood restaurant (we’re quite sure he earned a commission for that!) I found some fantastic table linens, done in the famous Gozo style and let the boys pick some magnets as souvenirs.

    View from the restaurant where we ate lunch.
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    Even though it had only been 3 hours, we were all so ready to head back aboard and chill for a while! We got cleaned up and then decided to make our first ever visit to the Buena Vista theater this afternoon!

    We were more than a tad excited to finally get to see Toy Story 3...and in 3D! Naturally, our contrary little DS insisted he watch the whole thing without the glasses. shrug. And being a long time TS fan, I completely bawled my eyes out for the last 20 minutes of the film. And we thought the “El Buzzo” gag was quite appropriate for our location! :rotfl2:

    My DH totally overate tonight... at the end of the night, he walked out on the balcony and had to pop a button on his pants, rofl. And I took a few pics of the yummies we got to eat at our first night of Lumiere’s but they turned out so blurry! This is my favorite restaurant on board, short of Palo.

    We were very happy to see Summer back and feeling better after disappearing yesterday. She and Collin were in rare form, cutting up all the kids’ food, playing games until they smiled and, of course, overriding mom and dad by providing chocolate ice cream for desert.

    Still, we were a tad confused as to why, when the boys were tired and we were starting to pack up, that Summer launched int this big discussion on Tunisia... we couldn’t think of a way to politely indicated we’d heard all this before, when she broke into a big smile and said slyly, "I think you’re in for a little show..." And into the dining room sailed none other than our namesakes, La Belle et La Bete!!!

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    I grabbed my camera and ran to get a few pictures and our DS’s were literally vibrating with excitement! They were simply tickled pink when the couple walked right past our table on the way out. What a MAGICal end to a lovely evening!

    Quote of the Day: Ian asked us if the lamb dinner was “like, a real...actual lamb?!” When we told him yes, he proceed to burst into tears and sobbed into his napkin, “Poor LAMB”!!! :sad:
     
  9. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

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    Tuesday August 31st

    Tunis, Tunisia


    We got the boys up early and took them to breakfast at Topsiders (to insure they got something healthy to eat today ;) ) since we were taking the brave step of going on excursion -- and leaving the kids on the boat! They didn’t seem to have any hesitation once they got to the club, but mommy needed a few minutes of watching to make sure they were settling in ok! :scared:

    Since this was our first excursion of this cruise, we had to re-acquaint ourselves with the manner in which they worked! We all showed up at the Walt Disney theatre and had to get our “sticker” assignments, which told us our bus number for the day. Since we were delayed by rough waters and headwinds, the ship was a tad late getting into port and were waiting for quite a bit before the gang plank was lowered.

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    Having done our research, we both expected to be accosted by vendors (and wrangled for money) once we got off the ship, but I was not expecting falcons! popcorn:: I know it was cheesy, but still, I was totally charmed by the bird (even if I was scared to move a muscle for fear of spooking it) and I got to have it perch -- on my arm!! AND I was completely thrilled with the 3 pictures I got out of it. :woohoo: DH grumbled about the Euro I paid, but it was so worth it!! :laughing:

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    Next, we then got to meet our guide, Lotvi, and he was amazing! It was rather helpful to have a DH along who’d been to Africa before and was familiar with the customs of these people (we asked the guide what his name meant and he was very pleased. :flower3:).

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    We learned so many fascinating things about both the ancient and current residents of the area around Carthage, Tunisia.

    For instance, did you know that everyone, whether they have a big garden or only a little window pot, grows their own mint? These people have mint tea several times a day and want fresh herbs for the tea. We had a chance to taste it and, while I didn’t much care for it, DH loved it and drank mine. Tasted kinda like sweet tea. Ew :snooty:

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    The ruins of the Roman baths were, by far, my favorite. Right on the coast, with spectacular views and these amazing, tall pillars which are all that remains of the actual structure. Everything else that we see today was excavated from the basement level, but they still made for some amazing photos!

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    We also thought it was very considerate of our guide to stop by the World War II cemetery so we could visit our fallen countrymen. As a mother, I felt it was my duty to pay respect to the graves that many parents never got to visit to say goodbye to the children who died on foreign soil.
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    For dinner, we were at Animator’s Palatte and were relieved that DH and oldest DS actually got to see the show this night! Last cruise, by the time we reached this point, DS got sick all over himself and they both had to leave for the rest of the evening. The DS’s were so thrilled to see “Sorcerer” Mickey show up that it took them forever to fall asleep that night. :confused3

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    Quote of the Day: After arriving back from our excursion, we found the boys in the Oceaneer’s Lab and when asked if they wanted to come with Mommy or stay here, I was greeted with a resounding “I want to stay here!” -- in stereo! :joker:
     
  10. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

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    Wednesday September 1st

    Naples, Italy -- Pompeii


    Well, I suppose it had to happen at some point...still feel a need to grumble about it a bit, though. We had a bad day... no, let me be frank, it was a crappy day. :sad2: Come on, I mean, how crappy of a day can it be if you’re in flipping Italy, right?!?!!?

    But I’m sure you all know what I mean... this is *supposed* to be an amazing vacation and we’re *supposed* to be having the time of our lives, but we’re all just cranky and wondering what in the world are we doing here...? :confused3 Yeah, it was one of those days.

    All of us seemed to wake up a tad “off” this morning, as yet we had an excursion planned, specifically for the kids, so we felt the need to press ahead. Our boys have recently become enamored with the “Magic Treehouse" books and which did we read right before vacation? Why, Vacation Under a Volcano, of course!! Jack and Annie travel back to the day the volcano erupted in Pompeii to save a library scroll, so naturally, we had to be sure our boys saw Pompeii on this trip! ;)

    We anchored in the port of Napoli this morning... but were an hour late because of our delayed departure from Tunisia and the ferocious head wind all night. So, our tour group time was pushed back by about 30 minutes... which is an unbelievably long time with 2 twitchy kids in tow!

    The best part of the day was while waiting for the group assignments to start, Pluto and Donald showed up and our boys ended up in a tickle fight with them! The were giggling and laughing and chasing each other all around the atrium. :goodvibes

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    In all fairness, the boys did pretty good during the excursion; but it was hot and confusing, and while our guide was knowledgeable, she wasn’t as engaging with the kids as I’d heard other guides could be in Pompeii.

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    Plus, with all the many other groups around, things got crowded quickly, and due to us being late, we didn’t get to sit and eat our gelato, but the boys insisted on trying to carry it and finish it. When the mess got out of hand, Tyler threw a huge fit trying to keep his and Ian sloshed his chocolate ice cream all down the front of his clothes, shoes and radio headset. And we hadn’t even made it into the ruins yet. OIY!!!! :faint:

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    We all made a good faith effort to enjoy ourselves despite the heat,

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    but unfortunately, the tour did not include a lunch. When we finished around 1 p.m., we were assured that there was a Piazza with pizzerias on every corner. Seeing as Naples is the birthplace of this most beloved dish, we felt it only right to promise the boys they could have it.

    Unfortunately, we spent a long time trudging around construction and dodging people on their lunch breaks and never found what we were looking for and decided to spot at the next best-looking place. I passed up several places that just didn’t “feel right” and finally spotted something, halfway up an alley that looked good to me. DH wasn’t sure, but reluctantly agreed, seeing as we had no choice. :confused:

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    If I may say so myself, we scored -- big time. I sort of muddle through Italian and the waiter barely spoke English, (we did, however, crack up when he asked tentatively “Deutsch?”) and still we had one of the finest lunches ever. DH ate so much he almost got sick, the boys tried prosciutto ham, plus snarfed their traditional Margehrita pizzas and the grown-ups drained their bottle of local Chianti. :dance3:

    Still, by the time we made it back to the ship, we all needed a break. The boys went to the pool for an hour or so that afternoon, and I spent a very frustrating amount of time and money attempting to save their clothes! >_< After that, I earned myself a bit of personal quiet time and bubbly in the Promenade Lounge before dinner.

    We finished off the night at a casual dinner at Parrot Cay and much to the boys delight, a Flamenco dancing Minnie (& friends) showed up to close the evening, including kissing on Daddy! :cutie:

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    Quote of the Day: DH~ “I don’t know how you do it! Somehow, no matter where we are, no matter how suspicious-looking the alley, you always find these dive Italian restaurants with the best damn food! Doesn’t matter, if it’s Germany, Paris, Amsterdamn, Naples, you have some weird sixth-sense that never fails!”
     
  11. C@lm-Se@s

    C@lm-Se@s Earning My Ears

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    Loving your reports we will be boarding On Wednesday .
    What is the weather like? Lovely and hot I am hoping:)
    Look orward to reading more :cloud9:
     
  12. 1st Cruise

    1st Cruise Mouseketeer

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    Love your reports and I am taking notes for our trip!!!
     
  13. helenreed

    helenreed Mouseketeer

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    Great report thanks! We are on the July 20th cruise next summer so your advice is invaluable!::banana:
     
  14. TotallyAngelic

    TotallyAngelic Disney Addict

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    Enjoying your trip report ... we join the Magic in 2 weeks and I am soooo excited :woohoo:
     
  15. Adsmama

    Adsmama Mouseketeer

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    I love reading your TR- especially because you are still on the Magic! JEALOUS!
     
  16. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

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    Thanks everyone! Good luck to those of you heading out soon, and let me know if you have any questions. This has been so helpful in organizing my thoughts!

    Yes, C@lm-Se@s, the weather has been fantastic! Clear skies and blazing hot if you ask me! Around 80-85 F, which is a bit too sweaty for me while walking around all day. However, there's glorious AC on the buses and, of course, the staterooms, so I'm still quite content! Hope the weather continues to hold for your trip!


    Thursday September 2nd


    Civitavecchia, Italy -- Rome

    Here it is -- the BIG day! Before booking excursions, we wondered and debated about which, if any, of the long excursions we should take with our two kids. In the end, we decided the most exciting for them (and the most historic) would be Rome, and we chose Jumping Back to Eternal Rome. That did not, however, stop us from continually fretting about our choice for the past 4 months!

    We knew this was going to be a long, hot day with tons of walking and we’d been doing everything we could to prepare the kids. For weeks, we’d discussed what it would be like, and how this was the “grown-up” day that would be very important for Mommy and Daddy to be able to enjoy the excursion, and we promised to provide them with “kids-days” in return. Now, it was truth time...how well would it all work out? popcorn::

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    We ordered room service for 0630 and, of course, the boys were still sleeping...and might have lasted even longer, if we hadn’t had *two* calls informing us breakfast was coming! The report time for the group was 0745 and we again made it on the very first bus, which was also the first bus back, haha. We had signed up for the excursion that included a train trip and that was good for keeping boys entertained early in the morning.

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    Once we boarded our bus, we met our tour guide for the day, Anna. She was a quintessential Italian, born in Rome and proud of it! She told us many fascinating things about the city on our way to the Coliseum.

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    The boys were quite impressed with the size and splendor of the ruin, but tired quickly of the trivia. (We, however, were fascinated!) For instance, did you know that the plumbing for the bathrooms located in the basement of the coliseum are the same pipes discovered during excavation? They found them intact and though, what the hay, they survived this long! Amazing what your small-bladdered kids help you discover!!

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    Up next was a walking tour of the city, which was rather tough on the kiddos; they really weren’t all that interested in the pantheon, or the Piazza Novana, but they really got into tossing coins in the Trevi fountain. Here’s hoping it means we’ll all go back to Rome one day!

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    Lunch at a local restaurant was interesting -- the boys were served pasta for an appetizer!! followed by a burger and fries? The grown-ups had delicious bruschetta and yummy lasagna, but the tiramisu was seriously unappetizing, and the oldest DS was introduced to coca-cola. Ugh!! >_< There was a roaming artist walking around the tables that rapidly cut out the most beautiful silhouettes of the whole family on black paper, can’t wait to get them in my scrapbook!!

    Afterwards, we spent the afternoon roaming around St. Peter’s square and the basilica at the Vatican.

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    Honestly, the boys were really wearing thin at this point, but were holding up very well. I was seriously annoyed at the "official" inside the church who apparently thought my kids' butts weren't holy enough for the floor. Other people were sitting all around on the pillar bases, and MY kids were just sitting politely and quietly, unlike the hooligans chasing around and shrieking elsewhere, so what exactly was the big deal?! :mad: But, I refrained from making a scene nonetheless.

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    Fortunately, everyone kept telling us what wonderful kids they were! Many people commented on how well-behaved they had been, with no crying, and the boys seemed really encouraged by this. ^_^ The funniest moment of the day happened while waiting in line at the Vatican. A local woman attempted to cut corners and get ahead of our group, and Anna took after her, waving her little scarf around and yelling at her in Italian -- it was a stitch! :lmao:

    Even after all the bumps and slow goings, we got back on the train and had a snack and some fresh water. But, the train seemed to take forever to return us back to the port, and we were very nervous that we would miss dinner at Lumiere’s that night. But after a quick stop in our stateroom, we rushed down and made it to our early seating by 6:45 p.m. We were so happy that Summer and Collin could squeeze us in, as we got to taste the “Master Chef” dishes celebrating Rome! YUM!

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    Once we had the boys washed up and bundled into bed, they literally fell asleep within moments. We are so proud of our awesome little guys! :cloud9:

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    Quote of the Day: Anna~ “What is the difference between English minutes and Italian minutes? A few english minutes actually means 2 or 3... a few Italian minutes means at least 5 or 10!!”
     
  17. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Messages:
    106
    Friday September 3rd

    Day at Sea

    How did our day “to relax” because so busy?! :confused: Well, it probably didn’t help that even though we had nowhere to go, the boys were both up by 0700!! :eek: Actually, it was more likely quite a bit before that as I was snapped out of a dream by youngest DS singing “Mary had a Little Lamb” quite loudly at that hour. If it hadn’t been so cute, I might have smothered him. :rolleyes1

    We had a leisurely breakfast at Topsiders, and, because they were chomping at the bit, the boys were literally the first ones in the Oceaneer’s Club at 0900! After browsing the Navigator, DH and I discovered tons of things we wanted to do, sans children! :woohoo:

    First off at 0930, scrapbooking! A few free pages, stickers, letters and die-cuts got me totally in the mood to start putting together my Disney Cruise album! :yay: After that, DH and I met up for the “Art of Entertaining: Entree” at 10:15 and I headed off to a blissful hot-stone massage at 11 a.m. I’m not sure if the differences between this and the last were due to personal staff preference, or the fact that this masseuse was a man, but I missed the dim lights and soft music of my previous treatment. Regardless, I was wonderful relaxed and glowing afterwards and learned a few fascinating things about detox! :thumbsup2

    After a buffet lunch with DH, we browsed Shutters and discovered we were most likely going to have to upgrade our photo package -- so many more cute pictures this time than the last cruise. :love: Much to my surprise, I actually enjoyed the Champagne Art Auction that the DH sweet-talked me into this afternoon. Of course, give me enough bubbly and I’ll enjoy almost anything! :drinking1 DH bid on and won a lovely photo of Provence and we also one a free print from the Raffle! It’s a charming piece of two brothers near the seashore, how exciting!

    We thought for sure our luck would hold out for the jackpot BINGO that afternoon, but no such luck! Amazingly enough, the DH was only one away from winning blackout -- on a paper card, but we were skunked again. :guilty: Unfortunately in our rush to get ready for dinner, we forgot to head back to the Teasure Ketch and see if we won the raffle for an Amber piece of jewelry. D'oh!!

    We headed to the club to pick up the boys for our big “Villains Tonight” dinner and show. We loved all of the Staff’s new outfits, with the many shades of black and purple.:stir: And although the boys were a bit more shocked by the theme in this show than the last, it was still amazing! Hades was the star and while that actor really did carry the show, whoever played Scar and Jafar was simply fabulous! :wizard: We’d have loved to have found some merchandise with the “Villains” theme to buy!

    Quote of the Day: Ian, when being picked up at the kids zone, “oh... is it time already?” *puppy eyes* DH~ “Dude, it’s been NINE hours!!”
     
  18. C@lm-Se@s

    C@lm-Se@s Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2010
    Messages:
    44
    The weather sounds perfect following the wet and cold august we have just endured here in the UK. Need some sunshine :). What 3D films are being shown?
    Thankyou for your replies
    Lind@
     
  19. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Messages:
    106
    No problem! Hope you and your granddaughter have a wonderful time! All 3 toystory movies are in 3D, also Up, Alice in Wonderland and Step Up 3.

    This will probably be my last update while still onboard; we're going to try and enjoy our last day tomorrow. *sniffle*


    Saturday September 4th

    La Spezia -- Pisa

    This was one of those days when you wish you didn’t have to get the little guys out of bed. They both had HUGE circles under their eyes and were yawning non-stop this morning! However, we were quite convinced that they would love Pisa, so we pressed ahead anyway. :coffee:

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    Sadly enough, this turned out to be what I like to call a “facepalm” day. It’s the kind of day where randomly odd and frustrating events cause you to want to smack your face with the palm of your hand quite frequently -- rather like those old “V-8” commercials. I tend to emit a rather load “D’OH!!” ala Homer Simpson while performing said action, but to each their own.

    First of these events occurred during breakfast when we realized that while the boys’ colds seemed to be worse, we were all out of any kind of medication to help them feel better. D’OH!!

    This was also the first time, all vacation, that we realized/remembered that we could have been eating breakfast in the restaurants all week with our wait staff, not just Topsiders. D’OH!!

    Next, although we arrived very early for the excursion assignments and got on the first bus, we ended up having to sit on the tender boat for 20+ minutes waiting for it to fill with people all 4 of the tour buses before leaving for shore. D’OH!!

    Once we were on our bus, we met our very nice guide Marcella, and she gave us a brief history of La Spezia (along with a map!) while our driver headed towards Pisa. One of the provinces of Tuscany, we got to learn many historic things about the area along the way. One of the most amazing sights was the hills of Carrara, famous for its marble. Michaelangelo himself came here to pick out the stone he would use for his great works and the mountains looked amazing in the sunlight!

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    Once we arrived at our bus parking place, I came to the painful conclusion that 2 1/2 hours since breakfast is more than enough time to require the use of the local facilities.D’OH!! :tiptoe:

    Much to the chagrin of our guide, many of the other passengers felt the same and we insisted that we be able to stop at the fueling station before hiking off to the monuments. Somehow, that led to me being elected leader of the frantic little group and I was responsible for leading the across the huge parking area and introducing them to the European idea of having to pay to use the restrooms. D’OH!!

    Naturally, this made us a bit delayed on our route and we were forced to stop at a local railroad crossing, which in turn proved the long-held belief that Italian trains are never on time -- we must have waited at that empty crossing, in the very hot sun for at least 10 minutes! D’OH!!

    One of the reasons Marcella was so agitated by the delay is that we were meeting the local guide at the Baptistry in the monument square and it turns out, the building is still in use today. We discovered this because once the “ears of power” sign was handed over to her, she literally took off at a run to make it through the large piazza and into doors of the baptistry before they closed it to tours, out of respect for an actual baptism. I’m certain she shared many interesting facts about the place during our mad dash, but between juggling all our gear, trying to keep the kids from tripping and having our radios cut in and out due to the distance between us and her, we really didn’t hear much of anything. :faint: D’OH!!

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    It was really worth managing to squeak inside, as not only is this the only round baptistry in Italy (the rest are octagonal) but Galileo himself baptised in this same place, and the odd construction of the building made for the most amazing acoustics, which are only demonstrated once every hour and we got to hear a fantastic singer share the “echo” with us. Awesome!!

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    From there we saw the Cathedral and...

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    then, of course, the bell tower. It was simply amazing... even the DH remarked, “I didn’t expected it to be white!”

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    While I’d always know the leaning was due to the sandy soil of the area, I hadn’t been aware that a large part of the problem was that the entire tower, including the 294 steps, is made out of marble -- 14,000 tons of it! :eek:

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    And, not to be forgotten, we had 2 more “facepalm” moments before heading back; one was while buying souvenirs, the DH walked right past me and the kids, and searched the whole length of the wall before finding us buying sunglasses. Then, once our family reached the meeting point, we sweated to death in the hot afternoon sun, as we couldn’t leave without the one single person wasn’t able to make it back at the appointed time. Double D’OH!!

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    Despite now having a sore forehead, :headache: the best moment of the day was riding the bus back to the port, watching the beautiful mountains go by, listening to the quiet sounds of happy kids playing, holding my love’s hand and being serenaded by the amazing voice of Andrea Bocelli! :cloud9:

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    And it still wasn’t over yet! We dropped the kids at the Club around 4 and spent some grown up time, reading on the verandah. We were amazed at how fascinated the locals were with our ship! They’d buzz right up in their little boats and snap pictures all afternoon. We took our time getting ready and went to spend our 11th wedding anniversary at our favorite restaurant, PALO!!

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    The DH looked so handsome all dressed up and we got a fabulous table overlooking the coastline, relishing the quietness of the room! As the sun set over Tuscany, we drank a fabulous bottle of red wine and ate some of the best food we’ve ever had; seriously, even the palate cleanser was amazing. Who’d have though to add fresh basil to lemon sorbet?! But...yum!

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    Quote of the Day: A crew member at Guest services, looking at a picture of the youngest DS: “Oh, I know Tyler! He’s got that cheeky grin! Out of the 2, 600 people usually aboard the ship, there’s always about 5 that you recognize and remember...Tyler’s one of them” Great! :blush:
     
  20. jitsb

    jitsb Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2010
    Messages:
    106
    Sunday September 5th

    Ajaccio, Corsica

    For the first time on the whole trip, we actually had a cloudy morning -- which made it extremely difficult to get out of bed!

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    The boys, of course, were happy to help, seeing as the night before we had pegged this as a “kids’ day” and they took great delight in informing everyone they met of this fact. That just made it all the easier to spot people who’d never had kids -- they were so confused!

    Our tour group only filled one bus and there were lots of kids this time. ;) Our driver informed us her name was Roly...as in “Roly Poly” and she mentioned that despite her British accent, she’d lived on Corsica for 40 years and considered it her home. We never did get to ask... how exactly had that come about?

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    This island is divided, by mountains, into 2 regions: Upper Corsica and Southern Corsica *twitch* That so messed with my OCD!! *twitch* and all streets and buildings are named either for Napoleon Bonaparte, his family or his victories. Naturally, before leaving, we had to take a quick tour of the city and visit the statue of its most famous son. ;)

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    Although we’d signed up for this trip mainly as something entertaining for the kids, the Tortoise Protection Center was amazing! popcorn::

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    It’s family-run, the largest in Europe, and self-sustaining, right down to the fruit trees and plants they grow to help fed the animals.

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    They have cats roaming the center, to fight off creatures such as rodents and birds, which prey on baby turtles. After wandering around freely for a short while, we finished off the excursion with ice cream and souvenirs!

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    The driver made excellent time on the way back and we were able to visit the local market that was still open near the port. We were able to buy some local Corsican wine and even help out some fellow crew members by sharing our limited vintner knowledge and rusty French. Here’s hoping they like the wine! :laughing:

    We were taken by surprise this evening, and were quite grateful we checked the itinerary, as it was semi-formal night! :eek: We quickly switched our planned attire and headed with the boys to Lumiere’s for our first ever Captain’s Gala dinner! :teeth: We had lobster and vension for dinner finished with lava cake and amaretto cheesecake for dessert. :love:

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    While still having fun, we can tell the DS’s are starting to wear out. Too much vacation! We tucked them in early for bedtime, in the hopes that they won’t be too fried when it’s time to return to the real world. It’s coming all too soon! :charac2:

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    Quote of the Day: DS Tyler ~ “I can’t wait to go back to Ger-memy.” Why? “There’s clouds in Ger-memy...it’s too bright here!” :lmao:
     
  21. JOANNEL

    JOANNEL <font color=deeppink>DVC MEMBER 6/02<br><font colo

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2002
    Messages:
    7,910
    Great Trip report! Where are you in Germany? My DS is at Ramstein. Enjoy your boys they grow up too fast!!!
     

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