Med Cruisers...Let's Discuss Planning!(Updated Tour Info, Links & BCN Info on Page 1)

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by lilpooh108, Jan 12, 2013.

  1. msabol01

    msabol01 DIS Veteran

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    I am going in August 2014, but planning on arriving a week early and doing Paris and Barcelona pre-cruise. I found some nice rental flats on vacation rentals by Owner (VRBO) dot com. They mostly list weekly rentals but you can find a few owners that rent nightly for rates that are much less than hotels.
     
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  3. Torontogal

    Torontogal Mouseketeer & Disney Vacation Club Member

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    So we are going to be on this cruise and arriving in Barcelona 1 week earlier. We plan to rent a car and drive around although inhale no clue where yet. Has anyone drove from Barcelona and enjoyed interesting sites which are not too far from the post. We are thinking of hoping over to France but really in early planning stages. Any tips are greatly appreciated. Thank you!
     
  4. JimmyJackJunior

    JimmyJackJunior DIS Veteran

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    Which specific cruise are you going on?

    Even though it is not close to port I don't think you should pass up on Montserrat if you have a week. We have two and a half extra days and are doing the Ramblas, a Gaudi tour and Montserrat.
     
  5. Candy Apple

    Candy Apple DIS Veteran

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    Which Gaudi tour are you doing?
     
  6. Torontogal

    Torontogal Mouseketeer & Disney Vacation Club Member

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    Oh sorry! Forgot I mention, the Disney Magic 7day on Aug. 24. Will definitely research Montserrat.
     
  7. OrangeCountyCommuter

    OrangeCountyCommuter DIS Veteran

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    I would plan to stay outside Barcelona. Based on what I saw yesterday it is not a place I would want to drive in. :rotfl2:
     
  8. JimmyJackJunior

    JimmyJackJunior DIS Veteran

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    Self guided Rick Steves tour.
     
  9. LaVerne15

    LaVerne15 Earning My Ears

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    We are looking into doing a Med cruise in June 2014 for our ten year anniversary but would have our 7 and 2 year old with us. How do you think kids do on Med cruises and with excursions?
     
  10. Celestine

    Celestine DIS Veteran

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    It doesn't matter which cruise you are on, the key with children is to do things they enjoy. We have cruised since our youngest was 14 months old. WE have split up in ports and done different things and on the Baltics cruise we left them on board and did a DCL excursion as we knew they had no interest in more buildings, art and dead rocks! THis time we are doing the family scavenger hunt at Herculaneum. If your pockets are deep DCL has lots of family port adventures, but often we just do our own thing - hop on hop off buses, boat trips etc. have always been a hit with the girls.

    Whatever you decide to do, have a great time and remember you are all on vacation!

    Celestine
     
  11. Cousin Orville

    Cousin Orville Inventor of Air Cooling

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    We've done the Baltic and Med with our kids - same age as yours. They love it. I'd have no problem taking our youngest on a half day DCL excursion, but anything longer and we typically look at private tours which makes things much easier as far as telling them where you want to go, how long you want to stay... If you need an emergency bathroom stop, etc.
     
  12. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

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    Hi guys! We are back. I will eventually do a trip summary (not a full report) simply due to time constraints, but here is some of our relevant info:

    Our itinerary: London (3 nts), Barcelona pre cruise (3 nts), DCL Med Cruise, Paris (4 nts).

    Embarkation: We deliberately went late and got to the Port at 2pm. Poolside by 3pm.

    Disembarkation: Easy. No customs or immigration. We ate in the room, had time to go up at 7:45 am to Deck 10 for last minute pics. Walked off the ship at 8:10 am and was curbside by 8:25 am.

    Stroller situation: As I noted in my original post which started this thread, transporting my kids was a major concern. My 3 YO ended up walking almost everywhere where a stroller wasn't practical. My infant was Ergo'ed. We brought 2 cheap Target $15 umbrella strollers which were very useful and thrown away at the end of the trip.

    Monaco, Monte Carlo, Eze: HORRIBLE port excursion through DCL. Really really bad. Some people on our bus got left behind and the guide almost left us as well. So many people complained that next day DCL sent out DCL guides
    to monitor.

    Portofino, Santa Margherita: A wonderful surprise. DCL excursion.

    Florence, Pisa: My family members did this DCL adult only excursion. Someone in their group was almost robbed in Florence. A group of women walked up to a lady in group and tried to rip her neck wallet off her neck. Everyone screamed, a tussel ensued and the women ran away.

    Rome-- we put together our own day by booking transfers and a Vatican museum tour through Walks of Italy. We booked the UndergroundTour with the Colosseum and cabbed to the Vatican ourselves. Walks of Italy was excellent. They were great w/reservation modifications and their guides/driver were awesome. We left Rome at 4:40 pm and got back at 5:50 pm. When we were leaving we saw DCL groups barely meeting up to leave, so we felt comfortable with the time we had going back.

    **One thing about Walks of Italy, the stated 10% cancellation fee and "no modification" policy in case the cruise ship missed the port gave me some hesitation with the company. If you decide to book with them, clarify the policy with the owner and see what they will do in case the ship misses the port.

    Since my dad and I couldn't walk much, opted instead for the Scavi tour rather than the Vatican tour. Go to the Vatican website for more details. It was simply amazing.

    Pompeii, Positano---while the sites were great, the tour company "See Amalfi Coast" was a MAJOR DISAPPOINTMENT. They are #1 on TA. Well, they suck. Our driver didn't show up on time, he was incredibly sleazy, and he took us to a tourist trap restaurant to make commission, thereby cutting our Positano time to 1 hr and we had to skip Sorrento. Expensive and disappointing. I tipped him anyway (bad habit), but would not recommend them to anyone. Please avoid

    Barcelona-- mixed feelings about Barcelona Day Tours. We paid 343 Euro for a 1/2 day Montserrat tour. Well it rained and basically we got 20 minutes at Parc Guell and we went to a Tapas restaurant afterwards. I'm going to email them and see if they will apply a courtesy discount of some sort. I paid in advance. The driver was nice, though.

    DCL related-- character lines were incredibly long compared to what we were used to. Food was very average but our dining team was amazing. Loved them. The new navigator format sucks since the schedule is only an insert and they sometimes were missing. They also did not state all activities. Our cabin was DIRTY DIRTY upon check in (brown smears toilet seat, door jam, sheets were dirty). Rectified at 2am in the morning. Whole thing was a hassle.

    Overall-- this was a trip of a lifetime for us. Our group included extended family members who do not travel with us often and we all appreciated the journey together. There are moments, as you are sitting there, which you knew were incredible and you'd remember for a lifetime. The trip itself was physically exhausting (especially b/c we had 1 early pregnant lady, me post-surgery, my dad pre-surgery, and 2 small kids]). Despite all our obstacles it was simply an amazing and wonderful trip. I loved every minute.

    Here are some highlights, pics:
    RIB speedboat tour
    [​IMG]

    Portofino:
    [​IMG]

    Colosseum (underground portion):
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Roman Forum:
    [​IMG]

    Positano:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Paris (from rooftop of our hotel):
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]
     
  13. tajz90

    tajz90 Mama D

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    How was the underground tour? Where do you pick up your tickets and how far in advance do we need to arrive? :)

    Sounds like an interesting trip. Yeah for you.
     
  14. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

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    Tour Tickets are in the form of stickers that denote your tour time. You can meet at the meeting point as indicated on the instructions you will receive when you check in. We checked in about 30 minutes early, then met at the meeting point 10 min prior.

    Go past the hordes of people waiting in line and up to the window that says reservations.

    We bought our entrance tix separately so that we could do the Forum first.
     
  15. poohmomof5

    poohmomof5 DIS Veteran

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    lilpooh, we have the Monaco, Monte Carlo and Eze excursion booked, can you be more specific about why it was so bad? Besides people being left behind?

    I was really looking forward to that one...
     
  16. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

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    The guide did not really guide anyone. She simply accompanied the driver to each point and then stated where the meeting point was. It was actually a hindrance to have her as a guide since she wouldn't let people stop for bathroom breaks, etc. The entire thing was bizarre. She also gave everyone the wrong meeting point and so that's why people missed the bus. When we showed up 5 min late (I had found the bus, then ran back to find my husband to tell him the correct meeting point), she looked surprised and started recounting the people on the bus. When she realized 3 ppl were missing, she out loud "I guess 3 ppl decided not to continue the tour." She told everyone to meet on parking level -2 instead of -1, where the bus was parked.

    She refused to give kids in the tour bottles of water, b/c she decided that they must not have paid for the tour. Several of us had to explain that kids do pay, etc.

    People were repeatedly scolded and shushed by this guide for various random things, such as asking questions. She also shamed people for being
    late and was not accommodating. Her behavior was appalling and very un-Disney. We tipped the driver for helping us w/ the strollers all day. I noticed that no one tipped her and the next day found out that many people complained about Monaco/Monte Carlo/Eze tour.

    Site wise--the sites were incredibly boring. Monaco is small and the palace took about 15 min to walk through. The plaza was cute, but there weren't too many places to eat. Monte Carlo--- the bus couldn't drop us off at the Casino, and so the group walked up a very very steep hill in the rain. Then the entire group waited around until the pick up time and walked down. EZE--it was pouring at this point and 75% of our bus stayed on the bus. I walked to Eze with 2 other families and explored. Eze would have been my favorite stop and I wished we came here earlier rather than having 1.5 hours at Monaco for no reason at all.
     
  17. slg

    slg DIS Veteran

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    We're booked on this excursion too. I had an awful excursion...my first with DCL... in San Juan and I complained and the refunded me half the money. I was very excited for this excursion so I'm expecting that they will have sorted things out before my cruise July 10.

    When we went to the Baltic, one of our tour guides in St. Petersberg said that DCL was fanatic about training guides in their country and very strict compared to the other cruise lines.

    I'm sure that this will be addressed or the tour will be cancelled. This has happened before.
     
  18. ThePicketts

    ThePicketts Mouseketeer

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    Sorry for your experience, but thank you for sharing.
     
  19. ruadisneyfan2

    ruadisneyfan2 DIS Veteran

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    Thank you for sharing. I love your pictures. :thumbsup2
    I'm so sorry to hear so many negatives about your trip. I did buy 2 Rick Steve's silk neck wallets and put some extra stitches where the string meets the wallet. May I ask, was the neck wallet tucked inside her blouse or was she wearing it outside like a purse? Regardless, it's awful that so much of this stuff happens. I'm only asking because I'm curious just how bold these thieves are. If all they could see was a tiny bit of string, compared to say a fanny pack, it really takes brass ones. I wonder if I should get a money belt also. :worried:

    I would mention your Positano issues on TripAdvisor. So many people rely on that website for the real truth. I certainly have more than once for our Med cruise.

    We're booked on the Nice & Monaco DCL excursion. I hope it's not boring.

    Sounds like you had a lot of rain. I'm glad to hear there were plenty of good times too. :goodvibes
     
  20. MrsScooby

    MrsScooby DIS Veteran

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    I was wondering about the neck wallet as well as I have the same one.
    makes sense if you are wearing it outside your clothes that it would be fair game for theft, but I was thinking as long as I kept it tucked in my shirt I'd be ok...now also thinking maybe better to go with something else:confused3

    And I also rely on Tripadvisor for my trip planning and would hope that you add your experience for Positano to make the record clear for others:thumbsup2
     
  21. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

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    When I gave my impressions of the Monaco/Monte Carlo/Eze tour to the DCL Port Adventures guide during our Portofino tour, I specifically told her that we weren't seeking compensation. Honestly, with our cabin cleanliness issues I didn't want to be "that lady" who complained at guest services all the time (not that you are, but you know what I mean). I was also eager to move on, so to speak.

    I made very detailed notes on the comment card, including our group number, etc. Hopefully that tour (and that guide) will be addressed.

    You know what's funny? Our trip was so overwhelmingly positive that I didn't even notice until I typed up that short summary that there were so many negatives as to the DCL portion of our trip. Our trip logistically could have gone wrong in so many ways, but it didn't (only minor flight delays, no major hotel issues, lots of free hotel upgrades, found great food, met great people, no huge lines, etc). We did London, Barcelona and Paris before and after the Med cruise. Every single day was memorable and great.

    I guess the issue is expectations. I had expected that by Day 7 of my trip that once I got onboard the Disney ship I could kick back and relax. Checking in to find a very dirty cabin was disappointing. Disney handled this very strangely by making us wait until 2am before they called a supervisor to double-check our complaints. He physically came in to look at the sheets when all I had done at 11:30 p.m. was call for new sheets. I found out from our host the next day that he had the day off, did not do our room, but he admitted that he never double-checked the quality of the room. I guess that was the reason for the hoop-la. I did not ask for, and did not receive compensation.

    Neck wallet--- I honestly don't know. My brother (walking at the head of the group) told me that he saw a group of women holding up rectangular cardboards walking towards them. He and my sis-in-law made eye contact, walked around them. My brother told my mom (65YO) to be careful, and my mom and my frail aunt walked around them as well. The women walked up to an elderly lady in the back of the DCL group, stopped her and grabbed at her neck wallet. The women holding the cardboard rectangles held them up to block others to see what they were doing (ie robbing people). People in the DCL group started yelling at the thieves, and those closest to the lady held on to her so that she wouldn't fall. The DCL guide ran to the back and there was a further tussle, then the thieves ran away. My brother said that the lady would have been badly injured if those closest to her had not held on to prevent her from falling.

    According to my brother, it was obvious they were targeting older people. As for brazen--yes. They tried to rip it right off her neck. I don't know if it was hanging out or in, but what does it matter? If it was visible, even through clothing, it was fair game. A child pickpocket tried to lift a small Canon camera out of my dad's pant pocket (visible through the pant pocket) but it was too heavy to lift. My dad said he put the camera there for just a few minutes in order to switch hands to do something else.

    Speaking of pickpockets---I saw many people attempting (badly) to do the sign-my-petition trick. They hold a ratty cardboard with a paper on it and a pen. Walk up to you and try to distract you by asking you to sign. Most of the time they walk away if you walk around them. In Paris, my 3YO decided to run away from me to my aunt during one of these incidents. The thief locked eyes on my aunt (who is 4'10) as my kid ran to her. I turned around and screamed bloody murder ("Robbery Robbery") and the thief ran away before putting hands on my child or my aunt. This was day 13 or so of my trip, and frankly, I was getting sick of pickpockets.

    In Barcelona--the pickpockets are obvious. They try to dress like tourists but fail. So if you see a sad attempt at American hip hop gear, a VERY visible neckwallet, and pointless meandering with no bottles of water, no heavy backpack, no sweaty faces, then you are looking at a pickpocket pretending to fit in. On the metro, they will also sit or stand next to you even when there are other open seats/spaces. When this happened to us (which was daily), we simply walked away.

    Gear--- I personally don't like neck wallets b/c of the possibility of getting injured if someone tries to take it off you. Same with waist wallets. Easy enough to reach up your shirt and cut. If they cut you, well, that's worse.
    My husband used the leg wallet the whole time. He loved it, and it was easy and less obvious than a leg wallet or a waist pouch. On our travel days it was big enough to fit 4 passports.

    http://www.amazon.com/Pacsafe-Luggage-Coversafe-Secret-Wallett/dp/B004T2IWQY/ref=pd_sim_a_17

    My aunt who likes to carry her Passport and CC at all times had a reversible zippered vest on, and she wore the zippered pocket on the inside.

    Carrying cash-- unless it was a travel day (flights, etc.,) I never carried more than 100Euro cash. If I did, I safety pinned it to me and I never carried a purse. We had TONS of baby gear, but I bought a $10 clear backpack and put all that stuff in there (diapers, bottles, wipes). I never once had a pickpocket even go near that backpack. :thumbsup2 You could see the diapers from a mile away.

    Our family members never carried anything of value (other than DSLRs, which we only brought out on certain days since they were heavy). We avoided pickpockets b/c it was physically unpleasant to have them touch you when you walked by.

    Great suggestion, thanks. I also found that company on TA. FWIW, they asked for positive reviews after the trip. I guess most people don't like to write negative ones.

    OVERALL--- I understand that the June 1 Med was the 1st Med cruise DCL had done in a while and they picked up alot of "new" employees for this cruise. I guess they are still working out the kinks both w/CMs and vendors. So I hope my summary does not come off as negative, as we really did have a great time. I highlighted issues specific to the Disney portion of our trip since this is "Disboards." When I have the time, I will do a more complete write up separately. I have lots of tips actually, but I'm so jetlagged that it's not all coming together at the moment. Feel free to ask questions.
     

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