Our Way...Magic in The Mediterranean 6/1/13-6/8/13

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by kikids, Jun 9, 2013.

  1. kikids

    kikids Mouseketeer

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    Hello All. We just returned from our 7 night voyage on The Magic's 1st Med cruise of 2013. We are adjusting to major jet lag but hopefully it'll wear off soon and I'll add a port every day this week, telling what we did and how we did it.

    For the most part we were "Doin' It Our Way". My husband said the only way he'd do a Disney Med cruise was if we didn't 'live in a Disney bubble'. To him this meant no Disney excursions...we figured out pre-hotel stay, trains, buses, transportation,etc at ports on our own (with one exception which was a Disney debacle, more on that later).

    The first three tips you should know:
    1) Yes you can make an early flight home!!! I read about so many people freaking out about early flights out of BCN to the US. I, myself, rejected a 10:45 flight in lieu of a 1:15 flight to be safe. Didn't need to do this! Ship got in at 5 am. We ate the LATE seating breakfast on the ship at 8 am (actually 815), were off the boat at 8:40, in our drivers car at 8:50, at the airport by 930, checked luggage and at the gate at 10 am. All at a leisurely pace! Could have made that 1045 easy. Could have made a 10 am flight with the early breakfast (not that I recommend it, I'm just saying, it's doable)

    2) Don't be afraid to try the ports on your own, tomsportguides and rick steves were my sources of inspiration and education. While accurate about 90% of the time, they made my trip very enjoyable.

    3) If it's not too late, get a Port side room! I am a Starboard fan, have always been starboard in the past but for most of the med ports, and for sailing along the coast (see the map of your voyage), the Portside views are waaaaaay better IMO.

    BARCELONA
    I booked Hotel Continental on La Rambla about a year in advance. They are mentioned in Rick Steves and I wanted to be where the action was. They also were one of the few places I found to have accommodation for 4 people in one room. It was 166 E per night. Not bad! I will be putting up a Tripadvsor review this week. However, staying anywhere near the Rambla would have been perfectly safe, very walkable to said action, and next time I'd opt to save a few bucks for a more modern place walkable to the busy areas. I strongly suggest having a day or town in BCN before the cruise. We really enjoyed the HOHO bus.

    Pickpockets: not a problem that we saw. Very good police presence. Never felt nervous, even walking the side streets which I highly recommend, especially the gothic area, we enjoyed walking these beautiful narrow shop-lined streets even more than la rambla.

    I used Autos Vilar for transportation. Juan's email address is info@autosvilar.com. He gave me a combo flat rate of 130E for a trip from airport to hotel, hotel to port, and port to airport again (3 transfers total). His guy spoke almost no english but man was he punctual! And very nice. Van was comfortable. Strongly recommend.

    The port on Saturday went smoothly. We arrived at 1130, waited in a long line to check in but still had boarding number 7 or so (can't recall for sure) and we were on the boat by 1230. I spoke with some people who didn't arrive until closer to 1 and they reported the lines were much longer. Cabins were ready at 130. The sail away party, buffets, etc. were all typical Magic stuff, nothing new that I noticed. We left port a little late, maybe 630. I previously posted the dining rotations for the 7 night but if anyone wants them again, ask. One thing of note is that the Animators 'show night' is the first night you are in Animators.

    I will be putting the following reviews on tripadvisor later this week: Hotel Continental, Montjuic Castle, Parc Guell, HOHO Barcelona City Tours, Grand Viader, Pappabubble, boqueria, Pizza Emporio. We did not take the subway so I can not address questions about this. We walked or HOHO'd everywhere.

    Villefranche to follow........
     
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  3. kventventx

    kventventx Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for posting your trip report. We are scheduled to sail on the 6/27 sailing and I am looking forward to reading your entire report.
     
  4. a37027

    a37027 Mousekeeter

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    We were on the same trip and sounds like we travel similarly. We actually did return on the 10:25 am Delta flight to JFK. It could not have been simpler. We ate at the buffet at Topsiders because too early to make our late seating breakfast. Delta even checked our bags and issued boarding passes at the Port, so we didn't have to do anything at the airport other than the usual security steps.
     
  5. jennorthernireland

    jennorthernireland Mouseketeer

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    Oh, I am so excited! Yours is the first trip report that I have seen for the Med this summer and I have been waiting eagerly for them as we will be sailing on 13th August! I have subscribed and I can't wait to read more, especially as you have visited the ports by yourself, which is what we intend to do for the most part (will definitely do an exursion for Rome, undecided for Naples). Really looking forward to seeing how you found everything. I don't remember seeing the dining rotations you posted, so if you don't mind posting it again or pointing me in the right direction,that would be great! :)
     
  6. kikids

    kikids Mouseketeer

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    Jen, hi! Here are dining rotations:
    Rotation 1 is Lumiere, Lumiere, Animator's Palate, Parrot Cay, Lumiere, Animator's and Parrot Cay.

    Rotation 2 is Animator's, Animator's, Parrot Cay, Lumiere, Animator's, Parrot Cay and Lumiere

    Rotation 3 is Parrot Cay, Parrrot Cay, Lumiere, Animator's, Parrot Cay, Lumiere and Animator's

    kventventx, you're going to have a great time! It was certainly a trip of a lifetime.

    a37027, thanks for adding your info. These boards were so helpful in our planning and I'd enjoy hearing more about your time off the ship as well and what you decided to do.
     
  7. kikids

    kikids Mouseketeer

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    Sorry these are so big, I'm going to work on sizing them down.

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    View of La Rambla from our hotel lobby balcony at night.

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    Don't research dining ahead of time - you don't need to. You can't walk 50 feet without finding a place like this with pics and prices.

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    Spanish Nemo

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    Stray cats around Montjuic.

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    Magic not in port yet, photo from Montjuic castle.

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    My DD on the wall around the castle.

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    Graffiti seems to be an art form around BCN, my DD really enjoyed taking pictures of graffiti with her ipod.

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    Meat sampler and cheese sampler plates, tomato bread, plus some churros. This wasn't a cheap snack but it was certainly a fun taste of the local foods.
     
  8. Stimpy

    Stimpy <font color=red>Is a WONDERFUL Mommy! The TF says

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    Can't wait to read more! We leave July 13th!
     
  9. Luv2Diz

    Luv2Diz We love the Wonder and Magic of Disney cruising!

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    Looking forward to more of your TR. I'd love to do a Med cruise, so I'm interested in hearing about your cruise and the ports!
     
  10. CruisinNick

    CruisinNick dcl addict.

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    Did you book the hotel directly through their website, or a third-party site like Hotwire or Priceline? How many people did you have in your room and did they charge you more if you have more than 2 people in the room? (Some hotels charge beyond 2 people, as we found out in Vancouver when we booked a Comfort Inn from Priceline.)
     
  11. debsters41

    debsters41 DIS Veteran

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    Hello and Welcome back! I am so happy to see your report! You remind me so much of..... me! :lmao::lmao: We also have a family of 4, booked at Continental (No where near your fabulous rate, though) and also have Autos Vilar booked! We are on the last Med 7 night in August. Thank you for posting the dining rotation. I am going to ask my travel agent to put in a request for me. I can't wait to hear more about your adventures! We will totally be doing it on our own, as well. Thank you for sharing!:flower3::flower3:
     
  12. PizzieDuster

    PizzieDuster DIS Veteran

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    I can't wait for more! Love the pictures! :love:
     
  13. cforsythe

    cforsythe Mouseketeer

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    I am so excited about reading your trip report. My DH and I are on the August 31 cruise. Love your pictures of BCN. I have not planned anything for the first day.

    We have the 10:45 flight back to the US. We also have the 2nd dining time. Should we do the buffet or can we do the 2nd seating time for breakfast? We have Disney transfers and that makes me a little nervous...
     
  14. wiigirl

    wiigirl DIS Veteran

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    Can't wait for more. :goodvibes
     
  15. lgajohnson

    lgajohnson Mouseketeer

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    We leave in a week and a half and I am so excited to read this!!! Please let us know when your trip advisor reports are up too...love it!!
     
  16. ilovedevin

    ilovedevin Mouseketeer

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    So excited to read this report. For my DH's 50th we are doing a 15 day Hawaiian Cruise and for my 50th we are doing this cruise.
     
  17. kikids

    kikids Mouseketeer

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    Villefranche:

    The plan: Monaco for the Oceanographic Museum and Nice for the Cours Saleya flea market and either Promenade des Anglais or the Chagall Musuem if time allowed. I had train and bus schedules/stops researched, along with tomsportguide printed out and my Rick Steves chapter on the area. Ready to go!

    The outcome: Due to a medical emergency the ship high-tailed it to the port during the night, arriving around 1030pm. The view of Villefranche at night all lit up was nothing short of breathtaking. But we had to wait til morning to disembark, of course.

    As this is a tendering port, instead of crowding the stairs, anyone not on a tour was asked to meet in the theatre for a tender ticket starting at 745. We arrived around 750, and had to wait until 810 or so to get on a tender. They were good size boats, probably 100+ people. I had my color print out of tomsportguide and could see the location of the train station as the tender headed for shore. I absolutely would not have found the train station without this as it is kind of hidden without good signage (IMO). There was an attendant on the platform heading to Monaco but only a ticket machine on the platform headed to Nice. To be safe, we went to the attended side and I'm very glad we did.

    As it turned out, even though we have credit cards with PIN's (no chips), none of the train stations in France or Italy accepted any of our credit cards (BOA, USAA, or Fidelity banks). *** Of all the shops, eateries, and many places we spent money on our trip, the automated train machines were the only places our cards were rejected.***
    There was one attendant at the ticket counter and another, who seemed to be security, on the platform, warning people about keeping valuables close and reminding people to validate their tickets in the punch box. Both employees spoke english well. I bought a ticket to Monaco and a return ticket from Monaco to Nice at the same time. We waited maybe 10 minutes for a train to monaco. The trains were kind of yucky, grafitti filled, old, etc. I'll post a picture. But the ride to Monaco was quick and you can't miss the stop, the overhead voice announced it, there were signs on the platforms you passed, etc. Getting off the train though, my guide books said to look for the Place Ste Devote exit, as there are 3 exits to the Monaco train station. Nothing was marked Place Ste Devote! So we followed the crowd and a sign saying "Monaco Ville and Palace" which took us, thankfully to the Place Ste Devote exit. I knew when we walked out of that tunnel that there was no way we could walk to the museum. Due to the hills there is no line of sight, everything twists and turns, I couldn't see any road signs, and for a minute I panicked a little. Then right in front of me, a bus drove by that said bus #2 and I knew that both bus #1 and bus #2 went to the museum so we just followed the bus and jumped on. I had read you could buy tickets from the driver for 2 euros each, so that's what we did instead of trying the machine and saving 50 cents. I asked the driver to let me know when we arrived at the museum/palace stop, and he did. It was lots of twists and turns and hills though - we'd still be looking for it if we'd tried to walk!
    We arrived at the museum around 910 but, contrary to guide books saying it opens at 9, it doesn't open until 930. We loved the museum though - nice display of fish, seahorses, jellys, etc. And the rooftop has a playground (new)!!! Views of monaco and the harbor, and a cafe that serves big 5 euro sandwiches. My kids loved it!
    At around 1115 we reversed our path, caught the bus again, got off at Princess Antoinette (as an alternative you could ride the bus around Monaco to see it all and get off right at the station). We had a very hard time finding the train station entrance from the Princess Antoinette stop. Eventually we just got lucky but we should have asked someone.
    Since we had our return ticket to Nice, we looked at the monitors and saw our train was on "voie 3" and followed the signs. It was pretty easy. But to be sure, I did ask someone on the platform "to Nice?". In fact, I never trusted our instincts the entire trip and I always asked someone on the platforms if I was on the right track. (And if I hadn't, we would have taken a wrong train in Italy so it pays to be a polite but annoying American).
    The ride to Nice went smoothly as well, getting off at Nice Ville was a no brainer. That train station is a hot mess of crowded people and construction. Follow the crowd out! I had hoped to take the tram to the waterfront but you had to buy tickets from a machine (no attendant) and it only accepted coins. I did not have 4 euros in coins at the time so we walked it. Very long walk to the waterfront! On the plus side, my bank, BOA has a recipricol with BNP Paribas and I knew their logo was a green square with white stars in it, and we saw several of their ATM's during our walk to get more euros out.
    We arrived at the cours saleya market, which is a flower market every day except monday when it becomes an antique/flea market. Here is a cool article about it: http://chezsabine.com/2012/05/30/a-day-at-the-flea-market-in-nice-france/

    It was fun, but I was worried about my kids breaking something, things were overpriced, and we were hungry. So my kids found a couple trinkets (lots of little ceramics for sale), and we ate and one of the many places along the edge of the flea market. There are public restrooms but they cost 50 euros per person.

    By the time we finished our crepes it was around 230 and starting to rain. We had to make a choice, head to the beach/promenade area and dip our feet in the Mediterranean, or see the Chagall Museum. Since it was raining I opted for the museum but we searched using Rick Steves map for the right bus and could not find it. And every bus stop we found that was wrong had a zillion people at it! So I said, forget it, lets just get wet and go to the beach! In retrospect it was kind of fun, although at time I was cold, wet and slightly frustrated. We walked along the shore until we came to the very first awning-covered beach cafe. The staff there only had one or two other patrons and 60 or more tables. There wasn't a single soul on the rocky beach! Well, until my daughters showed up, and singing and dancing in the rain on the beach in Nice, my husband and I sat and watched them under the awning drinking wine and eating complementary potato chips. And life was good! (And free, nice bathrooms!) Oh, and the wine was cheaper than a can of pop!
    By 330 we were soaked and too exhausted to mess with trains or buses, and just wanted to get back to the ship. So we quickly found a cab stand by the casino/mcdonalds across the street and hopped in. The very sweet female cab driver spoke about 3 words of english. Fortunately my college french was enough to tell her where we needed to go and get a price of 38-45 euros to take us from nice to villefranche. She couldn't have been sweeter and she went on and on about her kids and I just kept nodding and saying "oui, oui", and she got us to the port in under 15 minutes and only charged us 35 euros. The taxi ride was worth every cent between the convenience, being out of the rain, and her charm.


    If I could go back and do it again: I was disappointed that Nice wasn't nice. (ha ha) It just wasn't very pretty and lots of construction. I'm still happy to say I've been there and soaked my tootsies in the French Riviera but if I ever go back, I'd see Monaco again but then maybe consider Cap Ferrat or Eze. Also I wouldn't have spent time researching buses in Nice, I didn't use them and saving a few bucks figuring out the Nice bus system wouldn't have been worth it - taxis cost more but earn their benefit.
     
  18. kikids

    kikids Mouseketeer

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    [​IMG]
    Villefranche port at night
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    And in the morning, this photo taken from the tender boat
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    New playground on the roof of Oceanographic Museum in Monaco
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    Inside the Nice/Monaco bus
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    Cours Saleya Market
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    Hunting for cool rocks in the rain along Nice's coast.
     
  19. kikids

    kikids Mouseketeer

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    CrusinNick - I booked direct thru the hotel by emailing them. I don't know if they charge extra for more people. I just told them I needed a room for 4 and they emailed me a price and it was done. The other option was to go with 2 rooms somewhere and had I gone that way, I may have tried priceline since so many places offer double rooms, but quad rooms are hard to find.

    cforsythe - I recommend asking to be moved to 1st seating just for the last breakfast, or eat at Topsiders. Disney transfers are so costly. I'm telling you there were like 60 cabs lined up at the port hungry for travelers. That would allow you to leave at your own pace. I know using dis transfers offers some guarantee and mental security though, so I get it. You can't go wrong. You'll get to the airport with plenty of time. :)

    To all others following along, especially those of you in the midst of planning for upcoming cruises, thanks for reading! La Spezia was my favorite stop so stay tuned.
     
  20. kikids

    kikids Mouseketeer

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    If you want to see pics of beautiful Lucca or the tower of Pisa area you can find them anywhere, especially tripadvisor. I took 200 pictures at this port but I am only posting the oddball helpful ones here. Eventually I'll add my favorite/most proud pics to this thread. But not today.

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    Map of Tuscany train routes. Man I wish I'd had this on hard copy. There are no maps like this available at the train stations - only posted on a few select trains. If you can find one on the internet - download it and print it!

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    Sorry to gross you out but this is the free woman's, yes woman's toilet at the Lucca train station. I'm still not sure how you 'go' in it.

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    Top of the Guinigi Tower in Lucca. Again, look it up if you plan to see Lucca.

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    My kids LOVED renting and riding bikes in Lucca. So much better than walking! Here we have them parked at the main, touristy Piazza, parked in front of a cafe table we ate at. Chrono bikes was great to work with. Bring your drivers license for collateral. Found them thanks to Rick Steves recommendation.

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    Train station you need to get off at to see the Pisa tower. It is called Pisa San Rossore. Don't get off at Pisa Centrale, the walk is four times longer from Centrale. As you can see, it's pretty basic, nothing flashy!!

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    The train to Pisa. Italian trains are like the Metra in Chicago (comfy but you need to know where you were going) whereas the trains in France were more like the Chicago subway/elevated train system (well marked routes but kinda nasty). If that analogy helps a single person, I'll be surprised. :rotfl2:
     
  21. jedijill

    jedijill <font color=red>Chiefs fan living in Bronco countr

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    Off to a fantastic start. You are bringing up some great memories of my 2010 cruise.

    BTW, stand on the footprints, facing forward, squat, and let 'er go. ;) That is the nicest squatters I've seen in Europe. :) I still have nightmares of some of them in northern Greece and Macedonia. ;)

    Jill in CO
     

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