May 2019 EBTA - Taking the Magic eastbound across the Atlantic (and bonus non-DCL Mediterranean cruise!) - Update 9/18

lilsonicfan

<font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
Joined
Jan 20, 2003
Day 8 - Ponta Delgada cont'd

When we were full of the cozidas (didn't even really finish what we ordered, too much food!) we were then on our way back to port but with the next stop being the tea plantation. We didn't spend much time here (mostly because we used more of the time at the thermal baths) but again, that's part of the beauty of a private excursion, the ability to customize it more than if you're on a ship sponsored excursion.

As mentioned this is the only tea plantation in all of Europe. Marco had some stories to tell us about tea and how it arrived in Portugal - which I believe was through a British princess (Catherine / Catarina) who married a Portuguese noble and brought with her the British custom of afternoon tea time and drinking tea. Anyway, according to their history, the word "tea" comes from the acronym TEA which in Portuguese was "Transport de Ervas Aromaticas" (aromatic herb transport) ... The interwebz would disagree with that, but who is really to know the true origin of any word.

Here is how it looks as you are driving up:


And a view from the top - isn't that beautiful?


This is the name of the place. Actually, "cha" is also the word for tea in Chinese and a variation of that word in many other languages.


Inside the building itself you can watch a little presentation about how the tea is made. I'm not certain, because we didn't do this. There is also a store where you can buy tea - I bought a box of jasmine tea, my fave, for 5 euros.


Marco told us how the various teas are made based on different parts of the plant; I confess I can't quite remember, although there was a "Broken leaf" tea we got to try that was really yummy and not terribly strong - that is apparently made with the third leaf of the plant. Hmm.

It's a pretty big plantation:


Cheesy photos over with, we were on our way. Before we reached port, Marco took us to this amazingly beautiful viewpoint:







He even lent his sunglasses to my middle DS who kept complaining the sun was in his eyes (fair enough I guess, it was definitely a bright and sunny day)


Before we reached the port, we drove by some cool architecture of Ponta Delgada itself (seems to be quite a short walk from the ship, for anyone who is curious). Oh I also have to say one thing, so our server Non always had tips for us about each port, if we weren't doing a tour. But the best part was that his tips always ended with "and if you turn right there's a Burger King and that's where I get wifi". Seriously, talk about useful tips!! Burger King was strangely prevalent at the ports and he was spot on about the wifi, lol.

Pro Tip that doesn't really belong here: Anyone who wants good cell service without paying Verizon or whoever $10/day should consider getting a European SIM card on Amazon before you travel. I paid $60 CAD for mine and it was good for 14 days, with 20 gb of data (more than i could ever use) and 200 minutes of phone calls back to North America, as well as unlimited texts. On Amazon.com it is even cheaper.

Back to the architecture!






And just like that, our day in Ponta Delgada was over and we were back to the gorgeous Magic.


I would definitely recommend Azorean Tours for anyone heading to the Azores. The other "major" area that people want to see is the Sete Cidades / twin lakes area - looks lovely, but just in the opposite direction.

PS: The Burger King! Haha
 
  • JenB

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 15, 2001
    Day 7 continued

    Okay, so it was neither formal night nor semi-formal night, but in any event I decided to get the family looking a little more tidy and put together, and we went to take some pics with the background setups. These occurred often, almost every day I think, where Shutters photographers would set up 3-4 backgrounds for more formal/posed shots. My family is really not big on the constant picture taking but I did pay for the photo package, after all, so we made sure to use it!

    Fake Disney Magic shot, but still pretty :)


    This one is a bit like the background in a standard school picture shot:


    Not super impressed with the lighting in this shot, but it's a bit of an awkward area (deck 4 next to D lounge, I think). Daisy in her ... German? Austrian? outfit.


    Tonight we were dining in Lumiere's for the third time. The menu tonight was "Transatlantic":




    Appies - here's the warm cheddar cheese and bacon tartlet, and the steamed crab "royal" and the cream of cauliflower soup. The tartlet was just okay but the other two were yummy.






    And entrees - we got the baked lobster tail, the prime rib, and the Palo's grilled salmon.

    First up, the lobster tail - this was delicious. I think that our head waiter may have come around to de-shell my lobster, but I'm not certain. I don't eat lobster often and when I do it's usually in a Chinese restaurant, so I always order it on a cruise.



    DH's prime rib (pretty sure he also ordered a lobster tail)


    And DS1's salmon, and super blurry pic of what he thought of it:




    This kid loves salmon, lol.

    I apologize for this terrible picture of the dessert menu, but here it is:


    I had the signature dessert, peanut butter mousse slice. Not the best dessert, I will admit.



    Another delectable dinner down the hatch (PS: you can never, ever go wrong with prime rib and lobster in terms of feeling luxurious!). Tonight was Tangled night, and so we went to the Snuggly Duckling family-friendly takeover of O'Gills. Got there early but nearly didn't get a seat! So many people. There is a late, adults-only version of this, but we didn't attend so I'm not sure of the differences.





    We played a fun game of Thug-O but did not win, oh well! Then there was a sing-a-long sort of thing. All good fun.


    Kids got to interact with one of the Thugs who demonstrated his hook hand


    Hook-hand can play piano! Not with the hook, lol.



    After the Snuggly Duckling takeover, we headed to watch Tangled, one of the only shows I insisted on everyone watching with me. I really enjoyed it! My kids liked it too. It's pretty much a condensed version of the movie, but done really well. The song that Rapunzel and Flynn sing in the canoe (Now I See The Light?) is one of my favourite Disney songs. Here's the only picture I took, promise!


    Well friends, that's the end of the long stretch of sea days as we crossed the Atlantic. One more sea day to go, but I felt like this was the end, sob! To be truthful, I was very much looking forward to the ports, this being our first trip to Europe. But this week of waking up and seeing nothing but ocean on all sides - it was just amazing. I really needed this time to do nothing and to decompress. Life at home is so busy and stressful; we both work full-time and I work generally longer and later hours... It was really great for all of us to do the things we liked, both together as a family and apart at times too. When I first posted about this trip, DCL transatlantic followed by MSC mediterranean, some commenters said that we were doing it in the "right" order, and I have to agree. I do not think I would do a transatlantic on another cruise line with kids (though, possibly with just DH I would consider it). Disney does the sea days right. I had a small worry of being bored, but that really did not happen. (Admittedly, DH having people to play poker with did help!)

    Edit: Day 7 Navigators!




    Next up: Ponta Delgada!
    I am so enjoying this report and your family is adorable! Quick question, my husband's biggest hang up about DC L is lack of gambling. Where did your husband go to do that?
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Day 8 - rest of the day

    Pro Tip:
    Disney is excellent at many things, including forewarning its guests as to all aboard time. At the show the night before every port, the cruise director would say a few words about each port and would emphasize the all aboard time, having everyone in the crowd repeat it. The one thing I didn't realize, however, is that the end time listed in the Navigators is really their all aboard time - not the departure time. In other words our port day in Ponta Delgada was scheduled for 7am to 3pm, but this meant we had to be on board by 3pm - not 2:30pm as with many, many other cruise lines. Not a huge deal, except that our tour guide did not agree that all aboard was 3pm, and insisted we had to be back at the terminal by 2:15pm or so. I mean obviously it's better to be safe than sorry, but I wouldn't have minded a few minutes to explore the downtown area at the end of our tour.

    Anyway, when we got back, the kids got ice cream and I went to take a Chip & Dale photo:



    I believe that this was also the day they did the boat building bash sailing in the pool, which we briefly walked by but didn't really take pics of. I was extremely impressed with the efforts many families put in - there seemed to be maybe about 50 boats total, some that had clearly used a ton of time and materials to construct!

    I also took a few pics of the sailaway:




    And then it was just about time to get ready for dinner! Tonight we were in Animators (side note: I think I screwed up the rotation in an earlier post and it was actually LARLARLARLLAR) and the menu was the Land and Sea menu. In case you're interested:




    Here's the beefsteak tomatoes and sliced mozzarella - so good (and hard to screw up, really):


    Now, the night before this we had mentioned to our server that one of my sons had missed out on indian curry day in Cabanas (that is not an official day, it just happened that he missed out on a butter chicken dish he wanted), and we asked whether there was any way to get some Indian food at dinner. He spoke to the head server for approval and this turned up!



    Mmm.... curry... with a side of rice and naan (sort of). Soooo good. The only unfortunate thing was that we didn't quite have enough room to finish everything on this night. Anyway, this was the only special request we made all cruise and I almost felt a bit badly for making it because our server seemed to indicate it was rather unusual and that we would need special approval which might not be forthcoming. That being said, it may b that he's just cautious and doesn't want to overpromise, which I totally get. In any event, super nice of them to accommodate, and it was delicious food.

    This is the center cut beef tenderloin with lobster medallions:


    DS1 wanted to try the venison. Unsurprisingly, he didn't really enjoy it. Well, I'm a firm believer in letting my kids try whatever they want!


    Okay, now for the best entree I ate the entire cruise: pan seared scallops and asparagus linguine. Oh my goodness, the scallops were PERFECTLY done and they were also large... and the pasta was deliciously and lightly seasoned. I would have eaten two of these if I had room.



    Diversion: If anyone is interested in a portable game that you can bring to the dinner table, this is Kanoodle, and it is fantastic. There are various levels of puzzles, including 3D puzzles that are super challenging for a non-spatial thinker like myself.


    Dessert: I didn't take a picture of the menu, but I think this was bread pudding - yum.


    After dinner, the kids got to try out shuffleboard on deck 4, and they had a blast - this became a popular before/after dinner activity for us.


    And we caught some glimpses of a beautiful sunset:



    Again, we skipped the show and instead we went to see Ralph Breaks the Internet. What a fun movie - really loved it!!! I think I said this earlier but the bonus of the DCL app is being able to see when an activity comes on again, and so we chose this night to watch the movie because the other night it was showing had something else we wanted to see.

    Next up: THE VERY LAST SEA DAY, SNIFF SNIFF.
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    I am so enjoying this report and your family is adorable! Quick question, my husband's biggest hang up about DC L is lack of gambling. Where did your husband go to do that?
    Thank you so much :)
    Poker was organized by a lovely couple in our social media group. I think they were platinum cruisers and had clearly organized it on several occasions. Mostly they went to O'Gills, rather late in the evenings. It was really just for fun, but DH really enjoyed it. He isn't a huge gambler in that he won't routinely spend much time at casinos on board, but he does really like poker and so has been known to enter a poker tourney or two.
     
  • monkeydawn

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 16, 2019
    I am enjoying your TR, thank you!

    I wanted to add in that European guests that were on a DCL EBTA have had Visa issues. I know the OP isnt in this "boat" but in case anyone was reading this thread that is in this position, I wanted to mention it. Here is the thread that talks about the issue.
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    I think I may have run into your boys while they were playing once :)
    Hopefully they weren’t yelling at each other and fighting over whose turn it was...lol.

    I am enjoying your TR, thank you!

    I wanted to add in that European guests that were on a DCL EBTA have had Visa issues. I know the OP isnt in this "boat" but in case anyone was reading this thread that is in this position, I wanted to mention it. Here is the thread that talks about the issue.
    Thanks for following and yes absolutely an important point for anyone who hasn’t seen yet !!
     
  • lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Day 9 - the last sea day

    This was really a day for us to relax, as we had basically 5 port days coming up, then another 6 ports after that. It doesn't even appear that I took many pictures, so maybe this will be a short post :)

    In the morning after breakfast at Cabanas (mmm, chicken congee!) we sat on the pool deck and I believe the kids wanted to swim a bit - I watched Big Hero 6, one of my favourite movies ever. I think it is such a great movie for Funnel Vision too.

    Then the best event ever - Canvas and Cocktails. This is actually booked on board but as a liquor tasting ($55.00 pp), and is a painting class held (as I understand it) only on the Magic. But I don't know whether that is because it's limited to the Magic for logistical reasons or simply because the cruise staff who directs it, Gus (whose full name is Augustine) is only on the Magic. That might seem silly, but he is an amazing artist. I am getting ahead of myself here.

    I booked this event when we got on board and it seemed quite full, I believe there were approximately 4 sessions total. Now here's the slightly awkward part. I convinced DH to go, and we arrived at Animator's Palate fairly early, but had to wait in the corridor with everyone. No big deal. When the room opened, about 9 tables were set up with 3 to a table. Somehow, and I don't even know how, everyone got ahead of us and paired up, leaving only single seats on each table. Even more awkwardly, there weren't even two single seats near each other. I asked the staff if they could add a chair to the back table so DH and I could sit together, and they said no. Oh well - so we basically ended up sitting as far away from each other as possible, almost kitty corner. But what irritated me was that a lady came late and was by herself, not sure if she was a late addition but she arrived at least 5 min late - and the staff added a chair to DH's table, so she sat next to him. And when he asked her if she wouldn't mind switching with me, his wife, she said no.

    Maybe it's silly of me to hold a grudge, but I am still annoyed. Mostly at the staff for not adding a seat to begin with, but annnnnyway I should stop being so childish. Really the reason I was annoyed was because I knew the only reason DH even agreed to do this was because he knew I wanted to - he would never be a 'paint night' kind of guy - so it was a bummer not to even sit together!

    I'm sure most people know that in Canvas and Cocktails, the painting most commonly done is the rose encased in a glass dome from Beauty and the Beast. There was an example at the front that Gus had done, and each seat was set up with a paper plate, three brushes, a cup of water, and a black canvas. I believe the plate already had the various paint colours we needed but of course you could get more. I would tell you all of the colours but I'd probably mess them up.

    You can tell right away that Gus is an expert; he has been drawing and painting ever since he was a kid, and therefore has more actual artistic talent than probably the rest of us combined :D This is how we were to start, by painting the brown table and the background blue flame. Apparently the reason for the black canvas is partly to save some time, but also because you get a little textural difference even though you do paint some black into the blue flame part, as paint has a sheen that the canvas does not.



    At the bottom of the 'table' you are to paint some veining. Gus explained that the table was supposed to look like a sort of marble, but he also suggested that perhaps part of the reason for adding a bit of detail like this is because you need time for the background to dry, and it's only a 2 hour class so they have to keep you occupied, lol.

    Then, we worked on the glass dome, which is painted with a tiny brush, and titanium white paint. Here's mine:


    I walked over to DH's to check his out:


    Little taller/skinnier, but he did do a better job at making the top round.

    The event includes three drinks. In full honesty, I cannot remember at all what these drinks were. The bar staff did a great job at making them as they were pretty yummy, and we got to keep the glowing 'ice cube' in the blue drink (and some people gave us theirs for our kids, which was so nice!!)




    Throughout the painting, Gus gave some really good tips, and you could tell everyone was having a great time. Some were a little more raucous than others, but really a very excellent class. When he showed how to paint the rose, he demonstrated his version and showed us a few others as well, and it was fascinating to see how everyone's turned out slightly differently.

    Here's how mine came out!


    And DH and I asked Gus to pose for a photo with us :)


    Gus hosted quite a few other events throughout the cruise and he was so great with both kids and adults. Almost all of the cruise activities staff were amazing! As mentioned he held four of these events so I'm sure he was a little tired of painting the same thing over again but you would not be able to tell by his super positive attitude.

    By the way, his tip to get the picture home if you didn't have much room was to take out the staples in the back and roll up the canvas. We had an extra bag though so I just carried these on the airplane, after leaving them to dry for a while.
     

    lorimay

    🎃🍁🌻
    Joined
    Dec 11, 2008
    No, that would irritate me too.
    Especially after they sat someone next to your hubby.
    They should have let parties in together and told them where to sit, so that wouldn't happen.
    I love this idea, wondering if they will do it next month for our WBTA. You found out about it onboard?
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    No, that would irritate me too.
    Especially after they sat someone next to your hubby.
    They should have let parties in together and told them where to sit, so that wouldn't happen.
    I love this idea, wondering if they will do it next month for our WBTA. You found out about it onboard?
    Yes it was a little awkward how everyone just flowed in, but in the end I still had a good time I suppose.... grudgingly ;)

    I knew about it ahead of time, I can't remember if it was in the first day Navigator; however, it definitely was listed in the liquor tastings list that was displayed at Promenade on embarkation day where they were doing dining changes and liquor tasting bookings. So go right away to find out, it is booked as a liquor tasting (though weirdly not booked in advance).

    By the way I found my notes and I wrote down the drinks as:
    - limoncello spritzer (so good!!)
    - Blue Tang (tasty as well - had the glowing ice cube)
    - something with campari? I didn't love this one, the fragrance wasn't my fave.
     

    Birdie dog

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 19, 2015
    Thanks so much for this report! We'll be on the same cruise for 2020 and we are well under way in planning. I'm making notes from your report.
     

    SCTigers

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jan 9, 2014
    I cannot begin to thank you for this post!! We are planning to go on the EBTA for my son’s graduation in 2021. I’ve searched a number of blogs and watched many videos, but none, and I mean NONE of them have been as informative as this! It was exactly the kind of information we wanted to have. Thank you so much for taking the time!!
     

    olewnikpe

    Olewnik
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2005
    I cannot begin to thank you for this post!! We are planning to go on the EBTA for my son’s graduation in 2021. I’ve searched a number of blogs and watched many videos, but none, and I mean NONE of them have been as informative as this! It was exactly the kind of information we wanted to have. Thank you so much for taking the time!!
    Same here, we're planning on doing the 2021 EBTA for our daughter's graduation, which is why I've been closely following along; there just isn't a lot of available information on the transatlantic cruises like the other cruises. Also, in the future, curious to hear if there will be any impact on the 2021 EBTA with the delivery of the first new ship later that year, with with the itinerary or ship, if there are plans to keep a ship in Europe full-time.
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Thank you so much for following along and I'm sorry for the length of time between updates - life has been insanely busy!

    My guess is that they won't keep a ship in Europe full-time - I would guess that the Caribbean/Bahamas routes are more readily profitable for DCL.
     

    lilsonicfan

    <font color=teal>The TF knows Canada VERY well!!<b
    Joined
    Jan 20, 2003
    Day 9 continued

    After Canvas and Cocktails - or possibly before - okay, I'm pretty sure it was after - let's just leave this day as, it was a sea day, so the order of events that I wrote down is quite likely wrong. In any event, here's what I did with my day:

    Anyone Can Cook Battle of the Chefs. I didn't take any pics for this and in fact I was late, which was a bummer because it was basically standing room only, or limited seating near the back. That makes little difference in terms of seeing the show (though of course closer is better) but where it does make a difference is that the serving team handing out bites of food and wine rarely made it to the back. Oh well. This was the last cooking demo of the trip with Chef David, so he had a sous-chef with him, competing against Trent and Lee, the cruise director and assistant cruise director. I was late, but I gather a small panel of guests was gathered that were going to actually taste the food made by the teams. I don't remember what was made exactly, but Trent and Lee were hilarious, and their food looked ... interesting. So I said this before, but go to these cooking demos (and get there early!!) - they are so fun, and you get to take recipes with you as well. Earlier in the morning they had done wine poached seckel pears at the morning demo.

    Competing with this event was "A conversation with Paige O'Hara" from Beauty and the Beast. Such a tough choice!

    The kids and DH had gone to take a little nap. By the way you get a two day break from time changes, but starting in Ponta Delgada you lose an hour again, and then another hour on Lisbon day.

    I checked out my app and realized it was the very last time that Mickey & Friends would be appearing in the atrium. I texted DH to see if he wanted to join me with the kids, but they wanted to get ready for swimming instead so I got a picture alone with the group, wearing various European outfits:



    (Well okay I'm not entirely certain about Donald and Daisy's outfits - well, who cares really, what a great photo opp! As before, only one picture per family group (ie no posing and re-posing the family or doing kids first and adults second). The line was long, but as long as you are in line before they close it, you'll get your shot :)

    I met DH and the kids upstairs as they wanted to swim. So I watched Inside Out on Funnel Vision - I really love this movie, I mean it is just so accurate. Who among us hasn't had Anger blowing a gasket in our minds, or Sadness dragging herself around in the brain :D And it breaks my heart to see Riley having such a tough adjustment to a new city! Anyway. Great movie to see on Funnel Vision.

    I do love the availability of food on the pool deck. The shawarma at the burger station is excellent, and I am sure I've already mentioned the Build A Bowl station. So good. I am sure my kids ate their weight in chicken tenders and fries over the course of the cruise too.

    And then we went to meet Joy at D Lounge! So fun to meet Pixar characters.


    And then we also went to meet Chip & Dale again, this time in Hawaiian type shirts:


    We also took time before (and I think also after) dinner to take some more formal posed family shots. If you have the photo package, and I truly do recommend this on a long cruise like this one, there are many, many opportunities for pictures like these or with various backgrounds as I think I've posted elsewhere.


    Dinner tonight was at Rapunzel's Royal Table and the menu was the Vista menu which is sort of a California coastal type menu (the one from July 2018, if you follow the link).

    First up: potato croquettes. These were fine - a little boring perhaps. I was about to try the handmade california roll, but our server quietly suggested I might not like it, so okay! Always trust your server :)


    And here is the butternut squash soup with bits of crab in it. Yum.


    Grilled halibut as an entree - pretty delish:


    and I think DH and I shared this mushroom ravioli from the vegetarian section of the menu. Very good, but I wouldn't be full if this was my only entree :D


    Not pictured: DH's beef tenderloin. I think I was starting to get a bit of food pic fatigue!

    For dessert, salted caramel chocolate cake - yum:


    And Pacific Coast Brulee, which I think was strawberry flavoured.
    (Of course, DS1 ordered two of them, haha)



    We capped off our evening by meeting Captain Marvel, who possibly was wearing a wig, but I saw her later in the cruise and she has pretty blonde hair anyway, so I dunno. The kids really enjoyed the interaction with her and I like that they set up the background with the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.


    Of note: the Shutters photo of this encounter has the Marvel Day at Sea logo, which I thought was neat. So do all the Shutters pics of Marvel characters. If only we had an actual Marvel Day at Sea, but meeting some of the characters was still amazing!!!

    We didn't do much after dinner, I believe DH went to play poker late, kids hung out with me and watched TV, and I also went to grab some snacks at O'Gills during late night snack time (10:30pm to 11:30pm). Can I just say that this was a huge benefit to staying on Deck 2, lol. O'Gills being only one deck up, I did on a couple of occasions leave my kids in the stateroom for about 6-8 minutes as I went to grab some snacks. There is always a spread of fruit, cookies/small desserts, then something savoury - for example, quesadillas, chicken wings, small bites like that. I have no idea why I needed more food at 10:30pm, lol. I didn't want to go to bed too late as we had a full day tour booked in Lisbon, but I still managed to watch most of Iron Man 3.

    Next up: Lisbon!
     

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