Taking our Parents on a Cruise * 7-Night Mediterranean Cruise from Barcelona

Chrissy-Mickey

Mouseketeer
Joined
Oct 23, 2016
Our usual travel party is just my sister and me. After raving about our three previous cruises (2 DCL and 1 Carnival), we've convinced our parents that maybe cruising isn't horrible.
This is the story of our 2018 Summer adventure to the Mediterranean.

The Cruise:
7-Night Mediterranean Cruise from Barcelona
Sail Date June 2, 2018
Ship Disney Magic
Ports Barcelona, Spain; Naples (Pompeii), Italy; Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy; Livorno (Florence, Pisa), Italy; Villefranche (Monte Carlo / Nice), France; Barcelona, Spain

Who we are:
I'm Chrissy, and I love to travel with my sister, Sam. We're in our 30s, grew up in Europe, and for the last 10 years have been living in the U.S. Since we were little, our parents would take us on vacations to Spain, the Spanish Islands, and Portugal. We still love to travel!

Our parents, DM and DF, live in northern Europe. They're in their 60s and retired. They enjoy traveling, but don't really plan trips for themselves any more.


How this trip came about:
I'm the planner of the two, and ever since we've been adults, I've been planning trips. We usually go on road trips to explore the U.S. We've seen 42 states so far! We love road trips, but for the longest time I've wanted to try a cruise.

Here came the challenge: DM and DF once went on a short cruise 40 years ago and hated it. So, growing up, cruising was seen as a negative. However, way back when DCL's first ship came out, I had done the research and knew that this was nothing like what DM and DD had experienced. Sam never looked into it, and therefore never changed her perspective.

Fast forward to early 2017; stressed time, both personally and work-wise, and we both needed a break. DCL advertising dropped into Sam's mailbox, since we were WDW annual pass holders, and she finally looked into it. This, combined with a great FLR rate, and we went on our first cruise: 4-Night Bahamas Cruise on the Dream. :flower1:

We absolutely loved it! That summer, we went on a Carnival cruise to Belize, Honduras, and Cozumel. In December, we went on a 7-Night Caribbean on the Wonder.

What would our next destination be? We looked into Baja Mexico (have that cruise booked for 2019) and the Mediterranean. We've been to Spain, but never to Italy nor the South of France, and Italy has always been on our wish list. However, going to Europe for a cruise without DM and DF who are already in Europe made no sense to us, so be pretty much begged them to join us (paying for their cruise may have helped persuade them).

Right, paying for their cruise... how were we even going to pay for ours?!? :rolleyes1
Just a month ago we were on a Disney Cruise! We looked at alternative cruise lines, but found that most are not much cheaper than DCL (the price difference increases later in the summer). The few cruise lines that were more affordable would be fine for us, but not for DM and DD - we're trying to impress them here, a casino w/ smoking is a big no, and we're unsure about the entertainment. So DCL it is!

We started working some overtime while we were looking at the option of sharing an inside stateroom with the four or us. However, I was hoping for a IGT. My patience paid off, in March the IGT became available, exactly within our budget! :worship:

Two IGT staterooms booked! Next up, planning...
 
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Aby

Obsessive and Compulsive
Joined
Mar 29, 2009
We will also be on this cruise! We are visiting our family in Germany, and then taking this cruise together. It will be myself, DH, my sister-in-law, her husband, and our nice and nephew. We are so excited!

Looking forward to more of your report! I'm in the throes of planning to and I love it!

Aby
 
  • Chrissy-Mickey

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2016
    We will also be on this cruise! We are visiting our family in Germany, and then taking this cruise together. It will be myself, DH, my sister-in-law, her husband, and our nice and nephew. We are so excited!

    Looking forward to more of your report! I'm in the throes of planning to and I love it!

    Aby
    Is this your first time cruising with your extended family? I'm used to cruising with just the two of us, but looking forward to spending it with family. Of course, if they like it, it would mean more cruising :sail:

    We've finished planning, it's actually the next post I'm doing.
     
  • Chrissy-Mickey

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2016
    So, the cruise was booked... Now on to the planning!


    Flights:
    Thanks to DisBoards multiple threads about this point, we right away knew we would fly in the day before. Leaving Thursday, May 31st, arriving in Barcelona Friday, June 1st.
    Leaving from Florida gives us multiple airport options, though we prefer to fly out of Orlando. Even with several choices though, the number of affordable flights were minimum. The best flight we found is out of Miami; a direct flight to Barcelona with Iberia. Miami is a bit of a drive, but the price difference and convenience of a direct flight is enough to make it worth it. We'll arrive 9 am in the morning, leaving us plenty of time to explore the city.

    The nice thing about (most) cross-Atlantic flights is that the price in all-inclusive, not added fees (and you even get a meal).

    For our parents, who are already in Europe, it's different. Booking a flight initially seems cheap, but by the time you reach check out and all the fees are added... ouch. Still cheaper than flying from the U.S., but considering their short flight... :sad2:

    Either way, all flights are booked.


    Hotels:

    Our flight doesn't leave until the afternoon, so no hotel needed in Miami, but since we're arriving a day early in Barcelona, we need one there. As threads on DisBoard have mentioned before, finding hotel rooms that sleep 4 in Barcelona isn't easy, and we did want to be in the city so that we could explore. I'm a Marriott rewards member, and while I looked at different hotels in the city, we decided to stay with Marriott. Marriott's AC Hotel Sants has a two bedroom Junior Suite which was actually cheaper that two standard rooms. The location works for us and the photos and reviews look good.

    On our way back to Miami we'll arrive late, 8 pm. However, we'll see how we feel when we land, and decide then if we want to drive straight home or check into a hotel.


    Things to do in Barcelona:

    We looked at tours in Barcelona, but since DF and DM won't arrive until later afternoon, Sam and I decided to explore Barcelona that morning and afternoon on our own.
    We'll take the Aerobus A1 from the airport to downtown. There we want to see, Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic), the Cathedral of Barcelona, Pont de Bisbe, the Arc de Triomf, Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, and Casa Batllo. We love exploring cities on foot; we usually get to see a lot of unexpected things that way.

    That evening we'll be with the four or us, and we'll visit Poble Espanyol, which is within walking distance of the hotel.

    Saturday morning we'll take it easy, with probably a walk to the supermarket two blocks away. Our PAT time is 12:00 pm and we'll take a taxi to port.


    Port Adventures:

    With the exception of one time in Nassau, we always book excursions through the cruise line. I know that it usually costs more, but we feel more secure this way.

    June 4: Naples, Italy
    Pompeii Half Day - Adult Only Departure (NP39)
    This excursion is first thing in the morning. We'll return in time for lunch, and then we plan to take some time to explore Naples itself.

    June 5: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
    Imperial & Renaissance Rome with St. Peter’s Basilica-Adult Only (CV98)
    So much to see in Rome, so many choices! We chose this one because it includes some historic places in Rome and the Vatican with a visit inside St. Peter’s Basilica, all for $90.

    June 6: Livorno (Florence, Pisa), Italy
    After two busy days, and not being very interested in seeing Pisa, we decided to make this a sea day. I would love to see Florence, but we think it would be too much.

    June 7: Villefranche (Monte Carlo / Nice), France
    Cannes, Grasse and St. Paul (V09)
    We mainly wanted to do this cruise to see Rome and Pompeii (in addition to wanting to go on another Disney cruise), but I'm excited about this excursions!


    On Board the Magic:

    Sam and I have been on the Dream and the Wonder, and love both for different reasons. Never having been on the Magic means new shows and new restaurants! Two of the many reasons why I love DCL.

    Besides that, we're sending DF and DM on the Art of the Theme Show Tour, which Sam and I took on our first cruise and really enjoyed. We want to do Palo brunch, online says it's no-longer available, but we'll try as soon as we get board. Also hoping to sign up for the Chocolate and Liquor tasting with DF once on-board.

    Another reason why we love DCL is the movie theater, we're looking forward to seeing 'Thor: Ragnarok' again, and seeing 'Black Panther' and 'Avengers: Infinity War' for the first time.

    The rest of the time you'll find us in the sun at Quiet Cove, in the shade on Deck 4, eating ice cream (soft serve or Mickey Ice Cream Bars), or taking another drawing class.


    40 days to go :beach:
     

    tink1970

    DCL Platinum
    Joined
    Dec 29, 2012
    The Magic was our final in the Grand Slam...and surprisingly (or not) my favorite! I'm looking forward to returning to her in July. Sounds like you've made a lot of good plans with flexibility and wiggle room built in-a good idea since it's so hot and crowded in the summer in the Med (not that it doesn't get hot here in FL:rolleyes:).
     

    Aby

    Obsessive and Compulsive
    Joined
    Mar 29, 2009
    Is this your first time cruising with your extended family? I'm used to cruising with just the two of us, but looking forward to spending it with family. Of course, if they like it, it would mean more cruising :sail:

    We've finished planning, it's actually the next post I'm doing.
    We have done 3 cruises with just the two of us, and 2 with my parents, but this will be our first time travelling with kids in the party. Looking forward to seeing some of the kid side of things and just spending time with them as we are so far away we don't get to see them often.

    "Technically" my planning is done too, but I keep obsessing with packing lists, reading about the Magic, and wondering if I bought enough stuff to spoil the kids with!

    Aby
     

    Chrissy-Mickey

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2016
    The Magic was our final in the Grand Slam...and surprisingly (or not) my favorite! I'm looking forward to returning to her in July. Sounds like you've made a lot of good plans with flexibility and wiggle room built in-a good idea since it's so hot and crowded in the summer in the Med (not that it doesn't get hot here in FL:rolleyes:).
    I've heard a lot of good things about the Magic, and that was before the last dry-dock!

    *nods* after the first cruise, I found that flexibility and wiggle room is a must. I love to plan, but I don't mind going with the flow and ignoring the plan.

    Still need the Fantasy, but I've done the Western itinerary twice (on the Wonder and the Carnival Breeze), and their Eastern itinerary doesn't interest me much (others stop at Saun Juan, Dominican Republic, Grand Turk, Haiti), so guess I'm waiting for a deal too good to pass up.
     
  • TestingH2O

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 10, 2014
    Still need the Fantasy, but I've done the Western itinerary twice (on the Wonder and the Carnival Breeze), and their Eastern itinerary doesn't interest me much (others stop at Saun Juan, Dominican Republic, Grand Turk, Haiti), so guess I'm waiting for a deal too good to pass up.
    There's always the 3 night coming up to balance out the 8 & 11.

    In terms of movies, you'll be able to see the new Solo too if you like star wars.
     

    Chrissy-Mickey

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2016
    There's always the 3 night coming up to balance out the 8 & 11.

    In terms of movies, you'll be able to see the new Solo too if you like star wars.
    True! We'll make it onto the Fantasy one day.

    Right! Solo... If we can find the time, I'll probably go see it with my dad.
     

    anjuan

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 10, 2012
    Yes, this will be our first time in the Med and the first time on the Magic! I'm so excited since I've never been to any of these countries. We'll be taking a direct flight from Chicago and getting in on May 29 so that we'll have 3 days to explore Barcelona. I can't believe it's just over a month away! (By the way, I have no idea what is going on with my counter.)
     

    mmmears

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 30, 2005
    What a wonderful chance for you to travel together as a family. I hope you have a great time - it looks like you have a good plan already. And Italy and the south of France are such fantastic places to visit - I've been a few times and would love to go back some day. We're going to be on the Magic for the first time this summer, too, and I'm looking forward to checking it out. I agree that it's important not to overdo it on the excursions - I'm still working on that but I think if there is too much running around every day it won't give us a chance to actually enjoy ourselves.
     

    GuardMusic

    Castaway Club Platinum
    Joined
    Jul 18, 2005
    Hopping on to watch this thread, as we are to be on this cruise next year (May 25, 2019).

    You and your sister sound a lot like my best friend and me. As Platinum we've done all the ships, but never in Europe. While I've been to Rome twice, I've never been to the other locations. My BFF has been to none of these places, but has had Italy on her "list" for awhile. While we know we're missing time "on the ground", I'm not a great international traveler. This seems like the perfect mix of going new places and also having the security of the ship - no packing & moving from city to city and not having to search out a good evening meal each day!

    I'm super excited to read all about your experiences. We've already picked out our excursions (based on what's offered this year) and I'm sure we've picked too much! I'm also super excited for all the new Tangled offerings on board.

    Our biggest issue is, as you noted, finding reasonable airfare. Looking at this year we've research options out of Indy, Ohare, & Cincinnati and all are more than our individual share of the 7 night cruise! Ridiculous!
     

    Chrissy-Mickey

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2016
    We're going to be on the Magic for the first time this summer, too, and I'm looking forward to checking it out. I agree that it's important not to overdo it on the excursions - I'm still working on that but I think if there is too much running around every day it won't give us a chance to actually enjoy ourselves.
    Which ports will you be visiting?
     

    Chrissy-Mickey

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2016
    Our biggest issue is, as you noted, finding reasonable airfare. Looking at this year we've research options out of Indy, Ohare, & Cincinnati and all are more than our individual share of the 7 night cruise! Ridiculous!
    It is! You would think you want to fly to the other side of the planet with that price.
     

    Chrissy-Mickey

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2016
    Update:

    I've been keeping an eye on Palo Brunch each day, and my persistence has paid off. A table for two became available for Day 2 at noon. I booked it in the hope that it will be easier to add two people once on board compared to not having a table at all. We'll see, either way, at least Sam and I will be having Palo Brunch.

    Four more weeks! :yay:
     

    FSU Girl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2016
    Joining in! Sounds like a fun trip ahead of you. I've done a Mediterranean cruise twice, never with Disney though and excited to read along your adventures.

    June 7: Villefranche (Monte Carlo / Nice), France
    Cannes, Grasse and St. Paul (V09)
    We mainly wanted to do this cruise to see Rome and Pompeii (in addition to wanting to go on another Disney cruise), but I'm excited about this excursions!
    Is the St. Paul in this excursion St. Paul de Vence? I went there on my cruise and it was such a beautiful Medieval city.
     

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