Cruising the Mediterranean on the Disney Magic – Part 2


Our First View of Europe

Our first view of Europe was from the plane’s window as we prepared to land in Barcelona.  It was breathtaking!  Seeing those beautiful peaks also meant the long, seemingly endless flight would soon be over!  Plans to sleep on the plane had failed miserably and I, having ignored all the advice I’d read about coping with jet lag, had feet and ankles so swollen it was reminiscent of the last month of pregnancy.  The six of us had basically spent the entire transatlantic jaunt watching movies and eating.  Running on fumes, we drug ourselves through customs without incident and looked for our Disney transfer bus.


In the Heart of Barcelona

As I mentioned in Part 1, I booked all the tours and shore excursions for this trip on my own, however, the hotel in Barcelona and transfers there from the airport and then to the port for boarding the Magic and finally back to the airport, I booked through Disney.  Having used Disney transfers in the past, I knew they’d be reliable, English-speaking, and stress-free (especially for a group of six).  The hotel would be centrally located – within walking distance of all we wanted to see and do in Barcelona on our one-and-only day there.  So, we boarded our motor coach at the airport and headed for the Renaissance Hotel Barcelona.  The weather was gorgeous – crystal clear blue skies, tons of sun and highs in the mid 80’s.


The Sagrada Familia

Luckily, one of our rooms was available for us to use when we arrived.  It was still morning, so we freshened up, piled all the luggage in a corner and headed out onto the streets of Barcelona.  I did not book a tour for the inside of the Sagrada Familia due to time constraints, but we wanted to see this famous cathedral at least from the outside.  Our “real” tour for the day was scheduled for 4:00 pm.  We had plenty of time to walk all the way around the cathedral taking pictures – WOW!  Amazing! – before finding a place to stop and eat lunch.  I’d wanted to buy water and wine to take on the ship with us as well – shops and restaurants lined all the streets along the way from the Sagrada Familia back to the hotel.


Delicious Lunch at a Corner Café in Barcelona

I’d love to be able to tell you the name and exact location of the fabulous corner café where we enjoyed lunch.  Sleep deprivation, hunger, and jet lag had all combined to make that part of the day a bit hazy.  We were pretty grouchy – I remember that well enough.  After a great meal, we made our beverage purchases and hobbled back to the hotel for a little siesta.  After a very short rest, we headed back out, but this time we were going to Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter – The “Old City” where we would meet our tour guide, Amanda.  On the way we made a quick stop by the Hard Rock Café to pick up a couple of pins for Raymond and Joseph’s collection.  The Hard Rock was packed!


Poor Megan – SO Tired!

I booked our tour for Barcelona late in the day, hoping we could use it as motivation to stay awake and keep moving!  I figured it would be timed just right so we could have dinner right after the two-hour tour ended, walk back to the hotel along the famous La Rambla and get to sleep early in preparation for setting sail the next day.  This still seemed a solid plan – except for one tiny thing.  The tour I’d booked….was a SEGWAY TOUR!  None of us had ever been on a Segway, we were exhausted, had aching feet and were generally cranky!  Uh-oh.


The Placa Sant Jaume, Barcelona

We met Amanda from Barcelona Segway Tours at the Placa Sant Jaume – a square in the center of Barcelona’s Old City.  She arrived on her Segway and guided us a short distance through the very narrow streets to the tour company’s headquarters.  Helmets, Segways, and release forms properly distributed – we headed out to a nearby courtyard for our Segway lesson and practice session.


Barcelona, Look OUT!

Who knew?  Seriously – I’m not kidding – this was hands down one of the most fun things any of us had ever done.  Megan noticed right away and commented that “You want to cure jetlag and cranky-ness?  Just get on a Segway!”  It was so EASY!  Before we knew it, we were off on an incredible tour that took us through the Gothic Quarter (Roman ruins!) to the waterfront (Christopher Columbus Statue!) – along the waterfront past Barcelona’s man-made beach with its khaki-colored sand imported from the Sahara Desert.  How we didn’t wreck at the beach I’ll never know – we were completely distracted by the total lack of clothing on the sunbathers!  Amanda was delightful, spoke excellent English and her love of both her job and her city were obvious.


Segway Tour in Barcelona – Most Fun EVER!

When the tour was over, we were entirely refreshed, excited about what the next day would hold and ready to eat!  We ended up at a seaside restaurant with outdoor seating where we ate a leisurely dinner and enjoyed delicious Spanish wine while the sun set beside us on the Mediterranean.  After dinner we did indeed walk along La Rambla and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the bustling Catalonian city.  Once back at the hotel, we couldn’t get to our rooms fast enough – exhaustion had set back in.  We promptly fell into our beds and were sound asleep in record time – dreaming about the sights yet to see on a journey that was only just beginning.

Links to other parts of this trip report:DSCN2897


Disney’s Castaway Cay – Paradise for Everyone

IMG_1371If you’ve been considering a cruise on the Disney Cruise Line, consider this:  Castaway Cay.  Disney’s very own private island in the Bahamas, visited as a port of call on most sailings with departures from Florida.  What’s so good about it?  Every.  Single.  Thing.

Castaway Cay (pronounced KEY) is a tropical paradise with something for everyone in the family.  No matter what sort of beach person you are (or aren’t), you’ll find happiness on this beautiful island.  Bask in the sun kind of person?  Check.  Action lover who wants to bicycle, boat, snorkel, swim, or run?  Check.  Teen who wants to get away from the parents?  Check.  Adult who wants to get away from any and all children?  Check.  Family that wants to stay together and enjoy a variety of activities?  Yep, Castaway Cay is for you.  The worst thing about a day in this paradise is that it’s too short!  Even if you don’t like sand – you will like Castaway Cay.Castaway Cay - Disney's Tropical Paradise

Sometimes Disney Cruise Line offers “double dip” cruises that visit Castaway Cay twice on one cruise – awesome opportunity to pack in even more fun.  We took such a cruise in 2010 and had the best time ever.  Get up and off the ship ASAP!  All aboard comes all too soon and will most certainly leave you wanting more time in this Disney-style paradise.

Here are some things to do on the island that we recommend:IMG_4673

  • Snorkeling.  In the lagoon (equipment rentals available-$25 adults, $10 ages 5-9), the snorkeling is okay, but pretty barren with a few underwater surprises hidden around for you to discover – a better choice is the “Seahorse Catamaran Snorkel Adventure” (Currently $52 for adults and $36 ages 5-9).  Oh, the things we saw!  We swam with a sea turtle, saw tons of colorful fish, gorgeous reef plants, even a stingray joined us for a bit.  I highly recommend this fantastic experience, however, I think it could be a bit of a challenge for the very young or inexperienced swimmer.IMG_2291
  • Bicycling around the island ($39-adult, $19-child/1-hour bike rental).  If you’re not a huge fan of sand, exploring the island on a bicycle is a fun way to spend time and burn off some cruise food calories.  Park your bike and climb the observation tower for an incredible view of the island.  We thought this was a fun way to spend an hour and see what was “out there” away from the beach.IMG_4676
  • “Castaway Ray’s Stingray Adventure” ($35 adults, $29 ages 5-9, lasts an hour).  This is a ton of fun and a not-so-scary way to learn about and interact (by feeding and petting) some small-ish and harmless stingrays.  Then you get to gear up and snorkel with stingrays of all sizes in an enclosed lagoon.
  • Crab Races – this is hilarious!  Cheer your team’s crab on to victory!IMG_2044


  • Cabana Massage (Raymond’s recommendation) – I surprised Raymond with a booking through the ship’s spa for an open air cabana massage on Castaway Cay.  He said it was great – very relaxing – and he would most definitely do it again.

Lunch on the island is a very tasty buffet (no extra charge) plus there are souvenir shops, a bar (hammock-side service available), adult beach, family beach, teen beach, activities for little IMG_1853ones, a 5k run, and much, much more!  Once, while there was a dance party going on – I just happened to walk by and there was Stitch – he ran right up to me and made me dance with him.  (The Fam missed the whole thing and thought I was joking when I told them about it.)  That’s another great thing about Castaway Cay – it’s full of surprises just waiting to be discovered.

You can find the complete list of the current excursions / activities offered on Castaway Cay here.

Have you been to Castaway Cay?  What did you like best about it?IMG_4793