Disney’s Magic in Norway – At Sea Day

Disney-Magic-Sailor-GoofyThe first full day of our cruise would be spent at sea – between Copenhagen, Denmark and our first port in Norway (Stavanger).  This might sound a bit disappointing since logically, after sailing away, you’d think we’d be ready to see and explore more exciting locations.  This day at sea could not have been more welcome – or FUN!

Disney’s Magic in Norway – At Sea Day

When the day began, we only had two solid plans on our family agenda:  Private Mixology with some friends from the cruise’s Facebook group and Formal Night.  On days like this, it goes without saying that Raymond and I, early risers, will do our best not to disturb Megan and Joseph on our way out the door.  Up until our Mixology session, we were all free to do whatever we liked.  Cabana's-Breakfast Cabana's-Wall-MuralRaymond and I chose to hit the buffet in Cabana’s for breakfast and see who we could find out and about before attending the reception for Gold and Platinum Castaway Club Members.  We happened to run into Captain America!  Let me just say that he’s exactly as he appears in the movies!  He was very hero-esque and incredibly tall.  Captain-America-DisneyThis would be our first cruise as Gold level members and we had no idea what to expect at the reception.  We were very glad we checked it out!

If I heard correctly, there were over 600 Gold and Platinum Castaway Club members on this particular cruise.  This would explain why the reception was being held in both Fathoms and O’Gill’s at the same time.  We arrived promptly at 10:30 and were greeted with a cocktail and invited to take a seat.  Castaway-Club-RefreshmentsWe found a table for two to the right of the stage and a cast member offered us a shrimp cocktail…yes, please!  The guests in O’Gill’s that could not see the stage would watch the presentation via television.Castaway-Club-Reception Commodore-Tom-SpeakingCommodore Tom Forberg and (I am embarrassed to say I cannot remember his name) the Chief Operating Officer of Disney Cruise Line were the featured presenters at this gathering and they were GREAT!  This presentation made us huge fans of the Commodore and we were so glad we attended the reception!  Special events like these are part of the reason so many people keep sailing with Disney Cruise Line over and over again.  Captain Mickey was even available post-reception for a photo.Captain-Mickey

There’s a small gift shop in this section of the ship that always has unique, destination-specific items – different than what can be found in the main shops.  We ducked in and found a cap for Joseph and ear-warmers for Megan that were both made in Norway.  (You’ll see Megan and Joseph wearing these in many of our photos.)Disney-Magic-Norwegian-Merchandise Disney-Magic-Norwegian-Merchandise2

Remembering the very strict warning we gave Megan and Joseph about NOT attending the Mixology lesson on an empty stomach, we decided on Lumiere’s for lunch.  We weren’t particularly hungry, but we knew there would be fantastic light options on the menu.  I was hoping to find my favorite appetizer of all Disney Cruise Line offerings – the Chilled Mango Soup.Lumiere's-at-Lunch Lumiere's-Lighting-RoseWe rarely get to enjoy a quiet, relatively kid-free meal in Lumiere’s, so it’s become a habit to try to enjoy lunch there if we can.  The service is always excellent, as is the food!Lumiere's-Lunch-ServerLumier's-Lunch-Menu YES – the soup was on the menu!  Raymond ordered a salad and the halibut main course, I ordered the Chilled Mango Soup and a Lemon Chicken Salad that sounded light and refreshing.Chilled-Mango-Soup-DCL Lumiere's-Salad Lumiere's-Lunch-Fish Lumiere's-Lunch-SaladWe took our time and enjoyed the beautiful atmosphere.  Soon it would be time to meet in Keys.  As it turned out, we ran into Megan and Joseph while we were walking around after lunch, so we headed to Keys together where we would learn all about the art of mixing cocktails.  Megan mentioned that she’d found out that the Marvel characters were on board and she was determined to get pictures with them – checking her Navigator app, she was busy making plans.  We told her that’d we’d seen the Cap and he did not disappoint.Disney-Magic-Mixology-Setup

Linda Walker, a very kind Facebook group member from Great Britain, was nice enough to organize and book the private group session and greeted each group with a gift (a book on cocktails) as we entered Keys.  I’d been particularly excited to meet Linda at the initial Facebook group gathering the day before since she’s a very loyal listener to The Disney Exchange Podcast – I knew her from social media but hadn’t met her face-to-face until this cruise.Linda and Lisa

We found a table by the window and prepared to learn all about cocktails.  Admittedly, we generally drink beer or wine, so we didn’t know much about mixology, but were eager to learn.  Our instructor, Fletcher, was engaging, knowledgeable, and very entertaining!  Just a weird happenstance – we discovered that none of us (in our family) like Mojitos…not even a little bit.  But, we did enjoy the rest of the cocktails we blended and sampled.Mixology-Expert-FletcherMegan-and-Joseph-Mixology Mixology-Mojito

Once the class was over, Megan, Joseph and I stayed to visit more with Linda.  Raymond said he was going to the cabin, but he was actually going to play a joke on Megan!  I’ll tell you about it in a minute.

Realizing how late it was getting and that we’d all have to get ready for formal night, we reluctantly headed to our stateroom.  We had time to relax and watch some Mickey Mouse cartoons on TV for a few minutes before we put on our formalwear and headed to the Captain’s Reception.  Dinner would be in Carioca’s – my least favorite choice for Formal Night, but the menu would make up for that.  Fam-on-Formal-NightYou’ll see in the pictures that many guests did not dress up – we know that’s going to be the case, but we still go all out.  (If you’re curious why we always dress up for formal night, I explain in this post.)  Carioca's Carioca's-Formal-Night-Menu Carioca's-Formal-Night-Entree2 Carioca's-Formal-Night-EntreeJoe-Formal-Night-DinnerDinner was delicious, but the dinner conversation was hilarious.  With impeccable timing, Raymond asks Megan when she was planning to squeeze in a Marvel character meet-and-greet.  She excitedly shares her plans and mentions which characters will be appearing at different times…that’s when Raymond mentions what he did earlier that afternoon after the Mixology session was over…and shows Megan the pictures he has on his phone.  Oh, the look on Megan’s face was priceless!!!Raymond-and-Captain-America Raymond-and-Thor Raymond-and-SpidermanAfter dinner, we were off to the theater for Twice CharmedTwice-CharmedWe’d seen this show before, but it’s entertaining and lots of fun. Megan-and-Joseph-Formal-Night The-Fam-Formal-in-the-Theater Knowing we had a big day the next day, starting early in the morning, we didn’t stay up too late. Towel-PeacockTomorrow we’d have our first BIG adventure in Stavanger, Norway and we could not WAIT!

Thanks for follow along…Lisa


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Cruising Disney’s Magic in the Mediterranean (Part 3)

DSCN2922This is Part 3 of our Mediterranean Cruise on the Disney Magic Trip Report.  Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 here. (Links to all parts of the trip report are at the bottom of this post)

Barcelona, Spain:  Cruise Departure Day.  Raymond and I are early risers.  On Saturday, August 10th we were up, showered, dressed and packed in record time (too excited to sleep!).  We’d left the rest of our party the night before with strict instructions on what time we needed to meet in the hotel lobby, knowing they would sleep until the very last possible minute.  This gave Raymond and I an unexpected bonus adventure – we had plenty of time to walk leisurely from the hotel to (do not get mad at us!) one of the many Starbucks of Barcelona for breakfast.  After coffee and muffins, we strolled back to the hotel soaking up the early morning sights and sounds and saying goodbye to a great city…we vowed to come back someday and visit again.

Surprise!  Megan, Grant, Joseph and Jason were all up and ready to go by the time we got backDSCN2894 from breakfast.  We gave them directions to a couple of different bakeries (including Starbucks) and sent them off (yes, I was a little nervous knowing they were out there alone in a foreign city) – threatening them with dire consequences if they didn’t return on time for our appointed port shuttle departure.  As usual, I worried needlessly and we were all situated with plenty of time to spare.

The lobby of the Renaissance is tiny (as are the rooms and most especially the elevator) compared to American hotels.  There were a ton of cruise passengers (many different nationalities) everywhere waiting to leave and in that DSCN2888cramped space, it was pandemonium!  We were clumped together with our properly tagged luggage with several minutes to kill when one of the Disney reps approached us (seemed grateful we were both ready to go and in good humor) and offered to let us board the bus that was just about to leave – YES!  Even in Spain, Disney pixie dust is present.

Now WAY ahead of schedule, we were already on our way to the Magic.  Barcelona has such incredible architecture and scenery – I DSCN2934concentrated on seeing as much of it out the motor coach’s window as I could on our way to the cruise port.  Soon, the Magic came into view and we found ourselves standing in line outside the cruise terminal.  The air was crackling with excitement!  The line moved quickly, we got our paperwork processed, received our Castaway Club lanyards and were boarding the ship in what seemed like no time at all.

The weather was gorgeous and we would soon be sailing for France – life was feeling pretty DSCN2935darned sweet as our group enjoyed the buffet in Parrot Cay (now Carioca’s) before spending the afternoon exploring, completing our life-boat drill, and getting unpacked  while soaking up the the overall feeling of excitement among everyone on the ship.  Raymond’s and my assembly station for the drill was actually in Animator’s Palate – so, of course I then referred to our assigned location as our “mustard” station for the rest of the cruise.  We invited the rest of our traveling party to our cabin for happy hour (opened the wine we’d purchased in Barcelona) before our early dinner seating (which became a daily ritual).   Dinner that night was in Animator’s Palate and the show for the evening was All Aboard Let the Magic Begin.

The next day (Sunday, August 11th) was spent at sea.  I believe at-sea-days intimidate some people – they worry there won’t be enough to do on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean.  This was the first of two at-sea days for our cruise and we absolutely packed them full of action.  For me this day started out (after breakfast) with a visit to the spa for a pedi.  Every member of our party had a spa appointment scheduled during the cruise – Joseph, Jason, and Raymond were each getting aDSCN2960 massage and Megan and Grant a couples’ massage.  I just wanted cute toenails, but as it turned out, the pedi included a fantastic leg massage that did wonders for my poor still-swollen-from-jetlag feet!  Raymond and I had scheduled a Martini Tasting seminar in Sessions bar – Anne Marie from Jamaica was our hostess and we had a LOT of fun learning about martinis (which we drink….never).  As we were getting in the elevator after our seminar, I mentioned to Raymond that, while I’d enjoyed the Martini Tasting, I probably shouldn’t have finished all the samples we were given – a lovely woman from Great Britain turned to me and exclaimed, “Why NOT?!!  You’re on HOLIDAY!”  Yes, indeed!

We (all six of us) relaxed that afternoon by the Cove pool.  Then, as Raymond headed off for his massage, I got ready for Formal Night.  We had an “All Hands On Deck” cheese platter with our happy hour glass of wine before, looking very spiffy, we made our way to dinner.

Once again, we were back in Animator’s Palate, but this time we were dressed to the nines.  We enjoyed our meal very much and the DSCN2964evening’s show afterwards was Twice Charmed.  Honestly – we were so excited to arrive in Villefranche the next day and all of us, except Grant, had seen this show before – we kind of wound down and were ready for sleep once the show was over. Well – Raymond and I headed back to our cabin and the youngsters…. probably best we didn’t ask.  (Really – they were well-behaved as far as we know.)

Back in our cabin, Raymond and I sat out on our balcony with a little bit of wine (leftover from happy hour) and the chocolate left on our bed by our cabin steward.  The Mediterranean was so calm, the weather beautiful, the stars in the sky so different from home – we loved this moment so much, it also became our habit every night of the cruise –DSCN2966 to end the evening just this way.

Tomorrow we would arrive in France.  I had studied French from 7th grade through my first year of college.  This was a big deal for me – not just because I had always imagined what France would be like – I had planned no formal tour or excursion in France.  We’d be on our own.  I had a plan – well, several in fact, but they depended on ME!  Getting us around and safely back to the ship.  Armed once again with Rick Steves’ induced confidence…we drifted towards our next port and off to sleep.

Please come back for Part 4 (Villefranche) on Tuesday, February 11th!  If you have any questions about cruise planning, excursions, anything at all, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best.

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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