So I have long neglected the continuation of my European summer holiday reminiscences. Bear in mind, I don’t write these just for my readers – oh no, the scrapbooker in me (who is two flipping years behind now!) needs to record her memories in order to provide herself with journaling material when she does (finally) get around to scrapping this trip. You don’t think I want to put into my scrapbook tidbits of utter brilliance like this:
“So this day we went – um – maybe it was Capri – or some island place. I don’t remember. All I know is we went on a boat, climbed up a hill – or wait, was that the place with the funicular? Oh, who cares, just enjoy the pictures of some random place in Italy”
Thanks, but no thanks.
So, without further ado, the Disney Magic.
We took a taxi from our Barcelona hotel to the cruise terminal and pulled up alongside the ship. I love seeing my Disney ship just waiting for me to board. There’s something about boarding a Disney cruise ship that is truly and utterly (at the risk of also sounding very clicheed) magical. The Disney fleet is opulent without being decadent, service without being obsequious, and just childish enough without being corny. Where else can you catch an elevator with Donald Duck? Disney service and attention to detail is second to none, and the fleet has won numerous awards to prove it.
As you pass through the doors into the atrium, a uniformed crew member greets you with a cheerful “Welcome Home!” and then asks your family’s name. When you tell him, he steps forward and calls out, “Please welcome the Stilwell-Burns family!” and the assembled cast members (Disney calls them cast members, never staff or even crew) applaud. It’s such a special touch that always leaves me feeling like I truly have come home again.
We began with lunch, knowing our luggage wouldn’t arrive in our stateroom until closer to 2 pm. The lunch buffet offers something for every taste, from mac and cheese, to hot dogs, right through to salmon and quiche. You’ll never be hungry on board, that’s for sure!
After lunch we explored, but since the Disney ships are all laid out similarly, we knew we wouldn’t be getting lost. When the staterooms opened, we went to meet our cabin host and check out our verandah. On my Alaskan cruise I had only booked a porthole stateroom, but Stephen prefers the verandah. We didn’t use ours much in Bahamas, but this time we sure did. The first full day at sea, Stephen and I were lazing out on the balcony when I noticed movement in the water below. I pointed it out to him and we realized we were watching a group of porpoises or dolphins, not sure which, happily romping and leaping out of the water! I had never seen that outside of captivity, so it was incredible to watch while they were alongside the ship.
Then on our final day at sea we were once again out on the balcony when I spied something unusual in the water. Keep in mind, we were on the seventh deck, so we were a good distance from the water’s surface. I gasped, stood up and pointed it out to Stephen. “Is that what I think it is?” I asked. And yes, it was. I had seen a shark! It was swimming just beneath the surface of the water, and its fin was actually above the water – so stereotypical, just as if it knew I was watching and it was putting on a sharky show for me. Needless to say, that’s one of the first stories I tell people about my trip. “Oh, we went to Rome, Florence, Pisa and Pompeii, but I gotta tell you about the shark I saw….”
I had joined a facebook group for our cruise and that first afternoon we held a meet and greet in the Promenade Lounge. That was fun and we met some great people. One couple seemed to be following us around – or maybe we were following them around, I don’t know. Whatever the case, we literally saw them every day somewhere or other aboard the ship.
Our serving staff at dinner were great! By the second day they had Stephen’s decaf and Sean’s and my Diet Cokes on the table as we sat down. And by the third day they realized that Sean tended to copy Mom in whatever he ordered for dinner. “You having same like Mom. Again.” became a familiar refrain. When they learned we had just become engaged, they offered Stephen no end of advice, from how big of a ring to buy me, to how to keep me happy (just agree with me and give me anything I want). And yes, they approved of the ring he bought on the ship.
I had reserved tickets for a meet and greet with Elsa, Anna and of course Olaf from Frozen. Stephen was giving me a hard time about a snowman being on a Mediterranean cruise, and saying I wouldn’t be able to get my photo taken with him because he would have melted before I got there. Our photo time was right after breakfast the first full day at sea, and as we were leaving the restaurant, Stephen told us to go ahead, he’d catch up to us. I figured he was just going to the bathroom, so Sean and I got in line for our photos. Stephen joined us, looking smug about something. As we neared the front of the line we were laughing and joking with the lady in front of us. Suddenly Stephen leaned in and said, “Do you want to see what Olaf looks like on summer vacation?” The lady was puzzled – as were Sean and I, but knowing Stephen, I braced for the worst. He pulled a napkin out of his pocket and unrolled it to reveal – a wet CARROT! Somehow he’d convinced one of the serving staff to fetch him a carrot out of the kitchen! When we finally got to the Olaf line, we were all laughing so hard that even the cast members wanted to know what was going on, so Stephen told them his joke and showed them his carrot. Olaf saw the carrot and did a funny little move, grabbing his own carrot nose as if the make sure it was still there! And we had a group photo taken – Olaf, me, Sean, Stephen, and the Carrot.
Speaking of photos, I have to say, if you ever do a Disney cruise, pre-purchase the photo package and CD, then every time you see a photographer on the ship, hop in line. They are fast, efficient, and take incredible photos! We’d had photos done in Bahamas that were just wonderful, and were astounded to meet the same photographer on board for this cruise! She in turn was delighted to hear of our engagement, and was thrilled that we had been so pleased with the photos she had taken the year before. She made a point of taking a wide variety of shots every time we ended up in one of her lines, and one of her photos has become the “Official Engagement Photo”. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been able to convince Stephen to pose with Mickey Mouse….maybe some day. On our next Disney cruise. Because we aren’t done with Disney yet. Still have one more ship to check out.