Thanks to all that gave me so much insight and valuable information in planning our trip! We cruised on the Disney Magic from 7-7 to 7-18-07 and had a great time. In a nutshell, here is my report!
Day 1: Barcelona
Nobody can do a sailing away party like Disney!!Minnie in her flamenco dress and captain Mickey!
One problem....passengers from 170 cabins did not received luggage due to problems in certain airports. Only 10 of the 170 finally received their luggage from reports that I heard. How horrible!! We fortunately received ours!
Day 2: At sea
Much needed to adjust to the changing time zone! Most people appeared to be in a zombie state all day!
Day 3: Palermo, Italy
We took a fabulous excursion called Palermo for Kids. Our 7 and 9 year olds were with us. We took a walking tour of the lovely city and then ended up at an old palace where the girls got to make their own pottery piece and received instruction from a potter that sold his goods on the premises. Afterwards, we were introduced to GELATO!! I understand what the big deal is now!! We could of lived on this sweet treat, especially the dark chocolate flavor! We then attended an authentic marionette show or, should I say puppet opera? It was a delight! It was good that it was in Italian as the basis of the story was about 2 married men with children that were fighting over a woman that they wanted to have an affair with! It was quite entertaining and we laughed alot! The girls were taken behind stage to view all of the marionettes afterwards and then they sat on the stage. Of course, we had to buy marionettes before we left. Only 7 Euros and they were handmade!
Day 4: Naples, Italy
This was our favorite port!! I posted information if doing Pompeii, Vesuvius, and Herculeneum were possible in one day and got mixed reviews. Well, I am glad to report that it is possible to do all 3! I am glad that we planned the day on our own with the help of several of you! We took the #1 tram from the port to the Napoli Centrale train station. The stops are not announced on the tram and by luck, we saw a bunch of buses at one stop and assumed that it was the train station. We assumed correctly! We purchased our tickets for 8 Euros and boarded the train to Sorrento. We exited at the Pompeii Scavi station and arrived at opening time of 8:30 AM. We purchased a book at the bookstore called Pompeii Monuments, Past and Present which had overlays to be placed on ruins photos to show what the buildings actually looked liked pre Aug. 24, 79 AD. Really a great book! Our only regret, we should have taken a guided tour upon entry. You are given a great detailed map upon entry however; Pompeii is so huge that understanding the lay of the land is very difficult. My husband and I wasted 30 mins. arguing about the directions and we finally got our bearings straight and stayed for 4 hours. It was unbelievable...like stepping back into Roman life! As we entered the Forum, a very eerie view of Vesuvius looming in the background could be seen. It put everything into prospective! We saw the majority of the major sites but, a guides explanations would have been wonderful. We did run into an archeologist from UK that was studying the plumbing of Roman houses. He was great! He took us on a little tour and showed us houses that had indoor plumbing and toilets on the second floor! It was a neat discussion! Before we left Dallas, we showed our girls an A&E video on Pompeii and they found great delight in searching and finding the houses that were portrayed in the video. The body casts were quite moving and upsetting. It was very hot, 90 degrees and the girls were worn out. They found pleasure in counting the stray dogs from that point forward so...off we went. We exited through the Porta Marina entrance and by that time, it was mobbed!! Get there early!!
We purchased tickets at a little kiosk for the Vesuviana Mobilita bus and it was a pleasant ride on an AC bus to the 1,000 m. point of the volcano. The scenery was beautiful! At that point, we purchased tickets to the top of the crater. You are given a walking stick...believe me, you need it! We really underestimated the hike up! It took 30 mins. and it is straight up! My 9 year old ran to the top, my 7 year old pooped out 1/2 way up and my husband had to carry her along with the backpack and camera bag! Take plenty of water!! I pooped out and was determined to make it to the top. Mt. Vesuvius is on borrowed time and it must be seen while it can be seen! I made it! The crater was HUGE!! A tour guide was showing some steam activity..a pleasant reminder that it is an active volcano! My 9 year old asked me what would happen if it should erupt...I said, RUN!!!
That didn't encourage her at all! The view was beautiful..a clear day and you could see for miles! Going down the volcano was quite a chore as well. Shoes don't grip the volcanic rock very well and you slllllide down! Back to our bus and to the train station at Pompeii. We boarded a train to Ercolano (Herculeneum). We were very disappointed in Herculeneum as we had heard about it being more preserved than Pompeii. Unfortunately, most of the major ruins were under scaffolding and drapes for refurbishment and were closed to the public. The boat houses were under drapes and we thought that they might have the skeletal remains in glass that were found in 1980 as the body casts in Pompeii were...no luck. We only stayed 40 minutes and were very disappointed. Oh well...next time! It cost $90 to get in for the 4 of us. Back to the train, the tram, and we made it to the ship at 7 PM. Be adventurous...do it alone if you get the chance!!
Day 5: Olbia, Sardinia, Italy
At the last minute, we decided to take an excursion as we thought this island had nothing to offer. WRONG!! It is spectacular! We went to Coda Cavallo beach with its' turquoise waters and the girls loved the knee deep water!! Disney had a private area for us and served us lunch. It was a very relaxing day!
Day 6: Rome, Italy
THE PEOPLE!!!!!!Crowded...an understatement!! The girls were exhausted and we left them on the ship for the day. It was in the 90's and the lines were LOOONG! St. Peter's Square should invest in canopies for the lines of people! We waited about an hour to get in the Basilica and it was quite amazing! We then toured the Roman ruins in the city and took a walking tour of that area and ended up at the Coliseum! WOW! We did not go inside as the lines were unbearable but, got the feel of the building from standing and looking at it. Disney had gladiators there for us and photographers! Great pics..gladiator grabbing hubbie by the hair and pulled him to his knees and put the sword to his neck! Ha! Then to end the day, we had a PRIVATE yes, PRIVATE viewing after hours of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel! The Museum was breathtaking and we got to visit the Pope's car collection as it has been closed to the public for security issues. The Sistine Chpel was small...I was surprised however; magnificant! They allowed us to take photos inside!
Day 7: At sea
We were comatose all day!
Day 8: Florence, Italy
We took a walking tour of the city and ended up at the Leaning Tower of Pisa! It was surreal! The girls loved it! Everybody was taking the infamous "holding up the tower" photo and it was quite amusing!
Day 9: Marseille, France
This was our least favorite port. We were there on Sunday and the shops were closed. We did take a train ride up to the Notre Dame and it was spectacular. We went back to the ship and enjoyed a relaxing day in port.
Day 10: Villefranche, France
We took a tour of Monaco and Monte Carlo and it was beautiful. We walked around the palace grounds, the prince was in that day. Visited the cathedral where Grace Kelly was married and buried and saw the road where her accident was. You could smell the money everywhere! It is simply a beautiful area!
I hope that I haven't bored you. Please feel free to submit questions.