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June 1, 2007

Cruising the Med - Deb and Linda visit Rome!

Today, May 31, 2007 we visit Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
Arrive: 7:30am
Depart: 9:30pm

Today was a most beautiful weather day, perfect for touring outside. Sunny blue skies, with a small breeze.

The Port city of Civitavecchia is approximately 2 hours from Rome.

Entering the Port of Civitavecchia:

Entering the Port of Civitavecchia

Our Excursion: Jumping back into Eternal Rome.
This was one of the hardest ports to decide on an excursion. All the itineraries had a little of something we wanted to see, but nothing had everything! We had to make some tough choices but decided this tour would give us the most of what we were interested in. It gave us a taste of Rome and we approached it that way.

At the ship, we boarded a bus that took us to the train station. We then boarded the Roma Express Train to St. Peter's Station in Rome. The seats were red leather and quite comfortable. There was a Disney surprise onboard the train to the delight of everyone. After getting off the train we met up with our official Rome tour guide.

While on the train we were given headsets to allow us to hear the guide. Unfortunately, these were not as nice as the ones in Naples and continually fell out of my ears. Most of the time, I just said to Linda - tell me the important information!

Important Note: The train causes your ears to pop on several occasions. Those with young children, please be aware! It hurt the ears of several of the younger ones and they were crying and unhappy. Bring earplanes!!!

We had approximately a one hour tour aboard a motor coach where the guide showed us some of the highlights of ancient Rome including Circus Maximus where the chariot races took place. Our first stop was the Roman Colosseum for a one hour guided tour. Before entering we passed thru a metal detector and our backpacks also went through screening.

We entered thru the same archway as the Emperor would have entered the colosseum. It was very surreal - and we were overwhelmed realizing this was the beginnings of civilization as we know it. Rome, the eternal city. We spent about an hour here... mostly guided but then we were able to go to the upper deck on our own. Note that the stairs were VERY steep making climbing difficult. No natural rise as you would think of American stairs. There were 3 flights of them and there was at least a handrail to grab onto.

Then back on the bus for approximately 20 minutes. Next stop, the Trevi Fountain! This area was very, very crowded. It was hard to get to the front of the fountain, but we did. Linda and I then each thru in a coin - tradition is put the coin in the right hand and throw it over your left shoulder. One coin means you will return to Rome. Two coins mean you will soon get married. Three coins mean you are headed for divorce! Linda thought it would be neat to phone home - she called her sister Wanda and I called Debbie Koma! It was 6am back home but both ladies were thrilled to hear from us from Trevi!

We managed to take a quick bathroom break here and also get some gelato. Linda enjoyed her yummy hazelnut (better than she had in Palermo) and I loved my Menta (mint with chocolate chunks).

Then a 20 minute walk to the Pantheon, home of the tomb of the Renaissance painter Raphael, two kings of Italy and Queen Margherita. The Pantheon was very open. Many of the columns are still originals. The columns are so wide that it would take at least 3 adults to wrap their arms around it. There were many statues and frescos. The oculus is the only source of light, a huge round opening in the midst of the ceiling. The great bronze doors and the marble interior are the only other parts of the original building. The doors were massive.

Next we walked to the square of Piazza Navona. Unfortunately, the Fountain of the Four Rivers, an Egyptian obelisk, is under restoration. However there were some plexi-glass openings so we could enjoy some of the statues.

At this point we boarded our bus and went to lunch, Alfredo's at St. Peter's Square. What a great lunch. Bottled water on the table, followed by Asti Spumonte poured by the servers. Then white or red wine or beer or soda, even milk, was available. Hardy parmesan cheese and black olives were also on the table. Our first plate was four slices of meat that included incredible salami, a ham which tasted like there was cheese in it. Also proscuitto and another cured meat. A basket of hard rolls too!

This was followed by brushetta - Italian bread toasted with fresh basil and tomatoes. YUMMMM. Next course was lasagna with meat. Very good, tasty pasta! For dessert, a light but rich whipped cream delight! We all were feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the afternoon!!

A guided tour of the Vatican awaits us. First, you go thru metal detectors. Also, NOTE strollers had to be checked outside. No strollers inside the grounds! We also passed by the clothes police. When entering the churches of Europe you must have your knees covered and your shoulders covered. If not you will not get entrance.

We entered St. Peter's Square and saw where the Pope stands to greet the audiences in the courtyard. The top of the buildings were adorned with statues of the Saints. Once inside the basilica we were overwhelmed. There were many statues, burial areas and mosaics. Many of the mosaics actually looked like paintings but they were not. They were just magnificent. Of course, one of the most crowded areas was for Michelangelo's the Pieta. I had actually seen the Pieta at the 1964/5 Worlds Fair in New York City! But to see it in its "home" was quite moving. Memories of my mother and her Italian roots and seeing it at the Worlds Fair came flooding into my mind.

Ironically, we ran into Keith and Rob who were on the VIP tour. It seemed that many of the Disney excursions into Rome were ending at the Vatican because outside we also ran into our table mates, Mari, Raleigh, Allison and Lauren.

All too soon, it was time to walk to the bus and then off to the Roma Express. An amazing day with beautiful weather and incredible sights!

Overall Excursion Rating:
We rate the excursion very high, only problem was the head set ear pieces were horrible and kept falling out of our ears. There were several toddlers on the tour and the 10 hours made some of them very cranky on the bus and train!!! We definitely felt out guides were excellent and we really maximized our stops without feeling rushed.

There is a GREAT deal of walking and some of the steps, like at the Colosseum, are quite steep.

Deb Daily Recap:
Highs: Everything we did. Just amazing.
Lows: Crappy head sets

Linda Daily Recap:
Highs: Rome! Unbelievable! Calling my Sister from Trevi Fountain
Lows: Not enough time in Rome!

Follow the Disney Magic: Track Cruise Ships on their journey Scroll down the page and enter the Disney Magic under Ship's Name (Zoom in and out to get a better look.)

Deb and Linda - Life -- IT Too Short!

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Cruising the Med - Rome Photos Part 1

Rome Photos

Buses line up at the Port for our excursions
Buses line up at the Port for our excursions

Disney Magic in Port Civitaveccia
Disney Magic in Port Civitaveccia

Chris shows our listening devices for the tour.
Disney Magic in Port Civitaveccia

Our first view of the Vatican, as we stepped off the bus.
 Our first view of the Vatican, as we stepped off the bus.

Linda settles in for our one hour tour
Linda settles in for our one hour tour


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Cruising the Med - Rome Photos 2

Linda settles in for our one hour city tour.

Linda settles in for our one hour city tour.

Deb inside the Colosseum

Deb inside the Colosseum

Imagine the Colosseum floor on top of these pillars!

Imagine the Colosseum floor on top of these pillars!





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June 3, 2007

Cruising the Med - at Sea 6/1/07

Deb and Linda write:

WHEW! Today we are at SEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's been a whirlwind tour of Italy and while it's been fascinating and beyond words, we are SO looking forward to a day at Sea to catch up with ourselves and our travel companions!

We had an excellent brunch at Palo -.the food, magnificent as always. We had the private room and all of our dinner companions were present. About half the group had not had Palo brunch before and thoroughly enjoyed it.

After brunch, we returned to the cabin where I caught up on blogs and photos. We sat with friends and talked the afternoon away. Towards dinner, Linda was not feeling so great. The seas were pretty rough ... so we relaxed in the cabin and dined in.

All in all a nice relaxing day to get ready for Florence!

Tonight's show was Twice Charmed which we weren't thrilled with when we saw it before, so we didn't even consider attending.

We really had hoped for Pirates to be showing today, a sea day, but it was not. In fact, there weren't many options of things to do... hence, our day of relaxation.

Deb - Life -- IT Too Short!

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Cruising the Med - 6/2/07 - La Spezia (Florence, Pisa), Italy

Today we visit La Spezia (Florence, Pisa), Italy
Arrive: 7:30am
Depart: 7:30 pm

Arriving at La Spezia

It was hard to decide which excursion to take... but after much thought we decided on Florence and Michelangelo. While we both had an interest in seeing Pisa, we decided it'd be best to focus our time in Florence.

Our Excursion: Ten and a half hours!!!!!!

We boarded a motor coach for a 2.5 hour ride through Tuscany, past the cities of Lucca and Prato and we arrive in Florence! Lots of scenic country side. We went through the Marble quarries, olive groves and nursery farms. Our guide, Paola, was very informative and talked to us most of the way pointing out various sites and buildings.

La Spezia

Before I begin talking about our actual time in Florence, please keep the following in mind. It was a national Italian Holiday! It was a Saturday. Think of a major US city on a holiday where all the people and tourists are out and about. To say it was crowded was an understatement!

We left the bus and began our 2.5 mile walking tour of Florence. This was the city Linda was most excited about seeing. At first the streets were not busy, but soon we were on the street of the Accadmeia Museum, home of Michelangelo's David. It was packed. Fortunately, our tour included timed tickets, so our wait to enter was about 15 minutes. Once again, we went thru metal detectors (like in the airports). No photos of any kind were allowed in the museum.

In the first room we saw a sculpture called "The Rape"�, actually a model for the final piece. Our guide spent a great deal of time pointing out the specifics of the sculpture, it felt like Art History class. While I wasn't very thrilled with the theme, I did enjoy the art of the piece.

From here we entered a hallway dedicated to Michelangelo. The first half of the hallway had several sculptures from his "Prisoner"� series. He was commissioned to make many of these, but only did 4-5. These were unfinished sculptures.

We couldn't help but be drawn to the end of the room where David was located. Standing 17 feet tall on a huge pedestal, this has to be the most incredible sculpture Linda and I have ever seen. We couldn't take our eyes off of it. The detail was incredible. Really, there are no words to describe the beauty of this piece of art. It was worth the 2.5 hour drive to Florence to see. As we slowly made our way around David, our guide described what to see in great detail. It was just magnificent!

From here, things just went downhill for us. The crowds were barely passable and very unmanageable. It was so congested we rarely felt safe stopping to take photos. We were concerned we'd either lose our group or be victims of crime. Our guide kept warning us to be aware of pick pockets and to protect our belongings. At one point she had us in an area off to the side of the public plaza - our attention focused on her - all of a sudden she started yelling in Italian and we realized a thief had made his way into our group and was attempting to steal from someone. Suddenly our group of 40 cruisers became best friends, huddling together as we walked and looking out for each other. It was very stressful.

(Again, from here it is now very confusing to remember where we went. We had little time to stop for photographs and are following a map of our travels.)

We did see the Campanile di Giotto, Orsanmichele, Galleria dell'Orcagna, and Ponte Vecchio. Both Linda and I were really looking forward to seeing this bridge. Actually, we had hoped to walk over it but that was not part of our tour. We were across the way from the bridge. We barely got to see it through the crowds. It was so difficult to get to the railing for a photo. Again, the crowds really took away from our excitement and enjoyment. It was hurry up, look and go.

At some point, while in a marketplace, there was a Wild Boar statue - touching its nose would bring you good fortune to return to Florence. Sad to say, neither of us wanted to touch the nose, but with hesitation Linda finally did.

Lunch was at the Palazzo Borghese. A several course meal that began with sliced meats of salami, proscuitto and bread. There were bottles of wine and water at the table. Then we were served penne pasta with ground beef and peas, and spinach ravioli. Followed by a most delicious and tender piece of beef, like a pot roast, with potatoes and creamed spinach. Next, dessert, tiramisu! We actually were the last table to leave lunch as we had met a fellow cruiser and had a most wonderful time talking.

Our next and final stop was S. Croce Church plaza. Here was a statue of Dante that was just magnificent (you'll see in our photos). Then we had 20 minutes on our own. We went off in search of a gelato shop and had a new flavor, Torrone - tasted just like the candy!

Soon, it was time to meet and walk to the bus pickup point. We were exhausted, not from all the walking and standing, but from the stress of the crowds.

This tour had a great deal of standing and walking, several hours. The guide was excellent. We only wish the crowds were much fewer as it really ruined the city for us.

Most of us slept on the bus back to the port. La Specia was a beautiful port town, with many flowers and plantings.

Tonight's show was the Crew Talent Show and Dancing with the Stars duo Joey Fatone and Kim were to dance! Unfortunately, we didn't get back to the ship in time for the first show and the late show conflicted with dinner. We heard it was fun!

We did have some time prior to dinner and went to Promenade lounge just in time for TV Tune Trivia! Well, 5 of us put our heads together and won first place! For that, we received DCL medals that said: "I'm a winner"�. It was fun.

We had hoped to celebrate our sailing mate Sandy's birthday tonight at dinner, unfortunately she wasn't feeling well and skipped dinner.

Deb and Linda - Life -- IT Too Short!

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June 4, 2007

Cruising the Med - 6/3/07 - Marseille, France

Today we visit Marseille, France
Arrive: 8:00am
Depart: 9:00pm

Our Excursion: Castellet and Wine Tasting

Our journey began with at approximately 1pm with a 75 minute ride from Marseille to Le Castellet - a medieval village in the hills of the Var Region. The village features a 12th century church and an 11th century castle. Our guide, Jane, was most chatty and informative on our drive to the village. We had a brief tour of downtown Marseille and then off to the village.

We drove along the coast for a while and Jane talked about ship building, wines of the Bandol region and the olives! We had no idea that France is the 4th largest producer of olive oil! She went into great detail about wine making and what the appellation on a French wine means.

Le Casetellet
The day was just beautiful weather wise. We couldn't ask for any better. Blue skies and low 70s. When we arrived at Le Castellet - we had a 30 minute optional walking tour and 30 minutes on our own.

During the walking tour, Jane showed us highlights of this beautiful village, a photographers dream. We wanted to take pictures of everything it was like looking in a photographer's book! The village was filled with rolling hills, little shops and cafes, flowers in the windows and beautiful old stone buildings.

Deb and Linda with the Street Performer

We would have loved more time in the village. Unfortunately, there are not many public restrooms in Europe, well at least where we've been. When we do get a short break in our tours, we end up spending it looking for toilets. This was the case here too! A café manager took pity on us and allowed us to use their restrooms. The cafes are about the only place to find toilets and of course, it's for their patrons. We would have stopped for a snack there, but had no time.

All too soon, we loaded our tour bus for Domaine de Souviou, a 20 minute drive from the village. Very picturesque, beautiful flowers and very serene. We toured the grounds, which had magnificent views, and saw 1000 year old olive trees. Our guide from the vineyard explained the process of making olive oil. At this location, they made 2 kinds of olive oils. Plinia, which is a fruity light olvie oil to be used with salads and for bread dipping. Selvatica, was made from the 1000 year old vines - more robust to be used with heavier foods like beef and game. It had a peppery taste. We found both olive oils very tasty and purchased a bottle of each.

Next we were led into a very simple yet elegant tasting room. A long table was set out with 3 kinds of wines, a white, rose and red cuvee, along with rosemary bread between wine courses. The white, Bandol Blanc, aged in steel, fruity with hints of floral; clean and crisp - like a Savionon Blanc.

Domaine de Souviou Tasting Room

The rose, Cotes de Provence Rose, had granache, cinsault, and syrah grapes. It was light with an aroma of apricots and peaches. The Cotes de Provence Rouge, was a 2002 which was still young and had strong tannins. However, we were told it would bottle well for 12-16 years. We felt it had much promise so purchased a bottle of that as well.

After we tasted the wines, we had the opportunity to taste both olive oils. Some of us lingered a long time LOL.

A one hour trip back to Marseille and our most relaxing day in the South of France had come to an end. We LOVED the excursion very much. Very relaxing, very enjoyable. Just wish we had much longer to enjoy the village and perhaps sample some of the foods and wines.

We highly recommend this excursion.

We were back on board the Magic about 6:15 and hurried to the Walt Disney Theatre to see the new show, Mickey's Dreams. If you liked the music from Tapestry of Nations/Dreams and enjoy Cirque shows, you will enjoy this one!! It was very artsy. There were amazing acrobats throughout the show. We later learned they are a troupe out of Marseille and this show will only be performed on the Magic Med cruises. Out of our group, there were very strong opinions on both sides. Some of us loved it - for its artistic balance of music and acrobatics. Others in our group did not care for it at all. But, like I said, if you like the Tapestry of Nations/Dreams music and Cirque, this is a do not miss show!

From the show we hurried back to our room to change for dinner at Palo, magnificent as always although our server seemed to be missing lots and not nearly as attentive as we are used to in Palos. The food was as wonderful as always.

Thus our first day in the south of France was very enjoyable.

Deb Daily Recap:
Highs: Learning about French Olive oil.
Lows: Only 3 wines to taste; service in Palo, not enough time in village

Linda Daily Recap:
Highs: Photograph opportunities in the Le Cassetlet village.
Lows: Service in Palo.

Deb and Linda - Life -- IT Too Short!

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June 5, 2007

Med Reader Mailbag #2

Med Cruise Mailbag!

Thanks to everyone for all your feedback! It encourages us to stay as current as we can and share our adventures. We're glad we can take you all with us, albeit thru our writings! Keep those emails coming!

John (Tagrel's WDWNJ) writes: Deb - we are enjoying your entries so much!!! Cathy (Big Red) and I visited Italy in 1978 and your stories and pictures are bringing back so many wonderful memories! I hope we find time in Harrisburg or Mousefest to sit and talk about your trip. I want to hear more and see all of your pictures.

Deb: I do plan to add many many more photos once back at home. At MagicMeets in Harrisburg, my talk is about the Disney Cruise Line, so I will add a bit on the Med Cruise as well!


Luciann writes:
Thank you for the excellent blog!! We are eagerly awaiting our june 27 10 day but I am wondering if you have any sense of whether we should book excursions through Disney or try to do our own. The one in Rome you did sound great and I signed us up for that. If you have any details of good places to go in the ports on your own (this gets very pricey) or tours that are with other operators that are recommended that would be great.

Deb: We are conservative excursion goers, meaning, we prefer to pay the premium to book thru Disney so that we have an someone from the ship looking after our interests should something go wrong. That said, several of the friends we are sailing with are doing their own excursions.

If you read Glo's blog from the Amalfi coast, you'll see they hired a driver and had an awesome time. Likewise, we did Monserrat (Barcelona) on our own with fellow cruiser Gary the Guide . I will have more info from Gary once I get back home.

Rome is probably not doable on your own, but Florence is. You could take the Disney bus to Florence (Florence on your own) and do all the walking to the sites.

My best advice is to research research research! And allow plenty of time for traffic and delays in transportation so that you do not miss the ship leaving the port!


Leslie: Rick, the kids and I are boarding the Magic on Wednesday, can hardly wait! The excursion info you post, again most informative! And I have enjoyed Glo's articles as well. One question.....what are the temps like in this region?

Deb: The temps on our trip have been in the low 70s and relatively low humidity. I've been wearing very light long pants and long sleeve shirt and most comfortable. Linda has been wearing short sleeves and capris. For those of you coming in July or August, keep in mind it gets VERY hot here. Please check weather.com for 10 day temps to see what you'll need to pack.


Susan: My husband is a workaholic and plans on bringing laptop and Skype phone on ship. Do you know if the Skype will work with the internet connection on board?

Deb: Skype does NOT work on the ship. I read this from those on the transatlantic cruise so did not bring my headset. I have not heard of anyone with success on Skype, DCL has blocked it.

Polly Rosenberger
-- Embarkation Day Questions - What time does the boarding begin for the Magic? What time do you it is best to return to the ship if you want to tour Barcelona? Shopping on Board Question - Is there a lot of Mediterranean merchandise in the shops?

Deb: Our bus from the Diagonal Mar hotel left about 12:30. Boarding on the ship began around that time. It's not like Florida's port terminal where there is room to sit and relax. It's all business to check in and go.

There is some Med merchandise in the cruise shops, however, these shops are small and therefore merchandise is limited. Lots of open edition pins, one for each port. Some t-shirts and sweatshirts. A few other smaller items.

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June 6, 2007

Cruising the Med - Villefranche, France 6/4/07

Today we visit Villefranche, France, our last port of call on this incredible journey.
Arrive: 8:00am
Depart: 11:30pm

This morning I finally caught the sunrise and it was spectacular!

Sunrise in Villefranche

If you've been reading since the beginning, you know that we really wanted to book one tour over all others, the Convertible car tour of the Cote d' Azur (French Rivera). We tried at 3am to book at the first opportunity and it was not available.

We waited until a couple weeks prior to leaving for the cruise and finally decided to join some of our travel mates on the Monaco, Monte Carlo and Eze excursion. Once we boarded the Magic, Linda asked if I thought we'd have any luck going to the Excursion desk to see about the car tour. I said, the worse that would happen is we wouldn't get it.
So, she spoke with the folks there and they said they would email the company and see what they could do.

Lo and behold three nights ago, we had a phone message that a car WAS available for us on the tour. We were SO excited. Our friends Rob and Keith had already gotten on the tour, so we called to share the great news. A couple days later, Sandy and Sharon, who we are traveling with, also were able to score a car.

Sandy and Sharon

We sat this morning in Sessions Lounge anxiously awaiting our call to tender and get the cars! At this point, things got very frustrating and confusing. The excursion description led us to believe that a car would be assigned to us. So, when we got to the area with the cars, most of us just stood there looking. We then realized folks were picking out the car they wanted...and it was a bit of a frenzy. The tour company was not very organized, and we kept getting bits and pieces of information. Linda jumped in front of the red BMW convertible and announced it as hers! Sandy and Sharon were left with an old antique car, model unknown. It was later dubbed the Cruella deVille car. They were really psyched. Sadly, the excitement for them ended here. Their car kept stalling and the gas tank read empty. One of the tour agents kept saying we wouldn't need a lot of gas, but empty was empty. Then he tried to say the fuel gage was broken, but what good would that do on unfamiliar roadways.

Several other cars, including ours, only had ¼ tank of gas. We expected full tanks, or at least half a tank. Also the excursion description said we would be given 2 routes we could follow. Well, there may have been two in the booklet, but there were NO maps and we could barely figure out the directions.

Finally, I went to find a Disney rep and had them come over. They did their best to get things situated. Unfortunately, the only other car available for Sandy and Sharon was a Mini Cooper with a sunroof, not a convertible. They decided to opt out of the excursion. We later found out they were given a refund on the excursion and the agent comped them a tour that he was about to begin. After everything was said and done, they were happy and had a wonderful day.

Narrow Roads along the coast

Our friends Rob and Keith took the lead of our two cars and the journey was underway for us. Rob and Keith drove a beige MG. We drove on the Corniche, but I couldn't tell you which ones, since we had no maps. The views were magnificent. Linda and Rob, the drivers, were in heaven. It was very surreal. All Linda kept telling me was to take more photos! I was happy to oblige.

Deb and Linda in the BMW

The plan was to eventually go to Nice for lunch at a place Rob picked out on line. We drove for well over an hour along the French Riviera through Eze, and Monaco. We were all having a royal grand time! At some point, we pulled into an overlook to enjoy the view. We then decided to circle back to Nice and get some lunch. Rob took us on a great tour of downtown Nice, where all the locals are. The stores were quite amazing, as well as the casino buildings.

Eventually we made our way to the shore side of Nice and found the café. Parking was a huge issue/adventure. We'll just leave it at that. We sat outside and looked over the marina full of yachts. Here we were - drove ourselves in convertibles to Nice, cruised along the Corniche and now enjoying lunch in a café in the French Riviera. Doesn't get much better!

Rob and Keith

By now it was time to return the cars to the port. We took a drive along the last ten minutes of sea shore. Stopped in a magnificent overlook to take photos of the Magic and then back to reality!

All to quickly we were back onboard the Disney Magic.

Disney Magic in the harbour

We relaxed and took a nap. When we awoke we made our way on deck and treated ourselves to a snack. When we sat down we found Rob and Keith a few tables over. We joined them and began to reminisce about the day as we looked out at the beautiful scenery that the South of France has to offer. It was then time to get ourselves cleaned up and go catch the show Dreams. We really enjoyed the enhance version and enjoyed the addition of Timon and Pumba.

After another great dinner with friends, we made our way up to the 10th deck to view the fireworks show that the town of Villefranche put on for us. It was a wonderful and unexpected treat! Afterwards, several of our travel companions met in the Promenade Lounge and enjoyed an evening night cap filled with stories and laughter.

Fireworks at Port Villefranche
Tomorrow is a sea day which also means our last full day on the Disney Magic.

Deb and Linda - Life -- IT Too Short!

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June 7, 2007

Cruising the Med - 6/5/07 - at Sea

Our final day at sea, but sadly, that also means our last full day onboard.

We were happy to sleep in as most days our excursions had us up very early! After breakfast we returned to the room and started cleaning up and packing. At 11:30 Pirates 3 was showing so we decided to go watch it. Linda liked it better than the first time. We both thought it was probably 40-60 minutes too long. There were some off the wall parts that could have been cut and kept the storyline just fine. I thought it was average... nothing special, but fun in parts. I loved the ending, so be sure and stay past the credits!!!!

After the movie, we went back to pack some more and catch up with some blogs.

We called our dining companions and told them we were going to skip the Farewell show and head to the lounge. Slowly but surely most everyone showed up. We drank martinis, wine and danced to the Macarena!

Luggage had to be in the hallways by 10, so I went up before dinner to put ours out. Would have been nice to have time to do so after the late dining... but what can you do!

Soon, time for our farewell dinner. This is always sad as it signals the end of the cruise. Time for hugs and "til we meet again" for all friends, old and new. Many thanks to all the All Ears readers who introduced themselves! We met some great folks on the cruise who made it even more special. There are too many of you to name, but you know who you are (like Ms. Da-Kar-ei!)

We stayed at dinner as long as we could....talked about next year's Panama Canal cruise that many of us are on (Fla - LA), and began to discuss possible cruises for 2009. Yes, we are cruise addicts!!!

Slowly, we all made our way to our cabins. All the door decorations are gone now and the room is left with our overnight bags only. It looks so empty.

We had 8am breakfast on Wednesday and everyone gathered, except Glo and Gary. Later found out they decided to leave the ship early.

Guide Gary gave Linda and I our final instructions for the Bus Touristo and assured us we could do it on our own. LOL.

Will write about our Barcelona tour in the next post.

We can't believe this amazing adventure is almost over.

Deb and Linda

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June 9, 2007

Med Reader Mailbag #3

Here's the latest batch of Blog Feedback Questions and Answers:
Robyn writes: Our family will be cruising on 7/7/07! We have previously sailed the eastbound Panama Canal trip and that was fantastic. We are looking forward to wonderful time. My first question is, what kind of camera are you using? (your pictures are beautiful). Second, Disney has arranged our flights. We are flying into Frankfurt with only 40 minutes between connecting flights. Is this as bad as I think it's going to be? We are staying a couple days after the cruise in Barcelona so we can see the city. Any advice? Can you tell I've never flown to Europe

Deb replies: My camera is a Canon, S2 IS (the latest model in that series is a S3 IS). I'm very pleased with it overall, but especially with outside photos. Glad you like the pics.

Regarding your connecting flight - not having flown into Frankfurt I can't really answer your question. Make sure your bags are checked from your origin to your destination.

Barcelona is a great city. I would highly recommend the Bus Turistic. For $19 Euros each you can tour all day, get on and off. We loved it. Just buy your tickets when you get on the bus, no need to purchase in advance!


Eric writes: My family is leaving for the 11 night that sails on June 16th. One question we had is with the ship boarding starting so early what are the dining options that night or would you suggest boarding later and eating on shore in Barcelona? Also, is Barcelona an open port to get on and off or once on are you on like in Florida?

Deb replies: Dining options for the first night are your regular dining seating or room service. I'll have to see if Topsiders was open, but I'm fairly certain it was.

You can get on and off the ship in Barcelona - so enjoy your day in the city.


Beth: You mentioned that you bought olive oil and wine while in France. How are you getting that home? I am concerned about carrying liquids in my carry-on baggage, and I'm also concerned about checking it! Do you have any advice? Have a safe trip home. We're heading to the Disney Cruise August 8th.

Deb Replies: You have to take your chances. We packed the bottles individually in bubble wrap (brought from home), put them in large ziplock bags, wrapped them in clothes, and packed them in the middle of our suitcases. They all arrived safely. We weren't sure if they'd be pulled out by security along the way; but all was fine. Also, I declared them all at customs and there was no problem. Each adult is allowed one bottle of "alcohol".


Scottishwee35 writes: I am exciting for my Disney Cruise on 18th July. Question for Jumping into External - Rome, that we have been booking it for our Disney Cruise in July. We take our two children (10 and 7). I wonder if they have kids menu?

Deb Replies: The meals we were at had spaghetti and meatballs for the kids. I seem to recall seeing fries at some point too. We never had "menus" for any meal included in our excursion. Some were buffet and some were plates brought to your place at the table.


Pamela writes: We will be leaving on the 10 night cruise on June 27th. My question to you is that on the very first day of the cruise we have booked Palo as our evening meal that day so that we can be finished before the ship sails that evening at 9pm and we so enjoyed Palo last cruise and wanted to start off with something special. Our normal dining will be second session (I believe that is at 8:30pm) so we didn't want to be in the middle of dinner when we set sail. Do you think this is a good plan?? Or did Disney make other arrangements that evening for dining since they know they set sail at 9pm and usually have a sail away party. We don't want to waste a reservation at Palo.

Deb Replies: The sail away party was tight getting to from our late dining seating; however we made it just fine. If you have an early Palo seating, you should be fine. My personal choice is to not have anything planned after Palo dinner so that it can be very relaxing. Again, if you have it early, you should be fine.


Diane writes: My family is scheduled for the Med. cruise June 26, we have 2 boys 10 and 11. We have done over a dozen Disney Cruises and we are looking forward to this one. Unfortunately we booked just last week and have found all of Palo reservations gone ( any hints on this ..do they have res. when you checked in at ship and is there waiting lists on this cruise) We went on 7 day Eastern and lucked out 2 days with the waiting list. Many of the excursions are booked too, so your information is extremely helpful. The internet connection has been mentioned a few times..Is the connection at the internet cafe ( on the ship's system just as unpredictable?:) We were going to bring our lap top for the first time so that we could unload photos.

Deb replies:
A certain number of Palo ressies are generally saved embarkation day reservations. You'll receive the standard "Welcome Aboard" flyer and it will tell you where to go for Palo reservations.

Also visit the Excursions Desk when you board the ship. Some tours have slots available for boarding day. Don't hesitate to ask to be put on a wait list - you never know!

Internet is all the same now, whether you access it wireless or at the Internet Cafe. The Cafe, by the way, usually had waiting lines on sea days. You can also do wireless from your room on your laptop. Cove Cafe (Deck 9) has a few laptops you can use in the cafe.

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information - Navigators, Blogs, Photos, Excursion Reviews, Podcasts and more!

Other Mediterranean Blogs from AllEars®
Glo from Miami
Guest Blogs - including Chris and Beci Mahnken

June 10, 2007

Cruising the Med - Back to Barcelona and Home - 6/6/07

All good things must come to an end and this cruise is no exception.

We got off the ship on Wednesday morning after our 8am breakfast seating. There was a great deal of confusion outside the terminal in terms of what bus would take us to the Disney-reserved hotel. Finally found the correct bus (they weren't labled) and realized it was going to stop at all the Disney reserved hotels. No problem. Until the first stop and someone on the bus said to make sure and check your luggage. Good thing, because a couple times, bags were taken off the bus to get someone else's and then mistakenly put on the trolley to the hotel. Chris managed to snag one of Beci's suitcases which was headed for this fate.

Once back at the Diagonal Mar Hilton, we were VERY excited that our room was ready. We headed up to settle in and wait until 12:25pm when we could log onto British Airways and get our seat assignments for the return trip.

Also we had to get our hotel to airport transfer for the next day straightened out. We were given a time of less than 2.5 hours from our flight and we really wanted at least 3 hours in advance to be picked up. Once again, there was confusion with the local transport team (part of the experience when you are the first cruisers). We were told we'd have a message on our room phone when we returned that evening.

Beci, Chris, Linda and I headed across the street to the Diagonal Mar and had lunch at a Tapas Cafe. While the menu had some English translations and our server spoke some English, there is still a difference in how food is prepared, even though it may be translated into something we are familiar with! Once this adventure was through, we headed up the street for our afternoon adventure.

For those staying in the Diagonal Mar Area, if you need an ATM machine, there is one in the lobby of the Princess Hotel.

Barcelona Bus Turistic

Off to the Barcelona Bus Turistic for an afternoon tour! We highly recommend this as a way to see Barcelona. For 19 Euros you can ride all day and get on and off when you like. I don't think we ever waited more than 10 minutes at any stop for a bus. There are 3 separate colored routes (Green, red, blue) and we did all three. It's a double decker bus, with the lower area enclosed and open air on top. We enjoyed the top side view almost our entire ride. This enabled us to get lots of photos!

We parted ways with Beci and Chris when Linda and I transfered from the Green to the Red Line. We wanted to visit Park Guell. Created by architect Antoni Gaudi, this mountain side has been transformed into a park for the people (no fee to enter). It is an incredible exhibit if architecture and imagination. There really aren't words to describe it..so here is a website to visit. We'll also be getting pics online too! Linda at Park Guell

Exhausted at the end of our city tour, about 7pm, we headed back to the Hilton for tapas with Beci and Chris.

We did not have the promised msg on the phone so we had to get in touch with DCL to find out what the story was. It was very bizzare because the local number listed in the DCL information somehow transfered me back to Florida. The person there called the Barcelona folks.. what a mess. Good thing was, it all got worked out :)

I went downtstairs to join everyone for dinner. You could tell all 4 of us were tired and mostly ready to get back home and into our own beds! We parted ways after dinner and bid the last of our traveling companions "Til we meet again".

Linda in Business Class Up the next morning, breakfast in the hotel, and then off to the airport. For us, the trip home was uneventful yet magical. No long delays in Heathrow, whew!. This time we were upgraded to business class. I cried when I sat in the seat. It was like heaven. What a nice trip home. Finally got in around 10pm East Coast Time after leaving our Barcelona hotel at 10am Spain time.

It was indeed, a trip of a lifetime with dozens, no maybe hundreds of images and stories and laughs to remember. Good friends, good times and what an incredible adventure!

Deb and Linda - Life -- IT Too Short!

Complete 2007 Mediterranean Cruise Information - Navigators, Blogs, Photos, Excursion Reviews, Podcasts and more!

Other Mediterranean Blogs from AllEars®
Glo from Miami
Guest Blogs - including Chris and Beci Mahnken

June 17, 2007

Mediterranean Cruise Info Update

There is so much Med Cruise information that I decided to consolidate it all into one resource page.

Complete Navigator's from the 11 night cruise, thanks to Gary the Guide.

Excursion reviews!

Photo links as we get them online.... it is taking a while to filter through the thousands of pictures!

I recently was a guest on WDW Today podcast and spoke about my experiences on the cruise!

The resource page not only has links back to our blogs, but also links to blogs of folks cruising throughout the summer.

Deb - Life IT too short.

June 18, 2007

Blog Survey Underway

It's been almost 2 months since we started the AllEars® blogs. Seems like a good time to hear directly from you, see what you think, listen to your feedback and suggestions.

Please take a few minutes (ok, maybe 10) to fill out the survey.

We'll be posting some of your comments and feedback in an upcoming blog.


June 21, 2007

Resort Reflections - Animal Kingdom Lodge Part 1

I'm often asked "What is your favorite resort?", which is actually a difficult question to answer -- much like "What is your favorite restaurant?" is a difficult to answer. My experience with just about anything Disney is that it's not just the resort or meal itself, but also the ambience, the cast members, the themeing, that intangible feeling.... With Disney, I've come to expect a complete package.

So I thought I'd begin a series on the Walt Disney World Resorts. These blogs will be a snapshot of my current personal thoughts and feelings. I can tell you my "favs" have changed over time, as I'm sure they will continue to...... Also, these come from an adult only perspective. I have no children and generally travel to WDW either alone or with another adult.

Animal Kingdom Lodge Preview Welcome

As I pondered where to start, my first thought went to Animal Kingdom Lodge. I was able to visit the lodge before it opened. There was a preview where we got to tour certain portions of the resort and see a couple of the rooms. I am quite surprised now, reading my thoughts from 6 years ago. Here's a few excerpts from that report:

-- " I walked through DAKL four times, and each time the place grew on me a little more. I was expecting a jaw-dropping, "WOW" feeling, similar to when I saw Animal Kingdom for the first time, but I didn't get that."

-- "The Savannah areas look awesome and the viewing areas put you much closer to the animals than I expected. I discovered, though, that not all savannahs will have animals all the time -- at least one area at a time will be closed for cleaning, maintenance, etc."

-- "If I had to name one major disappointment I had with DAKL, it is with the rooms. While intricately appointed in dark carved woods, ethnic decor, and kente-inspired fabrics, the rooms are very small. I had the same feeling I did when first entering the Wilderness Lodge Villas bedroom: These are Queen Beds? There is little room to move around in and anyone in a wheelchair in a regular room is going to have a tough time."

-- "There also seems to be a lack of recreational activities at the lodge. Other than swimming and animal viewing there is not much to occupy one."

Here's my original report from the preview in 2001.

I guess when I said the resort "grew on me" each visit, I wasn't kidding. It's now one of my favorite resorts. In fact, I give it my award for "Best Resort to Get Away from it All".

Entrance to Animal Kingdom Lodge

Anyone remember the exact date Animal Kingdom Lodge officially opened?

April 16, 2001, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge did officially open and I planned to be there. Prior to the trip, I had done the typical planning, sketched out theme park days, made dinner reservations and so on.

The entire resort buzzed with excitement and opportunities for discoveries. I recall waking up the first night about 2am and looking out the window. Oh My Gosh! There's a ZEBRA out here! WAKE UP!

The opening crew was amazing. There were cultural representatives from Africa who were around the inside and outside of the resort, just aching to share stories of their homelands. In fact, I still keep in touch with Thabo, a gentleman who was the cultural representative on the opening team. By the way, you can find Thabo over at the Swan and Dolphin concierge desks.

My Opening Week Report.

Roy Disney and Deb Wills
Much to all our surprise, each day we spent at the Lodge we fell more and more in love with it and began to cancel plans we had made at other restaurants. Indeed, we ended up dining multiple times at Boma and Jiko and spending a great deal of time at the lodge.

One of my best memories from that week was meeting Roy Disney! He too, was at the Lodge and I saw him walking along one of the hallways. He was as nice as he could be, even suggested the best place for us to stand for a photo. It was a real thrill for me!

I was hooked..... and still am. In fact, since 2001 I have stayed at the lodge numerous times in most of the room categories from Parking Lot view to Concierge Savannah View -- each has it's own uniqueness.

The Lodge currently has 3 savannahs - Sunset, Uzima and Arusha!

Arusha Savannah

I say currently because there are big Disney Vacation Club plans for Animal Kingdom which will include a new savannah. Right now a new animal barn is being built to care for the additional animals. Once that is complete, work will begin on the new savannah and Animal Kingdom Lodge Villas building!

Remember when I said AKL is one of my favorite resorts? Well, as a Disney Vacation Club member, I was thrilled to learn of the new facilities planned for the Lodge and have already purchased DVC points! Yes, I think I'll be staying there for a long time to come.

More on Animal Kingdom Lodge to come....

June 23, 2007

Blog Central Survey Part 1

Thank you to everyone that took time to fill out the AllEars® Blog Central Survey! We closed the survey at 1000 responses. To the over 700 of you that entered your email addresses for the All Ears goody bag, we are in the midst of contacting you.

Mike Scopa and I discussed the results in length and want to share some of your comments.

So here goes....

We asked some general Disney questions including these:

What is your favorite Walt Disney World theme park?

By far you chose the Magic Kingdom as #1, followed by Epcot #2 and then the Disney MGM Studios and Animal Kingdom were a distant 3rd and 4th.

When was your first visit to Walt Disney World?

About 80% of you chose the 1973-1999 time frame, with the majority visiting for the first time between 1980-1989!

Then to questions about blogs like these:

How familar are you with blogs?
The overwhelming majority were familiar with blogs.

We asked you to list your 5 favorite blogs and actually learned about a few really good ones ourselves!

Now specifically onto the All Ears Blogs.

Navigation! -- One of the main things we wanted to learn from the survey was about our navigation! Can you find the blogs easiliy? Is the navigation easy? etc.

COMMENT: You shouldn't have to do so much scrolling on the Blog Central Page to get to the lists of current blogs

DEB: You are correct. We set it up that way in the beginning so that folks unfamiliar with our bloggers could read a little about them before heading to their blogs. We will be modifying that page for easier navigation in the near future.

COMMENT: I find it confusing that if I click on one blog entry on the Blog Central page I get only this one blog entry and not all of them in their chronological order. I am never sure how to get to the page with all the entries of one particular blogger.

COMMENT: Your link to Blog Central does not appear in all the headers of the website.

DEB: We have begun work on these navigation suggestions.

COMMENT: I'd welcome a single, consolidated option to read everyone's blog postings -- a "mega blog" with an easy URL that combines the posts from all of the individual blogs..... It's easier to skip over a blog posting that doesn't interest me, than it is to navigate to all the individual pages that do.

DEB: Actually, this is something we have planned for later this year. Our blog software is currently beta-testing the next version. It has some great new features including the ability to combine all the blog post listings in one place. So, look for it in a few months.

We asked what topics you'd like to see?
Theme parks were favorite followed closely by Dining, Resorts and Special Events. In addition, you offered some other suggestions:

**It would be fun to follow someone through the process they go through to set up a Disney vacation.
** More peeks at the "method behind the magic"
** More DLR and some info from DLP, TDR and HKDL (maybe by guest bloggers?) We visit WDW mainly but I love info on the other parks.
** More about park happenings and how current things being made or are under construction are coming along.
** Trips in action. Loved living vicariously through Deb's recent trips. Made you feel like you were there. Sort of....
** Let's get an Anita Anwser Blog too! :)

DEB: Thanks for all the great suggestions you made. We want your feedback so we can bring you the types of writeups you're interested in. For those of you who want an Anita Blog -- well, you'll have to email her directly.... she's still pondering!

That's it for Part I. Look for Part 2 soon.

Thanks again to everyone who filled out the survey!.


June 28, 2007

Resort Reflections - Animal Kingdom Lodge Part 2

In Part 1 of Animal Kingdom Lodge I spoke of the pre-opening and the opening of the Lodge.

In this blog, I'll talk about the Savannahs.

The most unique aspect of Animal Kingdom Lodge are the animals and their savannahs. There are 3 savannahs encompassing a total of 11 acres, each with it's own look and feel. As you look out from the lodge they are from left to right: Sunset, Arusha, and Uzima! More than 200 birds and animals populate the savannahs -- a different group of birds and animals are on each of the savannahs. Only the reticulated giraffes can be found on all three.

There are several public viewing areas, both inside and outside where you can see the animals. If you have a savannah view room, you can watch the birds and animals from your balcony! The hallways inside the resort along the "trails" (aka wings) have areas of windows where you can view animals also! You will also find a few outside "balcony" viewing locations. Don't forget there are several exterior stairwells that also provide animal viewing opportunities. For the Arusha and Uzima Savannahs, there are ground level viewing spots too.

Thompson's Gazelle
Thompson's Gazelle - Larger Version Here.

Very important -- Keep in mind the savannahs are the home for these birds and animals. Disney can not guarantee any animal sightings. I suggest that you inquire at check-in to see what time morning feeding time is because the animals know what that jeep is doing out there and they gather! (If the front desk doesn't know, ask one of the animal guides in the outdoor viewing areas). In addition to morning feedings times, the animals tend to be out around dusk.

For folks who are up and out to the parks early and back late in the evening, you may not get to see many animals at all. While you may be in park commando mode, the animals have their own time schedule :)

Each day, each savannah closes for a couple hours. The animals are brought to the barns for training and health inspections. It also gives the keepers time for any special maintenance in the savannah itself. There is always at least one savannah open with animals.

blue line

The Sunset Savannah has an upper level viewing area that consists of a lounge and a balcony. From here you can see Ostrich, Red River Hogs, Waterbuck, Marabou Stork, Ruppell's Griffon Vulture and others. The Sunset Savannah Lounge is actually a very nice place to relax. Sometimes I'll bring morning coffee in there or perhaps a before dinner beverage. The theming in this room is amazing. If a tour is offered during your stay, be sure to take it to learn more about the artifacts in the lounge!

Sunset Savannah Animal Kingdom Lodge
Larger Version Here.

Red River Hogs
Red River Hogs - Larger Version Here.

blue line

The Arusha Savannah is probably the largest, or at least, appears that way and is the central area of the resort. There is a large rock formation that juts into the savannah, allowing for a variety of viewing spots. This Savannah becomes a huge horseshoe with the widest wings of the resort rooms bordering it. If you look at the resort map, you'll see what I mean.

Animals found here include Zebra, Eland, White-Bearded Wildebeest, Ankole-Watusi Cattle, Pink-Backed Pelican, and others. Night vision animal viewing is available on this savannah. A guide will be out after dark and can show you how to use the night vision goggles to spot animals (many of which are nocturnal). Again, be sure to check at the Front Desk for times.

Arusha Savannah Animal Kingdom Lodge
Larger Version Here.

White-Bearded Wildebeest
White-Bearded Wildebeest - Larger Version Here.

Zebra - Larger Version Here.

blue line

The Uzima Savannah is the furthest on the right if you look out from the Lodge. Its home to the Greater Kudu, Thompson's Gazelle, Blesbok, flamingos, Stanley Crane, and more. The Uzima Savannah is behind the Uzima Pool. You can always take a look at the animals while you enjoy the pool. There is a flamingo area directly behind the pool as well.

Uzima Savannah
Larger Version Here.

Greater Kudu
Greater Kudu - Larger Version Here.

Flamingos - Larger Version Here.

blue line

The first 2 animals on the Lodge savannahs just happened to be the first 2 animals brought to the Animal Kingdom theme park - 2 reticulated giraffes!

Giraffe on the Sunset Savannah Animal Kingdom Lodge
Larger Version Here.

Not all the animals at Animal Kingdom Lodge were there for opening and some of the original Lodge animals have left. There were Gemsbok were on the Arusha Savannah in 2001, but they were found to be incompatible with the other animals and moved elsewhere. Also, in the last few years, the Red River Hogs were added to the Sunset Savannah.

As mentioned above, an important fact to remember when visiting or staying at the Lodge is that it is the home for these animals and birds -- their safety and well-being is the priority! You may not attempt to feed, throw things or get into the animal areas. If caught doing so, you may be expelled from the lodge. Security cameras view room balconies as well as the public viewing areas to keep an eye on guests and make sure the rules are adhered to!

Lastly, what are those fenced areas on the savannahs? Ever seen those wooden "pens" in the Savannahs that are very close to the resort? These are actually contingency locations for guests to use in case the lodge must be evacuated.

Larger Version Here.

More Photos can be found at:
Animal Kingdom Lodge Photo Gallery
Sunset Safari Excursion

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Animal Kingdom Lodge - Resort Reflections

June 30, 2007

Blog Central Survey Part 2

This is Part 2 of the All Ears Blog Central Survey Feedback.
If you missed Part 1, read it HERE!

Here are more comments (and a few responses) from the ALLEARS® Blog Central feedback survey!

COMMENT: "Calling these "Blog"s implies that they are updated nearly every day, which I know is a lot of work, but it would be best if one of the many blogs could have a new entry each day. That would keep me coming back. Thank you for all your hard work!!!"

DEB: The ultimate goal is to have a team of bloggers so that there is something new each day. Right now, we are still in Phase I and flexing our muscles a bit to see what possibilities exist. Your feedback in the survey is helping us to form the Blog Central Team!

COMMENT: "Your "blogs don't support comments, which is a major feature that turns the blog from a static experience into an interactive one - the main reason I don't read your blogs often is the lack of commenting."

DEB: You are correct, comments are a major part of blogs. We have chosen, at least during Phase I, to not allow comments. We are considering this for a future enhancement.

COMMENT: You "should have younger demographic 18-35 type." AND "The only thing I like to add would be that you don't have a younger demographic rep to add their thoughts on your blog. For example, Pleasure Island is virtually empty of useful info for a club setter. Just throwing that out."

DEB: We'd love to have someone covering this demographic for us.. let us know if you are interested.

COMMENT: Folks both loved and well, didn't care for, our Blogs about the Mediterranean Cruise. One reader writes: "3 Bloggers on the same cruise seemed like a waste, especially when I had no interest in the European cruise."

DEB: This is as good a time as any to step back and expand on our Blog philosophy at AllEars (basics can be found on main blog central page). Just as the All Ears.net website and AllEars® newsletter compliment each other, our goal is that the blogs will add to that compliment too.

All Ears Blog Central will provide a more up close and personal view of Disney through the eyes of those blogging. Our topics will be broad and will include Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, special Disney related events, basically anything under the umbrella of Disney.

The topics on the blogs may also weave back and forth depending on what's going on and where we happen to be. For instance, in less than 2 weeks Deb, Mike Scopa and Steve Barrett will be attending the annual MagicMeets event in PA. We plan to blog from that event and also have readers blogging live with their reports! We plan to do the same at MouseFest in December.

We have several niche blogs - like Mike Scopa's Running with Mickey series and Steve Barrett's Hidden Mickeys quest; more are in the pipeline! Have an idea for a Disney blog -contact us! Some readers expressed interest in learning more about Disneyland Paris and Tokyo Disneyland.

Now specifically regarding the Mediterranean Cruise reports -- It just so happened that the Med cruise was the first ever Disney cruise in that part of the world. In the broad world of Disney travel, it was big news. A number of All Ears® team members decided to travel together on that cruise. Disney did not (nor do they ever) pay for us to go on a trip and report about it. Each of us spent our own money for our vacation cruise. Yes, it was our vacations. The blog reports were not the reason for taking the cruise - but we felt it was important enough in the world of Disney Cruise Line that we wanted to take the time and share our experiences with you.

I know this is a long response but the bottom line is we now offer 3 distinct mediums for you to obtain your Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise line, and Universal Orlando information: the AllEars.net website, the weekly AllEars® newsletter and the AllEars® Blog Central. If you are looking for objective, general, non-personal information head over to the website and newsletter.

Think of Blog Central as a menu where you pick and choose what is of interest to you. If you want something a little different, read our blogs! Let us know if there are special things you'd like to see in the future. We have lots of plans for the blogs.. and we are just getting started!

COMMENT: "I would like to see a forum for all readers to post their opinions & anything pertinent to the Disney experience. I enjoy rate & review very much, but I would like to see more place for reader to post & discuss their thoughts."

DEB: A week doesn't go by without someone asking if we plan to have message boards. The simple answer is no. We have given this a great deal of thought, consideration and analysis over the years and will continue to do so. However at this point in time, we believe there are a large number of Disney forums available for those interested. We do have Ears to Ears™, a moderated forum on yahoogroups (email earstoears-subscribe@yahoogroups.com to subscribe)

COMMENT: A Blog "written by a local Orlando person, a current events type blog would be useful. Even information out of the newspaper. Upcoming weather forecast for the week, news regarding the airport, road construction, reminders about the time of year, (i.e. don't forget Star Wars weekends going on during June weekends), etc."

DEB: We are considering this for a future enhancement.

COMMENT: A few of you wondered about my current sig: "Life IT too short."

DEB: Well, I was goofing around one day with friends - who were giving me a hard time about traveling so much. They kept asking why am I always going somewhere! Without thinking I twirled around and responded with "Life -- IT too short!". They laughed and it became my current "saying".


Over 98% of you were extremely positive in your response to our latest effort on AllEars. For that, we thank you. Just remember this is Phase I of Blog Central and plan to grow and expand over time.
let us know if you are interested in being a "guest blogger".

And I"ll end with one last reader's comments: " I enjoy the blogs and remind myself to read at least 1 or 2 a week. I have been receiving the newsletters for a few years and absolutely enjoy all the information and updates that the allears team shares. Thank you for the dedication, and commitment to helping us Disney loving people feel like we are on vacation even when we are not by guiding into the "World" each week. I can tell you all put lots of time and research into making sure the most recent information is available. Very gratefully!!!"

Those of you who answered the survey all the way to the end, know that we were giving away AllEars goody bags to 10 random respondents. All winners have been notified via email and we've heard from 9 of you. Your packages have been mailed.

Congrats to: Debbie Williams, Joni Stacy, Bill Vandiver, Isabella Pedone, Joanne Covell, Jenifer Hughey, Charissa Banks, David Hammack and Amber Keen. Still waiting to hear back from the last respondent whom we've emailed twice!

Once again, thanks to everyone for taking the time to provide important feedback on AllEars® Blog Central!


Return to Blog Central

About June 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Deb's Digest in June 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

May 2007 is the previous archive.

July 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.