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Mediterranean Cruise 2007 Archives

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 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 Reivews, Podcasts and more!

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


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!

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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.

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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".

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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.

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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.

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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 Reivews, Podcasts and more!

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

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

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

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


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!

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

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


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!

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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!

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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.

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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.
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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.

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

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


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!

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

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


June 3, 2007

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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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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June 1, 2007

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!

Colosseum


Colosseum.

Colosseum


Colosseum.

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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.


Our first view of the Vatican, as we stepped off the bus.
 Our first view of the Vatican, as we stepped off the bus.” /></p>

<p>Linda settles in for our one hour tour<br />
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Colosseum
Colosseum” /></p>

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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!

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Deb and Linda - Life -- IT Too Short!

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May 30, 2007

Cruising the Med - Olbia, Photos

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Cruising the Med - Olbia 5/30/07

Today we visit Olbia Sardinia
Arrive: 8:00am
Depart: 6:00pm

Here are a couple facts (from the DCL website):

Olbia is a relaxing seaside village with white sand beaches and blue water. " The territory of Olbia has been inhabited since the VIII Century B.C. although the city itself was founded by the Carthaginians no earlier than about VI Century B.C. Right from the beginning, the harbour was of significant importance to the city's economy, especially due to its corn export industry which has constituted its main source of revenue."

"The word "Olbia" means a "happy town" (città felice), even though the city's past has been rather difficult. Olbia was destroyed and reconstructed many times throughout its history. This may be the reason for the loss of its original name, during various dominations of the area, which was finally regained in 1939. In the 60's, Olbia underwent a real demographical boom and extensive tourism development of the area."
The above exerpts are from the Sardegna Website.

In the morning, Linda did laundry and I caught up on blogging…. I'm sure you're tired of hearing this, but the connection just comes and goes frequently.

We felt this would make a perfect day to spend wandering around on our own. We were to join our friends Rob and Keith for a walking tour of the area and lunch. Unfortunately Keith hurt his knee badly when climbing Mt. Vesuvious the prior day. So instead of wandering around town, we dined at Lumieres and followed that with dessert and coffee at Cove Café. It was actually quite nice and low key as most folks were off the ship touring the island.

When we left Keith and Rob, Linda went to see the new Pirates movie and I took the opportunity to sleep for a couple hours. Linda said the movie was not at all was she was expecting… very hard to follow (in her opinion). As with previous movies, do stay thru the credits until the very end.

We saw the new show “The Art of Story”. This is a VERY loud show. We will say again, a VERY loud show. I'm not sure why it needed to be, but it is. The first song will make Hunchback fans very happy " it reminded me of the MGM Studios show. From there we went to a song from Mulan, then Tarzan, Beauty and the Beast and the Lion King. Each song was to represent a different element in story telling. Unfortunately, I didn't quite get the connection. The show ended VERY strong with a song from the theatrical production of Lion King. The woman lead was awesome! Because it ended so wonderfully, I thought the show was great…but my friends gave it a yawn. Ok, but nothing special. We all agreed, however, we want to see it again!!!

Drinks at Sessions.

Dinner with our friends at Lumiere's where everyone shared their wonderful day on the island. All too soon it was time to depart and get ready for ROME!


Deb Daily Recap:
Highs: Final song in Art of the Story, Lunch with Keith and Rob
Lows: not really any, but wish I had gotten off the ship for a bit.

Linda Daily Recap:
Highs: Lunch with Rob and Keith
Lows: Doing laundry (packed and hot in the laundry room)


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Cruising the Med - Naples Photos Part 2

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Cruising the Med - Naples Photos Part 1

Arriving in Naples

Arriving in Naples

Beci, Chris and our new friends Chuck and Tony waiting in the Walt Disney Theatre for our excursion to begin.

Waiting for the excursion


Mt. Vesuvius
Mt. Vesuvius


Driving to Amalfi
Driving to Amalfi


More to come

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Cruising the Med Naples Italy - 5/29/07 -

Today we visit Naples Italy
Arrive: 7:30 am
Depart: 7:30 pm

Here are a couple facts (from the DCL website):
Naples is considered the birthplace of Pizza. The city's other best known dishes include Sartu di riso (molded rice with savory garnishes) and Pasta e fagioli (pasta and beans.)

Our Excursion: The Amalfi Coast Drive and the Ruins of Pompeii, a 9 hour tour!

We begin with a 2 hour drive along the coast in our ai c onditioned motor coach. After approximately 1 hour, we stopped at a wood working store that specializes in wood inlays. We had a brief lesson in how that is done and got a chance to use the restrooms!

Back on the bus for another hour..... this time we saw more and more of the beautiful Amalfi coast line. Just Magnificant! No words to describe. The roads were thisnarrow and many hair pin turns. Some folks did experience motion sickness, so do be prepared!!! It does mention this is the excursion description.

We encountered tons of traffic delays that unfortunately shortened our time at the various stops. Our tour guide, Gino, was outstanding!!!! He is an archiologist by trade and was extremely knowledgeable and funny!

Upon reaching either the village of Amalfi we had about 45 one hour to explore on our own. We used the time to visit the Cathedral of Amalfi. Built in the middle ages 839-1135AD. The crypt of St. Andrew is located here. This church, unlike the ones we visited in Palermo, had candles that could be lit. It was here I was able to honor my mother's memory and light a candle for her " Linda joined me in a very special moment.

From here we went to a hotel for lunch. It was kinda strange at first, we weren't sure if the buffet offered was appetizers or the main lunch. Each table had a bottle of water and bottle of wine. Very nice. The buffet consisted of salad, escarole (like Swiss Chard/spinach), pizza (no cheese LOL), small fried dough balls, fresh mozzarella (awesome), tomato salad, rolls and proscuito. Like I said, no one seemed quite sure if that was the appetizer or main entrée. Why no one asked, I have no idea LOL. So, I made a sandwich from the mozzarella and proscuito. It was quite good. Also, I asked for a bottle of red wine that was also quite good!

Soon the servers were clearing our plates and then we realized more food was to come. Each person received a plate with small penne pasta with red sauce and a most delicious spinach cannelloni.. I don't think I have had one taste this good in many many years! For dessert " cake " hazelnuts or something..whatever it was tasty! Was also my splurge meal for the day!!!!

Back onboard the bus, we travel an hour to the ancient city of Pompeii which was buried by Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD. I was getting very concerned at this point because the rain, once again started this time it was very grey and starting to come down. Our guide told us that if the rain got much harder our trip to Pompei would be cancelled. I was heartbroken, as this was one of my “must sees” for the whole trip. Fortunately, when we arrived it was only drizzle and off we went. Again, because of traffic problems, our one hour became 45 minutes…and then the rain really started to come down. So we had Pompeei in the rain for 40 minutes, which was much better than no Pompeii at all! I would like to revist Pompeii sometime. Spend a solid day or half day with the audio tour. Gino was awesome with his explanations….. we also had small headsets so that he talked to us thru them, which helped a great deal too!


Pompeii was lost for 1,600 years until it was accidentally discovered in 1748. At the time of the eruption, the town could have had some 20,000 inhabitants, and was located in an area in which Romans had their holiday villas.

Our Pompeii Slide Show

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Med Reader Mailbag #1

Thanks to everyone who has been reading our blogs and emailing us feedback! We really appreciate it.

For those who have asked about our Day at Montserrat our own, Gary the Guide is hoping to have time on our sea day to write up the tour we followed.

Lori asked if the wireless internet was only in the Café " it's now in most if not all the cabins! I will tell you it runs hot and cold… and has been frustrating. However, we still keep trying to post!

Kathleen asked: We are staying in the same hotel Hilton Diagonal Mar. I have a fast question "What do you mean by The lobby was palpable.

Well " I was ahead of myself and didn't proof read! What I meant was the excitement in the lobby was palpable…which means you could feel the excitement in the air.

Masayo from Japan writes: I love those photos, if my memory serves, the guide Gary is the man who helped as receptionist at Mousefest, isn't he?? I think his name was Gary, and his face looks familiar to me.

Yes Masayo, it is the same Gary!!!! He's an awesome guide and did extensive research that has been really great.

And about the excursions many of you have inquired about " I'm getting everyone's feedback each night on their excursions. Soon as I have some time I will get that information on line. It could be after I get home, just not sure since the internet connections are SO slow.

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May 28, 2007

Cruising the Med - More Palermo Photos

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Cruising the Med - Live Show Schedule on the Cruise

Live Stage Shows " 11 night cruise

Saturday 5/26
Welcome Aboard " Let the Magic Begin

Sunday 5/27
Golden Mickeys

Monday 5/28/07
Michael Harrison

Tuesday 5/29
On the Nose " game show where only the nose knows for sure. Chance to win prizes

Wednesday 5/30
The Art of Story " new show " watch the stage come to life with singing, dancing and comedy in this spectacular salute to the wondrous voyage that's about to begin

Wed 5/30 and Thur 5/31
Movie Night " Pirates of the Caribbean III

Friday 6/1
Twice Charmed

Saturday 6/2
Disney Magic Crew Talent Show

Sunday 6/3
When Mickey Dreams " Mickey Mouse dreams come to life in this musical spectacle guided by a cast of Cirque-like dream seekers.

Monday 6/4
Disney Dreams

Tuesday 6/5
Remember the Magic " Final Farewell

Saturday 5/26
Adventures Away party

Sunday 6/3
Pirates in the Caribbean Party

Monday 6/4
Party Paradiso " new


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Cruising the Med - Palermo Part 3 - Photos

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Deb

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Cruising the Med - Palermo Part 2 --5/28/07

Today is our first port of call, Palermo Italy. I'm especially looking forward to this port as it is where my mother's family is from. My grandfather was born here.

Arrive: 7:00am
Depart: 5:30pm

Here are a couple facts (from the DCL website):
The regions best-known culinary dishes include bottarg (salted tuna roe), involtini di pesce (swordfish with raisin and pine nut stuffing), caponata (aubergine and eggplant) and pasta con le sarde (pasta with sardines, fennel and raisins.)

Palermo also specializes in the craft of creating wooden puppets.

Our Excursion:
The Sites of Palermo
We began with a motor coach ride to Old Palermo. Our guide is full of facts.

We visit the famous "Four Corners" intersection in Palermo. This is the home to four statues representing the four seasons. Four statues depicting Spanish Kings and four female statues for the four patron saints of the town. Architecturally, Four Corners is a melting pot of Arabo-Norman magnificence, Palermitan baroque, and the work of craftsmen of the Middle Ages. Each sculpted angle of the Four Corners celebrates seasons, a patron saint, or a Spanish viceroy.

At City Hall Square we visited the Martorana Church (a 12th century Norman-Arab structure) and then the 12th century Cathedral at Palermo. Built in 1184 by the Norman king William II in the place of a Muslim mosque, the cathedral has undergone several renovations over the centuries, which have resulted in its current Neo-Classical style. The fourteenth-century door and the Gothic-Catalan style portico are worthy of note. The treasures that are kept inside, including some precious objects and embroidery found in the tombs of the Kings and emperors must be seen.

We had a delicious gelato break and then onto the motor coach and then off to Gustavo Whitiker's villa and Palermo's equivalent of the US Botanical Gardens. This family imported trees and plants from around the world. It was quite nice to wander around the grounds.

All too soon, time to get back on the bus and head back to the Disney Magic.

Pictures to follow.

Deb - Life -- IT Too Short!

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Cruising the Med - Palermo!! 5/28/07

We are in the midst of docking right now in Palermo... WOW! Very exciting.

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May 27, 2007

Waving to folks back home

We wanted to say hello to some folks back home...

Sandy has a message for Molly - Mission Accomplished!

Deb says hello to the AllEars Team and the Babes. Also, Chet - thanks for the power adapter, it works great. Hello to Tim and Dan - thanks for watching the house. All her friends and family!.

Linda says hello to her wonderful Sister-in-law, Debbie!!!! Her sister Wanda

Linda and Deb - Thanks to Fred and Renee for the wine!!

Internet service is till spotty.. so will post more later.

Deb

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Montserrrat Photos Part 2

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No idea who these men were, but they were cute and got a kick out of my taking pictures, so they posed for me. They spoke no English.

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Cruising the Med - May 26, 2007

(It's Sunday morning, our sea day. I'm trying to catch up on the narrative and hope to finish that today. I am have big troubles getting photos online so they may come in spurts..... Also, the internet connection is iffy... comes in and out, altho MUCH better this morning than last night.

Sat May 26 was the day we'd been waiting for " embarkation day! We set the alarm for 6am so that we could get packed and have a semi leisurely morning, before meeting in the lobby at noon. We had to have our bags ready inside the room by 8am. However, the folks at the Grand Marina had to leave their bags OUTside of their room. They were most unhappy about it!!!

Off to breakfast with Sandy and Sharon " they would only let me have one cup of coffee (on Montserrrat day I had 4 not realizing Spanish coffee had a zillion times more caffeine than American coffee"LOL.

Sharon, Sandy and I then walked to the beach. We found a few small pieces of sea glass so we were al happy. Oh and we could actually see one of the stacks of the Disney Magic.

Back to the room we hit the ATM machine for additional Euros and made a final blog entry.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Come to Europe with a Debit Card (your best option), ATM card or Credit Card with PIN number. I must be the only American that has none of the above. Fortunately, American Express is open 24/7 and within 20 minutes I was able to obtain a temporary pin for my card and get some cash.

The lobby of the Hilton Diagonal Mar was palpable. Everyone was excited about the adventure that was about to begin. NOTE: If staying at a Disney booked hotel, there will be staff in the lobby a couple days prior to your cruise. They can check you in so that you bypass one line at the Port. You will get your key to the world card just prior to boarding the bus to the Port.

To be continued......


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May 26, 2007

Montserrrat Photos

Friday - May25th

Here we are at the train station...waiting to board:
Left to right: Linda Chris, Guide Gary, Karen and Sandy

Barcelona Train Station

Here is the monastary on the mountain -- you can take a cable car on land or the sky car; we opted for the aerial transport.

Montserrat

Montserrat

Gotta go catch the shuttle bus from the hotel to the port. More photos later ;)


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May 25, 2007

Cruising the Med - 5/25/07

Got to back up to Wednesday……so we can catch up.

The plane left Washington Dulles airport on Wednesday at 7pm. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time. Boy is Dulles VERY different than BWI (Baltimore) where we normally fly out of. The security lines were HUGE and our boarding passes and passports must have been checked at least 5 different times. There was even at least one station where our boarding pass was stamped and then the stamp was looked for later on.

As I previously mentioned we flew World Traveler Plus, a step up from “coach” and down from business. Am I ever glad we did… we had a tad more leg room and different seat amenities than the coach folks. Honestly, I'm not sure how I would have made it in coach. Between my diabetes and knee problems.. I'm just not sure I would have gotten ANY sleep at all. Linda's knees even hurt and she doesn't have knee problems! We were very restless but got some rest at least.

We found the food on British airways to be very good. If you are diabetic and considering a diabetic meal, think again. If you eat 30-45 carbs per meal, then you'll be fine. But I do low carb and couldn't eat much of the food. For instance, breakfast today was a banana, yogurt and orange juice. Linda had a sweet muffin in place of the banana.

For dinner, Linda had a choice of beef tips or chicken, she enjoyed the beef. It was like a beef stew " beef, peas, potatoes, carrots and gravy. A pleasant surprise as airplane food goes. My diabetic selection was a chicken (including dark meat), spinach and a large white bean on white rice. It was tasty, but too much carb for me.

Once we got on the plane from London to Barcelona, we each received a ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast as well as mango/orange juice and coffee/tea.

So, as I alluded to previously, Heathrow was an adventure. We had been forewarned by folks that it was a VERY busy airport and it would take us a LOT of time to get from one terminal to the other. So, in some respects we were prepared. Our schedule arrival time would give us 2.5 hour layover. Since the website says allow for 65 minutes, we felt we were in good shape.

However, upon arriving in London, we sat on the tarmac for almost 45 minutes waiting for a “pocket” (aka gate) to become available. We finally pulled into the “pocket”, the doors opened and we had to walk down a flight of stairs onto the tarmac. We were directed to a door that appeared to be an emergency ext. However we had to walk up and then down and then up a flight of stairs to join the main terminal. Once we finally got into Terminal 4, we then had to make our way to Terminal 1. This is where the fun really began.

I'll spare you all the boring details.. but we waited in no less than 4 areas, 4 different times for at least 20-30 minutes to get to the next location. We ended up sprinting thru the final terminal to get to our plane 5 minutes prior to official take off time. This is just another reason why it's important to arrive at your destination at least one day prior to sailing or tour commencing!

View from our room on the 16th floor


Once we arrived in Barcelona and got our bags (as reported earlier) we got to the hotel. It was time for a shower and had a glass of wine and some light tapas in the hotel bar. I had zucchini pesto; Linda mushroom cannelloni and we split a manchango cheese tapas. Not cheap, but quite good. We then walked across the street to Diagonal Mar. Found what we called a “Super Walmart” " 3 floors and whatever shopping you need to do. We purchased some wine and bottles of water.

Our room at the Hilton: medcruise4.jpg


TIP: If you want to charge your purchase on Visa or Master Card, you will need to show your original passport, at least in the Diagonl Mar stores we visited.

Back to the room for a siesta 2 hour!!!! We didn't want to sleep too much, but definitely needed to get some rest. Just after waking up, Beci and Chris called and said they arrived at the hotel. We decided to meet back in the bar, have some drinks and some munchies. We weren't seated 10 minutes and Sandy and Sharon walked up. I'm not sure the hotel was fond of me screaming across the lobby- but as excited cruisers to be " there you go.

Today we met up with fellow cruisers, Gary and Karen, along with Chris, Sandy and Sharon and toured Montserrat!

From: http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/montserrat-spain.html

"The history of Montserrat is fascinating and started in 880 when a small group of shepherd children saw a bright light descending from the sky in the Montserrat mountains. In the same moment the children heard angels singing and the music filled their hearts with a radiant joy.

Overwhelmed by the experience the children ran home to frantically recall the experience to their parents. The parents were sceptical but knew their children were trustworthy and honest and so they went to where the children had experienced the visions to see if they could see what all the fuss was about.

For the whole month following the first visitation the parents were also witness to the same heavenly experiences and were left with only one conclusion. The visions were a sign from God.

A local vicar was brought to the scene and witnessed the same experiences as the children and parents. The visions occurred in the same location in a cave on Montserrat mountain. When this cave was explored by the religious elders of the community they found an image of the Virgin Mary. And from that moment on the cave became a holy sanctuary for religious pilgrims.

Today the site of the visions has been marked by a Holy Grotto on the mountain. You can walk to the Holy Grotto and see first hand where these events took place. The Holy Grotto has now be ordained a holy place and is visited by pilgrims and curious onlookers from all over the world."


It was an amazing day; I'll post pics soon. We got back to the hotel about 7pm. Fortunately, the DIsney Crusie Line desk was still open so we could check into for tomorrow's departure for the ship.

Tonight there is a huge meet of DIS Board folks at the Fountains. We REALLY wanted to go but were so tired from Montserrat...we decided not to.

Tomorrow we board the ship!

Deb Daily Recap:
Highs: Montserrat Basilica
Lows: Getting back to to the room too tired to go to the DIS Fountain Meet

Linda Daily Recap:
Highs Monk's private dwelling we hiked near.
Lows: Going to the mega department store to buy a camera battery recharger that was left at home.

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 - Life -- IT Too Short!

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

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

Cruising the Med - May 25, 2007

I just finished a very lengthly blog and forgot to hit save before ending.. lost it all.

I"ll recap later.

Sandy and Sharon and Beci and Chris all arrived last night.

Today we are off to Monserrat.

More later.... out of time now

May 24, 2007

Hola from Barcelona!

DCL Cast Members at Barcelona AirportWe arrived safe and sound, despite quite the adventure in London's Heathrow airport.

These 2 lovely ladies greeted us at the Barcelona airport and were a welcome treat!

Our Hotel - the Hilton Diagonal Mar. A great location - close to the water, near the Metro and Bus Turisto and a "mall".


Gotta shower and get some food and will write more later.

Hilton Diagonal Mar


It's been a long night/day LOL

Deb
Life - IT too short

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

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

May 23, 2007

Cruising the Med - 5/23/07 - On Our Way!

May 23rd is here!!!! It's been well over a year since we booked the Disney Cruise in the Mediterranean. I'm very excited. Never been outside North America before. It also feels surreal... will we REALLY be in London and then Barcelona tomorrow?

As you read this I will be either totally calm or frantic with last minute things to do. Hopefully it will be calm Debbie and not frantic Debbie, LOL

We have a 7:00pm flight on British Airways. We are flying World Traveler Plus, which is a step above "economy" and a step below "business". What we didn't realize when we made the flight arrangements is that we could not reserve our seats until 24 hours prior. So, last night was a bit crazy as we logged onto for our check-in and seat assignments. We didn't get the "worse" seats possible, but probably next to worse. Oh well, it's just temporary, right?!

Since this is an international flight, our goal is to get to the airport EARLY. I'd much rather cool my heels in the airport instead of getting all hyper sitting in traffic. Living in the Washington DC Metro area - we have our shares of road issues. We will leave home about 2:30 to avoid afternoon rush hour traffic... grab some dinner, get online and wait for our trip to begin.

Approx 7:00am we will land in London's Heathrow airport, change planes and head to Barcelona! Our layover is 2.5 hours which should give us enough time to grab our luggage, change terminals, go thru customs and any other adventure that awaits us in Heathrow. We should arrive in Barcelona noon-ish on Thursday.

We had Disney Cruise Line arrange our transfers from the airport to the hotel, Hilton Diagonal Mar Barcelona, so hopefully other than clearing customs and getting our bags, we'll be at the hotel before we know it. We are supposed to look for the smiling Disney Rep in the airport.

Depending how we feel, we may decide to sight see on thursday afternoon. We really want to see buildings by architect Antonio Gaudi...this is a must. Either La Sagrada Familia and/or Park Guell. Whatever we don't see on Thursday, we'll hopefully get to the day we disembark the ship.

On Friday, we plan to tour Montserrat with several folks from our "group". GaryF has been the incredible researcher and has everything all mapped out for us!

My next check in will probably be from Barcelona!

Deb - Life -- IT Too Short!

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

May 21, 2007

Disney Magic Update

Yesterday, the Magic enjoyed it's first port of call since leaving Castaway Cay in the Bahamas a week ago. Tenerife, the Canary Islands off the coast of north Africa (under Spanish rule)!

Here's a video put together by Verandah Man of the Magic coming into port Santa Cruz, Tererife. The video is from the cameras at the port! Thank you Verandah Man!!!


The Davidson girls are continuing to blog their way to Barcelona!

Here's the upclose of the Magic's location....
Magic's current location


Here's the journey of the Magic across the "pond".
Magic Journey Across the Atlantic

Today, Monday, May 21st, the Magic has a Sea Day!!!

Deb
Life - IT too short!

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 6 - The Itinerary

We've got a packed schedule for the 11 night cruise.

In addition to all the ports of call, Disney Cruise Line has stated there will be new shows, new deck parties, the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean 3, special guests, Pirate Night, Princess and Prince night and much more. I think I'm going to need a vacation once I get home!

Captain Deb

Wednesday - May 23 - Leave the US for Barcelona

Thursday - May 24 - Arrive Barcelona

Friday - May 25 - Tour - Montserrat
Fountains Meet with DIS folks

Saturday May 26 Set sail from Barcelona 9:00pm

Sunday May 27 - at Sea

Monday May 28 - Palermo, Sicily. Ashore 7:00am, Onboard 5:30pm

Tuesday May 29 - Naples, Italy. Ashore 7:30am, Onboard 7:30pm

Wednesday, May 30 - Olbia, Sardinia. Ashore 8:00am, onboard 6:00pm

Thursday, May 31 - Civtavecchia (Rome) Italy. Ashore 7:30m, Onboard 9:30pm

Friday, June 1 - at Sea

Saturday, June 2 - La Spezia (Florence, Pisa) Italy. Ashore 7:30am, Onboard 7:30pm

Sunday, June 3 - Marseille, France. Ashore 8:00am, Onboard 9:00pm

Monday, June 4 - Villefranche (Monte Carlo, Cannes, Nice, Eze) France. Ashore 8:00am, Onboard 11:30pm

Tuesday, June 5 - at Sea

Wednesday, June 6 - Barcelona - Gaudi

Thursday, June 7 - Fly Home

An earlier blog had our excursions listed.

Deb
Life - IT too short!

May 17, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 5 - Reader Tips and the Magic's Sailing On!

Greetings.

Well the countdown is less than a week away! I can't believe the trip is almost here. This evening I spent some time making some cabin door magnets for decoration.

Important Note: Disney Cruise Line recently began a new policy on Cabin door decorations. They may ONLY be magnetic! No Tape and no glue! Apparently some folks used materials they shouldn't have and the paint on the doors is getting ruined.

Cabin Door Tip: Bring some blank 8x10 magnetic sheets with you and some tape. That way if you have any photos printed that you want to display, just tape them onto the magnet!

Here's a tip from Rose who will be sailing on the July 18th Med Cruise: One tip about currency exchanges that perhaps you can share with readers. I've always found better exchange rates withdrawing money from an ATM machine than if I had used travelers checks or a currency exchange office either here or overseas. Also, every ATM machine I've ever encountered was equipped to display in multiple languages, even in some of the smaller and obscure towns I've visited. That should alleviate the concerns of anxious travelers who are unfamiliar with the language. Also remind people that Visa & M/C are more widely accepted over Amex. For people who rely solely on Amex, this may pose a problem.

And Rose adds: If feasible, make sure you or members in your party get gelato while in Palermo - It is truly the best that Italy has to offer!

The Magic is way out in the Atlantic now... the furthest it has been from land.

Disney Magic's Position May 17, 2007.jpg

I started the packing game tonight....we'll see how it goes. The goal is to be 95% done by Sunday evening!

Deb
Life - IT too short!

May 14, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 4 - British Airlines and The Magic's Journey Is Underway!

Thanks to everyone who has been sending information to me about my upcoming trip to Europe and the Mediterranean Cruise.

Here are two helpful emails I received about Luggage in London's airports!


LisaC writes: Just came back from Gatwick. The luggage limit for checked bags is 50 lbs but they will honor up to 70 pounds until September as they have many overseas travelers who find this restriction difficult. All US based airlines are now on the 50 pound standard and enforcing it I hear. Second, BA and specifically the British Air Authority (like our TSA) hold EVERYONE to ONE carry on bag, period. So if you are transiting thru Heathrow or Gatwick be prepared to get all your stuff into one bag. You can immediately take out bits once you are thru the security checkpoint but going thru it's ONE bag. We used standard rollaboard bags and they fit the limit just fine.


From Jeanine: Just got back from Greece where we flew part of the way on British Air. I was a little nervous also about not getting seat assignments until 24 hours before, but I was able to check online the day before and they had assigned us a window/aisle on the side so it was fine.

What I wasn't prepared for, is that if you transfer in Heathrow, they limit your carry-on to 1 item--including purses! Even if your airline allows 2, they wouldn't let people in the terminal unless you could stuff everything into 1 bag. Once inside the terminal, there were absolutely no luggage carts whatsoever so after carting around a heavy backpack for the duration of my 5-hour layover, I would never go through there without wheeled luggage.


Thank you Ladies!!!!!


The Disney Magic left Florida Saturday and is on it's way to Barcelona! The Itinerary is as follows:
5/12/07 - Port Canaveral Sail Away
5/13/07 - Castaway Cay
5/14/07 " Sea Day (no port of call)
5/15/07 " Sea Day (no port of call)
5/16/07 " Sea Day (no port of call)
5/17/07 " Sea Day (no port of call)
5/18/07 " Sea Day (no port of call)
5/19/07 " Sea Day (no port of call)
5/20/07 " Tenerife, Canary Islands
5/21/07 " Sea Day (no port of call)
5/22/07 " Cadiz, Spain
5/23/07 " Gibraltar
5/24/07 " Sea Day (no port of call)
5/25/07 " Barcelona
5/26/07 " Debarkation

Here are a couple links of interest:

1) The Davidson Family are blogging their way across the Atlantic on the Disney Magic.


2) Track Cruise Ships on their journey Scroll down the page and enter the Disney Magic under Ship's Name
Here's the photo from 11am today:
magic1.jpg

May 12, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 3 - PreTrip ToDos

I'm now less than 2weeks away from my first trip to Europe and the Disney 11 night Mediterranean Cruise. I've had such a busy spring - what with the Special Needs Book 2nd edition, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer - well; I'm just now really able to focus on the trip.

LUGGAGE -- First things first, I went to the British Airways website to check out their luggage restrictions. Got to spend time this weekend making sure my carryon and checked luggage will comply with their regulations. I have heard they are MUCH stricter in Europe than the airlines are in the US.

WHAT TO PACK - This is another one of those really hard things. We have a limit of 2 checked suitcases (with weight restrictions). We are going to be gone from May 23rd until June 6th - 15 days! Plus we'll be on a cruise ship so we also need to pack at least a couple dressy outfits as well as dinner attire. I must remember to pack touring clothes that will cover my shoulders and knees for visits to cathedrals! Oh my!!!! I can tell already those Disney Magic laundry rooms are going to be BUSY!

JET LAG - Another item to focus on is ways to reduce Jet Lag! I have a double whammy of not just the jet lag issue, but the insulin shot issue. As a Type I diabetic (insulin dependent) I take 3-4 insulin shots per day, with meals and then a 24 hour insulin shot at bedtime. Well, bedtime for my body doesn't change just because I flew to another time zone. Luckily my travel alarm clock allows for 2 time zones to be active so that will help quite a bit.

Jet lag - The most I've ever experienced in changing time zones is going from the East Coast US to the West Coast US. A little bothersome, but really, not a big deal. However this time we will be crossing multiple time zones.

I found this great article on the Mayo Clinic website simply called "Jet Lag"! Here are a couple of the tips the article suggests:

1) If you're traveling east, try going to bed one hour earlier each night for a few days before your departure. If possible, start eating meals closer to the time you'll eat at your destination.

2) Drink plenty of water before, during and after the flight to counteract the dry cabin air. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

3) Once you board the plane, set your watch to the destination time zone.

AIRLINE SEAT ASSIGNMENTS - One thing I did not realize until it was too late, is that British Airways only allows seat assignments 24 hours in advance. Their frequent flyers and first class passengers can do their seat assignments earlier, but the rest of us have 24 hours. I'm a little nervous about this, I have to admit. The last thing I want to do is end up between strangers. I don't do well in middle seats. Plus, I'll have to give myself some insulin shots during the trip and I really don't want to do that next to strangers. Hopefully it will all workout ok!

DISNEY CRUISE LINE ONLINE CHECK-IN - To simplify the boarding process, Disney has online check in. There are several forms to fill out and print - Guest Information, Payment Authorization, the Disney Cruise Line Contract, and then Flight and Medical information. This is usually a breeze to do for Disney's regular cruises -- not so for the Med Cruises. For some reason the European airports and other pertinent fields in the database have not been modified for the Mediterranean cruises. We are using Disney Transfers from the airport to our hotel, but our airline information does not show up correctly on the website. ??? So then we tried to bypass that and print out the forms that need to be signed - they also included all the names of most of those tied to our reservations! It has their cabin numbers and lines for us to sign that we allow them to charge back to our stateroom!!!??? Our Travel Agent didn't understand it but said just to bypass that portion and print out the items we needed to sign.

Let's see, I have a whole list of other things to do before we leave home. Fortunately we have a master list of all these... well; I think we have a master list LOL.

Here are just a few things you need to make sure are on your list!
1) Stop mail and paper delivery
2) Have a neighbor keep an eye on your home (some jurisdictions suggest letting your local police department know).
3) Call your credit card companies to alert them you are going to be traveling overseas.
4) Change any work/personal voice mail recordings.
5) Make sure you have plenty of your prescription medication. Most mail-order/local pharmacies will allow you to request most refills early for vacations!

Whew - I'm tired just thinking about it.

Deb
Life - IT too short!

April 28, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 2 - Excursions

After deciding to book Disney's 11 night Med cruise, the next big decision, for me at least, was deciding on excursions. There are so many to choose from and of course, none offer everything you want to do... so you have some serious choices to make.

The other complicating factor is that Disney Cruise Line opened excursion reservations on line at 3 AM! Yes, you read that right... So I had to set the alarm and get up in the middle of the night to try and book the excursions I wanted. I also hoped for Palo dining reservations, but that became secondary. I wasn't a happy camper..but what can you do?

In deciding on our excursions, we laid out the itinerary so we could see where we'd be the day before and the day after each port. Didn't want to book back to back 8-9 hour excursions.. whew....

The very first excursion I attempted to book was for Villefranche -- Convertible Car Tour of the Cote d'Azur. Yes you and your companion get to drive around the French Riveria in your own convertible! It was VERY disappointing to see this was completely booked when I got online. I guess all the concierge guests (who get to reserve prior to the Castaway Club members) gobbled them all up. Since that time, I have heard from some on later cruises that this excursion seems to be unavailable even when things "open up". Hmm..

From there I just went to the first port and booked from there.

Palermo: Sights of Palermo

La Specia: Florence and Michelangelo

Civitavecchia - Jumping Back into Eternal Rome

Marseille - Castellet and Wine Tasting

Naples - Amalfi Coast Drive and the Ruins of Pompeii

Olbia - we decided to sleep in and enjoy a late morning stroll and lunch with friends.

Villefrance -- well, we haven't decided what to do there yet. I keep checking the DCL website in hopes someone would have cancelled and the Convertible would become available.

All that coupled with 2 sea days in 11 nights, I'd say we are going to be busy busy busy.

Read Part I of my Mediterranean Cruise Articles
Deb
Life -- IT too short!

April 16, 2007

Cruising the Mediterranean Part 1 - It Begins

Wow! It was March 2006 when all the Disney sites seem to be a buzz speculating where the Cruise Line would spend the summer of 2007. Alaska? Hawaii? Europe? When it was announced that the ship would sail to Barcelona and offer 11 and 10 night cruises of Italy and France.... I had to take a serious look.

Palermo! Oh my gosh...the first stop on the cruise is where my mother's family is from. Quickly, I decided this would be my one chance to visit my "homeland" and I had to go.

Then I stopped and said -- Ok, let's think about this rationally (hmm.. does one ever plan a Disney trip rationally?). This cruise could be quite an expensive venture. Not only would we be paying Disney Cruise Line prices, but we would also need airfare to and from the US, pre-stay hotel accommodations, excursion costs and who knows what else.

I started emailing my cruise buddies. (Yes, there is a group of us that seem to cruise together annually. I'm sure it will come as no surprise to you that we all met on a Disney ship! LOL.) Well, several folks were very excited... so we talked and thought and decided to go for it!!!

I'm not real crazy about traveling overseas these days but since I never have, I figured why not do it with Disney.

We have a Category 7 Navigator's verandah booked and plan to fly in a few days early to tour Barcelona.

My next post on the Med Cruise will talk about our excursions!

Deb
Life " IT too short!

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About Mediterranean Cruise 2007

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Deb's Digest in the Mediterranean Cruise 2007 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Disney Wonder Pacific Coast Cruise 2011 is the previous category.

Panama Canal Cruise WB 2008 is the next category.

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