I'm sorry that it has taken me awhile to get my first post cruise post up, but with the start of middle school, schedule changes, and internet outages I am just now getting some real time to reflect and write on a truly magical (but not without some challenges) vacation!
Since Disney won't be back in Europe until at least 2013, these reports might not be very beneficial in planning your next Disney Cruise, but hopefully it will help give you a vision for the future, when DCL returns (hopefully sooner rather than later) to the Med!
I'm going to start with an overview of sorts. Some differences we found while cruising with Disney in the Mediterranean compared to the Caribbean. Some of these things we had prepared for (no stop at Castaway Cay), others not so much (debarkation hassles). One thing for sure there were some surprises -- for better or worse -- along the way! I'll be more in depth when we come to those parts of the trip.
We had read and heard that cruising the Med is a whole different monster compared to the Caribbean, so we embarked with a different set of expectations. we had prepared ourselves for early mornings, longer days, and public transportation. We knew that this would be a port intensive cruise, with 5 ports in 7 nights, we we ready to be busy, but we were also realistic. we know our children well, and how they prefer to spend their Disney Cruises. We looked at our itinerary and found a day that we would treat as a second day at sea. Going commando throughout Western Europe was not the most effective use of our time. We chose carefully what we would try to do when we got off the ship. We prepared ourselves that since members of our family ranged from ages 3-69, there would be things we would miss. We were prepared for all of this, but I don't think I fully appreciated how different this Disney Cruise would be from our previous six.
I think that the biggest difference in cruising the Caribbean compared to the Mediterranean is the ports themselves. For the most part in the Caribbean the ports are your destination. Sure if you are in Nassau you might have an excursion or hop a taxi to Atlantis, but you are there. Even if you just walk off the ship you can hit the Straw Market, or find one of 900 women who will braid your daughter's hair. In the Med the port is just the start. Monaco is (in theory) a 15 minute train ride from Villefranche, Rome is almost an hour and a half from Citvitavecchia! A lot of our time was spent on European public transportation going to and from the ship.
The attitude and culture of the region is also a big difference. Many of the places we visited were large metropolitan areas. "No worries mon!" was not something I heard when trying to circumnavigate Rome in search of the Trevii Fountain! Again, this was not unexpected, but as I look back on it, it did have a real effect on the vacation. There were also a lot more European cruisers on the ship. This should not have been a surprise to me, but it was. I guess I underestimated the international appeal of the Disney Cruise Line!
Another thing that a Disney Cruise vacation has when leaving from Florida compared to Barcelona is Walt Disney World! Something that we learned after our first two cruises was that is was too much to go straight of the ship to the drive home. With cruise #3 we began tacking on a day at Disney World, and soon it became a couple days pre-cruise followed by a couple days post-cruise! A few of our fellow Dis Board cruisers coming from the States visited Disneyland Paris during their vacation, but with school and work schedules we just couldn't afford the time. Unfortunately it would be back to Bucharest (and reality) the evening of the cruise. It is always a nicer transition when you can ween yourself off being pampered on the ship with a couple nights at Disney!
So eleven days off the ship those are my first thoughts. Coming up in the next several posts will be our port and ship experiences!