by Erin Foster
BARCELONA ESCAPE DAY 4 – MEDITERRANEAN MAGIC DAY 1
This was the transition day. We slept in (yay!), ate a leisurely breakfast, and left the hotel in Barcelona in the late morning. Disney took care of our luggage and we boarded buses for the 20-minute ride to the Port of Barcelona to start our voyage on the Disney Magic.
At this point, our day was much like anyone else’s sailing on the Magic. We freshened up in our room, grabbed some buffet lunch at Topsiders, explored the ship, attended the safety drill, and danced at the sail-away party. My first stop was the ship’s store, Treasure Ketch, where I purchased a DCL Mediterranean exclusive Vinylmation to add to my embarrassingly vast collection.
As an extra nice touch, the Cruise Line left us a small fruit basket in our room and Adventures by Disney left us a case of Evian water and some fun AbD refillable water bottles. Since we had used DVC points to pay for part of the trip, DVC also left us a beautiful wooden keepsake box. This is the point where I’ll mention that I had to purchase another suitcase in the ship’s gift shop to transport all of our loot home.
The sole organized activity for the day was a brief welcome reception for this leg of the trip. The reception took place in Studio Sea, deck four midship, with the room was just for us. Very fancy.
While all of the families on the Barcelona Escape trip were sailing on the Disney Magic (this was a requirement), not all of them were adding the Mediterranean Magic Adventures by Disney supplement to their cruise. Three of the Barcelona families (including mine) were cruising AbD style, while three were enjoying the Magic on their own (we continued to see them on the ship at meals and shows). While some left, we gained three new families for the remainder of our journey, two with elementary-age children and one young married couple.
Dinner was on our own in the ship’s regular dining rooms. Some Adventurers spent the evening enjoying the Magic’s entertainment, but we hit the hay early to rest up for the busy touring time ahead of us.
MEDITERRANEAN MAGIC DAY 2, MONACO AND THE VILLAGE OF EZE
We sailed overnight and docked in the morning at Villefranche, France. Regular Magic guests had to arrange their own port excursions, but Adventures by Disney took care of everything for us.
Villefranche is a tender port, which means that instead of walking off the ship onto a dock, you have to take a small boat from the ship to the land. One of the perks of AbD is that they have priority over other guests on the tenders. They held the first tender off the boat for us.
We were joined by our local guide for the day, Patrice, an expert on Monaco and the French Riviera. Patrice gave us special “Whispers,” basically small radios with one-ear earbuds that allow you to hear the guide well without him having to raise his voice. Most of our local guides used this method as well.
We strolled past the Monaco Oceanographic Museum, where we posed for shots with Jaques Cousteau’s yellow submarine and toured a small garden of native plants.
Next up was a visit to the Palace of Monaco, much of which functions as a museum. We were immersed in the history of this tiny principality and, of course, got to see many artifacts related to Princess Grace.
We viewed the changing of the palace guard, which is much smaller than the changing of the guard in London but still very regal, and we were allowed a brief time to explore and shop on our own. But mostly we were occupied by admiring the incredible view. Our guide Dusty commented that you can almost smell the money in Monaco. I think he’s right.
By the way, the blue patch in the center left is the town swimming pool.
Lunch was a spectacular buffet atop the roof at the Hotel Fairmont Monte Carlo.
Eating there, I felt more than a little like Princess Grace myself.
The girls and I did a bit more exploring of the town and decided we were glad it was Sunday, meaning most of the over-the-top shopping temptations (Chanel, Louis Vuitton, etc.) were closed. However, the Casino was open and my husband stepped inside to play a few hands of blackjack. He won 100 Euros – or about 1/20th of what a room at the Fairmont would cost.
A brief bus ride took us to the charming town of Eze, France, an ancient village in the mountains. We hiked through the town, past a succulent garden, for more of the most breathtaking views on the planet.
One of the most charming details about Eze is that the hotel there is located up such a rocky passages that donkeys are used to carry guests’ luggage from lower areas up to their rooms. You can meet the donkeys at reception.
Dinner was back on the Magic. Junior Adventurers (children) were welcome to use their family’s regular dinner table, dine at a quick-serve venue, or in the kids’ clubs. The adults in the group were invited to join Dusty and James in a private dining room at Palo, the ship’s adults-only restaurant.
Despite being completely stuffed from lunch, this was a must-do activity for me. Suffice it to say that I let more than one notch out on my belt that day.