1. Disney Magic Transatlantic Cruise: Day One – Barcelona, Spain

    490 days after booking our Disney Transatlantic cruise and the day had finally arrived. It was indeed a strange feeling that all that time had passed and today was the day we would be boarding the cruise after we started talking about it in Alaska over two years ago. To my surprise I had actually slept okay despite taking forever to fall asleep the night before and woke up just before the alarm went off. Breakfast once again consisted of a tea from Starbucks a few doors away from the hotel as well as a croissant – we didn’t want to eat to much as we had the earliest Port Arrival Time of 11:00am so would be eating lunch as soon as we boarded.

    We took plenty of time to get ready and left the room just before 10:30am. There was only one other couple in the lobby so it didn’t take any time to check out and in that time one of the porters had already got a taxi for us. The journey to the port took just under ten minutes. We saw many people walking to the port and dragging their suitcases in the hot sun. The port is close but I wouldn’t recommend the walk to anyone – the bridge to Moll Adossat is a lot further away than what it looks to start with before you even start the walk across the bridge. The taxis are metered and not expensive or you could catch the port bus from near the Columbus statue for €2 – either of those but do not walk with your cases.

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    There was a small mix up with the taxi driver when he mistook us saying “Disney” when he asked which ship we were headed to for “Dock D” and he drove right past the Magic and pulled up in front of the Costa ship – sorry but I wouldn’t sail on that in a million years. Once we pointed towards the Magic, he quickly did a U-turn and drove back to Terminal C where the Magic was berthed. There were plenty of porters everywhere and before we knew it our cases had been taken – they didn’t even hang around for a tip which we had ready. After taking a few quick photos of the ship, we joined the line to have our paperwork checked before entering the terminal.

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    As soon as you enter the terminal, you pass through a security checkpoint which had no line when we arrived and took seconds to get through. There are duty free shops straight after security where you can buy drink to take on the ship with you however Carrefour is cheaper and certainly has a better selection. There was an area set up for character photos which hadn’t started yet so we passed through the next door into the main check in and waiting area which was packed. One thing worth noting with Barcelona is they allow you to arrive at any time – but your boarding number is linked to your Port Arrival Time that you select when you complete your check in online.

    We joined the line for “Gold and Silver Castaway Club Members” which seemed to move quick and then go slow again for a while. One family had an issue with a passport I think as there was about six people at the desk with them including an officer. It seemed to take forever for us to get checked in but we eventually got our Key to the World cards. I had to ask for our Silver Castaway Club lanyards as they forgot to give them to us. I have zero intention of ever wearing it as I have the most amazing way of keeping my Key to the World card close to hand – it’s called my pocket. But it’s a nice souvenir to have plus this was the first cruise that we could get them. As we had an early Port Arrival Time, we were in group 5 to board – I overheard the family checking in next to us were group 22.

    We headed back to the other part of the terminal building where Captain Mickey was out greeting and taking photos with everyone. The line wasn’t too long and it seemed to move at lightning speed as I think people wanted to rush to get their photos taken before going to get checked in. We both had our photo taken with Mickey before Goofy arrived to take over.

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    Boarding had started whilst we were meeting Mickey. We waited about another ten minutes before Group 5 was called and we were able to board. After walking past the boarding photo opportunity that was set up we had our Keys to the World swiped for the first time and then headed up an escalator towards the gangway to the ship. There was a short delay ahead of us before we boarded which was perfect as it gave me a few more minutes to take some more photos of the exterior of the Disney Magic. Not long afterwards our arrival was announced on the ship – we chose to be announced by our first names but I did hear some cringeworthy made-up names be announced.

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    As soon as we boarded we headed straight to the Port Adventures desk to get tickets for the Character Breakfast which was booked for our second sea day at 9:00am. After that, we headed to Cariocas to get lunch. Even though there was lots of empty tables, we were asked if we were willing to share a table to which the answer was no. We were seated by ourselves a few minutes later and were quickly able to get food from the buffet – the shrimp and the Mac and Cheese were amazing!

    Whilst having lunch we had used the Disney Cruise app on our iPhones to see which menus we had on each night of our cruise. Our dining room and menu rotation for the cruise was:

    Saturday – Animator’s Palate – Let the Magic Begin
    Sunday – Carioca’s – Prince and Princess (Formal Night)
    Monday – Lumiere’s – French
    Tuesday – Animator’s Palate – Pacific Rim
    Wednesday – Carioca’s – South American
    Thursday – Lumiere’s – Freezing the Night Away
    Friday – Animator’s Palate – World of Flavour (Semi Formal Night)
    Saturday – Carioca’s – Transatlantic (We had Palo booked for this night)
    Sunday – Lumiere’s – Pirates IN the Caribbean
    Monday – Animator’s Palate – Captain’s Gala (Formal Night)
    Tuesday – Carioca’s – ‘Til We Meet Again

    After finishing our lunch our stateroom was ready however before heading there, I went to Lumieres to see if our dining request had been honoured. We don’t mind which dining rotation we have, what restaurant we’re in on formal night or even what servers we have – our only request is a table to ourselves. We both have zero interest in sitting with complete strangers as we’re on holiday together so do not want to have to make awkward and pointless conversation with people we don’t know – that’s not a holiday, that’s my idea of hell. Thankfully our request had been honoured and the other two seats at our table were blocked out so no one would be able to move into them.

    We headed up to Deck 7 to our stateroom which would be our home for the next eleven nights. It was the same stateroom we’d had on our Disney Wonder cruise to Alaska so everything was familiar. We also had our Castaway Club welcome back gift waiting on the bed which was a backpack – I was hoping it would be the beach bag but did not mind as we should get that next year when we sail to the Bahamas on the Disney Dream. Our luggage had not yet turned up (we could actually see our bags outside waiting to be loaded) so we took the time to unpack our carry on luggage and get our cameras ready for the rest of the day or put everything else away that we would not need. We also met Claudine who was our stateroom hostess. I swear she was never far away when you needed her and she also sensed during the cruise that I was saving the towel creations that she was making every night – I loved that and the photo of the “towel zoo” at the end of the cruise was brilliant.

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    As we had plenty of time before the Emergency Drill, we could relax so decided to explore the ship and see the differences between the Wonder and the Magic since its Reimagining. We already preferred Carioca’s to Parrot Cay which seemed so more bright and airy and the After Hours adult area was so much better and less in your face than Route 66. The Aquadunk looked great fun and the new shaded areas on Deck 10 looked a very welcome respite from the bright sun. They had added a Concierge Lounge during the dry dock two weeks prior to our cruise which was still being worked on until we got to Funchal.

    We went into Cove Cafe to grab a nice coffee and a cupcake (these little cupcakes were divine and became an addiction of mine during the cruise) and kept on just walking around Deck 10 and taking photos of Barcelona. I was hoping for a horn battle with one of the other ships in Barcelona when they sailed away but that sadly didn’t happen.

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    We grabbed a cold drink from the drink station on Deck 9 and headed back to our stateroom to FaceTime a few family and friends before we left Barcelona and lost cellular data. We headed down to our assembly station which was “S” in Animator’s Palate about five minutes before the Emergency Drill was due to start. As I wanted to make a quick getaway afterwards, we sat on a table in our area with the easiest access to the exit. If your assembly point is in Animator’s Palate or the Walt Disney Theatre, you can enter using any stairways and doors but once the drill is over, you can only leave through the main entrance which can slow things up when you get people who are not in a rush ahead of you. It was at this point that we noticed how much quieter it was than at this point on our Alaskan cruise – most staterooms seemed to only have two people in them rather than the three or four that they can hold. After the emergency alarms a few people still hadn’t turned up but thankfully we did not wait for them and the drill started. It only takes a few minutes and is very similar to the safety demonstration that you see on a plane if you’ve never cruised before and always wondered what happens.

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    As soon as the drill was over, I made a run for it and ran up six flights of stairs to get to Deck 10 to get a good spot to watch Adventures Away – I was the fourth person up there as the majority of people wait for the elevators which take forever. I had also taken my camera bag with me to the Emergency Drill so I wouldn’t have to go via our stateroom afterwards. As in Vancouver, we had perfect weather that day which made me so happy as it meant the party would not be held indoors. When we sailed to Alaska, our sailaway party had gone slightly wrong when the tape messed up and kept repeating and the horn did not sound so all I wanted was to see Adventures Away with no mistakes. The cruise staff started warming up the crowd before introducing our Cruise Director Natalie. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, Goofy, Chip and Dale turned up shortly afterwards and Adventures Away started, the “When You Wish Upon a Star” horn blasted and it was perfect.

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    They hadn’t finished loading the ship at this point so we did not leave Barcelona for about another two hours – in fact we could still see our bags on the dock. After a couple of laps of Deck 4 and a quick visit to Guest Services to retrieve a hat left in Carioca’s at lunchtime, we headed back to our stateroom where our bags were waiting for us – we were not expecting them that quick after only just seeing them outside. It only took a few minutes to put everything away in the wardrobe or drawers before stowing the suitcases under the bed – the new beds on the Magic are great as there is plenty of room underneath them unlike the older beds.

    The show tonight on the Disney Magic was All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin which we had seen on the Wonder when we sailed to Alaska – I still have nightmares about the “comedy” juggler that featured in it. I would have happily watched it again (it was a different featured act this time) but we decided we’d rather head up to Deck 10 to watch sailaway from Barcelona.

    There wasn’t too many people watching sailaway as both the first show and early dining were already underway so Deck 10 was calm and peaceful. The port staff were on the dock to wave us off with their Mickey hands as we left the port. It was a beautiful evening in Barcelona and the sunset we were treated to made missing the show completely worth it.

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    Once we had finished watching sailaway we headed to the lobby atrium to see Minnie and Mickey who were already out greeting everyone. They were both out in their Spanish costumes – Mickey was dressed as a Matador and Minnie was wearing a flamenco dress. The lines to meet characters are always a little crazy on the first night but from our last cruise we knew we had enough time to meet them both before dinner.

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    After meeting Minnie and Mickey we headed to dinner in Animator’s Palate. We had late seating which was at 8:15pm every night which was perfect for us. We were introduced to our serving team who would be with us for the next eleven nights. James was our server, Jasmine our Assistant Server and Sudhir our Head Server. Once again we came up trumps as all three of them were absolutely incredible – I cannot describe how awesome they were.

    For our first dinner onboard I had the Fried Spiced Calamari and the Linguini Al Gamberi all washed down with a delicious Key Lime Margarita. There wasn’t really anything I wanted for dessert but I was too full anyway. After dinner, we carried on our tradition from our last cruise of walking a couple of laps of Deck 4 to help digest our dinner. Unlike in Alaska where it was light until about 11:00pm, this time it was pitch black outside. We saw that Pluto was due to be out in the atrium shortly so headed inside to meet him.

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    We headed up to Deck 10 where The Muppets was playing on the Funnelvision. We watched a couple of minutes before realising how tired we were so grabbed a cup of tea before heading back to our stateroom for the night. Waiting on our bed was our first towel animal which was a crab and our Personal Navigator for the next day.

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    We filled out the room service breakfast card and hung it outside the door ready for the next morning. After all the stress of the previous few weeks we were finally on our way on our long-awaited cruise and with that thought, it didn’t take long to fall asleep.

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