Sunday, December 18, 2011

Disney Cruise Day 2: Barcelona

We started off the day in Barcelona with a fabulous brunch at Hotel Arts, where Declan got his first crack at the great European culinary contribution of crepes with Nutella. I think this was the point where he really started to enjoy travelling.  We then tried to squeeze in a trip to the Picasso Museum but the line up was over 2 hours long so we bailed on that and just walked around the neighborhood for awhile. 

We got to see the local sights, like the unsettling placement of the butcher right next to the vetrinarian.

Eventually we hopped in a taxi and made the trip over to the cruise ship terminal.  The boarding process was quick and painless.
Excited to finally see Mickey's boat.

Our ship was the Disney Magic, which first set sail in 1995, so it is a smaller, older boat by modern cruise ship standards but we found it very commodious.  We boarded the ship and found our stateroom, lucky #7076.  I had been worried about how the three of us would manage in 300 square feet of space for seven nights. The last time we tried to sleep in the same room as Declan, we were all up til 4 in the morrning, driving around the streets of Longview, Texas trying to get Declan to fall asleep.  We found our stateroom to be actually pretty comfortable over the week.   Our room was very efficent in its use of space, and there was a curtain that would seperate the "living room" where Declan slept from our bedroom. 

We went up dockside for the "Bon Voyage" deck party, which consisted of the regular Radio Disney repetoire of bad music coupled with line dancing.

  This guy was having more fun than everyone else combined.  I should have taken video.  He was hypnotic and the still pictures don't really capture it.

Declan cheered him on from the sidelines.

Then we pulled away from the dock and set sail.  The neighboring ship made ours look pretty Mickey Mouse. 

What this blog needs is a laugh track.  Anyway, our ship's horn blew the opening notes to "When You Wish Upon a Star" and we had officially set sail.  We immediately went below decks to play Bingo, because that just seemed like the cruise ship thing to do.

Shane was the big winner, scoring a Hannah Montana backpack, a Disney Cruise ball cap, and the first of many, many keychains we were to win over the course of the week.  Shane bequeathed his bounty to his sole heir.

Other families won thousands of dollars, but I think we may have had more fun than anyone else.  With as much as I love playing bingo, it is a wonder I ever thought I was too cool to enjoy a cruise.
Declan on our balcony in Barcelona ready for dinner.

We returned to our room to get ready for dinner.  Now if I ever needed to prove that my husband loves me, this fact would be Exhibit A.  When we booked the cruise we were given the option of being seated by ourselves for dinner or being seated with strangers.  I clamored for strangers, and Shane agreed!  He is such a good sport. We would be seated with the same people every night, although we would rotate through 3 different restaurants.  Our tablemates turned out to be a family of 5 from Spain.  The dad, whom I will always think of as "Spanish Shane Nelken", was Rajeesh.

  Rajeesh was half Indian, half Spanish, but spoke very good English.  His wife, Mumblemumblemumble, didn't speak much English at all, and we never did catch her name.  Their kids were Chloe 4, Wendy 5, and Gio 6. They all attended American school in Barcelona, and spoke English really well.  Declan was so taken with Wendy I cannot even tell you.  A lot of his good behaviour over our holiday could be attributed to us using "you don't want to miss dinner at the restaurant with Wendy, do you?" as a threat.   He would never jeopardize dinner with Wendy. 

Declan sharing a laugh with Wendy. He wore his Star Wars pjs to dinner to impress her, because she's a big fan.

So funnily enough, the kids all had such a good time together that we never even used the kids' club at dinner time.  They would take turns playing video games with each other, and it was all very sweet.  Even though dinner would last around 2.5 hours, Declan was thoroughly entertained the whole time.  The waiters were also a big part of that.  We had the same waiters every night, Plamen from Bulgaria, and Martin his Turkish assistant. 
Plamen with Wendy, Declan and Gio.

They knew our kids and what to bring them and how to make them laugh.  They did magic tricks for the kids right at the table every night.  One of the most stressful parts about travelling with a little kid, is having to enforce "restaurant behaviour" day after day, and the Disney experience really removed all that pressure and stress.   I don't think I ever noticed any body's kid acting up in the restaurants- everyone was just having fun.   Anyway, that was a big, big bonus for us.   
The food was pretty good too.  They shape a lot of the things into mouse ears.  And the ultimate verdict on sharing a table with strangers was a big thumbs up; we really enjoyed getting to know another family and recapping with each other our respective adventures at the end of every day. 

How about Declan's shirt?  Think he enjoyed his dinner?
We went back to our stateroom for bedtime and found the first of our daily origami towel animals - a swan, with a surprising aggressive streak, whereby it would suddenly go for the jugular.  We might have over played the danger because Declan became very leary of them, and only the fact that they came with chocolate would entice him to approach.

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