Disney Cruise Line and Its Ports of Call LIVE! Guidebook

PassPorter's Disney Cruise Line LIVE! Guidebook
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Our European Cruise Experiences

Our European Cruise Experiences

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Like many other die-hard Disney Cruise Line fans, we jumped at the chance to book the inaugural Mediterranean cruise in 2007. When the fever abated, we realized we had a much bigger problem on our hands: How were we going to write authoritatively about all those amazing ports of call? There was only one answer: Get to Europe before the Magic would! We thought of visiting each port by air or rail, but we wouldn’t be experiencing the cities and ports from our readers’ perspective. If our readers were going to do Rome in a day, so would we! So, we booked a cruise on Royal Caribbean that hit most of the same ports as Disney’s itineraries. Here are some key lessons learned:

Lost Luggage—This seems to be far more common on flights to Europe. Dave’s suitcase went to Lisbon for a couple of days before it found him again in Villefranche. Another couple on our flight lost everything, and all four parties at Dave’s lunch table in Florence reported at least one lost item. Distribute each traveler’s clothing between several bags, just in case. If a bag doesn’t show up on the carousel in Barcelona’s Terminal A, search out the Iberia lost luggage desk. The staff handles lost luggage for most airlines. File a report with Disney once you board the ship, too, with the incident number given to you by the airline.

Shore Excursions—We’re convinced that for most ports, a shore excursion is the best choice for the majority of cruisers. It may feel like “If this is Tuesday it must be Rome,” but the time you save by never getting lost and never having to wait in line for an admission ticket is golden. Many of Dave’s full-day excursions came with wireless headsets, which meant he could wander a short distance from the tour group but still hear everything and keep track of the group’s movements. Jennifer’s half-day excursions were hit-or-miss. The more overwhelming ports—such as Rome—are best served by full-day excursions.

Shopping—Even though most excursions include shopping stops, they leave little time for indecision or comparison shopping. If something strikes your fancy, get it—you probably won’t get another chance. Be prepared for just a little buyer’s remorse, especially on big-ticket items. Have a plan, have a budget, have a recipient list, and do your best to stick to it.

Money—You’ll want euros for cash purchases in the Mediterranean and much of Northern Europe. Get euros from your hometown bank to save time and money. Other currencies you may encounter are the British pound, Danish kroner, Norwegian krone, Icelandic króna, and the Russian ruble. Credit cards reduce or eliminate the need to have the local currency (let your bank know you're traveling). 

Security—We cover this in each port section, but we can’t say it enough: Be careful. Dave lost his wallet on our trip. Was his pocket picked? It’s easy to blame, harder to prove. You’re most vulnerable when you’re distracted, as travelers will undoubtedly be from time to time.

Customs—Thanks to the European Union umbrella, there will be no passport or customs inspections in most ports of call, much like in the Caribbean. A notable exception is Russia, where you’ll need your passports, and travel on your own requires a hard-to-get visa (see page 495). Without exception, travelers from North America will need a passport for these trips. Period. See page 66.

Read our in-depth report at http://www.passporter.com/dcl/mediterranean.asp.

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Top Photo Slice: Author Dave in Pompeii (℗ 53289) Photo contributed by © Jennifer Marx


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