Mayhem in the Med: Day 1, Embarkation

Posted: June 18, 2011 in Mediterranean Cruise, Paris

Really, the journey began the day before Embarkation Day, on the 7th of June when I packed my bags and left my studio, heading for my friend’s apartment in Paris. The reasoning for this movement was that the shuttles don’t come out as far as my apartments and my flight was an early morning one that required me to get a shuttle, or risk public transport and potentially miss my flight. I erred on the side of caution, and Nicolas offered me his bed for the night, which was gratefully accepted.. but I didn’t really end up getting much sleep in the end!!
I got to N’s apartment and dropped off my bags, then we headed off to get a suitcase from N’s brother for his upcoming journey to Beijing. We ended up going out for a drink, then the three of us turned into four, then the four of us turned into five and we found ourselves heading towards a restaurant where two of us had dessert and the rest of us had dinner, but all of us had crepes and rose cider (which was soooooo good!). Anyway, long story short on that count, we didn’t get back to N’s apartment until somewhere around midnight, at which point we weren’t really tired so N and I sat around and watched his roommate’s ferret (Calvin) flop clumsily around the living room, pull books off shelves and obsess with N’s borrowed suitcase.
Finally I went to bed somewhere around 12.30am-1am, I think, although I didn’t get to sleep until about 2am, so  by the time I had to get up again (3.30am), I hadn’t really slept, but just napped a little. As I’d done the day before in the Metro, I muscled my bags into the lift/down the stairs and found myself pleasantly surprised by the fact that the shuttle had just pulled up and was ready and waiting for me – completely empty, so I got to choose my own seat close to the window and heater (a bit chilly that early in the morning!).

The driver pelted through the streets of Paris, going back and forth across the city at least 3 times to pick up people in different arrondissements (parts of the city), and I was struck by how beautiful Paris is at night when people aren’t pushing and shoving one another through metro turnstiles, into buildings and down busy sidewalks. Barely anybody was up, there was very little traffic and the streets were lit by street lamps that made everything glow a pleasant reddish-orange colour. Every now and then a neon shop sign would splash a bit of different colour or colours into the mix and then it would go back to that nice warm glow for a while. It felt like I was the only one in Paris, and I found myself liking the city once more, but still disliking the people.
Soon enough, however, I found myself being spilled out onto the sidewalk outside of Paris ORLY Ouest, and with sleep laden feet I shuffled my way into the terminal and found myself a seat near the Vueling counters.  I huddled against my luggage for another hour or so before we could finally check in for the flight, at which point I was given a window seat and my large suitcase was whisked away, leaving me with my handbag and my roll on suitcase, with which I proceeded through security and into the waiting lounge.
Once there I wandered around for a bit before settling in a corner to watch people queue up and buy coffee and espressos from the outrageously priced vendor, who had obviously taken advantage of the fact that he was the only one in the lounge in order to extort people from their hard earned cash. I don’t think half the people who bought coffee were awake enough to notice the prices, but the ones that were just looked determined to get their caffeine fix at any cost.
Now, you’ll notice by this point I haven’t mentioned any food yet. I had one pain au chocolat before leaving N’s place earlier that morning, and I was beginning to think about buying something from the overpriced vendor. But no, I reasoned with myself, I would not eat anything until I got on board the Magic. After all, I had already paid enough for the cruise, I could go without food a little longer and get something really good on the ship. And so I sat, and watched, and waited.

My stomach rumbled its way to Barcelona, only stopping as I was captivated by the beautiful scenery under the plane as we made our descent. Right there, at the edge of the city, sat the Disney Magic, waiting for its passengers – waiting for me!

And thus began tourist mode, with at least one of my cameras close to hand at any given time.

As you can see from the photo, it was pretty gloomy when we landed. I kept hoping that the weather would be nothing like it had been in Paris for the few days previous, and somebody must have been listening, because the sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds and the good weather crept on in the following day.

But, I digress. The plane landed at the Barcelona International Airport, Terminal 1 (BCN), and we all snailed our way off the plane and into the brightest, cleanest, most welcoming airport I’ve seen in quite some time. Really, I have a hard time using the adjective ‘beautiful’ in the same sentence as ‘airport’, but Barcelona Airport really is beautiful. According to Wikipedia, it was built in 2009. But really, it’s been well kept so far. I can see a new airport terminal in France becoming like ORLY or CDG within days, but credit is due to Barcelona and Spain, for it’s beautiful gateway to the country.
Trying not to be too distracted by the shiny things (both the airport and in shop windows), I headed to baggage claim and hauled my suitcase off the carousel. From there, I headed out through the exit and was greeted by a smiling lady waving a Mickey hand and wearing a DCL Guest Services Costume, who pointed out where I could put my luggage (I forgot to put my Disney tag on my bag before I sent it on its way in Paris, otherwise it would’ve already been picked up by the porters), and then I followed a large group of Americans and one Spanish lady with another Mickey hand to the awaiting transportation.

The drive to the port took about 30 mins, but we didn’t really see any sights except for a cemetery sitting on the cliffside and the port itself. I don’t think I would’ve really taken in anything else, though, because at that point I was soooooo excited about getting onto the Magic and having a good time – even with the comment from a small child behind me ‘Mummy, is that the Titanic?!’ upon seeing the ship….
However, my excitement was short lived when I saw the line to check onto the ship’s manifest and found out I wouldn’t be boarding until about 1pm, as I’d been assigned Boarding Group 21. At that point, it was around 11.30am, and I thought I really couldn’t bear waiting any longer. I joined the queue – the one exclusively for Castaway Club members – and was instantly glad about being a repeat offender. Er.. cruiser. It was infinitely smaller than the one for the ‘regular’ cruisers who hadn’t been on the Disney Cruise Line before, although not quite as small as the Concierge line.. one day I’ll get into that line. Anyway, I checked in and got my lanyard (hurray! somewhere to keep my Key to the World card so I don’t lose it instantly!) and then headed through to the main hall of the cruise terminal, which was really a massive hall with some plastic chairs stuck in the middle – all taken already.
Reluctantly, I sat down on the floor and watched people get their photos taken with my former boss, Mortimer. Er.. Mickey. Dressed up in his Spanish gladrags, the Mouse grinned his way through masses of sticky fingered, snotty nosed children and two really intense Japanese people dressed in Chip N Dale paraphernalia who went through the line at least 5 times. He (or she) had definitely earned his pay for the day. Finally they announced the family of the day and started calling the Boarding Numbers, but I still had a long wait ahead of me as they repeated over and over ‘Now boarding number ……! For those whose numbers have not yet been called, please take a seat and enjoy the cruise terminal!’ Enjoy the cruise terminal? I wasn’t really sure what there was to enjoy except Mickey, a foreign exchange booth and a shop that bore the name ‘Dutty free’, instead of the traditional ‘Duty Free’ which I find is more internationally known.
By that time I was hungry. Really, really hungry. My stomach was rumbling louder and louder, threatening to out-shout the Boarding announcements, and then suddenly, happily, it was my time to board the ship! I practically ran for the gangway, stopping briefly to get a pic with the boss (carefully avoiding contact with the gloves that seemed to have touched every person waiting for the ship) and to scan my key to the world card before finally, at long last, I was asked my name and the loudspeakers inside the Lobby Atrium rang out with the words..

“Please welcome to the Disney Magic, Ebony!!!”

I was there. Finally.

For those wondering, the movie on Funnel Vision is Beauty and the Beast

It seemed like it had taken forever, but I was finally there, and my first stop was lunch.  I snagged a Bacon, Brie and Tomato Panini from Goofy’s Galley and sat up on Deck 10 until it was time to claim my room and set down my bags.

My seating assignment was LAPLAPPLAP, meaning that I would begin at Lumiere’s, then head to Animator’s Palate, and finally finish with Parrot Cay before beginning the rotation again. I would be missing one of the nights at Lumiere’s for a seating at Palo (the adults only restaurant with a surcharge), but otherwise I would be at Table 43, following the rotation every night for the second dinner seating beginning at 8.30pm.

The first night’s show was ‘Let the Magic Begin’ which was all about a little boy coming onto the Magic and wanting to become the Captain. He meets a few of the characters along the way (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy etc) and sets sail. It’s all very Disney, but it sets the mood perfectly and I came out of the theater smiling and ready for dinner at Lumiere’s, the restaurant themed after Beauty and the Beast, situated just off the Lobby Atrium.
I was seated at a table of 6 people, 2 of whom didn’t turn up for the first couple of nights. 2 of the people who did turn up were Kirsten and Lee, a couple from Toronto, and another solo sailer, Jess, who was from the States but had traveled pretty widely through his work.  It turned out to be a really good seating arrangement, as we all got on really well and talked about anything and everything whilst enjoying the good food. That night the menu was the ‘Let the Magic Begin’ menu, and it featured the Yachtsman Steakhouse Sirloin (which I snapped up without hesitation) and an amazing Kahlua Chocolate Creme Brulee dessert. Needless to say, that night I rolled myself down to room 2509, put my head on the (soft, amazing, wonderful) pillow and sank into sleep.

Facebook Status of the Day: “All Aboard!!”
Photo Count: 75

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