Our family is hooked on the Disney Cruise line! This was my third cruise with Disney and I still can’t wait to go on another. This is the second Disney Cruise adventure that I am going to blog about, my first being our Alaska Disney Cruise.
First of all, I have to say this was the polar opposite of our last Disney cruise in terms of weather and destination. August in Rome = hot, June in Alaska, not so much. This cruise was an amazing way to get a quick grimace of southern Europe and make you want to come back for more.
I am going to try to give you a quick overview of our trip. I will try to add some more tips and tricks that I don’t have in my old posts. I am more-so just going to share what we did at each port and not so much about the boat. Please leave comments if you would like any more details about anything that happened on this cruise.
Little background on our group:
For this trip, we traveled with 2 families, 12 in total, the youngest being 17 years old. Two new cruisers, my husband and my sister-in-law. We had 4 staterooms all on deck 2. Ten people traveled from the USA, two traveled from Norway (AKA my husband and I).
Pre-sail-away adventure: Barcelona, Spain
We stayed in Barcelona three days before sailing. This helped the part of our group that came from the states to adjust to the new time zone. We ended up staying at an apartment that slept 12 people that we found on airbnb.com. This worked out perfect for us! It made it really easy to coordinate a large group of people when we were all in the same place. It also ended up being a lot cheaper than buying six hotel rooms because most of Barcelona hotels only sleep two per room.
Day 1: Barcelona, Spain
The first full day we started the day by taking a trip out to Montserrat Monastery. I highly recommend this. It does take a full half day to make the trip out there and back. You could easily spend a full day there if you enjoy hiking.
Here is the website we used to get the information about tickets and where to catch the train.
We took the cable car up. This gives you an amazing view!
Other tips for Montserrat:
- Get there early! The later in the day the more crowed the monastery becomes.
- When you first arrive go check out the The black faced Madonna in the basilica. The line to see this is off to the right of the main church entrance. This line gets very long very fast.
- Take the rail car from the main area up to the very top of the mountain. From there you can take an easy hike up to see the ruins of an old monastery on the side of the hill. A little tip, if stairs are not your thing continue past the stairs and on the other side there is a much easier climb to the top with mostly a ramp and just a few stairs.
The second half of the day we spent touring Barcelona via a hop-on-hop-off bus (we bought a two day pass). I feel this is always the easiest way to see the most of a city, especially with a big group. In Barcelona there are two different bus companies. The one that we took was the Barcelona Bus Turístic (this is the same bus as city sightseeing). It was really confusing figuring out what bus to take. Both bus companies hit the same areas but this one has three different loop so you could have a little bit more of a choice of what you are seeing. It was also confusing because of all the different websites you could buy on for the same tour bus. After all the research I did it ends up being cheapest to buy on the Barcelona Bus Turístic website. They give you a 10% discount if you buy the tickets online. The only other option that has a possibility of being cheaper is buying on viator.com (this is if you can find a promo code to enter in for a discount).
The only other thing I have to say about the hop on hop off buses is that they can get very crowed at popular attractions. They did do a really good job at having a constant flow of buses but there were a couple locations that we had to wait for a couple of different buses to get a spot.
Our group did take a stop off the bus to see Casa Batlló. This is a very unique house build by Gaudí. There is a discount for this in the coupon booklet that Barcelona Bus Turístic hands out. If you are not taking this bus you can buy tickets online to skip the line.
Every ticket comes with an audio guide to learn more about the building while touring it. Tip – use headphones (from the tour bus) to make it a more comfortable experience and this will free up your hands to take pictures.
Day 2: Barcelona, Spain
We spent another day riding around on the hop on hop off bus.
In the afternoon we had tickets to see La Sagrada Familia. First off I have to say this is the most amazing church that I have ever seen and it is not even done being constructed.
If you go to Barcelona this is a must see. I highly recommend buying your tickets online to skip the line. My only other tip for this stop is if you want to go up one of the towers in the elevators buy the tickets as soon as you get inside. You can ask about them at the information desk or buy the tickets online before you go. We waited until the end of our visit to ask and it was an almost 3 hour wait at that point.
This church was absolutely amazing and one of the highlights of our trip!
The second part of the day we went to Gaudi Park (actually called Park Güll). You can easily spend half a day here. This park is on a large hill, so expect some upwards hiking. They do have picnic tables a little was up the hill (just keep following the sighs, they do exist). We brought our lunch with us but didn’t find the tables until after we had already ate our food.
Update: Park Güll now has a fee and limited tickets per time slot to see the main area of the Park starting October 1, 2013. Tickets can be bought online up to three months before. Here is where you can buy the tickets. I am actually kind of happy about this. When we were there it was really overcrowded. Which made it hard to see the brilliance of the park behind all the people taking pictures.
To end the day, a small group of us ended up walking down Las Ramblas after dinner. It was fun to see some of the night life start up. If we were not so tired from the day’s activities we would have partaken more. Well, I guess we were walking down the street drinking a to-go sangria. I don’t know if it could have gotten better than that.