Graphic by Amilia Skyeby Kevin Bentley

My family and I have taken two Alaskan Cruises with Mickey. Both were end of May sailings, over Memorial Day. The first one was in 2011, which was also the first year that Disney sailed to Alaska. The second was in 2013. Both left from Vancouver, British Colombia. (Disney sailed from Seattle in 2012). The 2011 sailing was also our first Disney cruise. We live north of Seattle, so it was a natural choice for us as transportation to and from Vancouver was easy.

Our first stop was Vancouver. In 2011 we took AMTRAK up from Everett, WA, as the station is only a little ways from our house. We stayed two nights before the cruise in Vancouver at the Fairmont Waterfront. The first night we got in a little late, as we had taken the afternoon train up. The border crossing was easy, as we stopped at the border and Customs came on the train and walked down the aisle and looked at everyone’s papers. We went to the hotel and got settled and had dinner. The next day we explored the waterfront and Gastown area where we did some shopping and had dinner at Old Spaghetti Factory. One of the places we went was Canada Place, where the ship docks, and saw the Olympic Torch from the Calgary Winter Olympics. The next morning, my son and I went down to Canada Place and watched the Wonder arrive and dock. Then we walked back and got the rest of the family and boarded to start our cruise. In 2013, we drove up the night before and stayed at the Coast Plaza Hotel & Suites. We were able to park at the hotel for the duration of the cruise and the hotel provided a limo to the Wonder. We walked around the shopping center that was attached to the hotel and had dinner at a lovely restaurant.

Both times, after we were aboard, we ate lunch at Parrot Cay. Then we enjoyed the Sail Away Party and the first night’s show – “All Aboard! Let the Music Began!” Attire for the night was Cruise Casual, and the menu in the main dining rooms was Standard Rotational. That means that each restaurant had its own unique menu: Animator’s Palate-Show dinner, Parrot Cay-Island Dinner and Triton’s-French Dinner. At 2:30 p.m. there was a guided walking ship tour and at 10:30 p.m. there was Family Superstar Karaoke. There were also movies playing in the Buena Vista Theatre thoughout the week.

The next day was a Sea Day, as we sailed up the Inside Passage. One of the unique things about an Alaska cruise is that you have land on both sides of the ship for the most part as you sail along.

With the long days in the northern latitudes, you have plenty of daylight to take it all in. Keep an eye out for whales and wildlife. On sea days, a brunch buffet is available at Palo. The scenery is fantastic as you eat (get a table by the windows if you can). I feel it is well worth the $25.00 per-person additional charge. Note that Palo is an adults-only premium restaurant. Children under the age of 18 are not admitted, with or without a parent. Plenty of activities are available to keep you as busy as you want to be all day long. Attire for the night was Formal and the menu in the main dining rooms was “Golden Mickey’s”. The show that day was “The Golden Mickey Awards.” We filled our day with Dis meet-ups, a DVC reception, character meet and greets, shows, and the Palo Brunch.

Other activities that were offered on board through the week included; Wake up with Disney Junior, Art of The Theme Show Tour, Jack-Jack’s Incredible Diaper Dash, Alaska Port and Shopping Show, Disney Tunes Trivia Live, Family Superstar Karaoke, Wine and Whiskey Tastings, Disney’s Art of Entertaining: The Appetizer. In the evening there was the Captain’s Welcome Reception, Game Show: The Feud and The Golden Mickey’s After Party. Also Disney had an Alaskan Naturalist on board giving talks throughout the day all week. Each night you get a Personal Navigator in your stateroom with all of the next day’s activities in it.

On day three we cruised up Tracy Arm to Sawyer Glacier and back out. Both times the day was clear but it was cool on deck. All the characters were dressed in winter clothing. This is a day to spend hanging out on deck. There are no bad spots for sightseeing as the ship cruises up then spins and cruises back out. The kids clubs were up on deck that day as well, in the sports court area. If you keep an eye out you will see seals, mountain goats and other wildlife as you cruise by. There was even a BBQ on deck, so we didn’t have to go inside to eat. The Captain will go as close as he safely can to the glacier – it all depends on the amount of ice in the water. The crew even scooped up a large chunk of ice and brought it on board for everyone to touch and see up close. The Naturalist was narrating most of the time that we were in Tracy Arm. And even though it was cool outside, some people were swimming as well.

The attire for the third evening was Cruise Casual and the dinner menu was the standard rotational. The Show this night was the Comedy & Ventriloquism of Michael Harrison on our second trip. On The first trip, we just spent the evening exploring the ship, since it was our first Disney cruise. We chose to have an adults-only dinner at Palo ($25/person upcharge, or $84/person with the wine pairing). Again, the food was great and the view as we sailed out of Tracy Arm was fabulous.

The first port of call was the next day, at Skagway. The first time we stopped at Skagway, we got off the ship and went to the White Pass and Yukon railroad station. We rode the train up to the White Pass Summit and Fraser Meadows. We got off the train and boarded a bus for the trip back to town. On the way down we stopped at various points for photos and the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp. While there they had a little show about the history of Skagway and Liarsville, and then we got to pan for Gold. We even found small amounts and took our newfound riches home. After we got back to town, we walked down Main Street and checked out the shops.

Also, the National Park Service has a visitor center for the Klondike Gold Rush National Park, Skagway Unit, where you can check out a youth/child activities backpack. It is a great way to spend the afternoon exploring the town as you look for things. It is like a scavenger hunt. If you fly into Seattle, you can check out the Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Park.

On our second trip we went on the Musher’s Camp and Sled Dog Experience. We disembarked and boarded a bus that took us to the base camp where we loaded in to large 4X4’s called Unimogs, which took us to where the dogs were. Once there we were give an over view of the dogs and their training. These were real race dogs, and you could tell the love the owners had for their dogs. We got onboard a cart that was pulled by a team of dogs. I was amazed at how fast the dogs could pull us on the trails. It was quite a ride. On the way back down, we got a chance to see and spend some time with some puppies. It was great for those of us who left our Dogs behind at home!

The Dress that night was Cruise Casual, with this being the second night of the Standard Rotation Menu. The Show was Movie Night in the Walt Disney Theater. There was a recent release shown on both trips. On the first trip it was Pirates of the Caribbean, and it was and Iron Man 3 on the second. The Walt Disney Theater is the large main theater where they also do the Broadway style shows. There is something going on in the theater every night.

Day 4 found us in Juneau. On our 1st trip we were to take the Helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier and Sled Dog Excursion. But The fog was so thick that it was canceled (we were not charged for the excursion). So we walked around town and checked out the shops and ate at Tracy’s Crab shack – some of the best crab we have ever had! On our second trip, we boarded a bus after got off the ship and went to Mendenhall Glacier. Again it was foggy, but not as bad as the first time. We spent about two hours there, then took the bus back and did some shopping. The Dress that night was Cruise Casual. The menu was “Toy Story Menu”. The show that night was “Toy Story the Musical” and it was “Pixar Pals Party night”. There is no Pirate’s in the Caribbean Party or Fireworks on the Alaskan cruises, due noise and flash issues with the wildlife.

On Day 5, our last port day, we stopped in Ketchikan. On the first trip we went to the Lumberjack Show and had a great time. It was fun watching them compete with each other to see who was best. They also kept it lively, with a lot of humor thrown in. Afterwards we checked out the shops on the way back to the ship. The second time we rode the Ducks. A Duck is an amphibious vehicle that we drove around town, then drove into the harbor for a tour, and then back on land to the ride back. We had a great guide who pointed out points of interest along the way as we drove around town and sailed around the harbor. It was a great way to learn some of the history of Ketchikan. We even saw a whale while in the harbor. Attire for the night was Cruise Casua,l with the Menu being “Taste of Alaska.” There was not a Broadway style show this night. On both cruises, this night featured a comedy act in the theater.

Our last day on board was spent at sea, cruising back to Vancouver. This is another good day to be on deck throughout the day, keeping an eye out for whales and watching the scenery go by as you sail back down the Inside Passage. We enjoyed another dinner at Palo, and got to watch the whales’ baleening and eating as we were dinning. In the rotational dining rooms, it was another Cruise Casual night. The show was “Disney Dreams: An Enchanted Classic,” and the menu was “Till We Meet again.” As the last day, this is also the last day to book your next cruise and receive the benefits of onboard re-booking (currently, a discount on many cruises and an onboard credit on that rebooked cruise), and look at your photos in Shutters to decide which ones you want to buy. It’s also is your last chance to pick up anything in the gift shops on board. One tip that works all the time, but is especially useful on this last night – order a carafe of coffee from room service shortly before going to bed. Don’t open it when they deliver it, and it will still be hot when you wake up in the morning.

On disembarkment day, we woke up early and went up on deck to watch the ship come into Vancouver and dock. The last morning is always a sad one for me as we have our final breakfast on board and get ready to leave the ship for the last time. It is easier if you have booked a future cruise while on board, as you know you have that one to look forward to. After the first trip we took the train back home. It did not leave until 6:00 p.m., so we took a taxi to the train station, and had them hold our luggage at the station. We walked from there to Science World, which is a children’s science center. Then we went back to the train station for the train ride home. On the second trip, we took a taxi from the ship back to the hotel, where we’d parked the car as part of a stay-and-park deal. This trip, we headed straight home. We had another easy border crossing, and we were home by 3:00 p.m.

At some point, I’m sure we will sail to Alaska again – so stay tuned for more Alaska Adventures.

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