Sail to Alaska with Steve Kriese and his family with Disney Cruise Line. This episode is full of great tips if you are thinking of an Alaskan cruise vacation.

Find Steve on Twitter at: @WestCoastMouse
Check out his new website WestCoastMouse.com

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Ship – Disney Wonder

When: Aug 24-31
Who: Steve, wife, 2 kids (ages 9 and 5) and Steve’s parents.

Itinerary: 7 Days

  •  Vancouver
  •  At sea
  •  Tracy Arm ( South Sawyer Glacier )
  •  Skagway
  •  Juneau
  •  Ketchikan
  •  At sea
  •  Return to Vancouver

Leaving Vancouver
Check In:
Check in went fairly quickly at the port. However, the way customs works, since you’re leaving Canada for the U.S. (Alaska), they pre-clear you through US customs prior to boarding the ship. This took a little while as you went through several additional lines.  They boarded around noon and the total process to get onboard was about an hour.

Room – They booked a standard inside stateroom for Steve’s family  on deck 6 and a deluxe balcony room for his parents just down the hallway from us.  There were plenty of places to watch the scenery go by throughout the ship, so they didn’t feel like they missed out not having a balcony.

Tracy Arm :
The Wonder goes up Tracy Arm Fjord instead of Glacier Bay. There is a limit to the number of ships who can go to each, and both glaciers are very spectacular. That being said, Tracy Arm Fjord is a much smaller passage to the glacier, so you get a lot closer to the land as you cruise up it. An onboard naturalist narrates over the ships PA system for part of the trip up, giving al sorts of interesting facts about wildlife, fjords, and glaciers. He has to stop about half way because there are noise restrictions to protect the area. You can’t believe how they get such a big ship into such a narrow passage, and at the end, they turn the boat around 180 degrees, so everyone gets an amazing view of the glacier.

They had kids activities outside that day to keep the kids entertained, and for lunch, they served bbq salmon and chicken on the back of the boat for lunch.

 Port Days:
They booked all our shore excursions through Disney. After checking several other websites offering shore excursions, they found that they were similar in price or not much cheaper than the ones offered by Disney

 Skagway:

Parked at the dock in Skagway
They did 2 different excursions.

  • 4 wheel ATV adventure up a mountain trail –  They took a 45-minute catamaran ride to Haines Alaska where the tour started and saw lots of wildlife (seals, whales, Eagles, etc) along the way.
  • Sled dogs –  Afterward, they learned to pan for gold out of a stream and finished off roasting smores over a camp fire. H

Juneau:
Helicopter Tour to Taku Glacier
On the way to the glacier, the helicopter flew less than 100 feet over several ridge lines looking for mountain goats. After landing on the glacier, they were able to get out and walk around for about 20 minutes.

Ketchikan:
The boys went on a salmon fishing trip out of a local marina. Because of the warmer than normal summer, and warmer than normal waters, the salmon weren’t running as they should have been at this time. None the less, the kids got to reel in several smaller salmon that they threw back.

Dining:
They had a great experience with their servers and enjoyed all their meals.

Weather:
Be prepared for anything by bringing warm layers, and a good rain jacket. Lightweight waterproof hiking style shoes worked well all around as well.

Booking:
They booked our cruise 9 months out and got good choices for cabins. It seemed most of the upper deck cabins along with balconies for our cruise were sold out 6-7 months out. Out of curiosity, Steve priced his cruise out several times as it got closer, and prices definitely increased quite a bit as the ship filled up and the months grew closer.

Tips:
– As soon as booking windows open be prepared to book Whether it’s FastPass+ at Disney World or getting Palo reservations on your cruise, get online early to get the most number of options.
– When booking a Disney Cruise, especially limited sailings like Alaska or the Mediterranean, book early for your best pricing.
– Kids can eat in the clubs and that they have the same meal choices as in the dining rooms.  This made it easy to plan a night to celebrate his parents 50th anniversary at Palo.
– Pinocchio’s Pizza is a great place to hang out and grab a late night snack after the shows if you’re still hungry.

Weekly DIStraction
Harrison Ford will be revealing plans for the Star Wars expansion on ABC “Wonderful World of Disney” special event.  Set your recorders for Sunday, Feb 21 at 8pm Eastern.

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