Debarkation Morning. AKA The Very Sad Day.Our alarm went off really really early. I know they need you off that ship so they can turn around and start letting people on by 12:00pm. But man. Because we had main seating for our dining our final meal was the debarkation morning breakfast at 7:30am. You don’t have to go to this but hey it’s one final meal. It’s also a way to get you moving out of your room. So we got up around 6:30am and packed up our remaining few items, took our carry on bag with us to breakfast and said goodbye to our stateroom. Breakfast was a nice sit down meal with the servers you already tipped and said goodbye to last night. Late dinner seating got a respectable 8:30am breakfast (or 8:45am depending on your dining rotation.) You also have the option of express walk off, which means you drag your bags with you(and you don’t have to put them outside your room the day before) and that starts at about 8:00am. When we finished breakfast the lobby was FILLED with people waiting for the all clear so they could express walk off the ship. We were not in a hurry so we headed to Cadillac Lounge to hang out. It was pretty quiet in there, and we just sat in the chairs and enjoyed the views out the window. They assign you a character group the night before and it’s the same character that is on your luggage tags. We had Daisy. When your character is called you can head to the door of the ship and exit. We walked off the ship, and could see a host of people at the railing eyeing the ship in excitement, awaiting the moment they can board for their week in Alaska! It was a strange feeling to be the people who were leaving, knowing someone was boarding to take our room. Not in a bad way, it was just strange…. We headed inside the terminal and found our luggage. Even though it is sorted by character and color it was still a short game of wheres the suitcase in the pile of suitcases. They had cast members on hand to assist you in finding your bag. Because we had booked transpiration through Disney back to the airport we followed the signs/instructions to the bus area and boarded the next bus to the airport. We had the new bus driver who got lost, drove around the airport twice, and finally gave up and dropped us off in the pick up area! Disney Cast Members personally walked us through the airport to the check in area where we were supposed to get dropped off. We had to haul all our luggage through elevators and walkways. They had staff to help, and they did make the best out of a situation that they personally had no control over. There were several people on our bus who missed their flight because of the delay getting to the airport. It seems like you might not want to have a flight so close to debarkation in case things like this happen. We had several hours until our flight. Before the trip we had seriously considered booking a 4 hour hotel room at the Fairmont Airport Hotel. It’s right inside the check in area of the airport, and you can do a half day room which allows you to have a place to relax, shower, use the pool, watch tv, etc if you have a long wait for your flight. We opted for sitting in the check in area with all the rest of the people from our cruise. At the Vancouver airport when we travel you couldn’t check in or go through security and customs until 3 hours before your flight. So we enjoyed some Starbucks, the free wi-fi, and chatted with fellow cruisers about how our trip had gone. Once our check in time came, we checked out bags, went through security and customs and headed into the airport. We grabbed some lunch, it was strange to pay for food again. No more free buffet for us. And waited for our flight. We had an uneventful trip home. The most amazing vacation was finally over. Previous Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 27. Next Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 29. Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.
Cruising Day 7. Sea Day #2.Our final sea day! How did it get here so fast? There was still so much we wanted to experience on the ship, that today was going to be a full day. I remember when we first booked the cruise, we were worried we would be bored on the ship, and we figured we would have plenty of time to relax. That didn’t turn out to be the case at all. We always had one or more activities we wanted to experience. We decided to try the sit down breakfast offered at Tritons. We really enjoyed it. It was nice to relax and have a more formal breakfast delivered right to the table. It’s great that Disney Cruise Line offers so many options for eating. We did have time most mornings of our cruise to enjoy a sit down breakfast, but having so many different choices and meal styles meant we never felt like we were stuck eating the same old thing for a week. We walked out of breakfast and right into the Lobby Atrium for our Princess Gathering meet and greet. We were scheduled for the 9:30am slot, and by 9:34am we were meeting our first princess. We saw Belle, Tiana, Ariel, and Cinderella. We finished at 9:45am. It was great to once again get in line, meet a bunch of characters and only spend about 15 minutes for the entire process. First on our list of things to check out was the Art of Entertaining Dazzling Desserts where they were demonstrating Viennese Apple Strudel. It was happening in Studio Sea(Now D Lounge). Only 15 minutes later the Game Show: The Wheel was starting over in Promenade Lounge. How to go to both? We had to split up. The Dessert cooking demonstration was great, they give you a recipe card to take home, show you how it’s made, and give you a free sample. Bonus. After the dessert cooking demonstration was over, the foodie headed over to Wheel to catch the end of the game. It was a close game. Now we split up again. One to the gym one to Napkin Folding. Napkin Folding was back in Studio Sea (Now D Lounge). They teach you how to fold the napkin hats they make for you to wear during your character breakfast. You don’t get to take the napkins home, but it was fun to do. We went back to the room and then headed out to our final lunch. After lunch we walked around and enjoyed the views. It was almost 2:15pm which meant we had to split up again. One of us to towel folding. They teach you how to make some of those great towel animals your stateroom host has been leaving in your room all week. They give you several towels to practice with, and a sheet with instructions, as well as have a cast member demonstrate up front and on the video screen. They also had cast members walking around to help you figure out what you did wrong when your elephant ended up looking more like a dog. The other one of us headed to Art of the Theme Show Tour which meets at Palo. It’s a walking tour around the ship where they talk about the design of the ship using Disney style and values. The tour host show you little details on the ship you wouldn’t normally notice and the meaning behind them. Like why different floors have different styles of carpeting. Or the way different signs have different styles. After Towel Folding was over we met up with the tour so we could finish it together. Then the Art of Theme Show attendee gave the tour to the towel folder attendee. After our impromptu walking tour together we went deck for to do something we had been talking about doing all cruise. Shuffle Board! We went back to our room to get ready for dinner and to fill out our final tip envelopes. We also decided we had better start packing. When dinner time came we headed out to our final dinner. After a week with our servers it was strange to realize we wouldn’t be spending another diner with them. Then we headed back to our stateroom to pack. We needed to have all our luggage outside our room for pick up by 10:00pm, so we wanted to get them out before we headed to the final nighttime show. It was a sad moment putting everything back into our bags. We kept our important documents, personal items, etc in our carry on bag. Also the clothes for the next day and your PJs! You won’t see your bags again until you get off the ship. You can keep all your luggage and carry it off the ship with you in the morning, but we figured we’d let Disney handle it. Because we would be flying home we knew we would have to do a little luggage rearranging so that stuff currently in our carry on(large size liquids etc) would go back in the checked luggage to fly home. But we knew we had plenty of time for that the next day before our flight left. We travel pretty often, and we are really used to staying different places, but somehow the stateroom had become home. It felt very strange to realize that it wasn’t indeed our home, and tomorrow someone else would be boarding the ship and staying in “our” room for a week in Alaska. We have never felt so at home in any hotel room before. Maybe because being on a ship you have easy access to your room, and go back to it often throughout the day, but the feeling of sadness not only that the cruise is over, but that you are leaving “your” room was a strange and new experience for us. We enjoyed the final Broadway style Show The Golden Mickeys. It was a good way to end the cruise. We went for one final stroll around Deck 4. Already it was 10:00pm and we went to the Atrium for the “Till We Meet Again” farewell. It’s a nice little show with a final push to meet characters. We watched from the floors above and waved. We headed to our room and found our final towel animal.(Hint: it’s a dinosaur, we only knew because we made it earlier in our towel folding class) It was time to try to fall asleep, we had a really early morning to not look forward to. Previous Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 26. Next Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 28. Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.
Cruising Day 6. Ketchikan.We finally slept in! The ships all ashore time wasn’t until 11:15am so we had no reason to wake up early. We didn’t have any character meet and greets, breakfast plans, or activities to go to. It was blissful. When we eventually woke up we wandered up to Deck 9 and picked up breakfast items from the poolside options. They have some fruit plates and pastries to choose from for breakfast. We enjoyed a nice easy morning of just relaxing, walking around the ship and chilling in our stateroom. Right around 11:00am we headed back up to the Deck 9 poolside food options to pick up lunch. They have pizza, burgers, hot dogs, etc. We grabbed a quick lunch and then headed down to leave the Wonder. Ketchikan is another port where the ship docks right in town. It is an easy walk to most of the main parts of town. We headed out to try to find a post office box. Back in Juneau we had wanted to mail several post cards, and we could not find anywhere to drop a stamped postcard. We finally asked at the information booth, and they told us we could drop them off at one of the tourist stores. We went there, and could not find anywhere to drop them off, we asked at the registers, and they pointed us to a little basket we could put our postcard in. So in Ketchikan we were once again on a hike to find a place to mail our pre-stamped postcard. We had used the internet to find that there was a post office in town. Figured that was an easy enough place. We walked over to it, and its no where to be seen. Walked all over the place, circling the block. Nothing. Found out it had closed…….. So we headed back to the visitors center right by the ship. They said go out the back of the center and there was a blue mail box. We circled the building and there it was! An actual post office box to drop mail in. Amazing. If you plan to mail postcards from Alaska, be forewarned it’s not easy! You can drop your post cards off at the ships guest services, and they will mail them at the next port for you, but if you’re looking to make sure they leave from a specific town, be ready to hunt for somewhere to mail them. Skagway is the easiest with a post office right in town with very friendly helpful staff. After our mailbox adventure under our belt we headed back inside the visitors center to pick up our locator beacon. The Ketchikan visitors center offers free locator beacons to visitors or local resident. You can pick these up for free, but they must be returned by close that evening. They also have you fill out a form stating where you are going and what your plans are for the day. Why did we need a locator beacon? We planned to hike up into the rainforest. Yes Alaska has a rainforest. We were not going on a Disney Port Adventure, but had plans to head off on our own. Our plan was to hike Deer Mountain Trail. After doing some research before the trip, we had found that Deer Mountain Trail is a free trail into the local Rain Forest. It was located close to town, and offered some spectacular views. The biggest draw back is that it is about a mile outside of town. No big deal we planned to just hike to the trail head. After climbing up a road that felt like it went straight up hill with about 5 switch backs, we made it huffing and puffing to the trail head. It was well marked with signs. A lot of people just hire a taxi to get to the trail head. I could understand why after we did it. It’s not impossible, but it is a good hike upward. We started up the trail head on the trail. We learned very quickly that “trail” was a loose term. It was a cut path in the woods with log steps up the steep parts. No paving, no gravel, and a LOT of slick mud. This trail basically goes uphill, the entire way. It is a combination of switchbacks. The environment was amazing. You could tell you were alone. The rainforest has these crows that live in it, and their calls sound so exotic. It was hard to believe they were just crows. Bears do inhabit this area, so trail information advises you to be on the lookout and aware of your surroundings. We had trail maps, and there were supposed to be mile markers, but it seemed like we had walked FOREVER without seeing one. We knew there was a vista point at the 1 mile spot. Had we missed it? After climbing what must have been the equivalent of Mt. Everest we finally saw a mile marker sign. We had walked 3/4 of a mile. ARE YOU KIDDING?!!?! There was some talk of turning back. But we pushed on to make it to mile marker 1 and the views. Finally after more switchbacks then ever seemed possible, we make it to a flat rock just off the trail with some views through the trees. The views were great. But there was no benches, no clearing to put down a blanket and rest, nothing. It was literally a small rock outcropping just off the edge of the trail. After that hike one of us was ready for a rest, so a rain poncho made for a nice dry seat on the rocks to admire the views. Our plan for the day had been to hike all the way to the summit, which is couple more miles up the trail. One of us was so sore and tired, we decided to just head back down the trail. On the way down we noticed some of the biggest plants. One leaf was larger then our feet. Going down was easier then going up, but we also had to go slowly so we didn’t slip and fall on the wet muddy steep trail. Even so we made progress at a much faster rate then we had going up. Soon enough we were back at the trail head, and then headed back down the mountain to town. We made it to the main tourist area, and plopped down on the first bench we saw. We had a great view of Creek Street. This is where the salmon run during later summer, and also was a notorious part of town back in the Gold Rush days. You could see the Wonder at the edge of town from Creek Street. We headed across the pedistrian bridge toward the Visitor Information Center to drop off our locator beacon. The harbor areas was was just off the bridge. Since we had cut our hike short, we ended up with some extra free time in Ketchikan. We decided to just walk around and take some photos. They get a lot of rain in Ketchikan. We only had a few drizzles. The locals told us it was the first sunny day they had enjoyed in forever. Ketchikan has a totem pole park, but they also have some displayed right in down town. There was a small but really pretty park in the middle of downtown with tons of flowers in bloom. The variety was amazing. We decided to head back onto the Wonder. All Aboard time wasn’t until 7:45pm but we were ready to go back to what now felt like home. We cleaned up after our sweaty muddy hike into the rainforest, found some dinner on Deck 9 by the pools, and the just relaxed for the remainder of the evening. We decided to do a little house keeping this evening. We stopped by Shutters to look at the pictures the ship photographers had taken over the week so far. There were a few we thought we liked, but at $20.95 per print we decided to pass. We also went ahead and booked a onboard booking for another cruise. You pay a small deposit ($250.00 at the time) and you given a reservation number to apply toward another cruise in the next 2 years from the date of your current cruise. The benefits of booking another sailing while on board are discounts and onboard credits. The amounts change but for us was 10% off our next cruise and a onboard credit. When we returned to our stateroom that night the tip envelopes had also been left on our bed. They explain that the recommended minimum would be automatically changed to your ship account but you were free to go to guest services to change that amount. You can also add cash amounts to the envelopes. We worked on filling out a few of these because we had to deliver them all tomorrow. We were setting our clocks back forward one hour as we began to head back toward Vancouver. It was going to be a very late night for us, because we were headed to Match You Mate at 11:15pm. One of us had gone and enjoyed it so much early on in the cruise, we made a note to both attend the second time it was offered. While still amusing, the couples in the second show didn’t have as great of answers as the first night couples. I think this may have to do with the fact that many people knew what was coming and were not so willing to volunteer! If you have the choice, I think the first show of the cruise probably has the better chance at being the better of the two. We had a great time in Ketchikan. Deer Mountain Trail ended up being much more challenging then we expected. We do a lot of walking and we figured a several mile hike would be a piece of cake. Or at least conquerable. I don’t think we were prepared for the steep incline. Deer Mountain Trail is a much more intense hike then we normally do. It felt like being on a treadmill set on the max incline. The views were worth it though. And the experience of hiking in the rainforest in Alaska. It was enjoyable to be free to go at our own pace and experience Ketchikan in a less structured way then our previous PAs. I enjoyed the combination of both types of experiences in ports. After the show ended around midnight(or 1:00am on the new time) we headed off to bed. Tomorrow was our last day on the Wonder. We wanted to be well rested to enjoy our day at sea. Previous Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 25. Next Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 27. Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.
Cruising Day 5. Juneau.We didn’t have an early morning PA, but that didn’t mean we didn’t have to get up early! So much for sleeping in on vacation. We never seem to do that on a Disney vacation anyway. To much to do, we can sleep when we get home. This morning it was our Pixar Friends Meet and Greet. We had to set the day/time for this on our first day of cruising. We didn’t have our PA until later that morning, so at the time we figured 8:30am would be just fine. And it was overall. We had to get up, find some breakfast, and be in the ships Atrium by 8:30am. Having a pre-set time to meet characters is great. You line up with your group, it moves fast, and you’re completely done in a few minutes. After meeting Jessie and Woodie together, the rats from Ratatouille (I have no idea which ones) which are apparently “rare” characters to meet, and Doug and Russell from Up, we noticed Mickey and Minnie would be out together in their Alaskan gear, so we hightailed it to get in line for that. Something to note about ship character lines. They are SUPER organized. They make character lines at the Disney Parks look amateurish. The times are listed on the daily Navigator, on the App, and on a digital character board in the lobby. The cruise staff open up the meet and greet for a short time usually something like 15 minutes. Anyone who is in line BEFORE the meeting window is closed, gets to meet them. So if the Mickey meet and greet is from 12:15pm-12:30pm you can get in line usually around 11:50am-12:15pm. There will already be a cast member there to tell you who the line is for, where to line up, and where the line ends. If you get there at 12:14pm you will still get to meet Mickey. However if you get there at 12:16pm, sorry the line is closed. If another a character is meeting in the same spot say at 12:30pm, they will start a line for them at 12:15pm or so, and will have a cast member there to tell you where to line up. All of that to say it’s GREAT meeting characters on the ship. It’s organized, efficient, and well staffed by cast members. After being on the ship for 5 days, you start to run into the same people. Standing in line to meet a character becomes a fun way to chat with people you’re cruising with. Most of the talk is stuff like is this your first cruise? Where are you from? What PAs have you done so far? It passes the 15 minutes in line quickly. After our meet with Mickey and Minnie we headed out on deck for pictures of Juneau. The dock we got for Juneau is a bit of a walk from the main downtown. There are walking paths, but Disney also provides a free shuttle back and forth between downtown and the ship. There appear to be docks that are closer, but somehow Disney must know ahead of time which one they get, since the busses were obviously pre-planned. Soon it was time for us to meet up for our PA. We headed to the meeting spot and got our character group sticker(Beast this time) and then they walked us off the ship and told us to wait by a bus stop. It was a bit confusing as to where we were supposed to wait. Several other people were asking the same thing, and we asked several Cast members and figured out to go over to this one area with signs. We were not using the Disney shuttle but were being picked up by the tour company. They drove us the short distance into downtown to their headquarters. Our adventure today was a Sea Plane flight over glaciers and out to Taku Glacier Lodge for lunch. Check-in was a little confusing, and they kept moving us from spot to spot while they got us grouped up. They also had non-Disney people going on the tour (you can book directly with them) so they were trying to blend the groups into correct sizes for the planes. Once again you are asked your weight. Be honest it’s important to balance the plane for safety. Once that was all over with we were directed to walk down to our assigned plane and meet our pilot. Each tour has multiple planes going, but they do keep your group together. The ramp down to the planes was steep. Really steep. There were hand rails and steps, but wow. Our pilot introduced himself and asked if anyone wanted to sit in the front seat next to him. After settling who got to sit where we loaded into our plane to await take off. Out the front you could see the Wonder. It was a little a strange to just head out into the lake and take off. But it was smooth and easy. This PA can be canceled due to bad weather often, but we had a perfectly sunny day. It was apparently the first warm and sunny day Juneau had enjoyed in a long time. We had packed sweatshirts and our windbreakers for the day, but in downtown it was to warm to need them. Maybe at Taku Glacier Lodge they might come in handy. They gave us a map of our flight path so we could see the different glaciers we flew over. We took off over the mountains. And soon we say our first glacier. More glacier views. The blue color we’ve come to call glacier blue. Time to put the cameras down and just enjoy the views. Soon it was time to land at Taku Lodge. We got our first view of Taku Lodge. Once we landed at the Lodge we were greeted by it’s residence. Several people who live out there all season long to host guests and care for the place. We were told to enjoying walking around, and that lunch would be served in the cabin shortly. We went in and set our stuff down on some chairs. And walked back outside to take pictures and enjoy the view. Taku Lodge is directly across the water from Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier. There are walking trails around the area that lead you closer to the glacier, as well as into the woods. It was time for lunch and we headed inside to eat. Lunch was a potluck style affair with fresh caught Salmon they were grilling outside as we arrived, corn bread, baked beans, and a host of other things. They were even able to accommodate vegetarians. The lemonade used ice they chipped off fresh earlier that day. The entire meal was amazing. It felt rustic and real. It wasn’t fake rustic. It was down home good simple cooking. Now that we couldn’t move from eating, we decided to walk around a bit. They offered several walking tours with guides, as well as some simple short trails. One led to water fall. We headed out to explore. One thing we had already learned in our short time outside before lunch. The mosquitoes were ruthless. The Lodge provided bug spray, and we covered ourselves head to toe. It was like a shield. They would swarm all around us, but not land. Once we headed out on the trails though, they became even more aggressive. Even though it was unusually warm, we ended up wearing out coats just to be completely covered. We even put up the hoods. They were HUGE mosquitos. When you batted at them around you, you could actually feel when your hand connected with one. Humming bird size (ok maybe not, but very close!). We made it to the water fall. Took a picture. And we ran. Seriously we hightailed it back to the lodge and sat inside. It was that bad. We couldn’t take the mosquitoes anymore. We walked over to the gift shop, it was a really nice selection of items. Country style things with the Taku Glacier Lodge name on them. Then we headed back to the main lodge, used the rest rooms…. thats an experience…. the toilets have slow water refill based on the remoteness…. so it takes a while after each use before it can flush again… but hey they were not outhouses. And then we went back inside the lodge. The views were great, and the weather was awesome for sitting out on the rocking chairs, but the mosquitos were too much. A lot of other people had the same idea, and headed indoors with us. We chatted about our cruise and had a good time just being social. Soon enough they let us know that the planes were headed back to the Lodge. They had taken off shortly after we arrived to go get the next group. We had done the first tour of the day, but there were tours all afternoon-evening until dinner time. So when the planes arrive the would unload, and then we would load back on. Right as the planes arrived, the staff stepped into the lodge to let us know the honored guest we had all be hoping to see had arrived. Bears. Many of the tours to Taku Lodge get the chance to see bears and we had been hoping to get a glimpse. I guess the salmon cooking is to much for them to resist. They got very close to the Lodge. The Lodge staff kept us all at a safe distance, and had large sticks (yup) to keep the bears away. We had two that arrived to see if there was any room at dinner. Then they were telling us we had to load the planes. So glad the bears arrived before we left. The next tour had a great start to their mid-afternoon lunch. We flew back and just enjoyed more scenery. We landed in Juneau, checked out the flight tours gift shop, and decided to explore Juneau a bit. We still had several souvenirs to purchase, and we heard that Juneau has a great coffee shop that packages their own coffee beans. It took some time, but we did find the coffee shop, only to find out it was their second location which doesn’t carry the beans, but they directed us to the main shop. We picked up some local brewed coffee and beans from Heritage Coffee and then just enjoyed sitting and relaxing for a bit. We walked back to the main tourist area, did some shopping, and then tried to find out where the Disney buses are. We had been picked up by the Wings Airways tour guides at the Wonder and never boarded the Disney busses. At the end of our sea plan tour they offered to drive anyone back to the ship but we had wanted to explore. We walked all over, and finally had to ask an information booth where the Disney busses were. We walked down to their pick up spot, waited in line, and were soon back to the ship. We had an all aboard time of 4:45pm. We were really tired. It had been a long busy day filled with walking, great food, large mosquitoes, and amazing views. We were happy to just collapse in our stateroom for a bit. We happened to board right as the Pixar Pals Party was happening in the Atrium. We were still really full from lunch at Taku Glacier Lodge. But one of us had been looking forward to the dessert choices on the rotational menu that night. So that one person got dressed in semi-formal appropriate attire and went to dinner alone. When the servers asked what was up with only one of us, we said we were still really full from our Port Adventure, but wanted dessert. They were surprised. Really nothing else? Nope just dessert. So they took the order. It seems this must have been a first. Most people must not show up at dinner alone and ask for three desserts for one. The only food picture from the entire cruise. There needed to be proof. Yes it was good. Yes a few bites were taken before the picture was taken. After a quick stop in the stateroom we headed out to get our picture with Sully. Then it was over to tonights show of Toy Story the Musical. It was really great. The Cast Member who placed Sid was amazing. We headed back to our stateroom to relax and read. We turned in early and for the first time in several day we didn’t set an alarm! Tomorrow is Ketchikan Alaska and our all ashore time isn’t until 11:15am. Over all we liked Juneau. It was a much bigger town than Skagway, and a bit harder to navigate. Our Port Adventure to Taku Glacier Lodge was one not to be missed, but the mosquitoes almost ruined it for us. The views, the food, and the visit from the bears made up for the giant bugs though. Disney did offer a smattering of onboard actives during the day for those who wanted to enjoy them. Trivia, crafts, games. Same kind of thing they had the previous day in Skagway. Time to catch up on some sleep. Tomorrow is our final Alaskan Port. Previous Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 24. Next Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 26. Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.
Cruising Day 4. Skagway.In the middle of the night someone started knocking at our door. It took several seconds for us to even pry our eyes open, and then we stumbled to answer the door. It was our room service. 30 minutes early. Normally that wouldn’t be so bad, but this meant breakfast arrived at 6:00am. Oh well. We realized they forgot our orange juice, so they Room Service Attendant said he’d be right back with it. It was a simple continental breakfast, but not having to get up early(or earlier then we did) and stumble around the ship looking for food was a great convince for a few dollar tip for the deliver. Our orange juice did arrive, 30 minutes later. I guess it was a busy day for room service. We turned on the tv to the forward camera channel(it shows you what the front of the ship is seeing) and we could already see we were docked in Skagway! We enjoyed the views as we quickly ate and got ready for the day. Another day of multiple layers for us. We headed to our tour meeting place which was Diversions(now Crown and Fin Pub). There were several tour groups meeting in Diversions and you were given your handy Disney character group sticker. We grabbed a window seat and enjoyed the views until our character was called. When our group was called we followed our guide off the ship and they walked us across the street to our Port Adventure. (I think this is one Port Adventure that could easily be booked outside of Disney, it was literally steps away from the ship with Temsco helicopter tours). We were headed out on a helicopter ride over scenic views and then we would land on a glacier and take a walking tour of the glacier. Our first stop was a safety video and talk. Next we were outfitted in the provided gear. This includes a orange safety vest/life vest and rubber/cloth booties that go on over your shoes and hit about mid-shin. We were then asked our weight, including with the gear we were wearing. This isn’t the time to knock off a few pounds, because they use this number to balance the numbers in the helicopter. We were also given a locker to use to put all our stuff in. No bags of any kind are allowed on the PA. So make sure you have pockets for anything you’re brining with. After that we headed out to the outdoor deck waiting area to board. We were allowed to take pictures of the helicopters from the waiting area. They do make every effort to keep your party together (We didn’t notice anyone who was split up) but the helicopters only hold 6-8 people so large groups will have to be split up. Smaller parties will share a helicopter. We were placed in the lead helicopter for the day. That means we go first, and everyone else follows our lead. We took off and flew over the Wonder. We headed off off through the mountains. Then we landed on our glacier. After all the helicopters hand landed and dropped off the passengers, they took off back to the base for the next tours. We were left with several guides who gave us a walking tour of the glacier. They give you a short safety talk, and hand out walking sticks. They come in handy on the slippery ice. The ice has a lot of brown mixed it. The guides told us it sediment that gets pulled along with the moving ice. The water is SOOOO blue. The guides stopped often, and there was plenty of time for pictures. But all to soon it was time to head back to the loading area. There was an Alaskan flag on the glacier and we were able to get group pictures by it. The helicopters landed and the next tour groups were unloaded and we were loaded back into our same groups and helicopter. We had another scenic flight back to the base. One more pass over the Wonder and we were back in Skagway. We turned in all our glacier gear. Used the restrooms(there are none on the glacier) and checked out the souvenir selection. Then we walked across the street back to the Wonder, boarded and headed to our stateroom room to take off several of our layers. We grabbed a quick lunch on deck 9, and then walked back off the ship to explore Skagway. There is a nice walking path from the ship docks right into town. It wasn’t very far, maybe a quarter of a mile. Skagway is a quant town. It is small enough to walk the entire thing, especially the tourist areas. It has several souvenir shops, a coffee shop,as well as several historical buildings to look at. It has a small plane airstrip and you can often see and hear planes coming into town from over head. We walked around and checked out the town. We did a little souvenir shopping. We picked up several postcards, bookmarks, and this delicious huckleberry licorice. The town isn’t big, but we found plenty to look at. We decided to head back to the ship to drop off our shopping, and to shed some layers. It was getting warm. This was Alaska, and it was sunny and in the high 60s! After dropping off some coats, and writing a few post cards, we headed back out to Skagway. Our first stop was the post office to mail a rather unusual postcard we purchased that would need more then a traditional stamp. Then we just wandered around town for a bit. We snapped a picture of the famous driftwood building. So we know which way to go. We decided the best way to head was back to the ship again. One more quick look at what they call the Hershey Kiss Mountain. Back to the ship we go. Even though our all aboard time was 7:45pm we felt like we had experienced Skagway, and decided we would head in for our normal dinner seating. We enjoyed dinner as always and because it was Freezing the Night Away on the ship(Frozen themed day) we even got light up snow flakes to wear from our head server at dinner. Tonights entertainment was a showing of the live action movie The Jungle Book, we decided to skip. And instead went up to the Cove Cafe to relax and enjoy the views of Skagway. We couldn’t get enough. Then it was on to the Freeze the Night Away Deck Party. It was at 7:45pm and was still going on at 8:15 or so. And it was still bright as day outside. Crazy Alaska sun. After the show we were feeling really beat. It had been a long but great day, so we decided to call it a night. We went back to our stateroom and found our nightly towel animal. We loved Skagway. Our Port Adventure was amazing. Even though we had to get up early, it did give up the best chance of experiencing the Glacier. The PA is dependent on weather, and we wanted the best chance at experiencing walking on a Glacier. So getting up early was completely worth it. It also gave us most of the day to explore Skagway. We could have even book an PA for the afternoon but we enjoyed just wandering around town. Town was close enough to the docks that we easily walked back to the Wonder several times, which was a great convinces. No need to carry bags or layers or purchases. A quick hop onto the ship, pop over to your stateroom, and back out to enjoy the town. The Wonder did offer some activities while we were in port. They had trivia, Wii games, Youth Actives Open Houses, movies activists for kids in the clubs or with and even a May Pole Dance because it was Frozen Day. We caught part of the May Pole Dance and it was fun to watch. The shipboard activists are limited while most people enjoy the port, but there is still some to do. Also the Spa is open during port days. At 12:01am they were also premiering a movie aboard the ships. You get to see a first run movie basically as soon as its release day starts. To tired to START a movie at midnight. Time to hit the pillows. Tomorrow is Juneau Alaska! Previous Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 23. Next Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 25. Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.
Cruising Day 3. Tracy Arms neighbor, Endicott Arm.We made one more stop at our stateroom to put on layers and layers of clothing, because we were headed off the ship. This Port Adventure was the one mentioned on twitter by Scott @TheDCLBlog. It was a brand new Port Adventure for Disney on Tracy Arm Fjords day. Normally Tracy Arm day you spend the entire day on the Wonder enjoying the views of the Sawyer Glacier. But this port adventure offered an opportunity to board a tendered smaller ship, and leave the Wonder behind as you travel up Tracy Arm and experience the views close up. You end at with super close up views of Sawyer Glacier to enjoy aboard your small vessel. This was to great to pass up. Before the trip we were almost dreading Tracy Arm day because we have an inside cabin, which means we would be fighting for viewing space on the public decks the entire day. Well this took care of our problem. We would be leaving the crowded Wonder for a much smaller boat with limited attendance. We would miss the BBQ, but that seemed like a small price to pay. A few minutes before 12:00pm we headed to our Port Adventure meeting place, which was WaveBands (now Azure). We checked in, were told about the rules etc. And after everyone was checked in, we were walked down as a group to Deck 1. A smaller boat was pulled up next to the Wonder, and we were able to walk using a small ramp from the ship to the boat. We quickly staked out a spot at the outdoor lower deck railing. There was an upper deck, but it was closed for the moment. By 12:45pm we were pulling away from the Wonder. It was strange to be off the Wonder for the first time in 3 days. A little about the boat we were on. It had an inside heated area with seats, restrooms, and even a little concessions area. Our Port Adventure included hot chocolate, coffee, and donut type snacks. This wasn’t advertised but was a nice addition. Around the outside of the boat was a small walkway, one person wide, with a railing for outdoor viewing. There was also a second floor deck that was only opened once we were stationary. We had a guide inside who was answering questions, and giving information along the way. Inside there were also books about local nature, and several pairs of binoculars for use. We decided we wanted to stay outside as much as possible to enjoy the views of Alaska. We were well bundled up, so it seemed like it should be fine. We were smashed in with a bunch of other people on the outdoor railing, and didn’t want to leave in-case we couldn’t get back outside for more great views. Being outside gave us some great views as we pulled away from the Wonder. Lots of people gathered outside on the decks already. We also had views like this to enjoy. As we very slowly pulled away. We got this view. Stunning Soon we saw our first iceberg. So blue! And if you squint you can see some Bald Eagles enjoying a rest. Close up of an iceberg. After close to an hour we were getting too cold, and headed inside to warm up. The hot chocolate was perfect at this point. We didn’t actually pack any winter coats for this trip, but decided to just layer. Unfortunately one of us forgot to grab the final layer as we left the stateroom, a wind breaker. This probably would have helped because the wind was brisk as your moving at a decent speed, plus you are right above the water. Around 2:00pm we were coming up on Dawes Glacier. The water appeared to be a greener color as we got close to the glacier. When we arrived close to the Dawes Glacier the boat slowed/stopped and the upper deck was opened. The entire ship rushed up, and we actually stayed on the lower deck for a bit. We didn’t want to cram up there. After about 15 minutes, people seemed to get bored, and headed back indoors to enjoy the views from the windows. We headed up onto the top deck and have this view almost to ourselves. We had some great views 365 degrees. By 4:00pm we started to see a speck in the distance. The Wonder moved around us and pulled up close to Dawes Glacier. Soon it was time for us to pull up alongside the Wonder and re-board. A second tour group was starting their trip on the smaller excursion boat. We walked to Deck 10 in hopes of a few final glimpses of the glacier, as well as a picture with Mickey at the glacier. We loved this Port Adventure. It did start to rain for the last 30-45 minutes of our time on the boat. We really could have used that forgotten wind breaker. This scared everyone but a few into the inside room of the boat. We figured when else would we be in Alaska this close to Dawes Glacier? We could get dry later. So we stuck it out. It wasn’t a heavy rain, and because everyone headed inside the boat, we had great views, almost completely alone, and we even had the glacier calving ice twice during out time outside. Nothing is quite like the sound of huge chunks of ice falling. We did take a good amount of pictures, but we realized almost right away that the pictures didn’t do it justice. We would snap a photo and compare it to what we were seeing, and what you saw with your naked eye was just so vibrant and color saturated, that we just sat back and enjoyed the views for as long as we could. We would sign up for this Port Adventure again in a heart beat. After we met Mickey on the top deck we went to our room to get out of all the wet clothes. We then had to run over for dinner. We talked with our servers about our Port Adventure(PA) since it was the first one ever for Disney Cruise Line. It was a huge hit, and they were excited to hear that during out PA we even got to see some baby seals! We already got to see a glacier, bald eagles and baby seals. Alaska was turning out to be great, and it was only our first day in Alaska. After dinner it was time to head around and try to get pictures of us with the characters in their Alaskan gear. We were able to snap a photo with Minnie before it was time to head to tonights show. The show for the evening was The Magic and Illusion of Kyle and Mistie Knight. We love magic, and enjoyed the show. After the show we headed to our room for a few minutes and found our nightly towel animal. It was late but we then headed out to get a few more pictures with the characters in their special Alaska outfits. They are only out for a very limited amount of days/times during this cruise, Tracy Arm day being the main time. We met up with Donald and Daisy for pictures, and then headed back to our stateroom for bed. We used the room service breakfast door hanger ordering option for the morning. You are given a door hanger in your room with continental breakfast options you can order any morning from room service. Since we had to be up and dressed and out of our room VERY early for our Port Adventure, we figured we’d give room service a try. We hung the tag on our door as we went to bed, set back up alarms, and went to sleep by about 11:30pm. Previous Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 22. Next Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 24. Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.
Cruising Day 3. Tracy Arm, Alaska. We didn’t set an alarm, but we didn’t need one. We woke up very early, probably due to the excitement of being on the Wonder and because we had our first exciting Port Adventure today. Port Adventures are the Disney Cruise Line term for a Port Excursion. It’s a tour/activity booked through the cruise line. They range from walking tours, to shows, to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. So what else do you do when you wake up before the boat, oh and your in Alaska? Go to Deck 10 and walk around of course. The sun was just peaking out. The views are just….. well there are no words. Since the decks were void of people we took the time to get a few pictures of the ship as well. We got distracted by the views again. Back to taking ship photos. A view you don’t see very often. Empty chairs. Aft of the ship by Palo. The best of both worlds, ship and views in one picture. We headed in for some buffet breakfast. The craziness of the day before wasn’t as bad, and we could even sit down at a table. But you still had to stake one out, and keep someone there until you were ready to give it up. I’m not sure the buffet area is for us. We went back to our room and got ready for the day. Then back out for more pictures. We headed to the “secret” aft verandah on deck 7. I’ve heard access taken away after the refurb. We were really moving fast. It wasn’t noticeable until you looked at the wake. We headed back to the room after walking around for about an hour. We headed to a Disney Innovations Theme Park lecture in Diversions. It was a combination of video clips and scripted talk about how Disney changed the face of theme parks. It was interesting. Throughout the day the Caption was making announcements ship wide letting us know that Tracy Arm was very full of ice, and the ship might have to head to another area. People were up in arms…. no pun intended there… We had a Port Adventure set for the next day, and we were worried it might be canceled if we didn’t go to Tracy Arm, but honestly nothing could be done, and we were in Alaska so…. we just enjoyed that. Finally a few hours into the morning the announcement was made that we would not be going to Tracy Arm due to to much ice, but instead would head to Tracy Arm’s next door neighbor Endicott Arm. At least we will would get to see a glacier. We hunted down a quick snack, because right at noon, when most people were headed up to the top decks for the BBQ, we would be headed out to sea. Previous Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 21. Next Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 23. Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.
Cruising Day 2. We woke up to our phone ringing in what seemed like the middle of the night. Why? Because we had our character breakfast at 8:30am and we set a wake up call so we didn’t miss it. In our stupor of sleeping in a dark room after a long and exciting first day, it was hard to believe it was already 7:30am! Oh well, time to get up. We got dressed, stumbled into some clothes and headed back to Animators Palate, where we had just had dinner a few hours previously. We were even seated at our same table. We were also given table mates for our Character breakfast. They were a fun group to talk with, and we almost wished we had been seated with them as table mates for the entire cruise. It came in handy to have someone sitting at the table, because there wasn’t anyone with the characters who could take our pictures. So we traded taking each others photos. The breakfast menu was a pretty standard American breakfast. Eggs, Potatoes, Pancakes, Waffles, Toast, Fruit etc. It was good, but really we were just there for the characters. We started off with Goofy coming to our table, taking a quick photo and off he went. Next was Pluto, then Minnie, and finally Mickey Mouse. They were all dressed in their sailor outfits. We were glad of that because now we didn’t have to try to get pictures with them in those outfits during the rest of our cruise. The visits from each character were really quick. I guess they have a lot of tables to get through. We’ve done lots of character meals at Disney Parks, and we usually have great interactions with the characters, even as adults. This meal felt more like a quick photo opp. and move on. But hey we got to sit at a table, eat, and get photos without having to wait in a line. Couldn’t really complain to much….The entire breakfast took just about an hour. After breakfast we took a stroll around the outside of the ship on Deck 4. During our entire Alaskan cruise we spent a lot of time walking here, and we had it almost to ourselves most of the cruise. Occasionally we would see a jogger or two, but that was it. No deck chair loungers, no shuffle board players. It was a dead zone. I guess it was because it was cool outside. But with a sweatshirt on it was enjoyable to walk around out there and look at the views. And if we got a little cold, we just popped inside the ship for a warm up. We walked to the front of the ship, where the walking path goes “inside” and got a view of the inner workings of the ship. They store some large items in this area, including this little gem. We stopped by our room, and it was time for the Art of Entertaining: The Appetizer. It sounded interesting to the foodie so one of us headed there. The other stayed in the room. The Appetizer demonstration was held in Studio Sea (now D Studio) on deck 4. You sat at a small pub style table, and watched a Chef prepare the food. They also used a camera and projected close-ups of the cooking on a large screen. You were handed a recipe card as you entered, and during the demonstration you were given a sample of the dish, as well as the option of a complimentary wine sample for those over 21. You were encouraged to ask questions during the demonstration, but hardly anyone did. It lasted about 20 minutes, and was like a live cooking show. Free samples are the highlight for sure. And being able to take home the recipe card, which we will probably never make…. Next on the schedule was some time at the fitness center for one of use, and time in the Rainforest Room for the other. We had our pre-purchased Rainforest room day pass. We wanted to use it early on in the cruise, so if we loved it, we could purchase another day of use while on board. There wasn’t any signs saying no photos, but since there were other people relaxing in the room, it seemed a little weird to be snapping pictures. You enter the Spa on Forward Deck 9. This is also how to get to the gym, which feels like you shouldn’t be allowed to go past the desk without an appointment, but you can just saunter on by to head to the fitness center. To get to the work out area you veer left as you enter, and head down a long narrow hallway. On the left side is a treatment area, further down is the men’s locker rooms. On the right is the Rainforest Room entrance, and then the women’s locker room. Locker rooms can also be accessed by anyone. They are nice, and include changing areas, toilets, larger showers, and a sauna. Also included are some basic beauty products like shampoo and soap. If you are headed to the Rainforest Room your first stop is to check in at the main desk. They will give you a “key” to the Rainforest Room (RR) and send you on your way. You can head into the locker rooms to get a spa robe to use. The robes didn’t impress us. They did the job, but were worn out, ripped, and generally not very plush or comfortable. Think the old cotton towels you use to mop up spills…. You can also pick up spa flip flops to use. You can also use your own. Yes please. The lockers are small gym lockers for storing your valuables. There are simple directions as to how to lock your stuff up, and take the key with you. It took 4 tries and a trip to the front desk to get one to work. Most of them were in use, and apparently the rest were broken. The RR is co-ed so most people wear swim suits. Nude is not accepted. Onward the RR entrance. Outside the main door is a spa water station a.k.a fruit-in-water. It was refreshing to have easy access to during the RR. You use your magnetic “key” to open up the RR. Once you go through the doors you are in a large inclosed tiled room. Think Roman bath. No windows. In the middle is a fountain and to your left against one wall are tiled heated loungers. These were comfortable and a great place to read. There are only a few of these, and they were very popular, but we were always able to get at least one. On the opposite wall from the entrance and the loungers are several showers. These are partially enclosed single person showers. They are set to different temperatures and pressures to simulate different experiences i.e. a rain forest. These are not private, and a swim suit is best worn inside them. On the two remaining walls are doors that lead to different type of steam rooms/ saunas. They range in temperature and steam levels. Some are even scented. If you enjoy saunas, stream rooms, or even just a quite place with heated tiled chairs, its a great place to spent time. The RR and fitness center filled the rest of the morning for us. When we finally left the relaxation of the Rainforest Room, it was time to find some lunch. We decided to check out the buffet option. While the food choices were ok, we found it to be crowded, loud, and almost impossible to find a place to sit. We had to head outside, and it was cold and windy! We finally found a place near the pool that was behind the glass window walls that offered some form of protection. It appears this won’t be where we head for lunch to often. It was back to our room again for a bit, and then we headed out to play some Disney style Game Show: The Feud. It’s Family Feud with Disney questions. The Disney staff break you up into groups and you play. It was a lot of fun. It wasn’t a huge group that attended, maybe 15 total. It’s open to all ages, but was mostly adults and tweens with their families. We had to head out right as it ended to to get to our Frozen Meet and Greet. We headed over to Studio Sea again, which had been transformed into a Frozen Meet and Greet complete with backdrop. We were let into the large room with several other families. We waited for a few minutes and then it was our turn. We headed up as a group to meet Anna, Else and Olaf all together. We had several minutes in relative peace and quiet with a modicum of privacy. It was great. We had never bothered to meet the Frozen gang in the Parks due to the lines. This was only a few minutes wait. We were able to take individual and group pictures. We spent about 3-4 minutes with them all. We were completely done with the Meet and Greet within 18 minutes from when we started. We were done in enough time to then head to Promenade Lounge for Disney Tunes Trivia. It was well attended, and we did well, but there we several perfect scores. They had to do double bonus questions to find a winner. Then we headed back outside to Deck 4 to walk and check out the views. The ship was moving pretty fast, and it was very windy, but it was still great to be out walking around. We headed back inside to warm up, and walked around the inside of the ship for a bit. A close up of the chandelier in the main atrium. It has been replaced with the last Wonder refurb. We headed back to our room. Again. We split up for some more ship exploring and Rainforest Room enjoyment. The RR would be closed by the time we finished dinner and the show, so we wanted to get as much use as we could out of our day pass. When you go back for a second time in the same day to the RR you still have to check in. They give you a “key” and off you go. It seems this step could be easily taken out by just setting access to the RR door on your Key to the World card and having it expire and no longer work at the end of the day. Some ship exploration. It’s a so well designed ship it’s fun to just walk around and look at the details. We had to peel away from the tiled chairs, and go get ready for dinner. It was Formal night dress code. We are not formal wear people. But we figured we’d better put on something other than jeans for dinner. We were not the best dressed, we saw tuxedos and ball gowns, but we also were not the least dress, we saw t-shirts and shorts. Disney doesn’t enforce the formal dress code at dinner, it’s just a suggestion. Dinner was great, and then we headed back to our room to change. Back into normal clothes. We headed out to do some pictures with the characters, and oops, they were in their formal clothes. We have a great picture of us with Minnie all dressed up, and we’re in jeans. So we headed back to our room. Again. to change back into our formal clothes and get a fancy picture of us with Formal dressed Mickey. After meeting Mickey, we headed back to our room, again, to change back into jeans and to head to see tonights show. Between our photo with Mickey and coming back to the room our stateroom host had been in and turned down our bed and left us this. We headed to see the Broadway style show Disney Dreams, An Enchanted Classic. The show was great, and because we liked the seats near the sign language interpreters last night, we sat there again. After the show we headed out to walk Deck 4 again. It was 9:40pm and the sun was just setting. We made it back to the room after 10:00pm. One of the things we had heard is the highlight of the cruise is the Match Your Mate game. It was scheduled to start at 11:00pm. That’s on the later side for us. We had also met some people in line to meet Minnie earlier that evening to were going to the show and so we had plans to meet up with them. By the time it was 10:45pm only one of us was awake enough to head to the show. The news must have gotten out about this show, because it was crowded, but we were able to find seats. Boy was it worth staying up for. Picture the Newly Wed game, with three couples. One just married, one married for a long time, and one married somewhere in-between. People were clamoring to be picked to go up on stage. Well the host is energetic and little cheeky, and they ask all kinds of questions with a Disney twist. And some of them got a bit personal, and these people answered them! We found out way more about these couples then they probably wanted a ship full off people to know. It’s adults only, and while a little “adults only fun” it’s still Disney style and doesn’t go over the top into just embarrassing. The winning couple also got a great prize, no Mickey pen here. They do Match Your Mate one more time during the cruise. It’s going to be on our must-do list. It’s almost 1:00am when the lights finally went out in our cabin. But hey we are supposed to set our clocks back an hour tonight, so it’s really only 12:0oam. Two things we’ve learned already today. One. We love having our room “in” the main action. At a theme park going back to your room, even if your staying on resort can be work. Here we just pop in and out all the time. Need a jacket, run back. Want to sit on the sofa for a few minutes, head back to the stateroom. Your room is never that far away from where your at. Two. There is way more to do then we can possibly do. We had to choose things to do, because activities would be scheduled at the same time as other things we wanted to do. Here is a list of activities that looked fun, but we didn’t have time to do today. Wildlife of Alaska Nature presentation. Crafts- Origami Creations. Zootopia movie showing. Meet Chip and Dale. Virtual Tours on the Funnel Vision. So You Think You Know Your Family? game show. Who wants to be a Mouseketeer? game show. Youth Actives Open House. We weren’t sure if we would be entertained enough on Sea Days. Seems like that worry has been put to rest. It’s 1:00am and we had things to do non-stop since 8:30am! Tomorrow we have our first Port Adventure, and we don’t even go into a port. Previous Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 20. Next Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 22. Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.
Cruise Day 1 continued. On the ship. Here we are. All the months of counting down, and we turned the corner of the gangway and a cast member asked us our name. We told them, and then suddenly they called a welcome to us and we entered the lobby! The excitement was insane at this point. This was our one and only time having a “first” cruise experience. We wanted to just soak it in. We didn’t take any videos or pictures. We tend to do this a lot. We try to soak up the memories, without spending the moment trying to capture the memories. After moving into the lobby carrying all our bags, we knew what we our first plan of attack was. Lunch. Our stateroom wasn’t ready to enter until 1:30pm, so we will be hauling all those carry-on bags with us wherever we go. What we really wanted to do was explore every inch of the ship, but doing that with three bags didn’t seem practical. Also we knew lunch can get very crowded the first day. Plus we were excited to experience a week of Disney dining(ok one of us was anyway…..) and we were pretty hungry at this point. It had been many hours since we ate that early breakfast so we could rush to get a peak at the Wonder. In the rush of excitement of boarding we got turned around and couldn’t determine where lunch was based on the map of the ship we had been studying for weeks. The cast members in the lobby ask us if they can point us to anywhere? We said lunch. They suggested the buffet location on the upper deck. We knew we did not want to drag our bags up 7 flights of stairs – ok this is a good time to mention we vowed not to take an elevator the entire trip; why? because we wanted to eat a lot, and because being that close to people in a tiny space seemed an easy way to catch some germs- and we knew there was another option. Our plan was to head directly to the sit down lunch option so we asked for that. They pointed us down a hall-way and away we went. We were seated in Parrot Cay (which is now Tiana’s Place), our drink orders were taken, and then we were told to head to the buffet. We took turns watching the bags while we filled up our first plates of Disney food for the week. I cannot bring myself to drag a camera around to take pictures of food, especially buffets, so I apologize for the lack of pictures. I do remember it was good, and the dessert choices were many. We started our sailing days off right by sampling at least 5 of them! Well it was only 12:45pm or so when we finished our meal. It was super strange to just walk out when we were done. No bill to pay, no one to tip, no one to excuse ourselves to. If you haven’t cruised before, the first meal you have will probably feel just as strange. You’ve been served by a wait staff, and there is no “end of meal” signal. We sorta looked at each other and went, well I guess we should go… Where to next? We had spent the meal looking at the first day navigator they handed us at check in and knew we wanted to sign up for character meet and great tickets. On longer sailing Disney offers special opportunities to meet characters without standing in line. You sign up, are giving a specific day/time and your entire party meets the character group at once. For our cruise there was a Pixar Friends, Frozen meet and greet, a Princess Gathering, and a character breakfast. The tickets were being distributed at WaveBands(now Azure) on Deck 3 from 12:00pm-2:45pm. We headed down to find WaveBands and sign up for some tickets. We got there and the line was out to the door entrance. We got in the line, and then tried to decide if this was worth our time. Could we come back later to a lesser line? Was there other things we’d rather be doing? We finally decided that since we couldn’t get into our stateroom anyway for almost 30 minutes, and we didn’t want to haul our bags all over the ship, and we did want to get tickets for all the characters, we might as well stick it out. It took us just about 30 minutes to get up to the front, and once we they asked us who we wanted to meet and when. At that exact moment I thought I was going to have a panic attack. How did I know WHEN I wanted to meet them. I didn’t know what else was going on during the cruise that might conflict! But we sorta just took a shot in the dark. We picked our character breakfast to be the next morning- one of two sea days- and figured we knew we would be on the ship so lets just book our Frozen Meet and Greet for that day also. We set our Pixar Friends for Friday early morning, a day we knew our port adventure didn’t start until later in the day, and the Princess Gathering we picked for our second sea day (also our last full day on the ship). Currently Disney is allowing guests to pre-book these tickets form the comfort of their home a few weeks before sail date (like a port adventure). I think this makes things much easier on guests, as well as eliminating the need to staff this sign up area. As we left we saw the line was about the same, if not a tad longer then when we entered. It was finally time to head to our stateroom! We had booked an inside stateroom, and we expected it to be small. When we opened the door for the first time we were surprised at how spacious it felt. It wasn’t a palace, but it was big enough to not feel like we were sitting on top of each other. I can’t imagine putting a third adult in that room though. The room size seemed fine. We didn’t plan to spend much time in the room anyway. When we opened the bathroom door however…. well that was a surprise. We knew we didn’t get one of those cool split bathrooms. Our room type came with a toilet, sink, shower all in one. Wow. There are not words to describe the tiny size. It felt like an airplane bathroom with a shower inside. Yes that small. The door to the bathroom opened inward, and you had to step in, and practically sit on the toilet to close it. Once it was closed you had just enough room to turn stand at the sink, or enter the shower behind. The shower…. well if you’re anything but on the small side, it will be tight. And if you’re tall… you will be using the hand wand to shower. On the plus side it was nicely decorated, and every inch of space was used well. The storage was even designed to keep your personal items from falling all over if the seas were rough. It’s going to be interesting to use this for a week. We’ll update you at the end. We unpacked our carry on bags a bit, and then decided to go explore the ship. We opened our door and one of our bags had already arrived. We knew they could arrive anytime until 5:30pm, but we didn’t expect it so quickly. We unpacked that bag, and headed off to explore. First stop. Deck 9. Amazing views and we have’t even set sail yet! Next the forward part of the for even better views. All too soon we realized we’d better head back to our rooms and drop off the cameras and head to the Muster Drill at 4:00pm. What’s that? The safety drill. You must attend this. It’s mandatory. You are assigned a spot on the ship based on your room. Ours was outside on Deck 4. All you need to bring is every single person in your stateroom and each persons Key to the World card, the plastic key for your room (and so much more). It was rather tight fitting everyone into our muster station, but soon enough they checked us all in, gave us the safety information, and released us. It was probably no later then 4:20pm at this point. So what now? The Adventures Away sail away party started at 4:30, and since it’s our first cruise, we felt like we couldn’t miss that. Up to Deck 9 Stage, which was by the main pool. We found a spot near the back to watch, its not our style to be in the middle of this type of thing. There was pop music playing (no not all Disney stuff) and the Cruise Director Peter introduced himself and the Cruise Activities Staff. Several Characters came out to join in the fun, the magical ship horn was sounded, and away we went. Honestly I’m not sure when the ship actually started to move, but sometime during the party it did. We headed back to our stateroom to see if the rest of our luggage had arrived, it had, and unpack. A lot of times when we travel we just live out of the suitcase. The stateroom was way to small for that. There was plenty of places to store your bags, like under the bed, but they were not easy to access. We pulled everything out, and put it into drawers and hung it up in the closet. We had to stash our largest suitcase in the closet because it was to large to fit under the bed and we still ended up with extra room we didn’t fill in the built-in storage areas. We also set up our free 50mb of internet usage, surfed the Disney Cruise Line app (which doesn’t use internet or cell data while onboard) and surfed the cruise channels on our stateroom tv. It was getting close to dinner, we have Main seating which is 5:45pm, so we headed down to dinner. We aren’t the dress up for dinner type, and tonight is casual dining night so we just went in what we had on. We hoped we wouldn’t feel under dressed. It was also time to see if our request for a table alone, or one with adults was honored. Our dinner was at Animators Palate the first night. But it wasn’t the grand show night we had heard about. We headed over to the restaurant and were greeted at the door with hand wipes. Sure ok sounds fine I’ll take one. It was surprising how many people declined them on the way in. We also used our personal hand sanitizer bottles as well. We were lead to our table, met our serving team, and selected drinks. Table for two request was granted. Then it was time to peruse the menu. Appetizers, Main course, Salad, Soup. Oh my. This is a lot. We don’t normally eat multi-course meals except when we dine out. We picked a few things, and our dining team suggested a few things, and away they went. The meals always started out with a bread service. Tip here. Don’t fill up on the bread…… Our appetizers arrived, they were great. The main course arrived and it was fantastic. Next Dessert. Who’s gonna pass that up? So yummy. By the time the dessert arrived, one of us was feeling rather full. The food lover in the group. By the time the meal ended, one of us was feeling sick. Same one of us. Stumbling back to our stateroom for a little lay down was the only option. The food looked so good, and it’s free, and you don’t want to say no. Learned the hard way. Pace your self! -As a note, we decided we wanted to enjoy our meals, instead of trying to capture how they looked. So we have zero food pictures. Yup. None. But let me assure you, the food looks, and taste delicious. Menus stay somewhat the same cruise to cruise and you can check out cruise menus at posted by Scott at thedisneycruiselineblog.com – After a little rest, and time for the food to digest, we headed to check out the shops. They weren’t to crowded and we made a few purchases. We had heard Alaska merchandise can sell out quickly, so we figured we’d better pick up any must have items the first night. We found a few things we liked and made the purchases. We also saw a few things we might want to purchase, but decided to hold off until the end of the cruise after we’d been to all the ports. Then it was time to head to the nightly show in the Walt Disney Theater. We enjoy a good Broadway show, so we wanted to make sure we say all the Broadway style shows during our sailing. Tonight was the first one. All Aboard. We prefer seats at the front, even at the cost of being off center. We also don’t like to waste time by getting their early. So we walked in with less than 15 minutes to show time, and found seats near the front right, about 3 rows back. When the lights went out, we found ourselves just behind the sign lounge interpreter section. This turned out to be loads of fun. The two interpreters for the show were amazing. They played the parts, acted everything out, and at points were more interesting then the show! All Aboard was more of a short skit to tell you all the cool stuff the cruise has to offer. It reminded me of introduction night at a summer camp. It wasn’t terrible, but it was short, without what felt like a fully developed story line. We still enjoyed it though. We headed back to our room and found this. Our first towel Animal! Also the Navigator for the next day, and some chocolates. We walked around the ship some more, and enjoyed the nighttime views. Then went to our stateroom to relax relaxed. We headed to bed after a long an exciting day. We couldn’t wait to wake up for our first full day at sea, and it starts with a character breakfast! Previous Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 19. Next Post: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 21. Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.