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.
Follow along from the beginning: Disney Cruise Alaska Part 1.