My family of five is embarking on a Disney Alaska cruise this summer, and we are now PIF (paid in full)! My kids will be 6, 9 and 13 years old. I’ve been dreaming about taking this trip for over six years!
Welcome Disboards readers!
This will be our 6th Disney cruise, but our first cruise to Alaska. This cruise will also complete our “Grand Slam” with Disney Cruise Line, as the Disney Wonder is our final ship in the fleet to experience.
A Disney Alaska cruise is expensive. In fact, this is our most expensive vacation we have ever taken! Thankfully, miles and points helped us secure flights to Vancouver and reduce the price of our Vancouver hotel stay before the cruise. You can read more about our savings efforts here and here.
The Final Payment
Our final payment was due earlier this month. Normally, the final payment for a Disney Cruise is due 75 days prior to sailing. However, for cruises leaving from an international port, the deadline is earlier.
I won’t lie to you—it was really hard to get all the money for this cruise. My family had a “no-spend” January (we only spent money on gas and groceries) to help save for the final push. We made it all the way through the month until the last day, when my son had a band concert and we decided to go out for ice cream to celebrate. Lucky for us, we went to Baskin Robbins and discovered the store had scoops for $1.31 since it was the 31st of January. Woohoo!
We found out we’d be getting a small tax refund, which helped us with our final payment. We also ended up charging almost $1000 on my Chase Disney Visa, which has a 6-month no interest benefit for Disney vacation packages. This allows us to spread out our final payment over the next 6 months instead of pulling money out of our savings account.
To fly on miles, we had to split up our family on different flights. I’m flying to Vancouver five nights before the cruise with my two younger kids. My husband and oldest will arrive two nights later. Here is our tentative itinerary:
Day 1: We arrive around 11:00 a.m. We will take a taxi to our hotel, the Hyatt Regency Vancouver. My only plan is to explore the waterfront a little, see the Olympic torch, and swim in the hotel pool. We might live dangerously and purchase a few Kinder Surprise eggs, which are illegal in the USA.
Day 2: My plan is to take the kids to Stanley Park. My kids are really into marine life right now, so we will go to Vancouver Aquarium first and then walk to the totem poles. Maybe I will splurge on the horse-drawn carriage ride around the park.
Day 3: I’m planning to sign us up for the Sea to Sky tour to see more of British Columbia outside of Vancouver. Highlights include Shannon Falls, Sea to Sky Gondola and the Britannia Copper Mine. My husband and oldest son will arrive that evening.
Day 4: Now that the whole family is in Vancouver, we are going to start the day at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. The free shuttle stops right at our hotel. Next, we will take the public bus to Grouse Mountain. We’ll ride the SkyRide to the top of the mountain, hike, see the rescued Grizzly bears and catch the bird show and lumberjack show. I also want to ride to the top of the Eye of the Wind.
Day 5: Whale watching boat tour! The waters outside of Vancouver are home to a few Orca pods. We would love to see those in the wild! We haven’t made our tour reservation yet, but there are a few companies that do these tours, including Vancouver Whale Watch and Seabreeze Adventures.
Day 6: We board the Disney Wonder!
Alaska Port Excursion Plans
Our cruise on board the Disney Wonder has three stops in Alaska: Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.
Skagway: We are planning to go to a summer dog sled camp. I calculated we would save over $100 if we booked this tour independently vs. booking through Disney, so that’s what we will do. I’m so excited for this excursion!
Juneau: My first choice in Juneau would be to do a seaplane tour to Taku Glacier Lodge. It looks amazing, and all the reviews are outstanding. However, it is very costly for a family of five (almost $1600). Since we are going to California later in the summer, we could use that money to take our kids to Disneyland for two days. Based on the ages of our kids, I think Disneyland is a better use of our money.
Instead, we are renting a car to drive to Mendenhall Glacier. The cost is only $67 through Juneau Car Rentals. Juneau Car Rentals is located at Dock A, where the Disney Wonder is scheduled to Dock. I actually tried to rent a car through Avis, but Avis no longer has its downtown Juneau rental space. Juneau Car Rentals already sent us a map and a list of sites to see.
At Mendenhall, I’d like to hike to the waterfall and look around the visitor center. Next, we will head to the Macauley Salmon Hatchery and go up Mount Roberts Tramway if the weather is clear. We will definitely have to stop by the House of Russia for my Russian-American kids.
Ketchikan: We are signing up to go on the duck boat tour. I’ve always wanted to go on one of these! We will also explore the town on our own, walking down Creek Street and riding the funicular to see totem poles.
Our cruise includes two sea days plus a day sailing through Tracy Arm. We have so many things to do, and I’m a bit worried about how we will fit it all in!
I’ve looked over last year’s navigators posted on Disney Cruise Line Blog to get an idea of the shows and themes for each night. The Alaska itinerary offers several things we haven’t experienced on our other Disney Cruises, like a Frozen-themed dinner, outside barbecue lunch on Tracy Arm day and a Pixar character party.
The Disney Wonder was also just recently reimagined, and I’m looking forward to seeing the new Frozen stage show and having dinner at Tiana’s Place. Check out this review of Tiana’s Place. I can’t wait!
Since this is our first cruise as Gold Castaway Club members, we plan to attend the special reception with the ship’s officers and Mickey on the first sea day morning. I also want to attend a few naturalist sessions to learn about the wildlife we will be seeing.
In addition, it’s almost time for us to pre-book a character breakfast, Princess Gathering and Frozen characters meet and greet. I will also reserve a session for my daughter at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
My kids will want to spend time in the newly renovated kids clubs and the Marvel Super Hero Academy. Also, we look forward to seeing several new-release movies that will be playing on our cruise, including Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Pirates of the Caribbean 5 and Cars 3 (which will premiere on our cruise!)
So much fun stuff!
Clothing: I need to make sure everyone in my family has gloves, a fleece jacket and a waterproof jacket that fits. I also need to get new formal clothes for my boys to wear to formal dinner. They love dressing up for that! My daughter also needs a new princess dress, as she is growing like a weed and has outgrown her dresses from last year. Maybe I will sneak in an order for matching family shirt for embarkation day. I’m a sucker for matching shirts, but my husband is not a fan.
Fish Extender and Door Magnets: We signed up to participate in a Fish Extender Exchange group through a group on social media that is specific to our cruise. What is a Fish Extender Exchange? It’s basically a Secret Santa type group, where you exchange small gifts with other families. The gifts can be Disney-related, or something representing your hometown/home state, or just about anything! I won’t say yet what our gift is, but I’m bringing an entire suitcase for just my FE gifts! The gift involves embroidery, which my mother-in-law has volunteered to do.
For our last cruise, we purchased a few magnets from etsy, although I usually make my own magnets. I’m not very crafty, but I do love creating Disney Cruise door magnets!
Travel Consent Letter: Since we are entering Canada on different days with different kids, my husband and I still need to notarize a travel consent letter. Canada is very strict about this! We don’t want to have any issues with Canadian customs.
What am I missing for our Disney Alaska cruise? What do you think of our plans in Vancouver and at the three Alaska ports? Would you do something differently?
Thank you to Doug Jones for letting me showcase some of his beautiful Alaska photos. You can see more of his photos here. I found out that Mr. Jones will be the on-board naturalist for the last sea day of our cruise!
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Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.