My family just returned from a 7-night Alaskan cruise aboard the Disney Wonder with 5 nights in Vancouver tacked on to the beginning of our vacation. The only way to keep me from being sad about our trip being over is to write about it in detail to re-live the memories. In case you missed the first installments, see Trip Video and Hyatt Regency Vancouver Review, Texans in Alaska: Vancouver Part 1 (Arrival, Stanley Park, Sea to Sky Tour), Vancouver Part 2 (Capilano, Grouse Mountain and Vancouver Whale Watch), Boarding the Disney Wonder to Alaska and Sea Day to Alaska.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
If I had to pick a favorite day of our cruise, this would be it. In fact, as I sit here writing this installment, I’m getting a little misty-eyed. This day was very special.
Prior to our cruise, I had reserved the character breakfast online for this day at 8:00 a.m. There is no extra charge for the breakfast, but you do need to have a reservation. 8:00 a.m. sounds early, but the clocks fell back an hour into the Alaska time zone, so it was more like 9:00 a.m. in our heads.
We had been to a Disney Junior character breakfast on the Disney Fantasy, but this one on the Disney Wonder was different. It featured the classic characters Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto.
The breakfast took place in Animator’s Palate restaurant. Classic Mickey cartoons were playing on the screens.
After a few minutes, our servers made us some fanciful “hats” out of napkins. Fun and festive!
The food was great. Our kids were happy that they could still get their donuts. The characters came to our table with good timing, and we were out of there within an hour.
After breakfast, I took my youngest to see Ariel. Although we would see her later in the week at the Princess Gathering, Ariel is her favorite princess, so we couldn’t resist.
Around 10:00 that morning, the captain announced that we would not be able to go into Tracy Arm due to heavy ice. The ship would instead traverse Endicott Arm, which had Dawes Glacier at the end.
I wasn’t too disappointed because I hear this happens frequently. Crew members swear that Endicott Arm is just at scenic as Tracy Arm, and most of the sailings last year had this same detour.
We wouldn’t be reaching Endicott Arm until around noon, so the rest of the morning was free, just like a regular sea day. The kids went to the clubs, and I decided to catch another naturalist presentation at 9:30 a.m. This one was about glaciers.
My husband decided to chill in the Cove Café for a while since he didn’t want to sit through another naturalist presentation. I found the talk on glaciers to be quite interesting. It answered questions about why it looks like there are brown tire tracks on top of many glaciers and why the bottoms of glaciers are so blue.
At some point, I came back to our room. We were supposed to leave our Anna’s Chocolate Chase sheets on our bed that morning to get a special surprise, but somehow we couldn’t find ours. I asked our room attendant if she had already picked it up, and she said no. But, she said she could ask her manager if she could give us the treat anyway.
We were able to get one small Frozen chocolate bar from the treasure hunt. I thought that was odd, since the sheet asked how many were in our group. We later found the sheet and tried to turn it into our other room’s attendant, but we didn’t get anything. I asked on our cruise’s Facebook group about the chocolates, and it seems that many people only got one little chocolate bar per family. Others got one per person, even groups who didn’t play the game. Very odd that each room attendant handled it differently.
I met up with my husband and daughter at Cabanas around 11:30 a.m. for lunch. We were so excited to attend the outdoor barbeque that we have read so much about on Tracy Arm day. However, we learned that the Wonder no longer does it. Bummer! We settled on the buffet.
I actually ran outside to grab my daughter some pizza from the fast food on deck, and I discovered that they were handing out split pea soup in bread bowls. I grabbed one for my lunch. Yum!
Afternoon on Deck
We spent about four hours up on the top deck that afternoon, from noon to 4:00 p.m. This is what it looked like at the beginning:
We staked out a spot on the starboard side of the ship in the middle. There was plenty of room on both sides of us! Nobody was fighting to get close to the railing. We were in front of this storage box, which we used to set down out different cameras and binoculars.
Once again, the atmosphere on deck was electric! Everyone was so excited for everything we were about to see. Families next to us were sharing and pointing when they saw wildlife so that everyone could see it. There was a big sense of comradery. The weather was great (sunny and in the 50s), and people were happy! Crew members came around with hot chocolate.
The naturalist narrated on the bridge for the first several minutes, but due to noise regulations he couldn’t do that all the way through. He then came out on the top deck to answer questions.
The water was so still and green all around us. It was so smooth, and all you could see was a small ripple behind our ship.
As we cruised through the fjord we could see waterfalls on both sides. Wide ones, narrow ones, twisty ones.
My middle child, who is the one that is most into nature and animals, did not want to be on deck to witness all this. I was shocked! He was having way too much fun in the Oceaneer Lab. We let him stay there. He made an appearance on deck briefly to eat some pizza, but then he was off again.
My 13-year-old ended up being most interested in the afternoon’s scenery. He was putting his binoculars to good use the entire time.
As we neared the glacier at the end, we took advantage of several character photos ops. Goofy was the first to make an appearance.
After Goofy, we took my youngest to the Oceaneer Club. The club had moved to the sports deck at the front of the ship so that the kids could also partake in the scenery. She had a great time up there! She painted some ceramic fish. I loved that the kids could be doing fun activities while also taking in the scenery.
We were down to three family members for this visit with Donald:
When we got to the glacier, the ship turned to the starboard side. It stayed there for at least 30 minutes, giving everyone ample time and space to take loads of photos. Then, it turned again, and gave the port side at least 30 minutes in front of the glacier.
We grabbed our youngest from the kids’ clubs so that she could be in the photo with Daisy in front of the glacier:
While we were on deck, we saw Pete the Naturalist helping people spot wildlife. He let my son borrow his stronger binoculars so that he could see some mountain goats on the rocky cliff in front of us. I couldn’t believe how small those goats looked to the naked eye (like a white spot on green).
When the ship is stopped at the glacier, don’t forget to go to the other side of the ship to see where we came from. The view that direction is pretty spectacular, too!
Watching from our Stateroom on Deck 2
We left the top deck around 4:00 p.m. and headed back to our stateroom to relax before dinner. The view from our portholes wasn’t bad:
We saw loads of small chunks of ice:
I can’t get over how still and green the water was!
The biggest treat on our way out of the fjord was the amount of seals we saw right outside our windows!
Dinner and Evening Entertainment
Our kids weren’t interested in eating dinner at Triton’s tonight, so we ordered room service for them for dinner. Our tablemates were on the second small boat excursion that afternoon, so they didn’t join us for dinner. So, my husband and I had a quiet dinner all by ourselves at a table for 8. It was nice.
We picked the kids up from the clubs after dinner and had a photo with Mickey dressed in his Alaskan fisherman outfit.
Next, we headed to the main show, which was a magic and comedy show by Shawn Farquhar. His last trick was amazing! My kids always like the variety acts because it’s the type of entertainment we really don’t see any place else.
My husband took our younger two kids back to the room after the show. Meanwhile, I treated myself to an adults-only show by the ventriloquist Lynn Trefzger at 9:45 p.m. I’m so glad I went, because she was absolutely hilarious!
Our turn-down service in the rooms included our towel animals and chocolate as well as additional information about our first land stop in Alaska. We were excited to wake up to Skagway in the morning!
Up next: Skagway, Alaska
For tips on how to use credit card rewards to pay for a cruise, see this post on How to Maximize Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard Bonus on Cruises.
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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.