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, Sea Day to Alaska and Tracy Arm.
Thursday, June 14, 2017
Today we docked in Skagway, Alaska! The ship would be docked for more than 12 hours, so many families were doing two excursions today. (Note: You can see copies of navigators for our cruise here on the Disney Cruise Line Blog).
We ate breakfast in Cabanas around 8:15 a.m. The atrium was all decorated for a Frozen-themed day.
We had a little time to kill before meeting up for our excursion, so we took some photos with Pluto and Minnie.
There were no people waiting in line for either character that morning! I originally just took my daughter to see Minnie, but when I discovered there was nobody waiting, I texted the rest of my family to join us.
Summer Dog Sled Camp through Alaska Excursions
I booked us on a summer dog sled camp excursion through Alaska Excursions. Disney Cruise Line offers a similar excursion, but it would have cost over $100 more for my family of five. Last summer, I read a trip report from someone who did the excursion with Disney the year prior and through Alaska Excursions the next year and actually preferred the one through Alaska Excursions. So, I figured we would save some money and book outside of DCL.
We were supposed to meet Alaska Excursions outside of our ship at 10:00 a.m. We debarked around 9:45 a.m. and took a few photos. The scenery in Skagway was spectacular.
As we walked a little further, a representative from Alaska Excursions took our name and directed us to a covered waiting area. After a few minutes, our bus pulled up, and we were on our way to Dyea.
Our tour guide and driver, Blake, told us about Skagway and Dyea during the 30-minute ride to base camp. Blake had moved to Alaska from Arizona and was now one of the 600 year-round residents of Skagway.
We parked here and I couldn’t resist taking a photo:
After walking a few steps, we reached the base camp:
Next, we loaded up in this Unimog to climb up the mountain to reach the dog sled camp. My son and I rode up front with the driver, who is another year-round resident of Skagway. It sure was interesting to speak with her!
The road to the dog sled camp was steep and twisty. The forest floor was covered with moss that looked like a fuzzy green blanket.
When we arrived at the top, workers assigned us to a musher. Each sled could fit six people, so my family had a sled to ourselves.
Boy, were those dogs happy to see us! They wanted to start running!
Our musher told us she would start explaining things after we got going. Her dogs didn’t bark as much while they were running.
I guess I expected the dog sled experience to be more staged or fake. Nope, it was a real dog musher who owned her dogs. The other mushers also owned their dogs and camped at the site for the summer. Our musher explained that the summer is a good time to build strength, as our dog sled weighs a lot more than the one they pull in the winter with just her on it.
Our musher competes in races all winter long. She (and the other mushers) take excellent care of their dogs. This is their life.
We were riding around a track that was maybe a mile long, and we made a few loops. Our musher stopped at one point to take photos of us with our cameras.
After we finished, our musher introduced us to each one of her dogs. She named them all after candy bars (Skittles, Rolo, Twix, etc.) We got to pet them all.
Back to Base Camp
Soon, it was time to head back down the mountain to the base camp in the Unimog. Along the way down, we stopped at this scenic overlook:
At base camp, another musher spoke about the equipment the mushers use.
We then had about 30 minutes of free time, when we could hold a puppy, look at our professional photos or shop in the stores. Of course, holding a puppy was the priority!
Our 30 minutes were up before we knew it. Our kids managed to persuade us to buy them stuffed animal dogs.
On the way back to our ship, Blake gave us the option of getting dropped off in town or at our ship. Some people chose to get off in town to explore, but we decided to go right back to the ship to eat lunch.
We were dropped off at 1:30 p.m., so the length of our excursion was 3 ½ hours. We learned so much about the dog sled sport in Alaska! I wholeheartedly recommend this excursion.
Afternoon on the Disney Wonder
Cabanas closed for lunch at 2:00, so we made it just in time to enjoy the buffet for lunch. We sat out back in the outside section to take in the views around Skagway.
After lunch, the kids wanted to swim again. I took them to the pools while my husband read in the adults-only Cove Café.
I took the kids back to the room in the late afternoon so that I could get my daughter changed and back to the atrium for the Oaken’s Maypole Swirl and Twirl party at 4:45 p.m. The maypole party ended up being a lot of fun!
My daughter participated in the kids’ maypole dance, followed by more dances and an adult maypole dance. The characters were Oaken’s family members from the Frozen movie, and they were really in character! “Yoo-hoo! Family!”
Before dinner, we had time to catch a photo with Stitch. He had a very long line, as this was his only appearance all week!
Freezing the Night Away
Since we had a late lunch, my husband didn’t feel like having dinner in the main dining room tonight. However, my daughter insisted on going because it was Frozen night. So, the three of us went, while our boys made other dinner plans in the clubs and at the fast food restaurants on deck.
The servers wore vests with snowflakes. Our stateroom hosts gave everyone light-up snowflake necklaces, so many people wore theirs to dinner.
You can see the special dinner menu here. I ordered the Jarlsberg Tart for an appetizer, and it was like a little quiche.
Of course, my daughter wanted to wear her Elsa dress.
After dinner, we went outside on deck to watch the Freezing the Night Away Deck Party. I couldn’t convince my boys to attend since they couldn’t care less about Frozen stuff. But my daughter was all in! We watched from just a few feet away. Elsa made it snow!
After the show, Alyssa went to the Oceaneer Club. My husband went to the Pirates of the Caribbean movie. The Pirates movie was playing in both theaters, and I had no desire to see it.
I decided to have some chill time in the second level of the Cove Café, the Outlook Café. I ordered some tea and read my book for a while. Ahhhhh, peace and quiet.
After I read for a while, I went to look at the art gallery. I’ve always been interested in purchasing a piece of art for our home, but we had never done that on our previous cruises.
The art gallery is much smaller on the Wonder than it is on the Fantasy. The artwork is displayed in a hallway, and at certain hours a catalog and crew member are present.
I started flipping through the catalog and chatting with the crew member. I ended up ordering a painting of all the atrium statues (plus the two characters rumored to be the statues on the new ships that will be done in a few years). It only took two weeks to arrive at my house.
When I picked up my daughter from the club, she was doing an activity with Anna from Frozen. I let her finish, and then got her to bed by 10:15 p.m. My husband picked up our younger son after the pirates movie. My oldest son decided he was going to see the Cars 3 movie premiere, which started at 11:15 p.m. I didn’t want him to go, because we had to get up early the next day. But, all his friends from the Edge were going, so it was hard to say no.
Up next: Rainy Day in Juneau
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.