Disney Alaska Cruise: Day 1

Day 1: June 11, 2012

“A Disney Cruise without kids?”, is the question I was getting asked from everyone I told about my upcoming vacation. After sailing on one Disney Cruise, my family and extended family has been hooked ever since. I hope you enjoy my day-to-day recap and pictures of our wonderful Alaska cruise on the Disney Wonder.  I am also going to be adding some tips and tricks that my family has learned on the cruise or through our past cruises with Disney (these will be in blue text).

Here is a little background information about our cruise and group:

Ship: Disney Wonder
Dates Sailed: June 11th-18th 2012 (7 days)
Demographics of our group: 8 people, 3 adults and 5 kids (ages 20-24 (I know we are big kids)), 2 families
Staterooms: 2 rooms (one for each family), 2nd deck, AFT, Ocean View, Big porthole
Ports:

    • Seattle, WA
    • Tracy Arm, Alaska
    • Skagway, Alaska
    • Juneau, Alaska
    • Ketchikan, Alaska
    • Victoria, Canada

The weekend leading up to our departure was a whirlwind of activity. My mom, dad, sister, aunt, 2 cousins, and my future cousin-in-law all flew into Seattle on Saturday to visit for a few days before the flight. Yes, that is seven extra people in my house! It was crazy but we made it work and I loved being able to have family over at my house!

Have I mentioned one great thing about our Disney Alaska cruise is that this one leaves out of Seattle, no long flights or time zone changes for me!  My husband, Alex, decided that he was going to skip this vacation (he is more of a lay on a warm beach and drink sort of vacation guy, not a lets go to colder weather), so he became our wonderful chauffeur to the ship the morning of our departure.  It took us three car loads to get everybody and all of the luggage over to the port.

The most exciting thing to me was turning a corner on a road I have traveled a lot in the past and see the Disney Wonder sitting on Pier 91.  My vacation that I had been dreaming of was really here! After arriving and saying bye to Alex we walked into the terminal. The first stop is dropping off checked bags followed by a security check. It was really refreshing to go through a security check and not have to completely undress and be patted down. I was even about to leave my belt on through the metal detectors! So much better than the airports.

We then were able to go check–in and get our key to the world cards. This was our first time sailing on their new system so we had to get our picture taken for our cards (I made a great face for mine that made a lot of the staff giggle when they saw it all week). Next onto the waiting area, this area makes everyone so much more excited to take that first step onto the boat with Disney music playing and characters, like Mickey and Minnie walking around in sailing outfits.

Katie and I right after we got the okay to board.

Tips & Tricks: Check-in 

  • You receive your boarding group number after dropping off your bags. They never check your given “check-in time” that you receive after your per-check-in online so it you want to get there earlier you can. We boarded with group 7 at about 12:10pm.
  • Bring all family members up to the check-in desk. This is where they check passports and take your photo for your key-to-the-world card (this picture is not printed on the card, it just pops up when your card is scanned.
  • If you are a return sailor you will receive a lanyard for your key-to-the-world card. First time sailors bring your own lanyard or you can buy an overpriced one in the gift shop. You use your card for everything on the ship and needs to be on you at all times. This is your room key, credit card (you set this one up per card), access on and off the boat, and a photo service link card (linking photos taken on the boat to you room) just to name a few. Having a lanyard makes it just a little harder to forget or loose.
The first thing we did after boarding the ship was head up to Beach Blanket (on deck 9) for some lunch. It was a beautiful day in Seattle so we filled up our plates at the buffet and headed outside to soak up some sun and enjoy the gorgeous views of the city and mountains (both Mt. Rainier and the Olympic Mountains) were out crystal clear. 

My Parents. Picture taken from Beach Blanket.

After eating we took some pictures of the skyline and mountains then headed down to the Goofy pool to find some chairs to take advantage of the sun while waiting for our rooms to be ready.

Pluto came up behind April while she was napping and scared her. He gave her a kiss to make up for it. I loved the random run-in with characters walking around the ship.

My sister, Katie, and I took one look at the empty Goofy pool and garbed our swimsuits out of our carry-ons and jumped into the pool. I don’t think we have ever seen the Goofy pool empty. We were in there for about an hour before other people started to join us.

Hanging out in the empty Goofy pool. The water was really warm!

We climbed out of the pool and headed down to our stateroom to find our bags already there (so much better then changing again in the tiny bathroom stalls! And the added bonus of being able to pull out the one pair of, just-in-case shorts I had packed). We took advantage of our bags early arrival and unpacked everything. I have never been the type of person that unpacks my bag during a vacation but this is highly recommended, almost required, to be able to live in a tiny space with three other people for a week. The nice thing about unpacking is you can slide all your empty bags under the big bed in the room, freeing up tons of space and making the tight quarters livable.

We then headed up to deck 9 for some much anticipated post unpacking pre safety drill ice-cream. Only to find out they close the ice-cream down 30 minutes before the safety drill.

After the quick and painless safety drill we headed to deck 10 to stake out a table for the parents to watch the sail away party from. They like deck 10 because the get a birds-eye view of the party to take pictures of us but I heard rumors that they are joining us down on the dance floor next time! Oh and we ran over and got ice-cream!

Tips & Tricks: Pre-sail away / unpacking 

  • Rooms are not ready right away when you board the boat. Make sure your carry-ons only have what you really need during the first few hours on the boat or stuff you can’t check (like alcohol, I will talk more about this later) because you have to carry it around with you.
  • When you enter the ship, they direct some people to Beach Blanket and others to Parrot Cay for lunch (same food at both places). If it is nice outside I recommend finding the first elevator and head up the sun. Beach blanket has both indoor and outdoor seating. 
  • Pack swimming suit in carry-on, you never know when it is going to be a nice day in Seattle
  • If you plan on hanging a lot of clothes bring some of your own hangers. The have about 10-15 hangers in the room but that is not a lot for 4 adults. 
  • Ice-cream flavors of the trip: Vanilla + Chocolate and Banana + Raspberry (had the option of twisting these two pairs) Later in the trip they switched out to Pineapple (my favorite) , in place of Banana + Raspberry. They also ran out of cones and switched to cups.

The music of the Disney Wonder ship horns blew and we were off on our Alaskan adventure! I was torn but I left the party to walk around deck 10 with my dad taking pictures of my Seattle home drifting away. I loved being able to see views of the city that I was not used to and pointing out places I knew.

To my disbelief, after the sail-away party was done it was already time to head down to our room to get ready for our first dinner (we had first seating at 5:45pm).

Parrot Cay entrance.

Our first dinner was a Parrot Cay. All Disney Cruise lines have a rotational dining experience. You rotate through three different dining rooms and your wait staff rotates with you. They get to know you and you them. In the past our wait staff has been amazing! But this time around they seemed very busy. They had other tables then just ours but we were always being served last. Both servers were really nice guys, but very soft spoken. They were not the fun loving characters that we have had in the past. This is probably my only negative of the whole cruise but I feel like the dinning staff plays a huge part in the overall experience.

Appetizer, I don’t remember the name of this one.

The service improved by the end of the week after talking to the head server, he stepped in and helped speed up the service. The lesson of this is speak up if something is not at 100%. Disney will try to make it better!

My main course.

Katie’s Main Course.

Parrot Cay Dessert Menu

My dessert: Parrot Cay’s Sweet Temptations.

Katie got an ice cream Sunday almost every night! They change up to ice cream and the topping with every menu.

My dad’s birthday celebration dessert. They come out and sing to you too! I got one of these on the last night.

My mom’s Pina Colada Bread Pudding.

After dinner (or before if you have late dinner seating), Disney puts on full Broadway style productions that are unique to the cruise line. The first show was called All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin. They have a total of five of these shows throughout the cruise, the other nighst they have variety show type acts made for a PG audience. We had a juggler/comedian, hypnotist, and a ventriloquist.  One of the nights they show the premiere (on the ship) of Avengers in 3D, they made this movie available to watch in the movie theater after that night.

Theater, there is no photography during the show. This is a new rule because we were able to take non-flash pictures in the past.

Every night after the family show, the Route 66 area becomes an adult only (18+) area.  Our favorite thing to do was go to Beat Street at 10:30pm for the adult only show. They had adult versions of the family variety acts and other comedians do Adult only shows. Our Scottish adult entertainment (Disney rated) host, Scotty, was great. He taught us that he could ask any question as long as you disneyfied it. The first night was a wacky scavenger hunt… all I am going to say is by the end of the night there were men strutting around in bras and women’s shoes, holding hand bags and wearing lipstick. This has to be one of funniest nights on the cruise. We laughed so hard]… I only wish I brought a camera.

Tips & Tricks: Night time Shows

  • Send some people from your group down to the theater right after dinner to save seats. Take turns going to the room to change if you want to be more comfortable for the show.
  • The Adult show normally fills up so if you have a large group, make sure to head down early. The first night was the only exception to this.

I am going to end this extremely long (sorry) first day post by sharing pictures of our first towel animal. Every night during dinner, your room stuart cleans and prepares your room for sleeping. The includes turning the once couch into bunk beds. They also leaves a towel creation and chocolates for you.

I personal think this towel creation is a seal because of the chocolate left on the nose but the whole rest of my family argues that it is a swan. What do you think?

Thanks for reading

6 thoughts on “Disney Alaska Cruise: Day 1

  1. Wow! Great tips. We are leaving on our first extended family DC on the 23rd of July, same itinerary. I’m really hoping you post more about your trip.
    Thanks!

    • Hey Lisa,

      Thanks for the comment! I just posted about day 2. I wish I had enough free time to get these posts up faster and before you leave on your trip.

      I hope this amazing northwest weather stays around for your cruise! You might end up with a warm and sunny cruise. July is the perfect time to go because that is when summer starts around here.

      Hope you enjoy my next post. Let me know if you have any questions before you leave! And have a wonderful time on your cruise!

  2. Thanks Sarah! You read my mind with the tips on bringing alcohol on board. Also, it had never occurred to me that we could buy more in port and bring it back…duh! I think our biggest worry at this point is packing. How to pack for 10 days and varied weather and trying to look nice for formal night. (We have an extra day in Seattle on each end.) Any suggestions? By the way, your photos have really raised our level of excitement. Thanks!

    • Packing is always hard! Remember you can always re-wear clothes for different dinners. The first night, pirate night, and the Victoria Port day are a lot less formal. We wore jean to both pirate night and the Victoria Port day. They also have laundry rooms on the boat if you run out of things to wear. Just a warning they get very busy on the last full day… I don’t why but people were washing all their clothes before they left the ship?

      Depending on when you are leaving you might have a little warmer weather that what we had. It is always hard to predict Northwest weather. Sorry to not be that much help on this.

      As for Seattle… If you have never been before you have to go check out Pikes Place Market. This is more of a morning to early afternoon activity (it closes before dinner time). The other fun thing I always have people do is go on the underground tour located in Pioneer Square, it gives you a really fun history of Seattle. http://www.undergroundtour.com/

      As much as the locals hate them, if you are traveling with kids, the duck tours are always a fun way to see the city. I have done them before with my family and they are a lot of fun. http://www.ridetheducksofseattle.com/

      Everything is within walking distance once you get downtown. Also most of the buses are free ride in the downtown area. They have a sign stating this when you enter the bus.

      If you are renting a car and wanted to do a more of an outdoors thing, I would highly recommend doing rattle snake ridge hike up to the outlook (only if it is a nice clear day). It is about an hour drive outside of the city. One of my favorite places in the Seattle area! http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/rattlesnake-ridge-trail

      As for food, the Crab Pot is a fun seafood experience and is right down by the new Ferris wheel. http://www.thecrabpotseattle.com/ If you want more food recommendations I can give you more but I have a feeling you are not going to be very hungry once you get back to Seattle :)

      Let me know if you need more ideas for Seattle, I have tons more.

      • ACK! Did I just see a LOCAL say “PikeS Place Market”?! Bite your tongue! LOL

        Enjoying reading your trip report, thanks for sharing your thoughts and tips. We are taking our first in a few weeks and can’t wait.

        • haha, didn’t even realize I did that! Good catch, I am a new local, if three years is new :) Thanks for the comment, it made me smile.

          Have a wonderful trip!

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