Hi everyone! We just got back from our Alaska cruise on the Disney Wonder, and it was simply amazing. I did learn a few things, so I wanted to share for those of you who are thinking about doing it.
- While it may sound simplistic, and I know you already know this, DO NOT FORGET YOUR PASSPORT! You’ll need it to get into Canada to depart from Vancouver and to get back into the U.S. when you are returning home. Also, some excursions require you to have your passport as well – we went on one that took us from Alaska up into Canada, and they did come around and check them.
- If you’ve never been on the Wonder or her sister ship the Disney Magic, but have been on the Disney Dream or Disney Fantasy, be prepared to have some things in a different place. As you may know, the Wonder is a little smaller than the two newer ships, and things are arranged differently – but don’t worry! The good news is that it was super easy to figure out and get around. I’ve heard people who have cruised on the original two ships say that they prefer them because of their feeling of intimacy. I have to say that for myself, the jury is still out. At this point, I don’t have a preference – I love all Disney ships!
- If you can at all afford it, splurge for a verandah room. The day we were cruising Endicott Arm to see the glacier, there were a lot of people on deck in the common areas. There were moments that it was difficult to get good pictures. People generally were considerate and moved away after viewing for a little while, but if you’re not too keen on crowds, a verandah is the way to go. If you have a verandah, you can watch from your stateroom (and spend some quiet time just enjoying the Alaska scenery on other days!). There is one con to viewing the glacier from your verandah though – sometimes they have character appearances on deck for pictures and you won’t be able to experience that if you’re on your verandah. You can check your personal navigator for characters that are appearing and at what times, though, so you could go on deck for those if you wanted.
- If you’re going to need to do laundry or iron anything, go as early as possible in the cruise, and go as early as possible during the day. I got up early our first day on the ship and was in the laundry room at 6:15 a.m. – and there was someone already in there ironing – and another person had put in two loads as well! I was able to get everything done, but by the time I was finished there were people waiting. Also, know that the washers and dryers are really, really small. What would be a “normal, medium-sized” load in my home washer and dryer was two full loads in the ship’s – and I had to run the clothes through the dryer cycle twice to get them completely dry. On Deck 6, they did have a larger, commercial-style dryer that I used – I put two wet loads in. It seemed to do a little better with drying things more quickly.
- The weather is completely unpredictable. I was actually looking forward to some cold and rain, but we had fantastic weather in all of our ports – no rain, and warmer temperatures. I never wore my heavy jacket, gloves, or scarves, and I only wore my light sweater once in the morning. That being said, you do need to pack for rain and colder weather. Apparently what we experienced was very unusual. It was sunny and 76 degrees in Ketchikan, and 78 degrees in Juneau!
- Do venture out to local restaurants in your ports of call. We had some of the most delicious food of our entire trip at the Skagway Brewing Company in Skagway and at The Hangar in Juneau. Tracy’s Crab Shack in Juneau also got rave reviews from some of our new cruise friends.
- When shopping in your ports of call, look for “Locally Owned” signs in the stores. These shops usually have authentic local art and unusual things to offer, as opposed to the large, tourist-trap stores that are closer to the ships. You will need to venture out a little bit (but not too far) to find them, and it’s totally worth it if you’re interested in buying authentic souvenirs or some local art.
- ALWAYS have your camera or your phone with you. You never know when you’re going to suddenly see a pod of whales in the water or some bald eagles flying around. I missed getting some fantastic shots of some whales because I had left my camera and phone in the cabin.
- Spend the time to research your Port Adventures. I overheard a lot of people saying “I didn’t know we could do THAT!” or “I wish I knew about that excursion”. There are so many to choose from in each port that this process actually took us a while. Also, there may be similar excursions in different ports – for example, in Juneau, we chose the “Sled Dog Discovery and Musher’s Camp,” and in Skagway they also offered the “Musher’s Camp and Sled Dog Experience.” Both port adventures were very similar, so we chose which port worked better based upon the other port adventures we wanted to do.
- Remember to check your cell carrier’s rates and policies for calls, texts, and internet use in Canada. We were able to use our normal data allowance and text and make regular calls when in port in Alaska, but in Vancouver, it can get quite expensive if you don’t have an international data or call plan. I have Verizon, and as soon as we crossed into Canada I got a text from them that said if I responded “yes” to the text I could pay $2/day for talk/text/data only on the days I used it – which turned out to be a huge savings, because otherwise the charges would have been $2.05 per MB! My cell bill after the trip was only $6 more than usual because I used the $2/day plan for 3 days, and I texted quite a bit while there. When we were at sea we utilized the onboard wifi that is offered by Disney Cruise Line (although you have to pay for it), but that is only for internet, not calls or texts.
Have you been on a DCL Alaska cruise? I’d love to hear your experiences. Come by the Magical DIStractions Facebook group and let me know! Magical DIStractions can also be found on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ so please take a moment to follow us. You can also sign up for the Magical DIStractions newsletter and watch videos on our YouTube channel. We will keep you up-to-date on all of the latest news!