Updated: Jan 18, 2020
Last year, I had the incredible opportunity to go on an Alaskan cruise, a lifelong dream of my dad's. I'm excited to tell you all about it!
Day 1 - Arrival in Vancouver
We took an early morning flight to Vancouver from SFO to enjoy as much time in the city as possible. We arrived at YVR around 10AM but didn’t make it to our hotel until noon. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, which was a lovely hotel located in the downtown area. It was surprisingly close to the Fairmont at which we had stayed at during our last Canada trip! The room wasn’t ready but the Hyatt staff was kind enough to let us grab a drink at the Regency Club and provided us directions to the nearest Nando’s - our go-to place in Vancouver. We walked over, had a wonderful lunch, and got an email that our room was ready just about the time we finished up! It worked out perfectly. Our room was very clean and spacious. We ended up ordering room service for dinner that night to get to bed early in preparation for our morning port arrival time (PAT) - we would be allowed to board as early as 11AM.
Day 2 - Embarkation Day
We woke up well-rested and had a great breakfast at the Regency Club. Much to our delight, the staff informed us that Canada Place, the cruise port in Vancouver, was very close by. In fact, if we didn’t have so much luggage, we probably could have walked there! So, after a quick cab ride, we began to go through customs. It was a relatively painless process and we were able to board immediately.
Since we’d checked all of our bags but one, we decided to grab lunch as the rooms would not be ready until 1:30 and it was only about noon. We ate at Triton’s, the fanciest of the main dining rooms (MDRs) on the Wonder. It is themed after “The Little Mermaid” and is absolutely gorgeous. I had the beef empanadas, chicken & shrimp gumbo, and a sirloin steak. Though the empanadas and gumbo were WONDER-ful (see what I did there?) I found the steak a bit too fatty for my taste. Dessert was vanilla ice cream, which was also delicious.
By the time we finished lunch, our room was ready. We dropped off our backpacks and sat down for a bit to take in the fact that we were finally about to head out on our Alaskan cruise - something my dad has been dreaming about forever! We ended up watching “Beauty and the Beast” as it was playing on our stateroom TV (there are 2 channels on your TV that are constantly running Disney Animated Classics, one constantly running Pixar films, and one dedicated to Marvel!). One bummer about this was that the ship did not have the on-demand option like the Fantasy and movies were often repeated.
After that, we went to the mandatory muster drill. Be warned - the drill bells are LOUD. As we stood outside with the rest of our drill group, I made a few tasteless jokes about how this felt like we were in “Titanic”. My dad laughed, but my mom shot me a typical mom glare. The perturbed looks of the people around me made it worth it. Anyway, after that, it was time to see the Adventures Away party, where the ship leaves port. I’ve seen this show twice on the Fantasy, so I was happy to skip it and explore the rest of the ship.
Character meet and greets started shortly after - this was undoubtedly the highlight of the cruise for me. My first meet and greet of the cruise was, lucky me, the big cheese himself - Captain Mickey! Since I knew the characters would all be in their sailor outfits as it was embarkation day, I wore this adorable nautical themed dress!
Next, I got to meet the always entertaining, Chip & Dale. In case you don’t know how to tell them apart, Chip is the one with the brown “chocolate chip” nose :)
Aren’t they adorable?!
Next, I rushed over to meet Goofy in his sailor outfit. Character meets on a Disney Cruise work quite differently than in parks. On the Personal Navigator that is delivered to your stateroom or the Disney Cruise Line App, it lists all the character meets for a particular day. So, let’s say the app says that Goofy’s meet is from 5:45PM to 6:00PM. This means that if you get in line within that timeframe, you are guaranteed to meet Goofy and not the next character, unless the line becomes ridiculously long and they cut it early. However, people start lining up for characters 15-30 minutes before the time listed. By doing this, you can save a lot of time and be among the first to meet the character for that session. I had a bit of a conundrum as Chip & Dale and Goofy were listed at the same time. What I did was as soon as I met Mickey (he was listed for 5:30-5:45, I lined up at 5:15 and was first in line), I immediately queued for Chip & Dale, who were listed for the 5:45-6:00PM slot, as was Goofy. I was first in line for them, met them, ran to Goofy who had relatively few people, and then ran over to Minnie who was going to start at 6:00PM. I was further back for her than I would’ve preferred, but it didn’t matter because those were my last character meets until after dinner.
And here I am with First Lady Minnie! I would LOVE to find an outfit like hers, so if anyone knows of something similar, please let me know!
After meeting Minnie, I window-shopped for a little while, then went back to my stateroom to freshen up for dinner. Our dining rotation was AP TP TR AP AP TP TR, which means we started with Animator’s Palate, then Tiana’s Place, then Triton’s, then Animator’s Palate twice more, and Tiana’s and Triton’s. Your servers stay the same and follow you to all the restaurants, allowing you to build a relationship with them and them to learn your preferences. We had an awesome team - our server Nino from the Philippines was an absolute sweetheart, his assistant Vikram from India was awesome (we chatted a bit in Hindi/Urdu) and head server Robert was great.
Despite our awesome service team, I have to say I found our food on this cruise less enjoyable than on the Fantasy. Animator’s Palate is my least favorite of the MDRs and we were there 3 times. Our first night was the basic Animator’s Palate menu, so I ordered the black truffle pasta purseittes, creamy butternut squash soup, ginger-teriyaki dusted Angus beef tenderloin with wasabi mashed potatoes, and the chocolate fudge cheesecake for dessert. My appetizers and dessert were delicious, but once again, the steak was a bit of a letdown.
After dinner, I went to meet the always fabulous Daisy Duck!
I love copying the poses the character I am with is doing so the picture can look symmetrical.
After Daisy, I met Donald, who you should always tell is #1!
Did you know Donald is in the Navy? Facts!
And finally, my last meet of the night was Mickey’s trusty pal, Pluto.
Isn’t he adorable?!
After this, we went back to our stateroom and watched “Mulan” and “Hercules”.
Day 3 - Our First Day at Sea & Formal Night
I woke up a bit late on our first sea day, which is totally fine, because we’re on vacation! We ended up waking up around 11AM and decided to hang out by the pool. It was a bit too chilly to swim, so we just relaxed. The sea was fairly choppy, which was surprising as I’d heard this was one of the calmer cruises.
At 3:30PM, the characters starting meeting guests in the adorable formal outfits. Here are some of my pictures with them!
First up was my main man, Donald. As always, he’s reminding us that he’s #1!
Next up was his main girl, Daisy. Apologies for this photo. I look like the love child of Kayako from “The Grudge” and Samara from “The Ring”!
Next came Minnie. I had never met her in her usual formal dress, only the peacock dress she wears on the Fantasy, and I must say I liked this one a great deal better!
Sadly, the photographers messed up and I only have cellphone pictures from meeting her, Goofy, and my first meet with Mickey.
Here is Goofy! Doesn’t he look handsome?
And here is Pluto! Though you can’t see it, he wears an adorable fancy collar.
After meeting characters, we went to see the first show of the cruise, The Golden Mickeys. It’s sort of a spoof of the Academy Awards. While it isn’t my favorite DCL show, it definitely was cute.
After the show, it was pretty much time for us to head to dinner with only a little bit to freshen up in the room. Our formal night dinner was at Tiana’s Place, the MDR I was most excited to see! I gotta tell you, it was everything I hoped it would be and more! As soon as we were seated, we were given these awesome menus that resemble the menus Tiana uses at her restaurant in the movie!
The menu was very cajun/creole, which I loved. I ordered the Louisiana Hot Crab Dip, Cream of Wild Forest Mushroom Soup, Lime Marinated Jumbo Shrimp, and split a Prince Naveen’s Flourless Chocolate Cake with my mom for dessert. The food was incredible. Tiana actually stopped by the table while I was enjoying my crab dip, and I made sure to tell her that it was delicious!
Anyway, I also wanted to point out how great DCL is about dietary restrictions. My dad is diabetic and none of us eat pork, and Nino, Vikram, and Robert went above and beyond to take care of our needs. My dad got the delicious DCL NSA (no sugar added) desserts that were readily available every night, and at Tiana’s, we were able to get jambalaya rice without Andouille sausage!
Here is a picture of the marquee outside Tiana’s Place. Isn’t it gorgeous?
After this, we went over to get a picture with Mickey before we headed off to bed. While I had a wonderful dance with Pluto earlier, Mickey made the night even more memorable by dancing with me too!
A very sweet cast member (CM) told us we were the snazziest family on the cruise and looked like we just stepped out of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”. What a sweetheart!
Day 4 - Icy Strait Point
Our first port day! We were beyond excited. My day started bright and early meeting the love of my life, Captain America!
Isn’t he adorable?!?!?!
Next came Spider-man. Once again, no professional pic. :( Also, I love Tom Holland so so so much.
Peter and I argued a bit over whether the west coast or east coast is superior. We settled that the west coast has better beaches, but NY pizza has us beat.
And here is something I was super excited for and one of the main reasons I wanted to do this cruise - the big 8 in the Alaska outfits! My first one out of them was Chip & Dale.
After that, it was time for our free character breakfast. That’s right, free character breakfast! You can book it when you do your online checkin for a 7 night or longer cruise. There wasn’t a lot of variety, but all the basic breakfast foods were covered. I got pancakes with chocolate milk and liked them a lot! Pluto, Goofy, Mickey, and Minnie stopped by in their classic looks.
We also got some cute napkin hats.
After breakfast, we had some time to kill before we needed to get ready for our excursion in Icy Strait Point, so we decided to queue up and meet Donald in his Alaska gear.
I went ahead and met Mickey next. Much to my surprise, his line had started 45 minutes before he even came out! However, I decided to hop in anyway.
Minnie was next on my list. Her line already started forming before Mickey’s meet even started - an actual 60 minutes early. I decided to hop in for that too as I still had about two hours until we needed to head out.
This might just be my favorite Minnie outfit ever.
After a quick lunch at Cabanas, we heard the announcement from our wonderful cruise director, Natalie Bailey, that we had docked in Icy Strait Point. This port is not often visited by DCL, only 1 or 2 times per season, and since we were on the season’s last cruise, it was one of our ports. I felt very lucky!
We had signed up for the scenic ascent and “world’s largest zip line”. My dad and I had done the world’s steepest zip line on our last cruise in St. Maarten, so why not cross another one off the list?
The activity center where we were supposed to meet our guide was a short walk from the ship after we disembarked. There was a gift shop inside, so I bought myself a beanie, thinking there might not be a gift shop at the actual zip line. We hung out there for about twenty minutes after checking in and then heard that it was our time to get on the bus. I was so excited!
We saw a lot of the town on our way to the zip line and some very picturesque views. When we reached there, we had to walk down a pretty steep decline to get to the actual zip line. I wouldn’t recommend this for someone with bad knees or a bad back. Then, all of a sudden, we were there. The world’s largest zip line. It was my mom’s first time zip lining and I was excited for her to experience the "(one of the) closest thing I’ve ever felt to flying. We were strapped in and it was time to go.
It was, in a word, amazing. Here are some pics of me going down!
After 90 seconds of the wind in my face and seeing the rainforest below me, I touched down gently. I was told to go to the gift shop to see me and my parents’ pictures. As you can see, I did end up buying them, as well as a cap, some t shirts, and hoodies. Hey, it was the world’s largest zip line! Gotta get some merch!
After we exited the gift shop, we realized we’d touched down back at the activity center. How cool! So we strolled around outside and got a few pics.
Here we are with our gorgeous ship in the background!
Since we had seen pretty much the whole town, we got back on board. My mom had some spa appointments and my dad wanted to squeeze in a workout. Me? Characters. I still had two more Alaska outfits to cross off my list.
First up was Pluto.
He’s wearing a special collar that you can’t see - yet again.
Next was Goofy!
I believe he’s supposed to be on a glacier trek :)
And finally, Daisy, looking fab as always.
It was almost time for the first dinner seating by this point, so we decided to chill in the room for a bit and watch a movie since there were no shows on that night that interested us. Tonight’s movie? “Tangled”. Such a great film.
We chose the second seating because we like doing the show and pictures first, as well as the fact that there are less kids at this seating.
Tonight, our MDR was Triton’s, the fanciest of the restaurants. For dinner, I ordered the iced lobster and jumbo shrimp, French Onion soup, Chateaubriand steak (a favorite of my family’s while we cruise), and for dessert, just some strawberries with whipped cream.
While the food was great, I still feel that compared to the Fantasy, the overall quality was not as good. My steak was a bit too thick and tough.
We ended our night by watching yet another 2 movies - “Hercules” followed by “Hunchback of Notre Dame”, two of our favorites!
Day 5 - Skagway
Our ship docked in Skagway early in the morning and stayed there till almost 8 in the evening. We decided to skip out on the port since none of the port adventures really captured our attention, other than sunset horseback riding which I would’ve had to do alone. So, we slept in, watched “Snow White”, had a lovely lunch at Triton’s, and then I was ready to meet some characters!
The Alaskan cruises have a Pixar Pals Party, which leads to two days of Pixar character meets, which was a big reason I was down for this cruise. I love all things Pixar, especially meeting the characters.
First up was Joy from “Inside Out”.
You can meet her with Sadness at Epcot, but I loved getting one with just her too! We danced along to “Larger Than Life” by the Backstreet Boys, which the DJ was playing in the lobby.
Next came Russell.
“Up” is one of my favorite movies of all time, so I never miss a chance to meet him, Dug, or Carl.
Finally came the two meets I was most excited for and the main reason I wanted to do this cruise - Remy & Emile. I lined up half an hour early for Remy because I was so excited.
You can’t see it, but my shirt actually has him on it! It’s the Food and Wine shirt from the 2017 festival. Still can’t see it, but he did and he loved it!
I would be meeting Emile close to dinner, so I figured I’d change and get one with him while dressed nicely.
Dinner tonight was once again in Animator’s Palate. It was animation magic night, which means you draw a character and get to see it come alive! It’s really cool.
For dinner, I don’t recall what I ordered for an appetizer, but my entree was Beef Wellington, which I loved. Once again, dessert was strawberries with whipped cream :)
We ended up skipping the “Frozen” show that was scheduled for that night as I’ve seen the one at California Adventure and they are very similar. We watched “Toy Story 2″ instead.
Day 6 - Juneau & Endicott Arm
Our day started bright and early as our port time in Juneau was very short. We booked the Mendenhall Glacier and Rainforest port adventure and were very excited. After a quick room service breakfast (completely free btw!!), we went to our designated meet up area in the main theater and then boarded a bus where we headed to the Glacier Gardens Nursery and Tongass National Forest. We got to see the famous Upside Down Flower Towers - dead trees that have been converted into flower beds!
After this, we headed to the only glacier accessible by road - the Mendenhall Glacier which I actually just done a report on for Honors Geography! My dad and I did a short hike for a close view.
Honestly one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.
After hiking to the viewing point, we went back to the visitor center, where we watched a film on glaciations which was very interesting, bought some stickers MADE OF WOOD (better for the environment) and t shirts, and touched 200 year old ice!
Pretty cool, huh?
After that, we headed back to the ship. It had been a pretty long morning, so after a nice nap, I was ready to head out and meet some more characters. First up was Mickey again.
After that, I decided to meet Remy again since I was wearing my Ratatouille shirt!
After that, I ran up to meet Jessie since she had a very short wait.
I love the little backgrounds they put on the professional pics!
After that, I met Alaskan Minnie again, because she’s just too darn cute!
My mom texted me at this point to meet up with her and my dad at the top deck and see the Endicott Arm.
Such a gorgeous view.
Then I met Sulley wearing my Monsters University Spirit Jersey!
Then, Emile again :)
After that, my mom and I got a coffee at Cove Cafe, one of the few places where you pay an extra fee. She got some latte art on hers!
After that, we got ready for dinner and changed into our Incredibles shirts.
We ran into Mr. Incredible on the way.
Then, Woody. Unfortunately, Buzz was not on this cruise. He was on our last one though!
Then, as we were about to leave, we saw Koda! I’d heard he was out on Alaskan cruises but didn’t see him till then. He was just walking around!
He’s one of my favorite Disney characters of all time, in case you can’t tell by my huge smile at meeting him!
That night was the Frozen menu at Animator’s Palate and I was pleasantly surprised by it. I ordered Elsa’s Coronation Scallops and lobster ravioli, and of course finished off with strawberries and whipped cream. I was a bit weary of the scallops but they ended up being delicious! They came in a souffle bowl with puff pastry on them, and I’m a sucker for puff pastry. The lobster ravioli was amazing. And then, our server Nino ended up bringing me an extra entree! It was the honey mustard marinated salmon which was also delicious. Hey, it’s fish, so it’s healthy and I can eat more!
Day 7 - Ketchikan
Ketchikan day was fairly low-key for us. My parents and I were all feeling really tired, so we decided to skip our port adventure that we’d planned. It was very rainy too, so we ordered hot chocolate and lazed about our room, watching “Moana” and “Up”. Family bonding FTW!
We hung out around the ship, checking out the spa, watching some movies, just lazing around until it was time for dinner. Before that, though, I got a picture with Mickey one last time in his Alaska outfit whilst in my semi formal outfit!
Our dinner that night was at Tiana’s Place, and they were serving up the Mardi Gras menu! I ordered shrimp and grits, a creole bouillabaisse, cajun sea bass, and strawberries with cream. It was all delicious. And look who came out to say hi during dinner! We missed him during our first rotation at Tiana’s, so this was great!
Of course my dad and I had to take a pic. As of right now, Tiana’s Place seems to be the only place to meet him, but even that appears to have been discontinued.
And here’s a pic of our dessert menu.
After dinner, we got one last pic with Alaskan Minnie and it was off to bed.
Day 8 - Last Day At Sea
Ah, our last day at sea. My dad slept in while my mom and I woke up bright and early to go to the Senses Salon. She had a blow-dry and scalp massage, while I was going to get the keratin treatment. Unfortunately, as of the time I’m writing this, the treatment did not seem to smooth out my hair as much as it did the previous two times I got it. Hoping this was just a fluke.
The seas were very choppy on our last day, so unfortunately I wasn’t up to doing too much in the earlier part of the day. By lunch I was feeling better and my parents and I went down to Cabanas for lunch. My dad mentioned that he’d heard about a debarkation day port adventure that he wanted to do. We decided to head over to the Port Adventures Desk, located on Deck 3 midship, to get some more information and potentially sign up for it. Basically, it was a bus tour of Vancouver and a trip to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. They would store our luggage for us and drop us off at the Vancouver Airport. Sounded perfect! The only bummer was that we would miss our seated breakfast on disembarkation day, but no big deal. We booked it and got new luggage tags to put on our bags.
After some last minute shopping it was time for dinner! Since we were in Tiana’s Place for formal night, we were going to get the actual formal night menu that night at Triton’s. I ordered my usual for the Captain’s Gala menu - marinated tiger shrimp as an appetizer, white onion soup, and the always amazing oven-baked lobster tail. It did not disappoint! For dessert, Nino brought me strawberries and whipped cream with vanilla ice cream! One of the servers from another table, Melbuen, had been showing us some really cool magic tricks all cruise long and actually invited us to his wedding in India this December! We won’t be able to make it because of my school schedule, but it shows you what great friends you can make on a cruise. After saying goodbye to Nino, Vikram, Melbuen, and Peter, we headed back to our room to enjoy some Disney movies - “Robin Hood” and “Moana” - and went to bed early. After all, we had another adventure coming up first thing in the morning!
Day 9 - Disembarkation Day & Port Adventure Around Vancouver
We woke up around 7AM to get a quick breakfast at Cabanas and pick up our USB drive of all of our photos. We were supposed to meet up with the Port Adventure Guide at 8:15AM in the D Lounge on Deck 4 midship, so we headed there at 7:45 and were among the first to check in. Soon, we were off the ship and on the large bus, heading out to the city. We waved goodbye at our ship and began our scenic tour of Vancouver.
Our first stop was Vancouver’s Chinatown district, the 2nd largest in North America. It was very beautiful, but it was pouring rain, so not very lively. Next, we saw the oldest part of the city, Gastown, which was also quite lovely. Our driver was very well-informed so he was able to tell us a lot of fun stories and facts. Our first actual stop was the famous Stanley Park. We got off and got to see the famous totem poles created by the First Nations people! They were very beautiful. I also picked up a necklace that was carved in the shape of a wolf - it was made by hand by one of the First Nations people and proceeds went directly to them. How awesome!
Next, we were back in the bus and on the way to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park! I was very excited for this because walking on a suspension bridge is on my bucket list and I’d heard a lot about this bridge in particular!
When we got off, we were given free ponchos and guide maps of the park. To get anywhere, we had to cross the monster that was the Capilano Suspension Bridge, which was extremely shaky. I was freaking out while crossing, but it was such a thrill!
Next, my dad and I decided to do the Treetop Adventure, which was a series of smaller suspension bridges that would take us above the rainforest.
We didn’t have enough time to do the cliff walk, so we’re gonna have to go back one day and get our “I Survived” certificates, which you can do by getting your guide map stamped at all of the activities! It would also be cool to do the breakfast with the bears at Grouse Mountain, which was only a short distance away.
But, we had to be heading out. So, we set off on one last jaunt across the suspension bridge.
I bought a shirt at the gift shop and as we were about to leave the park, I noticed some cool totem poles and got a pic.
Soon, it was time to get back aboard the bus and our vacation came to an end. Three hours later, we were home.
I can’t believe what an amazing time we had on this trip. I did things I never dreamed I’d be able to and saw so many beautiful places. I can’t wait for my next DCL adventure!