My husband and I travelled to Alaska via the Disney Wonder -- this was the repositioning Cruise.
An interesting process, in Vancouver. The first step is to hand off your luggage. Then go through the pre-board screening, very much like an airport screening. A quick visit to customs, a passport check. Then you are given a boarding number and asked to fill out a current health form. Once that is completed, you stand in line to get your ID cards. We had hoped for a room upgrade, but as about the 10th family in line, there was not anything above our room category (5B) that was available. Our boarding number was called (the one just assigned) and then you move on to the line to get on the ship. Be prepared, as you walk toward the ship you will be asked if you want your picture taken. These photos are for sale on the ship. If you do want these photos, be sure to be ready. We were not and our hair looked like we had just gotten out of bed!
You will be asked to wipe your hands with sanitary wipes or hand sanitizer constantly. We did not see anyone that was visibly ill -- certainly, this had something to do with it. Our cruise was before school let out in the US and Canada for the year, the number of school age children was at a minimum.
Room Service --
We used room service as a wakeup call... the donuts are fresh and the coffee was quite good. Especially on a cruise with a few "At Sea" days. We sat on our veranda and watched the majestic scenery of the cruise.
We cannot say enough about the crew. Our dining staff was exceptional, remembering what we liked to drink to our food preferences. No complaints when we couldn't make up our mind on what to eat -- we got them both! The room steward was fantastic. He cleaned and did not move our personal belongings around! He was friendly and very accommodating! Wow... we wanted to bring them home with us!
The food was great. We did not expect perfection. When you consider the number of people a chef is feeding as found on a cruise ship the quality and creativity presented in the Disney restaurants is amazing. One evening we had elk -- so tender and no gamey taste as one may find in wild game. That was a wonderful meal. The next evening I could not decide between venison and lobster. The lobster was tender and fell out of the shell while the venison was almost not chewable. The staff was concerned and shared that information with the chef and staff. We thought the quick food on the 9th deck was fine, however the Beach Blanket Buffet did not seem to have the quality food found in the other restaurants. We did not like it and did not go back.
Palo is one that I would have enjoyed more than once. Wow, what a meal that says a lot as I grew up in a Northern Italian family that loves their ethnic foods. I could not decide between the scallops and the lamb chops -- both were lovely! The antipasti, soup and bread were wonderful! If you go, order the chocolate souffle. I'm not a big fan of chocolate and this was the best dessert of the trip. The service -- very nice and considerate. We even got a special treat for our anniversary... that will be a surprise for others!
Because of the timing and our normal home schedule, I fell asleep most days. I wasn't able to last the entire show. What I did see was great. Most of the other mature adult passengers enjoyed the shows. Some commented that it was really geared for kids.
We did not get to spend much time in the adult only venues as we are not drinkers and we did not stay awake long enough to partake in the snacks and entertainment. Our tablemates did go every night and raved about it.
The number of seminars and programs is quite high. There is some overlap and I was able to catch the beginning of one and go to the end of the other. In particular, the USFS (Forest Service) had rangers on the ship. One was working in the Oceaneers Lab and the other did presentations and narrations about the Alaskan Wildlife, Glaciers and the Ports. We found these presentations quite good and it taught us what to look for as we cruised and visited the various ports. The other seminar that we enjoyed, but conflicted with the USFS presentations was the Art of Entertaining -- we learned how to cook with local Alaskan food sources and make a few wonderful dishes. We got to sample them too -- my husband found the tasting most interesting!
We also went to a drawing class and learned how to draw Mickey Mouse -- quite a treat as our family just loves Mickey.
We took the Port Adventures of our choice; however, we have listed what we consider advice below on each port.
Skagway -- This is the smallest port you will go to. The town is small and you are able to walk through the town in a short amount of time. The Klondike National Historic Park Office is there and if you get there early enough you can sign up for a walking tour. Otherwise the port adventures will do things like take you into the Yukon (yes, the Yukon Territory of Canada). If you can make it up there the scenery is fantastic. If you have kids and can get in with a mushing group or tour the dogs are very friendly and quite nice. If you are lucky, you may meet someone that runs the Iditarod. Now that is an interesting conversation!
Juneau -- The area near the port is very commercial. There is loads to see if you are into history, glaciers, etc. One couple we met rented a car and drove to Mendenhall Glacier, up into the town to see the Capital Building and State Museum and over to the Fish Hatchery. They got recommendations on where to eat. They had a blast. If we return to Juneau, we will rent a car and do something similar.
Ketchikan -- We agreed that this is the nicest looking city. There is plenty to see walking around the town. A trip to the Saxmon Village is worth making as you are able to witness the creation of totem poles. There is an old cannery off the George Inlet; we found the woods outside the buildings interesting as well as the building's construction. Others we know wanted to go fishing here, but because of the short time in port were unable to do so.
This was quite a mess. We received our information about this process under our door the night before. No one knew where to go. The crewmember that was near us was asked the same question so many times we thought they might include some of that information in the flyer distributed the night before. Eventually we got off the ship, found our luggage (not together) and made it through customs.