My college friends and I like to travel together, and this trip had us sailing the high seas to Alaska on board the Disney Wonder. It’s been about a couple of weeks since we left the ship, and frankly, we can’t wait to take another Disney cruise!
Pre-cruise days in Vancouver: We really recommend going to Grouse Mountain for a Breakfast with Bears excursion. It was great since it turned out to be the only time we saw bears. The orphaned and rehabilitated bears casually did their morning business (ahem!) in front a lot of excited humans before moseying down and grabbing the apples, yams and carrots that we threw into their enclosures. After taking a great many pix of the bears, we headed to eat our own buffet breakfast in a nearby yurt. The food was great and it was even a character experience as Grouse Mountain's own character bear showed up for pix with the entire group. Loved the bear ears on a headband or honey gifts that were given as a momento of this experience!
Embarkation: It was relatively organized and we got on board in less than an hour. You need to remember that Disney allows you to bring aboard 2 wine bottles or liquor in your CARRYON, but the airlines requires you to put the alcohol in your LUGGAGE. As long as you don't confuse the two, you will have a trip with no regrets (unlike me).
The First Day: Our bags were delivered before we had to go to our muster station for the safety drill. We ran around the first few hours to sign up for the free prizes at the spa, free 90MB internet, etc. The
Tip: Download the Disney Cruise Line Navigator app to your phone before you arrive on the ship, and activated it when you're on the ship. Even if you put your phone on Airplane Mode, this app can be used to see all the movie times, event times, menus for every restaurant, etc for each day. Use the calendar on the top right to change days. It will even give you disembarkation information (be sure to read the info before your 2nd to last day on the ship).
Tracey Arm Day: The ship will go as close to the glacier as possible so please remember to bundle up and go early so you can grab a good spot for viewing. They serve soup in bread bowls, warm chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate and coffee up on Deck 10 so you don't have to miss a moment of the excitement of spotting wild animals and the beauty of nature. Character sightings of Minnie, Mickey, Donald and Goofy in their Alaskan outfits were available on Decks 9 and 10 as they wander through the crowd at random times in the morning. There were no character sightings scheduled on Deck 3 until all of the excitement of Tracey Arm is finished so you won't have to head back indoors unless you have to. They had random princess sightings wandering decks 3, 4, 5 in the afternoon as things were starting to wind down. The princesses that were available were: Rapunzel, Tatiana, Cinderella and Ariel. I ended up wandering around 4, 9 and10. There's a different perspective from all of the decks. Deck 10 has the full 360 view but it's also the most packed. Deck 9 still had good views but it might be somewhat obstructed by the glass enclosures but that's what makes it slightly warmer. Deck 4 had good side views but you'll miss out the views from the forward and aft as those are usually blocked with ship machinery. A lifeboat retrieved a small chunk of an iceberg and took pictures of the ship with the glacier in the background, which were later on sale for $20. The mini iceberg was placed in Goofy’s pool for the kids to play with.
Food: We enjoyed the food at Triton the most, but all of the restaurants were pretty good. The quality of the food was of a moderately priced bistro. The portion size is small, but you can ask for as many appetizers, entrees and desserts as you want. Listen to your server's suggestions and you will never be disappointed with your meal. There are theme nights like French night, Alaskan seafood night, and Toy Story inspired food night.
We had 3 meals at Palo, and I have to say that it was the best part of the cruise! Hristo, our server, was amazing and the food was to die for! Brunch is a buffet so you'll need to wear your fat pants! My favorites were the shrimp cocktail, King Crab, seared scallops, asparagus wrapped with prosciutto, chicken parmesan with risotto, walnut and fig bread, sticky buns, a little cream puff thing with strawberry jam, fruit tarts, lilikoi cheesecake and mango panna cotta. And if you like iced tea, you will appreciate that their ice cubes are made of iced tea so it's good to the last drop. One alcoholic beverage is included with brunch: prosecco, mimosa or champagne. Hooray! Dinner at Palo is crazy insane since you can order multiple dishes like in the other Disney Wonder restaurants. After bread and antipasto, we ordered some of Palo's specialty appetizers like deep fried calamari (very tender) and mozzarella and tomatoes (Disney flies in the mozzarella from Italy). Our entrees were absolutely spectacular! We really enjoyed the filet mignon, rack of lamb, scallops (done to perfection but could have used a little more oomph) and mushroom ravioli.
Drinks: They have alcoholic daily drink specials which cost around $3-4. If you are particularly fond of a cocktail featured within one of their menus in the restaurant, you can also get these at any of the bars and lounges in the adult section. Outlook Cafe serves limited alcoholic drinks as it's mostly just coffee and loose teas. They do have tasty treats like brownie and cookie bars and their pastry selection changes daily. They also served Sangria and Mulled wine for purchase near Guest Services on those days that we were returning from Port.
Tips: Movies shown at the Walt Disney theatre are usually shown in 3D. The movies shown at the Buena Vista theatre are not so if that is important to you, then keep it in mind when planning since movies are shown multiple times during the week.
People say to bring pillow cases, etc for Disney characters to sign, but it was much more fun to wait until we were on board to buy Disney Wonder/Alaska items like sailor hats and shirts for the Disney characters to sign. You have to admit that you were going to buy that stuff anyway so you might as well get it signed by Mickey. Ask Guest Services to add a special request if you want a particular character to sign other than Mickey & the gang or the Disney Princesses. Bring multi-colored sharpies though; it's more fun that way. If you forget all that, then no fear - at the end of the cruise, you can always buy the photo of Mickey & the gang with all their signatures for $20.
Service: We met some outstanding cast members that we want to give a special shout to: Danielle, Jo and Carmen from Guest Services as well as Lu from Merchandise for being just awesome people! Shervonne - the best server with the best recommendations! Cho - for coming through with all the wonderful towel animals that helped us beat our friends in an unexpectedly fierce towel animal competition! And finally, thank you to Hristo at Palo for helping us to indulge our every gluttonous whim in such a divinely sophisticated setting!
We loved Tracy's Crab Shack! The BEST and the BIGGEST King Crab legs that we've ever eaten!!! Wonderful chowder and crab cakes too!
A lot of tours were cancelled at this port due to bad weather (we originally booked a bear adventure and a zodiac boat adventure) so my friends and I booked a last-minute trolley tour at the Visitor's Center. We went to a nearby river inlet and saw eagles catching salmon. The trolley dropped us off at Creek Street at our request, and this was the BEST decision ever! We saw harbor seals catching salmon as the salmon tried to swim upstream. The harbor seals were so fat and adorable as they swam on their backs after eating their salmon!
Afterwards, we warmed up at Alaska Fish House and had some deep-fried halibut ourselves! The halibut was excellent and the salmon chowder was very yummy!
We really enjoyed driving the 4x4s and the scenery was breathtaking! The only thing that detracted from the drive was smelling the exhaust from the 4x4 in front of you.
The lunch was great! Loved the tempura-battered halibut and fresh baked cookies!