We were excited when we heard Disney was putting a boat in Alaska. We have a teenager and we thought the boat would be a perfect fit of getting great food, seeing Alaska through the port excursions, the ship, and have entertainment for the teenager.
We got 50 percent of the expectations.
First the negatives. This is not our first Disney cruise and there is a marked difference of the food qualities between this cruise and the Caribbean cruise we took in 2009. Besides the food quality, Disney completely missed that we were in the seafood capital of the world. How can you not serve Alaskan salmon when in Alaska? It was the farm raised stuff. The crab was not properly prepared (since when are legs soft? When they are overcooked!) when served hot the first night, then they put freezer burned chilled crab claws out the next day. The lobster served in a pasta dish was also overcooked to the point where the meat was mush. The funny thing is that the boat is provisioned in Vancouver, which clearly has fresh seafood, and it also parks next to fishing boats in Juneau. How hard can it be to get fresh, local seafood? Also, good luck in finding anything with whole grain. The only thing we found was that in Goofy’s Galley you could get a panini on whole grain (but probably made with high fructose corn syrup). The desert buffet initially deployed with 200 truffles and was never restocked, according to the chocoholics in our group. As an FYI, 200 truffles last 7 minutes. The best was that the baked Alaskan on the last night was not even that. It was a pre-packed single wedge of Neapolitan ice cream with 3 pieces of individually cut cake “logs” hand pressed on each side with a meringue dollop on top. They walk out with the real deal, but that is not what was served. You are in Alaska – seems like a simple thing to capitalize on. Also, be sure to check the coffee temperature before drinking it. I was fortunate enough not to burn myself after the table next to us did. A server burned another customer with the coffee that night when they spilled it on them accidentally. Seems like after the McDonald’s incident a couple of decades ago, everyone has their coffee temps under control. The attention to detail was clearly gone.
Now for the idiotic. The best day in Vancouver might be 70 and partly cloudy with a breeze off the ocean, and that happens 10% of the days. Usually a summer day in July is 60 and cloudy – hardly a Caribbean drink environment. The weather only gets colder from there, and Disney continued to try to push Caribbean style drinks on the departure and then continually throughout the cruise. The hot cocoa machine broke in the first 18 hours, deployed Swiss Miss packets, and they then ran out of the packets by morning of day 3. We hit 3 ports after that point, and I guess they figure they don’t need to serve something hot to the kids in the 40 degree weather once the machine breaks. How hard is it to go to the IGA in Skagway, or any of the grocery stores in Juneau? Even Juneau has a Costco. The cocoa machine was not of food service robustness – would seem pretty easy to call a ski hill and see what machines they use for reliable high-volume dispensing. The decks were completely overwhelmed on Tracy Arm day. We went up top and quickly retreated to our verandah after seeing the absolute mayhem that was not managed by Disney, where cruisers were literally shoving other cruisers to get a spot, table, or whatever, to see the sights. The best though is still trying to do the “Pirates in the Caribbean” night – in Alaska. If you enjoyed this down south as we did, it just doesn’t work. First, very few brought costumes. Second, the cruise schedule pushes a late port embarkation, and the staff then does not do the normal pirate night. Alaska does not allow fireworks. Why not change the theme appropriately and capitalize on the energy of Alaska?
Not all was lost, though. The port excursions were awesome. We did the dog camp, whale watching up-close, ice field over-flight, and salmon fishing in Ketchikan.
And of course, we had to pry our teen away from whatever it was that he was doing.
My point here is that you have 4 days at sea on a 7 day cruise and the boat, food, themes were simply ripped out of the Caribbean and supplanted in Alaska, with little forethought on the energy that the Alaska experience brings. I expected a cruise and specifically a boat that was oriented to Alaska, and if you ignored the mountains, 50 degree cloudy weather, and not being in the pool, nothing was different than exactly what Disney does in the Caribbean. Silly me for expecting different. Everything boat related was the disappointment in this trip. The Disney "touch" clearly is missing on this cruise location.