Sailing without Flip Flops!! Our Alaska Cruise - May 28th, 2012 UPDATED 7/5
I really was not going to write a trip report this trip (not sure I'd have the energy to finish it!) BUT......
I was looking and looking for some Alaska reports from last year and I really could not find very many, and only found ONE with photos!!! Now, I'm sure there are some floating around out there that I could not find, but still- I though I would contribute some experiences and lots of pictures for anyone else who is searching around out there. :goodvibes
I really will try to keep this informative and to the point. So, real quick:
I am Tracy. My sailing mates were DH,38 DS,5 My mother,65 and her friend Ralph and lastly my brother,38 and his friend RJ. This is the 9th cruise for DH and I, but FIRST time to Alaska. Everyone else has sailed 1-5 times, all with Disney, never to Alaska.
To say that we were excited would pretty much be the understatement of the year. I was beside myself giddy. I couldn't think, I was completely stressed out from my over-the-top planning, and I hadn't been sleeping. In short I was a hot mess for the whole week leading up to this trip.
I won't bore you with details, but basically we flew up to Seattle on thursday and spent the weekend with my in-laws who live in Tacoma. We had BEAUTIFUL weather, and I think I was able to "chill out" a bit and sleep some while we were on pre-vacation. My family is thankful. :)
MONDAY, DAY 1
We started our day at out Seattle hotel, The Camlin. We were up very early so we could get packed and have breakfast with my in-laws. We had breakfast at this random restaurant at the hotel next door, and they tried to make my son a Mickey pancake. HAHA, 'A' for effort!!
My mom and Ralph had their car- they drove up from California to take this cruise with us. (We are from Florida, by the way. Orlando!) They picked us up at the hotel at 10AM. We had a scheduled check-in time of 11AM. Of course, being a worrier and a super planner, I wanted to get there earlier, but it just didn't happen.
We had to use the GPS to get to the port. I wasn't driving of course, so I didn't pay as much attention as I should have, but it did not take us long to get there. Maybe about 20 minutes? I think we went a longer route than we needed to because there was a LOT of traffic on the freeway (Memorial Day and all....). Anyway, we got turned around once, but after that we quickly found the parking lot. It was about 10:30 when we arrived.
Ralph dropped us off in the drop-off area where there were lots of other cars and taxis pulling up also. A porter came immediately to help us with our fifty million bags. Yikes, I have never packed so much for a trip before!! Then the porter commented that we were "traveling lite", and I laughed out loud. I don't know WHY I didn't take more photos outside, but here is one:
Mom and Ralph went to park they car. They came back on a shuttle. It didn't take long, but it FELT really long. I hate waiting. While we were sitting outside, my brother and RJ arrived by taxi. YAY, the gang is all here!!
*Note- If you are wondering, they had a food cart outside with different snacks and foods/drinks for sale. There was nothing inside the port (that we saw), so if you are hungry, grab it outside!
Time to go IN! The first thing they do when you walk in is hand you an Alaska Info book. I meant to read it cover to cover but to be honest I forgot all about it later and never looked at it. :confused3 We went through security- there was no line what so ever which was nice because we ALWAYS wait in line at Port Canaveral. Then they sent us upstairs.
Here is a pic of the upstairs area:
First stop, fill out the paperwork that says you are not sick. Second, get in line to check-in. There was no line for us. They handed us a boarding card with the number 8. EIGHT, really?? It's not even 11AM! And I am here, ready to go. How did we get an 8? I still think it was a mistake. And my crazy perfectionist planner self was starting to freak out, but RJ said, hey-it's OK. And it was, of course.
For the record, I don't know how strict they were being with Check-in times. We were pretty much there at our scheduled time, but nobody mentioned it to us at check in.
Now of course the port is not as nice as the one in Florida. No TVs or awesome model of the ship, or fancy floors. But it was still nice, and the characters were already out for photos. I made everyone drop their stuff and run over to catch Goofy and Pluto.
They started boarding really soon after. I didn't check the time, but it had to have been before noon. It only took about 10 minutes for them to get to our number (EIGHT.Really?). We stopped for the traditional photo and then checked ourselves on board!!
Now, if you've sailed before you know that in Florida you will enter the ship through the atrium on deck 3. In Seattle, we walked out onto a ramp and walked up and up and up and ended up entering through the outside door of deck 4. Felt very strange to me! After they greeted us (love that part) we went down to eat in Parrot Cay. We always choose Parrot Cay- it's just a personal preference. It feels more like "vacation" to me than BBB.
I love that even though the buffet changes slightly from trip to trip, there are always things I can get every time, like corn dogs nuggets and chocolate chip cookies. Happiness :)
Let me just break here for a second and I will finish up day one!
Can't wait to read more!
DAY ONE, part 2
SO, there we were enjoying our first CRUISE meal, feeling super happy. I don want to note that the characters used to come around and visit people in the restaurant at this time. I don't know when they stopped doing this, but they definitely did not come around when we were there.
Forgive this random bathroom story::::
My son had to use the bathroom at this point. I took him to the closest one, which is a little small, and then he informed me that he had to go #2. :rolleyes: So I'm standing outside his stall in this little bathroom that now had a wait for stalls and he is taking FOREVER and occasionally saying things like, "Come on poo poo, hurry up!!" Um, slightly embarrassing.
I had to go over and change my Palo reservations, so off we went to Wave Bands. There wasn't a really long line, but after sitting there for 10 minutes I was getting impatient. I need to work on that. After about a 20 minute wait, it was our turn. I wanted to change my reservation because I thought I had made it for pirate night. Turns out pirate night was the following night, so no need to change at all! DONE.
Time for a ship tour! We always do this, just for fun. We walk around the pools and the spa and the clubs and just look and feel excited about everything.
Here's a view from the window:
It is so awesome to look at and see the space needle from the ship!!!
Usually we would try to get in the pool about now, but I knew there was NO way my son would go in. It was beautiful out, but windy and chilly for us Florida-types. When we walked by, no one else had ventured near the pool either.
Our rooms were ready in a flash. Why does this part of the trip always go by so FAST??
If you haven't seen, here are the new CC gifts:
The bed, after being sat on, and throwing stuff on it.....
Veranda, and I'd like to say that this was our very first veranda that was NOT a navigator's veranda. We were excited!
Of course if you are an over-planner like me, you will want to decorate your door.
Next up, Dinner!!!
DAY ONE, part3
This first day time between getting to your room and going to the muster drill- well, it's always a blur to me, and goes by very quickly. Usually it's all unpacking. this trip we had a LOT of unpacking, and I had to decorate my door, as well as my mom's and brothers. OK, I didn't HAVE to, but....I did.
I remember feeling very rushed. I just wanted to sit on the veranda and take a bunch of pictures, but I somehow got through all the unpacking.
The Muster Drill was uneventful. If you haven't cruised in a while, you'll be pleased to know that you no longer have to wear the life jackets to the drill. That means all you basically do (besides pay attention, of COURSE.) is go to your area and wait for them to release you. It took a very short time.
We went up to the Sail Away Party after that. Frankie was the entertainment guy that led the party. I think he came over from the Magic.
*Confession time. After 9 cruises, the sail away party does not hold much interest for me, especially since my son hates the "noise" and refuses to dance.:rolleyes: However, this time they were handing out big Mickey hands to wave with, so we took, i dunno, like a hundred pictures with those.
Here is number 42:
We waited for the most wonderful sound of the Mickey horn, then we went up to deck 10 to watch the ship sail away. Also one of my favorite parts of the trip. Here are some of the pictures we took sailing away.
Such great weather and gorgeous views.
We had early seating, which is very rare for us. We suddenly found ourselves rushing to get ready to eat. I always get anxious about who our servers will be because I am the world's pickiest eater, and we have had bad luck with servers in the past. Not that they ever give bad service!! They are usually excellent, but the last couple that we've had, well they made me feel like a burden and I didn't want to feel that way for the whole week. Also our group was made up of some very different personalities and I didn't want a server with no sense of humor, which has also happened to us several times before.
SO, we all got changed for dinner- nothing fancy, just changed out of our jeans and jackets. The cruise ship was generally not cold inside, even when it was very cold outside, so you could easily wear short sleeves or skirts to dinner without worrying that you'll freeze. Or was I the only one worried about that?? I am always cold.
We were in Tritons for dinner. Our rotation was TAAPTAP. We had table 28- a window!!! Also a first for us. There are 7 in our group and we had our own table.
Our servers came right away. I am getting an ulcer, worrying as usual.
We had Anastasia for our assistant server. She was from the Ukraine. Christian was our head server, from Chili. He said we could call him Chris.
All that worry for NOTHING :) Chris turned out to be one of my favorite severs of all time. We have only had 1 that compares, in 9 cruises. LOVED him- our whole table loved him.
First thing I asked for was apples for my son because it is the only healthy thing he likes. Every night they brought us a giant bowl of sliced apples for him.
Second request- a plain salad for me, with croutons. Cuz I never like any of the soups or appetizers. Picky Eater. Me.
They brought me salad every night. Chris didn't give me a funny look, or roll his eyes, or say that it couldn't be done. He said NO problem, I will have it here every night!
They were quick and attentive and especially FUNNY. We loved that every night Chris would give us "a second or 2" to read the menu and then say- "that is Chili time, of course....". He gave us random puzzles to solve one night, he brought several meals to go (Ralph never stayed for a whole dinner :rolleyes:) and he always acted proud when I ordered more than one dessert.
Ah, anyway, loved them. If you are lucky enough to get them, you will not be disappointed.
Here is my son getting his Mickey ketchup:
A couple of things from the menu:
I can tell you what they are, but I have to look it up....
They brought a Mickey bar for DS after dinner. He was getting tired.
Time to change again for the show. One of the best things about the ship is going to places in sweats and slippers. I don't know if this is frowned on by some or not, but we did it every night. Sweats and slippers. In the Caribbean, it's shorts and flip flops. But sweats and slippers is nice too.
We saw the Welcome Aboard show with magician Wayne Hoffman. Half our group works in entertainment, so we were especially in to all the show stuff. The welcome show is really cute, and Wayne was OK. Actually I didn't like him much at first, but he grew on me.
Here are DH's slippers, attending the show.
DS was wiped out after this. We took him to the room to go to bed- around 9:45. It was still quite light outside. We found this puppy on our bed:
He was asleep after 2 stories.
One more thing for day 1: Wonder Quest
DAY ONE, part 4
So, if you can get away at 10:30 on the first night of your cruise, come to Wavebands to play Wonder Quest. It is really fun, and we play it every time we cruise. We have never lost, lol. You get together in teams and then your host (Frankie, in this case) tells you what he wants to see, and you do it or bring it. Who ever gets there first gets more points.
Examples of things you may be asked for:
4 socks tied together
A picture of the white house
a lady wearing a man's shirt
get it? It is a really good time and you will meet lots of people. You can sometimes "steal" from other teams, which can be very funny indeed.
Here is a quick picture of the chaos:
This is how light it still was:
The first day can be exhausting. We went straight to bed afterward.
Day 2, our day at sea, coming next!!
If you looked really closely at your sail away shot you can see me waving you off ;)
Love it! Love it! I seriously don't know how I'm going to make it to September. I think I might explode from excitement!
I'm excited to follow along! Just back from our FIRST cruise last month, and I'm hoping our SECOND one will be to Alaska! ;) :woohoo: Would be 2 or 3 years out, but at least I have that placeholder reservation I booked onboard!! :banana:
Thank you so much for taking the time to write a trip report! We don't sail unitl Aug 27th and reading reports just gets me more and more excited. :banana:
I love your pictures of our beautiful Seattle skyline! FYI for those who don't know the Space Needle is celebrating 50 years, thus the orange/gold top. It's the original color it was painted for the World's Fair in 1962.
I am so jealous of all of you who have cruises yet to come....even if they are far off. I love that anticipation! It is the best feeling. :goodvibes
My husband and son are passed out COLD right now and it's only 8:30, so I guess I'll write a bit more.
Thanks for reading!!
Day two, sea day
Day 2, Tuesday, was our sea day. DS woke up early. Too early. Why?! DS had gone up to the gym (crazy) so DS crawled in bed with me to watch cartoons. 6am. :confused3
Oh well, at least I'm on a cruise ship! We waited for DH to come back then went up to deck 9. Our stateroom was in the perfect spot for "running upstairs" as we called it. It was so easy to go up to the drink station and to BBB.
It was cold outside, so we did not GO outside. We ate inside. The breakfast buffet is always the same to me, and I always get the same collection of completely unhealthy things: cheese omelet , croissant, sausage, and doughnuts.
Don't judge, it's vacation!
My son likes the hash browns (they are like McDonalds hash browns) and the bacon, which is never crispy, and the bagels.
After eating a ton, we took DS to the hot tub. I read that the pools are heated and I was hoping they would be really warm so DS could play in the Mickey pool. Nooooot so much. There was a brave moment when he tried it out.....
And then it was into the hot tub.
Now, for anyone who is reading this and getting nervous, rest assured, they did heat the pools later in the week. Like- really warm- warmer than the hot tub. So keep checking them if you find them cold on your first day.
Now, at 10AM they had a family activity called the Ultimate Race. We had never seen this before. The description said:
"Join us for this fast-paced "Amazing Race" scavenger hunt throughout the ship"
Sounds fun to me! We went down to meet Robin who was the host. There were lots of other families there. They said we had to pick one person to stay there at Promenade Lounge. The rest of us would have to run around the ship searching for the answers to clues and then call them in to our point person who would then give them to Robin. If we were right, we would receive our next clue.
WELL, this was a very fun game. And also very tiring. Now, 2 things to consider- Number 1, we had an unfair advantage because we have sailed so often and know the ship pretty darn well. Number 2, I am highly competitive and don't like to lose. ;)
So, we RAN our booties off (NO, not really, because we were NOT allowed to run, but we power walked)- deck3, deck 9, deck 4....find this, count that, etc. You can't tell how well you are doing because everyone starts with a different clue. At last we were told to come back to the Lounge. Turns out we had won- by a landslide. If you are traveling with a large group, try this game, you will have a great time. Even my DS5 was really into it, and kept up pretty well.
I will add, just for fun, some of the other choices of activities for this morning:
Pictionary, Little Ones dance Party, Shuffleboard Tournament, BINGO, Walking Ship tour, and Acupuncture Seminar.
What would you have done?
We went to the room afterwards for room service. I am ashamed to say that I have no photos of this. But it was a very good meal. We ordered way more that we needed, but pretty much ate it all. Even DS polished off an entire adult size burger. I guess he worked up an appetite! :thumbsup2
I'm looking at my photos, realizing I didn't take very many today. That always seems to happen on sea days. I'm not sure why.
Anyway, at 1PM we found our first trivia. TV Tunes with Frankie. They would play a little bit of a tv theme song and you would have to guess it. Some were super easy (Like Leave it to Beaver) and others were pretty hard unless you happen to be a fan of the show (like 6 Feet Under).
Let me just say that if you like Trivia (my whole group loves it) then you will be in heaven on the ship. They had tons of it, all different subjects. Right after TV Tunes we went and played Theme Park Music Trivia with Stephen. This happens to be our specialty, because we have a huge music collection form the parks, and basically we are disney nerds. We won this game, but it was not easy!
They had a whole bunch of character appearances after this, but we didn't make it over. The navigator listed Kenai & Koda, Donald, Mickey, Pluto, Minnie, goofy and Chip and Dale. If you like characters, I promise you will see them all over the ship, all the time. People sometimes ask about the character presence on the ship, and let me assure you, you WILL see them. All over the place!
One day DS and I were walking down the stairs and Belle appeared out of nowhere- no one else was around at all. I said HI Belle, and she said HI and then I turned to DS- do you want a quick picture with Belle? This was his moment to have her all to himself. He paused. "No." She laughed. OK, thanks anyway Belle!
Anyway, you will see them everywhere, I promise. :thumbsup2
Now, the ship this day was a ROCKIN. Like, a lot. So much that even the cast members were commenting on it. Don't worry, they said it was not typical, but for us- it was getting to a lot of us. After trivia I had to give up and go lie down. I slept for 2 1/2 hours. Felt a lot better after that, but the rocking continued all day and night. It was enough so that there were times when you couldn't walk straight. We made a lot of alcohol jokes. It really makes you feel loopy.
Next up, Formal Night.......
By the way, if anyone has specific questions, I'll do my best to answer them for you!
GREAT report and pics so far! Can't wait to follow your footsteps! Great tips, too!
Thanks for writing this! I'm planning on going to Alaska next summer.
Jill in CO
You are a star. Thank you for the TR. Loving the photos too. We hope to make it 2014. Looking forward to the rest of your adventure.:flower3:
DAY TWO, part 2
After a very nice nap, it was time to get up and get ready for formal night. My mom and Ralph fought me hard on this one. They hate getting dressed up and really wanted to skip it, but I said "look, how often do you get a chance to get everyone dressed up for photos?" In our family, the answer is never. So we all got dressed up. Even DS was a good sport about it. He didn't like it, of course, but he was a good sport.
Getting ready on a cruise ship, for me anyway, is a bit of a pain. You don't want to miss anything but you know you need time to get ready, and the boys are ready in 5 seconds and then rushing me- mom, come on- and the clock is ticking and you know you have to be in the lobby early to catch the characters in their formal wear, and you have no bathroom space..... PRESSURE!!! ARG.
Which brings to to a "Heads Up" for the ladies out there. If you have never sailed before, know THIS:
The hair dryers on the Wonder are still the "old" super weak ones. My hair is short and it would still take 45 minutes to dry with those hair dryers. You must bring your own, BUT you can not plug yours in inside the bathroom- they only have shaver sockets. So you will be forced to get ready at the one mirror by the TV, in everybody's way. And now you know. :)
So, we're ready now and heading down to take tons of pictures!
Here's a group shot:
One with Mickey...
The Captains Welcome Reception is also going on at this time. 5PM for those with 1st seating, 7:30 for those with 2nd seating. You can take pictures with the captain and many of the ship's officers. It used to be that he just stood in the lobby and you just kind of walked up and got a picture, but now they have him in a "photo spot" with a backdrop and there was a pretty long line, so we didn't get a photo this time. I wish we had though.
On to dinner! It is The Golden Mickey's tonight and all of the restaurants will have the Golden Mickey's Menu. We were in Animator's Palate.
Here are the best servers in their fancy clothes:
A couple of dinner items -
Here is the salad they made for me every night :love:
One of us didn't make it.......
The best part- desserts!
DS woke up after dinner and really wanted to see the Golden Mickey's. Most people stay dressed up for the show, but we were quitters. On with the sweats and slippers!
DH's slippers go formal:
The show was good- we have seen it several times before but we always enjoy it.
We took DS down to bed. His bed time at home is around 7:30/8 but on the ship he never went to sleep before 10. As long as he seemed OK (which he did) we kept letting him stay up. He LOVED the nightly shows at 8:30 and we were fine with letting him watch.
*Note about the kids clubs**
You may be wondering why I haven't mentioned the clubs yet. Well, this is DS's 5th cruise and he had never wanted anything to do with those clubs. Probably because he is an only child and has never been to daycare before. It has never been necessary for us to force him, since my mom loves watching him for us, so we just don't sign him in to the Club.
Now, up until recently they allowed us to bring him into the Club at anytime and take part in the activities and just stay with him. They would give you a visitor sticker and you could hang out as long as you liked. We took DS in there several times for different things like Wii, story times, sliding fun and so on. Now they have changed the rules and they no longer allow parents to come in at any time of day. Instead they have several "Open House" times throughout the day in which you are allowed to come in and stay with your kids. The Open House times are noted in the "FUN FOR ALL AGES" section of your Navigator. You will also need to pay attention to these times if you DO check your kids into the clubs because they will be moved to the LAB if they are checked into the club during Open House times. I hope I am explaining this well- let me know if you have more questions about it.
Anyway, the point was that we ended up never using the club this trip because the Open House times didn't coordinate with our schedule.
We didn't venture out any more this night. We were all so tired! Though I did send DH up to deck 9 for pizza :)
In our room we found a Monkey towel animal- so fun- and if you have kids, they leave you these great kids pages for the next day's port. You can see the bright blue Tracy Arm paper on the bed:
They also left us a special gift for being on the inaugural cruise out of Seattle- it was a box of really cute note cards that said "Seattle" on them. (Sorry about those tan lines, ug)
OK, time to get some rest.
If you still had energy left after 10PM, here are some of the things you could have done:
Superstar Karaoke, Late Night Piano, Wayne Hoffman's variety act, DJ Wendell in Wavebands
Tomorrow, Tracy Arm!!!!
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