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-   -   Planning a WONDERful Alaskan Cruise in 31 Days: An OCD Mom Survives Booking VGT! (http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3124894)

MickeyMomTo2 06-10-2013 03:01 PM

Planning a WONDERful Alaskan Cruise in 31 Days: An OCD Mom Survives Booking VGT!
 
My name is Lauren, and I am a 39yo married mom of an 11yo son and an 8yo daughter. I am an obsessive compulsive planner, particularly when it comes to Disney vacations. In 2011, we went to Disney World 6 times (thanks to my wonderful husband who gave us annual passes as a gift). As amazing as that was, we decided we needed to work in some other travel experiences for the kids. In 2012, we visited the Grand Canyon and went on a Bahamian Disney cruise. This year, we are going back to WDW in November, and we planned to go to San Francisco/Yosemite in July. We considered a Disney Alaskan cruise, but the price seemed steep. We put that idea on the back burner.

For an OCD planner, putting it on the back burner means that even though I didn't think we were going to go to Alaska, I still spent lots of time reading about the trip on the Disboards (this info is now going to be very handy). My husband and I also stalked the Disney website, paying attention to prices. Last Wednesday (6/5/2013), my husband called me to tell me that DCL website showed a VGT rate for the 7/8/13 Alaskan cruise. Our San Fran/Yosemite plans were flexible and able to be cancelled, so we were seriously considering the cruise. By the next morning, however, the VGT rate for 4 people was gone. Okay, no big deal...we had a great vacation to California planned anyway, but we were a little disappointed to miss out. Friday morning, I checked again, and the deal was back! We decided to jump on it! We are sailing to Alaska on 7/8/2013.

With only 31 days to plan, make reservations, pack, get passports, etc..., my OCD planning mind is on overdrive. I hope to use this thread to document the next four weeks, and I plan to include a trip report when I return. All are welcome to join our journey to the land of the midnight sun!

Here's my crew:

http://i151.photobucket.com/albums/s...74860053_n.jpg

Chilly 06-12-2013 04:43 AM

You'll love Alaska its amazing, happy planning.

kmeagan 06-12-2013 08:52 AM

Help!! Having a hard time choosing Alaskan port adventures !
 
I have cruised on Disney before but this is our first trip to Alaska and I am beyond excited! Any top recommendations for port advenutres in Skagway, Ketchikan, and Juneau?

Thanks,
Kathy

Chilly 06-12-2013 09:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kmeagan (Post 48661516)
I have cruised on Disney before but this is our first trip to Alaska and I am beyond excited! Any top recommendations for port advenutres in Skagway, Ketchikan, and Juneau?

Thanks,
Kathy

In Skagway we did the Yukon Suspension Bridge and White Pass Railway.

In Juneau we did the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching Tour.

In Ketchikan we didn't book a tour just explored the town and went to the Totem Heritage Centre.

We enjoyed all our tours.

MickeyMomTo2 06-12-2013 09:40 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chilly (Post 48661848)

In Skagway we did the Yukon Suspension Bridge and White Pass Railway.

In Juneau we did the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching Tour.

In Ketchikan we didn't book a tour just explored the town and went to the Totem Heritage Centre.

We enjoyed all our tours.

Can you walk to the Totem Heritage Center from the pier? We have an excursion planned at 1:00 (I plan to update this thread with those plans this afternoon), but I was wondering if we could walk and see some totem poles before our excursion.

Chilly 06-12-2013 10:18 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MickeyMomTo2 (Post 48662040)
Can you walk to the Totem Heritage Center from the pier? We have an excursion planned at 1:00 (I plan to update this thread with those plans this afternoon), but I was wondering if we could walk and see some totem poles before our excursion.

Yes we walked from the pier. We took the funicular up part of the way, I think it was $2 although we didn't pay as there was no one there to take the money. It was $5 to see the totems.

MickeyMomTo2 06-12-2013 12:03 PM

Airfare, and Hotels, and Excursions, Oh, My!
 
After we jumped on the VGT rate last Friday (6/7), my head starting spinning with the details we needed to take care of. We had a trip booked to San Francisco, so the first thing I did was cancel our flights and hotels there. DH is a frequent traveler, so we use his Southwest points to fly and his Hilton points for hotels. Thankfully, points are easy to cancel and rebook. It didn't take long to make changes.

Here are our flight details:

We are flying nonstop to Seattle (because we can fly there on points) on July 5th. We leave TN around 11:00 and arrive at Seatac around 2:30. This will give us all of Saturday and part of Sunday to explore Seattle (and a few days to adjust to the time change before the cruise--our kids do NOT fall back easily).

Our return flight is on Monday, July 15th at 3:30PM. We will have to self-disembark the ship and get back to Seattle in 5 hours in order to be at the airport with 1 1/2 -2 hours before our flight, but I have spoken to several friends in the Seattle area, and they assure me this will be plenty of time. I hope so!

Hotels:

We plan to stay near the airport in Seattle for two nights and use the light rail to get into downtown. On Sunday evening, we will stay near the airport in Vancouver. Both Seattle and Vancouver hotels are Hilton properties, and staying near the airport takes fewer points than downtown. We plan to rent a car (again, we are using DH's points from traveling) in Seattle and drive ourselves to Vancouver. We will drive ourselves to the port, and our car will be waiting for us when we need to make a speedy departure after the cruise.

Excursions:

Now the fun part! I am very excited about the excursions we booked. I booked all the excursions on my own after researching tripadvisor, the Dis, and Cruise Critic. Many of them are the same tours offered by DCL, but I got a price break by booking on my own. I have several hours of buffer time at all three ports, so I don't think we will have a problem making it back to the ship before it sails. I am so glad that I had spent HOURS reading about excursions and options before we even knew we would take this cruise. This is where my travel OCD comes in handy!

In Skagway, we are planning a Glacier Discovery by Helicopter in the morning and the Sled Dog and Musher's Camp in the afternoon. I decided to book the helicopter on our first day so that if it gets rained out, we can try again in Juneau. I really think the Musher's Camp will be my DD's favorite excursion of the entire trip. Playing with the puppies will be a highlight for her!

In Juneau, we are doing whale watching with Alaska Galore in the morning. In the afternoon, we plan to hike at the Mendenhall glacier on our own, unless our helicopter/glacier trip gets cancelled in Skagway.

In Ketchikan, we plan to do the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour, and we hope to check out some totem poles. I feel like I need some pictures with these! I was really excited to get tickets to the Crab Fisherman's Tour. It was sold out on their website and through Disney. I checked with Shoretrips.com, and they still had some tickets available. They have an A+ rating with the BBB, and the reviews for them online are positive, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that our tickets are legitimate! The tour looks very fun!

I have lots more of our planning details to share! We are getting very excited!

Chilly 06-13-2013 04:05 AM

What are you thinking of doing in Seattle? We really enjoyed the Underground Tour.

disneyfaninaz 06-13-2013 10:48 AM

We were just in Seattle. I can highly recommend the Museum of Flight (near the airport), the Aquarium and the Woodlands Park Zoo.

MickeyMomTo2 06-13-2013 09:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chilly (Post 48670136)
What are you thinking of doing in Seattle? We really enjoyed the Underground Tour.

Quote:

Originally Posted by disneyfaninaz (Post 48672581)
We were just in Seattle. I can highly recommend the Museum of Flight (near the airport), the Aquarium and the Woodlands Park Zoo.

Thanks for the suggestions, and this makes a perfect segue to my next post!

MickeyMomTo2 06-13-2013 09:39 PM

Seattle
 
We will have Friday night, all of Saturday, and a half day on Sunday in Seattle. Most likely, we will grab dinner and hang out at the hotel on Friday. We have two must-do activities, but are open to suggestions. We are a baseball-loving family, and we are disappointed that the Mariners won't be in town for the weekend. But, we plan to do a stadium tour of Safeco Field so we can at least check the park off our "Stadiums We Have Visited" list. They offer three tour times a day, so we may take the first one on Saturday morning. DS (11) and DD (8) also want to go to the top of the Space Needle.

I thought about grabbing lunch at Pike Place Market, but I've read several reviews saying that it can get very crowded, so I'm not sure about that. Thanks to the two suggestions above, I am also going to read up on the Underground Tour and Flight Museum. My dad worked for the Air Force as a civilian in test and evaluation for 38 years, so I wish he could go with us! He would love the Flight Museum. We have been to the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, and some of the exhibits sound similar.

We will not have a car, so the places we visit in Seattle need to be accessible by light rail, but we are excited about the possibilities!

disneyfaninaz 06-13-2013 11:25 PM

Pioneer Square is really close to the stadiums so the Underground Tour is doable and is very interesting and entertaining. It takes about 90 minutes.

The Museum of Flight opens and 10:00 AM and if you are near the airport, I would do the museum on Sunday before your flight. You only need 1-2 hours to see it.

There are several good places to eat along the water front. We enjoyed Anthony's Bell Diner. We also really enjoyed Local 360 which is on 1st Avenue and Bell.

It is very easy to get around Seattle. We walked almost everywhere. The light rail from the airport ends at Westlake Mall where the monorail can take you to Seattle Center where the Space Needle is. From there, you can walk down to the water front and Pike Market.

Chilly 06-14-2013 05:55 AM

We walked around Seattle most of the time but I also got the hop on hop off bus but only because I got a great deal on Groupon. We went up the Columbia Tower rather than the space needle as its a fraction of the cost (I again got an even better deal on Groupon), its higher up and you can see the Space Needle from it. You get a good look at the stadiums as well. We enjoyed eating at the Crab Pot. Pike Place Market was really busy but worth a look around.

DisneyCruiser83 06-15-2013 05:09 PM

Hello!

I am so glad I found your trip report! Our family will be on this cruise as well. I am from the Seattle area and will be staying for about a week after the cruise. If you have any other questions when planning comes up, I would be happy to help in any way I can. I can't wait until we sail! :cool1:

MickeyMomTo2 06-15-2013 05:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by disneyfaninaz (Post 48678861)
Pioneer Square is really close to the stadiums so the Underground Tour is doable and is very interesting and entertaining. It takes about 90 minutes.

The Museum of Flight opens and 10:00 AM and if you are near the airport, I would do the museum on Sunday before your flight. You only need 1-2 hours to see it.

There are several good places to eat along the water front. We enjoyed Anthony's Bell Diner. We also really enjoyed Local 360 which is on 1st Avenue and Bell.

It is very easy to get around Seattle. We walked almost everywhere. The light rail from the airport ends at Westlake Mall where the monorail can take you to Seattle Center where the Space Needle is. From there, you can walk down to the water front and Pike Market.

I need to read up on transportation. I didn't even know there was a monorail. I guess once we figure out where we are going, I can find out for sure how to get there.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Chilly (Post 48679518)
We walked around Seattle most of the time but I also got the hop on hop off bus but only because I got a great deal on Groupon. We went up the Columbia Tower rather than the space needle as its a fraction of the cost (I again got an even better deal on Groupon), its higher up and you can see the Space Needle from it. You get a good look at the stadiums as well. We enjoyed eating at the Crab Pot. Pike Place Market was really busy but worth a look around.

I haven't heard of Columbia Tower, so that's another thing to research. I also need to check the current Groupon deals. Thanks!


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