Ahoy, Kids! Scrap the Summer Plans...We're Sailing with Mickey to Alaska! (Upd 9/8)
Hello! My name is Lauren, and we are fresh off the Disney Wonder (sailed 7/8). Reading trip reports here on the Dis helped make our experience amazing, so I thought I would start one of my own. I plan to include lots of details and pictures, so feel free to join in as I share our trip!
I am the Disney-loving parent in our family. I love knowing that we can always count on Disney customer service, and that our vacation will have something that appeals to all of us. I am on a restricted diet, primarily for gluten intolerance, so I also appreciate that Disney looks after guests with special diets so wonderfully! I will confess that I cheated some on this cruise (with my doctor's permission), but I have cruised with Disney and stayed true to my diet. (I will post links to my blog where I wrote about our last cruise soon). I am also a bit obsessive-compulsive about planning; I am not a go-with-the flow kind of gal! WDW is my first love, but this was my third Disney cruise, and DCL is quickly becoming one of my favorite ways to vacation.
DH enjoys WDW because he likes to see me and our two kids happy, but DCL is much more his speed. He enjoys having time to relax, and he really enjoyed the scenery on this trip. Pictures with Mickey aren't high on his list, but he is always willing to oblige his Disney-loving family. Although not quite as obsessive about planning as I am, he is still a scheduled kind of guy. Not much spontaneity going on with us!
My son is a lot like his dad and me. Very scheduled and likes routine. Not a risk-taker at all. He can navigate and plan for the Disney parks like a pro, and loves poring over the DCL Navigators to check out the daily plans. Of course, even with all the activities on the ship, his favorite is playing basketball on the sports deck!
Our daughter is the one that adds all the excitement to our family. She moves at her own pace and is filled with drama and spunk. She is passionate and emotionally charged, but also loving and ready for hugs. She definitely pushes her brother's buttons (sometimes on purpose, sometimes accidentally), and this led to quite a few issues over the course of 11-days of non-stop togetherness!
As the title of our post suggests, this trip was last-minute for us (which is not something that my non-spontaneous husband or self would normally do), but we were able to grab a VGT rate at 31 days out, and we couldn't pass that up. We ditched our summer trip to San Francisco and Yosemite, and boarded the Disney Wonder instead.
To read more about the details of our planning, you can find the short pre-trip report here:
I'm still putting up laundry and sorting through pictures, but I'll be back soon for an update!
Edited to add: I am finally adding the links to my blog. If you are interested in reading about our Dream cruise, you can use the link. I did not write about it on the Disboards.
Looking forward to hearing more!
I'm totally excited to hear about your trip and see the pictures.
I tried to convince my 16 yr-old son that he'd LOVE a cruise to Alaska, but he said he'd rather go to WDW and be able to ride the rides and other stuff. I can understand that.
So when he's off to college in 2 years, hubby and I are going to Alaska for sure. This is on my bucket list :)
Thanks for sharing your story!! :boat:
Cool! Looking forward to reading along:)
Totally following along! Can't wait to hear all the details!
Subscribing! We are on the 8/19 cruise and have kids of similar ages.
Plucker001, you are going to have an amazing time! Even though I would like to go back and do some things without my kids, it was a great family trip. There was something for everyone, and the views are simply stunning!
I'll be back tomorrow for a new update!
[/QUOTE] Also, the kids had a wonderful time, but they didn't appreciate the scenery as much as we did. I guess that's something that comes with age. :)
Absolutely true... that is exactly what my hubby and I thought as well. In the mean time, we'll be admiring your photos and waiting for our turn (NOT patiently, I'm sure).
I will be following along as well, anxious to hear and see more.
Let the Journey Begin!
Our trip started on July 5th. We left home (south of Nashville) around 9:30 AM to head to the airport. We had a nonstop flight to Seattle at 11:35 (CDT). Because the ship leaves from Vancouver, it would have been much easier to fly there, but my husband is a frequent flyer with Southwest, so we flew to Seattle free. Free trumps convenience, so we decided to fly to Seattle a few days early and do some sightseeing.
Ready for Takeoff
1497566 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
We landed in Seattle around 2:20 (PT). We were staying at the Hampton Inn (28th Ave.) near the airport, also on DH's points. It didn't take nearly as many points to stay near the airport, so that choice was an easy one as well. The hotel shuttle picked us up at the airport, we went to the hotel, and checked into our room. It was a basic Hampton Inn room, but the hotel was relatively new, so everything was in great condition.
At this point, we were starving. Our body clocks (and stomachs) thought it was 6PM, and we hadn't eaten anything except airplane snacks since mid-morning. We wanted to get something quick, and there was a Denny's right next to the hotel, so we headed there. Surprisingly, our food was pretty tasty, but this may have been because we had to wait FOREVER for it. I took this photo of DH and DS as soon as we sat down, but it didn't take long for these smiles to disappear!
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Over an hour later, when we had food, our grumpiness was tamed. We finished eating and returned to the hotel for the kids to swim.
1497572 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
I was really glad the hotel had a pool because we needed to keep the kids awake. I mentioned earlier that we are very scheduled people. My kids are earlybirds--my DS rarely sleeps past 6:30AM at home. For the past week, I had been keeping them up late, trying to help them change times. There were nights during the week leading up to our trip that my crazy kids were begging me to let them go to bed because they were tired. I thought kids wanted to stay up late!?! Because we booked the cruise at 31 days out, late dining was our only choice. I asked to be waitlisted, but I knew it was likely we wouldn't get the main seating. We don't eat late in our own time zone, so I knew we were going to have to do some major adjusting if we were going to be able to eat dinner at 8:15 Pacific Time and Alaska Time (which is another hour back). Thankfully, the sun was up until well past 9:00 in Seattle (11 our time), and this helped us keep the kids awake. We got them in bed around 9:00 and hoped they would sleep in a little.
At this point, I will take the time to mention something that I am so glad I packed: CLOTHESPINS! I read this tip in another Dis report, and I was very thankful to have them. I was able to pin the blackout curtains shut so less light came into the room. This was especially helpful in Alaska when the sun came up at 4:30 AM. We used them every night, and I plan to make clothespins a traveling staple in the future!
Well, I've barely gotten started, but I will be back soon for the next installment: Saturday in Seattle!
Looking forward to your pictures and report, we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary last year on the Wonder to Alaska, still think about it everyday.
This was our third DCL trip and by far the best, never lacked for anything, even good weather.
Great start! Seattle is a city I would love to see.
I hate waiting for food in restaurants.
Saturday in Seattle
We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, ready to explore Seattle (we were actually thrilled that the kids slept until 6:30AM--this gave up hope that the week of keeping them up late was starting to pay off). We were happy to see the sun shining; it didn't rain at all during our time in Seattle. Although it was cool in the morning, temperatures were in the upper 70's in the afternoon, which seemed like weather perfection to us!
After breakfast at the hotel, we took the hotel shuttle to the Link Light Rail station at the airport. Nashville doesn't have public transportation options like this, so my kids are always thrilled with trains and subways (and monorails, of course). We started off all smiles.
1497576 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
On this particular weekend, however, they were doing maintenance work on the train tracks, so the 20 minute ride turned into an hour. It wasn't long before we looked like this...
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We finally made it to the Westlake Station in downtown Seattle and headed to our first stop: Pike Place Market.
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The kids were happy to breeze through the market, but I could have spent hours browsing through all the booths and merchandise. There were vendors selling flowers, jewelry, art, clothing, knickknacks, and many other items. Of course, there were plenty of merchants selling fish!
006 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
We did a quick pass through a portion of the market and found ourselves in Victor Steinbrueck Park, a small park overlooking Elliott Bay. This is where we had our first eye-opening experiences. As we entered into the park, my husband and I happened to smell something unexpected. We turned around, and there were a few men smoking pot on the street corner. The next thing we knew, a lady started shouting obscenities at my husband (very, very loudly). When he asked her if she was talking to him, she answered, "They are talking to you!" We have no idea if she was mentally ill or just looking for trouble, but our kids' eyes were as wide as saucers. We quickly moved our small-town Tennessee selves over into a more open area and found our first totem pole. This was a welcome diversion! :)
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At this point, we also met up with a tour guide from the Seattle Free Walking Tours company. Even though we got a great deal on the cruise, we chose some nice excursions, so we were spending lots of money on this trip. We decided to look for some inexpensive things in Seattle, and a FREE walking tour fit the bill! (Yes, we did tip nicely, but it was still much less expensive than other options.) We met our guide, Mollie, at the corner of the park.
1497580 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
Mollie started us off with some great history about the Pike Place Market and Steinbrueck Park, and then led us to the "first" Starbucks. (The first Starbucks was really destroyed, so this was the oldest Starbucks.) There were people waiting in line for over an hour to buy merchandise from this location because the items display the original Starbucks logo, but Mollie told us that there was one other location nearby that had it as well. We aren't coffee drinkers, so we didn't care, but several people in our tour were thrilled to learn they could buy at the lesser known location without the wait.
We left the Starbucks and headed to several other famous areas in and around the Market. My kids' favorite spot was the gum wall. Outside a theater, patrons started sticking their gum on the wall because it wasn't allowed inside. After years of scraping it off, the city turned it into a tourist spot. You could find initials, messages, and even proposals among the thousands of gum wads!
1497581 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
We continued our walk past several downtown locations and ended up in Pioneer Square where we found our second totem pole. Mollie shared quite a bit of interesting information about the totem pole and the history of the area in general. I really enjoyed hearing the stories in Pioneer Square, as well as the many interesting historical facts and tidbits that Mollie shared throughout the tour. (The tour kept the kids' attention as well.)
013 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
We ended our tour at Ivar's Fish Bar where we were given complimentary clam chowder and french fries. The french fries, however, were not for us. There were other customers waiting for them!
014 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
My DS doesn't really care to get close to animals, especially the wild kind, so he let his sister do the honors. The birds would eat out of your hand, and there was a frenzy in the water where people were dropping fries.
015 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
018 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
After this, the 1 1/2 hour tour ended, and it was time for lunch. We had come all the way to Seattle, and what did my kids want? McDonalds and Subway! The restaurants were next to each other, so we obliged the kids and let them get their meals of choice. We sat down for a few minutes to eat lunch and rest our legs from the walking.
At the end of the tour, I asked Mollie the best way to get to the Space Needle, and she gave me walking directions, so we set off. It turned out to be quite a long walk, but the kids were troopers, and we managed to see a few sights along the way, like Rachel the Piggy Bank...
024 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
It took about 30-45 minutes, but we found ourselves at the foot of the famous Seattle landmark.
030 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
There was a Chihuly sculpture exhibit next to the Space Needle, but we settled for seeing the sculptures we could see over the fence (the kids were getting tired, and we would get to see a Chihuly sculpture hanging in the atrium of the Wonder for seven straight days!). There was a LONG line for tickets to the top of the Needle, but we had reserved a time online, so we were able to walk right in. I highly recommend this.
The weather was gorgeous, so the views from the top were beautiful!
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033 by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
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We enjoyed our time at the top, and we were also pleasantly surprised by the free souvenir photo (yes, it's dorky, but free!).
1497537-3944103-233-H by baseballsandbows, on Flickr
At this point, we were ready to head back to the hotel. Rather than walk, we paid to ride the monorail that went from the Space Needle to Westlake Center (where we could get on the Link train to the airport). We wished we had known about the monorail before walking over, but we decided the exercise didn't hurt us, especially knowing we were about to spend seven days eating DCL food!
As I mentioned earlier, the trains were on a maintenance schedule, and we waited almost an hour for a train to take us back to the airport area. After a long day, this was a tough wait, but we made it back and had a quick dinner and swim before turning in for the evening.
Seattle is a beautiful city! Despite a bit of culture shock, we enjoyed our day in downtown. Coming up...Baseball and the Border!
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