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Old 09-25-2013, 06:58 AM   #1
topsy
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Alaska September 2nd-9th 2013 - Our EPIC adventure!

Well, this report has already started badly. I promised myself that I would get home and crack on with writing it as well as sorting my 3000+ photos and designing a photo book. Yeah, that didn’t happen. This annoying thing called life got in the way – how dare it!

So, now that it seems like a lifetime ago that we went on this trip, I am going to make a start on my TR. Let me introduce the all British cast –

Me! I’m Kirsty, I am from Somerset (I live in a village just outside Bath for anyone who is interested), 26 and self-confessed Disney addict.

My good friend Elle, who turned 29 on the day we flew out to Vancouver, lives in the south-west and is studying Law at Exeter University.

Elle and I met in 2008 when we were both working in Epcot at the Rose & Crown on the Cultural Representative Program. We weren’t really friends until we went into service training together (one of the most intense weeks of my life!).

Our Disney addictions have fuelled one another’s ever since! We’ve stayed at AKL, OKW, ASMovies and Boardwalk Villas, gone on a 7 night DCL Western Caribbean cruise, had a 2 week dining plan visit to WDW, a long weekend at Disneyland Resort Paris and often dreamed of what comes next…

I had been looking at the Alaska cruise for months, originally wanting my boyfriend to go with me but he wouldn’t commit as Disney and cruises are just not his thing. A chance meeting with Elle in January this year meant we chatted about all things Disney over dinner and the cruise came up. We joked about how fun it would be to go and low and behold, the next day, we were booked on the last cruise of the season!

Originally, we had booked an inside room as it was the cheapest option. About a week later we upgraded to the last available navigators veranda, a decision we are so glad we made. Some of the best moments of our cruise happened when out on our balcony, and as it wasn’t entirely open, we were shielded from the rain and cold.

Anyway, that’s enough of the background. Let’s get on with the show!

When planning our trip, I really enjoyed reading other TRs and particularly loved the ones with photos and videos. With that in mind, I am going to make this as informative and picture filled as I can. I appreciate this may get a little boring if you’re not a details person so I will apologise in advance!
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Old 09-25-2013, 03:38 PM   #3
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Day One - Flying off with Molly!

The day started as most do, chores, walking the dog, finishing the packing. Luckily our flight wasn’t until mid-afternoon so we had some time in the morning before leaving for the airport. I’m not a worrier when it comes to travelling. I kind of think that so long as you are on time, you’re ok. Everything else is out of your control so you may as well just go with it!

Elle and I were meeting at Heathrow, she had some ridiculous journey of about 6 hours to get there from Manchester, where she as staying at the time. I got to the bus station in time and was soon curled up listening to Fantasmic on my I-pod (a tradition when I go on any Disney trip!).

I realise I just mentioned not being a worrier when it comes to travelling but I did had a mild panic when we got to about 2 miles from Heathrow and the traffic was solid. Nobody was moving. I thought it was a really cruel trick to have had no traffic the whole journey but as soon as I was in sight of the airport I just had to sit there and watch other holidaymakers in their planes fly off to paradise. Luckily our bus driver was pretty smart and took us down some old back roads and got us there only 10 minutes late. Just about the time Elle had arrived too, yay!

We were flying Virgin Atlantic and had checked in online so just had to drop off the bags. Krispy Kreme then caught my eye so I grabbed 3 doughnuts and took them through security with us, as you do! The wait in the airport was pretty harmless, we ate the doughnuts, did a bit of shopping and popped lots of anti-sickness pills.

Now this is something that really bothers me. I have been fortunate enough to have been travelling my whole life and LOVE travelling on planes. However, in the last couple of years, I have started to become travel sick on flights. I think it comes down having been ill on one flight on 2010 (another Disney trip!) and since then I panic myself about doing it again so its actually the thought of it happening rather than it actually happening. But still, it’s now something I have to think about when flying. Elle has also been suffering recently so we were like two old dears this trip, checking we had our pills with us at all times and making sure we were looked after!

I digress. We boarded our plane, named by Virgin as Molly, and it was a full flight. Virgin uses some of their oldest aircraft for the Vancouver route which was quite disappointing. We had the old Virgin colours, the tray backs and seat back plastic was all tinted yellow as the colours had faded and the entertainment system was so prehistoric! It really is a sign of the times when we are disgraced at only being able to have choice of 10 channels and the movies are on a loop. Needless to say, it was quite a long, boring flight, but comfortable nonetheless.



We arrived in Vancouver around 5.30pm and flew in over the mountains from the east. It was a beautiful decent and really fun looking at the ships in the sea below, thinking that we would be there in a couple of days.

Immigration was fine, fairly quick. I had checked on the boards before going what we should put on our forms. We would technically only be in Canada for 2 days before boarding the cruise. We would also have 2 days in Vancouver after the cruise. The long and short is that we decided to only say we would be in Canada for 2 days as we knew we would have to fill out a new card when we left the ship. This worked perfectly and the immigration officer just asked what we were doing in Canada, we said we were going on the cruise and he smiled when we said Disney!

I had planned on taking the skytrain to Downtown as we were staying at the Ramada on West Pender which was only a block or two from the station. But to be honest, we were tired and couldn’t be bothered to drag our cases, so we got a cab! As others have mentioned, they are mostly Toyota Priuses so there’s not a lot of room for luggage. We paid $35 to get to our hotel; I believe this is about the going rate.

We checked in at the Ramada and were pleasantly surprised by the quality of our room, number 603 to be exact. We didn’t want to splash out on a fancy room when we wouldn’t really be using it much. If I remember rightly, the room was about $120 (Canadian) per night and was in a good location.
Once we’d settled in, we headed out in search of food and quickly came across Canada Place. We got there right as the sun was starting to set, it was beautiful.







We mooched around here for a while, watching the floatplanes and taking note of where we had to go on Monday when we had to check in for the cruise. You need to go to the underground area, under Canada Place, it’s a bit manic on embarkation day but just follow the crowds and you’ll be fine. They also have Disney reps out on the sidewalk to direct you. But that’s Monday, and we’re only on Saturday!

Once we’d had our fill of the sunset, we headed off and found a 7/11. As Brits, we have some strange cravings for American food. A lot of the stuff you can get in the states is banned in the UK because of having too many e-numbers or other silly reasons. The things we miss and were looking for were Fruit Loops (YUM), Cheetos, Twizzlers, Hershey’s Kisses and really good Orange soda – the luminous kind! We found most of these and took them back to our room for snacking on later.

On the way back we stopped in at an A&W burger place and had some surprisingly good food. It was all cooked fresh and tasted great. We also had our first taste of poutine on this trip. I wasn’t crazy about it but Elle really enjoyed it. I think the gravy reminded me of the gravy they used to serve at school so put me off. I grew much more fond of poutine as the trip went on. Yes that’s right, we ate more of it!!!



We made our way back and called it a night, after watching a bit of Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. Don’t they all look so young in that film?! We were both out pretty quickly and slept through until the morning – our first day exploring Vancouver!

If you’re still reading, thank you and well done for hanging in there this long! I promise there are LOTS more pictures from this point on.

Next up- Our first day in Vancouver!
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Old 09-25-2013, 03:57 PM   #5
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Yay, one follower! At least someone is reading this - thanks disneyfaninaz!!
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Old 09-25-2013, 04:10 PM   #6
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Joining in. Can't wait to hear all about your cruise.
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Old 09-25-2013, 05:49 PM   #7
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I'm following along! Great TR so far. I'm hoping to do an Alaskan cruise and as a fellow Brit I will be picking up any tips you have with great interest?
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Old 09-25-2013, 11:34 PM   #8
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Great start to your report! Signing on for the rest.

Jill in CO
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Old 09-26-2013, 03:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pascalstongue View Post
I'm following along! Great TR so far. I'm hoping to do an Alaskan cruise and as a fellow Brit I will be picking up any tips you have with great interest?
Hi, thanks for tagging along. If you're looking for any specific info or tips, just ask.

I've also just noticed you are from High Wycombe? I have friends who live in a village next to Great Missenden so I drive through High Wycombe all the time!
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Old 09-26-2013, 04:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topsy View Post
Hi, thanks for tagging along. If you're looking for any specific info or tips, just ask. I've also just noticed you are from High Wycombe? I have friends who live in a village next to Great Missenden so I drive through High Wycombe all the time!
Yes, I live in a small village just outside High Wycombe!

I'll be sure to ask questions as and when.
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Old 09-26-2013, 10:46 PM   #11
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I am thoroughly enjoying your trip report, the narrative and all the lovely pictures. Thanks for taking us on the trip with you. We sail to Alaska next May, so I am reading every report I can find. Thanks again.
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Old 09-27-2013, 01:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
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I am thoroughly enjoying your trip report, the narrative and all the lovely pictures. Thanks for taking us on the trip with you. We sail to Alaska next May, so I am reading every report I can find. Thanks again.
That is so kind of you to say, thank you!

I also read every report I could find before out cruise, most of them more than once! I am a photo person so be prepared to see lots more!!
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Old 09-27-2013, 05:17 PM   #13
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Reliving the cruise through your report! I am working on mine, hopefully I will get some posted this weekend. We also fell in love with Tim Horton's. I could go for a maple dipped right now! That fog was something else. I woke a few times during that first night to the fog horn, I can imagine how loud it was up on deck! Glad you didn't get bounced overboard! We saw a whale out the window of the Cadillac Lounge during our mixology class. One of the bartenders said that if you want to see some passenger activity, go up to deck 9, stand at the rail, and yell "WHALE!".
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Old 09-27-2013, 10:23 PM   #14
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Thanks!

I am thoroughly enjoying this trip report. I will be on the Wonder in 6 weeks!

I look forward to the next installment.
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Old 09-28-2013, 06:14 AM   #15
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Day Five – TRACY ARM; Whales, Mimosas and Glaciers

Wednesday 4th September

Part One -

This was it, the day we had been waiting for. No not the beautiful scenery, seals and magnificent Sawyer Glacier but our first Palo brunch! Ha, we have our priorities right!

The day started wonderfully, the ship movement had calmed down, we were awake at 7.00am and by 8.00am we had seen five whales from the veranda, two of which kept breaching. The only problem with seeing whales from the ship is that the ship moves a lot more quickly than the whales so once you’ve managed to lock eyes on them, they’re already behind you. Thank goodness I had a good zoom and binoculars, both of which were used constantly during this trip.





I decided to run up to BBB and get some doughnuts* and hot chocolate; we didn’t want to fill up as we had Palo reservations at 10.00am.

*(A quick note – the doughnuts became progressively drier and less edible as the cruise went on and the chocolate ones disappeared after 2 days!)

We ended up being a little late as we were so enthralled by the whales we lost track of time. When we did get to Palo we had a brilliant seat by the window, right in the centre and could continue watching the show, in fact we saw one whale slapping its fin on the surface.







Our server was Mladen from Croatia. He was lovely, really funny and eager to please; we ended up having him as our server for dinner later in the week. I believe they try to keep you with the same server if they can. We each had a mimosa and were shown the buffet tables. He explained which items went well together and offered his opinion on the cooked food you can order from the kitchen.


The pastry station


Antipasti station


Seafood station


Dessert station


Cheese and bread station







I had heard so much about the strawberry soup, grape and gorgonzola pizza and parmesan chicken that I ordered all three for us to share. Elle also ordered the veal to share. The chicken was outstanding, I don’t know how they make such a simple dish so extraordinary but I nearly ordered a second! The pizza too was perfect and I enjoyed the soup, Elle not so much. The veal was ok, but I would rather have had two chicken plates!


Parmesan chicken – AMAZING


Strawberry soup


I can’t remember what this is…veal I think?!


Grape & gorgonzola pizza

The rest of the buffet was great but I really didn’t get my fill as I was so stuffed with all the other dishes. I definitely want to do the brunch again, and hopefully go on a cruise where I could do it two or three times in one trip. Maybe the transatlantic next year?! We did have a very British moment at brunch in that we had no idea how much to tip. In theory, 20% is a good tip but 20% on $20pp would only be $8 between us – for 1.5hours of great service. This didn’t seem like enough so we (wrongly or rightly) gave him $20 which we later realised was a 40% tip! Oh well, it was worth it to us.
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