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Old 08-19-2011, 10:51 AM   #1
MassDisLovers
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Alaskan Adventure Aug. 9 - 16

Our Adventure Begins: Back in February of 2009 we were on a DCL Eastern that got started a day late because the ship was caught in a storm in the Bahamas and could not return to PC on Saturday. Disney made every accomodation to keep the guests happy and entertained on Saturday, refunded 20% of the fare paid, and then offered a very generous re-booking bonus as well. We booked this Alaskan trip and happily waited the 18 months until it was time to go. Our traveling party changed from the original booking and eventually ended up being a ''girls trip" - me ("a fifty-something") my DD Meg, 21 and our friends, Jody, another "fifty-something" and DD's friend Julie.

We booked our own air on Air Canada and flew on Sunday, three days before the cruise. We flew from Boston and connected in Montreal - a very long day of travel. While in Boston waiting for our flight we *thought* we saw Meg's rather distinctive duffel bag being loaded on a flight to Toronto that was boarding at the adjacent gate. Unfortunately, we were right. When we got to Montreal and had to collect our bags to go through customs, hers was not there. We had a quick connection and the line for "lost luggage" was VERY long, so we consulted with an airline employee who advised us to wait until we got to Vancouver to report her bag missing. The gate agent in Montreal told us that there were "too many bags and too few employees to really do anything about a missing bag." Gee.... thanks!

We arrived in Vancouver around 4:30pm (their time) but had left home at 7:30am east coast time, so we were already 12 hours into the journey. We collected our bags (minus one) and filed the obligatory "Missing Luggage" report, indicating that we were fairly certain that her bag had left Logan Airport in Boston that morning and had headed to Toronto. The woman there was pleasant and assured us that her bag would be delivered to our hotel that evening. We were tired and hungry, so we decided to just eat at a "White Spot" restaurant in the airport. Honestly... it was not bad! We had burgers and club sandwiches and an alcoholic drink each and the bill was $90.00 including tip.

Off we went to find the shuttle to the Hampton Inn Airport where we were staying for the first night. Since we had arrived so late we had planned on a "cheap" first hotel (well..it wasn't THAT cheap, I guess). It was clean and had a decent free breakfast included. The two "old ladies" rested and watched a little TV, the young ones went out for a walk to explore the area and hopefully find a store to purchase some necessary items for DD with the lost luggage. Unfortunately, everything is closed pretty early on Sunday in Vancouver, and they were soon back. By 11pm we were all headed to dreamland and the front desk had not yet received her bag.

Monday morning we inquired about her suitcase - still not there. The woman at the hotel desk was super helpful, called Air Canada for us ("the bag had not yet been located " they reported) so she gave us some maps of area malls where we would be able to purchase clothing, etc. We had purchased the pre-stay from Disney which included transfers from the airport and a stay on Monday night at the Fairmont Waterfront hotel, right at Canada Place where the ship would dock, so we had to take the shuttle back to the airport to get our Disney transportation.

When we arrived at the airport the Disney "greeters" were not yet there, even though we had indicated that we would be there at 9 am and were actually a little late. After an overhead page they soon arrived and apologized, stating that they were expecting us at 9 PM, not 9 AM. No worry, they would get us transportation to the hotel ASAP. Within a few minutes Mary Lynn of the DCL staff had us in a white s-t-r-e-t-c-h limo! No Disney bus for us - we were riding in style! Thank you Mickey!

The Fairmont Waterfront was a beautiful hotel in a perfect location. Our room was ready (before 11 am even though 4pm was the check-in time) so we were able to drop all our bags and then we headed out to explore the city. We walked for hours, stopping at anything that interested us and eventually ending up at a mall where DD reluctantly purchased some very basic supplies - socks and underwear, a few t-shirts and 1 pair of shorts. She is NOT a shopper so this was a chore, not a pleasure. I encouraged her to buy more (jeans, sweatshirts, we were going to a COLD place!) but she had had enough and said she would be fine with those items and the few she had in her carry-on. Luckily, she is not a high-maintenance girl!

We also visited "Cupcakes" the bakery that is the subject of a Canadian TV show similar to "Cake Boss" here in the US. The cupcakes were good, but not he best we've ever had. We eventually made our way back to the hotel , hoping that her bag would have arrived. No luck yet. At that point I decided to talk with the DCL representatives who were at the hotel, hoping that they might have more influence with Air Canada than we did. Wendy at the DCL desk promised to "get that bag". We hoped she would! Wendy also told us to leave our bags in the room the following morning, no need to take anything to the ship, and that we could walk over with them in a group at 12:30 pm or go anytime on our own.

After resting for a while we headed out to "Gastown" and ate at a fabulous restaurant called Al Porto that I had seen recommended here on the DIS. After a great Italian dinner we strolled through Gastown and bought various trinkets - hats and mittens, t-shirts, etc. We continued on to "Chinatown" - by now it was well after 8:30 pm but still very light out. Within a block of leaving Gastown the city changed dramatically. The buildings were in disrepair and full of grafiti, and many homeless folks were about, not bothering anyone, but still there. There was a police presence, but the "feel" wasn't all that great. We continued on another couple blocks and arrived in Chinatown but other than a few other tourists and the occasional police officer, the area was closed up tight as a drum. We took pictures of the architecture, but didn't linger. In all my reading up on Vancouver, I never picked up on the fact that Chinatown is a "daytime only" destination. Live and learn, I guess.

Back to Gastown (whew!) and we stopped at The Steamworks Brewery for a beer. It was a lovely evening - probably in the 60's with none of the humidity that we are accustomed to back East. The girls stayed on long after we had our one beer and headed back, they were having a great night in a beautiful waterfront location. We checked with the desk - no luggage had arrived - and headed back up to our beautiful room on the 14th floor with a view of the dock.

Next up - Our ship has come in and OH MY! What a surprise!
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Old 08-19-2011, 11:40 AM   #2
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Already enjoying your report, and you are not even on the ship yet! Hope the missing luggage arrived prior to sailaway.
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Old 08-19-2011, 12:45 PM   #3
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Our Ship has come in and OH MY! What a surprise!

Tuesday morning dawned gray and overcast but there was a bright spot in our room... the message light on the phone was glowing.... the bag had been found! Yay! The bellman delivered it to our room and Meg happily found an outfit to wear. A look outside confirmed that the Disney Wonder had arrived and was waiting for us. After 5 trips on the Magic, we were looking forward to seeing her sister ship for the first time.

After a quick breakfast in the underground food court attached to the hotel, we walked across the street around 11 am and entered the terminal. The line moved quickly and we were soon checked in with a boarding number of 8. Our group photo was taken (the one they use to ID people as they re-board in ports) and the young woman sort of giggled when she looked at it, so we knew that at least one of us was looking a little crazy in the shot. We were a little surprised when the DCL agent that "boarding would begin no sooner than 1 pm", but I figured that was just their standard line, since the trip reports I had "studied" beforehand all indicated that folks were boarding by noon. The terminal was full and loud and busy. I settled in with my book while Jody, Meg and Julie stood in line for pictures with Captain Mickey. Shortly after 11:40 they began calling boarding groups and we were walking on by 12:10. We went straight to Parrot Cay and had our first lunch onboard. After that Meg went to use the internet to do some homework for her summer courses and the rest of us explored the ship until the staterooms were ready. We checked out our "home" for the week, met Christine, our delightful and very hard-working stateroom hostess, and then headed to the Promenade Lounge for our DisMeet where we got to talk to lots of great people "live" for the first time. Meg told us that she "had seen a woman who looked exactly like Pat" (my step-mother) while doing her homework in the Internet cafe. Well... they do say that everyone has a twin somewhere in the world. I commented that I hoped we would see her again during the trip. At 4 pm we left for the safetly drill (how nice to not have to wear lifejackets any more!) and then on to the Sail Away party .

Jody and I positioned ourselves in a great location on deck 10 to watch the festivites, bought our first "Drinks of the Day" and attempted to save space for the girls who were joining us in a few minutes. Meg arrived soon after and said "Mom, come here - there's something I need to show you". I gave a quick thought to not going since I was sure that we would lose our prime viewing spot, but I went with her." OH MY GOODNESS!!! Much to my surprise there stood my father, step-mother and her 9 yr old grandson! I was in complete shock and disbelief! They had booked the trip way back in September, had kept it a secret for 11 months, and had flown from Massachusetts to join us! They had simply knocked on the cabin door and surprised the girls. Obviously that woman she had seen earlier who "looked exactly like Pat" really WAS Pat! Meg captured my reaction on film (not pretty - I hope THOSE photos never find their way to Facebook). It was just amazing. After tears and hugs and many "I can't believe this!" we all settled into enjoy the sail-away party.

After the party we went to Guest Services to re-arrange everyone's dining so that we could eat together. Jay at the desk quickly made all the necessary calls and we were all linked on the TAPTAPT rotation at 8:15. We then went to get ready for the "All Aboard: Let the Magic Begin" show while the three of them went to their cabin for some much-needed R&R. They had left home at 3:45 am east coast time and were really, really ready to crash, especially the 9 yr old.

We all met for dinner in Triton's and met our server Englebert and assistant, Ikepta. Both were pleasant and very nice, albeit not the speediest servers we've ever had, but we enjoyed our time with them. Within 2 minutes of sitting in his seat the 9 yr old was fast asleep. Englebert made him a little hat out of a napkin and he never even stirred when it was placed on his head. He never woke up during the whole meal - never ordered, never ate, and was ushered (still more than half asleep) out of the dining room at the end of dinner and off to his cabin. They had all had a very long day and grandparents and grandson headed to the stateroom.

After the dinner the girls were off to find new adventures and new friends (they found plenty of both as the week progressed). We sat for a while and "people watched" and eventually made our way to the stateroom to call it a night, to see our first towel animal of the trip, and to read the Navigator for the next day.


Next up: Two breakfasts in one morning, a wonderful day at sea, and THIS is what we came to Alaska for!
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Old 08-19-2011, 02:21 PM   #4
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It was a pleasure meeting you! I'm enjoying your trip report...what a great surprise!
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Old 08-20-2011, 08:36 PM   #5
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Great TR so far!

Loving your TR so far! Not sure if we met in person or not...I'm so bad with names! But how cool that your family surprised you like that!!!!
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Old 08-20-2011, 09:47 PM   #6
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Great TR.. on the same cruise but not sure we met although my DS met yours..
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Old 08-22-2011, 11:43 AM   #7
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Love the TR!! I was on your cruise. Sorry to hear about Meg's bag.
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Old 08-22-2011, 06:08 PM   #8
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Very Neat! Don't stop, don't stop!
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Old 08-22-2011, 10:37 PM   #9
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Great start! Will be leaving for Vancouver on Saturday for the last Alaska cruise of the season. Good to hear Al Porto is a good place to eat, we'll be there next Monday. Sorry for being spooked in Chinatown. I heard that it's dicey to be there at night. We're doing the hop on hop off trolley and they quit about 5 pm so I want to be away from Chinatown well before it gets dark.

Keep it up, I'll be reading until we leave later this week.
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Old 08-23-2011, 05:53 AM   #10
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Loving the report; I was on the same cruise. Air Canada lost two of our bags and our stroller, which was left at the gate, has permanently disappeared. After that and a horrible inflight experience with a toddler I will never fly them again.
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Old 08-23-2011, 11:49 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Fobgirl12 View Post
Loving the report; I was on the same cruise. Air Canada lost two of our bags and our stroller, which was left at the gate, has permanently disappeared. After that and a horrible inflight experience with a toddler I will never fly them again.
Ugh! Your situation was far worse than ours. Did you gets your bags in time for the cruise?
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Old 08-23-2011, 01:09 PM   #12
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Two breakfasts in one morning, a wonderful day at sea, and THIS is what we came to Alaska for!

Our first full day on the ship! We went to the 9:00 DVC presentation with our new-found friends Karla, Dan and Nancy and enjoyed mimosas, got free hats and tote bags, but didn't win any prizes. We were scheduled for our character breakfast, but we also had Palo brunch reservations at 11:30. We were originally just planning to skip the character meal since we're all adults, but with the addition of our *surprise guests* , we decided to attend with them. It was the same as always - no-longer-warm food and split-second opportunities with the characters. Seriously, if you do not have your camera in your hand you will not get a photo! I was a little disappointed to see that they kept the "Island Jam" theme - after all, this is Disney and they were sailing Alaska for nearly 4 months- you'd think they could have ditched the tropical shirts and put Mickey and Minnie in their Alaska outfits. Our servers were great , though, making crazy napkin hats for everyone. My dad, who doesn't hear all that well, had trouble in the loud, chaotic dining rooms. Half the time I dont think he even knew what was going on - he just smiled and sat back! We gave the 9 yr. old a lanyard and some "starter pins" and told him about pin trading. He was thrilled!

After the speed breakfast we had some time to kill before we needed to change for brunch so we delivered our FE gifts and browsed in the shops. As a "gold" cruiser I was anxious to get that $25.00 credit, so we were careful to make sure we spent at least $100.00. Not much of a problem, in fact we had over $200.00 worth, so the very nice clerk offered to split it into two . We also bought two of the special offer tote bags ($11.95 each) and two of the special blankets ($29.95 each) so we more than negated the $50.00 savings, but hey...it's vacation!

At 11:30 we made our way to Palo and proceeded to gorge ourselves on the most wonderful brunch ever. Our server was Alex and he couldnt have been more accomodating, although he said he was disappointed that we didnt eat more! For entrees we enjoyed the tilapia, chicken parm, eggs benedict and eggs julia. We were the last table to leave.... oink oink

Later in the afternoon we went on the "Art of the Theme Tour". I was really looking forward to this, as I had taken it on the Magic and found it facinating. It was led by Sheena , and while she had a great deal of knowledge about the ship to share, she failed to enforce the "Adults Only" component and the tour was runied by a loud and obnoxious set of children. (To be fair, there was another child on the tour with her dad, a girl about 12 years old and she was an angel). The group was large and those of us in the back really had a hard time hearing Sheena. Many people dropped off as the tour continued, so we were able to sneak up a bit, but even we got tired of listening to the kids and parents squabble (while pushing grandma in a wheel chair) so we left just before it was over. All day long we would go outside and just watch the water. More often that not we would see dolphins or whales. It was interesting to watch the crew when whales were spotted, especially when we were lucky enough to see a group of orcas. They RAN to the rails to look and seemed absolutely thrilled to see them! Many said that they really welcomed the change from Florida to California (Mexico) and now to the Alaskan route.

That night was the "Golden Mickeys", which we always enjoy. The fun part of this trip was that Julie was on her first Disney cruise, so all the shows were new to her. It's fun to see what a newcomer thinks of the shows. After the show we went to the Captain's Welcome Reception and enjoyed some apple martinis and had our photo taken with the Captain. Dinner that night was in Animator's but no show (they said because it was formal night???). Afer dinner we went to sit in the Promenade Lounge and listen to the entertainment there, the girls headed off to the Cadillac Lounge and the oldest of our group headed... to bed! Where had the day gone? It was afer 10 pm already and our day at sea was rapidly ending!

Thursday morning was overcast and a bit gloomy as we began heading into Tracy Arm. The crew seemed apprehensive - they said that they were not able to go there at all the week before due to significant fog. The Captain made an announcement that he would "try" and that there was a ship in ahead of us that would be sending him information as the day progressed. We were very hopeful and planted ourselves up on deck 10 around noon, raincoats, cameras and mittens at the ready.We never did find the BBQ on deck, but we were able to sustain ourselves quite nicely with pizza , chicken strips, coffee and chocolate chip cookies. It was drizzly off and on, but the five or so hours we spent up there were well worth it. As the day went on we got more and more excited - we had been told that this would be the best day of the cruise by others who had cruised before. It was amazing to see how everything changed as the hours went by, first green eveywhere, then small chunks of ice in the water and snow on the highest peaks, then actual icebergs in the water, less vegetation on the mountains and finally the Sawyer Glacier! The naturalist on board was able to give a running narration for most of the afternoon (except while we were in the mandated "quiet zones") . Once we arrived at the glacier the Captain simply held the ship there for as long as he could. People were really good about allowing others to take photos - there wasn't a lot of jostling or pushing people out of the way to get the best photo. What an amazing day! Cold and wet but very happy we finally went downstairs to get ready for dinner. After my shower I happened to look out and there was a huge group of dolphins playfully following the ship! They followed us for over a half hour... so cute! We were so late that we skipped the show - "The Music and Comedy of John Charles" - because we figured we'd catch him in his adults-only show later. We went to "Who Wants to be a Mouseketeer" for something to do before dinner. None of us got chosen , but it was fun to watch.

Dinner that night was in Parrot Cay - my favorite- but it has lots of backround noise and it made it difficult for my father to hear and participate in conversations. The 9 yr old had been busy trading (and buying) pins all day and his collection had grown considerably since breakfast! After dinner the girls headed off to join their new friends and we opted for a trip to Shutters to see what was new, a quiet drink and some more "people-watching" before calling it a day.

Next: Three ports in three days
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Old 08-23-2011, 01:10 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Grammy Grumpy View Post
Great start! Will be leaving for Vancouver on Saturday for the last Alaska cruise of the season. Good to hear Al Porto is a good place to eat, we'll be there next Monday. Sorry for being spooked in Chinatown. I heard that it's dicey to be there at night. We're doing the hop on hop off trolley and they quit about 5 pm so I want to be away from Chinatown well before it gets dark.

Keep it up, I'll be reading until we leave later this week.
have a wonderful trip - it's truly an amazing experience! I look forward to YOUR trip report!
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Old 08-23-2011, 01:39 PM   #14
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Thanks for the Trip Reports. We booked our Alaska cruise for next year while on the Dream last week and can't wait!
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Old 08-23-2011, 04:58 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grammy Grumpy View Post
Great start! Will be leaving for Vancouver on Saturday for the last Alaska cruise of the season. Good to hear Al Porto is a good place to eat, we'll be there next Monday. Sorry for being spooked in Chinatown. I heard that it's dicey to be there at night. We're doing the hop on hop off trolley and they quit about 5 pm so I want to be away from Chinatown well before it gets dark.

Keep it up, I'll be reading until we leave later this week.


Another note about Al Porto - they have great "early bird" specials that are good until 6pm (or possibly 6:30). Complete meals for one inclusive price. We got there about 5 minutes before the early bird expired, and ordered well after that and there was no problem getting the specials. You can see their menu and specials online.
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