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Old 06-12-2013, 09:37 PM   #1
Lucky to be local to the Mouse
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Join Date: May 2005
Location: Winter Springs (Orlando), FL
Posts: 1,039

A Floridian in Alaska--June 3rd-10th, 2013 (COMPLETE)

Greetings from the sweltering south! This is the tale of my first voyage to America's Last Frontier aboard the Disney Wonder. Coming from flat land and palm trees to the towering Lord-of-the-Rings vistas in the Pacific Northwest was truly the adventure of a lifetime. It is my hope that my report will help you make the most of this truly once-in-a-lifetime trip.

The trip to Vancouver was not unlike the trip to Mordor, actually.

When I booked this cruise last fall, I was at the start of my first year as a middle school teacher. Unless you're an educator yourself, no one can really understand the sheer amount of stress, work, and tears that goes into this profession. Without going into a soapbox rant about the perception of teachers and the reality of the job, I'll just say that I needed to give myself a light at the end of the tunnel to help me survive this first traumatic year. Without much hesitation, I contacted Dreams Unlimited and booked the Disney Wonder to Alaska on the June 3-10, 2013 sailing.

Oh yes. There were plenty of those. A good reason to wear lots of layers in Alaska--to hide all the teacher stress around my middle.

My family sails in nothing less than verandah level rooms, so I booked my parents and I in a 5B midship. Stateroom 6078.

Yup, I treated my parents to this trip. It was just me and them on our first really big family vacation. Ever. Prior to this, our only major vacations were cruises to the Caribbean. This would be our 3rd Disney cruise and 5th cruise overall. We were on the Dream in January 2012, then on a whim, booked a FL resident deal back on the Dream last January (2013). We have always wanted to go on an Alaskan cruise, but budget has always been an issue. With my new job and very few bills, I had the fortunate opportunity at this time to afford it all. My parents are getting much older and I'm afraid that this would be the last time they could handle such a big trip. It was now or never; the cost was never too much of an issue for me. However, I did my best to stick to a budget. It can be done, people!

So if you're looking for details about traveling with kids, sorry. I'm the "kid" in the equation and I declared myself as the head of the household on all the customs forms! I will say this: I would not do this trip with young kids. Going through customs and immigration for Canada and the U.S., while not necessarily stressful for an adult-only party, would be terrible if you're juggling babies/toddlers/young kids and all of the gear such creatures require. I saw a lot of families with babies and toddlers on this trip and they were constantly all over the place. Everything about Alaska is the scenery and the experiences; I would not waste the time and effort with such young children when they won't remember it at all but rather cause you all sorts of exhaustion, headache, and distraction. HOWEVER, if you don't have too much of a choice (such as a wide age range of progeny), Disney would be the only way to do it. I'll go into more detail later, but this sailing was packed with huge family reunions and parties. A humongous Asian family was seated near us at dinner and they took up two 12-top tables, one of which seated nothing but children!

Herding cats would be easier than traveling with small kids.

Here is the lo-down on this adventure:

The travelers: Myself (30) and my parents (older-than-30)

Itinerary: Leave Orlando on Saturday, June 1st and arrive in Vancouver around 4:30 PM PST. Spend full day in Vancouver on Sunday, June 2nd. Board the Wonder on June 3rd. Disembark June 10th. Spend an extra night at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel and leave for Orlando on June 11th.

Cruise itinerary:
Tuesday--Day at sea and not winning at trivia but winning a raffle
Wednesday--Tracy Arm and staying outside despite the freezing rain
Thursday--Skagway and the Rail & Bus Excursion with Chillkoot Charters & Tours
Friday--Juneau and the 2.5 hour Private Whale Watching Charter with Rum Runner Charters
Saturday--Ketchikan and the free excursion of walking in the freezing rain while shopping and not eating crab
Sunday--Day at sea and not winning at trivia again
Monday--Disembark, otherwise known as the Most Depressing Day Ever

I promise you, there will be ...
BEARS (spoken in a South African accent)
... and all sorts of incredible stuff! And I promise you, this will all be coming at ya not only in text form, but with actual photographs!

Links to report entries!
Day 0 - How NOT To Start Your Vacation
Day 1 - Adventures in Vancouver, Part 2
Day 2 - Boarding the Wonder to Alaska!, Part 2, Part 3
Day 3 - Day at Sea (with bonus what to pack list)
Day 4 - Tracy Arm, Part 2, Part 3
Day 5 - Skagway, Part 2, Part 3
Day 6 - Juneau, Part 2
Days 7-10 - Catching Up

Last edited by OrcaPotter; 01-02-2014 at 11:06 PM.
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alaska, alaska 2013, alaska cruise, alaska trip reports, dcl alaska

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