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Old 06-15-2013, 02:22 AM   #31
chris31997
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I'm all for the details

Thank you for being so kind to share the details with us.

My worst fear is not having my documents and not getting up in time. Glad you made it though
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Old 06-15-2013, 06:39 PM   #32
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Awesome!

Hi there! Thanks you so much for sharing all this info with us. We are heading there next week I sent you a Private Message.

Thanks!
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Old 06-16-2013, 01:54 PM   #33
becca1976
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I can't wait to hear all about your cruise. We cruise in August of next year, so I'm reading up on all the info that I can! Thanks for taking the time to share.
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:36 PM   #34
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Day 1--Adventures in Vancouver

East Coasters! Get ready to be weirded out by only 7 hours of nighttime! Well, it was strange that it didn't get dark until 10 PM and the sun rose around 5 AM. It was even stranger in Alaska when sunrise was around 3:50 AM!

But nevertheless, just like my first morning at Disneyland, I was ready to take on the world around 6:15 AM for our full day in Vancouver. My attitude was with all there was to see and do, I could sleep when I got home. Nevermind I went straight from work to vacation, so operating on little sleep was what I was used to.

The Sutton Place is in the perfect location downtown. You can walk to anywhere on relatively flat land within 10 minutes. We skipped the crazy expensive and uber upscale hotel breakfast and asked the concierge for a recommendation. Yet again we struck gold with them; we were pointed a block and a half away to a little place called Bellagio. I later discovered that Bellagio is like a chain, but you never would have guessed with the small setting and laid-back atmosphere. We had a French waitress who gave us the most amazing French toast. I dream about that French toast. If I could go back to Vancouver right now, I would eat that French toast.

Once finished, we went back to the hotel to grab a taxi to take us to the aquarium.


2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (4) by orcapotter, on Flickr
A pause for obligatory in-front-of-hotel photos!


2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (5) by orcapotter, on Flickr

Notes about Vancouver:
- We unknowingly packed sunshine from home and took it with us. For the 3 days we were in Vancouver, all of them were bright and sunny. The temps were in the 60's ... which is bordering cold for us. In the shade we needed to bundle, but in the sun it warmed up nicely. We were repeatedly told how abnormal this was, so if you're on your way to Vancouver, do not expect the weather to be awesome like it was for us.
- Vancouver is awesome. It's super clean, easy to navigate, friendly people, and very well taken care of. You definitely need to plan at least a full day to spend here. You can easily spend 4 full days checking it out. I want to go back!

The taxi ride to Stanley Park took only about 7 or so minutes with traffic. The park is huge and with the weather as nice as it was, it was really busy. The aquarium is toward the center and we were told we could have walked there, but that would have been a long walk. Bike rentals are insanely popular in Vancouver and the city is very pro-bike ... if I were with my friends, I would have wanted to take some time bike riding around. I'm sure I could have biked there.

So, I love marine life. Orcas are my utmost favorite animal, but I could live in an aquarium/Sea World. When you're used to Sea World, other places tend to pale in comparison. The Georgia Aquarium is my second-favorite aquarium; I had read many reviews about the Vancouver Aquarium about it being really small and unimpressive. Well, while it is small, it was very nicely done with an impressive variety of animals. We easily spent 6 hours there and we did and saw everything. Most of their marine mammals are rescues that cannot be returned to the wild.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (8) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The outside entrance is being remodeled.


alaska cruise0007 by orcapotter, on Flickr
Souvenir photo they take when you walk in. For about $30 you get the 8x10 and a sheet of semi-wallet size prints with your choice of a keychain or magnet. And you had different backgrounds to choose from. We got the 8x10 in this print and our "wallets" with penguins. I use quotations because it is not a standard size.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (19) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The current temporary exhibit is called "Jellyfish Invasion" -- they had dozens of different species on display and you just want to stare at them for HOURS


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (22) by orcapotter, on Flickr
SEA OTTERS HOLDING HANDS WHILE NAPPING AND FLOATING OMG


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (23) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (31) by orcapotter, on Flickr
2 rescued Pacific White-Sided Dolphins performed in the shows; one of them has a partially amputated pectoral flipper.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (40) by orcapotter, on Flickr
For an extra fee, you can "help" the trainers.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (41) by orcapotter, on Flickr

We saw 2 dolphin shows (one was a "how to train" and the other was just a "show") ... be prepared that there is no seating at the tank. As you can somewhat tell from the photos, you can stand almost 360 around the tank. The good spots filled up early. These shows were nothing like what you see at Sea World, but I didn't mind. I love seeing the animals regardless. All the shows lasted no more than 15 minutes and had no story or music or anything. The beluga area had seating but an odd layout.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (42) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Harbor seal, and the reason we couldn't get close to the Tracy Arm glacier. YOU SILLY SEALS.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (43) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Steller sea lion


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (48) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The first Harbor Porpoise I've ever seen! They didn't have them on display, though, other than an aerial view of their tank.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (53) by orcapotter, on Flickr
They had an entire exhibit of nothing but baby sea lions. CUTE


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (55) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Hi.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (58) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (61) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Look at the penguins, yo!


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (72) by orcapotter, on Flickr
How to train beluga show


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (75) by orcapotter, on Flickr
How to crawl inside of your beluga


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (76) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Have you ever seen a beluga jump out of the water? Neither have I. Getting all that blubber out of the water can NOT be easy.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (79) by orcapotter, on Flickr
I kid you not, they did this for 5 minutes trying to show us how they get the whales to pee. AWKWARD.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (85) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (117) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Back for the dolphin show show


Continued in the next post!
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:56 PM   #35
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Day 1--Continued


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (118) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (122) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Becoming one with the frogs


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (124) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Giant bullfrog


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (142) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (148) by orcapotter, on Flickr
GIANT PACIFIC OCTOPUS!

I took a ton more photos at the aquarium; you can see them here. We were there about an hour after they opened and stayed until about an hour before they closed. There is even an included-with-your-admission "4D" movie about bears and salmon that was definitely a different experience. We're talking stuff thrown in your face, chairs vibrating, etc etc. My mom was overwhelmed with it, which just made it that much more amusing. Considering most museums and places make those types of things an extra fee, it was worth it. Honestly, I felt that this aquarium was a lot bigger than expected and definitely worth seeing. I wanted to check out Stanley Park more, but my father was tired (this was a very demanding trip for him), so we went back to the hotel. I was willing to go walk down to the harbor by myself, but Mom offered to join me. We left Dad to a nap and set off for our city adventure!


We spent at least 2 hours walking everywhere. We found a Pandora store (my family is big on Pandora; we all have bracelets) and decided we had to go in. They had 1 exclusive Vancouver charm but it was nothing special at all, so we ended up with symbolic charms: Mom got the snowflake and I got the polar bear. Mom also got me a clasp with a starfish on it! From there, we found a 2 story tall Michaels (where I got some scrapbook stuff), discovered a seafood place for dinner at the recommendation of the Pandora Store (more on that in a bit), and then it was down to the water.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (157) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Canada Place, where we would set sail tomorrow! Plus the Pan Pacific, which was where I had wanted to stay.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (161) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (163) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Looking toward Stanley Park


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (165) by orcapotter, on Flickr
We'd be boarding the Wonder there tomorrow!


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (167) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (169) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The sea planes literally take off every 5 minutes here.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (170) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The 2010 Winter Olympic Torch!


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (174) by orcapotter, on Flickr
One of the many fake orcas I would see on this trip.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (175) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Pretty fountain along our walk.

Now, as nice as Vancouver is, it's still a huge city. And like any city, it unfortunately has its homeless. There was at least 1 homeless person per block. Never intrusive; they simply sat or stood where they were with a sign or not. It was heartbreaking to see many with animals; I'm sure that helps the person gain more sympathy (it works). Mom felt compelled to give those with animals some money ...

Side note: We used Canadian currency while in Canada for most everything unless it was a big purchase. Currently, the US dollar is weaker by a dollar or so. Canadian cash is both in note and coin form. They have $1 and $2 coins that Mom kept insisting was "play money" and she couldn't get the hang of them for some reason. Otherwise, there was a 3% foreign transaction fee on all of our credit and debit cards. Don't forget to put a travel alert on them!


2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (21) by orcapotter, on Flickr
This man played on his violin for hours with a sign that he was simply playing for his dog, which laid there without moving for just as long.

By now it was dinner time and Dad was calling wanting to know where we were. Another note about cell service: I had done research to find out if Verizon had coverage in Vancouver. Everything I found claimed that if you called or texted a US phone number, there were no extra charges. However, my phone said "roaming" the entire time I was there; Mom's non-smart phone intermittently would not. To be on the safe side, I kept my phone in airplane mode while in Canada. We kept any calls on Mom's phone to a minimum. Being on vacation, you really need to unplug, anyway. It's scary how dependent we are on technology these days.

We picked up Dad and headed to the restaurant the Pandora lady suggested called "Coast." We had scoped it out beforehand and even tried a sample of some salmon flatbread that was really tasty. The prices were high but we figured most dinner places in the city would be. After all, it was recommended! It must be amazing, right? So, in we went. Again, we (or at least I) felt grubby in an uber jazzy modern city hangout that made you want to run out and garb yourself in every namebrand that sells shirts running a minimum of $80. But no one seemed to bat an eye at us. We ordered the special, which was a prawn dish with pasta, and the salmon flatbread.

Well, here is an instance that we had to take a photo of our food. Brace yourself:


Yup! All ours for the low price of $18 a plate! ONE giant prawn, staring right back at ya, seated on a little tuft of pasta in a sea of a sauce-like substance. Dad's reaction says it all:


Honestly, the flatbread would have been enough. I was full after eating a few slices of it. Thank goodness we had ordered it! With all that room leftover, we ended up ordering dessert. A banana cake that was awesome. All in all, though, unless you like an upscale modern city dining experience, trust your concierge over the Pandora lady.

We went back to the hotel after that and prepared for our Alaskan voyage in the morning! Coming soon, Day 2: Boarding the Wonder to Alaska!
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Old 06-17-2013, 06:47 PM   #36
tink,too
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Loving your TR. Your photos at the aquarium are great - and the sea otters are just too darn cute!

The light nights won't bother us - it was still light here at 10.30pm tonight and the sun will be up again around 4am. Blackout blinds are our friends!
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Old 06-17-2013, 07:24 PM   #37
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Thank you for taking time to write this detailed TR, it is fun to read too! We'll be on the same trip at the same time of year so I'm taking good notes!
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:15 PM   #38
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Still reading and enjoying very much. Thanks again for posting and sharing your trip.
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Old 06-17-2013, 10:58 PM   #39
caralyn817
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I'm enjoying your report so far. I love aquariums as well. Georgia Aquarium is amazing. My favorite area is the Whale Shark exhibit. I could spend hours just seating in the observation room watching them. Have you had the chance to visit the new Penguin Exhibit at Sea World yet? We are debating about whether or not to go there on our next trip in July. Love the pictures! I'm sure they don't do the scenery justice.
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:02 AM   #40
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Love your Dad's face, i'd have been the same.

I saw the Pandora shop but then couldn't find it again.
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Old 06-18-2013, 09:42 AM   #41
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Subbing along. We won't get to Alaska any time soon, but your trip report is very entertaining , and we are on the Wonder in September.
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Old 06-18-2013, 03:49 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OrcaPotter View Post

2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (118) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (122) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Becoming one with the frogs


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (124) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Giant bullfrog


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (142) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (148) by orcapotter, on Flickr
GIANT PACIFIC OCTOPUS!

I took a ton more photos at the aquarium; you can see them here. We were there about an hour after they opened and stayed until about an hour before they closed. There is even an included-with-your-admission "4D" movie about bears and salmon that was definitely a different experience. We're talking stuff thrown in your face, chairs vibrating, etc etc. My mom was overwhelmed with it, which just made it that much more amusing. Considering most museums and places make those types of things an extra fee, it was worth it. Honestly, I felt that this aquarium was a lot bigger than expected and definitely worth seeing. I wanted to check out Stanley Park more, but my father was tired (this was a very demanding trip for him), so we went back to the hotel. I was willing to go walk down to the harbor by myself, but Mom offered to join me. We left Dad to a nap and set off for our city adventure!


We spent at least 2 hours walking everywhere. We found a Pandora store (my family is big on Pandora; we all have bracelets) and decided we had to go in. They had 1 exclusive Vancouver charm but it was nothing special at all, so we ended up with symbolic charms: Mom got the snowflake and I got the polar bear. Mom also got me a clasp with a starfish on it! From there, we found a 2 story tall Michaels (where I got some scrapbook stuff), discovered a seafood place for dinner at the recommendation of the Pandora Store (more on that in a bit), and then it was down to the water.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (157) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Canada Place, where we would set sail tomorrow! Plus the Pan Pacific, which was where I had wanted to stay.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (161) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (163) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Looking toward Stanley Park


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (165) by orcapotter, on Flickr
We'd be boarding the Wonder there tomorrow!


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (167) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (169) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The sea planes literally take off every 5 minutes here.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (170) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The 2010 Winter Olympic Torch!


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (174) by orcapotter, on Flickr
One of the many fake orcas I would see on this trip.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (175) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Pretty fountain along our walk.

Now, as nice as Vancouver is, it's still a huge city. And like any city, it unfortunately has its homeless. There was at least 1 homeless person per block. Never intrusive; they simply sat or stood where they were with a sign or not. It was heartbreaking to see many with animals; I'm sure that helps the person gain more sympathy (it works). Mom felt compelled to give those with animals some money ...

Side note: We used Canadian currency while in Canada for most everything unless it was a big purchase. Currently, the US dollar is weaker by a dollar or so. Canadian cash is both in note and coin form. They have $1 and $2 coins that Mom kept insisting was "play money" and she couldn't get the hang of them for some reason. Otherwise, there was a 3% foreign transaction fee on all of our credit and debit cards. Don't forget to put a travel alert on them!


2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (21) by orcapotter, on Flickr
This man played on his violin for hours with a sign that he was simply playing for his dog, which laid there without moving for just as long.

By now it was dinner time and Dad was calling wanting to know where we were. Another note about cell service: I had done research to find out if Verizon had coverage in Vancouver. Everything I found claimed that if you called or texted a US phone number, there were no extra charges. However, my phone said "roaming" the entire time I was there; Mom's non-smart phone intermittently would not. To be on the safe side, I kept my phone in airplane mode while in Canada. We kept any calls on Mom's phone to a minimum. Being on vacation, you really need to unplug, anyway. It's scary how dependent we are on technology these days.

We picked up Dad and headed to the restaurant the Pandora lady suggested called "Coast." We had scoped it out beforehand and even tried a sample of some salmon flatbread that was really tasty. The prices were high but we figured most dinner places in the city would be. After all, it was recommended! It must be amazing, right? So, in we went. Again, we (or at least I) felt grubby in an uber jazzy modern city hangout that made you want to run out and garb yourself in every namebrand that sells shirts running a minimum of $80. But no one seemed to bat an eye at us. We ordered the special, which was a prawn dish with pasta, and the salmon flatbread.

Well, here is an instance that we had to take a photo of our food. Brace yourself:


Yup! All ours for the low price of $18 a plate! ONE giant prawn, staring right back at ya, seated on a little tuft of pasta in a sea of a sauce-like substance. Dad's reaction says it all:


Honestly, the flatbread would have been enough. I was full after eating a few slices of it. Thank goodness we had ordered it! With all that room leftover, we ended up ordering dessert. A banana cake that was awesome. All in all, though, unless you like an upscale modern city dining experience, trust your concierge over the Pandora lady.

We went back to the hotel after that and prepared for our Alaskan voyage in the morning! Coming soon, Day 2: Boarding the Wonder to Alaska!
OMG!!!! My receptionist just came and checked on me as I'm laughing so hard. This picture is priceless. I'll have to remember not to ask dining advice from the Pandora lady Great trip report so far.
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Old 06-19-2013, 01:20 AM   #43
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This Floridian leaves in 3 weeks. I am hoping it is fairly decent as I think 60 is cold!
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Old 06-19-2013, 03:40 PM   #44
OrcaPotter
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Day 2--Boarding the Wonder to Alaska

For convenience's sake, we decided to put out the room service hang tag the night before to have a continental breakfast brought to the room. We didn't want to rush around packing everything and then going out to breakfast. We had a 11 AM PAT and even though we were only about 5 minutes from the port, who knew how long the process would take in Vancouver versus home at Port Canaveral?

So we get up and get started packing up the suitcases, then the breakfast arrived. There was a table full of coffee, juice, and pastries looking all sorts of yummy rolled in, with my mother wearing a huge grin. I'm thinking, "We're excited! Cruise day! Alaska! And croissants!" We hug, full of happiness, and she whispers in my ear:

"Breakfast cost you $66."

AHAHAHA-What.

We weren't on the ship yet. Those magical hangtags that deliver your daily wake-up call came with a pricetag off the ship. Of course, I knew this, but I didn't realize that they would charge us the approx. $22 continental breakfast charge per person in the room. We had a ton of food as result. So, to commemorate the most expensive muffins I've ever purchased, we took pictures:


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (176) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (177) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (31) by orcapotter, on Flickr
We ate those muffins, darn it, and we made darn sure they were freaking delicious.

9:30 AM rolls around and we were completely packed and ready to go, but we had a lot of time before we needed to leave. I may or may not have mentioned before that due to our mad-dash leaving home, we (or rather my father) ironically forgot a lot of things despite packing weeks ahead of time. If you use a CPAP machine, like my father, be sure that you pack ALL the needed parts. We dragged that freaking thing clear across the country, only for him to discover that he forgot the dang face mask--rendering the entire thing moot. Then he gets all mad because he also forgot the one and only battery to the fancy camera he bought for the trip.

Well, we had the time, Mom and I could go find one!

So, here's an interesting tidbit: If you need anything, ask for directions to London Drug. It's like a CVS-meets-Sears; really weird. We were directed around the corner and a few blocks down to this place, where you could pick up a TV while you wait for your prescription.

This excursion took us 10-15 minutes. By the time we got back to the room, we opted to call the bellhop to bring our multitude of bags down for a taxi. Now, I know I've said that most of the taxis in Vancouver are Priuses and can only take about 2 large pieces of luggage. We needed a van, and since boarding a ship means people are getting off of ships and those people needed to go places, meant that we had to wait quite some time for a van. I saw plenty of people walking the streets with luggage, so I'm sure there were those with minimum bags who felt able to walk to the port. You could certainly do it from The Sutton Place if you only have 1 bag, but I wouldn't recommend it. Your 5 minute cab ride would turn into a 20 minute hike.

While we're waiting for a cab, I'll give you my review of The Sutton Place:
-- Listed as a 5 star, but I think that's only because they have a top notch concierge service. The state of the rooms and hallways were more of a 4.
-- While very comfortable, the rooms and hallways need some refurb. Worn-out furniture, worn-out carpets, worn-out trim. Not that it impacted our stay but it was noticeable.
-- Bed was very comfortable; get a 2 queen room if you can. The layout of our king room made things awkward and Dad graciously took the rollaway.
-- While the location is not at the port, it's in the heart of everything downtown Vancouver, which really added to our experience.
- There's a tiny gift shop and a little cafe to the left of the check-in desk which was convenient.
-- You could get what I booked for cheaper if you take a chance with Hotwire and have a little more patience. I would not spend a dime more than $250/night. But I would stay there again!


2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (34) by orcapotter, on Flickr
We tried so hard to travel light, too


2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (33) by orcapotter, on Flickr
It was pretty warm in the sun. Notice me wearing nothing but short sleeves. This was the only time this happened.

Finally, the van arrived and we were at the port within minutes. The entrance to the port is underground ... or below the hotel/convention center, however you want to look at it. The Norwegian Star was also in port that day and all the ships' passengers enter through the same place. Which meant a lot of people going hither and thither and very few signs to tell you where to go. Now, make sure you have all of your cruise documents and your passports out. You will show them several times from this point forward.

First, all passengers for both ships were funneled into security. We had to show our cruise documents and our passports. Despite the crowd, this only took about 5 minutes or so. Next, you are funneled into U.S. customs. I guess since we were headed strictly to U.S. ports, we had to do this pre-cruise. Again, a long line but it only took another 5-10 minutes. You're told repeatedly to put your cruise documents away but to open all your passports to your ID page and stack your family's passports on top of each other on the right page. After 1 minute with the customs guy, we were then directed behind customs and that's where the Disney folks separated from the Norwegian folks.

By now, it's around 11:15 AM or so, I'm guessing. I didn't really pay attention to the time. We walked directly up to a temporary DCL booth to check in. Originally, I was going to ask about upgrades, but a glance to the right showed a completely full waiting area. Those folks must've arrived no later than 10:30. So I didn't bother to ask; it turned out to be a full sailing anyway. We got a #4 boarding time and then we had a choice: sit in the crowded area that's close to all the music and a spot clearly intended for characters to appear, or in the completely separated waiting area on the other side of the terminal but still within sight of the entrance to the gangway?

I wanted to be in the heart of the action! So, we managed to find 2 empty folding chairs (yes, all the seating is folding chairs) and I sat on the floor. Now, the whole check-in and waiting process at Disney's terminal in PC is of course the best experience. Vancouver wasn't bad or stressful, but it wasn't as streamlined or as no-brainer, and the lack of a dedicated space for check-in and luggage retrieval was weird. (A bit of a preview: You pick up your luggage in the same area you checked-in for the cruise.)

There were 2 speakers playing random Disney music, the kids' club check-in area, and a few banners placed here and there. The Wonder was right outside the windows. I kept waiting and waiting for characters to come out for photos, but they never did. I'm not sure what was going on with boarding today, but it seemed like everything was behind. Judging by how few characters-in-the-waiting-area photos there were in Shutters later in the cruise, they clearly came out toward the very end of boarding.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (178) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (180) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (182) by orcapotter, on Flickr
This is not the only waiting area ... back on the other side of the check-in booths was another area that seemed a bit bigger and was nearly empty. But it wasn't close to where you expected characters to appear.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (183) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (185) by orcapotter, on Flickr

Boarding did not begin until just after noon. Within about 10 minutes, boarding group 4 was called and we excitedly made our way to the gangway. There were 3 or so boarding photo stations (we did not buy it; Mom forgot to take her sunglasses off) and then we were stopped at the point where they scan your KTTW cards for the first time. Well, for some reason, our boarding group was held there for several minutes. I'm not sure why. Once they started boarding again, within a few short minutes we were being announced on board.

Now, I was plenty prepared for the small size of the atrium compared to the Dream. I expected it to feel tiny and it definitely was, but I tried very hard throughout the whole trip not to compare too much. We were directly immediately to Parrot Cay for lunch. It was amazing how the dining room was identical to Enchanted Garden except for size and decoration.

Here's another observation: They weren't nearly as on top of hand sanitizing as they were on the Dream. Several times we went into restaurants and such without anyone at the wipe station; we took them on our own.

Another thing, while everything looked (and was) very yummy at the Parrot Cay buffet, the selection wasn't nearly as vast as it was in Cabana's on the Dream. Not to mention there was simply not enough room for everything on the buffet lines, so tables were set up around the perimeter for things like bread and soups and ice cream.


I missed the crab legs and mussels on the Dream, but lunch was still good and fresh. We took our time, kinda not believing we were finally on this vacation, then we decided to go up to the top decks to look around.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (195) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Another rare beautiful day in Vancouver! I will say this: The Wonder/Magic clearly have the superior adult pool space. Such a shame I didn't enjoy any of it because it was too wet and/or cold.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (197) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (198) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (199) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (203) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (204) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (208) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (211) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (213) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (216) by orcapotter, on Flickr

It was weird that the sports area was at the front of the ship, versus the back on the Dream. As much as I said I wouldn't do comparisons, I like this area on the Dream better. After being on bigger ships the past 3 or so cruises, being on a much smaller ship was quite an adjustment.

We headed down to the room after 1:30; the one major plus to the smaller ship was how easy it was to get to our room from any deck. Only, the elevators are half the size as the Dream and oddly spaced out. We had a lot of problems with full elevators at even the off-times and the distance between the elevators made it challenging if you are waiting on the left/right and the one that comes is on the other side. Often, folks who just walked up would fill up the elevator you just waited 5 minutes for. If you're able, take the stairs. The stairs were a lot easier to use on the Wonder.

Strangely, even at close to 2 PM, most of the stateroom doors were wide open and stewards were still cleaning. I almost stopped myself, thinking we weren't allowed to enter yet. I never noticed this on the Dream, and we would get to our room at 1:30 sharp. Bizarre for a ship half the size. But when we got to our block of rooms, all the doors were closed, and our room was ready. We had 6078 almost completely midship; I believe this was a 5B or C. Our first DCL cruise was a VGT and we were spoiled with a 4C; I couldn't afford that for this trip and man, it would have been a little easier if I had. But still ... the staterooms on the classics are supposed to be bigger, right? Perhaps a little bit wider ... but I honestly didn't think they were any bigger.

Also a first for DCL was how long it took to get our luggage. On the Dream, we got all of our pieces almost right away after we got in the room. On the Wonder, it took most of the afternoon to get all of our pieces. It was such a surprise. After taking in the sights from our verandah and settling in with what luggage we had, we went to tour the ship more.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (228) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (238) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (239) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Last time, we got the backpack, keychain, and 2 of the flip-flop rice krispie treats. This is what we got this time. The text on the keychain from January is already wearing off.

Continued in next post ...
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Old 06-19-2013, 04:58 PM   #45
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Day 2--Continued


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (241) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (245) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Most of these magnets I created myself; a few were from other DISigners, but the rest were all me. I'll post the new DISigns to my DISign thread soon.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (249) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The mural behind the elevators; you could get up close and personal with them on the 6th deck. Most of the time the doors that gives you access to this area was open.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (250) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (251) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (252) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (254) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (259) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (261) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (263) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (264) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (265) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (267) by orcapotter, on Flickr
I sadly never went in here.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (271) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (273) by orcapotter, on Flickr

Here's another strange thing. I never had problems getting to know the Dream right away. There were navigators, times, and maps available everywhere. On the Wonder, we were never given the times nor a map of the ship. You had to request both from the guest services desk. I also had the strangest issue remembering where everything was. And I pride myself on being really good with directions and needing to only go somewhere once to know how to get there again.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (274) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (278) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (279) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (283) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Alaska exclusive merchandise: Nesting dolls (approx $30)


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (284) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Mom bought me the LAST Alaskan Pluto later that night. No more showed up for the rest of the cruise.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (285) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Disney Alaskan plush. While cute, the quality is the same as what you find in a claw machine, only x10 the price. I was disappointed; Pluto would be the only Disney plush I obtained.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (286) by orcapotter, on Flickr
OK, I lied. Later in the cruise, I caved and bought this adorable grizzly bear who happens to be a puppet and with Mickey paw pads. He is adorable and you'll be introduced to him later in the report.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (287) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (288) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (289) by orcapotter, on Flickr

There are only 2 main gift shops on the Wonder versus the 3 on the Dream (not counting the pool and liquor places) but I was glad there seemed to be more "Wonder" items than the Dream ever had. There were about a dozen Alaska items, many of which I bought over the course of the cruise. The Pluto was the only thing to sell out. I was disappointed that there were only 2 Alaska-themed pins; if I wanted, I could have bought some of the Panama Canal pins. There was also an Alaska Vinylmation with an Orca theme. If you can recognize this particular orca, you'd know he's actually from the TV animated series, The Little Mermaid, from the 90's. Ariel's silhouette appears on the left ear.

We went to pick up Dad from his usual post-boarding nap to get to the muster drill on time. I really wonder what staterooms you have to stay in to get to muster inside the lounges or theatres. We've always had to muster outside on the deck. It did not take long at all, and we waited for the crowd to clear before heading up to deck 9 for some hot cocoa and watch us sail away.

The sailaway party was probably the only time I was impressed with half the number of passengers as the Dream. We had no problems getting close to the stage after the show started, but the show wasn't nearly as long as the Dream's. They also didn't blow the horn. In fact, it didn't go off until we were about to go under the bridge. We left the party to get close to the front of the ship. On the Dream, we never had to fight for this area. On the Wonder, it was always a madhouse up there. I took video from the time we left the dock until after we cleared the bridge. I will eventually upload video but in the meantime, enjoy more photos from day 1:
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