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Old 06-23-2013, 03:04 PM   #61
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Really enjoying reading this.
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Old 06-23-2013, 03:57 PM   #62
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Day 3--Day at Sea

Before we tackle my first day at sea, let's take this opportunity of me stepping out onto the verandah right after waking up to see a characteristic gray Alaska sky with misty tall mountains not very far off in the distance to mention the weather and how my family dressed for it.

Because what to wear is a hot topic when it comes to Alaska cruises, and I did a lot of research before leaving home.

Step 1: Determine where you're from and your definition of "cold"
A Floridian's definition of cold is different from someone who lives in the midwest or the northeast. Our average high year-round is in the 80's. From early May until October, we deal with 90's and 80% humidity. So basically, anything below 70 is considered "chilly" and anything below 60 is considered "cold." Take what you consider chilly and cold and compare that to Alaska's summer high averages: 50's-70's. Note that when you're in higher elevations or near glaciers, temperatures can be a lot colder than that.

Step 2: Understand that the weather in Alaska in the summer is unpredictable
Alaska's weather turned out to be pretty similar to Florida's, in that the temperature can vary widely throughout the day. The best way to think is to think layers, which is how we dress in FL in the wintertime anyway. Amongst snow-topped mountains, if it was sunny, I was peeling my jacket off. Once the sun was covered by a cloud, I was rushing to put my jacket back on. Also, rain is a constant in Alaska. You need footwear that can handle being at least rained on, with good non-slip soles; a jacket that is resistant to water and wind is also a must. The only time I wish I had boots was in Ketchikan, which was non-stop rain the whole day. Also, recently Alaska saw some really hot temps in some areas. I would not count on them. Use the 10 day forecast on weather.com as a guideline and pack from there.

Step 3: You're still going to need warm clothes
The number of warm clothes goes with step 1, but I was floored by the number of children who were visibly and audibly cold (freezing) because they were dressed for a summer picnic. Yes it's summer, but you are a lot closer to the Arctic Circle in Alaska than you are at home. Expect that you should at least pack a pair of pants and a jacket for your child. I saw one preteen wearing a short skirt, sandals, and a t-shirt loudly protesting to her mother how cold she was and that she didn't want to eat outside. The mother made no comment on how she should have been dressed more appropriately. I mean, the mother was wearing jeans and a fleece pullover! Are you willing to have your child catch a chill just to prove a point to your offspring that hey, I shouldn't have let you pack clothes that are more appropriate for summer camp in Texas? I saw tons more kids dressed in shorts and shirts (little kids, mind you) that were visibly shivering as they moved about on decks.

With that in mind, we come to my packing list. Now, I was more in favor of traveling light and since we're talking layers, there were likely to be pieces of clothing that no one would ever see because I would be wearing pullovers and jackets. I also recommend investing in the travel Space Saver bags; they fit up to several shirts and at least 4 sweaters and you roll out the air. Look in your local Ross stores--they always had them and were half the price than anywhere else. My mother, on the other hand, insisted she have at least 2 changes of clothes per day, including pants. That was a TON of weight (pants) that could've been avoided had she accepted that it's OK to wear the same pairs of pants a few times depending on how clean you keep them. So, here was my suitcase as a single female adult:
  1. 4 t-shirts (room to buy more t-shirts as souvenirs
  2. 4 solid color long-sleeve shirts to layer underneath and create new "looks" with different combos
  3. 3 pairs of dark-colored jeans
  4. 4 PJ sets
  5. 1 fleece pullover (I wish I had at least 1 more for variety)
  6. 1 medium-weight weather-resistant jacket (invest in a good quality one, even if you don't expect to wear it a lot after the trip)
  7. 1 formal night dress
  8. 1 semi-formal outfit
  9. 1 Palo brunch appropriate outfit
  10. 1 pair of casual sweatpants (to wear around the ship)
  11. 1 swim suit (just in case; I never did use it)
  12. 4 pairs of shoes (Sperry Topsiders for casual wear, weather-proof slip-on shoes, and 2 formal shoes)
  13. 3 lightweight sweatshirts
  14. 1 pair of gloves, knit hat, and 3 different scarves
  15. Lots of socks
  16. 1 Sweater to wear to dinner and formal nights

Now, there are a lot of tips on "bring these things" for just cruises in general, like power strips, over-the-door hangers, night lights, air freshener, etc. Frankly, none of these are necessary. There were plenty of places to store all of our stuff, and trust me, my Dad has to bring a TON of stuff due to his medications and medical equipment. Now, I can see if a family of 4, each with their own camera, would fight over the few electrical sockets to charge batteries. Even with 4 (yes 4) cameras, we didn't have this problem. But we aren't a very electro-demanding family. No need for a night light, no need for air freshener. Really the only tip I found great was to bring our own drink mugs. I brought a WDW one I wouldn't have been too torn up about losing and it was great to fill up at night and bring back to the room. Also! Bug spray! I brought a travel sized bottle, but we forgot to bring it with us on our excursions. At one point, trapped in a thick net of flying bugs, I panicked that they were mosquitoes. Turned out they were gnats, so no bug spray necessary. Unless you're going into the woods.

Lastly, invest in binoculars. Trust me.

Now, back to the trip! I wake up to this:


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (329) by orcapotter, on Flickr
The ship that was in port with us; this would be the last time I see it.

It was around 6 AM, and I oogled for a while alone while my parents slept. We tend to always book room service to deliver coffee, juice, and pastries around 7 AM. It was very hard to sleep in on this cruise, not because it got light so early, but because there was so much to see you didn't want to sleep through it all. I think this was also the morning I saw a pod of Dall's Porpoises right outside our verandah; I was up staring for a while.

After room service, we got dressed and headed up to Beach Blanket for breakfast. Now, the buffet on the Wonder is really the only major thing about this ship that I really didn't like at all. Julie, our assistant server, was handing out trays and she kept calling out my name and it took me a while to realize who was doing it. She was such a sweetheart, but it didn't diminish the madhouse this buffet was compared to Cabana's. It took forever to go down the buffet line, and I felt really rushed through it, too. Again, not nearly as much to choose from, either. Then seating! Half of the seating is outside, which is fine in the Caribbean, but not so great in gray, cold Alaska. There wasn't a single table indoors; 2 people would take up tables for 8. Even at its busiest, we never had a problem getting a table in Cabana's. So we ended up outside, and shivered our way through breakfast, which was ice cold by the time we made it to the table.

But hey, there was allegedly a whale out there! See?


Well, there was.

After breakfast, we walked around for a bit. Got some hot cocoa (which was amazing BTW, we had it all the time) and stared at the insane children swimming in the Mickey pool.


I forgot to mention, as we walked the length of the ship, that I had made an appointment at the spa (for the first time) to have the fire & mani-pedi done. I wanted it for this day, but they were booked, and the latest I could get it was 9 AM on Tracy Arm day. We peeked at the spa again, and then heard the cruise director come on the loudspeaker to announce the naturalist presentation on bears.

Only with his South African accent, bears was said like, "BAARES." It was like listening to chocolate. For the rest of the cruise, and even today, you can't say bears without saying BAARES.

But first was an animation class in Animator's Palate on how to draw Mickey. We decided to check it out and it was nice, there were only several families and it was easy to see. It was quick, but not as quick as when you do it at the parks and they rush you through. I was so tickled that even my father tried to do it:


I'll mention that it was really super foggy out that day; we were close to land but you couldn't see it at all, the fog was so thick. Coupled with the moisture, it was really really chilly. So I was wearing all my layers, including a weather-resistant medium-weight jacket my mother bought my for Christmas that had been on sale at JC Pennys. It's an off-brand, and I wore it once to Animal Kingdom back in February when it was crazy cold and it did fine.

Well, after the class, I go to put my jacket back on, only to realize that the zipper was completely broken off and the zipper track was torn. For the rest of the day I struggled with it, managing after some time to get the zipper back on the track, but it was clear this was a problem--and it was only the first day!

So we went into the shops. They had a super nice light-weight and fleece-lined jacket with the embroidered 2013 Alaska cruise season embroidered on it, but it was $60. For now, my zipper was working, so I passed it up. But I did do a blitz and picked up an Alaska t-shirt, Alaska scrapbook set, orca Vinylmation, Alaska season magnet, Alaska season tote bag, Alaska season hat for Dad, and a few other things. I walked across to Mickey Mates to get the only 2 Alaska pins.

Then it was time for BAARES, and we headed to the WD Theatre. The naturalist was great and and some really interesting stories about working as a park ranger, but my parents slept through a lot of it. A dark room, cozy seats, and a soothing voice I guess would do it--especially when our days have been early to rise and late to bed and go go go.

From there, it was trivia time. Disney Tunes Trivia was in the Promenade Lounge, but I was a few minutes too late and all the answer sheets were taken. I was so mad, because I would have gotten all but 1 question right. The place was packed and we had to fight for a seat. When it was over, it was time for a general trivia game, and a lot of people left so we were able to get more comfortable. It was fun, but we didn't get close to winning this time.


Do you see that guy? He was part of the entertainment crew and I feel bad I can't remember his name. We met him on the 1st day and he committed us to his memory, along with our names. Every time he saw us, he greeted us by name and asked us how we were doing.

We had lunch today back in Parrot Cay. I don't think we originally set out to eat lunch again here, but it's a heck of a lot better than fighting in Beach Blanket. Lunch today had an Italian theme, so they had an antipasta bar and some really unique Italian dishes. It was very, very good.

Time to check the weather:


We went to hang out in the room for a while and the weather began to lift a bit. Enough to see this right in front of us:


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (356) by orcapotter, on Flickr
Humpback whale ahoy!


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (358) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (362) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (365) by orcapotter, on Flickr
For most of the cruise, you're at least this close to land at all times.


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (369) by orcapotter, on Flickr

Then it was time to get ready for dinner. It was formal night with the Golden Mickeys menu, and we were in Triton's. Our table was wedged in a corner directly next to the entrance, so it felt like we were blocked from taking in the ambiance a bit. The family reunion spent most of their dinners taking photos of everyone. I remember little of what I ate, but I avoided things I suspected would upset my stomach. Without fail, the past 2 cruises I've fallen really ill with stomach indigestion due to the rich food. I took precautions at dinner this time with medication and wise choices.

Wait! Found the menu listing--I remember now. I had:
- Crispy ravioli (I liked it)
- Salad of mixed baby greens (I liked it)
- Oven roasted tom turkey breast (I liked it but I prefer our own Thanksgiving meal; I do not like cornbread dressing and that was what was served with it.)
- Creme brulee (always awesome)


We wanted to get some professional photos done. The areas set up for them around the lobby area was cramped compared to the Dream, but hey--smaller ship. Lines were everywhere, but they seemed to move at a good pace. As I mentioned before, there were a lot of huge families on this cruise. Many, if not most of them, were different ethnicities. These huge groups seemed to be everywhere and they wanted photos of everyone in every possible combination. This took a while; we used up most of the time between dinner and the show getting 2 sets done.

While we waited, check out this neat map of Alaska posted by the Port Adventures desk:


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (377) by orcapotter, on Flickr


2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (379) by orcapotter, on Flickr
I loved this chandelier so much more than the Dream's


alaska cruise0010 by orcapotter, on Flickr


alaska cruise0008 by orcapotter, on Flickr

Then off to the show. We have seen the Golden Mickeys 3 times now. I enjoy it, and appreciated that a few scenes/numbers were different. The Wonder's theatre doesn't have all the bells and whistles as the Dream, but unless you think about it, you can't really tell. I noticed their characters did not have the new animated faces--which surprised me a little. But still, always a cute show.

Mom went up to the room right after, while I had Dad wait with me to get photos with formal Mickey and Pluto. Character lines did not seem any shorter on the Wonder than the Dream; maybe only slightly? But they moved relatively quickly--the handlers did a good job of moving people along.


Then it was off to Wavebands to see the adult show of the hypnotist. Our entertainment crew friend saw me searching for seats in there (it was a packed house) and found Dad and I a place to sit. Both of us were pretty skeptical of a hypnotist, but I was pretty convinced by the end of the show. The guy spent time eliminating folks who clearly were not able to "go under" and the 4 or 5 left who did were hilarious. After the show, it was definitely time for bed.

Next, Tracy Arm!

Last edited by OrcaPotter; 07-07-2013 at 11:57 PM.
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Old 06-23-2013, 05:47 PM   #63
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More! More! This Floridian leaves on Saturday (afternoon flight) but sails on 7/8. Love your details!!!!
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Old 06-23-2013, 06:10 PM   #64
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thanks for sharing your packing list and advice on weather!
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Old 06-23-2013, 09:13 PM   #65
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Still here, still enjoying and thank you once again for sharing your trip and your experience.
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Old 06-23-2013, 10:48 PM   #66
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Thanks for the great report! I am going on an Inside Passage through HAL in September and am just looking for as many trip reports, no matter what line, as possible!
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Old 06-24-2013, 12:29 PM   #67
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Enjoying your report
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:33 PM   #68
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Thank you for sharing your experience with us. because of the new TRs around (your especially as we'll be an adult only group) i just went and booked us on the first Alaskan cruise for next year.

Thanks
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:59 PM   #69
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Thank you, thank you!

We leave in less than 4 weeks for our Alaskan cruise. I am preparing emergency info for the few local family members not going with us. Can you tell me if your cell phones were able to connect to a VERIZON cell tower (not the ship's ATT service) while you are cruising up the Inside Passage?

Also, I really enjoyed the muesli on the Dream for breakfast and all the dried fruit toppings. Did you see that at the Beach Blanket or should we plan to eat breakfast at Parrot Cay for more variety?
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Old 06-24-2013, 03:18 PM   #70
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Love the trip report. Especially what to wear. I only take issue that you may not have a teenage girl at home. I applaud the mom who made her daughter sit outside in her Caribbean clothes. My kids are swearing they will be fine and do not need any more than a sweatshirt for the whole trip. I probably will make sure they have something warmer but I totally understand the mom who let the stubborn kid wear what she wanted!! I am sick of arguing with them about it and having to shop on my own because neither kid wants to go shopping for a rain/weather jacket and laugh at me when I say they need to bring jeans.

Just curious why you had 4 sets of pjs? Were they different types. Did you want warm jammies or were the rooms comfortable and you could get away with lighter pjs?

Thanks!
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Old 06-24-2013, 03:37 PM   #71
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cmbar View Post
Love the trip report. Especially what to wear. I only take issue that you may not have a teenage girl at home. I applaud the mom who made her daughter sit outside in her Caribbean clothes. My kids are swearing they will be fine and do not need any more than a sweatshirt for the whole trip. I probably will make sure they have something warmer but I totally understand the mom who let the stubborn kid wear what she wanted!! I am sick of arguing with them about it and having to shop on my own because neither kid wants to go shopping for a rain/weather jacket and laugh at me when I say they need to bring jeans.
LOL...I thought the same thing! And I will ensure that I mention once, twice or a hundred times "I told you so. I told you so!" It's one of the joys of parenting
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Old 06-24-2013, 03:42 PM   #72
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LOL...I thought the same thing! And I will ensure that I mention once, twice or a hundred times "I told you so. I told you so!" It's one of the joys of parenting
Oh yeah I am ready with the "I TOLD YOU so" too!!!! Granted if we have the heat wave most of Alaska is having when we are there I am sure I will get plenty of "I told you so looks" , IE: the eye rolls as if we are the stupidest people on the planet! Oh the joy of parenting a teen!
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Old 06-24-2013, 04:42 PM   #73
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Still enjoying your TR and counting down the days until we set sail.
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Old 06-24-2013, 05:09 PM   #74
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Thank you for posting this trip report, really enjoying it.
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Old 06-25-2013, 01:49 AM   #75
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Thank you for the packing list. I have to totally agree with your assestment of what is considered cold in FL. Although I pad it a few degrees and say 75 is cold and 70 is freezing
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