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Old 11-10-2013, 04:14 PM   #31
Ellester
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Thursday, September 5h

Our first port day dawned nice and overcast. But, clearing looked promising and we were all looking forward to our first footfall in Alaska!

Pulling into Skagway. Princess and Holland America beat us in!



The dock from our balcony.




We had put the card out to have breakfast delivered to the room and we had an assortment of bagels, muffins, cereal, and fruit. I didnít specify two coffee cups so I had to call for an additional one. Breakfast worked out really well, the kids ate and watched TV while we got ready. We had to be in Wavebands at 7:30am for our Whitepass Rail and City Tour excursion. There were several excursions leaving at the same time and it was a bit confusing. We eventually figured out we needed to be in the huge group exiting the ship so got up and joined the crowd. My mom had a really hard time on the gangplank. It was lowtide and the gangplank was very steep. The rest of the excursion group plowed ahead and I was worried we would get left behind. Everyone else was already at the buses and we were only Ĺ way down the gangplank. People kept pushing past my mom which made her nervous of a fall, so she would stop and let everyone by. We eventually had to make a wall behind her so she could get to the dock! I ran ahead to let them know we were making our way as fast as we could. As a result, we had to split into two separate trolleys for the city part of the tour. My mom was NOT happy about that but they assured us that part of the tour was pretty short. My mom, Natalie and I were on one trolley and John and the big kids were on the other. The trolley driver was great, she gave us a thorough tour of what is not a very big town. The trolley part of the tour took about 20-25 minutes and I felt like it had covered Skagway in considerable detail.

On the trolley.




We then stopped at ďthe cleanest bathrooms in townĒ for a quick break and boarded a little bus for our ride up the mountain. The bus was very comfortable and our driver was very knowledgeable. We stopped several times for scenic overlooks and once backtracked to try to find a bear that John had glimpsed. He was gone by the time we turned around and got back to the spot. The clouds were still low, but the scenery was still breathtaking.

These are all from the bus portion of the tour.



Andrew and Mom stayed near the bus for this one.







It was really "otherworldly" up here with the low clouds and the rocky landscape. The lake is half blue and half green due to a current. It's hard to see in the picture, but it was exceedingly cool.




The drive up to the top of the mountain took about an hour. We got to the train station at the top just after the train arrived. Since we had crossed back into Canada, a Canadian Customs agent had to clear the bus. The agent came aboard and we all held our passports up to our faces. Apparently we were all close enough to our pictures and we were able to get off the bus and make a pit stop at the bathrooms and stamp our passports. I was glad we were able to get to the bathrooms before the train was unloaded because that line got long in a hurry!

Across from the train station.




We boarded the train and there were only a few people on our car. We had plenty of room to stretch out and move around. There were cases of water in the back of the car which we all happily partook of.

Yay for Costco water!!!




There was a small heat stove in the front of the car, but it wasnít on which was fine. It was very comfortable in the car. The route down was simply gorgeous! There was some narration in the car which explained what we were passing and giving a heads up for anything interesting coming up ahead. Anabelle spent most of the trip out on the back platform where you canít hear the narration. Natalie and I spent some time out there as well. When I heard that something interesting was coming up from the narrator, I would go tell Anabelle so she would be ready with her camera. She got some fabulous shots!







Not very reassuring train wreckage.






A Whitepass rep came through the cars offering DVDís and hats for sale. They were all reduced since they were dated 2103. We got Andrew a hat for $5.


Andrew's stylish new hat. You can see how empty our car was.



The Photog




The trip down lasted about 1 Ĺ hours, we were back in town and off the train by noon. We headed back to the ship and had lunch at Tritonís. My mom and I had the Cobb Salad, which was very good and just the right amount and the apple strudel for dessert which was not so great. John and the girls had the seared tilapia with cheese grits and they all absolutely raved about it. Andrew had his standby of a bacon cheeseburger.

Cheesing it up with Ariel.



It looks like Anabelle's head on Ariel's body!





We went back to the room for a few minutes to freshen up and noticed something swimming in the harbor. Binoculars confirmed that there were seals feasting on salmon and playing around. On our way back into Skagway, we stopped to watch the seals for a while. There were at least 4 or 5 of them entertaining all of us with their antics. All the wildlife was definitely a highlight of the trip!

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Old 11-10-2013, 04:27 PM   #32
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Tuesday continues:

After lunch we headed back into town, taking a few minutes to admire the seals! We walked the main street of Skagway to do some shopping. Our bus guide had invited Andrew to come skateboard with his kids after school at the new skatepark, he offered to lend Andrew a skateboard! Andrew was a little shy, so we didnít do it but we thought it was a really nice gesture! We browsed the shops, the girls bought a few things and we got Natalie a little stuffed orca she really wanted. Most places were having ďEnd of the SeasonĒ blowout sales. There were plenty of deals most everywhere. We were the last Disney ship but apparently there were a few more lines still sailing the following two weeks, but things were definitely slowing down and the shops were trying to dump as much inventory as possible.

We stopped at the popcorn store and bought some to take to the movies on board. There was a little coffee shop on the other side of the store and the kids wanted some frozen treats. John and I were holding out for ice cream but when we got to the ice cream shop there was a big line and then we saw it wasnít homemade or anything, it was Dryers which is good but we can get the same stuff at home (the brand is Edyís here, but the same company) so we took a pass.








We wandered some more then met up with my mom who was moving at her own pace. She headed back to the Wonder and we headed to the creek to see the salmon.





On the way back to the ship we stopped to take some obligatory Skagway pictures and watch the seals for a few more minutes.

Gotta get the snowblower and handcart pictures! I think they might not let you out of town until you do!



I love these kids!





Natalie had somehow hit her head on this Indian and was loudly complaining how he had "stabbed" her!





Anabelle was anxious to get back on board for Smoothie Hour in the Vibe so she headed that way. John rested in the room for a little while with Andrew while Rebecca, Natalie, and I delivered some more recipes (I believe I made a quick run by the Promenade Lounge for a beverage during our deliveries!).

Andrew's bed was now sporting "Cars" sheets!



Natalie spotted Belle in the Atrium so we stopped for a quick visit. Natalie was impressed she was in her ballgown and not the blue dress she wore to storytime in the Oceaneers Club!




It was time for dinner, which was conveniently in Tritonís tonight.

I am not so sure bottomless soda is such a great idea......




About this time they came over the intercom to say that they were having problems with the screen in the WD Theater and that while they were working on it, they were going to have to cancel the first showing of Planes that evening. I was planning on taking Natalie to see Planes at 8:15 since everyone else was planning on going to see The Lone Ranger in the BV theater at 8 and I knew that wasnít a good choice for Natalie. So after dinner, we hung out in the room for a bit and took a last look at Skagway. John, the older kids, and my mom took their popcorn and headed to the BV Theater. They announced that the screen was fixed and the 8:15 showing of Planes would be on time. Natalie and I headed up to deck 9 to get some soda to go with our popcorn and headed to the WD Theater. Natalie was super tired and zonked out about 20 minutes into the movie. I was not impressed with what I had seen so far so I roused her enough to see if she wanted to go back to the room to sleep and she did. So we headed back to the room and I got her settled into bed watching a movie on TV. I ran down the hall to do a bit more laundry and enjoyed just relaxing in the room. John and Andrew made it back and reported that everyone seemed to enjoy their movie. My mom had come back to the room early, she didnít really like the movie and said the seating was too tight for her to get comfortable.The big girls were headed to their clubs and our room settled in for a good nightís sleep. We had an appointment with whales in the morning!!

So long Skagway!!!

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Old 11-10-2013, 06:07 PM   #33
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awesome report so far, you're a good writer! Can't wait to read more.
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Old 12-06-2013, 02:41 PM   #34
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Still enjoying and anxious for more when you get the chance.
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Old 12-08-2013, 03:58 PM   #35
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Great read so far! I'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of your cruise
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Old 12-09-2013, 02:15 PM   #36
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May i follow too? We are considering a 2015 Alaska cruise with our three girls. I am loving your report!!
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Old 12-12-2013, 07:33 PM   #37
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I'm loving the trip report. We are heading to Alaska next August. I'm glad to hear that the Delta Vancouver Suites worked out for you. We have that booked right now because the Pan Pacific is $500 a night (I really wanted to stay at Pan but just can't swing that price for two nights).
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Old 12-12-2013, 11:36 PM   #38
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Definitely subbing! This is so building my excitement for my June 2014 Alaskan cruise I just booked!
I can't wait to read more!
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Old 12-13-2013, 07:01 AM   #39
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I'm really enjoying your trip report! My fiance and I are taking the same cruise next July for our honeymoon, so I'm reading all the reports I can find. Looking forward to more!
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:57 PM   #40
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What a fun TR! I LOVE the pic of your kids on the handcart- they are hilarious!
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:58 PM   #41
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I like your reports! Thank you for sharing~ Your daughters are lovely!
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:00 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by disprincess4ever View Post
awesome report so far, you're a good writer! Can't wait to read more.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RweTHEREyet View Post
Still enjoying and anxious for more when you get the chance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by peachygreen View Post
Great read so far! I'm looking forward to hearing about the rest of your cruise
Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyjinx3 View Post
May i follow too? We are considering a 2015 Alaska cruise with our three girls. I am loving your report!!
Thanks so much! I'm sorry there has been such a big break between posts. That doggone reality intruding on my DIS time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by jetskigrl View Post
I'm loving the trip report. We are heading to Alaska next August. I'm glad to hear that the Delta Vancouver Suites worked out for you. We have that booked right now because the Pan Pacific is $500 a night (I really wanted to stay at Pan but just can't swing that price for two nights).
I totally understand! We were very happy with the Delta, but the Pan would have been fabulous! Keep looking at Priceline, it was on for our dates at a much more reasonable price than $500 a night. We weren't 100% that my mom was going to be able to make the trip so I was afraid to book a nonrefundable room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KnightRail View Post
Definitely subbing! This is so building my excitement for my June 2014 Alaskan cruise I just booked!
I can't wait to read more!
Yay! You will LOVE it! So, so amazing!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nancipants View Post
I'm really enjoying your trip report! My fiance and I are taking the same cruise next July for our honeymoon, so I'm reading all the reports I can find. Looking forward to more!
Congratulations! What a great honeymoon!

Quote:
Originally Posted by podsnel View Post
What a fun TR! I LOVE the pic of your kids on the handcart- they are hilarious!
They keep us on our toes, that's for sure. I gave my mom a photobook of the trip for Christmas and while looking at it my 15yo said the trip was "the best week and a half of my life!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by donaldjessie View Post
I like your reports! Thank you for sharing~ Your daughters are lovely!
Thank you! They are growing so fast, it's hard to watch sometimes.

Thanks to everyone who is following along! I have the rest of the report written, I just have to get the pictures and post together. So without further ado, on with the report!!!
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:25 PM   #43
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Friday, September 6th
We put the breakfast card on the door again the night before and our breakfast was delivered right in the requested window of time. I made sure we had a bunch of ones so we could tip room service (thanks DIS boards!).



You can see in this one that the steward had put Princess sheets on Natalie's bunk (and the girls' bunks in the other room) and Cars sheets on Andrew's bunk. I had asked him about it so I don't know if he would have done it without prompting or not. I knew they did the Princess sheets but the Cars sheets were a surprise!




We disembarked shortly after the all clear and jumped on a shuttle to take us into Juneau right after 8:00am. It was only about a 5 minute drive to the drop off area. I saw some people walking back later in the day. It would be doable, but not a very exciting looking walk! One of Anabelleís friends from the Vibe was on the bus with his family and we chatted with them during the short drive. They were head off to zip line and we were headed on a whale watching adventure! I looked at several whale watching options during the planning phase of the trip. Harv & Marv had great reviews, but we would have to charter the bigger boat since we were a party of 7 and the max number of guests on their little boats is 6. I didnít want to do the DCL trip mostly because of Andrew and Rebecca being ďDisney AdultsĒ for pricing. I ended up booking with Orca Enterprises. They had good pricing and good reviews on the DIS and on Tripadvisor. We ended up paying about $175 less than we would have for the DCL excursion. Their storefront office was right across the street from the shuttle drop off. Pretty much right under the Mt. Roberts Tramway cable! We checked in and grabbed some coffee from a kiosk right outside the office while we waited for our bus to arrive. There were probably about 20 people on the bus with us. It was a 15-20 minute ride to Auke Bay and the marina.

Andrew loved that the marina was named after him!



It was low tide when we left, lots of interesting things under the dock. This looks like a pair of glasses, but whatever it was was at least 5 feet across!




Their boat holds like 75 people, which would be very uncomfortable! We had plenty of room to move around and see from inside the boat, from out on the open back platform, and from the roof top viewing area. There were a few eagles right at the marina!



There was a primitive bathroom on the boat which I had the priveledge of visiting a few times with Natalie. It was a slight step up from a porta-potty but I was glad it was there!

During our 3 hour tour (3 hour tourÖ..) we saw so many humpbacks! We didnít see any orcas or any whales breaching, but we saw plenty of backs and tails! It was so amazing! At one point it was literally like whale soup. I was up on top of the boat and there were whales in every direction! There were several other boats in the area, they obviously all go to the same area so you probably canít go wrong with any of the tour providers. We even spotted an endangered sea lion hunting near the whales! One of the DVC reps from the ship was on the excursion with us and gave us pins since we were wearing our DVC bling out in public!

I have about 150 whale pictures, I won't post them all. Remember when there were either 12 or 24 exposures on a roll of film? I would have needed 40 rolls of film for this vacation! Thank goodness for digital cameras!



Heading to the top viewing deck. Natalie wasn't officially allowed up there, but they did let me take her up there since she seemed to be well behaved and REALLY wanted to go.



I will continue in another post since the computer already dumped this post once!
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Old 12-27-2013, 08:57 PM   #44
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My favorite whale picture of the day! Each whale has a unique pattern on the fluke (tail). The guides knew each whale we saw by name. They had a photo album with pictures of all the known whales, it was really interesting! Spot was our favorite.



There are actually two whales in this one, a mom and a baby.



This is the sealion.



This one also has two whales and you can see how close they got to the boat.



After a good long while enjoying the whales, we moved on to a little island where we saw more seals and some eagles. Once we headed back towards the marina, they put out hot cocoa, coffee, Capri Suns, water, cheese, smoked salmon, and crackers.

Surprisingly good reception out on the water.



The kids fell on the spread like a pack of piranana! I think the Capri Suns were the most popular, it had been almost a week since they had seen a juice box or pouch!




Too soon we were back at the marina. But our adventures werenít over yet! When we checked in at the Orca Enterprises office that morning, they gave us the option of paying a little more and taking a side trip to the Mendenhall Glacier on the way back. I donít know how much it was, my mom handled all that part. We could have saved a little money I think by going back into town and taking the $8 shuttle, but that would have added another 40 minutes or so of bus time. So we got back on our same little bus and headed to the glacier. We got wristbands for the visitorsí center and explored that for a few minutes but we really wanted to spend some time outside since we only had a little over an hour before we were going to be picked back up. A couple of rangers were answering questions outside and had examples of glacier silt, different animal skins, and things like that for the kids (and adults) to explore.

Show your wristbands to get into the Visitors' Center!



The glacier really was impressive.





We walked down to the shore line so the girls could feel how cold the lake was. Very chilly!




Then we walked along the raised path over the creek where bears are usually spotted. We saw a gorgeous eagle, a porcupine sleeping in a tree, and lots of salmon and salmon bones but no bears. It was fairly warm and the ranger said that they hadnít seen many bears in the middle of the day over the past weeks, they donít like the warm weather.



The fuzzy thing in the middle is a porcupine sleeping in the tree. I didn't even know they could climb!



Evidence of bears!



It was time to meet the bus, so we headed back to the pick up area where my mom was waiting. She had wandered a bit on her own but wasnít up to trying any trails. The driver dropped us in the middle of the downtown area and offered to take my mom all the way back to the ship. He dropped us right where the Holland America ship was docked and we spent the next hour or so wandering through the shops, getting some ice cream and candy, and generally just enjoying meandering.

Apparently Holland America gets the premium parking spot in Juneau.



Our ship is relegated to the outskirts of town. Sorry Mickey.



I bought Anabelle a lens cleaning cloth for her camera since she really could have used one on our whale watching trip. The mist was wetting her lens and she didnít have anything she felt safe using to wipe it. We hopped on the Disney shuttle and arrived back at the ship around 3:30. It was Pixar Party time!!!
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Old 12-27-2013, 09:10 PM   #45
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We only had ice cream for lunch and our small breakfast in the room so we were bordering on starving! We headed up to deck 9 and enjoyed burgers and hot dogs from Plutos. Really hit the spot! We ran back to the room to change for the Pixar Party (the kids just had t-shirts, nothing fancy). The party was at 4:30 and about as I expected. It was chaotic, but the kids all enjoyed it.





Jammin' with the Sull-meister!






They did a good job with moving the characters around so everyone got a chance to dance with them. There were a few VERY enthusiastic parents who were trying to monopolize the characters, but the CM's did a great job of not letting it get out of hand.



Getting a bit crazy!



I knew there wasnít really time for autographs or one-on-one pictures so I just enjoyed watching the kids be silly Natalie decided it was getting too loud and crazy for her taste, so we headed back to the room to rest for a few minutes. Dinner tonight was back in Animatorís Palate with the Toy Story menu. John and I both thought that the meals got progressively better as the trip went on. Even though we had just eaten at Plutoís 90 minutes earlier, we managed to eat again. At first I was only going to have the appetizer (Emeryville Cocktail, very good), I decided to give the Trenette Pasta Frizzi a try, I really enjoyed it. I was too stuffed for dessert though, so I did skip that. We were all pretty exhausted, so we opted to skip the Toy Story show and headed back to the room to watch Aladin on TV. We didnít have an early excursion in the morning, but we did have our character breakfast at 8:00am coming up in the morning.

Pictures of our doors. A friend of mine printed and laminated the faces for us, she used cardstock and then magnet strips on the back. They worked great and did really help us find our rooms more easily! The Alaska magnet was given to us in the recipe exchange (we didn't do the FE but did really enjoy the recipe exchange!) and the little dry erase board was from Small World Travel.



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