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Old 06-04-2014, 12:58 AM   #1
It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!
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Our Wonderful “Whale of a Good Time” 9 Night Alaskan Cruise! – w/pics – Completed!

All I can say is WOW!

We just got home from our wonderful, fantastic, magnificent, unforgettable (I could go on and on with superlatives) 9 night Alaskan cruise! Hoping to start downloading the thousands of pictures I took tomorrow while doing laundry. In the meantime, I will start my trip report with my traditional back story.

Back Story:

Back in 2011 our cruise buddies (neighbors) cruised to Alaska on the Disney Wonder. We opted not to cruise with them at that time as DH, at the time, wanted to plan a more interior Alaskan experience. Well 2 years later, rumors started flying about Disney going to Sitka on a special 9 night cruise in the summer of 2014. We asked our neighbors if Alaska did Sitka, would they want to go back to Alaska. Of course, they said yes, and our trip was planned. We both booked on the first day that the Summer 2014 itineraries came out. The dates of the cruise worked perfectly with our DD’s school schedule. Our DD was promoted from 8th grade in May and the cruise was set for 3 days later. What a perfect gradation gift! Soon afterwards, our neighbor started recruiting their family. We had sailed previously with her parents and cousin from Georgia. This year, they also recruited our neighbor’s husband’s step-sister for her first ever cruise. We had a total of 11 people all linked together. Thus, our Alaskan adventure begins.

Cast of Characters:

ME: Fan of everything Disney and avid travel planner.
DH: My wonderful husband who indulges all of my Disney dreams.
DD: Our 13 year old daughter who just graduated from the 8th grade.

Our neighbors with whom we share an affinity for Disney with and travel often.
DNC – Bosom buddy, walking partner and all around partner in conspiracy.
DNJ – DNC’s husband and all around good egg.
DNDDC – Just graduated from college and headed to grad school in August.
DNDDM – Huge Peter Pan fan.

DParents: LE and DE: Our neighbor’s parents, 2nd time Disney cruisers.
DCousinC: LE’s cousin from Georgia. 2nd Disney cruise.
DSisterJ: DNJ’s step-sister. 1st cruise ever!

Our Plan:

Since DD didn’t get out of school until May 21st, we decided to fly to Vancouver on Thursday, May 22nd. Our neighbors planned to leave for Vancouver on May 17th and spend a few days in Victoria and Vancouver before the cruise. I just couldn’t take DD out of school early for her last year of middle school. She had an 8th grade fun day at Big Surf, dance, recognition ceremony and promotion ceremony to attend. I didn’t want her to miss any of it. Thus our itinerary was set.

Thursday – May 22, 2014 – Vancouver
Friday, May 23, 2014 – Vancouver
Stanley Park & Vancouver continued
Saturday, May 24, 2014 – Vancouver – Getting on Disney Wonder
Sunday, May 25, 2014 – Sea Day
Monday, May 26, 2014 – Sea Day
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 – Sitka

Wildlife Tour continued
Sitka Historic Park & Raptor Center
Sitka Historic Park & Raptor Center continued
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 – Tracy Arm
More Whales
Ice, Ice Baby!
Tracy Arm continued
Thursday, May 29, 2014 – Skagway
White Pass Railroad
Yukon continued
Skagway continued
Friday, May 30, 2014 – Juneau
Whale watching
Mendenhall Glacier
Juneau continued
Saturday, May 31, 2014 – Ketchikan
Zip lining Adventure
Bering Sea Fishermen's Tour
Ketchikan continued
Sunday, June 1, 2014 – Sea Day
Monday, June 2, 2014 – Vancouver
Capilano Suspension Bridge
Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain continued
Vancouver continued
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 – Return home
Final Thoughts

Next: Our adventure begins!

Last edited by disneyfaninaz; 07-17-2014 at 01:30 AM. Reason: Updated
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Old 06-04-2014, 02:27 AM   #2
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Tell me more tell me more!
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Old 06-05-2014, 12:36 AM   #3
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Our Adventure Begins

Thursday, May 22, 2014

After 15 months of planning, researching DIS trip reports, Trip Advisor and other websites, booking plane tickets, hotel reservations and port excursions, we are finally leaving on our Alaskan adventure. Some say that the anticipation is more fun than the actual event. In this case, I am happy to say was not. The trip actually lived up to the anticipation. Anyway, I digress.

This was the design of the T-Shirt I designed for DD to wear today:


Back: (I found the background on Google)

On Thursday morning, we made sure all of our stuff was packed, our bags did not weigh over 50 pounds, and our carry-ons had no liquids in them. DParents and DCousinC were also traveling on the 22nd. Since we all had the same direct flight on US Airways to Vancouver, I organized Supershuttle to pick us all up from our house. DParents drove to our neighbor’s house and left their car there. We scheduled pick up for 7:20 am since it was a weekday and we would have rush hour to deal with. Anyway, I got a call from our driver, Russell, at about 7:00 asking if he could come early. We said sure. While my DH was loading our luggage into our van, all the others showed up and their luggage was loaded as well. About 7:30 AM our merry group of adventurers was off to the airport to catch our flight. Of course, traffic wasn’t as bad as I had anticipated and we made it to Sky Harbor Airport with lots of time to spare.

I’m glad we arrived early as there was a huge line at the US Airways counter to check our bags. We waited about 30 minutes in line. We had our passports checked and the headed off to security expecting an even bigger line. Surprisingly, however, there was really no line at all and we zipped right through. My DD was excited because her boarding pass said “TSA Precheck” on it, which meant that she got to go through the express lane and didn’t have to take off her shoes or go through the x-ray device. As a diabetic, she has always been nervous about going through security with her pump, ever since TSA made her cry the first time. Anyway, she was very happy and DParents and DCousinC also had pre check approval. DH and I went through the normal line with no issues.

After we found our gate, which happened to be the first gate after passing through security, DD and I went to find something to eat. We had to go through another concourse to find something, but it was delicious. When we returned to our seat, I noticed that people were going up to the gate attendant’s desk. I had thought we were all checked in, but I guess we had to show our passports and get our boarding passes stamped. We jumped in line before the general announcement and got it done with early. We had a full plane so they were asking passengers with wheeled carry-ons to gate check them. Boarding was early and we had plenty of space for our carry-ons. We were finally off to Canada.

The flight was a little over 2 and a half hours. We got to see Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helen’s from the plane. We were given a Canadian immigration form to fill out on the plane. We landed to cloudy skies and about 55 degrees. Once we got off the plane, we were corralled towards immigration where we waited in line for about 15 minutes. Once we answered the standard questions about where we were from, why we were visiting Canada, how long were we going to stay, etc., we got our passport stamped (I was so excited to finally get a stamp in my passport). We then went to the carousel to get our luggage. We all needed a potty break by then so took one. Upon leaving the baggage area, we were asked to give up our immigration form and we were off. I had done some research about transportation from the airport to our hotel and discovered the Aerocar Service provided vans at curbside without making reservations. I figured that was the way to go. Again, we followed the signs to ground transportation and Aerocar had a podium right at the end of the crosswalk. I asked if they had a van to take 6 people and about 10 pieces of luggage to the Pan Pacific. Well, as it turned out, they didn’t have a van, but they did have a stretch limo all for just $61. Score! DD had never been in a limo, but we were going to arrive in style. The funny thing was, all of our luggage didn’t fit so a piece was placed in the passenger seat up front and the trunk was tied down to hold the rest of the luggage in. I kept my eye on the rear window to make sure our bags didn’t go flying out. Anyway, about 30 minutes later we arrived at the Pan Pacific.

Our luggage was taken by bell hops, we snapped a few pictures and went to check in. This hotel was gorgeous. We were assigned a Deluxe City View Room on the 15th floor. It was a very nice spacious room with a sofa and chairs besides the 2 double beds. It had a huge TV, but we didn’t watch much.

Our view:

It was now about 3;00 PM. Our first mission after checking out our room was getting something to eat. At this point, we didn’t want to spend a lot of time trying to find a unique restaurant, we just wanted sustenance. Fortunately, there was a food court directly across the street from the Pan. It had a McDonalds, so off we went. Now, we don’t normally eat at McDonalds, but we were desperate. After filling our stomachs, we headed back to Canada Place and started walking along the Canada Trail. It’s a walk alongside the ship terminal and depicts the history and culture of Canada.

It was interesting, but I was more interested in the views. One of my goals was to get a picture of the Olympic Cauldron from the 2010 games.
So we started walking along the sea wall. It is interesting to note that Vancouver is very pedestrian friendly and even more so bike friendly. As you walk along the sea wall you will notice signs that point to a bike path and a pedestrian path. Don’t walk in the bike path. This took some getting used to.

At some point I had texted our DNs to let them know that we had arrived and checked in. They texted back that they were at Granville Island and would be at the hotel in an hour. After we walked around awhile we headed back to the Pan Pacific to see what the others were up to. We found them in the bar. Since people under 21 are not allowed in bars in Canada, we got seated in the bistro next door. We ordered some drinks and enjoyed the view. A little later our neighbors showed up, touched base with DParents and DCousin and then sat and joined us for a drink. We decided (the 7 of us) to eat at the The Cactus Club for dinner.

We didn’t make reservations and they were packed, so we had to wait about 30 minutes. We were seated in a semicircular booth with a great view towards Stanley Park. The food was great. I had a Caesar salad with grilled chicken. I ordered iced tea, but didn’t realize that in Vancouver, all iced tea comes presweetened. I think it was Nestea and not brewed, so I avoided tea while in Vancouver. One thing to note about purchasing anything in Vancouver with credit, the servers, clerks, etc. never take your card. You swipe it on a little hand held scanner and enter tips directly into it, by either percentage or dollar amount. It then prints out your receipts for signature. Your card never leaves your hands or sight.

After dinner DNC, DNDDC and I went to a small convenience store to get juice boxes for my DD for the cruise. It started sprinkling and DD and DNDDC went swimming for a little bit. The water was heated, but it was too cold for us.

Next: Stanley Park

Last edited by disneyfaninaz; 06-10-2014 at 11:55 PM. Reason: added photo
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Old 06-05-2014, 08:32 AM   #4
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Hotel looks beautiful! I also want to be sure to see the Olympic cauldron. Was it hard to find?
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Old 06-05-2014, 09:03 AM   #5
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Love the trip report, and reliving our August 2013 cruise!

March 1987 - Offsite - Senior Class Trip
October 1999 - All Star Sports
December 2000 - Caribbean Beach
August 2001 - All Star Sports
November/December 2001 - Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL) / All Star Movies
August 2002 - AKL / Wilderness Lodge Villas
March 2003 - All Star Music
July 2003 - Old Key West
July 2003 - Swan
August 2004 - Beach Club Villas
March 2005 - Pop Century
July 2005 - Disney Wonder (3 Day) / Wilderness Lodge
August 2006 - Disney Magic (Eastern)
October 2006 - Wilderness Lodge Villas
August 2007 - Saratoga Springs
August 2008 - Topnotch (Stowe, VT)
August 2009 - Disney Magic (Western)
August 2011 - Saratoga Springs
November 2011 - Animal Kingdom Lodge 3 BR Villa
July 2012 - Bay Lake Tower
August 2013 - Disney Wonder (Alaska)
August 2014 - Animal Kingdom Lodge 2 BR Villa
August 2015 - Bay Lake Tower 2 BR Villa
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Old 06-05-2014, 10:34 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by kyirish25 View Post
Hotel looks beautiful! I also want to be sure to see the Olympic cauldron. Was it hard to find?
Not at all, next to Canada Place is the old broadcast building used for the Olympics, it is now a convention center. To the other side of the building is the cauldron. Very easy walking from the hotel.
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:18 AM   #7
It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!
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One of the more unique things I noticed about the Pan, is that there is a small carpet in the elevators that gets changed daily.

We are so easily amused!

They also had beautiful fresh flower bouquets.

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Old 06-05-2014, 11:37 AM   #8

Ignorance is definitely bliss sometimes!
Ok...lets shake things up a bit
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I'm already loving your trip report!! We will be walking in your footsteps in August

I'm glad to see that it was so easy to get transportation from the airport to the Pan Pacific. I think we will do the same (including the limo). I was going to pre-book it but it is nice to see that we don't need to.

I can't wait to read more
Me DH DD(16) DS(11)
DL: as often as possible, WDW: August 2010 (10 nights - Poly)
DCL: Wonder - January 2011, Dream - B2B April 2011, Wonder - April 2012 (MR), Wonder - Sept 2012 (Pixar Pacific Coast), Fantasy - June 2013 (Eastern), Wonder - May 2014 (Cruise to Nowhere), Wonder - August 2014 (Alaska)

Next Up:
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:40 AM   #9
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Subbing in....can't wait to hear more, especially if whales are involved.
Many visits in 1994, 1995 - offsite

Sept 2010 - CBR

March 2014 - POR

Next trip....Hoping for a few days in Feb. 2015 and planning birthday trip Dec 2015. And hopefully one sooner.

Setting goal to run the Princess Half Marathon, 2016.
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Old 06-05-2014, 01:05 PM   #10
It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!
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Originally Posted by twentytoez View Post
Tell me more tell me more!
Welcome! Stay tuned!

Originally Posted by JFHeeren View Post
Love the trip report, and reliving our August 2013 cruise!
Hope I can bring back some happy memories!

Originally Posted by jetskigrl View Post
I'm already loving your trip report!! We will be walking in your footsteps in August

I'm glad to see that it was so easy to get transportation from the airport to the Pan Pacific. I think we will do the same (including the limo). I was going to pre-book it but it is nice to see that we don't need to.

I can't wait to read more
Welcome! I hope my trip report will help you. More importantly, I hope I get it done by August!

Originally Posted by KelleyK75 View Post
Subbing in....can't wait to hear more, especially if whales are involved.
Welcome! Don't worry, we saw lots of tail!

Oh, I mean whale tails!
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Old 06-05-2014, 02:37 PM   #11
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Waiting for pics!
Magic 5/12/07-6/6/07 Taking the Magic to the Med and staying for 11 days!!!!
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Old 06-05-2014, 05:19 PM   #12
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We were on the same voyage. We had a blast too. Couldn't have had better weather.
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Old 06-05-2014, 06:28 PM   #13
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Love the report so far. So cool that you managed to get a limo and a bargain too!

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Old 06-05-2014, 09:06 PM   #14
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Stanley Park

Stanley Park
Friday, May 23, 2014

When I was researching things to do in Vancouver, I knew we wanted to go to Grouse Mountain, Capilano Suspension Bridge, Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium. The decision was which of the 2 full days in Vancouver we were going to do these. Originally, I was going to do Grouse Mountain and Capilano on Friday before we left on the cruise. Then after some consideration, I decided to stay closer to Vancouver before the cruise and do Stanley Park and the aquarium on Friday. I also discovered that the Vancouver Aquarium offered Animal Encounters for their various sea animals, such as beluga whales, sea otters, penguins, dolphins, etc. DD absolutely loves sea otters, so I thought it would be an extra special treat for her to get a behind the scenes glimpse of these fun loving sea mammals. I kept watching the website for when registration for these opened up, as there is limited availability. When the did, I was able to get a 1:00 encounter on Friday, May 23rd.

We woke up to rain. Yes, it had rained most of the night and was still raining in the morning. We ate breakfast at a little counter service coffee place inside the convention center. (They also have free wifi here). DD and I had a croissant while DH tried the banana chocolate chip bread. Afterwards we started our walk along the sea wall to Stanley Park. Our goal today was a Horse Carriage ride around the park and then the Vancouver Aquarium. The walk took about 30 or so minutes and arrived at the carriage ride about 10:30 AM. We walked to the booth to purchase our carriage tickets (AAA discounts applied) and got on our carriage out of the rain. Just a note if you have tweens, I love the fact that Vancouver offers Youth rates. Everywhere else we go in the States, DD is considered an adult. We loved that she could get a discount in Vancouver. Anyway, we had the entire tour to ourselves as few tourists were braving the rain to go out.

Our tour guide was very nice and she introduced us to her team. A couple of handsome Clydesdales were pulling us today. (I love this breed). Their names were, Bud, and wait for it. . .


I thought their names were so clever. Anyway, they live a charmed life and are very well taken care of according to Cindy, our guide. As with most tour guides in Vancouver, she came up from the lower 48 to work the summer in Vancouver. The tour was very nice. She stopped at the Totem Poles and let us off for a few minutes to get some pictures.

She then drove around the outside of the island. We saw the Girl in a Wetsuit statue. A man from Vancouver had traveled to Copenhagen, seen the Little Mermaid statue and wanted a replica of it for Vancouver. Copenhagen said no, so he designed his own complete with scuba mask and swim fins. The high tide can reach up to her fins.

The Lion’s Gate Bridge

The Cricket Club,

And the house of the cannon keeper. Yes, you read it right. Every night at 9:00 PM a The 9 O’clock Gun is set off at Stanley Park. The boom can be heard throughout the city. It is the keeper’s job to maintain and set the cannon every day. For this, he gets a nice little cottage in the middle of Stanley Park to live in. Nice work if you can it it, eh?

Cindy told us about the black squirrels, which I had never seen before. Evidently, the city of New York sent Vancouver a breeding pair of black squirrels from Central Park as a gift to Vancouver. They were let free in Stanley Park and rest is history. While Stanley Park has no resident bears, they do have deer and coyotes, which I found surprising.

After our carriage ride, we took a short walk over to the aquarium.

We had pre-purchased our aquarium tickets with our encounter so we went up to the counter, got our hands stamped and we were off. Our first order of business was to get something to eat for lunch. It had stopped raining, and the sun was breaking through. The aquarium was very busy as a few school groups were there. We had our lunch and then sat and listened to the Beluga whale talk. These whales always look like they are smiling. Okay, let’s sing along, “Baby beluga in the deep blue sea . . .” I got that song stuck in your head now don’t I? (Insert evil laugh here.)

Our first whale tail!

We walked around the aquarium, which is really quite small, until our meet time.

I found Nemo!

And Bubbles, too!

There were 3 other people in our group of 6. Our guide, Kristen, was very nice and very chatty. She took us back to a classroom, or sorts, to give us some information about the sea otter in Canada. It was pretty much obliterated from Canadian shores by fur traders in the 1800s. Eventually, they moved a small colony of sea otters to the shores of Vancouver Island and now they number in the thousands. We were shown an otter pelt and were able to feel exactly why these pelts were so valuable. Very, very soft. After our little lesson, we walked back stage to stow our gear and wash or hands. We were then taken to the otter exhibit where we met two trainers who told us about what they ate and then we were able to go into the exhibit with Tanu (a 10 year old female) and Katmai (a 2 year old male). Both of these otters were orphaned as pups and brought to the aquarium as they were unable to survive in the wild. Tanu has the whiter face as otters go whiter as they get older.

We each took turns feeding them restaurant quality squid, shrimp and various fish. Needless to say, we became their best friends. It was fun trying to throw the food onto their tummies. They would catch the food, eat it and then roll over in the water as if to wash themselves. We learned how they found favorite rocks to open clam shells with and would tuck the rocks in little pockets under their flippers so they wouldn’t lose it. We also met Wally, a recently acquired otter who was shot off of Vancouver Island and blinded. He is believed to be over 10 years of age. He was alone in an exhibit, but seemed to be adapting quite well to his visual challenges and thriving.

We were then taken to the kitchens to see where all the food was prepared for all of the sea animals at the aquarium. It was truly amazing to see how many pounds of food these animals eat in a day. It was truly a remarkable experience and we had a lot of fun.

Continued in next post.

Last edited by disneyfaninaz; 07-08-2014 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 06-05-2014, 09:16 PM   #15
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Stanley Park continued

After our encounter the school groups had cleared out and the aquarium was almost empty. We walked around a little and then had some ice cream and decided to leave the aquarium. We thought about getting a taxi back to the Pan Pacific, but it had stopped raining so we decided to hoof it back. I’m glad we did because these are a few things we saw on our way out of the park.

The Rowing Club,

A mother duck and her ducklings,

Canadian Geese and goslings:

Yes, you see it right, that is a coyote. It came within 20 feet of us, but totally ignored us as it walked down the path towards the park.

A couple of really cute house boats

Some flowers,

A house high on stilts.

And a Chevron station

We watched the Holland America and Celebrity ships leave Canada Place.

Then, we went to hang out in the room for a while before meeting everybody for dinner at Bellagios. We made reservations the night before. The restaurant was right next to Canada Place.

Did I mention it was prom night?

The food was good, but the service was a bit slow and discombobulated. Our server couldn’t seem to keep orders straight and forgot to bring some items. Granted there were 11 of us for dinner. After dinner, some of us went out to the observatory deck to see the 9 O’clock gun go off. We hadn’t heard it the night before.

Next: Hello Wonder!

Last edited by disneyfaninaz; 06-10-2014 at 11:54 PM.
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