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

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by OrcaPotter, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. chris31997

    chris31997 Disney Kid at Heart

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    Staying off topic, seems the Floridians are now invading the North instead of the SnowBirds invading Florida ;)

    I love it. Very well timed TR:thumbsup2
     
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  3. OrcaPotter

    OrcaPotter Lucky to be local to the Mouse

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    Thanks for following, everyone! Count me in as another who'd love for it to be 75 degrees outside right now. Heat index today was in the 100's! If I could, I'd have a summer home up north. Really, I don't know why people visit Florida in the summer. If I go outside these days, it's to move from the house to the car, car to the building, or I'm sitting in some body of water.

    But Tracy Arm Day ... now, that was cold. Harry, our head server, had told us the night before that it'd be in the low 50's and hey, he saw a bear on the shoreline just the last week. Well slap my knee and call me Earl, that sure does sound swell! My parents and I looked forward to our first major destination with earnest.

    Each morning of this cruise was early-to-rise, and this was no exception. Only, we had to make sure we were on the ball today because this also happened to be our character breakfast assignment. Only, this was also the day I had my mani-pedi scheduled for 9 AM. Breakfast was 8 AM. Oh no! Julie, our AS, assured me that breakfast was very quick--no more than 45 minutes, so I figured I would have time. After all, after reading the DIS, I was prepared for the blitz the character breakfast was.

    I don't remember what time we woke up--on average, I was awake every day around 6 AM. Strangely, it was not hard to do this--and I am as far from a morning person as one can get. It was not necessarily because of the early sunrise, but I just never wanted to miss a moment. At any time a whale could spout just off the balcony and I didn't want to miss that, not to mention just all the scenery. This was not a lay-around-and-nap cruise! The landscape was so alien to my native Floridian eyes.

    Now, I'm pretty sure this was the morning I did this, but here was one of my all-time favorite moments. As my parents got ready, I stood out on the balcony with my iPod and stared at the scenery with the Alaska playlist I had assembled before leaving home. I'm telling you, it was like living in a movie. It almost brought tears to my eyes because it was like an otherworldly experience--or the ultimate 3D/4D film experience you could possibly have!

    Imagine staring at this:


    While listening to the main title from Last of the Mohicans.

    If you'd like to assemble your own Alaska playlist, movie soundtracks (which I'm a fan of) work great. Here is the rest of my playlist:
    1. "Welcome" The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Brother Bear Soundtrack
    2. "Transformation" Brother Bear Soundtrack
    3. "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" Coldplay
    4. "Paradise" Coldplay
    5. "Sailing By" Dagda, Dreaming of the Gods of Love
    6. "Behind the Waterfall" David Lanz & Paul Speer
    7. "The Roundabout" Engima
    8. "Rivers of Belief" Enigma
    9. "True Nature" Yanni
    10. "Voyageur" Enigma
    11. "Northern Lights" Enigma
    12. "Sea" George Winston, Pure Moods IV
    13. "20,000 Miles Over the Sea" Enigma
    14. "Yeha-Noha (Wishes Of Happiness Et Prosperity)" Yeha-Noha, Pure Moods
    15. "The River Sings" Enya
    16. "Counting Stars" One Republic
    17. "The Promise" Michael Nyman, Pure Moods
    18. "Life in Color" One Republic
    19. "The Mystic's Dream" Loreena McKennitt, Pure Moods II
    20. "This Is Where I Belong" Bryan Adams, Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimerron
    21. "The Island Awaits You" Steve Jablonsky, The Island
    22. "She Wolf" Shakira
    23. "Good Life" One Republic
    24. "On My Way" Phil Collins, Brother Bear
    25. "Great Spirits" Tina Turner, Brother Bear
    26. "My Name Is Lincoln" Steve Jablonsky, The Island
    27. "Elk Hunt" Trevor Jones, The Last Of The Mohicans
    28. "Main Title" Trevor Jones, The Last Of The Mohicans
    29. "From East To West " Enigma
    30. "Orinoco Flow" Enya
    31. "Ebudae" Enya
    32. "Long Long Journey" Enya
    33. "Chevaliers de Sangreal" Hans Zimmer, The Da Vinci Code
    34. "The Misty Mountains" The Hobbit soundtrack

    After our usual room service pre-breakfast, we were down and waiting by Parrot Cay about 10 minutes before 8. We're usually a little late for things, so it was quite a shock that we were early. We hung in the Promenade Lounge, watching the families with toddlers run all over the place, and also watching a line grow longer and longer. I decided to get on the line, since this was my first character breakfast at sea and I wasn't quite sure how it would work. Well, 8 AM came and went. I nervously watched the time now that we were eating into the precious hour prior to my relaxing spa experience. And the anxiety was far from relaxing.

    They finally opened the doors around 8:10 and we were seated at our assigned table with our dining team, and ordering by 8:15. They brought in the characters, still wearing their Caribbean garb, and they commenced their whirlwind tour of the dining room. You'd think by the 3rd Alaskan season with at least 1 more planned, they'd put the characters in something more appropriately themed. I don't care if the room is Caribbean themed!

    The menu this morning was nothing to write home about; it was pretty slim pickings. This is probably deliberate so that you're focused on the character you only have 30 seconds to interact with instead of a meal. One thing I made sure to order that was not on the menu was regular yogurt (not the weird smoothie option). The yogurt came out quickly, but it was quite some time before our meals arrived.

    Meanwhile, we're watching the characters zoom around with their handlers. My camera decided to die right before our first character appeared (Goofy) so thank goodness we always had at least 2 cameras with us at one time. I'm not joking about the 30 seconds either; at least I was prepared for it, so it came as no surprise.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (52) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (53) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (54) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Time for the napkin hats! Up for me: the Minnie Bow

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (57) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Dad became Jack Sparrow

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (59) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Julie said Mom's was a "princess." Uh, it looked more like a headband with a feather stuck in it.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (60) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (62) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Breakfast finally arrived around 8:45--way too close for comfort to my spa appointment. Fortunately, as you can see, it was easy to eat quickly. But we still hadn't seen all the characters ...

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (64) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Pluto was my priority--he is my favorite, after all. Once he came over, I was set.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Mom (66) by orcapotter, on Flickr​

    Turned out Pluto was my last. 9 AM came and went; I had finished most of my meal and I was having a good time, but I wasn't going to miss my appointment and I was frantic they would cancel it on me. I left my parents to finish their meal and meet Minnie, who was left to see. It didn't take long to get up to the spa, and the place seemed empty.

    Now, to rewind a bit, back when I made the appointment on the day we embarked, I didn't necessarily get a lot of warm fuzzies from the folks in there. They seemed a bit put out; no doubt they were annoyed by the folks in there whose main concern was entering the raffle that had just started. When I arrived for my appointment, there was one girl at the desk. She also didn't necessarily start out warm and fuzzy, either. I filled out a form asking about my line of work and stress levels, then she brought me back to do the mani-pedi herself.

    The mani-pedi room is in the same area as the hair salon; the windows look out once you get past the walkway and the random people going by. At the time I had committed my spa person's name to memory, but annoyingly I have forgotten it. Oh well. She was not that much younger than me, and we had a lot of fun chatting about all sorts of things. One thing I was leery of was the sales pitching; I had read that the spa on the ships were bad with this. This was my first spa experience at sea; of course on land, they try a little bit to upsell you ... but nothing bad. My person would casually mention a product (especially the detox pills) and what it would do for me, but she never pushed or even suggested I should buy it all. It really put me at ease and let me enjoy the experience, which, let me tell you, was awesome. I had been having strange nerve pain in my forearms, mostly from repetitive movements, and the hot stone massage did the trick to make them go away completely. With the mountains in the background, it was amazing.

    Then it was the pedi time, and it was equally amazing. A little girl came in shortly after to have a pedi done with the "chocolate" treatment (I was surprised, I thought the spa on the Classics were completely adult only). The girl accidentally knocked over my cup of lime water I was offered, and all over my Wavephone, and myself. She was also pretty nervous, although allegedly she had had this done before. I was impressed, though, that the spa person in charge of her actually went and got her an ice cream--must be part of the service--but it seemed to relax the girl a bit.

    Watching the scenery outside while my legs were massaged and then wrapped in a cool lotion with hot towels (OMG AMAZING) was another highlight of this trip. I appreciated that I never felt rushed through this experience. Whenever I have had a mani-pedi before, no matter where, it's like you're rushed through and churned out like something on an assembly line. Yes, compared to home, it was an expensive service. Nail polish colors were limited (I chose blue, most of the others were shades of red) and not the best quality, surprisingly. They also don't put your nails under a fan or anything. Unsurprisingly, I had smudged most of my fingers getting into the pedicure chair. And even after she fixed them, they managed to smudge even with my concentrated effort not to. Thinking about it, also, I was given no real dedicated time to dry. Once the fingers were done, it was time for the toes. Once the toes were done, it was time to leave. My toes dried fine and seem to be holding up well, but my fingers were chipping very shortly after arriving home.

    For me, the service was worth it just for the massage and treatment--not so much the nail polish. Though, I noticed later in the day that my finger tips were very sore (my nails were pretty short already and she filed them, being a bit too enthusiastic without noticing she was filing my fingertips). At the moment I didn't mind that much, but later I had sore fingertips for the next few days--and scabs on my cuticles (but whenever I have a manicure this happens, so I wasn't surprised).

    After my spa experience, I ran back to the room--and I promptly became lost, LOL. I was so surprised! I never got lost on the Dream. After a tour of many staterooms and staring at dead ends, a CM finally turned me around. My parents only ever used the Wavephone whenever I was literally in the middle of something. Mom called while my hands were being done this time. I ran back to the room, where they were busy suiting up for Tracy Arm and looking for my camera battery charger. Hence the phone call. I quickly changed; I wore my sweats to the spa for ease in rolling up, and my flip-flops (which was the only time I wore them). Now, I was trying to zip up jeans without damaging my already smudged nails and putting on socks over toes I wasn't sure were dry. I managed to do it, though. Layers, layers, layers! Everything was on us--hats, gloves, ear muffs, etc.

    Then it was up to the top decks to stake our spot. I was so excited! I had no idea when characters would appear, but I knew from the DIS that the characters walked around for photos during Tracy Arm--and everyone always brags about how nice it is on the Classics that you can just run into characters anywhere and everywhere with no one but you around to take photos with them. Or at least, that's how I always interpreted it.

    You get to the mouth of the fjord around noon, though you begin to see things around 10 AM. At first, we had no problems staking out a table and a nice area toward the back of the ship. We hung out there a while, taking the first glorious photos:


    This was the coldest day of the trip, and it noticeably got colder very quickly as we got closer to the fjord, and ultimately, the glacier. There were still several children and some adults in the pools, though! OMG. The cruise director later joked that they were all Canadians.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (11) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Entering the fjord, this Princess ship was leaving it. We would shadow this ship for the rest of the trip.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (14) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (15) by orcapotter, on Flickr​

    I really took a ton of photos, so I'll give you only a sample and the rest you can view on my Flickr account. Besides, I had been worried after seeing so many photos of this itinerary that it would feel like I'd seen it already before I saw it in person. Trust me when I tell you that no matter how many photos or videos you see before you leave, it will still blow you away in person. The highest resolution camera still could not capture the true beauty of everything Alaska has to offer.

    As we were entering the fjord proper, I was starving. Breakfast was quite a while ago, and it hadn't been all that fulfilling. I don't remember if the BBQ was listed in the Navigator; if it had, I missed it, and was sorely lacking my copy at the moment. I wanted to eat and I wanted to ensure we kept our spot. So I left my parents to see if the BBQ had started, only to hear later that I had just missed seeing 2 humpback whales joining us at the fjord's entrance. Major :: palmface ::

    Well, this would be the last time we would attempt Beach Blanket. It was mobbed and it took forever. The BBQ items were out where the outdoor seating was. Everything else was on the buffet line. It took me quite a while to make it through the buffet line, then I fought my way through the crowd to the BBQ area. The smoke was really thick, but I didn't wait terribly long; there were BBQ chicken, salmon, and I want to say steak. It wasn't communicated to everyone how this particular food line worked. We (or I) stood there expectantly in front of the salmon station, supposedly waiting for the cook to put some on our plates. But no, apparently you have to ask directly, and they just scoop it up and give it to you. I waited as long as I did for nothing, really.

    So then it was a fight to get out of the buffet area and back to where I left my parents. Up a narrow staircase, only to find them gone. I traversed back down and found them at a table in the area next to the family pool--blocked by the tables near the window which were fully occupied. By the time I sat down, my food was ice cold. Urrg. But at the same time, I was frustrated by my hunger, because I felt like I was missing everything.

    Even ice cold, the salmon tasted great. I could only imagine how good it must've been hot!

    It's pretty late, so I'll continue this day in my next post tomorrow!
     
  4. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Love the update and the Playlist!
     
  5. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Oh I love the music from Last of the Mohicans. I'm not a fan of the buffet either.
     
  6. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    Love the TR! Do you happen to recall what your dining rotation was?
     
  7. tink too

    tink too DIS Veteran

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    Enjoying your updates. Is your dad trying to get a kiss from Minnie? :cutie:
     
  8. MickeyRocksInPA

    MickeyRocksInPA Earning My Ears

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    I wonder if some of you recent cruisers can post your navigators?
     
  9. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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  10. mrsmalato

    mrsmalato Earning My Ears

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    Thanks for the packing list. Very helpful!
     
  11. Luv2Diz

    Luv2Diz We love the Wonder and Magic of Disney cruising!

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    Continuing to enjoy your TR. I totally agree with what you said about photos not doing Alaska justice. It is so majestic - you have to be there in person to truly experience it.
     
  12. zweihund

    zweihund I tagged myself. I'm it.

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    We were on the 6/17 Alaska sailing, how funny! Alaska Mickey was already sold out :( I did manage to snag a Minnie, because she totally cheered up my sad little girl on Tracy Arm day. Sat down on the chair right next to her and gave her a huge hug :goodvibes
    We also had amazingly WARM weather - the only day I wore my jacket (with sleeves attached, at least) was in Tracy Arm...and even then it was bright and sunny! All those hand warmers I brought went unused. :rotfl: We kept waiting for our luck to run out but amazingly it didn't rain until the day we returned to Vancouver. Thank goodness I had packed some capris!

    It's funny, ship loyalty. We've been on the Wonder now 6 times (7 for my husband, long story), the Magic once and the Dream twice. The Wonder is, and will always be, my favorite ship. I think it's because it was the first, and it feels like home. I do like the new ships, but they feel too big at times - so many levels of rooms rooms rooms, and the dining rooms feel gigantic. And of course the adult pool leaves much to be desired. Remy, however, IS AMAZING.

    My husband is working on our pics so I can actually work on my trip report. In the meantime, I am reading everyone else's! Enjoying hearing a fellow Floridian's (a Winter Spring-ian at that!) take on the great white north.

    :thumbsup2

    PS several cabins near us had those Mickey "hats" that go over the circle on the door and I was totally jealous! They traded them out almost daily. I must enlist some help for my next cruise because I NEED THOSE.
     
  13. OrcaPotter

    OrcaPotter Lucky to be local to the Mouse

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    I guess a Disney ship is like the Doctor (Doctor Who) ... you never forget your first one and you're pretty partial. The Dream feels more like "home" to me and my family; every ship we've been on, except for the Wonder and our very first cruise 10 years ago, has been about the size of the Dream. And by every ship I mean just one other (Mariner of the Seas). I guess if the Wonder wasn't as full it wouldn't have been so noticeable and even bothersome at times. I wouldn't hesitate if the DCL itinerary I want is on the Classics--they are, after all, Disney ships! But I won't go out of my way to book them until after the refurbs and they expand some of the areas. As it is, for our family cruise next summer, we're going to have to go back to RCI due to cost. I booked a dummy date on DCL to use just for my immediate family and/or friends in 2015, and it's definitely going to be on the Fantasy.

    I'm trying not to come across as too critical of the Wonder in my report, but it seems to come out that way regardless. Really, I was pretty comfortable with her by midway into the trip. But after being on the Dream as recently as last January, it was so hard not to compare. Particularly when the crowds were very noticeable all over the ship, when compared to the Dream when it felt like I could go to many places to escape.
     
  14. zweihund

    zweihund I tagged myself. I'm it.

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    Haha - love it! :thumbsup2
     
  15. sorceressk

    sorceressk Mouseketeer

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    I agree. The dream is our home ship at least for now-we have the fantasy in sept and the new magic for tgiving coming up this year. We did the wonder in may which had come after two dream cruises. It is so hard not to compare! My partner thinks the wonder is "decrepit". Lol. Not sure i would go that far, but the wear is obvious on the wonder. At least for someone who just was on the dream. That said-we are booking Alaska for next year on the wonder and I know we will have a great time.

    Thanks for your report. I love the subject because we will be in your shoes next year and i have been looking for advice on how a Floridian gets by in Alaska! Your writing is beautiful and really makes the report fun and easy to read!
     
  16. OrcaPotter

    OrcaPotter Lucky to be local to the Mouse

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    I left off at lunch on Tracy Arm day. It was quite frustrating to want to enjoy the lunch but also not miss a moment of nature. Throw in the fact that it was freezing, and now drizzling, and I was just overwhelmed with feels. It took forever for my parents to get their own food--by the time they caught up with me, I was already finished and ready to go back up to the top deck. In fact, I left them there to go reclaim a spot for ourselves. And while there, I had my first character spotting!


    Chip and Dale popped out right where I was. Alas, finally some of that random characters-wandering-around action I heard so much about! Only ... not unlike the sea gulls at the Atlantis Resort in Nassau, people swarmed in and enveloped the two with demands for photos. All those family reunions appeared out of nowhere. And I was shoved to the side and only managed to get the above photo before the chipmunks made a beeline past me toward the front of the ship, dragging a posse of groupies clambering for a photo along behind them.
    [​IMG]
    Chip n' Dale! Hi can I--oh ok bye.

    But surely there'd be other characters flitting about, right? Surely I'd have my own magical moment later! Oh well, back to nature! And where are my parents? They should be finished eating by now.


    By now, the light drizzle had become a light rain. Throw in the bit of wind and it was freezing. I had finally managed to hook back up with my parents, and the weather forced us to seek some indoor shelter. The Cove Cafe is 2 levels on the Wonder--or is the upstairs the Outlook Cafe? I don't remember and this would be the only time we were in there. I wish that it had been expanded out to the side of the ship; you had to squint between the brave souls outside to see out, and the curve of the glass created a film that obscured your view at times. People were camped out in there and the space was small, so we ended up bumming off this couple who had the prime next-to-the-window seats. I also saw Goofy in his ski suit fly past, again with a posse of paparazzi. He did not hesitate to run indoors, so a no-go on Goofy there, too.

    We sat in the cafe for several minutes until I could see the glacier peeking around the corner. No one else seemed to be paying attention that far ahead yet, so I gathered my chilled and damp parents up to drag them back outside for a prime viewing location. The front of the ship was already packed, so we secured a spot just to the side where the pilot bridge is. As we got closer to the glacier, we were quickly boxed in by a crowd at least 4 people deep.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (92) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (97) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Glacier ahoy!

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (98) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (101) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (102) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (108) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (111) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    See that black, longish speck in the upper center? That's a seal. Who would be our nemesis!

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (112) by orcapotter, on Flickr​

    How does this day end? What will the seals do? And who is Bear "The Grizz" Grizzly? You'll have to wait because I have to go to a hair appointment now! Bwahaha!
     
  17. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    You're so cruel! :sad2: Hair, shmair!

    BTW - Loving the photos!
     
  18. DisneyDream2B

    DisneyDream2B Mouseketeer

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    Wow! Amazing photos!
    Could you give us some advice on the best place(s) to be for viewing on Tracy Arm day? Grandpa can not stand for long, and several family members are sensitive to the cold. Does the room veranda give a good view? Deck 4?
    Thanks!
     
  19. Aby

    Aby Obsessive and Compulsive

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    Loving your trip report!!!

    To the previous poster - we really loved the "secret deck" at the aft deck 7. Since most people were clamouring for a spot at the front of the ship as the ship was sailing into the fjord, it was very empty and peaceful - there were only a few other families out there and plenty of room at the rails. There are sun loungers there too, so a place to sit if needed. We got to see the same sights, and when the captain turned the ship around at the end of the fjord, the aft swings around and we were right up close to the glacier and had the best view leaving. Everyone on the top decks had run from the front to the back of the ship, and were looking down on us asking how we found such a great place!

    Can't wait for your next instalment...

    Aby
     
  20. OrcaPotter

    OrcaPotter Lucky to be local to the Mouse

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    I had read a lot of advice about the "best" places to be for viewing on Tracy Arm day, including the "secret verandah" on deck 7 that Aby mentioned.

    You enter the fjord around 11 AM and reach the glacier around 2 PM. You're back out of the fjord around 4 PM. So it's pretty much an all day affair. Personally, to get a true appreciation for the experience, you'll want to move around a bit. Wildlife sightings can happen anywhere and quick--by the time you hear about that humpback whale, it's already gone. I liked being on the top deck midship--it was amazing being totally surrounded by towering mountains and waterfalls only a couple dozen yards away from each side. Going down to deck 4 offered a closer look at the water and the ice, not to mention it seemed like the glacier was closer down there. So while the aft deck 7 public verandah is a good idea, you're pretty limited unless it's included in your wandering-the-ship-for-all-angles plan.

    For your party members who are sensitive to cold and need a place to sit, you may need to stake out some chairs pretty early in the Outlook/Cove Cafe to grab a window seat. It looked like people were camped in there, but I personally wouldn't want to stay in there (see my comments in the latest update for why). Viewing from your own verandah is definitely an option, but you're again limited for the aforementioned reasons. We ended the trip in the fjord in our verandah room and it was wonderful.
     
  21. DMMarla07860

    DMMarla07860 DIS Veteran

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    That's Ponz(I think, He might go by another name now and I haven't seen him since he was on the Dream in 2011, but looks like him and he was great at remembering names)
     

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