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

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

  1. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet DIS Veteran

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    Still following along and hoping more is to come soon.
    :goodvibes
     
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  3. OrcaPotter

    OrcaPotter Lucky to be local to the Mouse

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    Sorry for the delay, folks. Had an endorsement training all week! I left off in the middle of the train ride ...


    After what seemed a short ride, but was really close to 2 hours, we reached the Canadian border. This is why you need your passport for this excursion. Before we were allowed to get off the train, the Canadian border patrol came on board to check our passports. We were given pretty strict instructions to not have cameras out, no one was allowed in the restroom (there was a toilet in the car), you had to be quiet and calm, etc. It was kind of intimidating, but the check was pretty quick and the patrolwoman who cleared us didn't seem all that grumpy compared to the previous ones we'd met so far. From there, it was immediately onto the small bus. It was a little disappointing, because the stop was at this enormous lake surrounded by snow mountains. The water was smooth as glass so the reflection was amazing. I was surprised that our tour didn't make accommodations for us to really take in that sight. We were on our way pretty quickly.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (578) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    So I took photos from the bus

    The bus was pretty comfortable, if not a little cramped feeling because each seat was full. Mike narrated the sights and made it clear that we would not be stopping at all of the places the "big guys" (the huge coach bus tours) would stop. We didn't stop until about 5-10 minutes in, where he took us right down to the water of a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains.


    Here is where I wish I had brought the bug spray with me. Because we were right at the water, there were very thick clouds of bugs! I panicked for a few minutes thinking they were mosquitoes and OMG I forgot the spray back on the ship. But they were simply gnats, and therefore, no more threatening than annoying. It was really the only time we dealt with any sort of insect. Needless to say, we only stayed about 5 minutes before heading on.

    I took a lot of photos from the bus. We headed up into the Yukon and within the hour we were making our way to Caribou Crossing where lunch and the dog camp were. Seriously, I took a lot of photos. I'll post a few here and the rest can be found on my flickr account.


    The last photo is Emerald Lake, which gets its color from glacier sediment. This was Mom's favorite stop on this tour. Only problem? Our tour-mates were not the type to stop and stare for long. By the time my parents and I would get off the bus, people were near ready to hop back on. No one seemed to like to look for very long. We were always one of the last back on the bus, and folks would give us these very judging looks--as if we were holding them up. Mike never rushed anyone but would take cues off of folks. Granted, by this point, we were starving. I wish I had remembered to bring a snack.

    I'll mention here that there was an older couple on our tour; the woman had to be split from her husband at first because there were no more seats together on the bus. She ended up next to Dad initially. After a stop or two, Dad invited her to take the window seat, which she seemed very happy to oblige. Well, I noticed after the first few stops that she was leaning up against the window, seemingly asleep. No surprise; everyone had to have been up super early like we did. But even as we passed the small little town and some other stops, she never looked up or got off the bus. Now, this woman seemed perfectly fine on the train and for the first 45 minutes of the bus ride. So I began to really take notice of her when she showed no interest in "waking up" to see the town or Emerald Lake (she was directly in front of me).

    Finally, we arrived at the little tourist "trap" called Caribou Crossing for lunch. At the previous stop, Mike gave out stickers to my family and the larger family with the college kids to indicate we paid in advance for the dog sled ride. Everyone was then given a different sticker walking off the bus that qualified us for lunch. Here's my only real big issue with this tour--we were given only about an hour to eat, look around, and have the sled ride. My parents and I were given a ride time only 30 minutes after we arrived, so 30 minutes to use a restroom and eat. The BBQ food was decent but if you wanted a drink other than iced tea, coffee, or water, you had to pay extra. The donuts were awesome, though! We quickly had our meal, than peeked around before heading over to the dog camp area.

    Note: It was a gorgeous, sunny day. The high temp was in the 60's so I was pulling off layers. Only, get out of the sun and it was chilly. The dogs were "hot" and laying in mud puddles to cool off!

    There were dozens and dozens of dogs. It was explained to us that the pretty, pure-bred huskies you see on TV and in movies aren't typical at all. Sled dogs are bred for strength and speed, not looks. So many of the dogs were mixed breeds. Many of them barked constantly, so it's quite loud over there and just a little bit smelly. Didn't help they were surrounded by farm animals in the petting zoo just outside. (There was a 2 week old donkey!) We were told that the dogs that are chosen for these summer runs (pulling tourists on the karts) are the ones that bark the most and the most enthusiastically. These dogs live to run. If they aren't barking, they're either tired, not interested, or ill. All the dogs are owned by the drivers, too. They each have their own team of dogs.

    Plus, there was an area for the sled dog puppies; the litter there was only a few months old. Take note: you can't have puppies all the time if your adult dogs aren't "busy." Mom was quite scandalized by the sight of more "puppy making" amongst the dogs on duty. I found it amusing!

    Originally it was just going to be my parents and myself, but a random lady from another tour insisted on paying on the spot to join us. The karts fit 6 people, so there was plenty of room. Mike took our camera to take some photos while we got all hitched up. Then it was off!


    Coming up ... OMG BEAR! BUT WAIT ...
     
  4. OrcaPotter

    OrcaPotter Lucky to be local to the Mouse

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    While there are days I want to tear my hair out, I still love teaching middle school. Glad to know there are folks who still love it after so long! I suspect you're already on your cruise or soon to get back, so I hope it was awesome! It goes by so quick, doesn't it?
     
  5. pequele

    pequele Some people think they are cool because they can h

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    Me too...loving this report and getting more and more excited for next year...just 306 days now until we leave for Vancouver!:lmao:

    Sorry the character interactions were "difficult". I hope we have good luck, I hope my 5 yo (at the time) will want to search them out with me on some occasions. This mama really wants to have the characters in their Alaska outfits! Do I understand from your pics that they will be in the atrium, too, later that night? Does Mickey wear his fisherman outfit? I know the kiddo will want to do kid's club but I don't want him in there all day ahaha. I want a reason to buy the photo CD!!!
     
  6. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Beautiful weather you had, we did to, it really adds to the experience doesn't it.
     
  7. bbn1122

    bbn1122 DIS Veteran

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    Really enjoyed your report.....now I want to got to Alaska too...

    I just was looking at another TR....and saw your parents and you in a video....it from Travellingwithnikki....deck 10 video...at the end....:)
     
  8. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for another great installment with beautiful pictures. I am hoping that the lady on the bus is ok and that she brightens up to see the gorgeous sites.
     
  9. OrcaPotter

    OrcaPotter Lucky to be local to the Mouse

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    I need to get busy finishing this report. School starts in 2 weeks and preparations are starting to pick up. Thanks for your patience reading along, folks!

    We were just about to start our dog sled ride where I left off last time. This is probably your bargain option if you can't afford the hundreds of dollars per person to do a traditional dog sled ride. Individually, the tickets for this 15 minute jaunt into the woods I believe were around $30 PP. You can take the same excursion we did without the dog sled ride added on; only 1 other family on our tour did it other than us. I don't know if there is an age rule for kids; I'm sure the website would state it if they have one. The ride was really bumpy, so young/very small kids might have a problem holding on. I would imagine, though, that kids would have a blast doing this. We sure did!


    The ride was awesome and the dogs seemed to effortlessly pull us along. The trainer had amazing control of her dogs, and yeah, they may be real sled dogs but they're also real dogs. Which means, if they see a critter, they want to chase after it! The trainer had to re-direct them with unique commands to the lead dogs away from squirrels. About half-way through the ride, the trainer stopped the dogs at a pit stop with several plastic kiddy pools full of water. Immediately they dived into the pools, some of them lying down completely to cool off. We stayed a few minutes for them to rest and drink, before moving again.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (243) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (244) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (247) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Skippy, the retired sled dog, jogged alongside us.

    Figuring there was no need to have my camera on and out anymore since I took many photos already of the same scenery, I put it away to save the battery. This would prove to be a mistake. We had just come back out to the stretch of dirt road leading back to the camp when all of a sudden, a black (though he was brown colored) bear ran across the track!!!

    The dogs immediately went after it. So, imagine this for a moment. You are strapped to more than several dogs chasing a critter in the middle of wilderness. What's your first thought? Well, for myself (and my parents), it was OMG THE DOGS ARE GOING TO GET HURT! Then there was Skippy, the trainer's retired sled dog who had tagged along untethered with us. She immediately went after the bear, too. So add to our first thought: OMG SKIPPY NO!

    Our trainer was just as surprised as we were, and urgently called to the lead dogs with "GI GI GI GI GI!!!" (which was her unique command she had trained the lead dogs to turn right--to go left, the command was "hot"). Not to mention her urgent commands to Skippy not to pursue the now-identified baby bear, which had disappeared by then behind trees on the other side of the track. For a few long seconds, the dogs didn't seem to listen to their trainer until finally they stopped the chase and veered back on track. The bear was nowhere to be seen, Momma Bear was nowhere to be seen, and my second thought was that I didn't get a photo of the whole event. It wasn't until my third thought that it hit me that hey, we could have been hurt!

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (248) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    This was the last photo I took before putting the camera away. The bear went from right to left soon after this point.

    Before you slam your fist down and proclaim complete abstinence from ever embarking on a dog sled ride through the woods less you're mauled by bears, the fact that it took me a while to realize we could have been harmed was testament to how much control the trainer had over her dogs. These were real sled dogs, as I've stated before, and therefore very highly trained and incredibly loyal to their owner. :dogdance:

    Alas, all too quickly, the ride was over. We only had about 10 minutes left to explore the rest of the camp before we were due back to the bus. I desperately wanted to hold the puppies, while Mom wanted to look around the gift shop. Dad followed me to the puppies, where they were all piled in an exhausted heap from being tossed around so many tourists earlier. I did not want to disturb them. Meanwhile, a mother and son were holding a sleeping puppy, so I kinda hung around hoping they would move on and ask if I wanted a turn. NOPE. Didn't happen. Not that I blame the boy for wanting to keep the pup, but I was bummed that one of my goals of the trip didn't come true (goal: hold a puppy). Instead, I said hello to all of the resting dogs in the puppy area--at first I thought they were the mothers, but there were some boy dogs in there, too.


    I went to find Mom, who had wandered into the taxidermy museum. By now, we only had a few minutes to get back to the bus, so after a quick glance around, we grabbed Dad and ran back on board. Well, we were exactly on time, but everyone was already on the bus and we were welcomed with semi-irritated expressions. One passenger blared the horn, stating that Mike went to go find us. Geez, people, relax! You're on vacation!

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (267) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    The taxidermy museum was in a sort of warehouse

    The woman I mentioned earlier who had appeared to fall asleep in front of me before lunch was back asleep again, only her husband was now seated with her. That meant my family was split up, much to my mother's annoyance. Looking back, if the husband had explained the situation, I doubt we would have minded at all. Because for the remainder of the bus ride, the poor woman silently got sick non-stop. This was very alarming at first, though she did her best to conceal everything under a jacket. Particularly since I was so close to her, I was worried that if she were sick-sick, would it be contagious? The last thing I needed was a stomach bug on a cruise ship! But here's the strange part: her husband did not seem particularly alarmed or worried at all. In fact, he got off the bus at all the subsequent stops. Even more interesting: he had packed Ziploc bags for her, seemingly for this exact situation. It led me to think they knew this was going to happen, though the woman did not appear ill at all for the first part of the excursion. Why would you pack Ziploc bags on an excursion if not for a specific reason? So, was she car sick? And if so, why book a tour that involves being on a bus through winding mountain roads? If she was sick with a virus or something and knew so beforehand, why did they leave the ship and not contact the ship doctor?

    That aside, the remainder of the tour was incredible. Each vista was more amazing than the last, and we stopped pretty frequently. Unfortunately, there were no real wildlife sightings. We got super lucky with the bear. There were some mountain goats super high up to the point where they could only be seen with binoculars (there were some available on the bus), and there was one bald eagle. But the views more than made up for the lack of animals.


    Passing customs back into Alaska was painless; we didn't have to show our passports as the agent working knew Mike really well. We were back in town by 3:30 and Mike offered to drop us in the middle of the shops. Most of us took advantage of this, and we wandered through the shops for about an hour or so. 2 of my favorite souvenirs we got in Skagway: moose pajama bottoms that have Alaska screen printed on them, and a photo album that holds 230 photos for less than $20.

    Here was my goal for shopping on this trip: I wanted most of the things I bought to be made in Alaska, supporting real Alaskans. This proved to be a surprising challenge, especially if you're on a budget. Most of the shops were cruise ship owned that can also be found in the Caribbean. Some of the other shops were tourist chains allegedly owned by "Alaskan families." Almost everything for sale could be found at all of the ports, just sold under different store names.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (326) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (329) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Ulu knives are a big deal in Alaska (a sort of native knife) and will be confiscated on the ship until you disembark in Vancouver. They looked like tiny Klingon weapons to me (Star Trek nerd)

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (334) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (337) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise--Dad (340) by orcapotter, on Flickr​

    We picked up some things for family and friends, then sought out the shuttle bus to take us back to the ship. Again, $2/PP if you don't want to walk. Were I with friends, I would've walked, but it was far for anyone with mobility issues. Back on the Wonder, we got ready for dinner. We were in Animator's Palate, which I was excited for. While the technology in there is definitely out of date, I found I preferred it much more over the Dream's version. You didn't have to compete to talk over the music/shouts of fish and turtles all the time. There was no real disappointment about not being close to a screen and miss that personal interaction. The cute show with Sorcerer Mickey between your dinner and dessert was perfect. So, here's what I chowed down on:

    - I did not care for any of the appetizers, but I loved the soups, so I got 2 instead: baked potato and butternut squash -- both excellent
    - Entree: Phyllo-Wrapped Salmon Fillet -- OK; I didn't particularly care for the wrap
    - Dessert: Animator's Sweet Temptations -- Pretty good

    Tonight was the hypnotist's family show, so Mom was excited to see it. Dad and I were a little disappointed that some of the same things he did with the adults the night before he was doing again, but there were enough differences that we didn't mind. It was hilarious! Especially when he hypnotized one guy to believe his shoe was baby Simba, and whenever he heard the mike tap, the guy was to take his shoe off and present it to the audience with a look of rapture. They played the Circle of Life song whenever this happened, and it just killed us with laughter! Mom and Dad were crying, they were laughing so hard.

    Now that it's been almost 2 months (INSANE) since the trip, I'm having a harder time remembering things. I don't really recall what we did after the show, so let's just call it a night on Day 5.
     
  10. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Wow how amazing to see a baby bear.
     
  11. chris31997

    chris31997 Disney Kid at Heart

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    Cool baby bear:thumbsup2 I think your thought process would have been mine also:rotfl:

    As for that woman that got sick, :confused3 Talk about not thinking about the comfort of others. Kinda selfish even if she was just car sick. Why would she want to put herself thru that. :sad2:
     
  12. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Cool about the bear. Do you know if you can pet the puppies without going on the cart ride? My DD really wants to do that.
     
  13. OrcaPotter

    OrcaPotter Lucky to be local to the Mouse

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    You definitely can. The puppies were in the petting zoo area and open to everyone with access to the camp.
     
  14. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet DIS Veteran

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    Still reading along and enjoying tremendously. Looking forward to pictures for the last installment. I hate you missed a pic of the bear. We are going too early in the season and don't anticipate any bear sightings at all.

    Thanks again for taking us on your journey.
     
  15. OrcaPotter

    OrcaPotter Lucky to be local to the Mouse

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    Sorry for the delay, folks. Summer vacation is over and it's back to work tomorrow. My last days off were shockingly busy and I still didn't accomplish half of what I wanted to this summer! I'm going to do my best to wrap up this report before the last cruises this season ... otherwise, this report will only be good for those of you going next year, LOL. Not that that's bad!

    Photos have been added to the last post, BTW.

    We docked in Juneau really early (around 6 AM). Prior to the trip, I was contacted by the captain of Rum Runner Charters that our original excursion time of 7 AM needed to be pushed back to 11:00. At first, this was welcome news, especially since our Skagway excursion had been so early. However, I did not realize how early the Wonder was going to be leaving Juneau (around 5:00). The Wonder docks at the pier furthest from the tourist/shopping district (approximately 1 mile) so complimentary buses were available only until about 4:30 or so. I don't remember the times exactly, but they were early. Our excursion was 2.5 hours on the water--it takes about 20 minutes to get to the pier and another 20 back.

    But this was a concern to us yet. I woke up early to call Capt. Chris just to double-confirm that our time was pushed back (he laughed, confirmed it was, and told us that if the bus wasn't at the dock exactly on time, to give him a call). But we had a leisurely morning, which meant we could actually go to Triton's for a menu breakfast!

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (593) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    The morning was overcast and really chilly, but later the sun came out and it warmed very nicely.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (594) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (595) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (602) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (605) by orcapotter, on Flickr​

    What a welcome relief from the chaos at Beach Blanket Buffet! No doubt due to many people already off the ship for excursions, hardly anyone was in here around 8:30. I do wish that the dining rooms were open later for breakfast (past 9:30) but had no problems getting down there with plenty of time. We had an awesome waiter from France and an even more awesome beverage server named "Dan" who completely charmed Mom with his impeccable attention to her coffee. She promptly dubbed him "Dan the Man." We were asked right away if we had any excursions coming up soon and we assured them we had time. I noticed, though, that the breakfast menus in the formal dining rooms on both the Dream and Wonder are identical. Not that I minded, really. I got the kid's breakfast which was just the right portion of everything I love about breakfast.


    After breakfast, we leisurely went back to the room to prepare for the day. Layers was the name of the game again, as being out on a small boat presented uncertain expectations as far as the weather. We watched CMs test the lifeboats (quite alarming on the 6th deck as the mechanisms to lower the boats were directly beneath us and therefore were pretty loud).


    Time came for us to be out to meet our ride to the pier. I literally had been waiting my entire life to go whale watching. My experience was limited to just Sea World and it has been a dream to see whales in the wild. Only, our ride was not there at 11. By 11:10, I called Capt. Chris again, only to get his skipper--as they were still out on the previous excursion. I told him the bus was not here yet, and I had to wait for the captain to call me back. A few minutes later, he did, and assured me that the bus was on its way as it was waiting at the wrong cruise ship dock. As this was a private charter, we were the only people on the bus when the driver finally arrived. During the 20 minutes or so to get to the pier in Auke Bay, our driver (a nice lady) pointed out some landmarks and gave us a history of things. We could already spot bald eagles on the side of the road (they're like pigeons up there).

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (613) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    A really expensive gondola ride up the mountain.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (615) by orcapotter, on Flickr​

    Finally, we reached the pier and were greeted in the parking lot by Captain Chris and his dog, Moon Dog. He led us down onto the docks where his boat, the Rum Runner, was tied up. It's a couple minute's walk, so keep that in mind. Strangely, we took no photos of the boat. I guess I was just too excited to get started. The cabin was climate controlled with a bathroom, benches, snacks, and helmed by Capt. Chris who proceeded to tell us the functions and rules of the boat. We couldn't tell if he was joking when he told us what to do should he have to leave the boat for some reason.

    After setting off, Capt. Chris spotted a whale almost right away. Now, before I go further, let me warn you that I suspect that the excursion ahead of us probably put the poor captain in a sour mood. I suspect the group muscled their way into our original time slot and however it went must not have gone altogether well. In the months leading up to the excursion, Capt. Chris was always very genial over the phone. I was therefore pretty surprised when much of our interaction with him in person was pretty salty. First example: I stood up next to him once he announced he saw a whale right away. He gave me no real direction of where to look. The boat is charging ahead and I see nothing. I'm assuming the whale must be nearby. He becomes almost exasperated that I still don't see it. He "points the boat directly at it." I still don't see it. He appears to become more impatient until I finally, finally spot it way way out in the distance. No wonder I couldn't see it! I'm a Floridian who's never gone whale watching nor have ever seen a humpback whale in person. His lack of direction was pretty off-putting.

    His skipper, on the other hand, was very friendly. He was a young college guy, and pretty shortly we were outside with him trying to catch a glimpse of this elusive whale. No photos, because this whale was all over the place. After at least 30 or so minutes of chasing the whale, Capt. Chris decided to go somewhere else where whales had been spotted. This proved to be our jackpot. Several other whale watching boats were parked further out in the bay because a mother and baby were playing around. While mom napped, baby decided it was time to jump around!

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (626) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Moon Dog would bark whenever wild life was near.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (634) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    Most cruise ship excursions means you're sharing a big boat with a ton of other people. We had our small boat all to ourselves.

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (636) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    My best and most favorite shot of the trip

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (637) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (645) by orcapotter, on Flickr
    The boat bouncing on the water (even with the water calm) and the suddenness of activity made clear photography a real challenge

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (646) by orcapotter, on Flickr

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    2013 June Alaska Cruise-Kim (647) by orcapotter, on Flickr​

    Moon Dog was going wild. The mother whale rested at the surface while the baby jumped around everywhere. Then the baby decided to investigate all the noise and came SUPER close to our boat, lifting his head out to peek a look at Moon Dog. It was amazing. My only regret was that I spent too much time behind the camera lens. I should have lived in the moment more.

    After a while, we had to head to another point since we were running out of time. Sadly, no orcas were around. As amazing as the humpbacks were, I was really looking forward to seeing wild orcas on this trip. Of course, nature is the one in control of that and I'll have to head up to Alaska again (darn) to try again. A short while later, we arrived a buoy that was occupied by over a dozen Stellar sea lions.


    They were so funny! It was easy to spot sea lions everywhere after that. Then it was one last stop at an island near the pier where flocks of bald eagles lived. Capt. Chris cut up some salmon and threw pieces in the water, calling out "HEY HEY HEY!" Slowly, bald eagles came in droves, diving at the water for the fist.

    Continued in next post ...
     
  16. OrcaPotter

    OrcaPotter Lucky to be local to the Mouse

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    Sadly, it was time to head back to the pier after the eagles. We all agreed that this was the absolute best excursion--particularly as it was private. Capt. Chris told us the previous charter didn't see anything like what we saw. There may not have been orcas, but it was incredible nonetheless. Capt. Chris may also have been a grumpy gus, but it didn't detract from the experience and I wouldn't hesitate to book him again. Hopefully on a better day for his mood, though. As we made our way through the pier back to the bus, I noticed a young family leaving another boat with Castaway Club backpacks and lanyards. We weren't the only DCL folks with private charters, though I don't know who they went with. I know Harv & Marv are also a popular choice but I found they were a little more expensive and not entirely private.

    I read on the DIS that we could have asked our bus driver to take us to Mendhenhall Glacier, then we could find public transportation back to town/the ship. But it was after 2 PM at this point and Mom wanted to check out the shops (that is her passion, BTW). We also needed lunch. Our bus driver dropped us at the shops, and we decided to check out the Red Dog Saloon (touted heavily here on the DIS).


    This is a stereotypical old-style saloon, complete with sawdust floors and bar wenches. It is also very, very tiny. The place has a lot of character, though, and it has the BEST clam chowder. Service, though, was lacking. We anxiously watched the clock; we figured we only had an hour before we had to leave, check a few shops, then grab one of the last shuttles back to the ship. It took quite some time to get drinks and orders put in. Some cruise ship folks didn't even take the chance to wait long enough to put in orders, and left before anyone glanced their way after the initial howdy and drink napkins. Because of this, we only ordered soups ... though Dad ordered chicken fingers. I was surprised that it all came out within 10 minutes or so. I took a few photos in here, but they didn't come out well.


    If you have kids, this would be a fun place to go. Just execute some discretion: Signs and graffiti in places aren't exactly rated G, and the live entertainment does not censor anything.

    We dashed out and into a couple shops before our anxiety got the best of us. I think we bought a couple of trinkets, but nothing really leaped out at me as "gotta have." I was disappointed that a lot of what I saw I had seen already in Skagway. We followed some people who I thought were DCL guests over to a bus depot, but there were no signs to say DCL anywhere. The bus itself, though, had DCL in the window.

    Once back on the ship, we had time to decompress before dinner. This was "Pixar Pals" night, which replaced the Pirate Party. Honestly, it makes sense not to have a Caribbean-themed party in Alaska. Though it would've been better to have a more Alaskan-themed event, they already had Pixar so why not recycle it? I was shocked that absolutely NO advertisement was made in advanced of this year's sailings to warn people. I know many were upset.

    There was a 1st Pixar Pals Bash in the lobby around 4:30 for young families who can't wait up until 10:30 PM. Dinner was the 3D Toy Story menu and we were back in Parrot Cay. The waiters/waitresses were in formal attire with little cowboy/cowgirl accents. Everyone got "3D" glasses to view the menu, but they didn't do anything for me so I put them aside. All that mattered was one thing:

    LOBSTER.

    As much as my family adores lobster, we seldom if ever order it at home due to the expense. Therefore, 7 night cruises are a big deal for us because that means at least one night is a lobster feast. In 2007 on the Mariner of the Seas, we all had at least 2 lobster tails. My cousin had five. There's a lot of debate on the DIS about the quality of the lobsters on DCL. The overwhelming opinion is that they're horrible, rubbery, and tasteless. I guess people must order Maine lobster pretty frequently around here. It states clearly on the menu that these are warm water lobsters. I had mentally prepared myself for a lackluster experience. I was thrilled to discover it was anything but. I found the lobster huge, tasty, and with plenty of drawn butter.

    In fact, Mom and I regretted getting an appetizer and salad, for we were too full to order another tail!

    Looking at the menu online, I don't remember which appetizer/salad I ordered. None of them are ringing a bell. Obviously I had the lobster, then for dessert I had Sheriff Woody's Warm Apple Cobbler & Custard--which was disappointing. Overall, the only thing great about this menu was the lobster.

    The show tonight was Toy Story the Musical. Another show with mixed reviews, but everyone was excited for it. Mom let me order a smoothie in a Toy Story cup with Buzz Lightyear lit on top. The theatre was packed to the gills ... I forgot to mention that tonight was also semi-formal night. Hence the accented formal wear of the waitstaff. Then, all the characters out prior to the show were in formal wear, too. So far, the Pixar Pals Party was shaping up to be a formal Toy Story ... thing.

    I felt the show was awkward, though cute. I'm just not used to the story being set to musical numbers. I think it's better than Villains Tonight, though. After the show, I'm pretty sure we went back up to the room. We didn't take any more formal photos. I wanted to see the Pixar Pals Party, so I got into my sweats and left the 'rents to go check it out. Deck 3 was already pretty full, though I didn't feel like dancing around anyway, so I tried to score a good spot on deck 4. The railings filled quickly, and I ended up squeezed on the end at the top of the stairs where the characters were due to go up and down. A woman had her stuff on the floor next to me, which she pointed out was for someone in a wheelchair. During the time leading up to the show, this woman ended up leaving for some reason, so I gained a few precious inches so I wasn't in anyone's way on the stairs. I think it was because the person in the wheelchair didn't like that spot or something. They showed up a little later and ended up in worse spots, in my opinion.

    Finally, the show started. The Incredibles, Flik, Russel & Dug, Mike & Sulley, Jessie & Woody, and Remy all came out to much fanfare. They danced around deck 3 for a while before being called up one by one to the landing in front of Triton's to lead specific dances. I noticed characters dancing about, snapping the odd photo here and there. Once all the characters had their spotlight in dancing, some confetti was thrown, some giant balls thrown down by those of us on deck 4, and that was it. The characters went to bed. No formal Pixar photos were done.

    Cute, but nothing like the pirate deck shows. If you think about it, they're pretty limited in Alaska for stuff like that. They can't have loud volume outside and the weather was often unwelcoming anyway. There's a lot of creative opportunity to make a really unique experience here, but it's like they don't know what that is yet. Clearly they don't want to invest the money into an appropriate Alaskan celebration (yet). The party would've been better had it not been on semi-formal night. That just created all sorts of confusion.

    I'll upload photos of the party show later. Right now I have to get in bed. Back to the grind of getting up early!
     
  17. *pixie*

    *pixie* Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Messages:
    328
    We are booked on a Rum Runners whale watching/fishing excursion next week. I was so glad to see your review of it! Capt. Chris has been very pleasant through the whole booking experience, so I'm really hoping you're right and he was just having an "off" day.

    After seeing all of your great pictures from the excursion, I'm even more excited!

    Thanks for taking the time to do your trip report!
     
  18. *pixie*

    *pixie* Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Messages:
    328
    One more thing, which you may have mentioned earlier, what camera were you using for your whale/eagles pics? I'm hoping my 70-300 lens will have enough reach!
     
  19. Vegam060

    Vegam060 Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2013
    Messages:
    35
    Your pictures of the eagles are absolutely AMAZING!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait to go to Alaska next year. How far in advance did you book with Rum Runners and Captain Chris
     
  20. *pixie*

    *pixie* Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2008
    Messages:
    328
    Not the OP, but I booked with Rum Runners around Thanksgiving, and he already had another party booked that day. Luckily, we only wanted a 6 hour and he was able to work us into his day.
     
  21. kid-at-heart

    kid-at-heart DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1,619
    Are you guys already back in school? In Michigan we do not start back until after Labor day. Heck, back when I was a kid we started school the week after Labor day and finished the week before Memorial day.
     

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