Alaska September 2nd-9th 2013 - Our EPIC adventure!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by topsy, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Well done on haggling down the tour price.

    We left a $20 tip at Palo I think.
     
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  3. Ware Bears

    Ware Bears Mourning the loss of my tags Moderator

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    Just read this through in one go and really enjoyed it. :goodvibes

    I feel your pain about the bears - I started to wonder if we'd see any when our guide on our Skagway tour said that they were in very short supply this summer, usually by now (early August) he'd see about 60 and he hadn't even seen a dozen.

    I just missed a couple at Mendenhall. My DD had one cross the path just ahead of her and there was a mother and baby at the viewing area at the far end of the car park but some children got excited and scared them off before I got to see them. Luckily a lady had videoed them on her camera and she kindly showed me that. The family with the children had gone by then and we could hear the bears scratching around but they didn't actually show themselves again whilst I was there and unfortunately we had to leave to catch the bus back.

    We had really hot weather on our Ketchikan day when we did a float plane trip to Traitor's Cove - we spent over three hours waiting ..... and hoping ..... and waiting ..... we were very lucky and did see a mother and baby on our way back to the plane but the way I look at it is that it gives me the perfect excuse to go back - as if I need one! ;)
     
  4. marquislaura

    marquislaura Mouseketeer

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    Great TR. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Looking into going on one in the future.
     
  5. Sonja99

    Sonja99 Love to travel!

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    What a great trip report :thumbsup2 Thanks for sharing!
    We are going to do the Alaska cruise in june and I can't wait :cool1:
     
  6. OSUBuckly

    OSUBuckly Mouseketeer

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    This is an A+ level trip report. Hope you can return to wrap it up!
     
  7. donaldjessie

    donaldjessie Earning My Ears

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    amazing pictures!!! I really like your report!!!! I'm excited to go to this trip next summer vacation..
     
  8. MizDisney513

    MizDisney513 Earning My Ears

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    Loved reading your report! :thumbsup2
     
  9. kiddisney

    kiddisney DIS Veteran

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    thank you for such a great trip report - i really enjoyed reading about all of your adventures - loved the poutine & tim hortons & froot loops stories - we went in july 2011 and spent a lot of time in th - we are scheduled to go back in july 2014 - but are tempted to switch to this same week & add on the trip back down to san diego - your report showed me that the weather isn't that back & that the experieince is still great -

    if you get back on the boards - can you say something about the temperature & seas at this time of year - do you think it's colder & rougher than a trip in july -
     
  10. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    kiddinsey - the weather was brilliant, which was kind of a pain as I had packed all wrong! We were expecting it to be pretty chilly and dull but instead we got highs of over 18C (about 64/65F) most days with lots of sunshine.

    Being from the UK we are fine with it being cold so weren't too worried. Inside the ship is always warm so don't worry about that. The only really wet day was in Juneau but it wasn't that cold. I do wish I had taken waterproof trousers to go over my jeans as they were soaked!

    Tracy Arm can feel pretty cold purely because you are likely to be up on deck for several hours. I remember going back to the room to take off all my under layers and just wear trousers, a t-shirt and coat. the coat took the chill off (and rain!!).

    When I packed originally, I had loads of coats, fleeces and body warmers but ended up taking most of them out.

    I think the best advice I could give is to just wear normal clothes (i.e jeans and t-shirt) but take one base layer and one over layer which you can wear every day on top if needed.

    Wow - I didn't realise it had been so long since I logged on! Apologies for keeping you all waiting, the last few months have been manic! I started to study for a diploma alongside my full-time work, our new puppy has been a handful and to top it off we are building a house - I think I need another Disney cruise to help get over it all!!!

    Thank you for your wonderful, kind messages about my report. I wanted write something which people found exciting and informative, much like all the reports I read when planning our trip. It means so much that you are enjoying it!

    Now then, I have the last instalment to put up but I have maxed out my photo limit on photo bucket and am having a hard time uploading them anywhere else. I'll post the instalment and then add photos later if I can.

    I'll try not to disappear again anytime soon! :rolleyes1
     
  11. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    Sadly, the day to depart had come. I hate this part of the cruise; it really leaves me feeling down. For some reason it’s much worse than the feeling of leaving WDW, maybe because all of our WDW holidays are at least 2 weeks, 7 nights on the cruise just isn’t enough!

    I don’t recall what time we woke up, but I do remember opening the curtains to find Canada Place staring right back at me! This morning is all a bit fuzzy but I remember we took the elevator down to deck three and I popped into Parrot Cay to give out servers their tip envelopes. I felt a bit bad at not having given them extra as they were so sweet and gave me hugs and good wishes. To be honest though, their service just wasn’t top notch.

    After I’d given the tip envelopes we headed to the main lobby/atrium and found quite a queue of people waiting to get off the ship. It wasn’t un-organised as such but it was a bit of a bottleneck. We then queued all the way along the gangway and through the terminal until the baggage hall (which is the same room we checked in when we embarked).

    We had our bags so they directed us straight to the right to join another queue to go through customs. We had filled out the forms which they left in our stateroom the night before. If you need more customs forms, you can ask your stateroom host or grab them from guest services. Once through customs we were let loose in the main terminal and followed the signs to the taxi rank. This became the longest queue ever! We must have been waiting for almost an hour for a taxi. They kept adding ropes to make the line longer! Granted, we were only getting a taxi to take us a few blocks so we probably should have walked but we had so many bags and were exhausted so we decided just to be lazy and stay in the line. Plus once you’re in there, there’s no easy way to get out!!!

    Our taxi driver wasn’t thrilled at the short distance we had asked to travel! We got to the hotel at about 10.30am and checked-in. We were staying at the Ramada again as I got a good rate for our split-stay. We didn’t expect a room to be ready so were going to drop the bags off and then head out for breakfast and then maybe a hop-on hop-off bus tour. They had a room ready for us so instead we went up and pretty much crashed out.

    I was still feeling unwell and very achy and we were both hungry so we went out for our traditional Tim Horton’s breakfast and hit 7/11 for more wonderful American snacks. This is pretty much where our day ended. We went back to the room and fell asleep. We didn’t venture out again until the evening. It seems like a waste of a day in Vancouver and yes, there were things we didn’t do or see because of this but we were so tired. Because we had packed so much in on our days on the cruise, being up early to spot whales, we didn’t realise how tired we were until we got off the ship.

    Around 5.00pm we went out in search of a Five Guys burger place as we had heard the one in London was really good. We ordered the big burgers and fries. Trust them when they tell you a small fries is big enough for two to share – they were HUGE! I didn’t like the fries at all, I found them to be really burnt tasting but the burger was AMAZING. After we’d eaten, we had a very boring night of watching TV and falling asleep, again.

    Next up – Making the most of Vancouver, yes, we actually left the hotel!
     
  12. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    We woke this morning feeling rested and ready to go. Our flight back to London wasn’t until 8.00pm so we had all day in Vancouver. We packed up and took our bags down to the front desk; they have a huge storeroom where we left everything until the evening.

    The day started with our last breakfast at, you guessed it, Tim Horton’s! I had my last taste of maple dip doughnuts, a moment which I marked by a moments silence. Not really, I’m not THAT attached to doughnuts! Today we were heading to Stanley Park to rent bikes and cycle around exploring. We decided that we could walk as the city is not huge. I suppose it took us about 30 minutes to walk. We stopped at a 7/11 on the way as we really wanted a grape slushee – another food item we can’t get at home and full of E-numbers!

    We rented bikes from Spokes, right on the corner of Denman Street near the park. We chose the pretty vintage looking 7 speed bikes which were $10 each per hour. We had the option of adding a basket to the front for free, which we both did as we had bags and cameras. They told us not to ride the bikes on sidewalks as it is illegal, instead we should get off and walk them. We crossed the street and then hopped on and rode off into the park.

    This has to be one of the best ways of seeing Stanley Park. You can go at your own pace and stop whenever and wherever you like. If you were going to stop off I would ask them for a lock, again these were free of charge. We cycled around the entire perimeter with several stops for photos in about 1.5 hours. We weren’t brave enough to cycle around the city but I’m sure this is easy to do. They have some great bike zones and lanes throughout the city.

    After we’d returned the bikes to Spokes, we decided we should have a meal before heading to the airport. We hadn’t been to Gastown yet so we walked back that way and decided to eat in that area. I had read on the Dis that The Old Spaghetti Factory was really good value for food so after taking our obligatory pictures of the steam clock, we went there. It is quite far down the main street if you’re walking from the Canada Place end. We almost gave up and thought of finding somewhere to eat else but then saw it just in time!

    Good value it certainly is. On their menu, certain entrees came with a soup or salad to start as well as bread, a soft drink and dessert. We both ordered a salad to start then I had a parmesan crusted chicken with spaghetti (and a side of fries to share!) followed by some lovely ice-cream of which I cannot remember the name. It was a mix of chocolate, pistachio and vanilla and was delicious.

    Once we had finished our food, it was time to head back to the hotel and get a cab to the airport. We left in plenty of time and thank goodness we did as the traffic was really slow. It probably took 40 minutes to get back to the airport.

    At the airport, it was all pretty uneventful. We checked in, looked in the shops and before we knew it we were boarding, about an hour early! Soon we were off. It was bitter sweet flying out over the bay, turning over Lions Gate Bridge and heading back towards the east. We looked down at the boats below and marvelled at the wonderful trip we had taken.

    An epic adventure.
     
  13. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    I can’t believe my TR is over already, it went by as quickly as the cruise! I’ve compiled a few thoughts, good and bad, about the cruise, ports and Vancouver. Hopefully they may be of some help.

    I have also given each of the tour companies a short review along with their contact details.

    Thank you for reading along, I hope I haven’t bored you and that you have enjoyed our photos. I took lots of video footage and really want to compile it all into a short video but I am rubbish with that sort of technology. If you check back in about 3 years I may have one done!

    Positives:

    1) Elmer – stateroom host was wonderful. Very attentive, asked about our day, helped when we felt seasick and cleaned the room to a brilliant standard. We gave him an additional tip.

    2) Veranda – I’m sure people with inside rooms had a wonderful time but I can’t imagine this trip without instant access to the outside. Most of our time was spent out here and we saw some of the best whale breaches.

    3) Palo – AMAZING brunch, worth the money. Dinner is still good but if I had to choose one it would definitely be brunch.

    4) The brilliant Disboarders who designed our door magnets – thank you! Although we didn’t see many doors which were decorated. The one next to us was really good!

    5) Hot Chocolate – it’s yummy and FREE – make the most of it from the drink station on deck 9

    6) Food – I know there is a lot of talk about the food on DCL but I genuinely think it is great. Anyone who expects 5* fine dining in a main restaurant trying to serve 500 people at a time is on the wrong holiday! I would suggest you get out of your comfort zone and try some of the more unusual offerings on the menus. If you’re a meat and potatoes type – you can always get a burger up on deck!

    7) Vancouver – is a wonderful city which I truly hope to visit again in the future. It is small enough to navigate easily and without having a car and we felt perfectly safe walking around at night as two young ladies.

    Negatives:

    1) Spa selling techniques – following my treatment I was relaxed and happy but then had to endure 10 minutes of sales pitch from my therapist. She tried to sell me “Fat Girl Sleep” which I found insulting and I left remembering the sales pitch rather than the treatment. Didn’t like that they hovered over me when signing the bill.

    2) Smoking on verandas – shouldn’t be a problem on our next cruise as I believe they are banning it.

    3) Dining room staff – I didn’t feel at all like they got to know us, my drinks were wrong for the first 3 nights and service was extremely slow. All tables around us were always ahead of us. Niti was not personable but was nice and friendly enough. He made a point of waving to us once we disembarked even though he had received his tip (which we didn’t add to!)

    4) Palo – I asked whether I could try the baked Alaska from the MDR on the last night and it was a flat out no. Our server, although wonderful was slammed and was clearly starting to stress out, fortunately we weren’t in a rush. I was not allowed to take my leftovers from brunch to my room which was a shame. Same with the strawberries. I mentioned how much I loved chocolate covered strawberries but was not allowed to take any back to the room and didn’t see any at dinner.
     
  14. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    These are the tour companies we used –

    Chilkoot Charters & Tours

    http://www.chilkootcharters.com/

    A – Excellent communication prior to tour, easy to pay online and a brilliant tour guide on the day. Our driver even let us drift off to sleep on the journey back to Skagway!

    Harv & Marv

    http://www.harvandmarvs.com/

    A++ - Wow, what a company. We sent several emails back and forth with Callie who tried to help us make the most of our short time in Juneau. She was gracious and never tired of our questions. As for the tour itself – they have a real asset in Captain Liz. She was wonderful. Passionate, kind and truly wanted to share the best experience she could with us.

    Promech Air

    http://www.promechair.com/

    B/C – We did not pre-book this tour so knew nothing about the company. To begin with, I would have given a C as they were disorganised and the manager/organiser was rude to our fellow passengers when she questioned his time keeping. We had all been told to get to the bus stop at a certain time, which we did, but they were nowhere to be seen. It did improve though, the planes were clean and safe, the pilot was lovely and the tour at Neat’s Bay was good. A shame we didn’t see any bears but the weather was unseasonably hot so they cannot be blamed!

    Spokes Bikes, Vancouver

    http://www.spokesbicyclerentals.com/

    A+ - a really friendly set-up right on the edge of Stanley Park. Bikes were in great condition and prices very reasonable. They have bikes for all ages/sizes/abilities.
     
  15. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Thanks for coming back and finishing your report. Enjoy your next cruise.
     
  16. jennyjinx3

    jennyjinx3 DIS Veteran

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    WOW. We are considering an Alaskan cruise for 2015 should DCL return there, and this was the most amazing trip report! I loved all your pics and comments. Could I possible PM you if we do book one and have questions?? :)
     
  17. pascalstongue

    pascalstongue DIS Veteran

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    Thank you very much for your trip report. Sounds like an amazing trip overall. Good luck compiling your video!
     
  18. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet DIS Veteran

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    Yes, thanks for finishing up the report. We sail in May (all adults) on the 9-night, so I really enjoyed your report and perspective.

    We did a 3-night cruise in November and had the same meal as you in Palo. I absolutely loved the lobster ravioli, thought it was about the best thing I had ever eaten in my life. My DH had the calamari as an appetizer as well and we both had the filet with the souffle for dessert. On our 3 night cruise we had dinner in Palo two of the three nights. I love both dinner and brunch at Palo, but there was not a brunch offered on our sailing.

    Do you have another adventure planned?
     
  19. topsy

    topsy Mouseketeer

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    You're welcome - I'm just sorry it took so long!

    We have a deposit down for the Eastbound transatlantic in May but due to various commitments should probably cancel. I really don't want to cancel though as we got such a cheap price for the cruise!

    We have until January to cancel so I am trying to find a solution before then!!!
     
  20. podsnel

    podsnel <font color=blue>just skippin' around, amusing mys

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    Hi Topsy! :goodvibes Thank you for all the photos and details- we are about to book this for this august, and i am CRAZY excited about it!:hyper: Thanks especially for all of your verandah pics- we are hoping to book one of those and an inside across the hall (if it is still available on Dec 28th when we board the Fantasy). Your photos from it were lovely, I love how the window framed the scenery and the interior was adorable! Were you glad you had a Navigator Verandah for Alaska, do you have any regrets you didn't choose one of the regular balconies? And were there 2 chairs out there along with the bench? Thanks for any insight- very grateful!

    And so glad you went to Tracy's- that was already on my must-do list! :goodvibes Also good to hear about your whale watching- something else we want to do up there. There really are so many excursions in Alaska to try, it's difficult to narrow it down!

    Thanks,
    Ellen
     
  21. nancipants

    nancipants Mouseketeer

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    Thanks for such a detailed trip report! My husband and I will be on this cruise in July for our honeymoon, so I appreciate the adults-only perspective. We went on the Dream with his family in August and loved all the adults-only sections, so we decided to book the Alaska cruise while on board (we'd previously been considering Royal Caribbean).

    I hope you get to go on your TA cruise!
     

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