Alaskan Adventure Aug. 9 - 16

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Trip Reports' started by MassDisLovers, Aug 19, 2011.

  1. MassDisLovers

    MassDisLovers A dream is a wish your heart makes....

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    On Sunday we arrived in Ketchikan which , according to the DCL Navigator, was first established as a fishing camp in 1883 and then later became known as a mining supply center for gold and copper mining. By the early 1900s was a logging town and that remained for more than 70 years. Like Juneau, Ketchikan is only accessible by boat or plane. The city is currently known as the "Salmon Capitol of the World" and the economy is now based on tourism and fishing. Our twenty-something girls were hoping to meet some lumberjacks, but as it turned out they were about as elusive as the whales on our excursion that day!

    The day was overcast and we were not scheduled to arrive until noon, so we decided to have a leisurely breakfast in Tritons. Shortly after we arrived our new Dis Friends, Karla and her Mom Nancy arrived so we enjoyed their company, along with Karla's husband Dan, while we ate and chatted.

    In preparing for this trip I had purchased the "Frommers Guide to Alaska by Cruise Ship" and several other travel books. They all recommended an excursion to the Misty Fjords National Monument in the Tongass National Forest, so we had decided to book this through DCL ($179.00 pp). We had hoped to do the Disney Lumberjack show, but the Misty Fjords excursion was a 5+ hour long adventure so we couldn't do both. Based on the guide books we decided to go with the Misty Fjords.

    The excursion was on a large catamaran with an enclosed upper deck (where we sat) and plenty of room to walk around outside and enjoy the sights. The promotional literature for the trip advertised that we would see salmon, black-tailed deer, brown and black bears, wolves, minks, bald eagles, martens, mountain goats, river otters and humpback whales as well as other wildlife. The Misty Fjords are beautiful mountains that rise out of the sea and they are located in a unique ecosystem that supports this wildlife. The receeding glaciers gave way to brush, forest, waterfalls and salt marshes. We were very excited!

    We left the dock shortly after 12:30 pm and began our adventure. There were naturalists on board who gave intermittent narrations about the areas we were in. We expected to be directed to look here or there for whales or eagles or.... anything.... but that really didnt happen. Overall the excursion fell way short of our expectations. While it is certainly not the tour operator's fault that we did not see whales, we actually only saw one bald eagle and a group of seals on the entire trip. The scenary was beautiful, but not all that different from what we had been seeing since we left Vancouver 6 days earlier. Most people on the trip grew restless and many napped and the children really got whiny and bored. They served some light snacks along the way, which made it nice and had some coloring sheets downstairs for the children, but the lack of wildlife made an already long excursion seem much longer. To pass the time we chatted with the folks seated around us. Pretty much everyone felt that while it wasnt a bad excursion, it really wasnt worth $179.00 for a boat ride and it really wasnt good, either.

    We got back at nearly 6 pm and all aboard was at 7:30 pm. We felt a little cheated - we hadnt seen the town at all- so we went to a couple close-by shops and bought a few more things to take home. We boarded the ship near the end of the time ashore and had to get ready for dinner. If we had been on a spectacular tour that afternoon we might not have felt that we missed anything in not seeing the town, but in reality we saw pretty much none of Ketchikan and pretty much no wildlife either.

    Dinner was semi-formal so we put on our fanciest clothes and went to the least fancy restaurant - Parrot Cay. The previous evening our servers had asked who would be ordering the baked lobster tails (presumably to get a count). Being from New England we often have fresh Maine lobster so we were very much looking forward to this dinner. Five of us answered that we would like lobster, and my father jokingly said that he would like 5 lobster tails. Well....lesson learned... do not tease your servers. Not only did Englebert bring him 5 lobster tails- he brought him 5 complete dinners! My father was embarrassed and upset -he hates to waste food and he felt awful that they had actually thought he wanted 5 dinners. He begged us to help him eat them so it wouldnt be wasted, but before we could even start in on one, Englebert arrived with second meals for all of us who had ordered the lobster. For five people we now had 13 full dinners. :scared1: The table was so full of dishes we barley had room to put a fork down between bites. Of course the girls were plenty giggly about Grandpa's 5 dinners but he didnt find it funny at all. And, to make matters worse, the lobster tails were dry and tough and...well not really good at all. He did the best he could, but in the end just about all of the rice and green beans and two untouched lobster tails remained. My father sort of slunk out of the dining room and we wondered if he'd ever return!

    After dinner went to the Adult Comedy show in WaveBands (Daren Streblow) which was ok and then headed back to do a little packing. The tip envelopes were there, glaring at us from their places on our beds. I hate tip envelopes... they reinforce the fact that the trip is nearly over. We counted our cash and remarked how yes! we still had plenty of cash, but then remembered that was becuase we had been constantly using our credit cards... and got the envelopes ready. We remembered to set the clock forward an hour (we have had a little trouble with this on past cruises) and called it a night around midnight. At some point the girls came back, but I only truly know this because they were in their beds in the morning when I got up.

    Next - The last day of this trip - and will this be our last DCL experience?
     
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  3. WDWJonasGirl

    WDWJonasGirl Mouseketeer/Directioner

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    Loved the update!!
     
  4. MassDisLovers

    MassDisLovers A dream is a wish your heart makes....

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    Monday was a funny day- we all seemed a little "off". Was it the changing of the time zones finally catching up with us or the "last day blues"? The girls slept in until who-knows-how-late, Jody and I had breakfast in Parrot Cay and then went to the theatre to catch the final Alaskan Naturalist presentation on bears and to watch the new "Winnie The Pooh" movie. All that sitting made me a little tired, and I think (?) I may have nodded off for a moment or two (sorry, Pooh). The movie was cute, but I'm glad I didnt pay to see it - it was only about an hour long and not so different from the Pooh I remembered.

    After that we went to Wavebands to hear the "Innovations: Theme Parks and Resorts" presentation. We were a few minutes early and chose our seats. Shortly after we arrived in walked the FAMILY FROM THE "ART OF THE THEME" TOUR..... ugh! The thought of fighting to hear the presentation over those children again was more than we wanted to put up with, so we quickly changed seats.... as far away as we could get from them. However, that really wasnt necessary because the waitress told the parents that the children couldn't stay. The mom argued (loudly) "that kids were allowed on Beat Street until 9pm". The waitress stood her ground, however, and after much sighing and huffing and puffing, it was decided that the Dad and kids would leave and only the Mom would stay (no Grandma-in-the-wheelchair this time). We were really glad that the waitress spoke up because the presenter was the same as from the tour, Sheena, and she probably would not have said anything. The presentation was interesting, talked about the Top 10 Innovations that Disney used to make their parks more than just an amusement park.

    After this we got some snacks from Deck 9 and headed up to the Cove Cafe to sit, read and watch the beautiful scenery go by until it was time to go to tea at Palo for Jody's birthday. As the afternoon wore on we frequently went outside to see whales and dolphins in the distance. I went to the future cruise desk and booked a "dummy cruise" for a $99 deposit - just as a place marker until the 2013 schedules come out, but even as I did it, I wondered - have we "outgrown" Disney? The shows/activites seemed a little same old/same old on this trip. We no longer need to pay the premium for the excellent kid's activities - maybe it's time to look more seriously at other lines?

    At 3pm we all met at Palo for our "ladies tea" to celebrate Jody's birthday. We had picked up gifts along the way to surprise her- a fleece vest in Vancouver, an Alaskan calendar and key chain, coffee and an insulated mug. The setting was perfect, the treats spectacular and the company the best. Happy Birthday at sea - how wonderful!

    The show that evening was "Disney Dreams" which we always enjoy so we went to see it. After that we stopped into the shops and I bought a few more "needed" items including DCL t-shirts for my Dad and the 9 yr old (matching). The captain was signing purchases with a Sharpie so we had him sign the shirts - fun memory.

    Dinner that night was in Tritons (back where we first began). No one seemed too hungry - I think we were all full from all the eating all week - (even if Alex at Palo's had complained that we didn't eat enough when we went to brunch!) Meg had been waiting all week for the "Baked Alaska" but she barely took a few bites. We thanked our servers for their hard work all week and gave them the tip envelopes. We knew we would need to get off the ship very early the next morning to make our 11:30 flight, so breakfast was not going to happen. After dinner we went to watch the "Til We Meet Again excitement in the lobby, we enjoyed watching all the children enjoying the characters.

    Time for the final packing and checking drawers and closets - we didn't have to put our luggage out because we had to take it off ourselves at 7:30 am in the first wave of disembarkers. Last night in our little home-away-from home. Long day of traveling tomorrow ...
     
  5. WDWJonasGirl

    WDWJonasGirl Mouseketeer/Directioner

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    Loved the trip report!!
     
  6. MassDisLovers

    MassDisLovers A dream is a wish your heart makes....

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    So - did we enjoy this cruise? We loved it. We loved the scenery and it seemed more relaxing than Caribbean cruises, in spite of the 3 ports in three days. So, then, you may be asking, why the "is it time to look at other lines"? I guess it's just that the "we're at home on our ship" feeling isn't quite good enough anymore. We love the shows (well... maybe not "Toy Story") but we have seen them all over and over, so the excitement is no longer there. We love the activities, but again, we've gone to pretty much everything...many times. The theme nights are fun, but other lines have them, too. The rotational dining is unique to DCL and I think the crew is a bit more friendly, but we no longer need the kids programming, and we have to be honest, we are paying a big premium to cruise on DCL for something we do not need. We like the bring-your-alcohol-onboard policy, but we're not big drinkers, so it's not a real big thing for us. The food is good on DCL but it's good on other lines, too. Palo is wonderful but... we've been there a lot, and other lines have specialty restaurants also.

    This cruise seemed to be same old/same old- we were not "dying" to go to anything because we have seen it and done it before. With so many repeat cruisers, you would think that DCL would change up the evening/adult entertainment so that each cruise would be a little different. I did book a dummy cruise onboard , and will probably book something for real when the 2013 itineraries are published, but only if we can go somewhere new and exciting (like Alaska was this year) because what's happening on the ship is old and familiar.

    We have great memories of wonderful family vacations on DCL, and do not regret one experience or one cent spent on our 6 DCL cruises. Our home is filled with pictures of blissful days on CC and delightful interactions with characters ("back in the day") but perhaps it is worth exploring other lines. We've sailed on RC and (gasp!) Carnival and always been very pleased with our vacations. When it 's a matter of thousands of dollars difference, it's worth a look. Maybe we'll be back on a DCL cruise in the coming years, maybe not , but the ones we've taken have been spectacular, and what more can you ask?
     
  7. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet DIS Veteran

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    I thoroughly enjoyed your trip report--loved your surprise of family showing up on the ship and you had no idea at all.

    We sail to Alaska in 2014, and I am wondering if you did book another DCL trip or not. This report is so far in the past that you may never see this message, but you never know. :goodvibes
     
  8. Cj1977

    Cj1977 Earning My Ears

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    The trip sounds fun:wave2:
     
  9. Paulagrav

    Paulagrav Earning My Ears

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    We sail to Alaska in 2014, too, and I enjoyed reading your TR. I sailed there in 1987 on Holland America, and am looking forward to taking my kids there next year.
     

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