Planning a WONDERful Alaskan Cruise in 31 Days: An OCD Mom Survives Booking VGT!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Pre-Trip Reports' started by MickeyMomTo2, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    My name is Lauren, and I am a 39yo married mom of an 11yo son and an 8yo daughter. I am an obsessive compulsive planner, particularly when it comes to Disney vacations. In 2011, we went to Disney World 6 times (thanks to my wonderful husband who gave us annual passes as a gift). As amazing as that was, we decided we needed to work in some other travel experiences for the kids. In 2012, we visited the Grand Canyon and went on a Bahamian Disney cruise. This year, we are going back to WDW in November, and we planned to go to San Francisco/Yosemite in July. We considered a Disney Alaskan cruise, but the price seemed steep. We put that idea on the back burner.

    For an OCD planner, putting it on the back burner means that even though I didn't think we were going to go to Alaska, I still spent lots of time reading about the trip on the Disboards (this info is now going to be very handy). My husband and I also stalked the Disney website, paying attention to prices. Last Wednesday (6/5/2013), my husband called me to tell me that DCL website showed a VGT rate for the 7/8/13 Alaskan cruise. Our San Fran/Yosemite plans were flexible and able to be cancelled, so we were seriously considering the cruise. By the next morning, however, the VGT rate for 4 people was gone. Okay, no big deal...we had a great vacation to California planned anyway, but we were a little disappointed to miss out. Friday morning, I checked again, and the deal was back! We decided to jump on it! We are sailing to Alaska on 7/8/2013.

    With only 31 days to plan, make reservations, pack, get passports, etc..., my OCD planning mind is on overdrive. I hope to use this thread to document the next four weeks, and I plan to include a trip report when I return. All are welcome to join our journey to the land of the midnight sun!

    Here's my crew:

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    You'll love Alaska its amazing, happy planning.
     
  4. kmeagan

    kmeagan Earning My Ears

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    I have cruised on Disney before but this is our first trip to Alaska and I am beyond excited! Any top recommendations for port advenutres in Skagway, Ketchikan, and Juneau?

    Thanks,
    Kathy
     
  5. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    In Skagway we did the Yukon Suspension Bridge and White Pass Railway.

    In Juneau we did the Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Watching Tour.

    In Ketchikan we didn't book a tour just explored the town and went to the Totem Heritage Centre.

    We enjoyed all our tours.
     
  6. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Can you walk to the Totem Heritage Center from the pier? We have an excursion planned at 1:00 (I plan to update this thread with those plans this afternoon), but I was wondering if we could walk and see some totem poles before our excursion.
     
  7. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    Yes we walked from the pier. We took the funicular up part of the way, I think it was $2 although we didn't pay as there was no one there to take the money. It was $5 to see the totems.
     
  8. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    After we jumped on the VGT rate last Friday (6/7), my head starting spinning with the details we needed to take care of. We had a trip booked to San Francisco, so the first thing I did was cancel our flights and hotels there. DH is a frequent traveler, so we use his Southwest points to fly and his Hilton points for hotels. Thankfully, points are easy to cancel and rebook. It didn't take long to make changes.

    Here are our flight details:

    We are flying nonstop to Seattle (because we can fly there on points) on July 5th. We leave TN around 11:00 and arrive at Seatac around 2:30. This will give us all of Saturday and part of Sunday to explore Seattle (and a few days to adjust to the time change before the cruise--our kids do NOT fall back easily).

    Our return flight is on Monday, July 15th at 3:30PM. We will have to self-disembark the ship and get back to Seattle in 5 hours in order to be at the airport with 1 1/2 -2 hours before our flight, but I have spoken to several friends in the Seattle area, and they assure me this will be plenty of time. I hope so!

    Hotels:

    We plan to stay near the airport in Seattle for two nights and use the light rail to get into downtown. On Sunday evening, we will stay near the airport in Vancouver. Both Seattle and Vancouver hotels are Hilton properties, and staying near the airport takes fewer points than downtown. We plan to rent a car (again, we are using DH's points from traveling) in Seattle and drive ourselves to Vancouver. We will drive ourselves to the port, and our car will be waiting for us when we need to make a speedy departure after the cruise.

    Excursions:

    Now the fun part! I am very excited about the excursions we booked. I booked all the excursions on my own after researching tripadvisor, the Dis, and Cruise Critic. Many of them are the same tours offered by DCL, but I got a price break by booking on my own. I have several hours of buffer time at all three ports, so I don't think we will have a problem making it back to the ship before it sails. I am so glad that I had spent HOURS reading about excursions and options before we even knew we would take this cruise. This is where my travel OCD comes in handy!

    In Skagway, we are planning a Glacier Discovery by Helicopter in the morning and the Sled Dog and Musher's Camp in the afternoon. I decided to book the helicopter on our first day so that if it gets rained out, we can try again in Juneau. I really think the Musher's Camp will be my DD's favorite excursion of the entire trip. Playing with the puppies will be a highlight for her!

    In Juneau, we are doing whale watching with Alaska Galore in the morning. In the afternoon, we plan to hike at the Mendenhall glacier on our own, unless our helicopter/glacier trip gets cancelled in Skagway.

    In Ketchikan, we plan to do the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour, and we hope to check out some totem poles. I feel like I need some pictures with these! I was really excited to get tickets to the Crab Fisherman's Tour. It was sold out on their website and through Disney. I checked with Shoretrips.com, and they still had some tickets available. They have an A+ rating with the BBB, and the reviews for them online are positive, so I am keeping my fingers crossed that our tickets are legitimate! The tour looks very fun!

    I have lots more of our planning details to share! We are getting very excited!
     
  9. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    What are you thinking of doing in Seattle? We really enjoyed the Underground Tour.
     
  10. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    We were just in Seattle. I can highly recommend the Museum of Flight (near the airport), the Aquarium and the Woodlands Park Zoo.
     
  11. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Thanks for the suggestions, and this makes a perfect segue to my next post!
     
  12. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    We will have Friday night, all of Saturday, and a half day on Sunday in Seattle. Most likely, we will grab dinner and hang out at the hotel on Friday. We have two must-do activities, but are open to suggestions. We are a baseball-loving family, and we are disappointed that the Mariners won't be in town for the weekend. But, we plan to do a stadium tour of Safeco Field so we can at least check the park off our "Stadiums We Have Visited" list. They offer three tour times a day, so we may take the first one on Saturday morning. DS (11) and DD (8) also want to go to the top of the Space Needle.

    I thought about grabbing lunch at Pike Place Market, but I've read several reviews saying that it can get very crowded, so I'm not sure about that. Thanks to the two suggestions above, I am also going to read up on the Underground Tour and Flight Museum. My dad worked for the Air Force as a civilian in test and evaluation for 38 years, so I wish he could go with us! He would love the Flight Museum. We have been to the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, and some of the exhibits sound similar.

    We will not have a car, so the places we visit in Seattle need to be accessible by light rail, but we are excited about the possibilities!
     
  13. disneyfaninaz

    disneyfaninaz It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!

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    Pioneer Square is really close to the stadiums so the Underground Tour is doable and is very interesting and entertaining. It takes about 90 minutes.

    The Museum of Flight opens and 10:00 AM and if you are near the airport, I would do the museum on Sunday before your flight. You only need 1-2 hours to see it.

    There are several good places to eat along the water front. We enjoyed Anthony's Bell Diner. We also really enjoyed Local 360 which is on 1st Avenue and Bell.

    It is very easy to get around Seattle. We walked almost everywhere. The light rail from the airport ends at Westlake Mall where the monorail can take you to Seattle Center where the Space Needle is. From there, you can walk down to the water front and Pike Market.
     
  14. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    We walked around Seattle most of the time but I also got the hop on hop off bus but only because I got a great deal on Groupon. We went up the Columbia Tower rather than the space needle as its a fraction of the cost (I again got an even better deal on Groupon), its higher up and you can see the Space Needle from it. You get a good look at the stadiums as well. We enjoyed eating at the Crab Pot. Pike Place Market was really busy but worth a look around.
     
  15. DisneyCruiser83

    DisneyCruiser83 You jump, I jump, Jack!

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    Hello!

    I am so glad I found your trip report! Our family will be on this cruise as well. I am from the Seattle area and will be staying for about a week after the cruise. If you have any other questions when planning comes up, I would be happy to help in any way I can. I can't wait until we sail! :cool1:
     
  16. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    I need to read up on transportation. I didn't even know there was a monorail. I guess once we figure out where we are going, I can find out for sure how to get there.

    I haven't heard of Columbia Tower, so that's another thing to research. I also need to check the current Groupon deals. Thanks!
     
  17. Doodles811

    Doodles811 Dreaming...One port at a time

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    Not to worry. I cannot tell you how many time I looked at the website before deciding on a cruise to Alaska. I took my mother (82 years old) and my 14 year old son on the Wonder last year to Alaska. I cannot begin to tell you what a fabulous time we had. The weather was perfect, the excursions were amazing, and the scenery was breathtaking. We did an excursion in every port (except Victoria).

    In Skagway it was the Yukon Expedition which included a delicious lunch and the train down the White Pass.

    In Juneau our excursion was The Best of Juneau (and let me tell you - it was). Mendenhall Glacier, Whale watching, and a amazing lunch at Orca Point Lodge on Colt Island

    Ketchikan was City Highlights, Totems, and Creek Street by Trolley - the totems were very interesting. Had I known this tour was going to end so quickly, I would have booked the lumberjack show as well.

    Because Victoria was our last night on board and we had to get our luggage packed and out by 11:00 we just took the free shuttle bus into town and walked around. I was thinking about Butchart Gardens but I'm glad we didn't. By the time we arrived in port it was starting to get dark. Don't know how many flowers you can see in the dark. Not too much to do in town. We walked around on the main street (most of the stores were closed) and then took the bus back to the ship. We were back in time for dinner.

    Loved Alaska so much - we are doing it again (this time with Carnival - long story).

    Hope you have just as an amazing time as we did.
     
  18. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Sounds like you had an amazing trip! We won't go to Victoria on this cruise because we are sailing out of Vancouver, but I am looking forward to our adventures in the other ports. I hope your return trip this August is wonderful as well!
     
  19. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    We will be leaving Seattle on Sunday afternoon to drive to Vancouver. We are renting a car at the airport. We are getting the car free with my husband's points, so even though we will be paying for parking at the port, it's still cheaper than paying for a shuttle service. We plan to leave mid-afternoon. (It would be good to leave earlier so we could see more of Vancouver, but we don't want to pay for an extra day with the car.)

    Our hotel in Vancouver is near the airport, so I'm not sure we will drive all the way into the city. I hate to miss out on seeing the sights, but we will see how it goes. We may just see what time we arrive and play it by ear.

    On Monday morning, we will drive from the airport area to the port. We have reserved a parking place in the garage there. Our port arrival time is not until 12:30, but I'm wondering if they are picky about this in Vancouver. I'm thinking the port arrival times were added to accommodate the Dream and Fantasy in Port Canaveral, so I'm not sure how strict they are about this with the classic ships. The only reason we would like to arrive earlier to board is we expect we will be assigned the second seating for dinner. We are waitlisted for main now. If we get main dining before we board, I won't be in a hurry, but if we don't, I'd really like to get to Studio Sea as early as possible to request a change.

    I guess we may not see much of Vancouver. I've heard it is beautiful. I won't worry about it too much, since I know the trip will be filled with amazing sights!
     
  20. Chilly

    Chilly RIP Tag Fairy

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    I'd plan to arrive as early as poss. The queue to get through security was HUGE when we went and another TR i've read this year said the same thing.
     
  21. MickeyMomTo2

    MickeyMomTo2 Lauren S. @baseballsbows

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    Were they asking for port arrival times or just letting everyone in? Do you know what time the port opens?
     

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