Very overwhelmed with Alaska planning!

Discussion in 'Disney Cruise Line Forum' started by TwingleMomFl, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. TwingleMomFl

    TwingleMomFl Mouseketeer

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    I am not new up cruising, in fact this is my 9th DCL cruise, but first that is not in the Caribbean! I have even been on other cruise lines. But why am I so overwhelmed with the planning of this Alaskan itinerary? I guess it is because I know it a once in lifetime trip and I want to create memories that will last a lifetime. Has anyone ever felt this way?
     
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  3. TwingleMomFl

    TwingleMomFl Mouseketeer

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    In fact every time i start planning the ports of call, i almost run the other way!
     
  4. lilpooh108

    lilpooh108 DIS Veteran

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    If you do a search, there is a Comprehensive Alaska planning thread with links to private tour operators for every port.

    This thread originated in 2011, which is the DCL cruise out of Vancouver (so same as this year).

    The tour companies don't change much in Alaska, so half your work is already done.
     
  5. abdgeek

    abdgeek DIS Veteran

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    Don't worry, you'll be fine. I would suggest googling each city where the ship will stop and looking at the suggested list of activities. Then go to tripadvisor and read the reviews to see what other people are saying. I did the DCL Alaskan cruise in 2011 and had a blast! You won't be able to do everything you want to do in one trip. Don't even try! Below are the excursions I did in each port:

    Vancouver--Came in a day early and stayed a day after to sightsee on my own. I biked Stanley Park, saw the Olympic Cauldron, and went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Planned to do more, but I ran out of time.

    Skagway--Yukon Suspension Bridge and White Pass Railway

    Juneau--Butchart Gardens and Mendenhall Glacier

    Ketchikan--Saxman Native Village and Lumberjack show

    When the ship isn't in port and when you cruise Tracy Arm, you will mainly be watching the scenery go by. If you have a verandah you can sit in your room and take pictures as needed. If not, you will want to get a spot in one of the bars or go up on deck to watch everything go by.

    Hope this helps. Have a great trip!
     
  6. MCO mama

    MCO mama Mouseketeer

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    I've been to Alaska. Try not to worry, you cannot goof up your planning. It is so spectacularly gorgeous everywhere you look! :) Enjoy!!
     
  7. antmaril

    antmaril DIS Veteran

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    Just to be clear for the OP's planning purposes - Butchart Gardens are in Victoria, BC, not Juneau.
     
  8. Weedy

    Weedy DIS Veteran

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    We went to Alaska two years ago after many Caribbean cruises and I felt the same way. We had the time of our lives. I used other Cruise Boards ( of course none are as good as these) to search for ideas for excursions. We booked all through Disney. As you know not the cheapest but we like the security of booking through Disney.

    As to what clothes to bring again I Googled it and found clothing list. We went in the beginning of June and wore jeans, sweatshirts and jackets. We are also from Florida and we were warm enough. We bought boots at K-Mart at the end of winter and for real cheap. They didn't need to be great quality because we never wore them again.

    We spent a few days in Seattle before the cruise and bought the Seattle City Pass. It was great. We got to see lots of things and the price was good.

    Alaska was my favorite cruise ever!!!
     
  9. Mackie Mouse

    Mackie Mouse Even my dog loves Disney

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    Hello! Looks like you are traveling to the Great White North just after we are :)

    When we booked last summer, I started by taking the time to read through these two threads. It took a few days to get through the whole thing, but I took notes as I went about what sounded interesting to me, and it helped give me a lot of ideas for excursions and things to do pre-cruise in Vancouver.

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2723087

    http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2283011

    Something to keep in mind (which may be contributing to that overwhelming feeling...but shouldn't!) is that booking excursions on your own in Alaska vs. through DCL is both safe and less expensive. I was hesitant to book our excursions this way at first...but as time went on it's what I decided to do.

    It may also be helpful to take one port at a time, as PPs suggested, and search the forums for information. I agree that Alaska seems like a much bigger deal than the Caribbean...but planning has been fun so far! As your trip takes shape I know you'll be more excited. I'm also happy to help if you have any specific questions...we have most of the "big stuff' in place already for our July 1 cruise and now are down to the nitty gritty of thinking about Palo, FEs, spa treatments....(and a flight...whatever ;) )
     
  10. abdgeek

    abdgeek DIS Veteran

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    Sorry about that. It's Glacier Gardens.
     
  11. EllinK

    EllinK Mouseketeer

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    We went in 2011 and it was our first cruise. You will have a wonderful time. Alaska is fantastic. Also the food on this cruise is very, very good. See? You're halfway to a great time.

    Skagway - we booked the glacier/helicopter/dog sled excursion independently through Temsco. The location was about 20 feet from where the Wonder docked. I know it's expensive but if there is any way you can swing it, do. Really an experience of a lifetime -- the helicopter over the glacer, cuddling the puppies, my 9 yr old leading the team of dogs. I would go again.

    I'm blanking on the middle port. We went to the Mendenhall glacier on our own. Just okay.

    Ketchikan -- we booked the canoe trip through Disney. Figured the boy would need some physical activity and we would need to get away from the crowds. Mission accomplished. Hauntingly beautiful.

    Have a great cruise. I'm jealous...
     
  12. DisSarahK

    DisSarahK Missing Mickey...

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    I know what you mean! Last year I booked our 2012 Alaska cruise in January and spent the next few months researching, planning, and mildly freaking out!

    After a lot of research, I ended up booking all of our excursions on my own and they were great! No problems at all and I saved a lot of money (over all) compared to the Disney sponsored excursions.

    My husband's favorite excursion was in Skagway. I booked us a rental car and we drove from Skagway, into Canada--through a small part of British Columbia and into the Canadian Yukon. We utilized a guidebook I downloaded from the internet called Murray's Guide and it was *wonderful* and described every abandoned mine and hillside we passed. Just fabulous! We really got a great feel for the countryside by doing this drive.

    We saw wildlife (I've never seen mountain goats hopping on rocks other than in a zoo...until this drive!), stopped to skip rocks in a lake, and grabbed lunch in a bakery in a town recommended in the guide. We turned around at Emerald Lake--the most gorgeous lake I've ever seen in my life! (And yes, the water was just as green as the name implies!)

    On the way back, we stopped to take a sled dog ride in Carcross and my children just thought that was fabulous! It was so much fun for all of us, but my children really really loved it and asked our driver (a FEMALE Iditarod racer) so many questions.

    We thought about stopping at the Yukon Suspension Bridge on our way back as well, but opted not to as the weather was a bit foggy and we had done a suspension bridge on a family trip to Vancouver earlier in the summer.

    Even with our stops, we made it back to Skagway in time to wander through the town and take pictures and press pennies. It was a fabulous port stop and I thoroughly impressed my husband with my planning. :)
     
  13. lorimay

    lorimay DIS Veteran

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    We have also just started looking at Alaskan cruises. It's scary to try something new. Thank goodness for computers and all the research options we have. LOL

    So far, I just know I will enjoy sitting and watching Tracy Arm.
    The rest is all over the place at this point.
     
  14. TwingleMomFl

    TwingleMomFl Mouseketeer

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    Lol I like that. I know I want to do the dog sledding too!
     
  15. TwingleMomFl

    TwingleMomFl Mouseketeer

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    I LOVE your ideas about Skagway! Thank you for sharing!
     
  16. cheesemouse

    cheesemouse DIS Veteran

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    Agreed. I is very overwhelming planning an Alaskan cruise. I spent about 16 months doing TONS of research. It's time consuming but so worth it. I can only recommend (very highly) these tours/activities we did:

    Ketchikan: Misty Fjords flightseeing with Island Wings. Michelle is so outstanding that can't even describe it. You will not be disappointed.

    Juneau: Whale watching with Harv and Marv. Great little company with such extensive knowledge. They really try hard to give you an excellent tour. 6 person boats and 1 guide. Awesome. We also stopped at the Mendenhall Glacier on our way back for a while and it was very nice.

    Skagway: Whitepass and Yukon Railroad (we did the rail up and a minibus tour to the Yukon and Emerald Lake and minibus ride back) with Chilkoot Charters. A great tour. Far superior to those offered directly through the cruise lines. The minibus it a great way to go compared to the big buses. Emerald Lake is not to be missed. We saw tons of wildlife and have great photos.

    Good luck - I can't wait to go back!
     
  17. Politzania

    Politzania Mouseketeer

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    I will second these - we cruised in Sept 2011 and booked these excursions independently. Both companies are happy to answer any questions you might have and work with you to make sure you have a great experience. If/when we ever make it back to these parts of Alaska, we'll be sure to book with them again!
     
  18. ratt1345

    ratt1345 Always wishing I was Disney cruisin'!!!

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    Yes, DW and I felt the same way. Neither one of us had been (and probably won't be back) to Alaska. Trust me, we would love to go back. We live in FL, so it's a long trip, etc.

    As for being overwhelmed...my advice to you is the same advice I give to people planning a trip to WDW: You can't do everything!!! That's probably where a lot of your anxiety is coming from. Soak in everything you come across. As you said, this is a once in a lifetime trip. Do what you can and enjoy. We loved Alaska and would like to see the area near Fairbanks if we ever got back there.
     
  19. mrp4352

    mrp4352 DIS Veteran

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    When we were planning our trip last year, I started a word document for each port, then as I would read things I was interested in on the DisBoards or in a guide book, I would make notes under the appropriate city. Then, about 2 weeks before our booking date, we sat down, read through all the notes and started ranking/eliminating things. It helped me to have one central location of all the information I had gathered. then, when booking time came, it was a snap - I had a first and second choice for each city.

    I would also suggest that maybe you leave one port unplanned. By the time we got to Ketchikan, we were ready for some free time off the ship and endedup ditching our excursion.

    Also - we absolutely believe beyond a shadow that the best money we spend on the entire cruise was the Taku Lodge excursion in Juneau. The float plane ride was spectacular (loved the soundtrack they played for us while we flew); the lodge is charming; the staff is amazing; the food was plentiful and yummy. I didn't want to leave!
     
  20. TeresaBelle

    TeresaBelle <font color=magenta>Still sleeps with a security b

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    Do you mind if I ask the price of the glacier/helicopter/dog sled excursion through Temsco? I looked on their website, but no prices. We're on the Wonder to Alaska Jul 22-29. Thanks!
     
  21. jadedjojo

    jadedjojo bouncing off the walls

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    TwingleMom, I know exactly how you feel! We did the Alaskan late August of 2012, and I started planning in late 2011. I felt so overwhelmed as well. I think for me personally, a lot of it had to do with being Floridian and feeling completely out of my element. I was stockpiling winter clothes in January of 2012 because I knew I'd not be able to find hats/ scarves/ etc in Florida past February! But let me assure you, when you get onboard, you will be like "Why was I worried? This is easy peasy!"

    I would suggest to stock up now on the winter stuff here though if you haven't already. Walmart has all of their gloves/hats/etc on clearance right now, so it's starting to leave already. I would also suggest having some nice hiking boots or waterproofed shoes. Of all of the things I packed, I was VERY happy that I followed others' advice to bring waterproofed hiking boots and sneakers. It didn't rain one day on our cruise, but it seems like there is water everywhere in Alaska and I'm always stepping in it!

    If you need any advice from a fellow Central Floridian Alaskan cruiser, feel free to message me! I'm always happy to help! :goodvibes
     

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