Alaska With Disney Cruise Line – Part 1: Onboard

In July 2017 I cruised with Disney Cruise Line to Alaska. This will be part one of a two part series about this trip. In this blog I will cover everything on board the ship and this the second I will cover everything about the ports we visited on the cruise. 

Itinerary

We flew from Maryland to Vancouver where we stayed for three nights before boarding the Disney Wonder to embark on our 7-night cruise to Alaska. This was the first time visiting both Vancouver and Alaska for all of us. 

The cruise itinerary was:

Day 1 – Embark From Vancouver

Day 2 – At Sea

Day 3 – At Sea – Endicott Arm 

Day 4 – Skagway 

Day 5 – Juneau

Day 6 – Ketchikan 

Day 7 – At Sea

Day 8 – Disembark In Vancouver

Boarding / Embarkation

The embarkation process was simple. During online check-in we selected a window of time during which we would arrive at the port. We arrived during that window, went through a check-in process with a Disney Cruise cast member then we went through security and customs.  Customs because we were sailing from Canada but would be stopping in American ports. Our luggage was then taken from us by Disney porters, it was reunited with us in our room later in the day. 

As we got closer to entering the ship we found the first of the photographer opportunities. We got our photos taken with a back drop of the ship with the words “Disney Wonder – Alaska 2017” 

As we, and each family, entered the ship from the gangway and into the main atrium we were announced by the cast members. As you walk into the beautiful atrium you hear “Disney Wonder please welcome the ____ family!” This was a very nice little magic moment. 

The Ship – The Disney Wonder

Our ship was the Disney Wonder, one of two Classic Disney ships in the fleet. Having first set sail in 1999 the Wonder has 875 staterooms and a capacity of 2,400 passengers. While by no means a small ship it is smaller than the larger size Disney ships and other fleets mega ships. Most of the ships the cruise Alaska are on the smaller end of things as they have to navigate smaller areas along the coastline. 

The ship is beautiful with aesthetics that mix classic ship travel with Art Nouveau and a bit of Disney mixed in. The Atrium features a gorgeous chandelier and a grand staircase. Many areas of the ship are also themed. From the British style pub, to the tropical pool deck, and the New Orleans Tiana’s Place restaurant. 

Being onboard any ship can take a little getting used to and can possible cause sea sickness. Plan ahead what type of motion sickness approach you plan to take. Research your options and buy them ahead of time and apply them before you board on the first day. Make sure you have enough for the entire trip as well. I choose to go with seasickness patches. I put them on before boarding the ship, applied them as directed and never had any issues. After the first two days I was very used to being on the ship and rarely noticed the movement after that time. Our first and last sea day were the most rocky, this is typical for this itinerary as the ship is in more open waters during this time. The rest of the cruise you are close to land as the ship traverses the southern Alaskan waters. 

Room Review

Upon boarding the first thing we did was head to our room. Rooms are not always available right when you board but ours happened to be. We had an inside stateroom, meaning we had no windows or balcony or any kind. These rooms are the least expensive and least exciting. The room was what we needed and nothing more. It worked well for us, though small as many cruise ship rooms were we did not spend much time in the room itself so that did not bother us. 

As you enter there is a sliding door closet to one side of you and the bathroom to the other. The closet has a safe and ample hanging room. Also area to store your luggage. The bathroom is small but nothing crazy, though the shower did feel cramped. The room has a small seating area with a sofa that flipped into a bed for a child if needed. A small desk, mini fridge and shelving where opposite the couch with a small coffee table in between. A wall mounted TV could be swirled to be viewed from the couch area or the bed. Walking past the couch there was a comfy queen bed with a light and smaller dresser on either side. 


We choose a room that was located centrally in the ship as this is supposed to be the location on board with the least motion or movement. I found that I only really felt movement when on the ends of the ship or on the top deck personally. A centrally located room worked out well for us. Book early to get the most room options. 

Your porter freshens your room a few times a day and each night we had a towel animal and chocolates left on our bed. 

If you want to add some extra fun to your trip and make your life a bit easier on board pack some magnets to put on your cabin door. Not only will it be fun to decorate but it will make your room much easier to find in the long corridors. I found templates on Pinterest to print and make my own magnets but you could easily grab some dollar store Disney magnets as well. 

If you want to add some extra fun to your trip and make your life a bit easier on board pack some magnets to put on your cabin door. Not only will it be fun to decorate but it will make your room much easier to find in the long corridors. I found templates on Pinterest to print and make my own magnets but you could easily grab some dollar store Disney magnets as well. 

Ship Activities

There is a ton to do onboard a Disney ship. If you want to see the full list check out my Disney Cruise 101 blog. 

https://4ears4eyesforthemagic.travel.blog/2020/12/10/disney-cruise-line-101-introduction-to-cruising-with-the-mouse/

Here is my review of the activities I took part in on the ship. 

Sail Away Deck – This was a lot of fun and really a great way to get pumped at the start of the cruise. Characters and cruise cast members onstage welcomed the passengers to the ship and there were musical numbers.There was also a count down to when the ship would start to leave port and lots of dancing. Plus you are on deck so you get to watch as the ship leaves port. In Vancouver this was very scenic and we could see spots in the city we had spent time which was cool. This was a really great way to start the cruise experience. 

Character Meet & Greets – Scheduled throughout the cruise were lots of character meet and greets. I spotted classic characters, Pixar characters, Princesses, Frozen, a few Marvel characters, and classic characters in special Alaskan outfits. The Alaskan ones were my favorite. Some characters were available a few times but some were not. Be sure to pay attention to who is on the schedule each day if you enjoy character meets and photos. Characters were each accompanied by the ships photographers as well. The characters only meet for a limited amount of time and the line will be cut off if it is too long so be sure to arrive at the start time or a bit before.

There were two instances on our cruise where you needed to book the character experience in advance. These were bookable online prior to sailing and booked up quickly especially for reservations on sea days. Using this system we were able to meet a group of Princesses, and Anna, Elsa and Olaf from Frozen. The Frozen meet was especially nice and took place in Animators Pallet. The whole room was Frozen themed for the meet. 

Fitness – The fitness center was very nice I enjoyed using the treadmills being able to stare into the ocean while running. I took one of the included fitness classes as well and the instructor was helpful and I had a good experience. The exterior running track around the ship was really helpful to get steps, or miles in. While at the back and front of the ship you are sometimes running through what feels like a tunnel but the rest of the time you can see the ocean and sometimes the Alaskan landscape. 

Live Theatre Performances – Our cruise offered several theatrical shows and on the other nights musical acts, and a magician. I did go to the magician performance and left after about 15 minutes as I was bored. The theatrical shows were very enjoyable. Two were compilations of Disney songs put together with a loose storyline. These were enjoyable and very much in line with stage shows you would see at the Disney theme parks though they were longer. The star of the show here was the Frozen production. This was much more along the lines of a Broadway show. The actors were top notch and the staging was fantastic. The show was shorter than a standard Broadway production but I feel it was very comparable and it is a must see if you are on the Wonder. 

Photography – I love having vacation photos so I took full advantage of the on ship photographers. I purchased the photo package ahead of time and made sure to get my photo taken at practically every opportunity. This was perfect for character meets. Every night there were several photographers set up in the main areas of the ship with different backgrounds, some specific to the port where were in that day. This is also a nice way to get a group family photo. Assuming you will make the effort to get the photos taken I highly suggest getting the photo package. 

Shopping – As a fan of Disney merchandise I spent plenty of time at the two stores on board that had mostly Disney or cursing items. The merchandise was varied and they had a lot of great stuff, especially the Alaska specific items. A third small store had items all from Alaskan merchants and that was really nice to see as well. Remember to visit on sea days because they won’t be open while you are in port. 

Trivia – One of the scheduled actives that was offered frequently was trivia. Different themes were offered as well as ones for kids or families. The turn out for these was good and the questions were great. The winners even got little plastic medals. As a trivia fan this was a lot of fun. 

Dance Parties – Another activity that was offered several times was a dance party. Held in the atrium with characters attending and lead by cast members this was a lot of fun to just be silly and see all the characters and kids dancing around to pop music. This is also a great way to get some character interaction. 

Frozen Night – One evening the theme was Frozen, each restaurant served a Frozen themed menu and there were lots of little Annas and Elsas running around. There was a Norwegian maypole in the atrium as well as Frozen themed decor. Everyone was even given a light up snowflake necklace to wear. There was a deck party that night where Anna, Elsa, Olaf, and Kristof performed and told a story to the crowd. This was something distinctly Disney and done really well. 

Dining

There is a lot to eat onboard a Disney ship. If you want to see the full list check out my Disney Cruise 101 blog.

 https://4ears4eyesforthemagic.travel.blog/2020/12/10/disney-cruise-line-101-introduction-to-cruising-with-the-mouse/

Cabanas – The buffet on board was extensive with lots of food. Some were classics available every day and some rotated daily. As someone with allergies a food and beverage manager walked me around and let me know what was safe for me to eat. They offered to grab something from the back if needed as well to avoid cross contamination. The buffet food was good but nothing super special. I was happy with my meals there. 

Snacks – For most lunches I grabbed something from the pool deck area. Most of this food is “fast food” or sandwiches and salads. I liked the option of grabbing a veggie burger from one station and a made to order salad from the other and combining them. 

Dinner with Allergies – Our server was very accommodating and each night would make sure to bring my allergy bread and butter when she brought out the regular ones for the table. She also showed me the menus and had me pick my dinner a night ahead so that the kitchen could make sure make the item I wanted could be modified for my needs in advance. This worked out great. They also always came up with a good option for dessert as well. 

Animators Palette – Dining here, both nights was a complete experience. Entering the room with everything black and white and having the restaurants change throughout the meal was great fun, and Mickey even made an appearance. Then on the second night getting a chance to take part in the animation around it was a really unique experience. 

Triton’s – The theming here is like an elegant evening under the sea. It was the least exciting of the three but a nice location. 

Tiana’s Place – This was my favorite of the three restaurants. Themed as Tiana’s restaurant from Princess and the Frog there was live jazz music being performed and Tiana even sang for us. There was dancing throughout and Louis came out to lead a dance line. Tiana even came to every table to say hello and take photos. One night was themed to Mardi Gras and everyone got beads to wear and dessert included beignets. It was a blast. 

Character Breakfast – We signed up for an included character breakfast, which was bookable online prior to sailing. The food was table service ordered off a menu and ours took place in Animators Pallet though I believe this rotates. The character interaction was amazing. Compared to character meals in the parks we got so much time with each character. The servers were even in on the fun as they all used the colorful napkins to create hats and scarves and centerpieces. Everyone was covered in napkins it was a lot of fun and a great experience that was not an add on. 

Glacier Day!

By far the best day on board is the sea day where the ship traverses a fjord and visits an iceberg. During my trip we visited Endicott Arm a narrow passage where you can see a beautiful landscape of mountains on both sides of the ship. In the water there are lots of little iceburgs where you might even spot some seals, we sure did. Sometimes on land you are able to see mountain goats and possible other wildlife as well. You travel down the fjord to the ice burg as the end of it which is amazing and the craziest shade of blue. Then the ship turns around and travels out. The whole thing takes up much of the day. You can watch from your room if you have a balcony. We spent the whole journey down the fjord on the top deck. On the large movie screen by the pool and on all the TV’s thorough out the ship, even in your room there is video footage of what the ship is passing. During the journey a naturalist is narrating and explaining what you are seeing. The naturalist also gave several nature talks during the week on board. This was my favorite time spent on board the ship and one of the best things of the whole trip. This was also the coldest I was the whole time as you are both outside and on the top deck you get a lot of wind. Blankets and hot coffee and hot chocolate were being passed out but make sure to plan accordingly. Little ones might find spending the whole day on this activity a little challenging this could be a great time for them to explore the kids club with a quick break for some glacier viewing once the ship arrives. 

Overall Review  

My overall experience onboard the ship was very positive. I never found myself laking for something to do, and I enjoyed almost everything I did. As as Disney fan I loved seeing the characters and the Disney themed shows. If you are not a Disney fan and traveling without children you may find yourself more inclined to the activities offered on other cruise lines. If you are looking for a lot of pool time on board then an Alaska sailing is not for you. 

I enjoyed all the food I had and even more that they were able to accommodate my allergy. Though I founds that the Disney Parks were overall a little easier to deal with as far as dietary restrictions this was still a great experience. 

Our room was comfy and we honestly were not in it a ton. I don’t think that an upgrade to a balcony would have made sense for us for the cost. 

If I were to go again there is not much I would do differently on board. I think I would try to fight the time difference jet lag to stay up a bit later and experience some of the later activities. I would like try out one of the specialty dining options and I would take more advantage for the room service option as well.

Overall this cruise left me excited to cruise with Disney again and wondering about a cruise on one of their larger ships. Maybe to someplace warm this time!

Now that you know all about a cruise on the Disney Wonder to Alaska  it’s time to start planning your very own.

I am a travel agent and I would love to help you plan your cruise! 

All of my travel services are complimentary. 

If you would like to discuss your next adventure contact me at: katiev@themagicsyours.com 

Published by katiethemagicsyours

I am in independent travel agent with The Magic's Yours Travel. Here to plan all your Disney adventures, at no cost to you! I am a wife, cat mom, Aunt, Marylander, traveler, runner, and Disney fanatic. I have personal experience with Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line and Disney's Aulani, and I am here to share it with you. Contact me today for a FREE quote at katiev@themagicsyourstravel.com www.themagicsyours.com

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