We’re are setting sail with Disney Cruise Line on the Wonder for the 7-night Alaska itinerary later this summer. As temperatures here are currently frigid, naturally we’ve started daydreaming about visiting the tropical waters (wait…that’s not right) of the Last Frontier. Alaska has been on my travel bucket list for a while, and I’m beyond hyped about finally having a chance to visit.
As much as I know it’s wise to keep my expectations in check before any trip, they are already through the roof for this Alaska cruise. I can’t help it. Alaska just seems like my kind of place, and if this cruise is even half as good as our Norway cruise, we’ll be really happy. I already know we’ll have to make a return trip (one of my long-term travel bucket list goals is visiting all 59 U.S. National Parks, and Alaska is home to 8 of those), so I guess on the upside, at least I don’t expect to cram all Alaska has to offer in during this trip.
To prepare for our Alaska cruise, I’ve already started reading through a couple of trip reports (including Scott Sanders’ excellent report on DisneyCruiseLineBlog.com) and we’ve joined the Facebook group for our cruise. While that’s all great, we figured it’d be a good idea to solicit additional feedback from our readers as you “know” us, and might have a better idea of our likes, dislikes, and preferences.
Prior to our 7-night Norwegian Fjords DCL cruise last summer, we made an off-hand request for reader suggestions, and got a ton of great feedback. We ended up visiting multiple restaurants that you recommended, and doing a few of the port activities. Plus, crowd-sourcing recommendations is way easier for us than combing through dozens of long trip reports and trying to distill others’ experiences into something helpful for us.
Our other reason for posting that we’re setting sail for Alaska via DCL is because we feel like we owe it to you. In our Disney Cruise Line Norwegian Fjords Cruise Report from last year, we talked about the Alaska cruise at length and debated aloud whether we should do a last-minute, end-of-season sailing.
In the final installment of that trip report, we revealed our decision as “it’s too impulsive…even for us, but thanks for the feedback,” which was pretty anti-climactic and disappointing. Although we think we made the right decision at the time, we were still pretty bummed about not being able to visit Alaska. (Speaking of Norway, that’s where the photos in this post are from…it’s the best stand-in for Alaska I have at the moment.)
To ease that disappointment, we ended up booking a short Halloween on the High Seas cruise last fall…that was ultimately cancelled due to Hurricane Irma. You could say it was fate, serendipity, or whatever, but Hurricane Irma was what pushed us over the edge to pulling the trigger on the Alaska cruise.
We ended up paying significantly more for this cruise than the bargain we scored on Norway, but the price was lower than what we would’ve paid if we went last year (thanks to Irma) and good deals on Alaska seem very rare. It’s just such a popular itinerary with relatively few sailings.
It’s a pretty big splurge for frugal travelers like us, but you get what you pay for, and Disney Cruise Line is a premium experience that we love, so we’re able to justify it to ourselves.
Anyway, that’s enough backstory. Here’s what we’re considering thus far for our Port Adventures. Feedback on these or alternatives would be greatly appreciated:
Dog Sledding – We had some initial trepidation about doing this as we questioned whether it was cruel. After learning that the Humane Society of the United States is neutral on dog sledding and other organizations support it, I think we’re comfortable with that. (The only organization I can find that actively opposes it is PETA, but they’re so extremist that it’s hard to take any of their positions seriously because it’s impossible to separate their legitimate concerns from bombastic rhetoric.)
At this point, our big questions are which of the many dog sledding excursions to take, and which third party options are best. Prices for these excursions are all over the place, starting around $150/person and topping $800/person. While the high end of the spectrum is out of the question for us, we could swing something mid-range if the value is “worth it.” This is probably going to be our ‘big’ Port Adventure of the cruise, and we want to do it right.
Glacier Ice Caves & Kayaking– If we for some reason don’t do the dog sledding, this will be our ‘big’ Port Adventure. Sarah has some reservations about the safety, whereas my concerns are more about price. (From my perspective, “crushed by a glacier” seems like as cool of a way to die as any.)
Kayaking – As with the Norwegian Fjords cruise, there are approximately 1,384 different kayaking Port Adventures. As such, this question is more open-ended, and we’re generally wondering which kayaking options past cruisers have preferred.
Hiking – We love to hike, and did would love to find at least one good hike on the Alaska cruise. At this point, it seems like the best option is the Mendenhall Glacier Adventure Hike, but that’s a Port Adventure and is guided…we’re not really interested in anything the excursion offers beyond the transit to the trailhead. We can hike without a guide holding our hands.
EATING! – It should go without saying, but we love to eat. After the infamous “backpack salmon incident” in Norway, I’ve already been ahem “advised” that we aren’t going to be so cheap when it comes to food. We’d love some hole-in-the-wall recommendations for these ports. We’ll eat pretty much anything–bonus points if it’s a regional specialty and outside of the main touristy areas.
Vancouver – After our transit delays last year that put us in jeopardy of missing the cruise, we’re giving ourselves more breathing room on the front end of this trip. While we haven’t booked our flights yet, we’ll spend at least 2 nights in Vancouver, and more than that if airfare prices dictate it. I visited Victoria ages ago and recall loving the city, so hopefully we’ll feel the same way about Vancouver. Any recommendations (from restaurants to points of interest) would be appreciated here.
I think that about covers it, but if you have other recommendations beyond the scope of those requests, by all means, please share them.
Planning to set sail aboard one of the Disney Cruise Line ships? Read our comprehensive Disney Cruise Line Guideto prepare for your trip, plan entertainment and other activities, and learn what to expect from your Disney cruise!
Since this post is all about soliciting feedback…do you have any? Any tips for Alaska or Vancouver, no matter how big or small, would be greatly appreciated. The worst we can do is disregard them, and we’d definitely have too many options than too few, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!