By Jennifer Stuart
If you are wondering what to expect on a Disney Cruise to Alaska, this post is for you. There are some significant differences between Disney Alaskan cruises and cruises to other locations such as the Bahamas or the Caribbean. Read on to find out more.
You will start and end in Vancouver, Canada
All Disney Alaskan Cruises start and end in Vancouver, BC, Canada. This means that although you are sailing an itinerary to a United States destination, US citizens will need a valid passport to enter Canada to start and end the cruise, as do all international travellers. For more information about entering Canada visit Canada Border Services here.
Vancouver is a beautiful city and we highly recommend that you take some time to explore the city either before or after your cruise (or both). It is regularly on many lists of the most beautiful cities and there is lots to do and see. It is certainly one of our favourite cities to spend time in.
You will be sailing on the Wonder
The Disney Wonder is the ship that sails all Alaskan itineraries. See some of our other posts for more information about the Wonder. We really enjoyed our time on the Wonder. It is a sister ship to the Disney Magic and one of the classic (smaller) ships in the Disney fleet. It was lovely to sail on a smaller ship as it felt cozy and intimate for this type of voyage. And of course it included all those wonderful Disney details and the famous Disney service.
You can also watch our series of videos on Youtube that give a FULL tour of the Disney Wonder on our last Alaskan cruise. This video was shot after the last dry dock refurbishment and reflects the changes made at that time.
You will be sailing the Inside Passage
This is a HUGE plus that many people don't know about. Most Alaskan cruises will route to the outside of Vancouver Island. Disney sails the Inside Passage between Vancouver Island and the British Columbian mainland in both directions. This is an incredibly scenic route on both sides of the ship. Enjoy the pristine vistas of water, mountains and forests. This was a scenic highlight for us and an area that fewer people get to experience. This is also a much calmer route to sail as it is more protected from the elements. If you suffer from any sea sickness you will find this to be a great bonus for you.
Think Princesses not Pirates
Much information on Disney Cruises focuses on Bahamas and Caribbean sailings. Alaska is very different in many ways. One way is that there is no Pirate Night on Alaska sailings. Instead there is a Freezing the Night away party with Anna and Elsa that is much more suited to the Alaskan climate. This also means that there are no fireworks from the ship. We were initially disappointed when we learned this as we are big Disney fireworks fans, but it made sense when we found out that the ship sails through many environmentally protected areas. (There are many regulations placed on ships sailing in Alaska to preserve and protect both the environment and wildlife). Look for our Post on the Freezing the Night Away celebration for more information coming soon.
Blankets not Beach Towels
As you might expect from an Alaskan cruise, the weather is much chillier than for many other cruise destinations. We did have 2 really nice sunny days where the pool was busy but for the most part there were only a handful of hardy souls who ventured into the water. (The hot tubs were busier but still very empty most days). As well as towels near the pools, expect to find warm fleece blankets available for you to use in many areas of the deck. These were welcome to wrap up in on several occasions as we watched our (seemingly cold-proof) kids play in the pools or as we sat on deck and enjoyed the scenery slipping by.
Alaska Inspired Menus
As you would expect on a cruise there is an emphasis on fresh seafood, but there is also an Alaskan inspired menu with items such as boar, crab and salmon. This was our menu on the special Frozen night.
Characters in their Alaskan Outfits
We love to meet Disney characters and we love to meet them in all their outfits. Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Chip and Dale all appeared in their Alaskan outfits at various points on the cruise. It was a highlight to meet them in these special outfits. If you are used to meeting characters, prepare for a pleasant surprise-- although lines can build quickly, we found them to be MUCH shorter than average wait times in the parks.
There are a range of characters to meet. These will vary in availability but we were able to meet a large number. As well as individual meets, there are pre-ticketed meets with Anna, Elsa and Olaf as well as a Princess Gathering. (We met Belle, Cinderella, Ariel and Tiana). There are also fun events with multiple characters such as the Sailing Away Party or the Pixar Friends Dance Party. If you have ever wanted to dance with Woody or Dug the Dog this is your chance.
The Disney Touches
As you would expect with any Disney cruise there is a beautiful and subtle Disney theming throughout the ship. You will also appreciate the special and thoughtful touches that are a hallmark of Disney.
You may be interested in some of our other Disney Cruise Line posts such as A tour of an Oceanview Stateroom on the Disney Wonder or What You Need to Know About Wine Packages on a Disney Cruise.
All photos by Jennifer Stuart
Questions? Comments? We would love to hear from you.
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