Alaska Adventure with the Disney Cruise Line: Day 2

Alaska Adventure with the Disney Cruise Line: Day 2

Alaska Adventure with the Disney Cruise Line: Day 2 – At Sea

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Starting Day Two of our Disney Cruise Line Alaska Journey

We woke up this morning and rather than getting all dressed and ready for our day before heading up to a buffet breakfast, we opted to order room service.  Room service is included in the cruise price, although gratuities for room service are not.  We ordered some cereal and milk, breakfast pastries, a bagel and cream cheese (for me!) hot cocoa and coffee.  It came quickly, which was great!  You can also order your room service in advance to be delivered at a specific time by hanging the room service card on your door the night before.

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After that, we lounged in the room a bit, looking out at the vast sea and getting used to the motion of the open waters.  Soon, though, we decided it was time to do a bit of exploring.  First up, we had to check out the view from Deck 9:

Sunny, but a little cold!

Sunny, but a little cold!

Adult Club Area

Then we headed to the adults only club area, which is open to all ages earlier in the day.  We had fun checking out those spaces, especially the theming of Route 66.

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Inside Wave Bands

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Cadillac Lounge

And, of course, I had to get some pictures of the gorgeous atrium area.

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Then the kids couldn’t stand to wait any longer, so I checked them into the kids club.  I came back to the room and spent some time enjoying the view and writing for this blog.  When it was time for lunch, I picked the kids up and we headed for the buffet.  It turns out that the lunch buffet doesn’t have much on the menu that my kids can appreciate.  I was slightly surprised to see that they don’t have any real kids offerings, unlike the other restaurants.  So we took a few things and found a spot outside to eat.

Then I sent Aspen off to Pluto’s Dog  House to grab some chicken strips and fries to bring back to our table.  At age 8, the kids can have check in and check out privileges on the ship.  This means, basically, that if you want them to be allowed to do this, they can wander the ship as they please.  While I opted not to allow that at the beginning of  this trip, I did  feel comfortable with allowing him to leave my sight to go fetch something.

Traveling without my husband, I also sometimes left the two kids sitting a table so I could go grab something for myself.  In other places, this would make me pretty nervous, but this cruise made it much easier to do so when I needed to.

Post Lunch

After lunch, the kids were eager to get right back to the kid’s clubs.  I checked them in, then headed back to the room for a nap.  What??  It’s vacation and the boat rocks you to sleep!  Also, I should note, the beds are sooooo comfortable – and I am super picky about beds on vacation!

Waking up refreshed, I knew that there was a Ratatoullie’s Cooking School activity happening in the Oceaneer’s Lab, so I checked in with Aspen to see if he wanted to move to the lab to do that.  Lo and behold, he’d already asked to be transferred there by the child care staff, so there he was, waiting to bake cookies.  Easy!  Sierra, however, was ready to go, and wanted a snack.  So she and I headed up to Pluto’s Dog House and grabbed some chicken strips and a drink and took it back to our room.  We watched Toy Story and snacked and watched the ocean and islands roll by.

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Passing through an inlet

Love the tiny islands!

Love the tiny islands!

The Evening

Around 5pm, I got both kids and got them dolled up for formal night.  We then headed to Deck 4, midship, where I knew formal Mickey and Minnie were doing photos.  We got our photos and by then the Golden Mickey’s had already started, and neither child seemed particularly interested in seeing it, so we skipped the show.  Note to self: Do not skip shows on the next cruise – everyone raved about how great they were!  In any case, there was no shortage of characters out and about!

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Red carpet for the Golden Mickey's, leading up to the Walt Disney Theater.

Red carpet for the Golden Mickey’s, leading up to the Walt Disney Theater.

 

The late dining seating proved a little hard for us.  The kids were very very antsy today for dinner to start.  It seemed like forever until it was dinner time!  I’d probably choose the earlier dining time next time.  However, there is a great program that you can sign your kids up for, if you want some couple time:  If you choose late dining, you can sign up to have the Youth Counselors come to get your kids 45 minutes after the meal starts.  This way, they go have fun while you finish your courses in peace!

Dinner Time!

We ate at Triton’s tonight, which had the Golden Mickey’s menu.  I chose the Crispy Ravioli for my appetizer (so good!) and the duck for my main course.  I keep forgetting that I like my duck the way my mom makes it, and not so much in a lot of restaurant ways.  It was, I’m sure, a great dish for most, though.  For dessert I ordered the Crepe Suzette – very tasty.  Both kids, of course, had to have Mickey Bars again for dessert.  I wonder if they’ll ever get tired of them!

Mural in Triton's

Crispy Ravioli

It appears I forgot to take a picture BEFORE I started eating....oops!

It appears I forgot to take a picture BEFORE I started eating….oops!

My dessert. Yum!

My dessert. Yum!

 

Kids fish nuggets

Kids fish nuggets

And, of course, the Mickey Bar

And, of course, the Mickey Bar

 

We rushed through dinner a little because the kids really wanted to go to Pluto’s Pajama Party tonight.  As soon as we finished, I took them back to the room and changed them into pajamas.

Ready for a pajama party with Pluto!

Then I dropped them at the kids club at 9:30pm.  Do you see how light it is?  Yes, this is the light level at 9:15pm.  The further north we went, the longer it was light – to the point that at one time, the sun was up til 11pm and rose at 3:45am!!

I let them stay an hour and then picked them back up.  One cool thing: when you go to get your kids, the staff at the desk tells you exactly where to find them.  “Sierra is on the left side of the play area.  Aspen is in the Captain’s nook.”  I was like…what?…how do you know that?  Turns out that the bracelets each kids wears tells the computer their location at all times.  So clever!  Anyway, the kids were reluctant to leave, and I could tell they had a blast.  Sierra kept excitedly telling me that Pluto had an accident on the floor.  I thought she was making this up, but she INSISTS Pluto pooped pretend poop on the floor because he couldn’t find the potty.  I am sure this was the highlight of many a kid’s night, haha!

All in all, another good day.  Tomorrow we finally arrive in Tracy Arm – can’t wait to see the scenery!

 

 

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Alaska Adventure with the Disney Cruise Line: Day 1

Alaska Adventure with the Disney Cruise Line: Day 1

Alaska Adventure with the Disney Cruise Line: Day 1

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I just returned last week from an awesome experience on the Disney Cruise Line sailing to Alaska! I thought I’d share our experience here, to give you a better understanding of the Disney cruise experience and hopefully help those who are a little unsure if a cruise is right for them decide if they’d like to make the leap and try it. I promise, you’ll love it!   As this was a business trip for myself (being a specialist in planning Disney vacations, it’s my jobs to stay up on all the best Disney has to offer to better help my clients), it was put together fairly last minute – just 3 weeks before sailing.  For that reason, I didn’t have big shore excursions planned, but we did explore the Alaska ports and had a great time visiting Alaska!  I’ll break this down by day, one post at a time, so please check back to see the whole trip.

 

Disney Wonder: Day 1

We spent the night at the Westin Bayshore, near the port, which was comfortable and suited our needs just fine for a brief one night stay. The Starbucks downstairs made for an easy, economical breakfast choice, and then we decided to kill some time by walking right out of the lobby and onto a path by the marina to see some boats. As we rounded the corner, we saw the Wonder in the distance. The kids were so excited! I have to say, seeing it in person for the first time IS very exciting. As my kids yelled out about going on that boat, a couple standing near by told us they just got off the same ship that morning and that it was the best trip ever.

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Checking In with Disney Cruise Line

At noon, we checked out and grabbed a taxi to Canada Place. As we got out of the taxi, our luggage was taken from us to be checked, leaving us just our carry-ons to get into the boarding line with. Ok, so it turns out this line is huge. And long. I’d done a lot of homework about this Disney Cruise, but I was not prepared for how long the check-in process takes.

I’m not sure that it takes as long in Port Canaveral, or if it does, I haven’t really heard about it. But in this case, we stood in one huge, snaking line to have our luggage scanned. Then in another line to wait for chairs in the waiting area for the US Border Control. Then we got up when it was our row’s turn and stood in line for the Border Patrol to show our passports.

Then we moved to another room where we did the actual Disney Cruise Line check in. They checked our passports and took our photo, then handed us our Key to the World cards. And finally, after that, it was time to board!

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As you enter the ship, crew members ask your last name. Then, they announce each family to the ship: “Please welcome to the Wonder: The Tinius family!” and then everyone claps and cheers. It’s a great way to celebrate boarding such a pretty ship.

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At this point, it was a little later than I had planned on. I needed to stop by Guest Services to ask for tickets to the tea party and to drop off the pillowcases we wanted autographed. We were able to get those tea party tickets, which was great (they’re free!) and our pillowcases went off to get signed.

Our Room

Our room was ready already, so we headed there to drop off our carry-ons and check it out. The room is nice, with plenty of space for our family, although smaller than what we are used to in a hotel. The verandah is fabulous, though. I can’t really imagine cruising in a lower category room after this! I loved having a full view of the outside the whole time, plus being able to step out for fresh air or relax in the chairs.

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One thing I love about the Disney Cruise ships is that the rooms have split bathrooms like this.  One bathroom has the shower and a sink.  The other bathroom has a toilet and a sink.  This makes SO much sense for families trying to get ready!

Beach Blanket Buffet

After we dropped off our stuff, we headed straight up to the Beach Blanket Buffet to grab some lunch. There were some salads and rolls, pasta and fried rice, fruits and vegetables and, of course, desserts. We sat outside because it happened to be a gorgeously sunny day in Vancouver. The kids rushed through the lunch because they desperately wanted to swim before we set sail. This being an Alaska cruise, I had already told them it may be too cold on other days to use the pool, so this swimming time was goal number 1 for today.

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And yes…my daughter has lunch of olives, cheese and bread.  Sometimes that’s how buffets go with a 5 year old!
The pool, it turns out, is nice and warm (it steams on cold days!) and they had a blast playing around in the Mickey Pool. The slide, of course, is a big favorite. On a tropical sailing, I imagine the line for the slide gets very long. It was already half way down the stairs today, and this was not even a hot day.

Disney Wonder Mickey Pool

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The kids finished swimming (or rather, I asked them to be finished) and I got them showered off and dressed. At 4pm, we did the required safety drill, and then we went straight up from there to deck 9 for the sail away party. Because we went straight there, the kids got to be front and center for the show, putting them right in front of the characters. They loved it!  I definitely recommend heading straight to the party area after the safety drill if you want a great view.  Or, if you can’t do that, head up one deck higher and grab a view overlooking the party. And then… we were off and sailing!

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Kids Club

Right after that, the kids demanded we go check out the kids clubs. We wandered through during open house time, then I checked them in so they could play on their own for a bit.  My daughter declared the Oceaneer’s Club to be her preferred destination, primarily for the play structure, while my son declared the Oceaneer’s Lab to be his home base, primarily for the computers and science tables.  It turns out that over the course of the cruise, both kids generally liked the Club more than the Lab.  My daughter liked that it had a dress up chest of princess dresses, and my son liked the nook for playing the Wii with other boys.  However, both areas had some really great activity programming, so, for example, my son did love the Lab when making flubber or making pizzas, etc.

Oceaneer's Lab

Oceaneer’s Lab

Oceaneer's Lab

Oceaneer’s Lab

Oceaneer's Club

Oceaneer’s Club: Huge pirate play structure with slide

Stage of the Oceaneer's Club

Stage of the Oceaneer’s Club

Dress up play area of the Oceaneer's Club

Dress up play area of the Oceaneer’s Club

 

 

We had late dining, so around 8pm I went and grabbed them and we headed to Parrot Cay for our first dinner.

Parrot Cay

 

At this point, the ship had a bit of roll going on, side to side, but not too bad. I had taken Bonine ahead of time, just in case. So far, so good, although the motion made me a bit nervous to eat too big of a dinner. In any case, this was the tropical menu tonight. I chose the Jamaican Chicken Tenderloins as an appetizer, a garden salad, the Jamaican roasted chicken and the Sticky Date Pudding Cake. These were all fine, although I can’t say I was totally wowed by any of them. It seems this tropical menu doesn’t’ tend to be a favorite among Disney Cruisers, so I wasn’t surprised. The kids chose Mac and Cheese and a Mini Hamburger, and Mickey Bars for dessert.

Jamaican Chicken Tenders

Jamaican Chicken Tenders

Jamaican Roasted Chicken

Jamaican Roasted Chicken

Kid's Mac and Cheese

Kid’s Mac and Cheese

The infamous Mickey Bar

The infamous Mickey Bar

 

When we booked this cruise, I chose to request to be seated with another family vs requesting our own private table.  Traveling without my husband, I thought it might be nice to socialize with some other parents. 🙂  Disney does a good job of trying to match you with a family with children with ages near yours.  In our case, we were sat a table with a nice family of 3 from Orlando, with a boy the same age as my son who happened to love all of the same video games.  You can just imagine the liveliness at the table with these two boys bonding over everything!  It was a great experience for my son.

Because it’s a late dinner seating, by the time we got back to the room, it was already 10pm. We got ready for bed, the kids watched a bit of TV and then they fell asleep very quickly. I, on the other hand, took a little while to get used to the creaking and rolling of the room. I did fall asleep after a little while and after that slept pretty well. It just takes a bit to get used to that feeling! My understanding is that this night and the following day have the most movement due to the ship being in unsheltered waters. Once it enters Tracy Arm, it’s generally a very smooth ride.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

 

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Staying at the Beach Club at Walt Disney World Resort

Staying at the Beach Club at Walt Disney World Resort

Staying at the Beach Club at Walt Disney World Resort

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We recently returned from our latest visit to Disney World, and this time we chose to stay in a Lagoon/Pool View room at the Beach Club.  We’d visited the Boardwalk area before, of course, but we hadn’t stayed in a resort there. Upon arrival, the first thing I noticed was the fresh, clean scent of the lobby.  Each of the resorts has it’s own distinct fragrance in the lobbies, in case you didn’t know.   The lobby is very open, with seashore décor and it lets out on the opposite side onto a walkway that looks upon the lagoon. We were given our room number and directed to the elevators.  Up on the third floor, we followed signs to our room.  To be honest, it was a bit of a maze, as the resort is very long and the hallways wind around.  We went allllllll the way to the very end of the building and were so pleased to find that we had rooms at the very front of the resort directly overlooking the beach and lagoon, looking across at the Boardwalk.

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View from Beach Club Disney World

The rooms have a seaside feel to them, with accents of shells and ships, and in white and blues.

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On top of that, we had rooms directly next to the stairwell exit which lets you out on a small path that in about 10 feet connects to the 2 minute walkway to the International Gateway entrance for Epcot.  What does this mean?  It means that instead of trekking the hallways of the resort, we simply exit and walk two minutes to get into Epcot.  Very handy for evening dining or to pop in for a snack from the France Pavilion! We also preferred using this exit to walk to the pool, because the walk takes you right along the beach before curving back in to the pool area.  Entering this area, you are required to scan your Magic Bands to prove you are a resort guest.  This pool is fantastic and Disney wants to make sure they keep it from getting overcrowded with non-Beach or Yacht Club resorts guests. Speaking of the pool – it’s named Stormalong Bay and it’s pretty amazing.  First of all, it’s huge.   It’s got several different areas and it never felt crowded while we were there.  Second, it’s not just a pool – it’s also a lazy river, a sand bottomed play shallow area and has two waterslides, one big and fast and one small for little kids.

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Pirate Themed Waterslide

The pirate ship themed large waterslide is fast and fun with lots of twists and turns.  It was near impossible to get my son to leave this area when it was time to go back to the room!  My daughter, who is 5, was too afraid of the big slide, but luckily on the other side of the sidewalk from the pool, where the stairs are for the large waterslide, there is a small kiddie pool with a fun pint sized waterslide.  She spent her entire pool time here, up and down up and down, ever tiring of it!

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Quick Service Locations

There are two quick service locations that we used several times here.  Hurricane Hannah’s is poolside and kid’s meals ordered here come in sand pails!  The other is the Beach Club Marketplace, which is a combination of a gift shop and a food service area.  It has meal options but also sells small grocery type items, like cartons of milk, cereal boxes, juice, soda, lunchmeats and more.  It’s a good place to grab a few things to keep in the room.

Kids' meals from Hurricane Hannah's at the Beach Club Resort

Beaches And Cream At Disney  Beach Club

It’s also home to Beaches and Cream, famous for their huge and delicious sundaes.  We didn’t manage to be brave enough for the Kitchen Sink sundae, but we did try a few others and they were fantastic. If you are so inclined, there is a table service meal located at Cape May Café, although we didn’t try it out this trip.  It’s a character breakfast option and then a Clam Bake for dinner. The resort is right next to it’s sister resort, the Yacht Club.  It’s also right across from the Boardwalk Inn, which means a quick walk over the bridge gives you access to several restaurants and shops along Disney’s Boardwalk.  The Boardwalk Bakery is a favorite for an afternoon treat, and they also serve breakfast and lunch items.

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Ending The Day

In the evening, you’ll find all sorts of street performer acts out on the Boardwalk, and it’s lit up beautifully. From the Beach Club, you can also see some of the Fantasmic! fireworks each night, as you can see the Hollywood Tower of Terror of Hollywood Studios from here.  We were able to see these from our room.  To the left of the resort, you can see some of the fireworks from Illuminations at Epcot, although the view is partially blocked.  Of course, it’s just a quick walk into Epcot from here, so if you are back at your resort before 9pm on any given day and have park hoppers, by all means just walk in and watch the full show! Overall, we really enjoyed this resort.

The one downside is that the International Gateway is about as far away from Future World as possible, meaning you are a distinct disadvantage if you plan to head to Test Track or Soarin’ first thing in the morning.  I’d plan to either get Fast Pass+ reservations for both (on different days – they are both Tier 1 attractions and you can only get one on any particular day) or take a taxi to the front gates (just a few minute ride) to have the same advantage as the other guests lining up for rope drop, if you plan to ride one of them standby.     See ALL of the services offered!