Why This Disney Cruise to Alaska Is an Adventure of a Lifetime
If Alaska isn’t on your list of travel musts, then you really should add it STAT. Not only is America's “last frontier” phenomenally gorgeous, but there’s also an incredible array of adventures to partake in. The thing is, Alaska isn't a place that’s easily navigated on your own (one viewing of Alaskan Bush People will clarify that for you). No, this is a place that's best experienced with a trustworthy guide... and in the lap of luxury. That’s where the Disney Cruise Line comes in. Their journey through the inside passage amid fjords, glaciers, and small mining towns is, in a word, unforgettable. Since it’s a Disney cruise, the ship and the excursions are curated to every age group, from sleepy babies and zip-line loving teens to millennial couples and that bingo-loving grandma. Check out all the reasons why you should visit Alaska, Disney-style.
You have all the comforts (and more) of home. The massive Disney Wonder cruise ship has everything — and we mean everything — one needs for a spectacular week at sea. There are 11 public decks, 875 perfectly appointed staterooms, restaurants galore, bars, pools, a state-of-the-art movie theater, a Broadway-style theater, kids' clubs for every age, and a full-service spa. From quietly reading a book in the Cove Café to competing in one of the daily trivia sessions to getting an hour-long massage, no matter what kind of mood you’re in, there’s something for you.
Minnie and Mickey have epic travel ensembles. You just know our favorite mice would have to have special outfits for the occasion (they always do). We can’t get over how adorable Minnie’s winter wardrobe is, and Mickey looks so sporty in his fishing gear. We just wish they sold Minnie’s outfit in the gift store because we'd definitely wear it.
You can go whale watching. There’s a long list of Disney-hosted excursions that you can sign up for, but one that’s ubiquitous and suitable for all ages and all activity levels is whale watching. Almost every port offers an opportunity to see the huge creatures at sea, with perks like binoculars and informative guides narrating the voyage.
You might witness something spectacular. On our voyage, we spotted a school of humpbacks whales engaged in bubble-net feeding, where the majestic mammals cooperate to hunt together. In unison, the whales pop out of the water as if doing a water ballet, an act they repeat over and over. It was like being on an episode of a National Geographic wilderness special.
You can stroll through Icy Strait Point. On some of the Disney Wonder itineraries, you might have the chance to explore Icy Strait Point, a small tourist destination owned by a group of about 1,350 Alaskan Natives, some of whom are of the Tlingit people. The charming stop boasts stores featuring Alaskan crafts and products, as well as crab-centric restaurants and a massive zip line for those yearning for adventure.
You can explore an old mining town. Skagway, the Gateway to the Klondike, is far more built up and has everything a tourist town needs: gift stores, brewpubs, and a variety of train and car tours. The gold rush-era touches are everywhere, especially in the vintage bar ads painted on the rocks overlooking the beautifully maintained historic buildings.
You'll meet a lumberjack Donald. There’s a little locale outside of Skagway called Liarsville, a historic compound that journalists called home back in the heat of the gold rush. Now it’s the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp, with entertainment, exhibits, gold panning and, last but not least, an appearance from a super-cute Donald Duck.
And Chip and Dale are there too. Donald doesn’t go it alone in Liarsville. Chip and Dale are also on hand to help with gold panning and adorable photo ops.
There are ample opportunities to feast on all the salmon you can eat. One thing about the residents of Liarsville is they love to eat! The townsfolk put together a massive spread, including Alderwood-grilled wild Alaska salmon served fresh off the grill. If you like fish, Alaskan cuisine is definitely for you.
There's a seaplane you can board for the adventure of a lifetime. If you’re in Alaska, you’ll want to see things that you can only witness in Alaska. (That’s why you travel, right?) One of the most unforgettable Alaska-exclusive experiences to sign up for is the Enchanted Taku Glacier Lodge Flight and 5-Glacier Seaplane Discovery.
You can bask in the glory of the real-life glaciers. You can look at photos, you can see them on TV, but witnessing Alaska’s glaciers live and in person is unparalleled. The blue crevasses of the Juneau Icefield are stunning, and along the journey there you’ll see snow-capped mountains, flowing waterfalls, and the lush surrounding forests from the seaplane window.
Taku Glacier Lodge provides lunch with a view. A charming log cabin, built in 1923, sits directly across from the picturesque Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier, which is one of the few advancing glaciers in Alaska. A checkered sweater from Forever 21’s recent Mickey Mouse collection is optional, but suggested.
Taku Glacier Lodge also offers actual glacier drinks. See that big ice cube in the Arnold Palmer above? The drink is cooled with ice from an actual glacier. (Don’t worry: There’s plenty of glacier ice up there, so the occasional refreshment won't make a dent.) Besides the bevs, they also serve up fresh-caught salmon and a slew of homemade sides — plus a hearty dessert, natch.
You can learn how to (and catch!) fish. One of the most popular pastimes along the Alaskan coast is fishing, and for good reason — the waters are teeming. It doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or familiar with rod and reel: The Alaskan Fish Camp & Wilderness Dining port adventure out of Ketchikan is structured for any and all skill levels. Common catches include Pacific halibut, rockfish, lingcod, and Pacific cod, as well as the occasional salmon. During your three or so hours of fishing, you'll have the option to catch and release rather than keeping them for lunch.
The on-deck sightseeing is spectacular. One of the highlights of the cruise is sailing through the 30-mile Tracy Arm Fjord. You’ll weave through snow-capped mountains & floating icebergs and will be able to see the massive Sawyer glacier. Thankfully, crew members wander the decks with hot chocolate, so your fingers won’t get too frigid between all the photo-taking.
You can get your shopping on. There are plenty of opportunities along the voyage to pick up souvenirs for your crew back home or memorabilia for yourself. Especially tempting are traditional totem poles, with options from mass-produced ones to those that are hand-carved by locals (we vote #buylocal).
There are classic cruise activities. While you will be busy doing *all the things* that Alaska has to offer, thankfully, there’s plenty of time to enjoy even the typical cruise goodness that the Wonder has going on. Why not take the opportunity to learn an old-school cruise line classic — shuffleboard!
There are magical touches throughout. The Disney Wonder is beautifully designed with nods to the golden age of cruising, and, of course, it's sprinkled with Disney magic. Each cruise ship has a different character holding court in the extravagant lobby; on the Wonder, it’s Ariel, who makes a perfect seafaring friend to have tagged along on the voyage.
Your shoefie game will be strong. There are totally #IHaveThisThingWithFloors-worthy moments throughout the entire ship. There are over a hundred — yes, one hundred — different carpet designs covering the floors of the Wonder. If you pay attention, some will even subtly tell you where on the ship you are.
You can dine with Tiana. We didn't think it was possible, but the Disney Cruise Line has upped their dining game. They’ve created immersive dinner experiences that include music performances, character meet-and-greets, and themed menu offerings. On the Disney Wonder, guests can dine at Tiana’s, an eatery inspired by The Princess and the Frog. Along with Tiana and Louie the trumpet-playing alligator, the restaurant features New Orleans-themed music, food, and (what else!) beignets for dessert.
There is an adults-only dining option. Along with the more broadly accessible rotation of restaurants (Tiana’s, Triton’s, and the whimsical Animator’s Palate), grown-ups can upgrade to the adults-only Palo, a Venetian-inspired fine-dining restaurant serving up Italian cuisine in a romantic setting. Their brunch is totally off the hook (check out one part of the buffet above). It's delicious with just the right amount of decadence — the chocolate soufflé is a must.
There are plenty of chances to get a selfie with a movie star. You can meet all sorts of Disney characters around the boat. Beyond the classics like Minnie, Mickey, Donald, and Daisy, the Wonder is the only Disney Cruise Ship currently hosting Pixar stars like Remy and Emile from Ratatouille.
You can bring the baby to the It’s a Small World Nursery. If you're traveling with kids, no matter their age, the Wonder has a place for them to hang out. Just imagine: Even on a family vacation, you can drop off the little ones and and then sit and read, or visit the spa, or have an actual uninterrupted conversation with your significant other. The choice is yours! While all the kids' locations are great, the nursery has our heart for their adorable Mary Blair styling.
You can drop kids off in the Oceaneers Club. While the nursery is more about sleeping, the Oceaneers Club is all about full-octane fun for active kids. Among its many kid-worthy elements, the massive club has a section dedicated to crafts (hello, slime-making), one for animation (you are on a Disney ship), a Marvel section (for heroes in training), and a Toy Story play structure. And, sorry, but adults aren’t allowed to hang out (although you’ll want to, especially when your kid refuses to leave).
Tweens can hang out in the Edge. Bigger kids ages 11 to 14 can chill in the Edge, where games of all sorts reign supreme. There are wacky group games, video games, and card games, as well as classic games.
There's even a place for hard-to-please teenagers. Teens ages 14 to 17 will probably end up spending most of their solo onboard time at Vibe, a sleek loft-style hangout. Along with ever-popular video games, the club puts together group adventures, hosts dance parties, and encourages guests to belt their hearts out singing karaoke.
Tweet us where would you’d most love to go in Alaska @BritandCo!
(Photos via Sunny Chanel)
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