OK, if you follow me on Instagram and watched this trip play out I bet you are wondering why Pete and I were on a Disney Cruise. After all, we are empty nesters and could have taken any cruise line we wanted to while discovering Alaska. Why in the world would we want to do a cruise with kids, characters and activities geared towards families who need endless entertainment? There’s not one reason, there are many! Simply put, let’s discover the Top 10 Reasons to Book a Disney Cruise to Alaska. Can you guess what they are?
This destination has long been on our bucket list. We have never been to Alaska and I have heard so much about the beautiful outdoor adventures and picturesque scenery. When Disney reached out to see if I was available to sail on the Disney Wonder for a press trip, it took a nano second to respond. Discover exciting ports featuring prehistoric glaciers, gold-mining relics, amazing wildlife and eclectic shopping, while enjoying first-rate entertainment and family-friendly recreation on board the ship? Heck ya’!
You might remember that I traveled twice to Disney World last year for press trips. You can read about Disney Resorts here and how we discovered Walt Disney World decorated for the holidays in this blog post. While we have only been to Disneyland in California one time (details here), Pete and I have taken family vacations with our children many times over the years. In fact, I think we counted that we’ve been over 10 times to Walt Disney World in Florida. To say that we love all things Disney is an understatement!
A little history on the Disney Cruise Line before I list all the reasons you should consider booking a cruise. In the mid-80’s Disney entered the cruise industry initially by partnering with Premier to create The Big Red Boat. Oddly enough, our family took one of those cruises and went to the Caribbean with Looney Tune characters. Back then, folks would do several days in the Walt Disney World parks and then head to the cruise ship (or vice versa). In 1995, Disney launched their own cruise division and Disney Cruise Line was born. There are currently four ships – Disney Magic, Disney Wonder, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy. They sail to many destinations including Alaska, the Bahamas, Bermuda, Caribbean and Europe. The ships and cruises are so popular that Disney has announced it will take delivery of three more vessels which will be delivered in 2021, 2022 and 2023.
Who is the Disney Cruise Line for? Anyone! Families with children, couples, grandparents, singles – you name it. In fact, we saw several multi-generational families traveling together. Mom, Dad, kids and grandparents sharing the joy of a top notch vacation together. No one does family better than Disney! I think you will see that my list of reasons below will clearly explain why we think a Disney Cruise is for everyone. Pete and I had a great time and can’t wait to cruise with Disney again. Where should we go next time?
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: You can get 20% OFF your 2019 Disney Cruise to Alaska! Click here for dates and details. Whether on sale or not, you can be assured that every Disney Cruise will include Broadway-style entertainment, themed dining, character encounters, first-run movies, spaces for everyone in the family from kids to adults and much, much more! Not into Alaska? Be sure to check out all of the Disney Cruise destinations. The 2020 cruise schedule is already announced!
Do you like to cruise? Leave me a comment below and you might just receive a surprise box filled with a little Disney magic!
xoxo – Tanya
P.S. Everything I packed and wore is linked at the bottom of this post. Thank goodness I asked my Instagram followers what to wear. Originally I had packed a bunch of shorts, swimsuits and coverups. Our daily high temperature was around 50 degrees in June. You need layers – jeans and t-shits, sweaters, jackets…
Top 10 Reasons to Book a Disney Cruise to Alaska (or any destination)
1. The Ship
The classic design harkens back to the days of cruise glory – the 1920’s and 30’s. Disney built this ship with architecture and artistry in mind, creating a glamorous vessel with an Art Nouveau look in the process. Across its interior are wave patterns, marble accents, and Venetian glass, as well as a prominent bronze statue of Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Rare animation cells, woodwork, commissioned paintings, sculptures, and murals add to the Disney character throughout. This is a place where families can reconnect, adults can recharge and kids can play all day long and into the night. With 11 decks overflowing with restaurants, pools, recreation and more, the Disney Wonder holds 2,700 guests and 1,000 crew members. There is plenty of “adults only” space on board this ship for empty nesters like us.
The Disney Wonder was built in Italy and you will see Murano Glass and Italian design details in many places. Specifically, the adults only restaurant Palo has beautiful Italian details in the art deco style.
2. The Cabins
Nobody understands a family’s needs as well as Disney! Their standard cabins are the largest in the industry. The majority of staterooms come with a bath and a half — one with just a toilet and sink, the other with a bathtub and sink. There’s also a little fridge, and lots of storage space. We stayed in a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah and our stateroom was on deck 7. I highly recommend a stateroom with verandah because you can access fresh air anytime and step outside to see all the spectacular views. Every day we would return to our stateroom and Alex, our housekeeper, made a new animal out of the blanket for us. On this day it was a crab.
3. The Food
Disney Cruise Line created an innovative rotational dining system, meaning that each night, you will rotate to eat in one of the three main dining rooms and your servers will rotate with you. Yes, you heard me right – your servers go with you! Why? That way they get to know your needs, food allergies, likes and dislikes. By the second night, our waiter knew that we prefer oil and vinegar with our bread instead of butter. Each restaurant offers a different atmosphere and special surprises. For a more sophisticated dining experience the adult-only restaurant, Palo should not be missed! Pete and I enjoyed dinner as well as brunch in this fabulous venue.
Tip: Opt for the later seating in the dining room if you want a quieter experience. Families with little children will most likely be in the early seating. Either way, you will always have a great meal!
4. The Views
This 8 day/7 night Alaskan cruise itinerary departs from Vancouver, Canada and is perfect if you love to see nature up close. The scenery is spectacular! With rugged arctic beauty and outdoor adventure in spades, Alaska is a destination brimming with family appeal. This is frontier land and you will discover Native American cultural influences along the way. Ever seen a glacier up close from the comfort of your verandah? Yep, the Disney Wonder makes that happen with a cruise up to Dawes Glacier, Alaska.
5. Activities for every age kid
I was amazed when we toured the kids clubs. Clean, bright, cheery and ready for any activity, all of these spaces offer excellent activities and supervision. Get this: If you are in port and want to disembark for an excursion, your children can check into one of the kids clubs on the ship and be entertained with Disney staff (cast members). What a bonus!
It’s A Small World Nursery: Spaces designed for children 6 months to 3 years of age. Reservations required. Additional cost.
Disney Oceaneer Club: Children can dress up and play games in this supervised space. This accommodates children ages 3 – 12 years old and is included in your cruise fees. Bonus: All meals are included too!
Disney Oceaneer Lab: This computer lab offers an experience for children to learn as they’re on the high seas. Ages 3 – 12 years old can explore this interactive program that is connected to the Disney’s Oceaneer Club.
Edge: This tweens-only room (for those 11 to 14 years old) features age-appropriate activities, including television and video games.
Vibe: This teens-only space (for those 14 to 17 years old) offers an opportunity to socialize, play games, and watch television. It’s like a Coffee House hang out space.
D Lounge: Have the whole family stay entertained in this comfortable, colorful lounge area.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: Princesses and pirates can come in to dress up and get made over. This seems to be very popular with the kids as we saw tons of beautiful Princesses sporting their updo’s!
6. Disney Characters
Let’s do the math… There are 2,700 people on a cruise ship and lots and lots of Disney characters everywhere. All the time! You could hardly walk to a restaurant, activity or your stateroom without running into a Disney Princess. So if you want your children to see lots of characters in a limited space over the course of a week, a Disney Cruise is your sure bet! Did I mention that all of these Disney character encounters are inside in air conditioning? YES! We saw all the Disney Princesses, Mickey Mouse, Mini Mouse, Chip & Dale, Pluto, everyone from Disney Pixar’s Toy Story and all the characters from Frozen. Heck, we saw characters we didn’t even know. One time, we walked out of the Cadillac Lounge and ran into Cinderella in the Atrium who was ready to receive anyone.
7. After Hours and Adult Only Spaces
Guests must be over the age of 18 to participate in any of the following.
Experience calm at sea inside Senses Spa & Salon, mingle over cocktails at Cadillac Lounge or a frosty pint at Crown & Fin, or dive into drinks, dancing and more at Azure. Pete and I booked a couples massage in the spa as well as spent time at the Spa Rainforest Room. This a great place to relax, especially when you have a full day at sea. The ship also has a full service fitness center and offers classes as well as wellness sessions. The Quiet Cove Pool is for adults only.
The Cadillac Lounge, Crown & Fin and Azure are all located on deck 3. After dinner or the nightly entertainment, we would head to Crown & Fin for drinks and to play backgammon while enjoying cocktails. It’s a fun pub atmosphere!
8. Ports of Call & Excursions
On the Alaskan 8 day/7 night cruise itinerary, you will dock at three locations and have dozens of excursion opportunities. Here are the one we experienced.
Dawes Glacier – OK, you don’t dock here but the Disney Wonder will cruise into the Endicott Arm fjord past spectacular nature so that you can see the Dawes Glacier up close. This is the first glacier we have seen right in front of us. It’s truly mind blowing to see such a force of nature!
Skagway, Alaska – This was our first port of call which you arrive at on Day 4. Our port adventure was Glacier Discovery by Helicopter which took us to Muir Glacier. Have you ever walked on a glacier and seen the ice blue color? It’s amazing! Only 800 residents live in Skagway and it came into economic boom during the Gold Rush.
Juneau, Alaska – It was in Juneau that we disembarked and went on the Whale Watching and Wildlife Quest excursion. We saw lots of humpback whales and sea lions. But my biggest surprise was that we saw American Bald Eagles everywhere. Lots of them! Juneau is the state capital of Alaska and the largest populated area in the ports of call on the Disney Alaska Cruise. The city is isolated and the only way to visit Juneau is by plane or boat. A little over 30,000 residents live in Juneau.
Ketchikan, Alaska – This was our favorite town to visit. It’s so charming! Ketchikan is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World”. It has about 7,800 residents and oddly enough, one of my followers lives here. She DM me on Instagram and helped me find a restaurant. Pete and I enjoyed fresh pink salmon and king crab at Annabelle’s. There is a fun Lumberjack show but we decided on the City Lights, Totems and Creek Street by Trolley tour. We learned that most of Ketchikan is built on piers over the water.
9. Disney Entertainment
No one does entertainment better than Disney. No one! Live shows, deck parties (we had the Frozen deck party with all the characters), character greetings and first-run movies are all included. The Buena Vista Theater (art deco style) had Toy Story 4 playing on opening day. We also saw Disney’s Aladdin movie because I was out of town when it came out. Frozen, A Musical Spectacular might as well be on Broadway because the show and talent are that good!
10. 24/7 Room Service and Much More
Room Service: You heard correctly. 24/7 room service is INCLUDED in your price. No, I am not kidding. Once we figured that out, we ordered breakfast daily because we really need coffee when we wake. Want to eat three meals at restaurants and still order a little midnight snack? Go ahead – it’s included! I saw lots of families ordering cookies and milk in the evening. Brilliant!
Photo Service: From the minute you board the ship, there will be Disney photographers capturing your cruise. You can have pictures taken with characters, get photos at the restaurants or just hang out in the Atrium and they will snap your picture. You can order them anytime during your cruise but it makes sense to wait until the last day so that you can review all of them.
Disney Cast Members: Otherwise known as the crew. EVERYONE I asked about working on the cruise ship loved their job! We asked bartenders, waiters, officers (who wear white uniforms), housekeeping staff, performers… you name it, we talked to them. Most of them had been working for Disney Cruise Line for seven years or more. Additionally, most crew members had worked on more than one of the Disney ships with many of them having served on all four ships. This is a company that believes in its workforce!
Clientele: You can tell that people who book a Disney Cruise are there for a top notch vacation. This is absolutely not a wrist band, all drinks are free, let’s party all night in the pool kind of place. It is a high quality, family friendly vacation for those who value adventure, nature and and above all, excellent service!
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Photo: Pete Foster and Disney Cruise Line
Thank you to Disney Cruise Line for gifting the press trip. All selections and opinions are my own.