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Day 1: Departure from Vancouver, BC

Departure from Vancouver, Canada on the Disney Wonder Cruise to Alaska, June 2023

We stayed at the Hilton Vancouver Downtown for three nights before the cruise. The port was within walking distance, but with bags we decided it would be too much of a hike. As we were booking a rideshare the valet pointed to a waiting cab nearby. The flat rate was cheeper than the Uber/Lyft options, and taxis were the only option permitted to drive directly to the luggage drop-off.

We arrived and dropped of the heavier bags we wouldn’t need until later that day, and headed to a short 20 minute process to check in, clear customs, and board the ship. Departure from Vancouver was the smoothest and fastest Disney Cruise Line onboarding we’ve had, compared to the larger Port of Miami and from NYC. Our boarding time was 11:45am; we were able to start check-in a few minutes early and we were on the ship by 12:15pm.

Cast members announced our name as we entered the Atrium. We headed directly to the Senses Spa, where I was able to book the Rainforest Room ($139 for access the entire week) and we were able to book times for spa services that weren’t available prior to the Cruise on the App.

On embarkation day, dining for lunch was only available for our level at Cabanas buffet, and it wasn’t too crowded with the staggered arrival times. (We were Silver Castaway Club; other levels including Concierge and DVC may have had additional welcome events.)

Deluxe Family Stateroom with Ocean View

Views of the Canadian Coastline

2nd Floor Porthole View

Our room was ready at 2pm and our luggage had already arrived. We were initially disappointed to not be able to book a room with a Veranda, but found the Deluxe Stateroom with a Porthole to still have a great view.

Split Bathrooms

One of the best features of deluxe staterooms is the split bathroom concept, with a sink and toilet in one room and and sink and shower/tub available in another, both with direct doors to the state room.

Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom
Deluxe Family Oceanview Stateroom

We had the option of converting the couch to a second bed or using the bunk bed that our attendant pulled from the ceiling each evening.  Additional amenities included a small tv that could pivot toward the king-size bed or the seating area/bunk bed, two hair dryers, water glasses and a refrigerator large enough for drinks and small meals. 

Read more about Staterooms and Amenities on the Disney Wonder

Day 2: At Sea

Views of the Canadian Coastline and a Humpback Whale
Views of the Canadian Coastline

Wildlife Watching

When we saw “Day at Sea” on the itinerary we expected to be offshore with distant views of the Canadian coast. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our route was along the inside passage. We saw orcas and humpback whales from the top deck, and could have easily spent the entire day trying to spot wildlife both in the water and on the rocky edges.

Formal Night

Like the day before, rain had been in our forecast, but the sunny skies and mid-70s temperature allowed for time in the pool and on deck. We spent most of our time outside, with the exception of our Formal Night dinner.

Formal Night

One of the only indoor activities we attended during the day was a talk with a Naturalist and Juneau resident who had explored much of the Alaskan Coast by Kayak. Through two talks she explained the history, terrain, and wildlife of Alaska.

Dinner was an optional formal dress at Animator’s Palette.

Animator’s Palette, The Disney Wonder, June 2023

Day 3: Glacier Viewing

Our venture into the Alaskan Wilderness started less than traditionally; with beignets and mimosas at the French Quarter Lounge.

French Quarter Lounge, Disney Wonder, June 2023

Most nights allowed us to meet the senior staff on the Cruise, including Captain Fabian. On the night before Glacier viewing, he told us that it was one of his favorite routes, and that the Disney Wonder was the largest ship size that was able to go up the narrow fjords and through parts of the inner passage.  Before entering the viewing area, the Naturalist again presented, this time focused on fjords and glaciers. Around noon, our Captain announced that we would be able to take the pass to his preferred destination glacier at the end of Sawyer Pass.

Tracy Arm Fjord views
Tracy Arm Fjord views

Wildlife Watching

We began to see the large chunks of blue ice that had fallen from the glacier (called calving) that had flipped to reveal the sections that had been underwater. As we continued, more harbor seals and fur seals were viewable sitting on chunks of surface ice, and we spotted bald eagles.

Following the Fjord

Large waterfalls of melting snow fell from the mountains. After just over an hour sailing into the fjord and stopping to debark guests who had booked the up close viewing excursion (on a smaller vessel), we arrived at Sawyer Glacier. 

Tracy Arm Fjord views
Tracy Arm Fjord views from the Disney Wonder Cruise to Alaska, June 2023
Tracy Arm Fjord views from deck 2

Glacier Viewing from the Other Decks

The fourth deck was also a popular location, a bit closer to the lower part of the glacier and with more protection from the rain. We were lucky that our second deck room was on starboard side and we could also enjoy the view from our porthole while warming up and drying off.

Glacier Viewing from the Top Deck

The front area on the 10th deck was extremely crowded, despite the rain and cool (high 50s) temperatures. We spent over two hours floating near the glacier, giving us the chance to view it from multiple vantages. We purchased themed hot beverage cups for our coffee and watched seals swim from the deck outside Cove Cafe.

Tracy Arm Fjord views from deck 10

We learned later from crew and staff that we were lucky it had rained that day because the ice was far more blue than the grey tones that showed when it was sunnier. 

Tracy Arm Fjord views from the Disney Wonder Cruise to Alaska, June 2023
Sawyer Glacier, Alaska
Sawyer Glacier, Alaska

We skipped the evening acapella show to continue watching outside as we left the passage. That evening’s scheduled Frozen Deck Party was cancelled due to the rain, but they continued with themed photo and dinner activities.

Frozen Night on the Disney Wonder

We skipped the evening acapella show to continue watching outside as we left the passage. That evening’s scheduled Frozen Deck Party was cancelled due to the rain, but they continued with themed photo and dinner activities.

Day 4: Skagway Alaska

Skagway, Alaska

Skagway, once a gateway for those seeking to get rich in the 1890s gold rush, exists today because of the Cruise Industry and the White Pass Railway. There were multiple options for excursions. With a long day (6:45am-5pm) passengers were able to get out into the wilderness on a hiking trip, see sled dogs, whale/wildlife watch, hop on a sea plane, and more.

Skagway, Alaska

We opted to explore the town, take the White Pass Railway one way, then return via bus with a stop at the touristy but fun reenacted Liarstown Gold Rush Camp. (A link to more details about the excursions coming soon.)

Back Onboard

We returned to the ship for dinner and our rescheduled Frozen Deck Party (because it was moved to 10:15pm it wasn’t as crowded as the Sail Away event) was made all the better by the mountain views as we sailed south to Juneau.

Skagway Brewing Company

Our goal was to find a local brewery at each port. The Skagway Brewing Company was a bit off the main strip and had both a tasting room and a restaurant with an extensive choice of pub fare.

Frozen Deck Party

Day 5: Juneau Alaska

Fun Fact: there are no roads to Alaska’s State Capital, Juneau. Residents and visitors can only get there by boat or plane. A large section of the “city” after exiting the ship was devoted to touristy cruise passenger shops. But after getting past those we found a small brewery for drinks and lunch. Nearby were small local bookstores, clothing shops, and bakeries/coffee shops/restaurants. With more time we would have visited the Alaska Sate Museum, one of the excursion options but also easily accessible on our own. 

Mendenhall Glacier & Nugget Falls
Glacier Garden Rainforest Tour, Juneau Alaska
Mendenhall Glacier & Nugget Falls, Juneau

Mendehall Glacier

The most popular attraction, and understandably so, is the Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget waterfall, located in a US National Forest. Tour buses were only permitted 90 minutes during the busy season. Our guide told us that we were lucky there was no fog; sometimes he has to awkwardly let his tour know as they are arriving that the glacier isn’t visible. Although it was raining a little, we were comfortable on the 1/2 mile hike to and from to Nugget Falls.

Glacier Garden

The Glacier Gardens Rainforest Tour was at a property created by a local landscape designer. Previously home to a dairy, the land had been destroyed by a landslide. The signature feature of the garden was uprooted fallen trees, “replanted” upside down in the ground and then covered with soil and used as large container gardens. Our tourbus full of people was split into two groups to board trams that climbed the winding road 600+ feet into the Tongas National Forest.  Garden guides narrated the climb, explaining the history of the property and describing the flora and fauna.

Glacier Garden Rainforest Tour, Juneau

Another short walk from the visitor center was a viewing platform from a peninsula with better views of the glacier flowing into the lake. We watched as more adventurous passengers (they also had more money to spare on an excursion that was $500+ per person) flew on helicopters to the glacier’s top. The visitor center included a fantastic interpretation center for the geography of glacial formations in Alaska. Rangers also noted wildlife recently spotted in the area on a dry erase board, and we learned later that there were binoculars focused on an area frequented by mountain goats. 

Mendenhall Glacier & Nugget Falls, Juneau

We returned to the ship for that evening’s broadway-style show, Frozen (our favorite of the trip). After dinner we concluded the evening with the adult performance with the visiting magician in Azure Lounge. The show was all the more entertaining when our table mate was chosen for a very intensive “mind-reading” exercise.

Pop-Up Character Meet and Greet

Day 6: Ketchikan

Creek Street, Ketchikan

Ketchikan was smaller than Juneau but larger than Skagway. The town was still very much an active fishing port, with one of the tourist attractions the “salmon ladder” that helped them swim upstream to spawn. The most popular draw was Creek Street- a historic fisherman’s “red light” district that is now home to locally run gift shops instead of brothels.

Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, Ketchikan

Lumberjack Show

Our second excursion was directly next to the cruise ship; the Alaskan Lumberjack Show. We were greeted at the start of the show by Goofy; our performance was reserved for passengers on the Wonder. Our hostess explained the process for the competition between two teams of lumberjacks, with each side of the audience on either the Canadian or American team. The feats of athleticism were impressive, with the lumberjacks awarding the audience for participation. 

Saxman Tlingit Village

For our excursions, we chose to visit Saxman Village to learn about the history of the Native Tlingit cultures of Alaska. Our tour included a traditional dance performance by members of the Tlingit community in the recreated Beaver Clan house. While visitors can view the grounds without a guided tour, we were able to learn about both the historic and living culture of the Tlingit people and to see an active totem carving center.

Saxman Tlingit Village, Ketchikan

After the show we were the only ship left in town, and most of the shops had closed down for the day. We were able to take pictures on Creek Street with fewer tourists, but unable to get a drink/snack in town like we had the other two ports. We returned to the ship in time to see that evening’s performance in the Disney Theater; a magic show with Chipper Lowell. Like the night before, a member of our party (me) was selected to participate. My stage fright was equal to my confusion, as he asked me to find passages to the book Sherlock Holmes for him to recite from memory. 

Magician in Walt Disney Theater (technically photography was not allowed but I was onstage so we thought there might be an exception.

Day 7: Day at Sea

‘Til We Meet Again Closing Party

Bibbidi Bopped Boutique

We started our day with our first ever visit to Bippidi Boppidi Boutique. We wished we had done it earlier in some ways, as the magic was a bit lost on our 10-year old. However,  our “Fairy Godmother in Training” easily kept all of the pixie dust chat as part the experience while still making it age-appropriate. We also learned that adults can stop by for a “pixie” dusting free of charge. While it quickly fell out of my product-free hair, Alex’s gel base kept glitter in his life much longer.

Disney Day

The last full At Sea day turned into kind of the wild west, with the Jack’s Diaper Dash (that’s right, parents are asked to race their infants for our entertainment), Disney Princesses wandering aimlessly after scheduled meet and greets, and costumed show performers mingling with guests “character palooza” style. After the final broadway-style show, characters converge in the lobby to greet passengers before a final goodbye show.

Bibbidi Bopped Boutique Pixie Dusting

We later enjoyed the naturalist presentation (he had joined the ship in Juneau) focused on wild food in Alaska. He had traveled much of Alaska foraging and hunting. I recognize the the irony of a vegetarian at a hunting/fishing related talk, but much of his focus was on the necessity for surviving in Alaska with whatever resources are found, and meat and pelts were required for survival of both the indigenous people who first populated Alaska and many of the people who have come after. We were most surprised to learn that the Musk Ox had been hunted to extinction in northern Alaska for their meat and fur, but that they had been reintroduced and were thriving. Our presenter was available on deck for the rest of the day and evening as the ship made its way through the narrow inland passages. While we weren’t on deck during additional wildlife sights, we did enjoy seeing the small villages that dotted this area of the Canadian coast.

Tiana’s Place, Disney Wonder Alaskan Cruise, June 2023

The rest of our day and evening were spent checking off experiences we hadn’t yet, including Pub Trivia at Crown & Fin, andcharacter greetings. We rounded out the night by staying up far too late for drinks at the Cadillac Club and walking after midnight on the fourth deck to watch the super moon.

Disney after hours clubs close early, so this was the most exciting spot we found after midnight on the final night of the cruise

Day 8: Disembarkation Day

Goofy’s Pool, Disney Wonder Alaskan Cruise, 2023

Because we weren’t flying home that day, we didn’t need early demarkation, and were able to collect the luggage that we had packed the night before after leaving the ship. We had to exit our room by 8:15am, and were scheduled for sit-down dining at Tiana’s Place (Cabanas was available at any time for those who needed/wanted a different option). By 9:30am those who were waiting for luggage to be unloaded started to be called, and we were off the ship by 10:30am. We were in no hurry and liked being able to escape the crowded lower areas to relax on deck loungers until we were called. The check-out and customs process went quickly, and Taxis were easily available for $35+ CAD, but with no time constraint we walked from the terminal to the nearby Canada Line public transportation for a 25-minute and less than $10 ride to the airport.

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