Vancouver & Alaska
7 -Night Disney Alaskan Cruise
Introducing Lisa Vintzel as our Ruby Rosen Travel guest blogger! Lisa is one of our best clients who's already taken numerous trips with us over the past year. She sends us photos and updates all the time, so we thought, why not have her share her entire trip for everyone to see. In this segment you'll find a day by day recap of Lisa and her family's Disney Alaska Cruise last August. Hopefully it'll inspire you to get out your heavy jackets this summer and head to the glaciers!
Our family had the pleasure of taking a Disney Alaska cruise on Disney Magic in August of 2017, booked by Ruby Rosen Travel. My husband and I along with our 15 year old son, 11 year old daughter and our 15 year old nephew. My friend also joined us with her 11 and 7 year old daughters. The ship was super for all ages. We had cabins mid ship on the 5th level and splurged on a balcony room which was so worth it!! I thoroughly enjoyed retreating to our cozy room, ordering room service and watching the world sail by on the balcony with a blanket. The ship was immaculate with every detail taken care of and the service top notch. Dinner rotates across 3 dining areas and your wait staff stays with you the entire week. Our servers knew all of us by name and really got to know us.
This was our first cruise and I was nervous about being sea sick or claustrophobic and I have to say that I had nothing to worry about. The Alaska cruise from Vancouver goes through the inner passage of calmer seas. Also, Rebecca Rosen advised us to get the sea-sickness bands and they worked like a charm!!
Our port of call was Vancouver where we got to spend a few days pre & post. What a beautiful, friendly and eco-conscious city. There is so much to do in and around the city and it makes for an action packed family visit. We stayed at the Westin in Vancouver since it had a great swimming pool and a central location. The other family we traveled with stayed at the Shangri-La, selected by Ruby Rosen Travel, which was amazing - also with a rooftop pool and hot tub. She was upgraded to a suite - thanks Ruby Rosen Travel! Both hotels are centrally located and work great with families but the Shangri-La takes the experience to whole new level.
The weather in Alaska was in the 60s and cloudy but we embraced the weather and dressed accordingly. Our friends LOVED the chilly and rainy weather since they live in the Sacramento area where it’s 100 degrees heat and no rain. It was very therapeutic for her. Some of my favorite memories were wearing cozy clothes and talking over a glass of red wine or cup of coffee.
Day 1: We went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge by taking the easy free shuttle from downtown. This park is beautiful and offers a full morning of fun. We walked across the bridge and it was exhilarating to walk 230 feet above canyon. We then walked the tree tops and the cliff walk with its cantilevered bridge. We checked out the exhibit on birds of prey - did you know that Falcons are the fastest animals on earth and can fly up to 200 mph to catch their prey? Cool! From the Cap Suspension, we took another free shuttle to Grouse Mountain where we took the sky ride to the top and saw their Lumber Jack show and their resident Grizzly Bears.
There was so much to do on including zip-lining and other fun things. The casual dining was great at both places with barbecues, coffee shops and full bars (plus fresh air, what could be better?). We ended our day with Vancouver Mysteries. This was such a FUN family activity. They send you on a murder mystery / scavenger hunt in the Gas Light district. It took us about two hours to finish and was such a blast. For dinner we went to a casual pub - I highly recommend trying Poutine in Vancouver - if you like comfort food like me!
Day 2: We toured Vancouver by bike. This was such a GREAT way to see the city. We biked through Stanley Park and had lunch at the Granville Market (tip: bring cash as many vendors do not take CC). Vancouver is such a bike friendly city so this was a perfect way to enjoy the city and fun for the whole family. For our evening entertainment, we went to Vancouver Theatre Sports League with Improv Comedy. They offer three different shows with the earlier shows being more family friendly. We went to the 9pm show and had so many laughs. My 15 year old son would do this again in a heart beat!
Day 3: The boys went white water rafting and loved it. Unfortunately no photos but I trust their feedback. I spent the day with my former co-worker who lives nearby in Washington state and he provided us with an insiders tour of Vancouver. A highlight was the gardens at Queen Elizabeth Park with its fabulous views. We ate Chinese food for dinner that night. Asian food is another must in Vancouver given the high Asian population.
Day 4: Cruise ship day!! It was SO much fun to get on the ship and explore all it had to offer. The ship offers open houses for its kids clubs before sailing: Oceaneer Club (ages 3 to 12); Edge (ages 11 to 14) and Vibe (ages 14 to 17). They are awesome! We also checked out the full movie theater that the kids used throughout the cruise, the pool area, dining, spa, work out facilities and adult entertainment areas. It was super fun to meet our wait staff for the week. Disney makes dining so much fun with a different themes and experiences each night. We booked the late seating that we loved because it gave us more time to relax early evening.
Day 5: For our day at sea we booked pampering at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for the girls. So adorable and they looked amazing. This was the formal dining night so a perfect day to book this.
Day 6: Tracey Arm Glacier day. Wow!!! Imagine sailing right next to a giant glacier and watching pieces of it break off and crash into the water. We started the day with brunch at Disney’s adult only restaurant, Palo. This is without a doubt, a must do. The service and the food were impeccable. We then went on deck with the family to view the glacier. Our return from the glacier was spent on the balcony drinking a bottle of wine while sitting under a blanket and watching the icebergs pass us by. Perfect day, perhaps yes
Day 7: Skagway. Our excursion took us into the Alaska interior and to a Musher summer camp. We were able to cuddle with the puppies and interact with the dogs and take a ride behind the dogs. We saw some beautiful countryside too, making it to the Yukon, viewing the tundra and waterfalls. We ended our tour with gold panning. Another excursion option in Skagway is to helicopter ride to the glacier and then take a real Mushers ride on the glacier. I think this is the thing to do if you have the budget for it.
Day 8: Juneau. Our favorite excursion! We canoed to the Mendenhall Glacier and then hiked the Glacier including a visit to the ice caves. This was such an amazing experience. I will never forget the blue color of the ice and seeing petrified wood that just surfaced after millions of years. We were practically the only people on the lake and glacier so it felt mystical. This is the one activity which would not be great for little kids but totally fine for 11 and above. My friend separately took her 7 year old whale watching that was a big hit!
Day 9: Ketchikan! All of the stars aligned for a perfect day. We rented fishing poles for the boys and they were able to stand at the bridge and fish for salmon. They caught salmon swimming upstream and even had to fight a seal for one salmon! We ate fish and chips at the Fish House - a must given that this is the fishing capital of the world. We then took Zodiac boats out on the water. We saw whales and bald eagles and absolutely loved being out driving our own boat on the water. When we returned, we headed off to the bear viewing at Herring Cove. We hired taxis and took the 20 minutes ride! The bears come out of the woods at low tide and eat salmon from tide pools. It was like an episode of National Geographic. To finish a perfect day, as we sailed away from the port, the town lit fireworks for the Disney ship. We were smiling from ear to ear.
Day 10: Sailing day. I would have loved sun on this day but no such luck. The ship has some beautiful pools and it would have been nice to enjoy them but instead I made use of the jacuzzi, the gym, hot chairs and sauna instead. The weather did not stop my daughter from hanging in the heated pools and watching full Disney movies floating in the water.
Day 11: We arrived back in Vancouver and saw the sun again - yay! Even better was that we caught the solar eclipse. MAGIC!!! We had a full day in Vancouver so I seized the opportunity and booked Paragliding. WOW!!! I have to admit that I was scared to death but something was telling me I just had to do this, my nephew labeled it as ‘FOMO’ or Fear of Missing Out. We took the Sky Ride to the top of Grouse Mountain and then a chairlift. We geared up and waited for the wind with our tandem guides. We went in sequence: my nephew, my son and then me. Once it was my turn, the guide asked me to walk and then run and then we were gently lifted in the air, we were floating and I could see all of Vancouver and surrounding mountains. Landing was effortless - the guides took care of everything.
Booking through Ruby Rosen Travel was great! Pricing was the same as booking directly with Disney but we had all the benefits of their travel resources. They gave us tips on our dining rotations; important things to remember and really took care of every question we had. We worked together figuring out the best excursions and were super happy with our choices. They also put together an amazing itinerary.
Bring some kid movie treats with you on the cruise. We purchased in Vancouver and the kids loved this and it is better than over-paying on the ship and not getting their favorites anyway.
Parents should bring their favorite bottle of wine or two. Disney permits you to bring wine on board.
Buy bottled water on the first day to keep in your cabin. They offer this for sale on the ship Day 1.
Definitely go to Palo Dining. We did brunch on Tracey Arm day and one dinner. We had the same waiter for both (of course, this is the Disney style) and it was some of the most amazing Italian food and service ever with a great view! Certainly worth the slight charge.
We loved Cove Cafe. You can order a drink or coffee and they serve wonderful free snacks throughout the day. Go upstairs and enjoy the view.
Don’t overpack. There is laundry on the ship and it is easy to use.
Bring work out clothes. I loved the gym on the ship. The treadmills were at the very front of the ship and you could run with a view. The lounge area was super too with heated chairs and a sauna.
Bring layers including good rain coat and water proof sneakers or hiking shoes.
I brought wonderful Zojirushi mugs for our coffee and hot chocolate which is available 24/7 on deck. This mug keeps drinks hot indefinitely and you can buy on Amazon.
Download the Disney App before you get on the ship. It tells you everything you need to know and also family texting. Since you do not have cell phone coverage on the ship, we also purchased data but make sure you get the settings right. I had not turned off the cloud functionality and quickly burned through my data. I visited the rep on the ship and she nicely re-set my data and also fixed my settings.
Take plenty of photos. Photo books make for great gifts for the kids later in the year!