Traveling to Alaska on a Disney Cruise
You don’t get to see a glacier in Alaska very often, and when you do, it’s like something out of a dream. Sawyer Glacier’s azure cliffs tower over us like a titan emerging from the waves, and I realize how tiny I am in comparison.
To get a decent look without risking our lives from the calving glacier, we’re perched atop the Disney Wonder’s bridge. Sawyer Glacier “calves” at a rate of once every hour, releasing chunks of ice ranging in size from the length of a car to that of a cruise liner.
Pieces of ice glide lazily past our ship, giving the impression that they are valuable pearls. The crew of the ship lifts up a six-foot section and places it on the deck. Its stunningly beautiful blue color is the result of microscopic silt, and it never fails to elicit gasps of admiration.
The ice is merely icing on the visual cake. Waterfalls and craggy peaks decorate the 35-mile inlet of Tracy Arm Fjord in the Tongass National Forest. The beach is frequented by bears and mountain goats, and eagles and other birds soar through the air. Whales, seals, and dolphins can all be found in these up to 1,200-foot-deep waters.
The weather in Alaska can change in an instant, but in the summer, the Inside Passage often sees highs in the low to mid-60s. Even though we’ll need our jackets and sweaters today, we’re also prepared with lots of toasty blankets and mugs of hot cocoa to keep us toasty. It’s a great way to relax and take in the breathtaking scenery.
ABOARD THE DISNEY WONDER
Although cruises to Alaska have been popular for quite some time, we decided to take our children on a Disney Cruise to make the trip more kid-friendly.
Families and children are given first priority on a Disney Cruise. There are no casinos, but there is a whole deck filled with fun things for kids to do. There are separate areas for younger children (at Flounder’s Nursery), younger children (3-10) at the Oceaneer’s Club and Lab, and older children (11-13) at The Edge.
My son, who is 15, and his best buddy are also coming along on this trip. They spend their weeknights at The Vibe, a hip club for young people (no adults allowed). Teens have access to a full schedule of activities organized by professional counselors, as well as game rooms and “chilling out” areas.
My boyfriend Ben and I enjoy our alone time as the guys chill at The Vibe. One of the best parts of a Disney cruise is the family-style dining, so we utilize the two phones in each stateroom to stay in touch with the boys until dinner.
There are three uniquely designed restaurants on board, each with delicious menu options and a nod to Disney tradition. Both are fun, although Triton’s is more “under the sea” than Lumiere’s is “in the French spirit.” While you dine at “Animator’s Palate,” the animated walls will transform to reflect the course of the meal, and “Parrot Cay” will transport you to the Caribbean.
Since Disney provides a service called “rotational dining,” we get to try a new restaurant every single night. When we dine out, we always bring our wait staff with us so they can learn to know the local fare.
The lads, on the other hand, are ecstatic with the abundance of delicious food available at the deckside pizzerias, grill, and buffet. Teenage lads with insatiable appetites will think this is heaven.
With a capacity for 2,800 passengers and 1,000 crew members, the Disney Wonder provides a ratio of less than 3 to 1. Families are prioritized in the ship’s layout. Two adults and two teenagers can sleep comfortably in our room.
To fully appreciate Alaska’s natural splendor, we opted for a hotel with a verandah. Having coffee on the verandah in the morning while taking in the Alaskan countryside is one of my favorite things to do.
CRUISING THE INSIDE PASSAGE
Our journey began in Seattle and took us along the Inside Passage, a waterway that stretches for 1,100 miles from the northwest corner of Washington state, through British Columbia, and into the southeast corner of Alaska. In Alaska, the canal connects cities and villages, functioning as a “highway” for the movement of people and commerce. A high school sports team is among the many vessels we see en route to their game as we sail by.
Along the Inside Passage, nature’s beauty is so vast and immediate that it’s difficult to take it all in, but I try. My camera fails to do it justice no matter how many times I try, so I give up and just take it all in via my eyes.
The cruise itself is enjoyable, but our ultimate goal is to see the sights of Alaska. Our journey begins in Skagway, a frontier town with origins in the 1896 Klondike Gold Rush. After strolling the town’s relaxed streets for a while, we make our way to the Yukon Jeep Klondike Adventure.
Our adolescent sons can’t wait to get started. We load up into the four-wheel drive and follow our party along the Trail of ’98 into the wilds of the Yukon. The alpine landscape is at its most stunning in the brilliant sunlight. The guys say that the nicest part is when we get to go off-roading. This rocky up-and-down journey is fun for me, too.