Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Alaska Cruise Redux - Part 1

We had the privilege of returning to Alaska on a Disney Cruise. The extended family wanted to all go and how could we say no after such an amazing time in 2014?

Yay! We are going to Alaska again!!!
We couldn’t. So, this is the cast of characters for this trip: myself, my hubby, our son the railfan and our sweet daughter. We are joined by my in-laws (hubby’s folks) and hubby’s sister and her family (this group is affectionately called the outlaws – we are just silly like that) – she and her hubby have three lovely girls. We total 11. Kids ages 15-10. And we don’t need to divulge the adults ages… actually, I can’t believe you would even ask.

The whole gang! Can't wait to get started!
We are going to approach this blog post a little differently than usual. It will be one long trip highlights post with a LOT of pictures. I was so completely immersed in the cruise that I didn’t blog each day. Hubby kept an outline of what we did, and we took a ton of pictures. So we will see how this turns out.

We met up with our family at a Vancouver BC area hotel the night before our cruise. Everyone was ready and looking forward to the adventure. We dined at OSF then part of the group went to see Wonder Woman and some ran some last minute errands and relaxed at the hotel.

A special treat to stop at Dutch Bros on the way to Vancouver.... gotta love the cup lids! 

Our hotel for the night - tomorrow we set sail! 

We loaded the vehicles and caravaned to Canada Place - the cruise terminal in Vancouver. 
Our timing was practically perfect. By the time we gathered our luggage and began the process of checking in: drop off luggage, go to cruise line check-in, get room keys, go through customs, and then all found each other - our boarding group was called. Really amazing timing. 

The Ship! Our view of the Wonder as we went through the check in process.
Pic is self explanatory
What? isn't it? Ok... the guys trying to show where on the ship something would be located.

The kid is ready! Let's board the ship! 

Once on board, we hit the top deck buffet for lunch. Then did a quick tour of the kids clubs. Our young man can go to either the tween or teen club, so we wanted to show him those. [Editor's note: As expected, however, our quick tour was both the first and last time he set foot in those clubs. He's not really a kids club person.] Plus these areas of the ship have had a overhaul since our last time on board, so we wanted to see it all too! 
By the time we finished our kids club tour, our room was ready... so we were able to relax and enjoy the balcony. 
View from our balcony while in port. 
Next up... Lifeboat drill (is it still called a Muster Drill? Anyone know... I called it that, but I seemed to be the only one... so???). After the drill - Time to go! Our sound-sensitive young man agreed to hang out up on the top deck with me while we sailed out, agreeing only to stay until we passed Lions Gate Bridge. So, we found a place far enough forward we couldn't hear too much of the Sail Away Party and enjoyed the view... and the wind! 

Looking back at Canada Place. 

Lions Gate! 

Hubby's view from the Sail Away Party, going under Lions Gate

Taken by a ships Photographer after we went under the Bridge. 

My favorite place to be on this cruise.... balcony at sunset! 

Happy 4th of July! 
We are somewhere off the Canada coast today - enjoying an at sea day. 
We started with a Character breakfast and ended with Formal Night... what a day!

Time for silly hats! 

4th of July Celebration on Deck.
Funnel Vision earlier in the day, before the Celebration

Can all my Coffee drinks look like this? PLEASE!
Enjoying a mocha something on my Balcony

Views today. Love it. 
(Click on pic to really should)
We have three staterooms in a row on this trip. Our stateroom hosts were able to open the balcony wall and we enjoyed the larger balcony space.
Works out great for pictures, so the wall is much further away and was a great back door to see who was around. 

The group got into the groove pretty quickly - with so many things going on onboard, everyone had stuff to do... nature talks, kids clubs, spa time, swimming, variety shows, etc. 
If you are bored on this ship... you may be doing something wrong ;)

We didn't take as many pics on formal night as I expected to. Our young man was struggling this evening and I was highly distracted by that.
But it was a fun evening and I am thankful that several in our group was taking pics or video.

Lovely young ladies, ready for formal night. 

Day 2 sunset from balcony.

Fog. I have mixed feelings about fog on a ship.... I love to hear the fog horn (I am an odd duck, I know) But I LOVE to see the views... so... mixed feelings. Lucky for me, this morning we got fog, and then it burned off. Yay! Fog horn and then Amazing views!!! 

I had to try and catch the fog horn for you....
(forgive the vertical video)
And note how still the water is... well the rest of the water, not what the ship is stirring up ;)

Hubby and I ate at Palo for brunch - we prefer brunch to the dinner at Palo. We were not disappointed.
The fog lifted while we enjoyed our brunch. Wonderful timing.

the fog has lifted

The itinerary says we go to Tracy Arm today. Prior to the start of this season I had assumed that all the cruises that said "Tracy Arm", went to, well, Tracy Arm, with the random exception. Nope... Apparently Disney hasn't made it into Tracy Arm for a few years. Due to ice and water conditions they have continued to try and keep it on the itinerary, but have been going to Endicott for quite some time, including all the previous sailings this year. 
So, today we had been hearing that we will probably end up in Endicott. 
I was fine with that, I have been down Tracy Arm twice and never Endicott - they say Endicott is not as long, but you get a closer view of the glacier... so that doesn't seem bad at all. 
As the day progressed, it became uncertain if Endicott would work... with huge amounts of ice at the entrance to Endicott, the captain had to skip it and keep going. But as we approached Tracy Arm something surprising happened... it was clear enough to travel through. 
The naturalist on-board, and all the crew were surprised and excited. Not only was this the first time the Disney Wonder had made it down Tracy Arm in two years, it was the first time any cruise ship had made it this season. [Editor's Note: Apparently we made it further into Tracy Arm than any ship has in the last 2.5 years or so.] 
And the weather was perfect! 

Beginning our Tracy Arm journey

love how Funnel Vision shows the view from the front

Crew collected a large piece of ice from the passage and brought it up on deck for people to see and touch.


Beautiful Day

Tonight we dined at Tiana's Place, a first for us, as it's new. So, as we headed out of Tracy Arm, we were headed to dinner.
The show tonight was John Charles. Our group split up, which half sitting in the front row and the rest sitting back at a safe distance... I say safe, meaning John didn't single us out and sing a song based on our interaction with him. Safe.
And don't worry... someone in our group got that fun stuff on tape. It won't be posted here, but you can imagine.. it was fun ;) Especially watching from the safe seats... that's how I roll. [Editor's Note: The part of the group that went to the front row is the group that I liked to refer to as the "Wonder Woman group" as it was 7 of us that went to see Wonder Woman on Sunday night.]

Day 3 Sunset from Balcony
Ok... this is getting REALLY long... lets break it up into two or three posts.

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