Alaska July 12, 2011 with Surprise Trip to Endicott & 5 crazy Excursions..
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Alaska July 12, 2011 with Surprise Trip to Endicott & 5 crazy Excursions..
We sailed on the Disney Wonder on the July 12 - 19 sailing out of Vancouver. We arrived in Vancouver on the 11th and then stayed after two days on the tail end! We loved this cruise even more than we expected!!
If you’ve got time - go look at our pictures at our website:
At Greenacresgardens.smugmug.com click on gallery for Vacation Alaska-via-Disney-Wonder-July
I tried to weed out all the blurry, repetitive and of course unflattering ones of moi - and was able to whittle the album down from 4000 to around 1600...
It was our first time on the Wonder, (5th overall DCL cruise) so now we can get the coveted GOLD lanyards!! It was our first time to Alaska and our first time to do FE (fish extenders) this was a delight!! My family gave me grief beforehand for all the trouble but we were rewarded twofold with daily surprises and delights waiting!!
Overall, we really had a great cruise. We had great weather perhaps except for the Tracy Arm day, but seeing the other glacier was awesome so it was a good thing in the end! We can say that we are the only Disney Cruise to see that glacier so far. The captain did a great job... Thanks Captain Gus!!
A special part/ highlight to our specific cruise was Endicott Arm and the Dawes Glacier. We were unable to go into Tracy Arm due to extreme fog - which at first was disappointing... After talking to the Park Rangers on board, we were told this was a treat because cruise ships are normally not allowed into Endicott as it is reserved as a natural area for smaller boats and kayakers, etc. We were able to get incredibly close to the glacier and it was an amazing bonus to an already wonderful vacation.
We did an exhausting 5 excursions in the 3 ports!! I wanted to give a report here of the excursions!
2 in Skagway where we spent the longest time at port: 7:15 AM - 7:30 PM
First - White Pass Scenic Railway 8:00AM -12:00PM
We did the White Pass Railroad in Skagway. The train station is right there at the pier!! This was a very good excursion, historical and educational! I have always had a soft spot for old trains and it was amazing how narrow the pass was for it... The train goes in the path of the brave (or crazy!!!) prospectors looking for gold in the wilderness!! Crossing the old wooden trestle bridges was thrilling and we definitely saw a lot of scenery we would not have otherwise! 8 out of 10 stars
Disney’s description: • Board a vintage rail car right on your cruise ship pier for a fully narrated trip aboard the historic White Pass & Yukon Route. Against all odds, the iron trail was carved through some of the North's most rugged terrain in 1898.This engineering wonder climbs nearly 3,000 feet over 20 miles of steep grades and cliff-hanging turns.
• Relax in vintage railcars, as your tour guide retraces the original route to the White Pass summit, passing Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point and Dead Horse Gulch.
See the original Klondike Trail of '98 worn into the rocks, a permanent tribute to the thousands of souls who passed this way in search of fortune.
Note: This is a round trip; Guests will not disembark the train.
Arrive at the summit, where the engines will reposition, and descend back to Skagway where historical fun and exploring awaits!
Adult Price: $122 (ages 10 and up) Child Price:$59 (ages 3-9)
Second -Glacier Discovery by Helicopter 1:45PM - 4:15PM
Price: $309 (ages 10 and up)
Then that afternoon we went to the Mead Glacier by helicopter - they provided us with glacier boots & vests. It was a 20 minute trip over and past several other glaciers. Then we had 40 minutes to explore the glacier! It was a thrill to walk around and look down in the crevices or "moulans" Gary and the girls even drank some glacier water!(side note: they were a little rude asking our weight loudly in front of everyone else - they took one man who told them he weighed 245 and made him get on a scale in the back - (he weighed in at 245 just like he said - still obvious and embarrassing) 9 out of 10 stars
Disney’s description: • Board your transportation at the pier. A short transfer brings you to the heliport where, following a safety video, you are outfitted with glacier boots and vests and loaded onto the helicopter.
• Lift off from the historic Skagway waterfront and head into a rugged region of sheer mountains, majestic valleys and massive glaciers. Flight routes and landing zones are selected daily based on the weather forecast to ensure that you will see the best sights that the area has to offer. Jagged peaks towering over the Chilkat Glacier, cascading waterfalls surrounding the Ferebee Glacier, or the spectacular "river of ice" known as the Meade Glacier, may be among the wonders you will encounter during the approximate 20-minute flight.
• Land on your glacial destination and have the rare opportunity to explore one of Mother Nature's greatest marvels.
• Enjoy a walking exploration of the river of ice. Experienced glacier guides answer your questions and explain the awesome forces at work below your feet during your approximate 40-minutes on the glacier.
• Re-board your helicopter for another approximate 20-minutes of bird's eye discovery, where you will understand why Alaska is a "must see from the sky" destination.
• Arrive at the base and travel back to the pier.
• Duration: Tour includes approximately 40-minutes of helicopter time and approximately 40-minutes spent on the glacier.
2 in Juneau - Port time 7:45 AM 4:30 PM
First - Exclusive Whale Encounter 8:00AM 11:30AM
Adult Price: $129 (ages 10 and up) Child Price: $74 (ages 9 and under)
In Juneau we went on a small boat looking for whales and we saw about 15, a young
calf even jumped out of the water for us twice (breached) They had a knowledgeable
young man telling us lots of whale facts and the weather was nice. 8.5 stars
Disney’s Description • Board a motor coach for an approximate 30-minute scenic drive to Auke Bay, where you'll board a 36-passenger vessel (or less) , which is fast and safe with a fully enclosed and heated cabin, large windows and plenty of comfortable deck space for your personalized viewing pleasure. The "mammal friendly" water jet-drive is quiet underwater and does not have a propeller, so that marine mammals can swim nearby in safety.
• Head to sea for approximately 2 hours and your captain and naturalist will pick their route between islands in the protected ocean waters near Juneau to maximize your chance of seeing some of Alaska's abundant wildlife, including Humpback whales, Orca whales, Dall's porpoise, Steller sea lions, Harbor seals and Bald eagles. At all times, you will remain in sight of land with tremendous views of pristine mountains and glaciers. Whales are the operator's specialty. Humpback whales can be found actively feeding and playing near Juneau from May through September. Each vessel is equipped with an underwater microphone, so that you may hear their song, and "eye level" viewing decks for you to see the action. Note: The operator is so confident that they will find whales that they offer a 100% money back guarantee if your captain is unable to find a whale.
• Enjoy a taste of wild Alaskan salmon, Alaskan chocolate, fudge and an assortment of soft drinks, bottled water, coffee, hot chocolate and juiceincluded in your tour.
• Re-board your motor coach and transfer back to the ship.
#2 in Juneau - Historic Gold Panning Adventure and Gold Creek Salmon Bake 1:15PM - 4:45PM
Adult Price: $95 (ages 10 and up) Child Price:$58 (ages 9 and under)
Later in Juneau we went to the Historic Gold Panning and Salmon bake. THe pans were
loaded with flecks of gold when we arrived but somehow the ones we dredged
ourselves out of the water didn't seem to have any. THen we went to a place to have
the Salmon bake and there was a waterfall and salmon swimming upstream but we
only had 25 minutes left at this point and we were terribly rushed. THe food was fair at
best and seemed quite exposed to the elements and I was a little afraid to eat it.
Nobody took us up the path to the stream and waterfall but we went anyway and the
salmon were right there trying to swim up the creek. Too bad we felt so rushed. Overall
this was my least favorite of the excursions although my DD11 was so excited about
her little vial of gold that I didn't mention my true feelings to my family! 5 out of 10
Disney Description: Head out with a prospector/guide in authentic 1880's dress for a historical tour of Juneau including the state capital. Then, turn up the road to Gold Creek and "Last Chance Basin", where Joe Juneau and Richard Harris struck gold more than a century ago.
• Learn to pan for gold (and keep all you find!) and discover Juneau's colorful mining heritage for yourself. In a beautiful, secluded setting near a waterfall alongside Gold Creek only accessible under this tour's special permit your prospector shows you how gold panning is done. Then, it's your turn, as you learn how to expertly work the pan with helpful tips and advice. You can choose to pan in the creek or in the waist-high demonstration trough. Everyone can learn how to pan and capture the full gold-rush experience during the approximate 45 minutes at the site. You're guaranteed to find gold! And, all that glitters is yours to keep.
• View the remnants of the original buildings of the Alaska-Juneau Mining Company, which at the height of production was the largest operation of its type in the world.
• Take home a souvenir Gold Claim Certificate, all the gold you find and an appreciation of what is was like to seek your fortune in the wilds of Alaska more than a century ago.
• Next, a short transfer ride takes you to the Gold Creek Salmon Bake, set in a beautiful lush rain forest alongside a creek, under translucent domes that protect you from the elements, rain or shine. Savor the aroma of wild salmon, grilling slowly over fires of fragrant alder wood. And settle in for a feast for all your senses!
• Choose from Grilled Salmon, Cheechako Chicken, Chilkoot Baked Beans, Tongass Wild-Rice Pilaf, White Pass Pasta and a robust selection of other sides, including Mendenhall Mac and Cheese for the young palates. Come back for seconds, or thirds, while a local musician sets a festive mood. And, just when you think you've had enough bring on the blueberry cake for dessert!
• After your meal, stroll through the forest to lovely Salmon Creek waterfall. Explore the remains of the Wagner Mine, learn about the natural history of the area and try your hand at panning for gold (additional souvenir gold panning kits are available for purchase at the Salmon Creek Trading Post). Have your picture taken with our resident Alaskan malamute, Mac.
• When you're ready to return, shuttle buses run regularly, so you're welcome to stay as long as you'd like.
KETCHIKAN - Rainforest Canopy and Zipline Expedition 12:15PM 3:45PM
Adult Price: $179 (ages 10 and up)
In Ketchikan we saved the best for last!! For years we have looked longingly at the Zip
line excursions and wanted to do them but had to wait until our youngest was old
enough. We did the Rainforest Zipline adventure and went on 8 zip lines and several
suspension bridges. Then we finally got some close up and picture opportunities with some big ole totem poles back at base camp!!We were thrilled and absolutely loved this adventure!!!
Note: Wear tie-up good fitting tennis shoes for this adventure!!
10+ out of 10 stars.
Disney’s Zipline description:
• Enjoy an approximate 30-minute narrated transfer (8 miles) along the Tongass Narrows to Herring Cove, home to Alaska Canopy Adventures.
• Take a Unimog (vehicle) ride uphill to the outfitting chalet. Get into state-of-the-art equipment and go through a Canopy ground school orientation with highly trained professional guides.
• Experience 8 dual cable zip lines, varying in length from 150 feet to the 800 foot walk over 3 aerial suspension bridges more than 100 feet in the air. Take in the scenery and views from the 10 lofty tree platforms and look for wildlife throughout the tour, since you will be next to Whitman Hatchery and over Eagle Creek. Pose for your action photograph, available for purchase on the last zip.
• Gear down and receive a custom cast Alaska Canopy achievement medal in recognition of completing this one-of-a-kind tour. Relax and shop in the general store and enjoy coffee, tea, hot chocolate, smoked salmon dip and cookies (include in your tour).
• Re-board a motor coach and transfer back to the pier.
After the cruise we stayed at the Marriott Pinnacle - even though Disney will not work with Marriott, we had points and the hotel was wonderful. We just grabbed a cab that was a mini van so it would hold our 7 suitcases and nobody had to run along behind the cab!!
We went to the Vancouver Aquarium the day we got back and it was fantastic! I thought the Dallas World Aquarium was the coolest aquarium but now it has fallen to #2!! We were planning to go to Harry Potter that day but it was sold out at the 3d until 10:30PM...
So we did that Wednesday instead. We also ate al fresco at this wonderful restaurant called the Italian Kitchen located about halfway walking between the Marriott Pinnacle and the theatre. It was better than any italian place in Dallas I know of. Overall, we loved Vancouver! We loved ALaska! What a great vacation!!