1. Disney Wonder to Alaska: Day Three – Tracy Arm Fjord

    It had taken a while to get to sleep the night before due to the rocking of the ship so for the first time in a few days I ended up not waking up at the crack of dawn which was very welcome. After a quick run to the drinks station on Deck 9 for tea to drink back in the room, we put the map on the TV to see where we were. Shortly after there was an announcement made to say that the pilot needed for Tracy Arm Fjord would shortly be boarding the Wonder. We went out onto the verandah to see the pilot boat approaching and then watched as he climbed aboard the ship.

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    Today was the morning of our Character Breakfast. As we had late seating, our breakfast time was 9:45am which was perfect for us. I hate to think what time the people on early seating had to be awake for breakfast and how rushed the breakfast would be. We took our time getting ready before heading down to Deck 3 Aft to Parrot Cay shortly before breakfast was due to start. There was a small line which quickly disappeared once the doors opened. The restaurant was far from full so some people had just not turned up which seems a bit strange considering you are paying a premium for the Disney experience.

    I don’t like most “normal” breakfast foods so I ordered a plate of side orders including mushrooms, tomatoes and a croissant. I felt I had to order a Mickey Waffle too as it was a character breakfast. I did manage to eat the two waffles they gave me though they were incredibly sweet. In between ordering food and the characters appearing, Sunil and Tino were making various hats for everyone out of the napkins – I got a big Minnie Mouse bow to wear.

    The characters were announced as they entered the dining room and soon Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Chip and Dale in their tropical outfits began to work their way around the tables. I thought the process worked well as you stay seated and the characters come to you. The character handlers let us know when we were going to be the next table that the character would visit so it gave us a few moments to get the camera ready. The character handlers were also great at taking your camera for you and taking some photos for you too.

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    After breakfast we headed back to our cabin to put some warm clothes on ready for being outside on deck for the afternoon. At this time there was hardly anyone outside so we stood at the front of Deck 10 to get some photos as we approached the entrance to Tracy Arm Fjord. This was the only time during the week that it was freezing cold which was due to there being no shelter from the wind where we were stood. However as if by magic, the crew appeared to hand out blankets to us – brilliant. As we got closer to Tracy Arm Fjord, we could see the Star Princess cruise ship sailing out which cleared the way for us to sail in. By this time the front of Deck 10 was packed and you could barely move – not fun at all. The crew had set up a hot drink station on Deck 10 so after fighting our way through the crowd, we grabbed a cup of tea and headed down to Deck 4 which was empty – I’m seriously amazed that more people weren’t out there.

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    Once we entered Tracy Arm Fjord we were constantly moving around the ship to take in the different views. So many people seemed to stay put in one place (the front of Deck 10 and the buffet it seemed) but taking in the views from different angles was a must for us and what I would recommend others to do. I loved the views from Deck 4 as you were much closer to the water and could see the ice calvings up close and really appreciate the incredible colours that were on display – from certain angles, the ice was such an intense blue. We also saw incredible waterfalls and mountains from the surrounding Tongass National Forest. We didn’t see any whales that day but did manage to see some bald eagles flying through the air.

    We grabbed some lunch from Goofy’s Galley and Pluto’s Dog House (both of which had no lines) and took it back to our stateroom. We passed the Beach Blanket Buffet on the way which seemed to be where half the ship was – they had a barbecue out on the open deck of the buffet seating area so it looked like that’s where everyone wanted to be. Once back in our stateroom, I set one on my cameras on my Gorillapod Hybrid on the railing on our verandah so I could enjoy my lunch and the scenery on the verandah whilst the camera took photos and filmed away. We also had our television tuned so we could listen to the narration from the Alaskan naturalist that was onboard – you could also hear this narration on the open decks. The ship moves very slowly through the Fjord so you have plenty of time to take everything in.

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    After a little while longer, the ship slowed down even more as we started to approach the Sawyer Glacier at the end of Tracy Arm Fjord. There were many seals and their pups on the ice in the water so we were not able to get any closer. However I do know that if you sail later in the season – we sailed at the beginning of June which was the second cruise of the season – then you have a higher chance of getting much closer to the glacier.

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    It was at this point that out of sheer curiosity I decided to venture to Deck 10 just to see how busy it was up there. It was worse than crazy – you could not move near the front of the ship. I think most people thought that the only way they were going to get a photo of the Sawyer Glacier was by going to the front of Deck 10. The reality is that the Captain will turn the ship in the water several times so no matter where you are on the ship, you will get a perfect view. I had already read this online so there was no way I was going to fight my way through the crowds – a few people seemed to be pushing each other out of the way which was sad.

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    At this point we decided to venture to the Aft Overlook at the back of Deck 7 as we figured we would have a perfect view of the Sawyer Glacier when we finally sailed away. There was only a couple of people there and at most I think there was about 15 of us there enjoying the views without the crowds and with peace and quiet – that area really is the best kept secret on the Disney Wonder.

    Whilst we were on the Aft Overlook, the ship started to turn slowly giving all of us a perfect view of everything.  After the ship had finished turning several times, it started to slowly sail back along Tracy Arm Fjord.

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    After heading back to our stateroom to put most of the camera batteries we brought with us back onto charge, I decided to go for another walk of all the decks. The outside decks were now like a ghost town as it seemed everyone had disappeared back to their cabins – again it seems weird as the views were still incredible outside. Even the colours were different to earlier in the day as the weather changes every five minutes in Alaska.

    Whilst walking around the ship I noticed they had an art print of Minnie and Mickey in Alaska for sale. I had seen the print online a few weeks beforehand on the Disney Store website and there was no way I could ever justify the $175 cost. To my surprise the print was $40 onboard so it was quickly purchased. If anyone is interested, the print is called “Alaska Adventure” and the artist is called Noah.

    Whilst out on Deck 4 taking more photos, I was able to meet both Donald Duck as well as Chip and Dale who were out in their Alaskan costumes. As there was hardly anyone around, I managed to get photos with them without waiting. Since getting back, I have read online of people on the same cruise complaining that it was too busy to meet characters on Deck 10 – this is another reason why I would recommend Deck 4 as one of the best places on Tracy Arm Day.

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    Even Deck 10 was completely empty by this point. It was like most people had thought that once they saw the Sawyer Glacier then that was it for the day!

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    Not long after that, both Pluto and Goofy were both out in the lobby in their Alaskan costumes. I think everyone must have been getting ready for dinner or sleeping as there was hardly any lines again. I know I’ve said it before but even though the ship was sailing at capacity, you sometimes felt like you were one of the only people onboard. How amazing is that?

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    After meeting Pluto and Goofy we headed back to our stateroom to start getting ready for dinner. The show in the Walt Disney Theatre that night was The Ricky Kalmon Hypnosis Show which neither of us had the slightest interest in seeing – the awful comedy juggler from the first night was still fresh in our minds. We grabbed a few drinks and enjoyed more views from the verandah. We were out of Tracy Arm Fjord now and heading north to Skagway.

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    Just before dinner was my first chance to meet Minnie Mouse in her Alaskan costume. This might sound silly I was so excited as seeing a picture of Minnie in that outfit was one of the many reasons that had finally convinced me to book the cruise nearly a year earlier – incredibly silly I know. The picture that I have of myself and Minnie is one of my favourite photos from the cruise. Mickey Mouse was also out in his Alaskan costume so of course I had to get my photo with him too.

    I loved meeting the characters on this cruise, everything was just so well organised and there was never anyone pushing into the lines like what sometimes happens at the parks – especially Disneyland Paris! The lines were never long – a big part of this is they stopped allowing autographs when the line was long which sped the whole process up so much. For me personally, that was one of the best things as I hate it when the line gets held up because entire families want autographs from the characters – leaving the rest of the line having to wait even longer. For anyone who did want to get the character autographs, you could either meet the characters at a quiet time or leave your autograph book at Guest Services. Once you were at the front of the line, the character handler took your camera for you so you could get your own photos as well as the ones taken by the Shutters photographers. We did not purchase a single photo from the cruise – the prices were simply ridiculous. Thankfully all of our photos came out wonderfully (thanks in part to an amazing SLR camera) so we had no need to spend several hundred dollars on a photo CD!

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    After a walk through the Route 66 area we headed for dinner which was at Tritons again. Tonight it was the French Dinner menu. I decided to order a cocktail to drink with dinner so went for the Cosmopolitan L’Orange which was amazing. For dinner I ordered the Jumbo Chilled Shrimp along with the Market Green Salad which actually had goat cheese covered in black pepper and yes, it was every bit as awesome as it sounds! For my main course I had the Three-Cheese Lobster Macaroni before finishing with the Chocolate Mousse for dessert.

    Once dinner was over we said goodnight to Sunil, Tino and Geffrey and headed to the lobby to meet Chip and Dale who were out greeting guests.

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    As well as walking around the open decks after dinner, we also walked around some of the other passenger decks to see more of the ship. This made us glad that we went for a higher deck when booking our cruise as Deck 2 was incredibly noisy from the engines.

    Apart from the odd person, once again there was hardly anyone to be seen outside. The weather was pleasant and it was still light out too.

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    We got back to our stateroom to find our latest towel creation on the bed. I put him on the side along with our other towel animals to create our own “Towel Zoo”. We had to take our sunglasses back off them though the next morning as we needed them for our day in Skagway.

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    Before going to bed I took the time to read the Personal Navigator for the next day as it would be the first time we would be stepping on dry land since leaving Vancouver.

    Next stop…Skagway!

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