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Cruising to Alaska on the Disney Wonder – PREP 360

Cruising to Alaska on the Disney Wonder  – PREP 360

Have you added taking an Alaskan cruise to your bucket list? Shannon and Heather, along with their significant others, recently traveled on the Disney Wonder from Vancouver to Alaska. Shannon shares highlights from the voyage – including what port adventure she will remember for the rest of her life and one that was not even close to worth the time and money.

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The Basics

This wasn’t Shannon’s first Disney Cruise, but it was her first Alaskan cruise! Their dates were May 22-29. This was one of the earliest trips available.

This trip was booked about 5 months early through Small World Vacations. They had two rooms – one for Shannon and her significant other and one for Heather and her significant other. Shannon purchased the flights and excursions.

Shannon and her significant other flew into Vancouver. Heather and her significant other flew into Seattle and took the train to Vancouver.

If you fly into Vancouver, everyone in your party will need a passport, even children. If you are driving, children just need a birth certificate.

Shannon found the Facebook Group for their specific cruise. This was a very helpful resource. You can find the Facebook group for your cruise by searching the cruise and your dates.

Logistics and Planning

The night before embarkation, everyone stayed at the Pan Pacific Hotel, which is connected to the cruise terminal. This makes it very convenient because of the location but also because the hotel will transport your bags from the hotel to the cruise ship.

90 Days Prior

Ninety days prior to the cruise they were able to book excursions and dining. They prioritized what they wanted and then Heather and Shannon booked things in order of priority.

Their highest priority things were a glacial viewing excursion and a Palo reservation for an at sea day. They were able to book everything they wanted!

30 Days Prior

Thirty days prior to the trip you will check-in for the cruise. This is where you will need to submit your travel documents and receive your boarding time. There were some tech issues with check-in so allow for extra patience.

You can also book the Royal Gathering at your online check-in as well. It’s free but you do need a reservation.

72 Hours Prior to arriving to Canada

Download the ArriveCan app that allows you to skip the line when you arrive in Canada. This will save you time at the airport.


This was a bit overwhelming because there was a wide range of temperatures. Packing a lot of layers was important. We found that wearing a long-sleeved shirt, sweatshirt, and then a jacket or vest. Layers on the bottom as well worked – two pairs of pants.

Many people wore hiking shoes but this group wore tennis shoes. Just remember it’s chilly! It might also be rainy, so be sure to plan for that. Don’t worry too much about it though. A light waterproof jacket was great.

Other things to remember to pack:

  • A cup from home to refill at the drink refill stations.
  • Magnets to hold things and organize things. Some cruise ships have magnetic walls, but on the Wonder the doors were all that were magnetic
  • Binoculars – these were really nice to be able to see glaciers and things at a distance.

Arrival (May 21)

We encourage cruise travelers to arrive at least the day before the cruise. Our group arrived the day before around noon. Some others on the cruise were delayed and ended up boarding without their luggage.

Vancouver was incredible and it was nice to have time to explore. At the cruise terminal there is an attraction like Soarin’.

You can walk around Vancouver, experience the culture, and eat at great restaurants.

Embarkation (May 22)

After waking up and tagging their bags, they called the hotel to come collect their bags to make sure they arrived on the cruise. Be sure to tip the folks taking your bags!

You can take your carry-on bags with you. You can also bring alcohol in your carry-on bags.

This cruise terminal has a lot of different steps to embark. When your group number is called you can enter the ship. They will announce your name when you embark. Be sure to tell them what you’d like them to say when they announce your group.

Be prepared to wait after you embark. The room was ready around 2:30 p.m. and they didn’t get on board until about 1 p.m. so it wasn’t a long wait.

They got lunch at Cabanas while they waited for the stateroom to be ready. This is also when we suggest going to Guest Relations to fix something, get a booking, or something else.

When they got into their stateroom, the lanyards were waiting on their beds. They also received a bag according to your cruise status. Shannon was silver on this cruise and is now gold.

Shannon likes to connect to wifi and begin to schedule the next day. You can do this in the plans section of the app where it will display things you’ve booked and things you’ve “hearted”.

You can also review your dining rotation will be when you embark. Unfortunately when they got on board, the onboard wifi was not working. Thankfully, they got the second dining at 8:15 p.m. so they had some time to figure it out. It was very frustrating.

You can purchase wifi on the ship. On this cruise, they were unable to get cell service once they left Vancouver at sea. The wifi on board is only available by the megabyte and not unlimited. This was frustrating because Shannon needed wifi for work purposes.

Wifi and phone service is easier at the ports, but on sea it became very complicated and frustrating.

There is also a muster drill on your embarkation day. You have to find the muster station, line up, and you will be given instructions in case of an emergency.

The Sail Away Party is immediately following the Muster Drill. They went to the pool deck to see the sail away party. There were characters and dancing.

We recommend going one level above the party to be above it to watch with less crowds. We had some time to kill before their dining experience. On Caribbean Cruises we recommend doing early dinner because we don’t necessarily have excursions off the ship all day.

They did later dinner on this cruise at 8:15 p.m. in order to give some time for longer excursions. It was difficult to eat dinner that late and they needed to adjust their schedule.

Dinner on the first night was at Tiana’s and we had great servers. There wasn’t a show on the first night so after dinner they went to do some shopping. Shannon isn’t a big shopper but she loves the merchandise on the cruise.

Full Day at Sea (May 23)

The night before, they left a tag on their door to have breakfast delivered. It’s a fairly limited selection, but you can get toast, fruit, coffee, and other light things. It is convenient but limiting to have food delivered.

We had the Royal Gathering, beer tasting, and animation class scheduled. These were all found in our plans in the app.

This was also formal night. You definitely do not have to dress up, but they did and loved taking photos. The show on this night was the Golden Mickeys. The dinner was at Tritons. This is Shannon’s least favorite due to the theming, which is very subtle. There isn’t any live entertaining but the food is really good.

In the Adults-Only section, it was Match Your Mate. This is a quiz game that is similar to the Newlywed Game, which is so fun.

The Northern Lights were visible this evening so they all went to see them. It wasn’t really much to see due to the light from the ship.

Glacier Viewing Day (May 24)

On this cruise you can either view the Glacier from the cruise or you can take an excursion to see them closer. There are also characters outside in winter outfits. In addition, it was Frozen night!

They started their day with breakfast at Cabanas. After this they went to meet Mickey. This was the only day he was wearing a specific outfit. He was also outside with the gorgeous Alaskan scenery.

They got in line about 40 minutes prior to the meeting time. It began sleeting and the professional photographer had to go inside with the equipment. They did get their photos taken with their phones though.

The views were gorgeous but the temperatures were in the 40s all day. The time continually changed for the glacier viewing excursion. It was weather dependent.

They checked in, IDs were checked, and no food or drink were permitted. They got off the cruise ship and got onto a smaller boat. They saw orcas and got to see things up close. It was a big hit for this group.

When they went to go back toward the cruise, the Wonder was right there in the same location. They were able to see the glaciers from their verandas.

It was Frozen night and Shannon found this underwhelming. It was very cold and she thinks Pirate Night is much better. They cannot do fireworks on Alaskan cruises so there aren’t any fireworks.

The menu night wasn’t really great tonight either. On themed nights every dining room has the same menu. Many people booked Palo for dinner, which is what Shannon would recommend.

This was a gorgeous and amazing start to the trip.

Skagway (May 25)

The next three days of the cruise were all port days. One day was spent at Skagway, one at Juneau, and one at Ketchikan. They all have a similar vibe. This includes a cute little town right off the port and the opportunity to book excursions into nature.

They also got phone service here and found that the Little Mermaid would premier on the cruise!

Skagway was very small and they were able to walk the whole town in about an hour. The excursion was on the White Pass train ride.

The first leg of the trip was a street car tour, then a train ride up, and then you board a small shuttle to come back down to the town. There seem to be different versions of this excursion. Shannon recommends bringing a blanket.

There is space to go outside to take photos and see the view from the train. Afterwards they were dropped off in Skagway. They stopped at Skagway Brewing. It was fantastic!

This evening dinner was at Animator’s Palette and it was delightful. Shannon doesn’t want to spoil anything for this experience but she felt like her servers were rushing them. They ended up finishing their meal before the entertainment began.

Shannon recommends buying the wine package on the first night. She did a 7 bottle package for the 7 night cruise. She could choose each night from the menu of wines available in the package.

Juneau (May 26)

Their next stop was Juneau. This port had an early meeting time and they were tired. Their meeting time was 8:15 a.m. for a whale watching excursion.

The first portion of the excursion was hiking to a glacier viewing area. Their guide was wonderful and gave photo tips for DSLR and phones. She also used a powerpoint presentation on the bus ride up there!

As they hiked, she would give tips on where to stand and how to use your camera to get the best photos. It had been raining previously in the day and the streams were very intense. It was beautiful!

Once they arrived to the glacier area, they boarded a boat that is designed for whale watching. The boat is very low and the windows are like garage doors to keep you warm while traveling but can go up to give you a better view of the whales.

The guide, Abby, was delightful. They had a great time and were able to see lots of whales.

Shannon says this was her favorite excursion of the whole trip. After the trip, they went to lunch at the Hanger, a suggestion from their guide Abby. After lunch they took a shuttle back to the ship.

They took an afternoon nap and then went to trivia – they won! The theme was 90s music. The prize was a tote bag.

That night dinner was at Tiana’s and it was Mardi Gras themed. It was a lot of fun. After dinner they went to Cadillac Lounge for drinks. This is a fantastic lounge with a piano player. Her name is Lenora and they loved her.

Ketchikan (May 27)

They arrived to port a little bit later, around 11 a.m. They pulled right into the city and could get off the ship to do some shopping.

Their excursion was at 2 p.m. so they got off the ship earlier to shop and get some lunch. They had to get back on the ship to meet for their excursion.

They went on a 5 hour catamaran ride to the misty fjords. This was not a highlight of the trip. It was just 5 hours on a boat. This was not an ideal excursion for children as they were very board on the catamaran.

Shannon would recommend booking a shorter excursion or no excursion at all. Ketchikan is a town you could easily spend the 8 hours at port. There are shops, restaurants, and museums.

They were told to dress in layers, but they never got off the boat so it was very hot. There was an outdoor section of the boat, but they didn’t spend much time there at all.

They got back to the ship just in time to get on the ship and sail away. Shannon says she would have preferred to stay in town that day.

Day at Sea (May 28)

On their day at sea, they had brunch at Palos. This is an extra cost, but only $45 for an incredible meal.

They were also able to see the Little Mermaid today. It was showing in the Walt Disney Theater. It was so neat to see it on the ship!

Dinner was at Animator’s Palette and it was a fantastic way to end the trip!

They had to pack up for disembarkation. They also prepared their envelopes for tips for the staff. They had pre-paid gratuities and added some to give to their servers. Be sure to have cash if you plan to add tips.

Disembarkation (May 29)

This is the saddest day of the cruise. They chose to take their own bags because if you have the cruise ship take your bags, you need to leave them out the night before.

They had to be out of their room by 7:30 a.m. and had to wait until they were allowed to disembark.

Shannon got the photo package where you can get 10 photos. They went to the photo area to check out the photos and decide which ones they wanted to get.

They took their bags and walked off the ship. They called an Uber to take them to the airport. Their flight left about 4 hours later.

Final Thoughts

This was a wonderful cruise, unlike anything else. It exposes you to areas that are very hard to get to.

It was wonderful to see the beauty and have the special Disney touches. Shannon would definitely do it again!


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