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Three months ago I wrote a blog post about the top 25 tips for preparing for an Alaskan Cruise. I wrote this blog post based off of things I read on other blog posts, message board, and talking with friends. A few days after posting my tips, I boarded the Disney Wonder in Vancouver, Canada for a trip of a lifetime.
A couple of things changed since I first wrote that post, either from my own experience, or other things changing in the cruise industry.
Disney Changed Some things
1. Disney Vacation Account is no longer valid – In July 2017, Disney Vacation Account closed without any warning. Many of the remaining customers received a 5% bonus for whatever cash and gift cards they had in their accounts. Hopefully, Disney will think of something to replace this program.
2. Disney’s cruise fleet will soon be seven – For as long as I’ve been interested in Disney Cruise Line, it has had four ships. In 2016 Disney announced two more ships to their fleet, and in 2017 they announced another ship to the fleet.
3. Disney changes their cancellation policy – Effective today, Disney cruise line is adjusting its cancellation policy. Cancellation fees for 5-night sailings will now begin at 89 days for regular sailings versus the former 74 days and 104 days for holiday sailings versus the previous 89 days.
4. Book your alcohol tastings online – I haven’t tried it yet, but now you can book your alcohol tastings online, just like any other excursion! These fill up fast, but many people do not even know about the tastings, to begin with. Expect them to fill up even quicker now that they are online.
5. There is no secret deck! At least not on the Disney Wonder. The best thing mom and I discovered online was the secret deck and we were so anxious to see it. Of course, we were reading blogs that were written in 2012 or 2013 and hadn’t been updated. While we were in Ketchikan, we had some time to kill at dinner and used the internet to search for the tips in finding the secret deck, I used the video to see where I needed to go and followed the directions to a T and came across this door:
Items to pack
6. Tide Pods and Do laundry on the ship – We brought a couple of Tide pods and dryer sheets to do laundry. Tide Pods came in handy for when we wanted to re-wear something or just had some spills. Also, doing laundry on board will help you pack fewer clothes in the long run.
7. Bring a robe – if you are getting room service of any kind bring a robe! Mom was the only one to bring a robe, so when room service came, I grabbed her robe while everyone hid under the covers. It was quite hilarious but would have made everyone more comfortable if we had all brought robes.
8. Bring a backup camera – My Canon Rebel died on our third day of the cruise, and I was devastated. I usually bring my Canon Elph, but for some reason, I didn’t. I could only take photos on my phone and my Go Pro. Luckily my phone worked out pretty nice (and I caught video of a whale on my Go Pro), but I would have been happier if I brought my point and shoot.
9. Lanyards or a small purse -Now I thought this was the dorkiest thing ever – I do not like wearing a lanyard at work – why would I want to wear it on the cruise! Well, right before we were about to get on the plane, I grabbed two lanyards from previous conferences and brought them with me. Since I only had conference lanyards, I had a nice little pocket to stick my navigator and my phone in. The Key to the world was always close by, and I was able to purchase drinks quickly or anything else. Of course, by the second day, I was done with wearing the layered because I am more of a purse girl. I wore my small purse which suited my needs (I was also able to have hand sanitizer with me and carry our stevia for lunch and dinner.)
10. Bring an over the door shoe hanger to organize – Never cruising, I didn’t realize how small the bathroom was going to be. Even though Disney staterooms are larger than most, these bathrooms were still tiny. We purchased a clear, plastic over the door shoe hanger to put all our shampoos, soaps, and other bathroom necessities neatly packed away. We also hung this up with super strong magnets since the hangers are technically illegal. The shoe hanger helped keep the bathroom in order.
11. Hangers – You will probably think I am crazy for suggesting this, but please bring hangers! We hung up a lot of our clothes on these small plastic hangers, and it made getting dressed a breeze. The hangers were so cheap that we just threw them away afterward, but if thats not something you wan to do, you can leave them with your host/hostess because new crew members can always use them.
12. Cocktail accessories – I didn’t bring a wine glass, but wine glasses would have been a nice addition to bring with since we did a lot of sipping on our balcony. Also, we did bring our Rabbit wine opener which came in handy!
On The Cruise
13. Keep your tip close by in the morning – Every morning we ordered room service so we could start the morning off with two pots of coffee. The first night I forgot to set out the tip, so I had to go into the safe before I let room service in. Starting on the second day, I started just hanging the tips on the magnetic door, so I could quickly grab it.
14. Half and Half – Room service does not have half and half if you enjoy your coffee with half and half make sure you visit the ninth deck. In the outside 24/7 beverage area is the only place where I could find free-flowing half and half. I had to fill up a full coffee cup three times while on our cruise. Make sure you put a lid on the cup and save it in your fridge.
15. Dinner – Don’t skip your first night dining with your servers! It will throw them all off for the rest of the week. Even if you just want something light go to dinner that first day. Skipping dinner and shows also throws off your host/hostess because they need to come into your room at this time for turn-down service
16. Meet Characters – If you want to meet characters but want to avoid the lines, you should hang out in the hallways to try to run into them in the lobby. Without even trying, I met Mickey and Mine (in their Alaskan gear) and Donald Duck (in his plaid shirt!) in the hall way.
17. Do not use the wifi (except for the free 50 MB) -Yes, in my other post I talk about how you can get 50 MB of wifi per person on embarkation day. You do not need much more than this (and it goes by pretty quickly because you must sign out each time you do not want to use the wifi). But I repeat – do not buy wifi on the ship! Over time we passed the Connect@Sea station, there was some unhappy customer complaining that they need WiFi or their life was going to end. I took these seven days as a very good time to disconnect from the outside world.
18. Use the Personal Navigator App as well as the paper version – Speaking of phones, the Personal Navigator App gave a ton more information than the printed copy. I enjoy the layout of the paper version. However, I love all the information on the App. In the app, you can text your family (For free!) and even preview the menus at all the restaurants that night.
19. Adult only Dining – we were seated for a very early brunch, but I would have preferred if we sat closer to noon. Even though we ate to our heart’s content, I still think a later seating would have done us justice at Bruch. There are so many goodies to order and items to take from the buffet.
20. Go to the gym – If you already work out on a daily basis, go to the gym one (or a couple) of mornings! I took two classes and did my own workout twice while on the cruise. However, if there is any rough seas I do NOT recommend doing the spin class. Even our instructor warned that she may get off the bike to be sick!
21. Book your excursion – Even though all of my excursions were booked through Disney (except for the one that got canceled), feel free to book your tours, not with Disney! This will usually save you money, and you have more of a choice of what to see. However, I went in late May/early June, and the ports were not busy yet – some of the towns have up to seven cruise ships filled with tourists. I am the type of person who is a planner and has to know exactly what I am doing, so pre-booking was a better option for me.
22. Excursions get canceled -Excursions get canceled (ours did for Ketchikan) and they run over (we didn’t have any time to do anything else in Juneau) so prepare accordingly. The most important thing is to make sure you are on the boat by All Aboard Time.
23. Buy Wine, Beer, and water in port – In Skagway, we almost didn’t buy extra bottles of Wine to last us throughout the trip. Thank goodness we did, because there wasn’t time in Juneau to buy anything and Ketchikan was the last port day so it would seem silly to buy more bottles. We had an abundance of wine and brought home two bottles to enjoy. In fact, if anyone wants to track down a bottle of Bear Creek Chocolate Raspberry Dessert Wine I would be so delighted!
24. Skip breakfast and walk off with your suitcases – The last day of the cruise (it was a sea day for us) we spent a lot of time debating if we were going to walk off ourselves or pack up everything and let Disney Wisk everything away. After much discussion, we decided that we were going to walk off with our suitcases. This meant a couple of things. We wouldn’t have one last delicious meal on the Ship (it was ok we were so over food by then) and we need to make sure we ate at their airport (we had that covered with an airport lounge access).
25. Take the Disney magic bus – For $25 per person, the Disney bus to the airport is the best invention ever. You do not need to worry about taxis or Ubers. Do not need to wait around in the heat for someone to pick you up. And the bus goes straight to the airport. One final magical touch to an incredible trip.
So these are my 25 tips I discovered after taking the cruise. If you want to read my 25 tips for preparing for a Disney cruise, please enjoy. I am sure I will have another 25 tips sometime in the future!
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