My family’s trip to Alaska aboard the Disney Wonder was a blast for the kids.
Aboard the Disney Wonder
They felt a sense of independence being able to roam around the ship to kids’ clubs, or movie theaters, and loved it. By day 4, (all 3 prior days at sea with no excursions) they were pretty darn comfortable with that.
There are actually four different kids’ clubs on the Disney Wonder- each catering to a specific age and need. From one end of the spectrum, there is one club for teens only – “Vibe” which is a cool hang out… to the other end of the spectrum - a club for younger children that offers babysitting.
Wave phones from mouseplanet.com
What made all of this easier- and is a great touch on the Disney cruise – are the “wave” phones that are in your stateroom. We gave our kids one of the phones and could check in on them at any time.
Unfortunately, the phones don’t work off the ship – so on day 3 when we docked in Skagway, I was out of communicado with my kids. I had some work to do, and was taking a separate tour of Skagway..
So I saw my husband and children off while they took a scenic train ride on the historic White Pass Railway.
Skagway was put on the map during the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush. It was the entry point for prospectors trying to get to Canada for gold. Unfortunately, the White Pass railway was finished after the gold rush… but today tourist still enjoy it. Adults can take in the scenery from a vintage rail-car, while there are Disney Cruise Line Counselors helping keep the kids interested and entertained. Remember to bring your passports if you take this excursion because you enter Canada… not that you are checked, but if something should happen, you might need your passport to get home.
It is a great outing – I highly recommend trying an excursion if you want to see anything authentic about Alaska.
If you don’t take an excursion, but walk around the port towns, you will be visiting very touristy shops, and jewelry stores owned by many cruise lines. TIP: I know I’ve said this, but when budgeting for a cruise, before you book, see how much the excursions are. For example, the White Pass adventure is $169 for ages 10 and up. $99 for ages 5-9.
My outing was a bit different – I took the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp and Salmon Bake, which was a charming recreation of a town during the gold rush. The town is named Liarsville for the stories told to journalists about the gold rush – the journalists never actually went to Klondike, so the truth was stretched as stories were told to reporters.
Liarsville Salmon Bake
On this excursion, visitors pan for gold, then attend a salmon bake….wild Alaskan-caught salmon freshly grilled over a huge alder wood fire. Granted, this is staged for visitors, but it was an attempt to educate visitors what it was like in the more than 100 years ago, The scenery was pretty, and you did have an only in Alaska fresh meal! Definitely wear warm clothes: Even if it s a warm Alaska day (i.e. 60 degrees!) this area is the shade from a forest.
The good news about Skagway is that it is easy to find other things to do if you can’t book an excursion every day.
Within walking distance of the port, we took an incredible two hour hike up a mountain that led to a lake.
We enjoyed beautiful vistas and a well-marked trail. ** I highly recommend this for its easy access and non-touristy nature.
The thing I love most about travel is learning about how other people live…experiencing a new culture. What’s interesting about Skagway is that the population is only about 900, but in the summer it swells to the thousands. Temporary residents spend summers here working during the tourist season. I met a couple who says it’s like “summer camp” for them. They never know if they’ll have a job when they go back to their “winter home.” A lot of students also come to spend the summer working in a beautiful environment.
Coming up in a later blog post -Day 5: Hiking a glorious glacier with the true Alaska spirit and grit.