For a little background, we planned on taking this trip originally in August 2021, but cancelled for obvious reasons. It is a bigger (and pricier) trip than our typical summer jaunts to Amelia Island, and we started saving for it a while back in its own dedicated YNAB bucket. We planned it with our friends – the same ones we cruised with in 2019 (we’ve also traveled to the Keys with them!).
Our friends ended up having an additional baby between those two years so it was a less relaxing experience for them than they anticipated, but I think we all had fun! AND it was even more social than expected because Josh’s college BFF and his kids joined us too.
This was our second Disney cruise and we chose the shortest itinerary, in part because of the dates/timing and because we just weren’t sure if we were up for a 7-9 day experience. Note: we lengthened our trip by spending ~3 days in Vancouver beforehand and 2 days on Vancouver Island after.
(I have no affiliation with Disney just to be clear, but you can find their future sailings here).
We went with a verandah suite. Note, there is an enormous price difference between cruising as a family of 4 vs 5+ — 5 cannot fit in a traditional room, so your only choices are two rooms or a suite.
In this case, the suite was cheaper (vs 2 rooms) so we went with that. We didn’t sit out on the verandah all that much, but we did enjoy looking out though the window. The room was really well-organized and had a twin bed for each kid (2 bunk beds + 1 twin), plus the ‘adult’ room was separated from the kid area by a curtain. All of the kid beds were Murphy beds that folded up during the day!
Being a VERY short cruise, we only had two days with excursions! There was a ‘glacier day’, and we elected to go out in a Glacier Explorer vessel that got us a bit closer to the glacier. However, our cruise ship got pretty close too and in retrospect I don’t think this excursion was worth the $$$.
The second was in Ketchikan, our one true Alaskan stop. We did something called Rainforest Adventure and had a fantastic time – this involved a fast inflatable boat ride and a guided hike through the rainforest. This was absolutely worth it and I would recommend it (I think there was an age limit of 5 so glad G made the cut).
AHHHHHHH the kids club. LOVE THE KIDS CLUB. A did not love the kids club, but was able to be otherwise fairly independent so that was fine (she watched movies or hung out in the room – being on the shyer side she did not join a posse of tweens but she was okay and I think still had a good time!). C spent some time in the kids club but also roamed fairly freely on his own, and G (thankfully) really enjoyed the kids club which was an awesome break for the adults.
Her time spent there meant I could work out daily (yay) and we had an adult-only dinner at Palo, the onboard “fancy” restaurant. Apparently there were 700 children on the cruise and yet the club (which is sprawling and has multiple sections) never seemed overly crowded or chaotic.
It’s . . . fine! Honestly, Josh and I just enjoyed not having to think abut preparing or procuring food — and that was half the benefit. The cuisine wasn’t earth-shattering but it also wasn’t bad — which is saying a lot since obviously they have a lot of mouths to feed. We did a combination of buffet (mostly breakfast) and sit-down (most dinners). Many times our kids slept LATE (black out curtains and a lot of activity?) so we kind of did brunch, snack, dinner.
My kids all ate a ton of sugar. I told them one sweet drink/day and one dessert/day would be reasonable but I mean – they found loopholes (chocolate chip pancakes? chocolate donut at breakfast?). I figure this is not our usual fare and we will be back to normal soon enough so I didn’t stress about it much.
We ended up with a ‘kids table’ for the sit-down dining experiences at the suggestion of our staff and this worked very well.
There was a gym on the ship with treadmills, some machines, and free weights — it wasn’t crowded and I was able to get in and run each day without an issue! One day I ran along the walking/jogging deck which has a 1/3 mile circumfrence – so I did 6 miles (20 times around). My Apple watch was amazingly accurate when I used the indoor setting which was nice and unexpected!
I had heard stories of major rocking and unstable treadmills but I didn’t experience that — there was some gentle movement (which felt like additional mild up + downhills) but it was fine.
We went to 2 of the 3 live shows AND watched 2 movies – Little Mermaid and Elemental. They were also showing Indiana Jones and Haunted Mansion, so pretty recent picks (I think that last one is still in theaters). In general – we were never bored.
Plus, the landscape was its own entertainment. It was just so beautiful, and I had never seen anything like it. The last night we skipped the show in favor of the sunset.
I also finished Peter Attia’s Outlive and most of The Unsinkable Greta James on this trip, so there was clearly time for relaxing.
I loved this trip (and it’s not quite over – we are currently on Vancouver Island in a lovely airbnb!). There are so many places I want to see, so I don’t know if I will ever repeat it but I do think it’s a unique opportunity to see this landscape. It did not escape me that carbon emissions and pollution (including from things like . . . cruise ships . . . I know . . . ) may make these vistas even more rare in the future.
Feel free to ask questions!