Checking in on those Disney New Year’s (non) Resolutions

We’re a bit past the midway mark of 2017 already!  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  Goodness, how this year is flying by!  I don’t know about you and your family, but we have been crazy busy this year and there’s no slowing down in sight.  I took a quick peak back to my New Year’s post to see how I was keeping up with my plans…

Checking in on those Disney New Year’s (non) Resolutions

The SOUP!  I’m really not sure why I fall in love with soups in Disney restaurants more than any other type of food.  Last Christmas at Jiko I was crazy about the Curried Butternut Squash Bisque and tried my best (fairly successfully) to reproduce it at home sans duck confit and quince marmalade.  I’ve made it twice so far and it was very tasty both times and close, but not exactly right.  I’m waiting for the weather to cool off a bit before I give it another go and I’m still committed to trying to record an actual recipe to share.  I tend to produce my most successful creations by throwing a bunch of ingredients together without measuring anything.

The Dark Side CHALLENGE!  Joseph’s first runDisney events and my first ones not having to run alone.  Star Wars 10K and half marathon…check!  A good time was had by all.  Happy, happy memories.The MOVIES!  There’s just one movie left on my short list of must-sees this year…Star Wars: The Last Jedi (December 15th).  I thought Beauty and the Beast was good and Spider-Man: Homecoming was solidly entertaining (even with all the teen angst).  Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 was by far the best movie I’ve seen this year.  I’m a huge Guardians fan and spent a fair amount of time worrying about the sequel not living up to the original movie.  HA!  Worried for nothing.  Volume 2 was everything I’d hoped for.

Scuba School!  Joseph and I, then later, Megan and Lyndsey (Joe’s girlfriend) have all completed our PADI open water scuba certifications.  We’re now working on our advanced open water and rescue diver certifications as well.  Who knew this would be so much fun?!?!  We’ve got some diving in Florida coming up to practice our new skills.  One downside…I either had to buy new swimwear or continue on with the single, well-worn Target suit I’d purchased several years ago.  I waited until all the swimsuits at Dillard’s were 1/2-off and forced myself to go shopping.  It was just as horrible as I expected, but I now have two new suits for vacation.  And they’ll be covered up most of the time by my wetsuit.

Booking a Disney Cruise was on the list.  That one was so easy, we’ve got not one, but two cruises in our future.  This fall we’ll be sailing on the Fantasy’s 7-Night Eastern Caribbean itinerary.  Next fall, we’ll be on the Wonder’s 4-night repositioning cruise from Vancouver to San Diego.  Does this mean we will finally get to Disneyland?  I’m sure working on it and will keep you posted.

Last Item:  Disney Undersea Adventure.  On our upcoming Caribbean cruise, Raymond and I will be visiting Tortola, St. Thomas/St. John, and Castaway Cay.  We were able to book two scuba diving excursions through Disney Cruise Line.  In Tortola our adventure is the Certified Scuba Wreck & Reef Dive.  In St. Thomas we’re signed up for the rather boringly named St. Thomas Certified Scuba excursion.  Both adventures include two dives – one to view coral and wildlife, one to explore a shipwreck.  We’re super excited!  On this cruise we’ll also be celebrating our 28th wedding anniversary!

Did you make any Disney (non) Resolutions for 2017?  How are you doing with your list?

Have you done any of the scuba excursions on a Disney cruise?  Got any tips or feedback to share?

10 Reasons to Visit Alaska Aboard Disney Cruise Line

Alaska on Disney Cruise LineAlaska – it’s not called The Last Frontier for nothing (that alone is a great reason to go there!) – Have you ever thought about visiting Alaska?  I can tell you from personal experience – for our family, it was unlike anyplace we’d ever seen before!  In the best possible way.  We probably wouldn’t ever have gone except for one thing – we’d always said…if Disney Cruise Line ever goes to Alaska, that’s one trip we cannot miss!

When Disney made the big announcement that the Wonder would be heading to Alaska in 2011, we booked as soon as possible.  For us, one of the early season cruises worked best with our schedules – this meant that we missed seeing bears and the salmon season, but we wouldn’t have changed a single thing.  What a “Wonderful” trip we had!  Just in case it’s on your bucket list or even if you’ve been toying with the idea a teeny bit – I’d like to try to help you decide if a trip Spotting Seals in Alaska on our Disney Cruiseto the Land of the Midnight Sun is right for your family…

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Alaska Aboard Disney Cruise Line:

10. The Daylight – We got so much out of every day and night!  We enjoyed those super long daylight hours.  How strange it was to eat dinner and go to a show then stroll the deck after 10:00 pm to enjoy the view!

9. The Air – This may seem strange, but I’ve mentioned in previous posts about Alaskan excursions that the air is so clean and clear it feels like you must be breathing the freshest air on Earth.

Views from the Deck of the Disney Wonder in Alaska8. The Ship – Obviously we love Disney, but the Wonder is near and dear to our hearts!  The service, the comfort, the entertainment, the special touches – on the day the ship visited Tracy Arm Fjord (the one destination you stay ON the ship to enjoy), there was an on-deck barbecue so no one had to miss a moment of the action at lunchtime!

7. The Adventures – The list of excursions is staggering.  We zip-lined, whale watched, and explored the Mendenhall Glacier.  We explored Misty Fjords by boat and learned so much!  Regardless of age, health conditions, individual tastes, and budget – there is something for everyone.  Even the view from the ship is simply breathtaking.

6. The Ports – Each town we visited (Vancouver, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan) had a charm all its own.  Downtown Skagway, AlaskaThe history could be felt in the air.  Small enough to explore on foot, we strolled through each port and took in the unique sights of each and fell in love with them all.

5. The Souvenirs – We bought several items (okay, it was more like a huge bunch) – a couple-few (as we like to say around these parts) in each port.  Excellent prices!  We bought a crazy amount of tee-shirts because the designs and styles were terrific and the prices were incredibly reasonable.  I’ve worn the heck out of mine and they’re still holding up great!

Alaskan Wildlife on the Disney Wonder4. The Wildlife – You can see whales from the ship.  We saw many!  You actually see seals float by on their own tiny icebergs.  Bald eagles are everywhere and we even saw tiny jellyfish in the water on one excursion.  While sled dogs are not actually “wildlife” – we saw some of those, too!

3. The Glaciers – You can look at them in pictures, but nothing compares to seeing (in person) the spectacular shades of blue within a glacier’s face or the feeling of that cool, fresh air growing steadily colder as you get closer to the glacier!

2. The Unexpected – Surprises are everywhere!  On the ship when Disney characters pop up unexpectedly for great photo ops, waterfalls loudly rushing down cliff faces – so close to the ship you feel as though you could reach out and touch them.  Those seals, whales, and eagles See Alaskan Glaciers aboard Disney Cruise Lineare just waiting to be spotted!  It takes “expect the unexpected” to a new level.

1. Discovering it all as a Family!  When we traveled, Megan was 20 and Joseph almost 16.  Meg was too old for the teen club and Joe wanted to spend a bunch of time there (meeting other kids from all over the world and taking part in the teen activities) – we worried about the situation making Megan the odd girl out, but NO!  We had so much fun!  We hadn’t had an opportunity to spend this much one-on-one time with our little girl since before her brother came along.  Joseph joined us for every excursion and for dinner and the show each evening.  We had plenty of time together as a family, but I have to say – the time with Megan was especially memorable for me.  For you – there are a ton of onboard activities for guests of every age from toddler to…well, at my age, I prefer the term “mature traveler”…you get the idea.

There you go!  My own top 10 reasons to visit Alaska on Disney Cruise Line.  Have you cruised Alaska?  What did you love the most?  Is an Alaskan cruise in your future?  Tell me!

Disney Cruise Ports – Juneau Alaska Whale Watching

DSCN1684Juneau, Alaska is one of the exciting ports visited on a Disney Cruise Line Alaskan Cruise.  While on the Disney Wonder in 2011, we booked an excursion called “Whale Watching and the Mendenhal Glacier” through Disney for our day in Juneau.  This excursion was interesting, action-packed, educational and still left us plenty of time to explore Juneau.

We met our group early (7:45 am) beforeDSCN1979 debarking the ship and taking a motor coach to a quiet marina where we boarded our whale watching vessel.  We had great weather for most of our cruise, but this day was chilly and overcast with a light drizzle. 

The tour guarantees whale spotting – and we did see a few whales (in the distance) and some seals, but there were not as many whales nearby as we’d hoped for.  I’m not sure if this was due to the time of year (early DSCN1988June) or simple bad luck, but we still enjoyed the experience and took lots of photos.  Our boat was enclosed with lots of windows for mostly unobstructed whale watching and there was a naturalist on board to explain the different types of animals seen on our tour.  I had heard that there were a LOT of bald eagles all around in Alaska and we found that to be absolutely true – we saw young eagles, old eagles, and even eagle nests (HUGE).  DSCN1983 

 

Next we re-boarded our motor coach and headed for the Mendenhall Glacier.  This 12-mile-long glacier has its own visitor center (operated as part of the Tongass National Forest) with many, detailed exhibits to explore.  It provides an excellent place to step inside where it’s dry and warm and learn about both Alaska and glaciers.  DSCN2012

The center also offers excellent glacier viewing areas.  The excursion schedule allowed plenty of time for touring the visitor center and walking outside to see and photograph the glacier.  If we had been there longer, there was a very interesting looking nature trail available for hiking that we would have loved to try.    

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We returned to the pier around 2:00 pm.  This left us time for exploring Juneau and allowed us to take advantage of the great souvenir shopping Alaska offers.  We could not believe the selection of tee-shirts, jackets, and other items at extremely reasonable prices!  The shirts we bought are still being worn regularly and still look great!   

 

This excursion is still available, but is now called “Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Quest” – it sounds exactly DSCN2027like what we did, but in reverse order.  The current price is $165 for adults and  $94 for children under 10.  If you are planning to visit Alaska on the Disney Cruise Line, this is a reasonably priced tour suitable for the entire family.  There was something enjoyable for all ages.DSCN1997