Trip Log Day 1: 9-Night Alaskan Cruise on Disney Wonder – Vancouver

Trip log, day one. Vancouver.
9-Night Alaskan Cruise from Vancouver
July 24, 2017
Personal Navigator – Day 1

Wonder Stateroom Map Day 1 Vancouver 20170724

Today, we embark on our first Alaskan Disney Cruise. We are just underway and I cannot believe we waited this long to cruise to America’s last frontier. This is partially/mainly my fault. I’m the one who wanted to dump a previous Alaskan reservation for our 2015 Norway & Iceland cruise. I guess this worked out in the long run as we would have sailed the Wonder’s regular 7-night itinerary and now we are sailing on a 9-night Alaskan cruise with the extra nights to sail further north to Hubbard Glacier and Icy Strait Point.

Before we get into embarkation day, let me go back a day to our travel day from Orlando to Vancouver. We had two options, book a more direct flight with one stop from MCO to YVR, or save a ton and book a series of three flights. NO JOKE: Emily found a flight from Orlando to Vancouver with a quick stop in Charlotte and a longer stop in Phoenix for a fraction of the cost of a more direct route. The difference was jaw dropping; I’m talking enough to cover another cruise for the family. Sure, we left the house at 6AM and didn’t arrive to our hotel in Vancouver until after 8PM local time, but in the end worked out just fine. Our first layover was short, just enough time to stretch our legs in the terminal and walk over to our next flight which was beginning to board. That was too bad; Charlotte airport seems like a great place for a layover with all there terminals past the security checkpoint and lots of places to sit down and eat. Our layover in Phoenix was over 4 hours. This was a nice break in a long travel day & the perfect time to have an actual sit-down meal as opposed to just snacks. A friend told us about a taco place she ate at when they were stuck in PHX & Blancos Tacos + Tequila just happened to be near our gate. Her recommendation was spot on.

Blancos Tacos PHX Blancos Tacos PHX

Great food – the only thing missing were the outlets and USB ports were limited to the bar area. The wifi was great in the airport allowing us to download some more Netflix and Amazon Prime videos for the next flight. The ‘real food’ perked Isabelle right up 🙂

Our third and final American Airlines flight of the day had onboard entertainment with quite a selection of titles including a category just for Disney movies. I opted to watch ‘Fury.’

American Airlines Disney Movie Selection July 2017

Isabelle started to watch a movie, but succumbed to nap time. With the time changes and awake time climbing, we all seemed to get a second wind by the time we arrived in Vancouver.

On our way in, we flew over Mount Baker.

Mount Baker

I’ve read some not so promising reports of long customs waits at YVR, but we must have hit the sweet spot on a Sunday night. From our gate to our hotel shuttle, it took about 20 minutes. The airline gave us the custom forms to complete, but that was unnecessary as the airport utilizes the kiosks that scan passports. We must have been one of the only international flight arriving at this time as there were no lines.

YVR Baggage Claim

We booked the Best Western Abercorn Inn in Richmond, closer to the airport. It checked all the boxes – reasonable price, had a complementary airport shuttle, continental breakfast and provided a place to sleep. We were getting in late so it wasn’t worth the close to $500 for the Pan Pacific for a few hours when out the door the Abercorn Inn was less than $160 USD. It is important to note that this is no longer a Best Western resort; we received an email late last week that our reservation was still valid, but Abercorn Inn is now independent.

Abercorn Inn Abercorn Inn Abercorn Inn Abercorn Inn

Although the late arrival, we were all up around 4AM. The continental breakfast had hot & cold items including coffee, juice, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, waffles, cereal, fruit, assorted breads and pastries. One cool thing about the Abercorn Inn is there is a Costco directly across the street, perfect for pre-cruise impulse bulk purchases.

Abercorn Inn Breakfast Abercorn Inn Breakfast Abercorn Inn Breakfast Abercorn Inn Breakfast Abercorn Inn Breakfast Abercorn Inn Breakfast Abercorn Inn Breakfast

At around 9:20am, we asked the front desk to call for a taxi to Canada Place.

The Abercorn Inn

After about $30 and about 25 minutes later, we arrived at the Port of Vancouver to rope drop check-in. At first, check-in seems convoluted, but that’s just because everything is spread apart. The first part of check-in is dropping off the luggage with the porters, then upstairs to check in with DCL and get our KTTW cards.

Port Of Vancouver DCL Check In Line Port Of Vancouver DCL Check In Desks

Then, it was off to US Customs. Although we received a fastpass to use the kiosks, my receipt was hit with the big X which meant….well, I am not really sure. The two adults behind us also received the X. We ended up just having to wait for a specific line to have my passport looked over. May just be a scanning/computer issue or just a random check mechanism. Either way, it only added a minute or two the overall customs process. Next on the list was the security line which was typical. They did direct us over to the alcohol table after seeing the wine bottles in our bag. Not sure if this is happening at all ports now, or just here in Vancouver, but they are scrutinizing each and every bottle of wine – she spent about a minute reading the details of one – I suspect because one of the bottles said that it was aged in Bourbon barrels. The two champagne bottles didn’t receive very much scrutiny. Interestingly enough, they had a stack of DCL Guest communications business cards on the table.

Port Of Vancouver Guest Alcohol Search

That was the end of the check-in process. Overall, not as smooth as Port Canaveral, but then again at PC you do not have the customs issues to deal with on embarkation day.

Port Of Vancouver Waiting Area

The nice part was that the spaces are large and can easily accommodate the crowds much better than other regional ports. Minnie started her meet and greet in the terminal waiting area.

Port Of Vancouver Captain Mickeye Meet Greet

We took advantage of this time to look over the Personal Navigator and log into the DCL Navigator app as the ship was right outside so DCL-Guest wifi network was available.

Drawing The Fantasy Logo

The boarding process began around 11:45. The terminal is in line with deck 4 but unlike some other regional ports, there is a ramp to take you from the terminal down to deck 3 for the atrium welcome. Now, it is starting to feel like a vacation and why not start with an embarkation day lunch. Tritons was offering a sit down lunch, but we opted for the lunch buffet up in Cabanas.

On the way in, we passed the beverage table with a nice selection of Alaskan beers.

Wonder Alaska Beer Water Champange Packages Wonder Alaskan Bottled Beer

We still had a good hour before the staterooms would be ready. We used this time to walk around the upper decks to take in the sights of Vancouver. This is really a photogenic port. During our walk, we spotted something special near Pinocchio’s Pizzeria and it was not pizza… There was Corneil from St. Lucia with a Moët & Chandon rolling bar complete with it’s own ice chest and mix-ins! For $14.50 (+ gratuity), you get a glass of champagne with your choice of mix-ins and you get to keep the plastic Moët glass!

Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial Cart

We were told this was en embarkation only offering. The cart was relocated to Signals during the Sail Away party, and we later spotted it in the Promenade Lounge.

It was still open house time in the Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club. Isabelle was itching to get into the Super Hero Academy.

Super Hero Academy

So far, there does not seem to be nearly as many kids on this sailing as we are accustomed to encountering based solely on the empty open house. After the Club, Isabelle and I walked around the Lab taking pictures of all things Mary Oceaneer.

Captain Mary Oceaneer & Salty

Before leaving, Isabelle successfully maneuvered the Disney Wonder out her her berth at Castaway Cay on Captain level of the simulator.

By this time, the staterooms were ready and our luggage was waiting for us outside our stateroom. We unpacked and then chilled watching Captain America Civil War while I tried to sneak in a nap before heading to the muster drill. The Castaway Club stateroom gift bag was delivered while we were unpacking. From what I’ve heard, this bag is not CC level specific unlike previous years where there were variations on the bag color.

Castaway Club Stateroom Gift Backpack Alasksa 2017

Today’s muster drill was probably one of the quickest ones we’ve ever experienced. I am not sure if this was a result of everyone getting to and checking into their muster stations in a timely manner, a truncated version of the speech, or a combination of bother. Either way, it didn’t seem to last nearly as long as past muster drills.

Disney Wonder Canada Place

We all headed up to deck 10 to find a spot to watch the Sail-Away Party. If you are a regular reader of our trip logs, you may be wondering if something is wrong with us as we normally forego the upper decks for deck 4 or in some cases, our verandah. However, Vancouver is one of those embarkation ports where there is some beautiful scenery to enjoy as you leave port. It would have been a shame to miss out on the experience. The party kicked off with the cruise staff as a lead in to Mickey and the gang. There will be video… eventually…. just not until I get home.

Wonder Canada Place Pano

As you will eventually see when you re-read this in 2023 when the video gets added, the timing was off starting with the horn offset by maybe a minute after the sail away countdown. Departure was a little after 5 o’clock, which we missed as we needed to head back to the stateroom to get changed for dinner.

Disney Wonder Vancouver

Since this is a 9-night cruise, we will be getting a number of extra menus and our rotation is Tiana’s – Triton’s – Animators Palate x3. Tonight’s menu was Let the Magic Begin with regional inspirations. Em tried the Key Lime Margarita which is sometimes a drink of the day, but tonight it was full price. It was alright, but I’d pass next time.

DCL Key Lime Margarita

We have some great table mates, but the jury is still out on our serving team. I hope this was just a first night sorta thing and I’ll leave it at that for now.

Let The Magic Begin Roasted Alaskan Salmon Filet Let The Magic Begin Penne Arrabbiata Let The Magic Begin Mango Chicken Salad

Let The Magic Begin Kahlua Crème Brûlée

To cap off our first day on the ship, we did a walk around of the gift shops. There is a lot of the same from our February merchandise post, as well as some Alaska specific items (including some from last year that didn’t make with the rest to the outlets). I did spot a DCL cruise ship salt and pepper set that would make a great collectible item.

DCL Ship Salt Pepper Set

And that is a wrap on day 1, as we headed back to the stateroom and went to bed after watching the end of The Winter Soldier.

Complete Trip Log Index

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27 thoughts on “Trip Log Day 1: 9-Night Alaskan Cruise on Disney Wonder – Vancouver

  1. Psac

    Excited for the reports! They had the salt and pepper shaker set on the Dream on our June 29th sailing. Understandable with a 9-day cruise, but it would have been nice for you to have some time in Vancouver. We did three days there and loved it!

    Reply
  2. Kathy C

    Scott! Thank you for taking us with you on your trip. I can’t wait to follow along each day. I’m excited you are on the 9 night trip, two more days of trips logs! Have a great trip!

    Reply
  3. Craig Hurt

    LOL, Scott, I really can’t believe this is your first Alaskan cruise. Since I’m still a total DCL noob (Silver status and all), I’m surprised I’ve actually been on a destination you haven’t, but seriously, Alaska was our first experience with DCL and we loved it! Even convinced us to join DVC (I know, I’m one of them). We spent an extra day in Vancouver prior to departure. If you ever go back, I highly recommend taking a stroll through Stanley Park. As for the cruise, we loved it for so many reasons: 1) you enjoy the Sea days, looking out and watching Orcas breech while enjoying breakfast, 2) on those cool mornings/afternoons, you make great use of the hot tubs on the pool deck, & 3) the ports are just beautifully scenic. We wish you the best on your trip and will follow along as always! Bon Voyage!

    Reply
  4. Sarah T

    I can’t wait to follow along! I loved our trip so much.

    The people at the alcohol table told me that they had to be more diligent in Vancouver because it is a shared port. Since other lines have carry on rules that are much more stringent, DCL has to check more thoroughly.

    Also, I’m wondering if you have the same serving team we did as that was our rotation a few weeks ago. Philippines and Portugal? If so, then the first night is the worst, but the two of them are just not really in sync.

    Reply
  5. Kevin Burns

    Thanks so much Scott! We know how much effort you put into keeping us informed; and we all truly appreciate it.

    Reply
  6. Jenniffer

    I hope you get majestic calving at Hubbard Glacier as I had 13 years ago – most amazing thing I’ve seen on a cruise. I would gain so much weight on that cruise requesting beignets every night as I did on a Wonder 3 nt. Thanks for posting your reports!

    Reply
  7. beth

    Are you going to report on your stateroom? I’m on the Wonder in Feb and am bouncing all over the place with where I’m wanting to stay.

    Reply
  8. Lynne T

    Scott, thank you for the detailed information about arriving at YVR and embarkation day procedures. After dropping your bags off with the porters, do you have to get you bags back to go through US customs?

    Reply
  9. scrappinginontario

    I’m so excited for you and looking forward to living vicariously through your family. An Alaskan DCL cruise is a dream of mine. Maybe someday….

    Have a wonderful cruise and thank you for sharing with us!!

    Reply
  10. Cc

    So excited to read all this. We are headed on the Alaskan leaving labor day and praying for decent port arrival.

    Reply
  11. Tiffany Johnson

    This is going to sound like a dumb question, but how did you get full size bottles of alcohol to the port? I have a hard time thinking of how to do that even when it leaves from PC. The airlines make it difficult! I know it could go into checked luggage, but I am always afraid of it breaking and spilling on everything.

    Reply
      1. Nicole

        I am so glad to hear you will do a post on this, very interested how you do it. I have thought about this for our next cruise outside the country. I could not find what I wanted in the wine shop in Vancouver, but thankfully my parents drove to the port from the states and brought my wine.

        Reply
  12. Julie

    We were on the second Alaskan cruise this season and our waitstaff was absolutely terrible, the worst of all seven cruises (and we’ve now been on all the ships). Our server wasn’t completely fluent in English and so many requests we asked for (and mind you, simple ones, not anything overly ridiculous or confusing) were either forgotten about entirely or mixed up (at Tiana’s Place on the Mardi Gras meal I had requested any other vegetable save for chard, somehow that meant I didn’t get the other two non-vegetable sides). That and this cruise it was just my husband and I at a table and originally I thought, terrific, we won’t be at dinner so long (as opposed to our last couple of cruises when we were sharing a table with two other couples). Well, dinners took forever and not in an enjoyable way. It seemed that even though it was just the two of us, we didn’t have our orders taken, get our meals, etc until the other tables in the section got theirs which shouldn’t have been the case. And the cherry on top, our server was constantly haranguing us about completing the comment card to the point it was unprofessional and obnoxious.

    In short, our dining staff really put a damper on our overall thoughts of the cruise, in the past we’ve always had such terrific servers. And it’s ironic you say about the jury still being out on yours. Friends of ours were on the first one of the season this year and they also said they had lukewarm experiences with their dining staff.

    Reply
  13. Charm Mujdzic (@cmujdzic)

    Have a Wonderful cruise! Hoping you and your family will be able to witness some calving while at the Glaciers. I hope you will find a good spot right on the FWD most that you can get… or maybe know somebody that can get you where only Concierge level guests (maybe you are already) go and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and get some unexpected treat! The best place to watch it is on the Bridge where my husband works as a 1st Officer, but no guests are allowed to be there, not even when I was onboard with him last year. You can try to find him, maybe he can suggest where you should go or if he can not maybe he can show you the Bridge at some time within your cruise, if he is not too busy and of course only if he gets the Go signal from the Captain… Give my love to him if you do meet him in person 😉

    Reply
    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      What is his name? I will keep an eye out for him. We may have crossed paths on Tuesday during the Gold & Platinum Castaway Club reception or later in the evening during the officers reception in the atrium before dinner. I did get the chance to tour the concierge lounge, but have never been lucky enough to get a bridge tour on any of the ships. Although, I’ve never bothered to ask because I know the answer is usually No 99.99% of the time.

      Reply
  14. HELGA BERGTHOLD

    We were on the first Alaskan sailing of this season and had an incredible wait staff! That can really make or break the cruise for me. Can’t wait to hear about your experience.

    Reply
  15. Rosemary

    enjoyed reading your recap . . . look forward to more . . . would love to do the 9 day cruise but we will be doing 7 day as we are going for my 60th BD in 2019 which is in August . . enjoy your cruise!

    Reply
  16. Rich G

    Trip logs are my favorite, looking forward to the next 9 days. I’m missing our Alaska cruise last summer already. Just an amazing place.

    Reply
  17. Ashley

    Scott, Thanks so much for this report! We are sailing on the September 4th 7 night so i’m getting a ton of information from you 🙂 Quick question, did you think vancouver was the warmest of the ports? My son loves the water slide and i’m trying to ensure he has time to enjoy it before it gets crazy chilly 🙂

    Reply
    1. Scott Sanders Post author

      I would have said Vancouver, but it was in the high 60s and sunny today in Skagway. Obviously, the weather is not going to be the same. If waterslides are on the must do list then I would say take advantage of the first opportunity you have.

      Reply
  18. Dan Daman

    So cool. We are boarding on the 7-day’er on August 20th. So I am taking notes . . .
    .
    So lucky to have snagged non-stop direct flights from EWR=>YVR almost 10 months ago for pretty good $rate, and that is my wife’s magic.

    Also staying nearby in Richmond late nite when we arrive. I am a public transit “fan,” so we are going to do CanadaLine in at approx. the same Cd$’s (also a family of 3). But will use the CompassCards later (see below).

    Solar eclipse on Aug 20th will be approx. 80% in Vancouver. We will pack our glasses!

    Boarding will be “interesting” and probably time-compressed, as it will be the solar eclipse and most folks will NOT want to wait inside the terminal, customs, etc. at 9~11am. So I expect a bigger crush after-wards.

    We don’t drink alcohol, so that saves us a bit of $$$’s and time (we spend it on the veranda and other things!).

    Later seating for dinner means maximum sail-away time fun, also expect delays and enjoy the wait (see above).

    So cool. We are boarding on the 7-day’er on August 20th. So I am taking notes . . .
    .
    So lucky to have snagged non-stop direct flights from EWR=>YVR almost 10 months ago for pretty good $rate, and that is my wife’s magic.

    Also staying nearby in Richmond late nite when we arrive. I am a public transit “fan,” so we are going to do CanadaLine in at approx. the same Cd$’s (also a family of 3). But will use the CompassCards later (see below).

    Solar eclipse on Aug 20th will be approx. 80% in Vancouver. We will pack our glasses!

    Boarding will be “interesting” and probably time-compressed, as it will be the solar eclipse and most folks will NOT want to wait inside the terminal, customs, etc. at 9~11am. So I expect a bigger crush after-wards.

    We don’t drink alcohol, so that saves us a bit of $$$’s and time (we spend it on the veranda and other things!).

    Later seating for dinner means maximum sail-away time fun, also expect delays and enjoy the wait (see above).

    We are taking 2 days in Vancouver after the voyage.

    Keep blogging – we love it!

    Reply

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