Guests Ashore: 11:00 am Guests Onboard: 6:00 pm
I mentioned at the end of the previous day’s trip report that Victoria is not port of call for the Alaskan itineraries. However, Victoria is a regular stop on the Vancouver repositioning cruises. During the 2012 Alaskan season, Victoria was a regular stop when the Wonder sailed from Seattle.
Our arrival time in Victoria was 11 o’clock. This is left us with 7 hours to explore the port. More like 6 hours since we have main dinning. Given the late arrival, we were not in much of a rush.
We had breakfast in Cabanas and spend the morning making crafts in the Promenade Lounge while we waited for the ship to be cleared. Emily and I made the most of the extra time this morning to pack most of our luggage.
The Promenade Lounge was closed due to Canada Border Services Agency regulations, as a result, the Cove Cafe was the only location selling coffee.
The highlight of the morning crafts was button making. Everyone loved this activity and I have a feeling we may be ordering a button making machine when we get home. This Seeutek model is close to the button making machine being used onboard.
As soon as the ship was cleared, we headed ashore on yet another day with amazing weather.
The independent tour we booked to take us to The Butchart Gardens from the Cruise Ship Terminal had an 11 o’clock meeting time. The email we received told up to meet at the cruise terminal.
We found the tour operator, but we were informed that our tour has been discontinued, and is no longer picking up at the cruise terminal. Good news is that we are still able to go on the tour, we just needed to go to The Empress hotel to get on the bus. Awesome, that is where the shuttle will drop passengers off from the ship!
We boarded the complimentary shuttle bus which dropped us off at the Empress Hotel. The shuttle was no more than 10 minutes. The tour operator had a table set up on the sidewalk by the bus stop.
We checked in and were given 3 tickets each – 1 for the bus to the gardens, 1 for the gardens, and 1 for the bus back from the gardens. Don’t lose your tickets; not saying this from experience, just a word of advice.
Even though our check-in location moved, we were not impacted by the time. The bus runs once an hour so if you miss the first, you get the next and so on. The next bus pickup was at noon so we ended up waiting about 40-minutes before setting out on the 50-minute drive. Yikes.
The bus ride to The Butchart Gardens is just under an hour on a double decker bus and the driver doubles as a tour guide providing insight to various points of interest as well as various stories. The bus does not have a bathroom and there are no stops.
We arrived at 1 o’clock, the driver said he’d be back at 3pm if we wanted to return on his bus. Sounds good, that give us 2 hours to tour the gardens. While we were waiting for everyone to complete their respective pit stops, we spoke with another passenger from the Wonder. Her family booked The Butchart Gardens through Disney and arrived at the gardens about 20-minutes earlier. That 40-minute wait didn’t seem as bad anymore.
We stopped at The Butchart Gardens’ information desk to pickup up a map and flower identification booklet. Rather than put signs up everywhere labeling each plant, they offer a complimentary booklet to help identify the flowers. The Butchart Gardens think the Canada Pavilion at EPCOT only much much larger, but with the same amount of people as a Food & Wine Saturday. The place is beautiful, but hard to enjoy with so many people. The pathways are more of an extended ride queue snaking through the gardens. Sure, you can stop and smell the roses, but inevitably, you’d be bumped into by passing guests.
There are a bunch of little dead ends with benches, I imagine this would be a great place to come with a picnic lunch and spend the afternoon relaxing with a book.
After walking through the gardens, we stopped for a snack and headed into the gift shop. Yeah us, we purchased seeds which then requires you to choose ‘yes’ for the agricultural items check box on the US Customs Form. (This was a non-issue at customs, we presented our seeds with the seal placed on the bag in the shop to the agent, and that was that.)
We headed over to the bus stop to meet back up with our driver for the 3 o’clock departure, but his bus was already full. There was a secondary bus that was dropping people off about a block away from the Empress so he told us to get on that bus.
As luck would have it, our new bus driver decided make a few different stops. 90% of the bus got off at the primary stop, but he continued on to a hotel and he returned the 7 of us to the cruise ship terminal!
The Victoria cruise ship terminal as you might expect has a gift shop along with restroom facilities. I skipped the gift shop to walk over and take some photos of the Disney Wonder from a nice vantage point.
We ran into Matt and Gareth from Buckets N Boards – these are really great guys who always make time for fans.
We headed back onboard around 4:30, I grabbed our passports and headed out to get a better cellular signal on deck 4 to check in for our flight home before getting ready for dinner.
Our final dinner was the Animation Magic dinner in Animator’s Palate. We all drew our own versions of Forky.
The table basically ordered the same dinner with some getting the Chicken Schnitzel with baked potatoes.
One the places we didn’t get around to visiting yet this voyage was Cadillac Lounge. I recall it used to open at 5pm, as we could stop in before dinner. Now, it opens at 6pm. With main dining and usually trivia at 7:30pm, that makes it hard for us to visit. So today, part of the reason we packed earlier was so we could go to the lounge after dinner.
I was eager to check out the Bourbon cart which has all the offerings loaded into an app to read summary information about each Bourbon. The missing information is pricing, a price list does not exist for a guest to sit and make a value based decision. This is a problem fleet wide when it comes to spirits. Splurging here and there is fine on vacation, but finding out that I’m overpaying for something when the bill arrives is not fun and neither is asking the bartender for each price – even they need to pull it up in their POS.
It was hard to miss the Pappy 23yr, but for the price I was quoted per ounce I was out. I realize this is not an easy bottle of Bourbon to find on the primary market, but the ounce price was $54 more than the listed MSRP of the bottle. Polite Pig at Disney Springs has listed it on the menu for $99. I was in shock, and opted for what I thought was a unique release of Maker’s Mark, but it turned out it was just Maker’s Mark in a limited-edition American Pharoah bottle.
Emily went with the Negroni that has been infusing throughout the day while we enjoyed the views as we slowly sailed away from Victoria on our way to Vancouver.
It was time to finish packing and call it a night. We were left a letter and Ariel luggage tags welcoming us to put our luggage out even though we had a flight considered too early by Disney standard, but we were already planning to do Express Walk-off and opted to stay the course.
Trip Log Day 10: 9-Night Alaskan Cruise from Vancouver – Vancouver
Trip log, day ten. Vancouver debarkation.
9-Night Alaskan Cruise from Vancouver
July 16, 2019
Thats it, the cruise is over, we are back in Vancouver and just like the day we arrived, it was raining. Good thing about Canada Place cruise terminal is that you never need to go outside from the ship to a taxi.
We grabbed some bagels from Cabanas and headed to the atrium to get in line well before the ship was cleared. We arrived and the line was already formed. I’d say there were about 10-20 people in front of us at this point at 7:10.
The Disney Wonder was cleared and the debarkation process began just after 7:30. Our Alaskan Disney Cruise was officially over at 7:38 when we tapped our KTTW cards for the final time.
When you first enter the terminal, you will pass the confiscated items table where we saw a pile of surge protectors and the most popular souvenir on an Alaskan cruise, the Ulu knifes, which are just as plentiful and cheap on Amazon including those with Alaska designs. As we entered the baggage pick-up area, the Ariel bag area was empty, just as I suspected. Good thing we stuck to the plan and carried off our own luggage.
We did not pre-book a driver like we did in 2017. We learned during that trip that taxis were readily available and even if there is a big line, you can easily walk out of the terminal with your luggage in tow and get a taxi elsewhere if worst came to worse.
Anyway, when we arrived in the taxi line, there were taxis lined up just waiting for passengers.
We were in the taxi by 7:45 and off on the 22 minute drive to the airport.
We had good luck at the airport thanks to Global Entry and TSA Pre-check. We were sitting at our gate at 8:45 well ahead of our 11:30 flight. The airport does have free WiFi, and better yet, it does not require you to fill out any forms with fake contact information to use it.
Below is a summary of our times that we experienced with Express Walk-off:
- 7:10 Got in line in the Atrium of the Wonder
- 7:38 scanned off the Wonder
- 7:45 in Taxi to YVR
- 8:07 arrived at YVR
- 8:31 enter global entry security line
- 8:37 cleared customs
- 8:45 sipping Tim Hortons waiting for our 11:30 flight
Keep in mind, our times may not always be the case, we could have been really lucky or just made all the right decisions. However, we want to share this information for those that may be limited to flight times. Just book flights at your own risk.
Thank you all for following along with us during our 2019 9-night Alaskan Cruise aboard the Disney Wonder. Comparing this sailing to the 9-night Alaskan cruise in 2017 I’d say they both hold up as unique experiences. The itineraries were different enough that we did not feel we repeated anything and for us, there is still so much to see and experience in the various ports of call both in Alaska and British Columbia. Bottom line, we are already talking about going back to Alaska. We just hope Disney Cruise Line brings back the longer Alaskan cruises in the future because in 2020, the Disney Wonder back to only sailing 7-night cruises to Alaska from Vancouver. Plus, I’m looking for a good excuse to get back on the Wonder to check out the dry dock changes that are coming this fall.
As for our next trip, the good news is that our countdown is in the double digits. However, unlike the time between our summer cruises, the wait is a bit longer.