Ok guys, ready for the blog post with the least amount of running content of this training cycle? Well, welcome to the training recap for week 13, where I spent the week on vacation, cruising to Alaska from Vancouver with my husband Dennis.
We had left New York on Friday, and spent the weekend in Vancouver. While we were there I got to run the Seawheeze half marathon, we went to the Vancouver aquarium, ate lots of yummy food, explored Stanley park, and checked out the Capilano suspension bridge, which was amazing. Come Monday, we checked out of our hotel and headed towards the cruise terminal, where we would set sail from.
It was my 5th Disney Cruise, but my first time aboard the Wonder, which is one of the fleets original ships. It is significantly smaller than the ships I had been on previously, the Fantasy and the Dream, and throughout the week I found myself comparing the experiences. Even though it here were less passengers on this ship, it felt much more crowded.
We boarded the ship on Monday, after a fun weekend in Vancouver that included the Seawheeze half marathon, the capilano suspension bridge, and exploring Stanley Park. We were both so excited to get on the ship, and headed for the terminal around the 10:30 am. We had the hotel we were staying at, the Ramada by Wyndham in downtown Vancouver call us a taxi, since there is no Uber or lyft in Vancouver, and we had a ton of luggage. This may have been the best choice I made all week, as it only cost us $8, and was so much easier than taking the train with all our stuff, as we had done when we first got to Vancouver. The train system was simple, but it was hard to not be in the way of other passengers with all of our luggage. When the taxi dropped us off at the cruise terminal, Disney had people collecting our bags, so we handed the bulk of our luggage over at this point.
The port officially started accepting passengers at 11 am that morning, so we were pleased when we got there at 10:50 and they were already allowing people to start the check in process.
Disney has a loyalty program called the “castaway club” on their cruise ships, and the more cruises you have been on the higher your level. My 5 cruises puts me in the “Gold” category, but my husbands 12 or so cruises lands him in “Platinum,” the highest section at present. The big perk of this? We get a free meal at palos, the premium dining on the ship, and dedicated lines at check in - which meant no line at all on this particular morning. The cruise staff were all so welcoming, and quickly got us through the terminal. We had to bring our carry on bags through security, and clear customs since we were heading from Canada back into America, on our journey to Alaska.
Once we had our “key to the world” cards, the cards that you use for rooms and any purchases that you make on the ship, we waited in the terminal for the ship to be ready for passengers. The schedule told us that the ship would start boarding at 1:30 pm, so we hopped on line to snag a photo with Minnie Mouse while we waited. We settled into the lobby after, trying to catch a glimpse of the boat as we waited.
Lucky for us, they were ready for passengers a little earlier than planned, and started letting us on board around noon. We were in boarding group one, so we were among the first group of passengers to load onto the ship. We spent some time wandering around the decks while they were still empty, and checking out the kids club and teen areas, which are open to the public on the first day, so that we could see what they looked like while we had the chance - they always have fun Disney touches, and they vary from ship to ship, so I was excited to get a look at them.
After we had toured around the ship for a while, we headed to Cabanas, the buffet, for lunch. We relaxed in there until our room was ready, and then headed down to deck two to drop off the bags that we had opted to carry on to the ship, which we had been lugging around since boarding.
The ship was slated to leave at 4 pm, so around then we headed to a top deck, to get a view of Vancouver as we left. As we explored Vancouver we noticed a big pile of sulfur that was visible at an industrial park across from the port, and Dennis kept joking that he was super excited to see the pile of sulfur up close at last as we sailed away.
Through the course of our weeklong cruise we headed to Dawes Glacier, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagaway.
Since we were spending the first day of our cruise at sea, and my body was still running on NY time (three hours ahead of our actual time zone at that point), I headed to the gym for a yoga class they were offering, and to get in some treadmill miles while I had the time.
The yoga class was more guided stretching, but it was nice to get moving. The views were pretty from the top deck of the ship, where we could spot some islands to both sides of the boat as we sailed along. Having previously only done tropical cruises, it was strange to be able to see land throughout most of the cruise. When the yoga class ended I spent another 15 minutes stretching out my hamstrings and hips before heading inside to hop on the treadmill.
The treadmill had a TV attached to it, and a handful of channels that played various Disney movies. I settled on the end of Big Hero 6, and eventually swapped over to Tarzan when it ended. I got in 6 miles before my stomach was really shouting for breakfast, and I headed back down to the room to see if Den was awake, and ready for food - my breakfast of choice for day one? Mickey waffles, of course.
The second day of our trip was largely spent sightseeing, as we sailed down the Tracy arm passage towards the Dawes glacier. Den and I attended a talk given by a former park ranger about the nature and history of Alaska, and then bundled up to head our for our first excursion - we were boarding a smaller boat, which would be able to sail up to the glacier, while the Disney wonder had to keep its distance, as it was too large to make a close approach.
Leading up to the cruise Den and I went back and fourth a lot, trying to decide if this excursion was worth the cost, but ultimately felt like we didn’t know how long glaciers would be around, and I wanted to see one up close while I had the chance. I have to say- if you ever get this opportunity, take it. This was by far my favorite experience of the cruise, from sailing along outside in the crisp Alaskan air, taking in waterfalls and mountains as we got closer to the glacier. When we finally approached the glacier, the boat spent about an hour going in circles, and Dennis and I stayed on deck the whole time. I wanted to take in the sights as much as possible, regardless of the temperature.
Eventually our time at the glacier came to a close, and I was happy to get back into the heated ship, and to find some hot chocolate.
We were supposed to go on a bike tour when we stopped in Ketchikan the next day, but it was unfortunately cancelled, as not enough people had signed up for it. We considered trying to hike on out own, but were warned of bears, and didn’t have access to bear spray. The other option was a bus tour or the white pass rail road, which looked beautiful, but I was concerned about sitting for such a long period of time, as my hip flexor has been causing issues for me any time I sit for more than an hour or two. Ultimately we decided to just explore the port area at Ketchikan, which was tiny and unlike any other port I have been to before.
The town was tiny, and had multiple national park sites scattered through it. We could see mountains in every direction as we wandered through town. We went into little shops, and even found a yarn store with Alaskan yarn. I was excited to pick out some vacation yarn that was hand dyed in the state, and am planning to knit up some socks with it. We went to each of the national park sites, and found two museums in town that we enjoyed checking out. Eventually we headed into a brewery, where Dennis tried some local beer and I wrote out postcards to mail home.
As people finished their excursions the town got more crowded, but by that time Dennis and I had wandered through most of the shops. So, we decided to get back on the ship and grab a bite to eat. We sat so that we had a view of the town from above as we ate lunch.
Once we were finished eating, we went back to the room to relax for a bit. Once I was digested I decided to head to the gym to get a few miles in before dinner. Since we had excursions planned for the next two days, I wasn’t sure I would have the time or energy to get out after either, so I wanted to get in a few miles while I could.
So, I headed to the gym and hopped on a treadmill again, which gave me a view of the town. This time I watched ratatouille as I ran. I wanted to get in at least 6 miles again, but my knee started to feel off around two miles into the run. I had to stop and stretch it a few times, and after each stretch it would feel ok for a few minutes, and then start hurting again. It was unusual, but I figured I had just overdone it at seawheeze or my shoes needed to be replaced. So I called the run after 5 miles, knowing that I had a hike planned for the next day.
When the ship docked in Juneau the next day, we were lead off of the boat and to a an that was waiting for us in the port. It was rainy that day, but I was prepared with a baseball cap and my hydrophobic running jacket. There were two other families on the excursion with us, during which a tour guide would lead us through a 4 mile hike through the rainforest that surrounds the mendenhall glacier. We drove up “the road” as our tour guide called it, as it is the only highway in Juneau. He told us about the town as we headed towards the glacier, and handed out snacks to bring along when we got to the parking area. He offered hiking sticks as well, but I wanted to be able to have my hands free for photos, so I passed. Dennis grabbed one though, and was happy to have it during the hike.
We headed into the forest, and the tour guide, Matt, told us facts and pointed out sights as we made our way through the forest. We chatted with him and the other families as we followed the path, getting higher up the mountain as we got deeper into the woods.
It was overcast, but the rain let up a bit as we kept hiking. The final uphill bit of the trek was up about 100 stairs that had been built in the woods, and we all stopped at the top to catch our breath and remove some layers when we got there. At the peak of the hike we noticed that there was some abandoned industrial equiptment, and our guide told us it was from when there was mining happening on the mountain.
On the way down we had a few scenic stops, one for a water fall and two that gave us peaks at the glacier. My knee was bothering me by the end of the hike, so I was happy when we were finished with the four miles. It had been a nice journey through nature, and I was ready for lunch as we headed back to the ship. That day we opted to not head back into the town to explore, since my knee was sore and it was still raining on and off. Instead we took it easy on the boat until dinner time, and then headed to a pin trading event before going to the show of the night - the Frozen musical. The theater was totally full by the time the show started, so I was glad we got there early to make sure we had seats. The show was great, with some amazing puppetry, costumes, and sets.
The next day was our final port of the trip - Skagway. We had another excursion, this time kayaking. Luckily, it seemed like the weather was going to be nicer, and when we got off of the ship things were looking good. We had about a half hour ride to get to the boat that would take us to the Tatooish islands, where we would board Kayaks and go on a guided tour. The dock that we left from was a part of a tour company, and there was a friendly dog running around, who I was very excited to say hello to - after a week on a boat I was so happy to see an animal.
To get to the area we would be kayaking in we boarded zodiak boat a with the tour guides and other people who were participating in the excursion. After a quick safety briefing we were allowed to climb into kayaks, and the guides pushed us into the water. About 60 seconds into the tour someone managed to flip their Kayak, something I would not call an easy thing to do, and I spent the rest of the time slightly paranoid that I was going to wind up in some very cold water. We paddled around the island formation, as the guides told us about the area. We even spotted some bald eagles, seals, and deers. It was a really nice ride, and a beautiful day out. When our time was up, we got to have cookies on the beach as we waited for the Zodiak to pick us up.
When we got back to the port we walked around the town, exploring and picking out a few souvenirs. It was a good last port visit, before we boarded the boat. out next stop would be Vancouver, but we would have one more day at sea before our vacation came to a close. Since we knew we could sleep in on our last day at sea, we hung out at one of the bars on the ship on our last night, and even played the Disney version of the newly wed game - match your mate. We didn’t win, but they did give us a free drink and a voucher for a free photo print from the shop on the ship.
On our final day of vacation we mostly relaxed, watching movies and eating lots of food. I tried to go for a run, but was forced to stop after about a mile and a half, as my knee gave out on me, and it made me feel like it wasn’t a safe running conditions for me. I was bummed, but hopeful that I just needed new shoes or a break from the treadmill. We packed our bags so they could be picked up that night, and then would be waiting for us on the other side of customs.
On Monday morning we disembarked the ship, and headed right to the airport via a Disney bus. It was bittersweet that a vacation that we had looked forward to for so long was over, but we had such an amazing time, and made so many memories.
If you are ever on the fence about a Disney cruise, this is me telling you to go for it - you won’t regret it. Even though it was an amazing trip, I was looking forward to getting home to our cats, and back into my regular routine.