Cruising the Inside Passage of Alaska on the Disney Wonder

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One of the neatest experiences of my life was sailing the inner passage of Alaska on the Disney Wonder this past summer.  Even though it is a sea day, the ship passes through the fjords at Tracy Arm in the Inside Passage on the way to view the Sawyer Glacier in the Tongass National Forest.  It’s almost like a Port Adventure without having to disembark the ship!

Alaska - snow mountains

We began our sightseeing at the very front of the ship where we saw whales, seals and even orcas which was incredible.  It was a very brisk and blustery day with a high of only 52 degrees!  The ship’s staff were serving coffee, hot cocoa and hot milled wine in souvenir mugs as well as hot soup in bread bowls on deck.  Disney characters were also roaming the deck for photo opps!

Alaksa - orca

The cruise staff also passed out blankets to keep everyone warm – even in jackets and jeans we needed them.  The ship also served a barbeque buffet for lunch on the back deck with some traditional Alaskan items (including venison sausage) and a more traditional buffet at Beach Blanket.  Our head server from our dining rotation had strongly encouraged us to indulge in the barbeque, so we indulged and had some amazing views as we ate lunch outside.

Alaska - cold kids

As we entered the passage to the glacier, a local naturalist narrated over the ship’s loudspeakers to educate the ship’s passengers of the history of the Inside Passage, what we were seeing and just how the fjords were formed (the U-shaped valleys, for instance, were formed by passing glaciers). The surrounding mountains are just at 7,000 feet tall with melting snowcaps forming amazing waterfalls.  This was one of the most interesting days I’ve ever had on Disney Cruise Line and certainly the views were among the best I’ve ever seen (comparable to the views in Peru from my Adventures by Disney trip).

Alaska - ship bow

As we sailed further into the passage, we encountered an iceberg field and the ship moved extremely slow and used the thrusters to move the ice out of the way so that we could  get to the Sawyer Glacier (there are actually two glaciers – the north and south, the latter of two is the one ships can access)

Alaska - iceburg

The views were incredible and once we arrived at the glacier it was an amazing sight.  It felt like we were all over the ship trying to get that perfect view – but it was perfect from wherever we stood.  Sediment from the glacier causes the water to be a striking color of blue.  Truly amazing and the captain was able to position the ship incredibly close (he later joked that Disney magic gets the Disney Wonder closer than any other cruise ship to the glacier than other cruise lines – I think I believe it!).
Alaska - sawyer glacier

We were on Deck 4 when the crew hauled up one of the icebergs which we were able to touch.  It pretty much felt like a big block of ice, but judging by the crowds of passengers trying to get a feel it was actually pretty cool (pun intended).

The captain rotated the ship from port to starboard (think windshield wiper movement) for maybe an hour and we came back down to our staterooms to enjoy the views from our verandah (and where we had no crowds and it was a bit warmer!).  We were able to see dozens (maybe hundreds) of seals laying on the icebergs and swimming around them in the ice field.  Once even came up right below our verandah as if to beg for food.  It was so cool, but I had to wonder why he wasn’t scared of this massive ship!

The captain made a 360 degree spin as the final time for viewing and it was time to sail back through the fjords – the only way in is the same way out so we were afforded amazing scenery on the journey out of the Inside Passage which we enjoyed from our stateroom – an exciting day of adventure and we never had to leave the ship!

Alaska - glacier

Check out the Disney Cruise Line Alaskan itineraries here or here

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