Studio Musings

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cruising the Inside Passage with the Disney Wonder

First glimpse of the Disney Wonder in Vancouver
Back home from an amazing week sailing on the inaugural cruise of the Disney Wonder to Alaska. It was an absolutely amazing trip and I would happily recommend it, whether or not you have children.

Leaving out of Vancouver, we sailed north along the outer edge of Vancouver Island heading to Tracy Arm, then Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. Last fall we sailed a very similar itinerary on the Carnival Spirit, along with several members of our extended family, so I was curious how they'd compare. Truth is, there was no comparison, at least for us.

Midway through the trip I tried to pinpoint the differences and what made Disney so special to me. Some were easy - the food is better on the Wonder, both the buffets and sit-down meals. And the Wonder was quieter - far fewer PA announcements; just a daily report from the bridge. In fairness, there were some things I liked better on the Spirit - their naturalist was more personable and worked harder to bring what we were seeing to life, and there were more places to sit inside, warm and toasty, to sketch. But many of those places on the Spirit smelled of stale cigarette smoke, even in the nonsmoking areas. (In truth, if you're a heavy smoker, you might not like the Disney Cruise line - designated smoking areas are few & far between.)

Gotta love Goofy!
But if I had to identify the one thing that truly sets Disney apart, it's the pervasive atmosphere that anything is possible, dreams can come true and magic is just around the corner. That sounds a little corny, printed here in black and white. But it feels so real while you're aboard. It's like a massive dose of penicillin (or pixy dust) for the creative spirit. Over the course of the week I found my own dreams growing stronger, less frazzled, more possible. And I found myself excited about going home, not because I was tired of the trip, but because I was looking forward to tackling my projects anew.

Tracy Arm glacier, Alaska
And every person I met on the crew, from deck and dining staff, spa staff, officers to captain, seemed to be truly proud of where they worked. And it showed. At a Castaway Club reception, Captain Thord promised that though it was early in the season we'd go as far into Tracy Arm as possible, saying that we had plenty of time.

We were the second ship into Tracy Arm this season - the Spirit had actually gone in earlier that day, then turned back early due to the ice. Then it was our turn. We sailed deep, deep into the Tracy Arm.  The captain maneuvering the ship around the larger ice flows with all the grace and dexterity of a professional dancer, slow but sure, until we sat what felt like no more than a stone's throw from the glacier.

Over the next couple of days I plan to post additional trip reports about our ports of call and traveling to/from Vancouver.  For a sneak peak, feel free to check out my Flickr stream.   But now I need to go finish up some class proposals.


  1. Wow! Wow! Wow! Those glaciers are! So glad you had a great time on the trip. Looking forward to hearing more about it. And it is good to know that the Disney employees are proud of what they do. Like any company, Disney has its good and its bad. Nice to hear about the good stuff. Can't wait to see more pics!

  2. As you say, major companies are good and bad, but everyone I spoke with on the cruise seemed to genuinely enjoy what they're doing. A very strong sense of pride in their workplace.

    And the scenery - incredible!!!!!