This is news – soon we can cruise Alaska’s Inside Passage with Disney Wonder, one of Disney’s fleet of high-end cruise ships. Now, cruise vacations are not often compatible with authentic travel experiences — big “floating hotels” that take passengers from port to port for a few hours at a time don’t really allow for any in depth exploration of the destination’s environment or culture. Last summer, I discovered the joys of small ship cruising in Alaska’s Inside Passage; being able to go off the beaten track, into small, uninhabited bays and inlets gave the couple dozen passengers on the small ship a genuine sense of the timelessness of Alaska outside of major port cities. Can Disney compete with that?
Last summer, we started in Sitka and ended in Juneau, with a lot of wilderness and very few people in between. While quietly watching brown bears nosing around for food on the shore, or excitedly watching killer whales teaching their babies to breech, the only people I missed were my kids. They would have loved the Alaskan wildlife and wilderness, but the serene, almost staid atmosphere on the small cruise ship at night would have been stultifying for them. And, in fact, they’d have been too raucous for the other adults, too.
My kids aren’t strangers to culturally enriching aspects of travel — they wholeheartedly embraced all service aspects of our recent volunteer vacation in Costa Rica, and hardly need chocolates on their pillows at luxury resorts to feel that they’re having a vacation. Nevertheless, they aren’t old enough to participate in low-key small cruise ship travel. My daughter had a blast on the Disney Dream launch cruise; surely, I thought, there must be some middle ground.
As if to answer my question, this morning I received some great news in the form of a press release: Kids sail free on seven-night Alaska cruises aboard the Disney Wonder! That’s right, to make room for the Disney Dream in Port Canaveral, the Disney Wonder was relocated to the west coast — and to celebrate this, all children under the age of 17 (that’s generous, letting teens “count” as kids) can cruise free with two full-fare paying adults. There are more details at the Disney Cruise site.
This is an amazing offer. Frequent readers of The Vacation Gals know that we very rarely publicize press releases. After all, we’re experiential, not advertorial. But the timing of this, and how it brings together two types of travel adored by my family, can’t be ignored. This “kids sail free on Disney” offer is currently only good for cruises departing between May 3 and June 7 of this year. If the timing works out with school, work, and other commitments, I just may get to share southeast Alaska with my children. That would make my Alaska Inside Passage experience complete.
Disney does almost everything well; here’s to hoping that the Disney Wonder can provide something of an authentic Alaska Inside Passage travel experience to its passengers, too. I’d bet it can.