How a Disney Cruise to Alaska is different

How a Disney Cruise to Alaska is different

It’s no secret that we are big fans of Disney Cruise Line. We have sailed on all five of the Disney Cruise Ships and have been to multiple destinations with them. The ease of travel is a big perk for us, and we love that Disney Cruises give you a good balance of relaxing and exploring new places. Though we’ve taken cold weather cruises before, generally most of our Disney Cruises have been to different areas of the Caribbean. So when we took our first cruise to Alaska with Disney, there were definitely some things that surprised us! Here are things we noticed that are different on a Disney Cruise to Alaska.

Disney Day at Sea on Disney Alaska Cruise

Disney Cruise to Alaska 

Disney cruises to Alaska sail from May to September. Currently all of these sailings occur on the Disney Wonder. And are usually 7-night sailings, with the occasional 5-night cruise and one 9-night per cruise season. 

Debarkation Day on a Disney Cruise

How is a Disney Cruise to Alaska Different than other Disney Cruises?

A Disney Cruise to Alaska is mostly the same Disney Cruise you’ve come to know and love. But here are a few things we noticed that were different! Keep in mind, this is based solely on our experiences, chats with Cast Members and conversations with friends on social media who have taken the same itinerary. You may experience something completely different!

Planning for a Disney Cruise to Alaska

Fewer Activities on a Disney Cruise to Alaska

We love the activities onboard a Disney Cruise. But, that’s not really why you take a cruise to Alaska, is it? It may be for you. And that’s ok! But for many people, a Disney Cruise to Alaska is more about Alaska, than it is about the cruise. For one, it can be difficult to get there if you don’t live on the west coast. Aside from that though, it’s also considerably more expensive. Our Disney Cruise to Alaska was actually more expensive than our 11-night Disney Cruise to Northern Europe. So what I’m saying is, they’re not cheap. 

Since many people do tend to spend more of their time in the ports, that means there’s usually less activities on the ship during port days.  That’s not to say that we were bored by any means. There are still things like movies playing in the Buena Vista theater, as well as on Funnel Vision. There’s still plenty of food options. There’s the spa, lounges and bars, and all of the things you’re used to.

But the planned activities, like trivia, animation classes and character meet and greets, are not as abundant during port days. We noticed a pretty consistent trend that on port days, most activities were in full swing starting around 4pm. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with when cast members need to be back to the ship, or if it’s something else entirely. But if you arrived back to the ship before 4, there wasn’t a lot going on. 

Disney Cruise to Alaska Glacier Day

Different Demographic and type of traveler

This was on interesting one for me! The type of cruiser we saw on our cruise to Alaska was quite different than what we generally tend to see. At first, I thought maybe it was just our particular cruise. But when I mentioned it on Instagram, quite a few people said the same thing about their Alaskan cruises. 

If you’ve been on several Disney Cruises, there is a certain type of passenger you often tend to see onboard.  They are there for the cruise and the itinerary is just icing on the cake. They are there for the activities, the characters, all the Disney things. Most cruisers don’t tend to stay in port too long, and it’s easy to find loads of Platinum Castaway Club members, maybe even some who have done the same itinerary multiple times. 

In Alaska, it was quite the opposite. Many of the cruisers are more like travelers, than cruisers, if that makes sense. They are more about the destination than the ship. And in general, we saw many more first time cruisers. Or even just more cruisers with a silver Castaway Club status. 

Disney Alaska Cruise Minnie Mouse

Packing for a Disney Cruise to Alaska

Packing for a Disney Cruise to Alaska takes some serious planning. Especially if you don’t have the option to fly directly to your hotel. “Packing light” always sounds nice, but for an Alaskan Cruise, unless you plan to do laundry a few times during your cruise, you’re likely going to have to bring at least a medium sized suitcase. 

Mickey Alaska Outfit Disney Alaska Cruise

People Dress up less for Alaskan Cruises 

Have you ever noticed how fancy some people dress for cruises? We always love seeing what people wear to dinner and live entertainment. Some guests really go all out! But in Alaska, not so much. Even for formal night, guests were much less “formal”. This probably is because of a number of reasons. To start, packing for an Alaskan Cruise can be kind of tough. Lots of layers, potentially multiple pairs of shoes. Adding in an evening gown could be quite the feat. Secondly, it’s a more adventurous type of vacation, and many people do hikes of some kind. And probably don’t feel like jumping into a fancy dress at the end of the day. 

Of course, if you want to dress up, you are more than welcome to! Just know that it’s more common for people not to on cruises to Alaska. 

Donald Duck Coffee Art Cove Cafe on Disney Wonder

Food may be different on a Disney Cruise to Alaska

We saw this on our Disney Cruise to Northern Europe as well, but one thing that is very interesting about cruises that don’t take the usual route out of Florida or the east coast of the US, is that the food may be different. Not necessarily different menu items, but they may not be the same things you’re used to if you’ve primarily sailed from the East coast of the U.S. For example, the famous chicken tenders were quite different than what was served in the past. And some of the desserts that we’ve had before looked and tasted slightly different as well. This is because they have to source the food from a different place than they would for the more “standard” cruises out of Florida.

They also offer “regional specialties” that are only offered on their Alaskan cruises.  So even if you’ve sailed with Disney a lot of times, and know that they don’t often change their menus, you might be pleasantly surprised to see some more unique offerings in honor of Alaska. 

Disney Wonder sailing out of Vancouver

Less Young Children on a Disney Cruise to Alaska

If you’re taking a Disney Cruise to anywhere, it’s expected that there will be children on your cruise. So seeing kids on a Disney Cruise should really never be a surprise, regardless of when or where you are sailing. But on cruises to Alaska, there tend to be less young children in general. Does this mean you shouldn’t take your young kids on an Alaskan Cruise? Not necessarily. We saw plenty of families with younger kids having a great time. But due to the type of trip it is, and the type of excursions many people like to do, there just aren’t as many small kids on these cruises. 

Dog Sledding Excursion Disney Cruise Alaska

Cruises to Alaska are busy ones

For some people, a cruise vacation is all about relaxing. Getting some sun, some time for reading, some pool time. Though this is not the case for everyone, hen I talk to clients about why they want to take a cruise, this is a common answer. Disney Cruises to Alaska are generally not really for relaxing. Maybe for some people they are. But for many, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and they plan to make the most of their visit to Alaska. 

Port Days are long, and there are so many activities to do at port. By the time you get back to the ship, it’s time for dinner or showtime, and the rest of the evening is busy from there on out. Yes, you can definitely plan for more downtime, but with only 2 full sea days on a 7-night itinerary, it’s more of a busy cruise than somewhere like the Caribbean. 

Because of that, you’ll often find more cruisers heading back to the ship at last minute. And less crowded onboard areas. There were a couple of times we came back to the ship a little earlier than expected due to places being closed, or needing to change for our next activity, and the ship was completely empty. We even had some luck meeting a few characters with virtually no wait due to the timing of being on the ship. It’s definitely a different experience than we are used to!

Disney Cruise to Alaska

Less Crowded Upper Decks

Though this may seem like a no brainer, the upper decks where the pools and funnel vision are, were so much less crowded than other Disney cruises we’ve been on. This is likely due to the colder weather. But the pools are heated, so if you plan to use them, they are kept at a comfortable temperature. And though we had perfectly sunny weather during our trip, I’m sure it’s even less busy during rainier sailings. 

These are just a few of the things we noticed that were different for a Disney Cruise to Alaska. We loved every minute of this cruise and would definitely go again if the opportunity ever presented itself! Just know that some of the usual things you may be used to on a Disney Cruise can be a little different! 

disney alaska cruise differences

Co-Founder and Director at Polka Dot Pixie Co LLC | Website | + posts

Melanie Renee is a photographer, writer, designer and mom. Visiting Disney destinations since 2010, she is also an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner. When she's not creating her next coffee recipe, or designing apparel at Polka Dot Pixie Shop, she's seeking beautiful sunsets and planning her next trip .

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