I love that magical moment when the vacation you’ve been planning for so long is finally here! Disney Cruise Line app’s countdown is a fun extra – you just choose your sail date, and it lets you know how long until it’s time to go! In our case, we had booked this cruise as a special couples trip for our 15th wedding anniversary while on board the Disney Dream last fall. (You get a special discount when you book your next cruise on board). Our kids were all packed and ready for summer camp, and we were packed and ready to head to Vancouver to embark on our cruise to Alaska. Grandparents were graciously helping out with our younger son so we could make this trip possible! It had been a long time since we had been away from the boys for a trip.
Part of our decision to visit Alaska on a Disney cruise in the first place was due to the fact that as a travel planner with a focus on Disney and Disney Cruise Line, having first hand experience is crucial. We easily could have sailed Princess cruises, as it was a bit cheaper, but choosing Disney allowed me to gather as much first-hand knowledge as possible!
Getting ready for this trip was not easy. Packing for a trip is always hard, but flying cross country with several large bags filled with clothing for the possibly varying weather – and a bunch of Fish Extender gifts! – was tricky to say the least. We knew it would take the entire day to reach Vancouver from Atlanta, so we left the day before our cruise departed to make sure we arrived at the port in plenty of time.
We were relieved when we were on our first flight to Toronto finally! It’s a short flight and we enjoyed seeing Niagra Falls from the air.
Once we arrived in Toronto, we had to retrieve our checked bags and drop them off with West Jet. This was actually a lot easier than I was anticipating. Then we had to head back through Canadian customs. This whole process can take a while, so we had planned a 3 hour layover, which was plenty of time. We found a pub just past security, and headed in to grab dinner. We immediately ordered some Poutine, as I have great memories of eating the fries/gravy/cheese curds Canadian specialty as a kid on a visit to Montreal. It was actually really good. We also tried some Canadian beer and ordered some pot pies to fuel up for our upcoming 5 hour leg to Vancouver.
We seriously lucked out with a row to ourselves for the long flight. Even my 6’6″ tall hubby was happy with his exit row seat with extra room. I’m short, so my feet didn’t even reach the seat in front of me! This was the most legroom we’ve had in coach in a long time. If I can plug my phone in that’s always a nice bonus.It was a really interesting flight as we took off at sunset, and as we headed west, we continued to enjoy the sunset for the next five hours! The sun finally set as we slowed down to make our descent into Vancouver. We kept up with the time changes and daylight on the West Jet app, as well as watched some movies. They were offering tablets pre-loaded with content for $6 rental which isn’t bad at all. If my device had been low on power I would have definitely opted for that.
The flight attendants on this flight were great! The co-pilot announced that this was the first trip he was taking with his new wife – one of the flight attendants! Everyone cheered at that! The attendants came around several times with snacks and had a few extra options since it was such a long flight. I was extremely cold and grabbed a sweater from my carry-on to help me warm up. We never did doze off, even though it was 1 am EST when we arrived.
I was really wishing I had booked a night at the Fairmont Marriott at Vancouver Airport (it’s right inside the airport), but we had decided to stay downtown. The Vancouver airport was pretty quiet, and we grabbed our bags and headed to the SkyTrain. It was easy to get a ticket at the machine and the train came quickly.
The day we arrived was actually Canada Day 150th celebration. There were a lot of people out and about on the train because of the holiday.
Most of the waterfront had been closed off earlier in the day, but we arrived after the fireworks ended and the crowds had dispersed. We exited at Waterfront station and walked a few blocks to the Days Inn Vancouver Downtown. This older hotel was very affordable, and a fine place to sleep for a few hours. It’s certainly not a luxury hotel, and I wasn’t crazy about the bed. Around 5am, a hideous knocking sound started up in our room but we just tried to ignore it. Overall, even though I can’t recommend the hotel we stayed in that night, it was a very smooth (but long) day of travel! Two flights with no delays and a smooth cross-country trip where all bags are accounted for at the end is a great outcome!