I’m somehow not on the official blog roll for this year’s Vegan MoFo. I suppose I should have confirmed my registration was successful sooner than 9 days into MoFo. Live and learn, it seems. Though I’m disappointed not to be an official participant, I’m going ahead with blogging this month anyway.
We’re in a transition period here in the Veggie Lawyer household following my decision to quit my job and move 3,000 miles to be closer to family. In keeping with our life situation, the theme I have chosen for the month is “Try Something New.” I’ll be trying new foods, doing new things and making recipes for the first time. Then, I’ll blog them here.
Alaska With a Toddler
If you’ve been following my MoFo posts, you know that my husband and I recently wimped out on taking an Eastern European trip with our toddler and decided instead to take a Disney Cruise to Alaska. Since this is the Vegan Month of Food, I intend to do an entire post about eating vegan on Disney Cruise Line. (As a spoiler, it’s easily doable and the food exceeded my expectations). But first, I’d like to talk a little bit about taking a toddler on a Disney Cruise and, in particular, an Alaskan Disney Cruise.
There are some people who believe you shouldn’t take kids on vacation until their old enough to “remember the experience,” whatever that means. I do not belong to that camp. I went on family vacations every year from the time I was a newborn until I was about 16. At best, I remember bits and pieces of each trip — and that includes trips I took as a teen. In lieu of detailed memories, I have general happy feelings about the opportunities I had to experience new places and I believe that travel was one of the things that shaped me into a person who is curious about the world. The litmus test that we use for deciding whether to take a trip with our son is not, “what will he remember,” but rather, “what will we all enjoy.” I think that DCL and the Alaska itinerary pass this test, provided that you travel with the understanding that a toddler cannot do many of the more adventurous activities Alaska has to offer.
A few tips about life on the ship
- Kid’s Club: The kids club does not accept children unless they are potty-trained. However, there are Open House hours offered every day where parents can take their kids to play in the club. My son loved the kids club and enjoyed playing there for a few hours over the course of the trip.
- Pool: The Disney Wonder does not have a pool for children in swim diapers. However, there is a water play area reserved solely for the swim diaper crowd. It had fountains and sprinklers, but no place to submerge yourself and swim. In the Caribbean, my son would have loved this area. In Alaska, he still enjoyed it, but he was blue in the face after about a 10 minute splash session.
- Entertainment: There were plenty of entertainment options open to the whole family including live music, parties, stage shows and movies. My son enjoyed dancing to live music after dinner every night, the character parties and some of the shows. We made sure to get aisle seats whenever we went to the theater, because he would often ask to leave about 30 minutes into the show. (The fact that the Cruise Director gave a long speech before each show certainly didn’t help since it ate up precious minutes of our son’s brief attention span). Be warned that kids who don’t like the dark or loud noises may not enjoy the shows.
- Supplies: Diapers, wipes and other baby essentials are on sale in the gift shops on the ship. We stocked up in Vancouver, so I did not have occasion to check out the variety or price of items offered on board.
- Sleeping: You can call ahead to request bed rails for the pull-out couch. We did and the rails were waiting for us in our room the first day. Our cabin attendant set them up each night and our son was able to sleep in his own bed without fear of falling. (Pack and plays are available for smaller kids).
- The “Disney” Aspect: My son is generally pretty shy, but he warmed up to Mickey and friends right away. The ship offered both organized times to interact with the characters and the chance to bump into them here and there. Being able to give Mickey a hug after dinner and then go to bed watching a Mickey cartoon was a real trip highlight for our son. I’m pleasantly surprised that he doesn’t demand Mickey cartoons at bedtime now that we are home.
A few thoughts on activities in port
We mostly avoided organized tours because moving at our son’s pace was key to keeping him happy. Instead, I bought a book on Inside Passage walking tours and we explored on our own, sometimes with the aid of local shuttles to get us to far flung destinations. (The exception was Skagway, where we did a gold panning trip in the morning and then toured on our own in the afternoon). We brought along his stroller for napping on the go, which allowed my husband and I to keep exploring even after my son passed out from too much fun.
We hope to make it back to Alaska when my son is older so that we can experience more sights and meet more locals, like this guy we met at the Mendenhall Glacier:
Or these guys and gals who stopped to say hi while on their way upstream to spawn in Ketchikan:
Even a vegan can enjoy (watching) Wild Alaskan Salmon!