Booking Port Adventures on an Alaska Disney Cruise: Ports of Call, Activity Level, Rain and More Details to Consider

by | Apr 23, 2024 | Cruise Itineraries, Disney Cruise Line, Ports of Call

One of the most exciting parts of planning an Alaska Disney cruise is choosing your Port Adventures! With unique opportunities like cuddling husky puppies, hiking a glacier, and evening pan for gold with Disney characters, here’s how to research, book, and plan for excursions in Alaska. 

This fall will be a series of firsts for me: I’m taking my first cruise (and my first Disney cruise!) and visiting Alaska for the first time. And I’ve already learned that planning is key in cruise preparation. Every experienced cruise-goer already knows this, but booking a Disney Cruise Line vacation is very different from booking a vacation to Disney theme parks, from picking a stateroom to choosing a set dinner time to the one detail I’ve spent countless hours researching: Port Adventures! 

I may not be an expert on Disney cruises, but I am an expert on being totally new to this experience – and I’m sharing the tips and tricks I’m learning along the way. When it comes to Port Adventures, or excursions, in Alaska, there are numerous popular options, including once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

So, whether you’re interested in cuddling sled dog puppies (a must do, in my opinion!) or ziplining through a rainforest (which I am too terrified to do!), I’m sharing what I’ve learned about Port Adventures on an Alaska Disney Cruise and what to consider as you plan and book them.

When to Think About Port Adventures for an Alaska Disney Cruise

Ketchikan, a port on an Alaska Disney Cruise Line vacation

Ketchikan on an Alaska Disney cruise. Photo by Bill Wood

Alaska has been on my mom’s wish list for many years, and the likelihood of returning is pretty low. So, for us, getting off the ship and seeing as much as we can of Alaska is a priority. 

This is why we researched excursions before booking our cruise and choosing our stateroom. We knew we wanted a veranda room and chose a Navigator Style Verandah in the aft of the ship (which was slightly cheaper, so we could use those savings towards excursions). 

Port Adventures do vary from sailing to sailing, as the ports for an Alaska Disney cruise are not always the same. For example, our 7-day sailing cruise is visiting Stikine Ice Cap, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, and Ketchikan, and our port is Vancouver. Other sailings may visit Victoria BC, Hubbard Glacier, Skagway, Sitka, and Tracy Arm. 

The ports really can vary quite a bit in the excursion offerings. For example, in Victoria, you can have a Victorian Afternoon Tea and visit a castle. But there are no castles in the ports we’re visiting! Instead, we’ll see a lot of whales, wilderness and lumberjacks. 

If there are experiences you really want to make sure you have – such as panning for gold with Disney characters, which only happens in Skagway – you’ll need to think about the Port Adventures before booking. 

Research Port Adventures Online, Not in the App

In addition to thinking about Port Adventures before you even book a Disney Cruise Line vacation to Alaska, you’ll also want to start researching them early.

Not sure when it’s early but not too early? The Disney Cruise Line Navigator App has a super cute (and helpful) countdown. However, as your cruise countdown begins, you’ll actually want to rely on computer-based research versus the Navigator App. While the Navigator App will be your source for all the activities once on board, Port Adventures is a website-only activity. 

As you start looking at the available Alaska Port Adventures for your specific cruise on the Disney Cruise Line website, you can filter excursions by Ports of Call, Experience Type, Activity Level, Accessibility, and Price Range.

I recommend to start by looking at all your ports simultaneously to get a sense of all the different types of options. For us, 123 options popped up – while that initially looks like a lot, we quickly noticed there were some themes. 

After getting an overview, we then decided what we definitely wanted to do: play with husky puppies, nothing involving crazy heights, see whales, and devour fresh seafood. 

From there, we looked at the activities available at each individual port. Some experiences are only offered in one location. For us, anything related to dog sledding and puppies were specific to Juneau. For whales and seafood, we had a few options. 

Tip: Researching your Port Adventures in spring has its benefits! Specifically, you’ll be able to purchase cold weather gear at a discount. We took a look at the recommended packing lists for our preferred excursions and took advantage of spring sales on waterproof boots, packable puffer jackets, and Disney beanies. 

Plan for One Excursion Per Day

Thinking about booking a couple of Port Adventures because so many options catch your eye? Alaska does have some long ports of call; Icy Strait Point is over 12 hours, Juneau is 10 hours, and Ketchikan is the shortest at 7 hours.  

Even with these long times ashore, however, our travel agent recommended only booking one excursion per day.

There Are Different Types of Port Adventures

Disney Cruise Line Alaska Port Adventures, Tracy Arm Glacier

The Tracy Arm Glacier on a Disney Cruise Line Alaska sailing. Photo by Bill Wood

Adventure seekers, Alaska is your Disney cruise destination! There’s no shortage of thrilling Port Adventures that are, well, true adventures. From helicopters rides to hiking a glacier to dog sledding in snowy mountains, you’ll find excursions on an Alaska cruise are quite different from any other Disney cruise.

A good way to filter all those 123 potential excursions is by type. There are 8 types of Port Adventures, including:

  • Active
  • Nature
  • Sightseeing
  • Culinary Adventures
  • Beach and Water

Over 50 of the Port Adventures are in the capital of Alaska, Juneau. There’s whale watching, hiking or helicoptering around a glacier, fishing, kayaking and more. This is the only location that has the puppies!   

Tip: Make sure to have a back-up Port Adventure option, just in case yours is fully booked. Some are more in-demand than others, and some are offered in a more limited capacity (like the huskies; there are only two puppy adventures on our entire cruise). It’s a good idea to create your list and then prioritize the activities 1 through 4, just in case. 

How Much Do Alaska Cruise Port Adventures Cost?

Price Range is one of the filters when you’re searching for Port Adventures on the Disney Cruise Line website. But when you’re planning for an Alaska cruise, be prepared: These adventures do cost hundreds.

In the entire list of Alaska Port Adventures, only one comes in at the “less than $50” rate. Over 80 of the experiences in our five ports were in the $100 – $399 price range.

One reason for this is many of the Port Adventures involve transportation to the adventure location. And, unsurprisingly, many involve boats. 

So, what does the pricing look like for some of the most popular picks? Our list of must-dos included:

  • Sled Dog Discovery & Musher’s Camp in Juneau – $229
  • Wilderness Exploration & Crab Feast in Ketchikan – $239
  • Whale & Marine Mammal Ride in Icy Strait Point – $229

We decided if we couldn’t get one of our options, we might consider the Sled Dog experience on the glacier in Juneau. However, because it involves a helicopter ride, the price is $859 or $939. To stay within our budget, this may end up being our only excursion! 

The highest cost usually involves private boats or planes. And when it comes to the most expensive Alaska Port Adventure on a Disney Cruise, that’s the Exclusive Misty Fjords National Monument by Private Seaplane in Ketchikan, which will cost you  $5,399. 

How to Book Port Adventures

Port Adventures can be booked online, or a dedicated Disney travel agent can help you. No matter how you walk through the excursion booking process, here’s what it looks like. 

Pay in Full: Port Adventures can only be booked once the cruise is paid in full and your booking window is open. 

Find Your Booking Window: When you can book is based on your Castaway Club membership level (AKA how many times you’ve been on a Disney cruise). First-timers like me can book 75 days prior to sail date. Concierge Guests could book 130 days before the sail date. 

Wake Up Early and Book: On the day of your booking window, you’ll want to visit the site ASAP or work with your travel agent to book your Port Adventures. This is when that list of prioritized options is important, because you may need to move quickly. 

Oh, and make sure to read the “Know Before You Go” details on your chosen excursions. This section great information on any restrictions, details on what you may or may not do, and suggestions on what to wear. 

Can’t decide ahead of time? Last-minute Port Adventures are possible! Excursions can be booked on the boat at the Port Adventures desk on Deck 5. If you change your mind once you’re onboard, or decide to add an excursion last-minute, this is a great option.

Details to Consider for Your Port Adventure

Wardrobe: If you’re going up in a helicopter to snow capped mountains for dog sledding, you’ll need more than a poncho! Big puffy winter coats can take up a lot of room in a suitcase. Plan accordingly.

Weather: Many Port Adventures happen rain or shine on an Alaska Disney cruise, so be prepared for any weather. There’s more than one cruise diary of folks arriving back at the ship soaked and cold after their treetop tour or whale watching boat ride in the rain. Remember, the “Know Before You Go” section is helpful! It’ll have information on whether the boat offers a covered area. 

Facilities: Alaska Port Adventures vary greatly in length, with some going 5 to 6 hours. I’m not sure about you, but being on a boat and then walking for over 4 hours means access to food and facilities for a break will be a must. 

Additionally, you’ll want to know if you can carry snacks or items with you. For example, when dog sledding on a glacier you can’t bring a backpack or anything except items on your person. Leave the Kind bar and beef jerky at the heliport because, well, dogs. 

Information about snacks being served and access to restrooms is usually available in the “Know Before You Go” section.  

Timing: I’ve been looking forward to Animator’s Palate for 10 years. A big consideration for me on excursions is having the energy to enjoy this dining experience. For example, I probably don’t want to be recovering from a glacier adventure hike, rainforest bicycle tour or filling salmon bake the days we are dining at Animator’s Palate. 

For more information about planning an Alaska Disney cruise, keep reading:

What to Pack for an Alaska Disney Cruise

Posts by Trisha Daab

Trisha Daab is the author of five books about the magical food and characters at Walt Disney World. Find her on the WDW Magazine blog and in the magazine “Character Magic” column. When not writing about Disney, Trisha is traveling for food or spoiling her Disney dog, Wall-E. Follow Trisha on Instagram @notsoevil_disneystepmom

Authored by
Trisha Daab

Trisha Daab is the author of five books about the magical food and characters at Walt Disney World. Find her on the WDW Magazine blog and in the magazine “Character Magic” column. When not writing about Disney, Trisha is traveling for food or spoiling her Disney dog, Wall-E. Follow Trisha on Instagram @notsoevil_disneystepmom
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