Alaska Cruise

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Family Alaskan Cruise

May 2013

Although not really 'cruise types', we would really like to see some of the beauty of Alaska with our 13 year old daughter this summer. I have a knee injury, so cannot trek on land very easily at this time. We have looked in the archives, but cannot find much.

Do you know of any particular cruise lines we should look at for good service and for attention to the natural beauty of the area? Doesn't have to be a trip with a naturalist on board (although that would be wonderful), nor do we need bells and whistles and Vegas-type shows. Thank you for any suggestions you might have! Anon

Well, last year somebody with a diverse group/family ask for the same question... We did go to the Alaska Cruise, our 17 year old daughter said she wanted to the the glaciers before they were we decided that was a good opportunity to go on a family vacation with my husband, my Mom ( 70 going on to 15) my son, who turned 21 while in Alaska and my daughter. I'm an expert traveler/ control freak, 'wanna be travel agent' but this time, when I started my search, i realized I could not do it on my own... way too many choices and since we were not too happy about the cruise idea, reluctantly we were going to take a cruise...I decided to leave it to a real expert. Pat Frega from Travel to Go, help us. She new about the different cruise lines, and the rooms,the food, etc (925) 672-9840 Anyway, Holland America seem like a small one, I think the name was Westerdam...we went from Seattle, it is easier and cheaper than other ports. We pay more for the cabins with balcony - I would not do it another way-I don't think I will take many more cruises anyway, but 2 rooms with a door in between gave us privacy, the balconies added extra comfort and fresh air! the teens and my Mom share the bedroom and although very small space had a wonderful time! I have the itenerary but not with me... We did a very expensive excursion in helicopter to the glacier- really amazing, that day my Mom took a bus excursion and love it! another time we rented a private boat to see whales, expensive too but those were the only 2 things we did, otherwise, one day you stay in the boat that goes inside a National Park, and the other day we just walk the town. The last port was Victoria, very pretty town...

The cruise itself was an amazing experience, we learn to contemplate from the big windows. Our favorite space was the bar/library/ den, people will just seat there have a drink, play cards, look at internet ( it was expensive so we decided to disconnect...) and look at the beutiful scenary. the crowd was relax, older, definitely not a party boat! We saw some kids like in a group doing activities but there were not many ( we went in June) They have casino and pools and clubs and shows but really, you don't even have to join any of those ( we did join the spa and had a great time!) but if my Mom wanted to see a show, she could.

The food, oh well, they try...they have everything, not in our organic/healthy counsious perspective but it was ok. Couple of night we pay extra for a special dinner and the main dinning room was actually very good. I think it is worth to go and adjust a little, understanding that the food is ok, not wonderful but pretty decent. Good luck, Mariedda

We went on a Holland America cruise to Alaska last summer because we needed a vacation that would accommodate 3 generations, and it was nice. It was nice to not cook, etc. I had expected a little more Alaska and a little less cruise. We enjoyed it, my in-laws especially, but I have to say though, if we had it to do as a family (of 4), I'd have preferred taking the Alaska Marine Highway. The Alaska ferry is what the locals take, but the seas are much calmer because it's all inside passage and you get really close to shore, and see a lot more wildlife. Plus you can stay overnight in the towns and see what they're like after masses of tourists get back on the cruise ship. It's not fancy, but when I did that years ago it was a lot of fun. It's not as convenient as booking a cruise is, but you see the same stuff and make your own schedule. Sue

In this situation 3 or 4 years ago, we happily discovered Kirsten Chute, with a small business called Cruises for Families. She knows everything about all the lines and ships, makes recommendations, and then did the booking at a lower price than we found elsewhere. Even questions we didn't know to ask -- such as the matter of a younger teenage girl in the party. Safe? Cautions to take? Answer was that some cruise lines are safer than others, and a few ports are to be really careful in., (630) 789-4400 (in Illinois). John

Choose very carefully. When I was 13 my parents took me on an Alaskan Cruise and it was awful for a young teenager. Most of the other passengers were retirement age and there was very little for a teenage girl to do. I was into the outdoors and interested in seeing Alaska but there wasn't much to be seen on the cruise. will not cruise again until i'm old too

Alaskan Cruise Company for multi-generational fam

Jan 2013

Hi. We would like to go on a cruise this summer to Alaska with our kids (ages 9 and 2), my in laws (in their 80s but healthy and adventurous) and brother and sister-in-law with their 18 year old son. The archived messages are all 6+ years old so I'd love recommendations on cruise lines that will be good for young kids, a teenager and adults. Several of my co-workers went on Princess over the last 2 years and all agreed that it wasn't great for kids. Disney looks fun but is quite expensive--did people find it was worth the cost? Disney takes toddlers in the kids club, but I've heard that many of the other cruise lines require kids to be 3 to go to the kids club. Thanks! Cindy

Last August we took an Alaskan Cruise on Royal Carribean (Radiance Of The Seas). We loved it and saw quite a few multi generational families.I do not have young children but the ones I saw seemed to be enjoying themselves. All of the staff was amazing and I did not want the cruise to end. Ellen 

Alaskan cruise family reunion

Sept 2009

I need some recent recommendations for a 7-night Alaskan cruise for a family reunion of 15 people, ages 3 to 78. Which ships, which ports, which excursions?? cruising...

I took a cruise to Alaska in May for my Mom's 80th birthday, with my husband, my almost-4-yr-old daughter, my sister, my brother and his wife. Not quite on the same scale as your reunion, but along the same lines. We were on the Celebrity Infinity, leaving from Seattle, and thought it was fabulous. My daughter loved the kids program (the Fun Zone), and evening babysitting was readily available for a mere $8 an hour. She keeps talking about going to Alaska again, and when I asked what she liked about it, she said the Fun Zone. Some cruise lines have different age limits for their kids programs (I think 5 and up for Holland America and 7 for Radisson, which nixed those options as far as I was concerned). The food was great; I was surprised by how much I enjoyed eating in the main dining room with its assigned tables and scheduled seating, and even more surprised by how patient my daugher was with the 5 course meals. The wait staff was great about remembering her favorites, and! making sure she didn't have to wait too long to get fed. My mom uses a walker and rented a scooter for the trip; she was able to get around fine.

As far as itinereary goes, I don't know how much it really matters. When I booked the cruise I was concerned about the days at sea, but ended up really finding them relaxing--using the pool, the fitness center, hanging out with family playing Sorry, etc. The amount of time spent in each port was pretty short--particularly Kechikan at 4 hours (and you lose 1/2 hr or so getting off and back on the boat). So if you really want to see the sights of Alaska, you might find the cruise disappointing. But if you look at the cruise as the primary activity and sightseeing as secondary, it really is fabulous.

My group split up for shore excursions, since my Mom's mobility was limited. She mostly booked shore excursions that could accommodate her scooter. In Juneau, my husband and I didn't prearrange anything but found shuttle transportation to the Mendenhall Glacier readily available. We took a cab to downtown Victoria. We did book a shore excursion in Ketchikan, a combination of the Saxman Native Village and the lumberjack show. My daughter loved the Lumberjack show, and so did I. In retrospect, I should have passed on the Saxman Native Village in exchange for having more time to walk around.

Whatever you choose, have a great time. Carrie

We went on Holland America a few years back and it was great. The ports tend to be mostly the same. Favorite excursions (though the priciest) were the helicopter ride landing on the Mendenhall Glacier and the Seaplane tour of the misty fjords. I am pretty cheap and wasn't happy about spending the $ on these but afterwards felt like it was some of the best money I'd ever spent! missing Alaska

Earlier recommendations

Alaska Ferry Trip

April 2007

After checking out various cruises in Alaska, we are now curious about the ferry lines that travel in and about Alaska. They cater to local commuters as well as more adventurous travellers. Apparently you can book cabins (we are a group of five children ages 4 -12 and two adults) and you can also ''tent'' camp on deck. Has anyone out there ever done this trip? Is it feasible with kids in our age range? We would then take day trips, possibly renting a car, and do some exploring on our own. Any Alaska travel tips for a trip like this would be greatly welcome. Many thanks. Melissa

I grew up in Alaska, and unless things have changed a LOT, those ferries are pretty utilitarian. Sea sickness is also really common. I wouldn't subject a 4 year old to a trip like that, let alone myself, and I hiked the Chilkoot Trail at age 7. I'd also never ''tent'' camp on the deck. For safety reasons - water and people-based.

In my opinion, you're better off flying to the (few) towns that are worth visiting and have remotely enough to do. Juneau and Ketchikan might rate as two of those. Anchorage has over half the population of the entire state, and even though it's kind of grim (and where I grew up), you should probably see it.

Fairbanks doesn't have much, but it's got the 2nd biggest population and just barely gets the midnight sun on the longest day of the year, so that can be interesting. Homer is a great little town on a spit that has tons of halibut fishing and HUGE amount of bald eagles that nest there. It's very pretty there and has become a B type destination. Mt. McKinley (Denali now) is a good area to camp - Talkeetna is a cute town to have lunch in while you're in the area. A boat ride in the Kenai Fjords is also fun (though quite cold, even in summer), and you'll see a ton of wildlife - breeching whales, puffins, dall sheep, etc, just from the deck.

All that said, time of year is massively important as to when you go, especially if you're going to be doing the ferry thing. Late July is probably your best bet. Exploring on your own is brave, but I think you might get more out of some hosted tour groups. -- Been there, lived that

I will pass along my Alaska Ferry experience even though it was not with children it might give you a little more information.

I went 100 yrs ago - like 1985. My Mom, Dad, & high school aged sister had gone the previous summer, they camped on the deck and had a great time. I was on a bicyle trip and jumped on with a friend in B.C. We went in August and it was just before the State Fair and many of our fellow passengers were going to that. Many of them had musical instruments and there were spontaneous big circle dances. We saw whales breaching and beautiful scenery.

We claimed lounge chairs at some point in the evening and slept on those. (There were lots of the pool-side-type lounge chairs) At the various stops, there was enough time for us to jump on our bikes and look around a little bit.

So as a person in their early 20s and sans enfants I had a great experience. I would consider it as a good option for my kids but kids/water/boats - safety stuff - would definitely be something to consider. from a person who likes the Alaska Marine Highway

I didn't see the original post but based on the previous response from teh woman from AK I think I can figure out what you asked....I have a different view. Though I've never taken a child on teh ferry I've taken the inland passage (forgot where it starts) from the start to Seattle twice. Also I''ve taken it part way and stopped in Ketchikan to visit a friend and then continued on down to Seattle. Both times were in August. It was cold and rainy but REALLY GORGEOUS. I never got seasick. The

ferries are comfy and accomodating. The scenery along the inland passage is to die for. You can also get out and stay in the towns and take the next ferry if you don't have room reservations.

I did camp on deck but I was in my 20's at the time and I would NEVER do that now. There were lots of people partying all night. Sleep was not going to happen. I'd suggest getting a room or sleeping in your car. I agree that July is probably the best time to go as far as good whether.

Another good way to go to Alaska is to fly to Anchorage and rent a car and drive south to Kenai, Seward etc. The Kenai Fjords boat trip is gorgeous...all day. We took our then 4 yr old on that and brought stuff for him to do. He loved it...LOTS of wildlife. If you do that, I''d then suggest taking the train up to Denali park and staying a few days there. More wildlife adn hiking. You can also take the train to Fairbanks. Beautiful, lush, lots of moose and birds to see. There is TONS to do in Fairbanks, but i't not a big exciting city. Population is about 60,000. There is a fun County Fair in late July (check dates on Fbx city commerce website).

The University of ALaska in Fairbanks has a big farm....HUGE cabbages, lots of hands on exhibits, animals, including reindeer. Starting on July 15th is the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival. A 2 week music festival filled iwth classes and performances. Not really a kid event but at the end are some of the ice skating shows and dance shows. Another attraction in Fbx is the Musk Ox Farm which offers tours. It is light out all the time in Fbx in the mid summer. True the more north you go the lighter it is. In Fbx on June 21st the sun goes 3% below the horizon which gives you a few hours of ''sunset''. At 11 PM you sometimes have to remember to go to bed cause it's still light out. The people of Fairbanks (and Alaskans in general) are the friendliest, warmest people I've ever met.

You could rent a car in Fbx too and drive up the pipeline road or up to the Circle Hot Springs just above the Arctic Circle. Ferry or plane/train/car, Alaska is a huge gorgeous state. My brother lives in Fbx. I went to college there and go back every summer (and sometimes inthe winter) for the music festival and to visit. Have a blast love alaska

Cruise to Alaska with 15-month-old

Jan 2007

We're planning to take a week-long cruise to Alaska next June, and would like advice on family-friendly cruises (our son will be 15 months old then, and his grandparents will be coming too). There seem to be so many cruise ship options - how to narrow them down? Has anyone had any good or bad experiences with any particular cruise lines? Also, any tips to on making travel easier would be welcome. Thanks! looking for a good cruise

My family went on an Alaskan cruise in 2004 and selected the Princess cruise line because we heard it had excellent kids' programming. We sailed on the Diamond Pricess, which was only 4 months old at the time. We all had a great time, including my almost 4 year old son. He still talks about the ''cruiser.'' Susan

In September, we took a cruise through the Inside Passage on Princess Cruise's Regal Princess. Our daughter was 14.5 months old at the time, and she had a good time. There was a kid's playroom with toys, tv, etc. We would also hang out in empty bars druing the daytime where we could spread out her toys and let her run around a little. The ports of call were good enough to go for a stroll in town, but we didn't really buy anything or eat out. The Regal Princess is the cruise line's smallest ship, so any of their other ships would have even more amenities than the one we were on. We were also there with extended family, and I think everyone had a pretty good time. Cruised

Hi - We recently did a 10 day cruise on Celebrity Infinity with a 3YO, a 1YO and extended family (uncle/aunt/grandparents). At 15 mo's your child will not be able to participate in the organized children's activities. Most of the programs, no matter the line, kids have to be 3YO minimum to participate. My best suggestions are: definitely do the first seating dinner. Find out if there is babysitting onboard and take advantage of it. (there's extra fee). I did find out that even tho the baby was too young for the kids program, you could bring your baby to the kids program area (I think for Celebrity it was called Captains Club) as long as an adult accompanied them. Check if you can do this. On our ship, (Infinity)they had books/ball pit/toys/puzzles - tons of kids stuff. I have had friends that went on Carnival lines and liked their kids program, but don't know if they go to Alaska. Know that it will be tough chasing around your 15 mo. around on a moving boat when baby is just learning to walk!(very tough!) I have much more I could share - e-me off list. Alaska is beautiful and I am so glad we went. I could also share things we did, etc. We went in Sept. when most kids were back in school, so our experience will be different. This was our first cruise w/others we knew and with entire family. Hubby & I have cruised before and it was much different w/the kids Renee

Celebrity cruise to Alaska with small children

Aug 2006

We are going on a 10 day cruise to Alaska on Celebrity cruises, leaving Vancouver on Sept. 3 and returning in to SF on Sept. 13. I would love to get some good feedback and recommendations from others on ports/shore excursions/general helpful info. Details: This is a family cruise with my hubby, me, our 2 daughters, age 3.5 and 1 year. We'll also have Grandma (a moderately active 68, but extended standing/walking not good), Uncle (generally wheelchair bound, with limited cane walking ability/good upper body strength) and Aunt (good health). Our ports are: Juneau, Sitka, Skagway, Ketchikan and Icy Strait Point. Has anyone taken this exact cruise w/kids and have suggestions or rec's on the shore excursions? There are a ton of choices and they're all fairly expensive, so I'm wary to book anything without getting some opinions/recs. We don't need to do all things w/the kids, as there are babysitting opportunities w/in our group. And-we don't need to get out in all the ports either. What shouldn't we miss? If you did take kids on any of your shore excursions, which did you try and how did you find the experience? Did you try whale watching and did you see any this time of year? Has anyone done any of the offered excursions either disabled yourself, or with someone who was? What worked/didn't work? We can't decide whether to bring the double stroller (one in front, one in back) or the single stroller(peg perego aria)? Should we just get an umbrella stroller? Will we even need a stroller? Baby backpack for the 1YO? Any other general helpful tips with this group would be welcome. You can email off list or on. Thanks! Renee

My extended family did an Alaskan cruise on Princess 2 years ago when my kids were almost 4 and 6 months. It was a great vacation for 14 people aged 6 months to 70. The ship and scenery provided most of our entertainment. There were lots of activities on board the ship, and our favorite day was one where the ship cruised up a passage to the foot of a glacier, with a naturalist on board pointing out animals and things to look for over the speaker system.

We got off the ship at every port and mostly walked around and shopped, but we found that the ports had little to offer close to the cruise ship terminals. Several cruise ships disgorge thousands of passengers daily at these ports, overpowering the local population and making it very touristy.

Most excurions did not work for us, as it was too difficult to hike, raft, fish, etc. with 2 small kids. The only excursion we did was a helicopter ride to a glacier. It was expensive given our budget, but unlike anything I have ever experienced, making it worthwhile. Given the expense, danger (a not carefully monitored small child could fall into a crevasse), and the likelihood that our kids would not remember it, we left them on the ship with their grandparents Susan

Hi- I did a similar Alaska cruise (Holland America) with my almost 5 and almost 2 year old boys last summer, as part of an extended family group of 27 that went up to age 90. Not everyone did every activity.

Shore excursions: we didn't book anything through our cruise, but we took advantage of every opportunity to be on shore. If you're open to putting things together yourself on the spot and want to contain costs I'd skip the packages they offer and do it yourself. Here's what we did:

Sitka: it's easy to entertain kids and limited mobility adults in Sitka - from the dock, head right (south?) to the National Park Service museum a few blocks away (presumably you could wheel your wheelchair person there? but ask about sidewalks). They had a great museum with lots of things of interest to small kids and adults, including local people doing traditional crafts, a beautiful outdoor forested area, and a fun junior ranger leaflet and badge for kids. On the way you'll pass a small (free) fish hatchery that is part of some college and it has a large and wonderful touch tank, plus some tanks just for display, good for entertaining all ages. We did their little tour and learned out they raise the fish - it was low key and fairly short. But the touch tank was the best.

Juneau - We did a wonderful hike near Mendenhall glacier by hiring a couple of cabs to take us out there at the dock. To me this was the only time I felt like I really was in Alaska, hiking for a few hours in the forest. There's a visitors center there too on the other side of the lake that we didn't go to, but I think some of the package tours will take you there.

Ketchikan- By the time we got here all I cared about was going somewhere my boys could romp and be loud without disturbing others. We had fun asking locals for directions to the nearby park and enjoying tossing rocks in the water and stretching our legs. Near this park there is some sort of an eagle rehab center (??) and also some native culture museum that some members of our group enjoyed but I didn't take our boys there. We did enjoy the ride in the little cable railcar up the hillside.

As for strollers, I'd bring whatever you prefer for airports because the waiting in line, checking id as you pass, etc, will be similar. We just brought the pack which kept our little one close and gave him a good view. But on shore, I mainly wanted them to RUN and get their wiggles out so the pack was useful for the getting on/off the ship part and otherwise was a way to carry our extra gear. If your older daughter is at all active, I recommend bringing really good rain gear and warm clothes (hats, gloves) for at least one parent and her so that you can enjoy running around shore or up on deck even if the weather isn't great. On a trip like this you're bound to get some less than ideal weather, but don't let it confine you indoors - in my opinion, Alaska is about outdoors! - Charis

Cruise to Alaska with kids

March 2006

Hi. Does anyone have any information/recommendations about cruises (with kids - 8 yrs old) to Alaska? Thanks Betty

We did a 1 week cruise out of Seattle to Alaska with Holland America last summer with a large family group, including our 2 year old and 5 year old.

Our kids were too young for the kids club, but their older cousins who are into puzzles/books/crafts liked it but the more rowdy ones did not. The kids club didn't seem to have much to offer a very active kid (no ball pit, climbing wall, etc.) Burning off steam mostly happened in the pool or the outdoor sports deck - those seemed to be the only places it was ok to run/shout/etc and sometimes it was too cold or wet to be on the sports deck.

It was like being with my kids in a restaurant every waking moment for a week. The only break was to hang out in our cabin, which had no windows, making it boring for the adults (though the kids loved watching espn from the bunk bed). Obviously an 8 year old will probably find it a lot easier to be on ''company manners'' for such an extended period, and a quiet child of any age would too. The staff were incredibly sweet to the kids, even when they weren't on best behavior. That said, the wildlife and glaciers were amazing and abundant. The shore days were really nice - we made sure to include lots of physical activity for those. Sitka has a great museum a few blocks from the dock, and on the way there's a fishery with a big touch pool. Prepare for rain every day and then the occasional sunny day is a treat. - Charis

Family Reunion Cruise to Alaska

March 2005

Hi- We're booked for a family reunion in the form of a Holland American cruise to Alaska out of Seattle. We have never been on a cruise and are more the backpacking type... we have two boys who will be almost 2 and almost 5 when we go in June. Our boys are looking forward to being with their cousins, ages 6 to 16. I looked on the websites (parents list and Holland Am.) but I still have questions. I know I probably need to ask someone at Holland America these questions but I don't have a contact who might know kid details there and I'm hoping for tips from experienced travellers!

- Pools: Will my not yet potty trained toddler be allowed in the pool? I'm expecting this is where the kids will want to spend most of their time.
- Kid zone: They have some free kids play area for age 5 and up - I'm hoping they'll let my almost 5 year old join in because his cousins will certainly be there. Will my two year old be allowed to play too if we're present?
- noise: Are the rooms fairly soundproof, or will I need to worry that if my toddler peeps in the night it will wake others nearby?
- crib: Do I need to request a crib in advance, or can I just wait and see if we end up needing it?
- baby monitors: Is it possible to use a baby monitor to listen in on the sleeping kids while we have adult conversation in a nearby room? Or is this impossible or a bad thing?
- dining: My kids are *fairly* well behaved at table, but the reality of eating three meals a day in public is a little daunting, what with the dinner dress code and all. Is this going to be torture? Are there separate dining areas for kids?
- extra costs: How little can we budget for extra costs that are not included in the base fare? (port fees? etc.?)

Any tips to make this a fun trip? I'm looking forward to seeing the extended family and seeing a bit of Alaska, but I can't help wishing they'd chosen to stay at a lodge in the rockies instead! Charis

We did a Holland America Alaska cruise 1.5 years ago when our son was three because it was related to my husband's work. My son adored being on the ship, but I have to say it started to feel a bit small to me after a few days with a small child. However, we did have a good time. Here are answers to your questions and some other info:

I don't remember for certain, but suspect that diapers in the pool would be an issue.

They do have a kid zone on the uppermost deck. Our experience was there was very limited ''programming'' and what there was was pretty lackluster - I think this traditionally hasn't been a big families-with-kids destination. That said, they will let you bring a child younger than 5 if you accompany them. Also, we found that the space wasn't used much for organized activities, so it was just a great place to convene with kids and let them just be noisy and run around - the room was left unlocked all day. Perhaps they are running a more structured kid's program on this cruise now...

We found the rooms to be pretty well sound-proofed. I don't know about the night they turned the little love seat into a bed for our 3-year-old and we just put pillows near it - he did fall out one night! Re baby monitors, I think if you are in a room nearby that it should be fine from a safety standpoint, but my (ham radio) husband says you probably have to ask permission from the ship to transmit and that they may not work between metal decks.

Re dining: I too was daunted by the prospect and am again since we're taking our now-5-yr-old on a cruise with his grandparents...there is a more casual dining room on the ship and if you need a few nights not to feel quite so pressured - it's a nice break. Also, if you're interested, you can arrange babysitting while on the ship if you want to do the most formal nights as adults only - we did that and it worked fine.

In general my son loved afternoon tea in the lounge. Also, we found that the ship's library had some kid's books and we made sure to have a little late afternoon quiet time reading books and having tea in the lounge. My son enjoyed the shore excursions - especially Sitka which is very compact, making it easy to walk and see a temperate rainforest and nature museum. We also just walked the ship a lot.

I found that the staff were very helpful and welcoming to children - and tipped accordingly those who made my son feel particularly welcome and who made our lives easier. Not all the passengers were as welcoming - there are still a lot of older people taking cruises who are not thrilled to be vacationing with rambunctious children. I tried to allow my son to be a child as long as he was behaving appropriately for the venue. (Some shushing on the Lido deck seemed unnecessary, but we certainly tried to strive for appropriate decorum during more formal dining.

It wasn't our first choice for a vacation and it presented challenges, but on the balance - we had a good time. Have fun!


We took a Holland America Caribbean cruise in December for similar reasons (i.e., this was not our choice of a vacation). Overall, we had a good time, and our 7-year- old son had a GREAT time. They do offer a childcare program during the day as well as in the evenings, so you can take advantage of that.

We found the following site very helpful to us in planning our cruise and finding out about booking excursions outside of the ship (which can save a lot of $$):

The only other cruise I would ever consider doing is an Alaskan one, and yes, I would even look into the Holland American cruise line again. We found the staff wonderful and the ship was kept spotlessly clean, so I give them high marks in that regard. Yes, the age of the crowd was definitely older, but most of them LOVED my son and no one ever made him feel unwelcome, even when he was splashing and running around the pool. Actually, they were quite sweet with him (most of them commented that he reminded them of their own grandchildren).

Have a great time. Susan

Summer cruise to Alaska

February 2004

My husband and I and our 10-year-old son are thinking of taking a cruise to Alaska for a week this August...inside passage or otherwise. Can anyone who has done this make a recommendation or provide any tips? We hear it is easier customs-wise leaving from Seattle or San Francisco, rather than Vancouver...Looking for advice. Many thanks.

We went to Alaska on a Princess Cruise last summer with the whole family. It was the trip of a life time. We went out of Vancouver and it was not a hassle at all. We drove up and left our vehicle in a long term parking lot near the docks. The inside passage is the way to go... you will see land on both sides of the ship most of the way up... so it hardly matters which side of the ship your room is on. The cruise ships get in very close to the glaciers! Once we arrived in Seward we were bussed to Anchorage where we had reserved an RV from Cruise America. We spent another week fishing and just soaking up the beauty of the Kenai Penninsula. I highly recommend the trip. Alaska is BEAUTIFUL

Alaska Cruise for Retired parents?

July 2003

We want to buy an Alaskan cruise tour (part cruise, part train and motorcoach touring) for my retired parents for their anniversary. Does anyone have experience (pos or neg) with this type of vacation?

We took a Disney cruise (in Florida) with 3 kids a couple of years ago and it was soooooo much better than other cruise lines! Even if you're not going with kids! Lots to do, lots of shows (including adult only activities, pool, spa, etc.) At that time they said that Disney was setting up a new Alaskan Cruise route so you should look into this. The price will probably be more than other cruise lines but your cabin will be twice the size and the whole thing will be so classy! You can't beat Disney when it comes to onboard entertainment! Take care! Tiffany

Check out Alaska Photo Tours at - they offer a range of cruises to the Kenai Fjords, tours of Denali National Park, Katmai, and the like. They specialize in photo tours or tours for intensive wildlife/nature viewing, but they can also arrange custom tours anywhere in Alaska, including setting you up with a cruise, recommending cruise operators and even chartering and putting together a private cruise for you.

In-laws want to take us on cruise to Alaska

February 2000

Advice needed on cruises: My inlaws are planning to take us all on a cruise of the inland passage in Alaska. I am worried we will all be sick from the movement of the boat or plain old cabin fever. Has anyone gone on a cruise there? What cruise lines are better (i.e., larger ships, good athletic facilities, large pool, kids' activities)? Thanks!

I've been on 2 cruises when I was in my mid-20's a few years back. Each time we stayed in the cabins on the lowest level because the lower points don't have as much movement as the upper points. Carnival was more fun for us since they had a younger crowd. When we went on NCL, it was in January, and we found it catered to an older crowd. Maybe it was because January is off-season with young adults back in school after the holidays.

I know your email said Alaksa, but I'll throw this in anyways. The 7 day cruise we took in the Caribbean visited about 6 or 7 ports. That was too many. When I look back on it all, I can't remember which port was which and it gets all meshed together. Also, we flew on a red-eye flight from SF to Chicago to San Juan Puerto Rico. We arrived in Puerto Rico during the afternoon, their time. By the time we got to bed that night, I was pooped out from being up way too many hours without any sleep, plus the time difference. I was like a zomby. Even so, it was a great trip and that shouldn't stop a person from taking a cruise in the Caribbean.

After our cruises, when we got back home and on land, we had 'shore-sickness.' I think all my friends did too. Legs are a bit wobbly and sometimes you feel like things are swaying, but it doesn't stop you from going about. It goes away in a few days.

I went on a 12-day Princess Cruise which went from San Francisco to Alaska (Inland Passage) with my grandparents about 15 years ago as a freebie tagalong for their 50th wedding anniversary. I was sick as a dog on the first day/night! It was really rough and my grandparents (the 75 year old troupers!) were amoung the few at dinner that night. I survived by staying in bed. One of the stewards brought me a sandwich which really helped settle my stomach: white lightly toasted bread, tomato, swiss cheese and turkey (no mayo/mustand/onions/pickles).

Other people have told me that that first day out from SF is the roughest--I think I hit a real bad day. We were lucky to be in an (expensive) room on one of the upper decks with a window that opened, and the fresh air really helped, too. The rest of the trip I was fine, even coming back to SF. I'm sure you'll get better advice, but be prepared for seasickness!

(BTW: If your trip offers an option of flying over a glacier in a small plane--go for it! I remember it was expensive, but it's a truly awesome sight--a river of incredible aqua-colored ice and water-- and one of my best all-time visual memories.)

I haven't done a family cruise to Alaska (though I'd love to -- you're lucky to have such generous in-laws!), but I did take a two-week cruise there just with my mother a number of years ago. Unless you're going on one of the smaller adventure type cruises, you don't have to worry about cabin fever. The boats are huge, endlessly entertaining in themselves, and the scenery is spell-binding. Passengers generally spend very little time in their cabins. Most cruise lines now have lots of programs for kids, even all-day, staffed play areas and activities. The inside passage is protected from heavy seas and anyway, the boats are so big, that unless you are prone to motion sickness, I doubt that you'll notice the motion much until you get OFF the boat! (If you are prone to motion sickness, you'd better take plenty of whatever gets you through long car rides.) We went in early summer and were fascinated by the 20-hour long days. In terms of which cruise lines are better, my guess is the big ones (Princess, Holland America, Norwegian. etc.) are all pretty similar (for example, all will have large work-out facilities, running/walking tracks around the deck, multiple smallish pools) but you should be able to check their websites and brochures for more details on activities for children. Also, the Chronicle travel section does an edition on cruising once or twice a year that gives good summaries and comparisons. You should be able to get that from SFGate, the paper's website. Have fun!!