Alaska Vacation for Kids
Tips for keeping kids happy on a cruise
An Alaskan cruise vacation can be an amazing experience for your whole family. Alaska is a great destination for both kids and adults. From a child's point of view, being on a ship is cooler than you might imagine. To keep it fun, use these tips when planning your family cruise.
Meals – The formal dining room is fun, but not every night. Mix it up a bit. Plan on eating at the buffet only a few times or try ordering room service. We ate in the room and then ordered wine and a cheese tray for a romantic picnic on the veranda after the kids went to bed.
Shows – Both of my children (ages three and five) were enthralled by the nightly extravaganzas. The younger one faded out early, so we took turns on who got to stay at the show and who went back to the room. Check the daily schedule before attending a show to make sure it is age-appropriate.
Kid Clubs – Most of the cruise lines have kids clubs for children three and over, though ages vary. Some lines, such as Crystal Cruise Lines, only offer their youth programs when there are enough children booked on that particular cruise. Royal Caribbean has a fantastic youth program for kids of all ages. Babysitters are often available on board for a fee so that you can enjoy an evening at the "grown-up table."
The best thing about this cruise is that you get to see the beauty of the landscape that is Alaska. You can go whale watching while strolling on the deck. Look for seals on the glaciers. From the ship, bald eagles will look like golf balls in the trees. Count them and keep a running tally – make a game out of it.
Alaska offers great kid-friendly shore excursions. My favorites include:
- Vancouver, British Columbia – Be sure to visit Stanley Park and the super aquarium there.
- Ketchikan – Totem Bite Park is filled with incredible totem poles. Saxman Village is great for school-aged children who will appreciate Native culture.
- Juneau – Ride the Mount Roberts Tramway, eat at the salmon bake or take a float trip on the Mendenhall River.
- Skagway – Ride the White Pass and Yukon Railroad in Pullman cars, a rare narrow gauge railway following the gold rush trail. Skagway is a quaint town with false-fronted buildings and accessible hiking trails.
- Sitka – See the New Archangel Dancers, an all-female troupe performing traditional Russian folk dances (though the show might be too long for little ones). Also visit the Raptor Center, a rehabilitation center for injured raptors including owls, eagles and hawks.
There is so much to do that it's easy to forget to plan some downtime in the room for the children. Allow them to pack some toys and arts activities. I even squished in Candyland into my bag. A little taste of home can make the strangeness of a new place seem more comfortable. Then pack your favorite walking shoes and come join us in Alaska, "The Great Land."
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