Taking the kids to experience all of Alaska’s stunning scenery, charming cities, thriving wildlife and special excursions is a dream trip. The mountainous coastline is meant for cruising with deep-water ports located right in the heart of its coastal villages. Walk off the ship and into town to start your day’s activity and be back in time for the afternoon nap. Check out these selections of Alaskan adventures that your kids will remember forever.
- Ziplining in the Rainforest: The Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary near Ketchikan offers a zipline adventure with a strong possibility of seeing bears and bald eagles in the forest underfoot. Nothing imparts a deep appreciation of wildlife like witnessing them in their natural habitat.
- ATV Exploration: Skagway visitors can book a thrill ride in the pristine Alaskan wilderness topped off with a great view of Davidson Glacier. This drive takes you to picture-perfect views, the ones you envision when you think: Alaska. A snowball fight atop a glacier keeps this activity kid-friendly.
- Fishing Trip with Lunch of the Day’s Catch: Bald eagles are usually perched on top of the streetlights along the boardwalk of Ketchikan as the ship docks in the early morning. The birds know that Ketchikan is the Salmon Capital of the World and often the fishermen leave behind an easy meal. After a lively morning of fishing for rockfish and king salmon, followed by a gourmet lunch on a deserted island, your guide may throw fish bones into the sea to attract majestic bald eagles to swoop in for the leftovers.
GLACIERS THREE WAYS
- Mendenhall Glacier Hike: Board a shuttle bus steps from the port in Juneau or at the top of the Mt. Roberts Tramway for an informative drive to Mendenhall Glacier. For kids with pint-sized stamina, short and easy hikes make for a successful daytrip. Hike the well-groomed trail to Nugget Falls for scenic views of both the glacier and the waterfall. Stop in at the visitor center before returning.
- Glacier Bay: If you choose one of the few cruise lines that devotes a day of the itinerary to Glacier Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you are likely to see glaciers calving from the ship’s deck. The day is packed full of opportunities to view this extraordinary spectacle, so you won’t feel rushed or miss anything if you’re momentarily distracted as so often happens when dealing with kids! While stopped in front of the various glaciers, the captain will spin the ship so that balcony cabin passengers on each side have a view from the comfort of their deck chairs.
- Helicopter & Dogsled Combo: For a real splurge, book a helicopter joyride over the Alaskan backcountry and include a whirl around a glacier on a dog sled. Many travel agents advise booking the morning trip rather than the afternoon timeslot due to fog that frequently rolls in after lunch. Those trips have a greater chance of being canceled and with only a single day in port, you’ll want to ensure the chopper expedition happens as planned.
HISTORY AND CULTURE
- Lumberjack Show: The on-stage entertainment of the lively lumberjacks is a real thrill. Skilled athletes demonstrating their role in Alaskan logging history compete in ax-throwing, tree climbing and log rolling events while audience members remain covered in heated seats. This is a good option for grandparents and grandchildren to attend together while parents and older kids do more
- State Capital of Alaska: While anchored in Juneau, walk uphill to the state capital of Alaska which is open to the public and free to visit. Take a spin through the government building to look at Alaskan history and something kids may have never seen before: a folding-door phone booth with a corded phone. Before heading back to the dock for a King Crab lunch, have a look at a two-story totem pole near the capitol grounds and the statue of William Seward who arranged for the U.S. purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7 million.
- Gold Rush History: Mix a little education into the day’s events with a visit to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitor Center, a museum gem that tells the story of prospectors who flocked to Canada and Alaska seeking their fortune. Kids can get a Junior Ranger booklet to interact with the exhibits and Park Rangers are on hand to interpret the artifacts and lead daily walking tours. Pack a copy of The Call of the Wild by Jack London for your tween or teen to read during their downtime on the ship (when cell service is unavailable!)
SQUEEZE IN 9 HOLES WHILE CRUISING
Most cruise itineraries to Bermuda give you multiple nights docked at Royal Naval Dockyard, Hamilton Harbour or St. George’s Port, which is plenty of time to explore the wonders of the island. But if you spent most of your time shopping, pinkbeach hopping or stopping at historic monuments and suddenly find yourself with just a few hours to play golf, then Ocean View Golf Course is your best bet. They offer a cruise ship special that includes 9 holes, a cart, club rentals and range balls for one acceptable price. After enjoying a proper challenge on this tricky par 70, you can then share your best shots with mates back onboard.
KID’S POINT OF VIEW
- The Ship: I liked the sports court and the pool on the top deck with two hot tubs! The best thing was the freedom to roam around.
- The Food: It was my first time having caviar and escargot, and they served the best Caesar salad ever. Free ice cream is always a plus.
- The Wildlife: We used binoculars to watch seals on a massive rock off the side of the ship and one morning, the ship stopped so that we could see bears prowling along the shore looking for crabs to eat.
- The Fishing: The boat ride out to the fishing spot was fast! And the rockfish was the biggest fish I’ve ever caught.
- The Shopping: The wildlife souvenirs were terrific. I got a walrus tusk at a gift shop in Ketchikan. Before that trip, I thought walruses only lived in Antarctica.
- The Highlight: The dog sledding day! It was my first helicopter ride: everything flies past so quickly and then suddenly you’re on this giant glacier. Those dogs move very fast, and it’s cool when they stop
and you can pet the dogs. Drinking water from a glacier is something you don’t do every day. The water is so clear & perfect. I’ll never forget it.