Many people love the idea of a cruise, and other people do not find them appealing. I fall into the latter category. I am not a fan of the touristy-ness of a cruise.
Even the suites are cramped, the food is just not up to par, and the ports of call are often dirty, overly crowded, and unenjoyable. But, that’s just me. I’m only going on a cruise if someone is having an event I cannot miss – big birthday, wedding, whatever – and I’m not planning one of my own accord.
However, those who love to cruise love to cruise and you cannot change their mind – and that’s great (we are all entitled to our opinions). However, cruising to Alaska is not like cruising to the Caribbean, but many people don’t realize this before booking. Alaska cruises are amazing outdoor adventures.
No, it’s not the same. Yes, it’s beautiful. The Alaskan landscape is glorious, but this is not a beach vacation. It is, however, one cruise I’d actually recommend and even go so far as to recommended taking your kids on.
It’s such a cool experience to get to see so much of such a vast – and really inconveniently located in terms of everyday travel – state. If you’re looking to expose your kids to a bit more than the Senor Frogs and the Nassau’s of the world, try an Alaskan Cruise.
It’s one they will never forget – and we have the best cruises going to and from Alaska right here. We also have everything you need to know about Alaskan cruises and travel.
Best for Overall Family Fun and Kid-Friendliness: Disney Cruise to Alaska
Disney cruises are the most family-friendly of all the cruise lines as they are Disney Cruises. If you haven’t been on a Disney Cruise, it’s important to understand that this is not just a cruise line for kids, though.
It’s a luxury cruise line that has options for everyone whether you have kids or you simply love Disney. Disney cruises to Alaska include all of the traditional Disney Cruise activities such as cool clubs for kids, restaurants, entertainment, and a variety of staterooms.
From small interior rooms with a low price tag to large family suites designed for the entire family, there’s something for everyone.
However, what you won’t find on any other Disney Cruise is the Pixar Pals Party. Only Alaska sailings offer kids the chance to party with Pixar. They’ll get to meet characters from their favorite Pixar movies such as Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. which is what makes an Alaska cruise that much more fun.
Sailings are seasonal and run anywhere from five to nine nights. Disney’s Alaskan Cruise season runs from May to September. Only one ship sails from the Disney line during the Alaskan season, and that is the Disney Wonder. All cruises depart from Vancouver.
Best for Family Fun and Upscale Atmosphere: Royal Caribbean Cruise to Alaska
Royal Caribbean allows passengers to depart from three different locations when they take off on an Alaskan Cruise. You can choose from Vancouver, Seward, or Seattle. The cruise line offers round-trips and one-way cruises, as well as seven night cruises.
There are four ships specifically designed to sail to and from Alaska in the Royal Caribbean fleet. You can choose from the Quantum, Ovation, Radiance, and Brilliance of the Seas. Each of the four ships is designed specifically for cold climates, which means guests have options. You can choose from weather appropriate indoor and outdoor activities, and everything is enjoyable.
Each of the ships offers a unique itinerary for families to enjoy, but each one also offers the same fun that all Royal Caribbean ships offer when family fun is in question.
From nightly entertainment to games, fun in the pool, kids clubs, ice skating, rock climbing, and even miniature golf to ice cream and other fun restaurants, there is something for everyone.
What’s most exciting about these ships is that each one has oversized, spacious family cabins with bunk beds and large bathrooms. Families need more space than couples or singles, and the cruise line knows this. As a result, they offer more than the traditional ships.
Finally, what sets this cruise apart from the others is that babies as young as six months can go have fun in the kids club. You can take a nap, book a spa treatment, or just enjoy your time on board without the baby for a few hours. These ships are fun for the entire family.
Best for Cruising on a Tight Budget: Carnival Cruise to Alaska
Carnival Cruise Line is the party ship of the seas. It’s inexpensive, it doesn’t offer as much luxury as other ships, and many people call them the Daytona Spring Break of cruise ships.
You’re not getting luxe accommodations or upscale offerings on a Carnival Cruise, but you’re also not paying for those things. Carnival does have a child’s program dedicated to helping everyone have a game plan for the day.
The cruise line’s children’s programs include options for kids as young as two and as old as 17. Spirit, Miracle, and Luminosa are the Carnival ships that currently take passengers to and from Alaska.
Sailings are seasonal from April until September. These ships offer water slides, swimming pools, nightly entertainment, clubs, and more.
Almost all of the ports of call that these ships cruise to are the same, too, so you’re really only choosing which ship you want to take. On a Carnival Cruise with the entire family, you will see locations such as Icy Strait Point, Victoria, Seward, Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, and Ketchikan.
Best for Casual Family Cruising: Norwegian Cruise to Alaska
Norwegian Cruise Line is all about casual cruising. You choose when you dine, and you choose where. The idea of cruising on your own schedule is what makes this ship unique, and you have options.
There are so many things to choose from that you might not know where to start, but try starting with the kids. The Norwegian Bliss is the one ship dedicated to taking cruisers to and from Alaska, and this ship is a lot of fun.
There is a go-kart track for kids to enjoy. Additionally, there is a water park with plenty of water slides, and there is the added bonus of an open-air tag course. The Jewel, Encore, Joy, Pearl, and Sun are the other four ships that take you to and from Alaska.
If you want a slightly more intimate family vacation, try booking a cruise on the Norwegian Sun. There are not quite 1,000 staterooms aboard this ship (it’s very small compared to the Bliss’s 4,000 staterooms).
Norwegian offers cruses that last five days up to 12 days, and you can also choose to board some boats in Seattle. There are plenty of family-friendly excursions, too. You can book a zip-line day of fun, whale watching tours, and deep sea fishing while you’re on a Norwegian Cruise ship. The kids will have a great time.
Best for a Memorable Family Cruise: Holland America Cruise to Alaska
What people love the most about Holland America Cruises is the staff. While the staff on every cruise line is there to make sure your stay is the best of the best, it’s the staff on Holland America that always seems to be the one that takes it just a bit further.
What makes this line unique for families heading to Alaska is that the staff on the Holland Cruise ships are all vastly knowledgeable about Alaska, and they can answer all of your children’s burning questions – and believe me when I tell you that I know a thing or two about the burning questions children have.
There are regular dining rooms, special dining rooms, restaurants, and casual dining included on these cruises. You also have kids’ clubs for kids of all ages, pools, fitness facilities, and spas. Nightly entertainment is a guarantee, and there are plenty of activities for the entire family. They also love karaoke on Holland America, and that’s a lot of fun for families.
Perhaps the best part about booking an Alaskan cruise through Holland America is that they offer six ships to and from the great state of Alaska. What does this mean?
This means you have more sailing to choose from than any other cruise line listed here. Each of the six ships cruising to Alaska offer special routes and experiences, which means no two Holland America Cruises to Alaska are the same. You and the kids could really book all six and not experience the same thing more than once. It’s a nice thing to know.
What You Need to Know About Cruising To and From Alaska
There are a few helpful tips that might make your trip to Alaska a bit more enjoyable. Most of the ships sail seasonally, and that season is typically from May to September.
You want to book early or late in the season if you want to avoid the crowds both on board and at port. Another great tip on an Alaskan cruise is to get a room with a balcony. You’ll spend a great deal of your time in awe over the landscape, and this is the kind of cruise that does not really benefit you when you choose an interior cabin.
Booking closer to September allows you to see the Northern Lights because the sky is darkening after a very bright, very light summer. Remember, Alaska sees daylight almost all day long in the summer, and it sees darkness almost all day long in the winter.
Additionally, packing is something you won’t be able to nail down perfectly, so be sure you’re packing for all kinds of weather. It might be beautiful one day and frigid the next. If you’re from the south or another warm climate, just assume you’ll be cold all the time.
Do You Need a Passport to Cruise to Alaska & Are There COVID Requirements for Alaskan Cruises?
Your cruise might require a passport for the entire family depending on where your ship embarks, debarks, and where you stop. If you stop for any reason in Canada, whether it’s to get on board the ship or get off of it or just for a few hours to tour, you will need a passport.
Otherwise, you will not. Familiarize yourself with your cruise and the requirements before you book – and be sure you apply for passports early if you don’t already have them.
Every cruise line is different, so it’s imperative that you check with your cruise line prior to booking to see which requirements they have in place. For example, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines no longer requires their guests are vaccinated against COVID-19 before booking unless they are sailing to specific places such as Australia.
However, some excursions might require a vaccination, and many cruises will require you to take a COVID-19 test within three days of boarding your ship. The
Be sure you are familiar with the rules, because even one ship’s main rules might be different in different areas. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines no longer requires guests to have a vaccination, and 5-day or shorter cruise passengers don’t need to take a COVID-19 test unless one of the ports they are traveling to requires the test.
There are so many fine lines and details, and you need to be aware of what your specific cruise requires. We cannot answer this question in its entirety for you without knowing your specific cruise destination, dates, and times.
Additional Resources for Family Fun
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- 20 Awesome Outdoor Family Activities