10 Reasons an Alaskan Cruise Should Be Your Next Family Vacation

When looking for great family vacation ideas, it is not always easy to come up with something that will make everyone happy.  Some of the things your family members like might be: action/adventure, hiking  and viewing nature,  cultural experiences, close encounters with wildlife, gourmet dining, a little time at a casino, shows and entertainment at night,visits to a relaxing spa, or lectures on the environment and history of the area.  A cruise to Alaska will check all of those boxes and more!  Plus it is spectacularly beautiful!  This is an incredibly popular destination, and with good reason.

Glacier photo from Traci Parker


The season runs from May through September. You can expect cool to very warm temps, so pack lots of layers. There are a LOT of cruise lines which operate in Alaska.  They range from smaller, very elegant ships, to Mid-sized ships, to sailing vessels, to Large mass-market ships of various levels of elegance.  You can cruise round-trip out of cities such as Seattle and Vancouver, or you can take a one- way voyage north or south bound and add on land excursions in Canada, the Pacific Northwest, or Alaska.  There are a TON of options, each one more amazing than the last!  Because the options are so many, a travel consultant can be very helpful in sorting through all the available information.

Photo with permission of Carol Coons Naquin

Alaska is not known for its wonderful road system, and there are some vast distances to be crossed to visit the biggest attractions.  For that reason, a cruise is the most popular means of transportation, often with a “land tour” added on at the beginning and/or the end to see some things not easily accessed from shore.  Because almost all cruises take the “inside passage” along the coast, the waters are very calm, and seasickness is not an issue for most people.

Another thing to be aware of is that summer days are very long this far north, particularly on or near the summer solstice .  Because of this, some people prefer interior cabins so that they can have total darkness at night.

Icy Straight at 2am – photo from Marie Rielly

Here are some of the most popular things to see and do in Alaska  (in no particular order):

  1. Helicopter Tours over the glaciers.  These are HUGELY popular and can be booked through the cruise lines, or through a private Tour company.  This is a FANTASTIC way to view the area!
    Helicopter photo from Carol Coons Naquin

    Some will let you walk around on the glacier, and drink some glacial water.

    photo from Carol Coons Naquin
  2. Whale watching expeditions by boat are also very, very popular.  I can see why!   Even though you have been on a ship, this will get you much closer to the whales, and will also give you a chance to see much more wild life.
    Whale tail photo from Marie Rielly

    Photo courtesy of Joanne Dowd
Seals on a buoy observed on whale watching trip – photo from Joanne Dowd


3. Cruising through Glacier National Park is a beautiful part of most Alaska cruises.  Most cruises will have a park ranger on board giving great narratives while you travel through, so that you don’t miss a thing!   Most folks suggest that you get at least one balcony for your group so that you can relax and enjoy the sights from there as well as from the common areas.

Reid Glacier in Glacier Bay Photo from Marie Rielly
Photo from Carol Coons Naquin


Glacier National Park Photo from Carol Coons Naquin

4 .Hiking Juneau trails.  You can go as far or as short of a hike as you like, and the trails are beautiful and interesting.

View of Holland America Cruise ship from the Juneau tram ride
The view from the top of the tram ride up Mt. Roberts in Juneau – photo from Marie Rielly

5. Many cruises will  give you a view of the Tracy Arm Fjord.  It looks spectacular!

photo courtesy of Joanne Dowd

6. Ketchikan is a very popular port of call.  Excursion opportunities  here are many and varied. Some of the more popular include sky plane tours, kayaking, zip-lining, hiking, boat tours, and cultural exhibitions.

Ketchikan photo courtesy of Joanne Dowd

7. Sit on your balcony or near any window or on deck of your ship and enjoy this fabulous scenery!

Waterfall photo courtesy of Joanne Dowd
Photo courtesy of Joanne Dowd
Breakfast with a view!  photo from Traci Parker
Sunset view from balcony cabin – photo from Carol Coons Naquin

8. Wildlife is everywhere, and beautiful!

Moose courtesy of Traci Parker


Bear photo from Traci Parker
Puffins in Glacier Bay – photo from Marie Rielly
Mountain goats in Gloomy Knob – photo from Marie Rielly

9. Kayaking is an incredibly popular excursion on these cruises as well.

Photo courtesy of Traci Parker
View from a kayak in Glacier Bay  – photo from Marie Rielly

10.  Enjoy fun times and great food on board your cruise ship!  Depending upon your cruise line and your itinerary, you can visit the casino, see Broadway caliber shows, Climb a rock climbing wall, play miniature golf, visit the spa, and so much more!  You also will be sure to have a wide variety of delicious dining options.

That is my family.  My first time playing Roulette

And the fun can continue once you get off the ship!  A Land tour add on from Anchorage up to Denali is extremely popular.  Most itineraries will have you take a train or bus from the port up to Anchorage, spend a night there, then head up to Denali on a glass domed train. The mountain itself is magnificent, and it is very likely you will see some interesting wild life!

photo from Carol Coons Naquin


Holland America Dining Car Photo from Carol Coons Naquin

A fun tip if you decide to take this amazing voyage:  Bring Binoculars!  You won’t want to miss a thing!!

photo from Carol Coons Naquin


I can see how this destination is on almost everyone’s bucket list!

Special thanks to my contributing photographer friends.  These photos are amazing, and make me so eager to get up to Alaska!!!  Thanks, Marie Rielly, Joanne Dowd, Carol Coons Naquin, and Traci Parker.  You take beautiful photos!



17 thoughts on “10 Reasons an Alaskan Cruise Should Be Your Next Family Vacation

  1. Looks like you had a great time. We went on an Alaska cruise as well (wrote about it too) for a family reunion. It was interesting to see how you experienced the same destination. We saw a ton of whales, no bears though.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Dianne, looks amazing. My husband and I have Alaska on our list for next year. We aren’t sure if we wanted to do a cruise or do organized dog sledding tour. Hubby is into the dog sledding more than I am. I’d be okay to do it for a day but anything more than would be too much cold for one trip LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We are going this summer! I actually used the casino photo of me with my kids from another cruise (cheated a little bit , there) . All the other photos are from my friends’ Alaska cruises 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


  3. I love your post, and I agree that Alaska’s a great place for anyone who loves nature and adventure. Cruising’s perfect because you can spend so much time watching for beautiful sea creatures. My favorites are the otters. And the whales. And the dolphins. And the orcas. And the seals. I think I’d better re-evaluate what “favorite” means. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Melinda! We can’t wait to experience this in person! I can’t imagine a more ideal location to visit via cruise ship. I had not considered otters! I will be sure to look for them 🙂


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