Destination: Alaskan Cruise
Date: August 2010
Trent is always coming up with great ideas. At the time of this adventure he had decided he wanted to take our oldest, Colton, fishing up in Alaska. Since the best time to visit Alaska is the summer, the rest of us weren’t willing to sit at home during their adventure so we booked a cruise on Holland America and joined them for the first seven days. After the cruise we parted ways and Trent and Colton stayed for another seven days. They enjoyed the fantastic fishing in the lakes and coastline of Alaska while the kids and I flew home. Alaska is definitely still a very wild frontier and we had a blast doing a little discovery of this beautiful state!
We started our planning by booking a cruise through Holland America. Probably not the best idea for a family of eight. At the time I had heard that the food on this cruise line was better quality so we thought we’d give it a try. Plus we had a friend that works closely with the cruise line so he was able to find us a discount that saved us a lot of money when booking for ten. We not only took our family, but my mother, and our long time baby siitter “B” along for the ride.
In the end I don’t think I can confirm that the food is any better on a Holland American cruise ship but I can confirm that it isn’t the best cruise line for kids. It had nothing to do with the cruise employees but everything to do with the other cruisers. I don’t think they are used to a big population of kids on the boats and so every noise our kids made seemed to echo through the entire ship. It felt a lot like a crying baby in church.
However, on the flip side my kids loved the extra attention they received from the cruise employees. They also made much better friendships with the other kids on the boat since there were so few of them. So in the end it was a great cruising experience. We had five ports of call on our seven day cruise. We started our adventure in the beautiful city of Vancouver Canada, where we boarded the ship and then stopped in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and ended in Seward. At the time of our cruise no ships ended in Anchorage because the port was too shallow for the big ships. However, at the time Disney was doing a lot of dredging and I’ve heard was opening up the port of Anchorage for the ships to end. Of course this would be great because the airport to fly home is in Anchorage, so it would be much more convenient to end the cruise there. Since we ended in Seward we had to hire a car to fetch us and take us over to Anchorage for our flight. Its about a 127 mile drive and takes about two and a-half hours. The drive isn’t so bad since the drive is so beautiful!
The best part of Alaska was the lack of planning we did on this trip. It was so easy to make an excursion plan once we got off of the ship in every port. In the port of Ketchikan we went to Great American Lumberjack Show and watched different logging races from climbing, and chopping, to throwing the ax and walking on logs in the water. It was entertaining for the whole family and the kids loved every minute of the show. According to their website, “Ketchikan is a city in Ketchikan Gateway Borough, the southeasternmost city in Alaska, with a population of 8,050 within the city limits and it is the fifth-most populous city in the state.” Just the place to go for that small town feel!
In another port we went to a gold mining cave and walked deep into the mountain side to see how mining was done in the area. We went on horse drawn carriage rides, and saw lots of old time brothels and bars. In the Juneau port, l just loved walking the streets and doing some shopping in the local shops. It was a fun thing for us all to do.
Our favorite excursion by far was when we took a boat ride deep into the Alaskan forest from the port of Skagway. Our guide was a cute girl that was a native of Alaska and even caught all her own salmon every year to survive the long cold winters. She was much more rugged than I could ever dream. This trip was where we had the chance to see the beautiful bald eagles, moose, and mountain goats. It was some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen in my life. I could definitely understand why people would live up in this paradise, but then again I’ve never experienced a winter up there, which I’ve heard can be not only brutal… but deadly.
The online description of this excursion reads, “Enjoy a spectacular fjord cruise to Haines. Upon arrival, you’ll travel to the world famous Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, which boasts the largest gathering of bald eagles anywhere. It is also home to moose, bears, wolves, and a host of other animals. Your land-side adventure begins with a spectacular drive up a National Scenic Byway, through the awe-inspiring Chilkat Valley to the heart of the preserve. After a riverside picnic, you will board an 18-foot inflatable raft and enjoy a peaceful float (no white water) down this ever-changing river. 7,000-foot peaks tower above you as you float past the ancient Native village of Klukwan. This is an unforgettable adventure into the grandeur of Alaska.” The ship excursion reads that it is for ages 7 and up but we were able to bring our younger kids too!
When we disembarked the boat in Seward we had a great guide from an all girls tour guide group (which of course I can’t remember their name), pick us up to take us to a real glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. We walked a small section of the park and learned a lot about global warming, the affects it had on glaciers, and what we can do to prevent it. The glacier is so white that it is blue. The walk was easy enough to do with our three-year-old Bella, all the way to my sixty-five-year old mother. The sheer majesty of Alaska is how I think the continental US must have looked to the original explorers. It really is a place worth discovering on your own! I will always be a fair weather lover of Alaska!
On the Kenai website it describes the park as “At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords’ crowning feature. Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. Native Alutiiq relied on these resources to nurture a life entwined with the sea. Today, shrinking glaciers bear witness to the effects of our changing climate.” What an education our kids were able to glean from the park rangers on how our actions have an affect on our environment.
Glacier Bay is one of the coolest things to see while cruising Alaska. “Covering 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines, and deep sheltered fjords, Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of Alaska’s Inside Passage”. I think all Alaskan Cruises go through this beautiful landscape and give all passengers on board a beautiful view of this amazing site.
One last fun thing we did on this cruise was take some family photos. Since we were dressing up for dinner anyway we stopped by the photographer studio first and had the following photos taken. It was easy and fun but since I hadn’t really packed clothing for family pictures we had the photographer do them all in black and white. That way no once can tell that our clothes really kind of clashed. 😉
I recommend to buy some sort of picture package while on board. Each boat has different pricing but it is a great way to capture the moment. We loved visiting Alaska via a cruise ship. I think it is definitely the best way to see as much as possible without trying to transport luggage and kids through this wild frontier.
Safe and Happy Travels!!!