Almost 20 years ago I boarded an Alaskan Cruise ship with my grandmother and a few other family members. I remember sitting at dinner our first night and watching animals breach from the stern of the ship while enjoying an amazing dinner. Fast forward 21 years and I have 3 kids under 13, and my husband and I are contemplating what vacation we should take with our kids. I was a little hesitant to suggest an Alaskan cruise with kids as I recall most of the guests were over 40, but I also thought that the glaciers may not be around when my kids are adults.
We have only cruised one cruise line with the kids and ruled that out immediately after pricing our trip. We consulted our travel agent , Katherine Gould, and it was suggested we hop on a 7 Day Round Trip Inner Passage cruise that started from Vancouver. The Noordam, was built in 2006, and was smaller than a lot of the other cruise ships that took this route.
With the Explore4 promotion expiring in a couple days, we told our travel agent to book the trip. We agreed that having a verandah on a scenic cruise like Alaska was something we would splurge on as well as rooms that connected. This was the first time we decided to allow the kids to have their own room.
If you can take advantage of the Explore4 package I would highly recommend it. The first 2 people in the cabin get the beverage package, 15 drinks a day under $8. That is all to of choices. Unlike our other cruise, we did not have to check a case of water as we used a lot of our allowance on that.
You also get to experiences the Pinnacle Restaurant, normally a $29 per person charge. A speciality restaurant on board that serves up great surf and turf entrees that were spectacular. The service is divine as well. My kids were the only ones in there that evening and I would not have paid to have them join us, but since it was part of the package they were able to enjoy it as well.
We spent a night in Vancouver and explored the area briefly after a long day of travel. Embarkation onto the cruise was a breeze. We went to Canada Place around 11 am and were easily in our room by 12:15. Unlike other cruise ships I have been on, the rooms were available for us. (Luggage came after so be sure and have any items you might want like bathing suits/cameras etc in your carry on bag).
After briefly checking our spacious rooms, we went and grabbed some lunch on the Lido Deck and sat outside for some last glances at Vancouver.
The first night service was slow in our rooms and too fast in the dining room. I was a little nervous about our choice but this all changed after the first night.
We enjoyed on dinner in the Canaletto restaruant, a $10 per person charge, and it was well worth it. We watch whales through the windows as we ate a family style Italian meal.
In Junea we took the Whales & Mendenhall Glacier Photo Safari
The guide was amazing as he adjusted everyones camera to get the best shots and even supplied my younger boys with disposable cameras. He was great with kids and I captured this money shot.
In Skagway, the winds were high and we were the only cruise ship out of 4 that was able to dock there that day. So despite the cancellation of our 2 excursions due to high wind, the Grizzly Falls Zip line and the Hike and Float trip, we took our own trail hike. (The excursion office was totally apologetic and tried to accommodate us with the changes but this was out of their control).
Glacier Bay was absolutely amazing. I recommend hitting the Bow of the ship before you reach the glaciers to get a few pictures of the scenic landscape and then head to level 10 and grab some space not the rail to take photos and experience the glaciers.
In Ketichan we did the Ketichan Fishing for Salmon Excursion. Since we were a party of 5 we were given our own boat. We lucked out having a boat captain, Kit, that grew up on these waters and knew them very well. The boys and even the girls had an amazing time catching 50 lbs of Coho Salmon in the 2 1/2 hour fishing adventure. You can catch and release or send your bounty back home. (we will be enjoying tastes of Alaska for months to come!)
The last sea day we were blessed with amazing weather could enjoy the last hours of the amazing scenery of the inner passage. This is a trip of a lifetime, I was fortunate to enjoy it twice and it just makes you realize there is so much more to explore in Alaska.
As far as the children’s programs on Holland America Cruises, my teen was never seen when we had sea days. She found a group of international teens that she hung out with. We don’t see her at home, but at least she was not in her room on her phone. Wifi is expensive and you only get Verizon when at port. My boys did not go to Club Hal, they preferred hanging out with kids in the pool area, playing hours of ping pong.
*I was provided a promotional credit from Holland America Line Cruises (HAL) but it was after we booked the vacation and all the excursions. All opinions are 100% my own.