How to Visit Alaska


Mike and I just returned from a small boat cruise for 65 people through the inner passage in Alaska. We have also been on a 3000 passenger ship through Alaska. I actually loved both, but they are very different experiences. Alaska is beautiful and a wonderful destination for a family trip with kids of all ages and you should add it to your list of places to visit. So what is best for you family?


Small Boats

Small boats range in size from 25 to 100 passenger vessels. They can vary from quite rustic to luxurious. We were on an Un-Cruise luxury boat with 65 passengers. They specialize in adventure trips and offered kayaking, hiking through rainforests and zodiac type boat tours. All had energetic young guides leading the tours and explaining all about rock formations, Alaskan culture, and wildlife.


We had no Wifi or cell service, so I felt like I was at camp. The meals were gourmet and the rooms were small, but nicely appointed. There are several companies who offer small boat tours and each has a slightly different focus, but the experience on each will be similar.

Who this is best for:

  • kayaksAnyone wanting a unique Alaskan experience without crowds

  • Kids 12 and up who can do hiking, kayaking, and enjoy learning about Alaska

  • alaskan-king-crabGrandparents who are fairly physically fit to enjoy the walks, hikes or zodiac tours

  • People who are social and enjoy meeting the other people because you have 3 meals together every day

  • Anyone wanting gourmet meals

Who this is not for:

  • Anyone wanting a large variety of activities

  • Anyone wanting to see all the highlights of Alaska

  • Anyone who wants lots of onboard entertainment


Large Ships

The large ships are generally several thousand passengers. They also range from basic to very fancy. We went on Royal Caribbean when our children were 5, 8 and 10 years old. Royal Caribbean specializes in families. They have water slides, miniature golf, shows, pools and so forth on their boats to keep families entertained all day and night. They offer excursions like dog sledding, crab fishing, white water rafting, train rides and whale watching.whale-sighting There were no nature guides, but we did see more wildlife on this trip than on the small boat trip. The meals consisted of buffet-style mediocre food unless you went to the specialty restaurants. Many cruise lines visit this popular destination and they are all slightly different, but some are fancier than others.


sewardWho this is best for:

  • Families who want a large variety of activities both onboard and onshore

  • Anyone who wants to see the major towns of Alaska rather than the remote areas

  • Young kids who can use kid’s clubs, like to be busy all day and tend to be noisy

  • Older grandparents who don’t want to climb in and out of boats, hike or have any mobility constraints

Who this is not for:

  • Anyone who hates crowds

  • Anyone looking for a very personalized experience

  • Anyone looking for gourmet food

  • Anyone trying to get away from it all and get into nature

I highly recommend seeing Alaska.  It is our largest state and it is truly beautiful no matter how you see it.


 It offers:

  • Glaciers

  • Brown and black bears, bald eagles

  • Whales, sea lions, seal, and otters

  • Beautiful scenery

  • Alaskan culture

alaska-mountainAs an add-on to the cruise, I would recommend visiting Denali National Park, visiting Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley), going to a lodge to see the best bear viewing, fishing, and maybe even flying up to see the polar bears.

The Alaskan trips book up over a year in advance so start planning now!

Bon Voyage!

Liz and Mike Kohler
Co-Owners & Family Travel Specialists

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