Originally Posted by You
I'm trying to decide which line to take to Alaska. Traveling with 4 kids
(ages 3, 10, 12,14) Any suggestions?
All of the major cruise lines offer substantially similar itineraries, and all of the major cruise lines have great programs for children ages 3-17 (broken down by age groups, of course). Thus, the major differentiator is the personality and style of each cruise line. I seriously recommend going to a local bookstore, buying a travel guide to cruise lines and cruise ships, and reading the descriptions of the various lines to get an idea which line would be the best match for your family's
personality and style, as that's the line on which your family
will have the best time.
As to itinerary, there are three basic itineraries.
>> The "Inside Passage" itinerary operates round trip from either Seattle or Vancouver. This itinerary does NOT afford a chance to visit the "interior" region of Alaska, which includes Anchorate, Mount McKinley, Denali National Park, and Fairbanks -- all of which are worthwhile attractions.
>> The Northbound "Gulf of Alaska" itinerary operates from Vancouver to either Seward or Whittier, which are major ports to the south of Anchorage. On this itinerary, you can visit the interior after
>> The Southbound "Gulf or Alaska" itinerary operates from either Seward or Whittier to Vancouver. On this itinerary, you can visit the interior before
All three of these itineraries typically include call at three of the four major ports along Alaska's "Inside Passage" (Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, and Skagway) and visit at least one of the three major glacier areas (Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, and College Fjord). Some include a second glacier area while others include a minor port of call such as Hoonah. The "Inside Passage" cruises that operate from Seattle will stop at a Canadian port (usually either Prince Rupert or Victoria) instead. All of these ports of call offer a diverse spectrum of attractions, with little duplication, for people of all ages, so your family will have no problem finding worthwhile things to do.
I strongly recommend planning some time in Alaska's interior in addition to your cruise, as there's much to see and to do there. At a minimum, plan to spend a few days in Anchorage -- a city of great restaurants, many points of interest, a downtown open air market (at Third Street and D Street or thereabouts), and weekend street festivals throughout the summer. If you rent a vehicle, several attractions are easy day trips including the Mount Alyeska Resort, a day cruise to College Fjord out of Whittier, and a drive up to Talkeetna where a scenic overlook offers splendid views of the world's tallest mountain, Mount McKinley (but be sure you get a clear day for this one!) and the Latitude 62 Inn, located just beyond the overlook, is a great place to stop for lunch. If you have more time, you can drive up to Denali National Park and Fairbanks -- but be sure to reserve rooms in advance, as it's peak tourist season and it can be a long way to the nearest available lodging if you encounter "No Vacancy" signs.
BTW, you can purchase transfers between Anchorage and your port of embarkation or disembarkation through your cruise line even if you make independent arrangements in Anchorage before or after your cruise.