Put An Alaska Cruise Back On The Bucket List - My Family Travels

Welcome aboard your bucket list Alaska cruise, where calving glaciers, bears and just-caught salmon await.

Calving glacier in Alaska tumbles into the bay below.
Watching a calving glacier tumble into Glacier Bay is one of the most awe-inspring of Alaskan experiences. Photo by Schmid Reportagen for pixabay

Yes, Alaska cruising is back — big time. On May 3, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) modified their travel guidance. According to the CDC’s COVID-19 Program for Cruise Ships, 90% of passengers aged 5 and older and 95% of crew must be vaccinated.

The cruise industry used the pandemic pause to upgrade its fleets. This year, there is a cruise for every style traveler and within every budget. Choose among small ships and yachts that focus on outdoor adventures or those sailing with every luxury. Some Princess Cruises’ suites have bathtubs for those traveling with young children; other ships have dedicated family staterooms sleeping up to five guests.

The New Alaska Cruise Experience

Passengers aboard a Princess cruise ship in Alaska enjoy star gazing.
Passengers aboard a Princess cruise ship in Alaska enjoy star gazing as part of the Discovery at Sea program. Photo c. Princess Cruises

Considering the booking surge last month, there is a lot of pent-up demand for Alaska cruises. Many families believe that with so many on board vaccinated and tested, there is no safer vacation option.

Look for cruises that offer more immersive activities than ever, for kids and adults alike. Princess Cruises, for example, touts “Wild for Alaska Seafood,” perfect if your family loves fish. The sustainable seafood initiative features an extensive menu rotation of Alaska seafood dishes, along with destination-inspired cocktail experiences, perfect if your adult kids love sampling spirits sourced from local distilleries.

Check out their special “Discovery at Sea” activities inspired by Animal Planet. Encourage young cruisers to become Junior Rangers through a partnership with Glacier Bay National Park and its staff. Book early for the sure-to-sell-out Discovery and Animal Planet shore excursions for families.

Meet sled dog puppies or interact with raptors from the Alaska Raptor Center who come onboard. Just one caveat: organized programming is always subject to change. On your cruise, certain activities may not be available for children too young to be vaccinated. Alternatively, those not vaccinated may be required to wear masks to attend certain events.

Cruise Safety Protocols Exceed Those at Home

The CDC’s current public health guidelines acknowledge the cruise industry’s multi-layered approach to health and safety, spanning the entirety of the cruise experience. This includes:

  • Proof of a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding
  • Regular testing of crew
  • An environment where almost every eligible person is vaccinated
  • Ongoing sanitation of all public spaces and guest/crew rooms
  • Enhanced air ventilation and other measures that public health experts around the world have endorsed.

That doesn’t mean ships won’t be full. Experts are forecasting 1.5 million people to cruise before the Alaska cruise season ends in September. Fortunately, to meet demand, you have a choice of 41 cruise ships.

Why An Alaska Cruise Should Be on Your Bucket List

Happy couple holds up a huge pink salmon they caught in Alaska.
Get lucky and you might catching a big rockfish on Carnival’s Alaska Fishing Wilderness shore excursion. Photo c. Carnival Cruise Lines.

Does an Alaska cruise top your bucket list? It should, especially for multi-generational families. Grandparents appreciate the ease of unpacking once, parents love the different adventures ashore, and kids like supervised activities for all ages. Enroll them in the organized kids’ and teens’ programs then enjoy some guilt-free time together with siblings and elders.

Of course, these large ships have many mealtime options, likely when you’ll reunite each day. Holland America, for example, offers exclusive FOOD & WINE shore excursions during which guests can chow down at a crab feast or sample Anchorage’s craft beer.

And, even if you’ve been saving up for this bucket list experience, you will find plenty of deals this season. Shop carefully among perks such as stateroom upgrades, on-board credits, free Wi-Fi, specialty dining and drink packages.

Which Cruise Ships Call Alaska Their Playground

Carnival Cruise Line, which carries more children than any other, will have three ships in Alaska.

There are no bigger players in Alaska than Holland America, celebrating its 75th season and Princess, with more than 50 years sailing Alaskan waters. Each will have six ships in Alaska this summer, including Princess’ newest Medallion Class Ship, the 3,660-guest Discovery Princess sailing from Seattle.

Both Princess and Holland America are known not only for their cruises but for their cruisetours by land to Denali National Park afterward. Ready to meet two and four-legged Iditarod winners? The new Princess “North to Alaska” programming connects passengers with local heroes, sports figures and other Alaskans to learn about cuisine and culture.

Combine ultra-luxury with the thrill of exploration aboard Seabourn’s all-inclusive small ships. An onboard expedition team includes a marine biologist, ornithologist, geologist, historian, photographer, and wildlife experts.

Canada Opens Its Ports to Alaska Cruises

Steller sealions gather on the Alaska shoreline to watch cruise ships pass by.
On an Alaska cruise, watch Steller sealions gather on the shoreline as they watch you sail by. Photo via pixabay

Opt for a luxury experience aboard Cunard’s MS Queen Elizabeth from Vancouver. Or, extend your vacation in Canada. The Canadian government reopened its borders to welcome international ships to British Columbia, where many Alaska cruises start or end.

If you’re bound for that bucket list Alaska adventure, add vacation days in Vancouver, BC or the homeports of Seattle, Anchorage (Whittier) or San Francisco.

MS Koningsdam, the latest ship in Holland America’s contemporary Pinnacle Class, will be sailing from Vancouver for the first time.

Why Are You Waiting to Book an Alaska Cruise?

Consider what your family needs and wants most aboard. With adult kids, perhaps it’s having a drinks and Wi-Fi package. With grade schoolers and teens, organized youth activities can be important, especially for the days at sea.

A travel advisor who is a cruise expert can help you sort out the options and find the best one for you.

Bon Voyage!

Author Eileen Ogintz is an avid cruiser who has sailed Alaska many times, on all sorts of ships and in all sorts of styles. She contributed this post on behalf of sponsor, Carnival Cruise LLC.

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