alaska cruise advice?


(Yes, I'm still here, still healthy, but still buried under both snow and work. Thus the sporadic blogging.)

This summer I'll be headed back to Seattle for ten weeks, working with Lili Cheng's group at Microsoft Research (assuming she doesn't leave MSR again right before I arrive!). That means I won't get much of a vacation, so we wanted to make the most of the time we will have.

What we're hoping to do is take a cruise from Seattle up to Alaska, right after I finish up at MSR (my last day is 8/17). I'm guessing this is probably the time to start planning for it, so I thought I'd ask my readers whether anyone has had particularly positive or negative cruise line experiences, with an emphasis on the Alaska route. Keep in mind that the kids (Alex, age 10, and Lane, age 13) will be with us.


Best *resource* for any Alaska trip: Alaska For Dummies, by Charles P. Wohlforth. I think a new edition is coming out in March.
For cruise considerations, look at I'd say go for one of the smaller ships, and try to include a train ride, too!

Back when I was teaching for Geek Cruises, Tom and I did three one week Alaska cruises (Glacier Bay Inside Passage, round-trip from Vancouver), all of which were on Holland America (HAL). One of those times we brought Sean (then age 13) along.

Different cruise lines appeal to different groups -- some are more family friendly, some are more geared towards seniors, some are more upscale, etc. Which to recommend all depends on what type of trip your family wants. I'm a big HAL fan after six trips with them, but they do tend to skew older and less family-oriented.

Something you might look into is themed cruises, done either by the cruise line or run by an outside operator. I know that Sean was very annoyed when one of the cruises Tom and I did overlapped with a CruiseTrek trip (Star Trek fans) and he didn't get to go along.

There are a lot of great shore excursion possibilities depending on what ports you visit. Definitely do a train ride, and if possible, a helicopter trip up to a glacier is an amazing experience (although pricey).

That sounds like a great idea! I know Holland America is wonderful but they do not cater to children the way some of the other lines do. I would make sure that food is always available somewhere besides ordering in your room - some of the ships that don't cater to kids don't have that option and you'd be surprised how important that can become if someone is hungry and the buffet isn't open. You also might want to investigate their kids' activities to see that there are things like rock-climbing walls and other pretty active activity opportunities so that the boys don't feel like they are trapped on the ship.

The good news is that more and more ships are family-friendly. You've probably already looked at websites like that rate cruises that are best for children coming along. I've also found quite reliable - you can even participate in one of their forums and probably get an almost instant answer from someone who's already done what you are planning.

Have fun! And it's great to hear you are going back to Microsoft for awhile.

I am thinking about planning a cruise to Alaska with the family (my wife and her parents). Do you have any advice on which month is best? Not too cold :o). We would defiantly like to try and do some fishing. Is there a better time of the year for halibut fishing?

Also we would like to do the "cruise tour" thing (i.e. train). Do you recommend taking the train before or after the cruise? Any advice would help. Thanx in advance.

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