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Old 05-16-2009, 10:46 AM
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We are thinking about taking a cruise in early July with our 7 year old twin girls. We initially thought about the Carribean, but I have always been dying to do an Alaskan cruise. Here are some of my questions-

1. What cruise lines work best for 7 year olds (for either destination)?
2. Will they be bored at the ports in Alaska?
3. We would like to do a cruise that starts and ends in the same place. Since the ship wouldn't go as far north, would that limit our chances of seeing whales, eagles, bears, etc?
4. Can you see wildlife from the ship or only on land tours (except for the whales of course!)
5. If we head to the Carribean, any suggestions on what ports would be best for kids? Any to avoid?

Any other comments or suggestions would be welcome. My husband and I took one cruise 10 years ago, and he wasn't thrilled (it was a CCL from NY to Canada- bad weather, very boring!), so I feel like this is my last chance to sell him on the cruise concept! As much as I love Disney, I'm ready for something else!

Thanks again!
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:52 AM
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One more question... what type of weather should we expect in Alaska? We are looking to depart either July 3rd or 4th.
Thanks!
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Old 05-16-2009, 12:48 PM
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what type of weather should we expect in Alaska?
Warm, cool, sun, rain, foggy, cloudy, clear...often all in the same day. I'm not exaggerating. No matter when you go on an Alaskan cruise you need to be ready for everything. Last summer we went in late June. Had cool temps and off-and-on rain all week. The cruise prior to ours had sun and temps in the 70's all week.

A reason for the above is surprising to most...the southeast part of Alaska contains rainforest.
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Old 05-16-2009, 12:52 PM
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Hi Maureen and welcome to Cruise Chat!

For both destinations, I'd look at Royal Caribbean or Princess. Both do a good job for both adults and children, with great children's activities when you're aboard the ship, kid friendly menus, etc. You could tell the girls they'll be princesses on Princess!

As for whether they'll be bored in Alaska, you may want to go to those cruise lines' web sites and download a brochure of shore excursions offered in Alaska. You can judge by the activities whether the kids will enjoy it. I don't know your kids, but I think there are lots of unique and interesting activities awaiting the kids in Alaska, from panning for gold to dogsledding to a helicopter ride that lands on a glacier, to taking a train up a mountain, etc etc.

I would look at the Caribbean shore excursions, too. If you and the kids like water activities, nice beaches, and the like, there are tons of things to do in each of the islands you'll visit.

For Alaska, I prefer itineraries that are round trip from Vancouver, but look at the Seattle round trip itineraries, too. If getting to Seattle is significantly easier or cheaper, it certainly changes the preference.

You'll see whales and bald eagles from the ship, but the big ships don't get close enough to land to see much more than that. You will, however, probably spend the better part of a day floating near a major glacier, which is always a lot of fun. With a little preparation so you can explain glaciers to the girls, they'll get a lot out of that day.

Weather in Alaska is variable. In July, you will probably have a cold wind outdoors when the ship is sailing once you get to Alaska. Temperatures in the ports could well be in the 70s or even 80. It almost always rains at least part of the day in Juneau, and rain could also happen in Skagway and/or Ketchikan. They call it "liquid gold" up there. When you spend the day near the glacier, you'll want to spend time outdoors, with binoculars, and for that you'll need winter attire! Warm coats, hats, gloves. The most important thing about clothing in Alaska is to bring things you can layer, as it may start out cool in the morning but warm up quickly. You can always spend time in one of the observation lounges to watch the glacier (and the world!) go by. There will be a naturalist onboard, who will be broadcasting over the P.A. system during the glacier day, giving you all the history and geology of Alaska, glaciers, etc. It's fascinating!

Sandy
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Old 05-16-2009, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
1. What cruise lines work best for 7 year olds (for either destination)?
2. Will they be bored at the ports in Alaska?
3. We would like to do a cruise that starts and ends in the same place. Since the ship wouldn't go as far north, would that limit our chances of seeing whales, eagles, bears, etc?
4. Can you see wildlife from the ship or only on land tours (except for the whales of course!)
5. If we head to the Carribean, any suggestions on what ports would be best for kids? Any to avoid?
Since cruises to Alaska are often family affairs, any cruise line will work for the 7 year olds, except maybe Holland America. I'd go on price. We used Royal Caribbean last year. Princess has a long history in Alaska. Alaskan cruises are more about the tours than they are the ship.

Will the children be bored? It will depend on the port. Some are more about the scenery than anything else. But they might like the dog sled tours offered, perhaps the train ride in Skagway, seeing a glacier.

Seeing wildlife is hit or miss. No guarantees. We saw seals and otters from the ship one evening, whales and sea lions we saw on a tour. However you could easily be in a situation where you saw whales from the ship. Don't expect to see humpbacks leaping from the water. You'll most likely just see them skimming the surface for a few seconds.

Caribbean? I wouldn't say "avoid" any ports. Just that some are best if you use a ship's tour and not venture out on your own (think Jamaica). Kids like Grand Cayman because of the turtle farm.

I wouldn't dwell too much on trying to please the kids. Kids usually find a way to have fun no matter where you are. Think of what you want to get out of the cruise too.

We had a fine time doing a round trip out of Seattle for last year's Alaska cruise.
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Old 05-16-2009, 01:07 PM
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Hello MaureenNC, and welcome to Cruise-Chat;

Princess and Holland America have a good reputation for their Alaska cruises. Of the two, I think Princess would have more to offer your girls. However, in the Caribbean, RCI (Royal Caribbean) might be a better fit for a family with young children--especially their larger ships.

I am amazed at the variety of activities available in the Alaskan ports now; I can't imagine anybody not finding activities to suit their interests.

If you are not doing a land tour, I think the round trip from Vancouver or Seattle, or even San Francisco is a good choice. You have more opportunities to see wildlife in the Inside Passage than you do crossing the Gulf.

Seeing wildlife from the ship is always a matter of being in the right place at the right time; but yes, I have seen everything you mentioned, and much more from the deck of a ship. And there are wildlife excursions available in the ports--you don't have to do a land tour to see wildlife.

I think any Caribbean ports are good for kids; for the most part, the ships avoid the ones that should be avoided. Kids love the water and the beaches and that's what the Caribbean is all about :-)

As for the weather in Alaska, it is also hit and miss, like wildlife sightings. Having said that, July is probably your best opportunity for good weather. But you need to always be prepared of cold and drizzle.

My I say something here from my heart? I can tell you want very much to see Alaska; and it would be a wonderful adventure for your girls. But if your husband had a negative experience on his first cruise to Canada, and if you in fact feel this may be your "last chance to sell him on the cruise concept", maybe you should consider the Caribbean; children are happy anywhere, and isn't the family being together the most important thing anyway? Reel him in on a nice Caribbean cruise; Alaska will always be there--in spite of what the global warming people tell us!

Rick
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Old 05-16-2009, 01:10 PM
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Well Dave and Sandy, you beat me to it (again), but it's pretty amazing how much we think alike . . . . .well, not really.
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Old 05-16-2009, 03:48 PM
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But if your husband had a negative experience on his first cruise to Canada, and if you in fact feel this may be your "last chance to sell him on the cruise concept", maybe you should consider the Caribbean;
I would ask first what Maureen's husband's idea of a great vacation is. If he's into relaxing in the sun and enjoying warm weather in port and on the ship, the Caribbean is a good idea. If he prefers a more active vacation in unique circumstances, even though it's not sunny and hot on the ship (as my husband would prefer), Alaska may have a better chance of reeling him in.

Sandy
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Old 05-18-2009, 07:17 AM
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Dave, Sandy and Rick-
Wow- thank you all for the quick and detailed responses- they have been very helpful!!

After talking it through with my husband yesterday, I think we are leaning toward the Carribean. I honestly think he would enjoy himself more in Alaska (he's never been much of a beach guy), but he says he will have the most fun anywhere the kids are happy. And one of you mentioned that you need winter coats... that brought back images of us freezing on deck on the last cruise (we went the first week of April- guess we got what we deserved!). But I think we would all enjoy being able to spend time outside (without long underwear!). As Rick said, Alaska will always be there!

One last question... can you make any suggestions for where to book? Do most people go through the cruise line or a travel agent or what about those last minute online places (i.e. vacationstogo)?

Thanks again for all of your assistance and ideas- I am SOOO glad I found this website!

Maureen
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Old 05-20-2009, 06:00 AM
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Hi Maureen, we usually suggest a good travel agent that is a cruise specialist. They should be CLIA certified. You can always book direct, but a good agent will be on the look out for you to get you discounts, extras, or upgrades if available. There is no price difference, and a good agent will keep a watchful eye in case the fares go down. There are some amazing offers right now. I cry daily because I can't book them all I, personally, love the Caribbean because I love the ocean. Snorkeling is fantastic in many of the ports there. Please let us know what you book and take a look through the Caribbean Port Chat section. Best wishes for a fantastic cruise!
 
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