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Newbies -- Alaska Celebrity Solstice w/ 16 month old baby, lv next week

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Jun 22nd, 2014, 07:51 PM
  #1
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Newbies -- Alaska Celebrity Solstice w/ 16 month old baby, lv next week

Husband and I have never been on a cruise before but we are traveling with my 80 yr old parents as well as my sister's family. We are generally independent travelers but we heard a cruise is a good way to see Alaska and to do a multi-generational trip. I spent a week in Kenai a few years ago fishing and it was an unforgettable trip with a fly-out one day and several all day fishing charters - I'm not expecting that kind of trip this time around.

I normally do a ton of research when I travel (and have participated heavily in Fodors forums) but I somehow thought cruises were like an all-inclusive. I didn't think about shore excursions. Me and the baby don't have valid passports right now - this means we don't disembark in BC? Or should we expedite some passports?

Itinerary:
Ketchikan
Tracy Arm Fjord
Juneau
Skagway
Alaska Inside Passage
BC

If people could suggest shore excursions for a couple with a 16 month old baby, maybe with older parents in tow, that would be a life-saver. We may not always do excursions with the parents if they don't feel well. We could bring a backpack carrier for the baby if that makes things easier, we didn't plan on bringing anything like a stroller. Apologies if the post is too general and annoying in its utter lack of preparation -- I don't normally do this.....
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Jun 22nd, 2014, 09:58 PM
  #2
 
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You may find this trip report helpful. The link is below.

Alaska shore excursions on the cheap ...
http://www.fodors.com/community/crui...-the-cheap.cfm

We hiked at Skagway and took in the Park Ranger free tour.
For Juneau, the Mendenhall is a must. We just took the bus.
Misty Fjord is great for Ketchikan. There are lots of choices for excursions.

On our other Alaskan cruises, we took in Whale watching tour, Whitepass Yukon railway etc. We have done 3 Alaskan cruises already and is panning for a 4th one, [probably for next year.

You won't miss match at Victoria. It is probably a 3 to 5 hour stop just to satisfy the Jones Act.

You might want to consider a stroller. It might come in handy.

The ship also offers kids club. Don't know id 18 months is too young. They do offer baby sitting service so you might consider that.
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Jun 23rd, 2014, 09:15 AM
  #3
 
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Where does your cruise leave from? Regardless I always travel with my passport. You never know when you may need it and I think you need it to enter Canada and more importantly to get back into the US. If you even just stop in BC there may be an assumption that you entered Canada and the US may want to see your passport.
I would also dread a cruise with a baby.
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Jun 23rd, 2014, 11:17 AM
  #4
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Eschew informed me I probably need a passport to board so I'm going to expedite a renewal this week. Cruise starts and ends in Seattle.

Baby is too young for kids club so he we will be with us most of the time. We wanted to rent bikes in Skagway (husband is an avid cyclist) but they may not endorse our riding with a baby strapped to a carrier on his back (which is legal both where we live and in Alaska -- baby has his own helmet). I'm waiting to hear back from Sockeye Cycle.

All forms of traveling are kinda difficult with a baby this age but I was hoping a cruise would be easiest. Thanks for the link Eschew -- looking into them now.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 10:09 AM
  #5
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thanks for the link, cargo, this looks really useful.

Eschew -- spit out my coffee at your $399 pp/rate! We are paying over $5500 for 2 adults and a baby.

There are many activities that we'd love to do but can't with a baby. Kayaking and any kind of boating is out and the bike companies won't let us ride on tours with a baby.

So far, I'm thinking:

Ketchikan -- floatplane to Misty Fjord?
Sagway - tandem bike rental to ride around town. maybe a train up/down the mountain?
Juneau - whale watching cruise -- does this also allow us to view the glaciers or is that separate? Separate tour to Mendenhall?

I thought we docked everyday on this tour but some of the stops seem brief and it might be difficult to disembark in such a short time, is that incorrect?
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Jun 25th, 2014, 11:25 AM
  #6
 
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I am not sure about passports - I think you won't be allowed to board without one. Did you make reservations with the cruise line directly? Call and ask.

Land tours are certainly not included. What do you plan to do - rent a car, or get local tours, or buy tours from the cruise ship? If from the cruise ship, they are graded by degree of difficulty, if your parents have health issues. Also check the age limit - many tours have the limit of 75 years old.

Confirm that the baby will be allowed on the tour bus - even if it doesn't take up a seat. Many tours have age limit on that too.

How are you going to give baby a bath? Depending on the cabin, it may have shower only. Where will the baby sleep? You can order a crib in the cabin, don't know how - sorry, never traveled with a baby.

What about dinner? Do you plan to go as a family? Will the baby last through the dinner? They have high chairs and milk, and I think children's menu. Juices in the morning, and maybe later in the buffet if there is a children's section.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 12:56 PM
  #7
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I have an appt to get an expedited passport on Monday.

No car rentals, husband hates driving. I'm using cargo's link to shop for excursions that aren't through Celebrity, using Eschew's itinerary as a guide.

Baby will miss his baths but also likes showering with Dad. He will sleep between us or in the pack and play that we requested when we booked the reservation.

When we booked the cruise, the only time left for dinner for our family of 8 was 8:30 pm -- too late for our baby (not to mention our parents). I've been told we could go into the dining room at anytime and wait for a table? We may have to split off from the rest of the family as the baby needs to eat at around 6 pm. (We are bringing him organic food packs and baby snacks -- none of it needs refrigeration. He can eat some of our food -- he likes cheese, fruit, pastas. I'm hoping his Dad can relax about the food situation as we only feed the kid organic but that's obviously not happening on a cruise.....

Thanks for the tip about asking about him on plane/train/bus tours.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 09:41 PM
  #8
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I'm getting slightly depressed as I do preliminary research on this trip -- it looks like a one way cruise with a trip to Denali, etc. would have been a much better trip, albeit a bit more complicated to plan with extended family. We are also missing the big glacier since this cruise stops short in order to get us back to Seattle.

Also sounds like all the good independent tours and guides are already booked and we are going to be stuck with cattle-call operations at our ports? This wouldn't be so painful if this cruise weren't also 3x the cost of the most expensive vacation I've ever taken.... So the idea that I'm going to pay 3x as much as I usually do to have a lame vacation is mortifying. But I agreed to all this in the Spring with my sister pressing for us to book a cruise for my parents's bdays and I had no time to research anything.

I feel like I should write off my trip expectations and consider this a costly lesson in what happens when I don't plan and research a trip. While this was an expensive bday gift to my parents, it's likely our last vacation together and I really hope they're not disappointed. I think that my husband, baby, and myself should stay with my parents for excursions and my sister's family can do the helicopter tours, etc. (my mom's a bit prone to motion sickness). My parents' English isn't very good so they aren't really comfortable doing things on their own. I figure we'll book some tours on large boats and maybe trains when available. I'll try to loosely follow Eschew's itinerary but opt for private tour operations if it looks like it would be more comfortable for my parents.

thanks for all the advice.
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Jun 25th, 2014, 11:07 PM
  #9
 
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Ketchikan -- floatplane to Misty Fjord is the way to go. The view form the plane is spectacular but pricey. However, have a back up plan as it is weather dependent. There is a "boat cruise" to Misty Fjord. Not the same.

Sagway - tandem bike rental to ride around town. maybe a train up/down the mountain? If you like hiking, that;s the best stop for hiking. Get to the ranger station, take in the free walking tour, get a walking map and hike. Town site is so small it is totally walk-able, but we took the bus to save time.

Juneau - whale watching cruise - you can book this with the Mendenhall option and do both. Unfortunately, you won't have enough time to enjoy Mendenhall. We took the bus, spent lots of time at the Glacier. You can always catch whale watching some other time or some other place.

You catch the bus by the tram terminal. It is worth a ride up to the top and walk the trail.

You have 4 port stops and the rest of them are "scenic cruising". You have a 50-50 chance of missing Tracy Arm. If you can book an excursion through the cruise line to see Tracy Arm up close, do it. That would be your best bet.

One key point for you to remember: there is only so many hours you have in port. You choices are as follow:
1. cover as much ground as possible so you can say "been there, done that" with no plan of returning.
2. cover as much ground as possible, sample everything and anything so you can plan return visits with some knowledge.
3. pick your spot and enjoy the top attraction or attractions. Plan a return visit and catch the places you missed.

If you have never cruise before, you should check out some links for first time cruisers.

http://www.fodors.com/news/cruise-pl...tips-6062.html

http://www.cruisecritic.com/ftc/

By the way, pack warm clothing and dress in layers. The web site that I used to show pictures was bought out by some big company and they got everything all messed in the name of "making it better". All my albums got dumped into one great big album so I don't use their service any more.

I was about to create my own page but never got it off the ground. Work life and personal life is busy enough.

5 years ago, I did managed to put some Alaska pictures together for some friends and I left it up. The link to the pictures are below. The pictures were from a trip back in 2009 and it included a stop at Sitka.

http://www3.telus.net/eschew/places/index.html

Ask questions and I am quite sure you will have lots of people offering their opinions.

The highlight for me on an Alaska cruise was the Glacier Bay National Park and the Inside Passage, and I have not grow tire yet on seeing those sights again.

Private tour is the way to go except for Tracy Arm up close. I would take the ship's offer if they have one.

Good luck and I am sure you will enjoy the trip. Obviously, you didn't go "cheap" like we did on last one. Our first Alaskan cruise back in 2007 costed a whole lot more than our last one so I am quite sure your money is well spent.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 09:12 AM
  #10
 
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I just saw your post, fishee. We just got off the Solstice last Fri. I am 60 and never been on a cruise before and I really enjoyed it. I did wear a winter coat once, used an umbrella on our first stop at Ketchikan and a plastic poncho on our third stop in Skagway. There were many babies and small children on the boat and many strollers - and they were not a problem. There is an indoor and outdoor pool and they were not too busy. The cirque show is one a toddler would like. A couple of magician shows but maybe for older children. As I am sure all cruises are - the staff is wonderful. We didn't purchase any television options but there was one cartoon channel that I always surfed by looking for some news in the A.M. The night before they leave an itinerary by your door for ship activity options, restaurant/dining hall(s) service times. We had a beautiful ship day at Tracy Arm Fjord. The ice "chips" going by the boat, two Orca's swimming right outside our veranda (7th deck). Those that went on private whale watching in Juneau saw more Orca's - which their guide said was kind of unusual this time of year. We took the train ride from Skagway to Fraser, Canada and that was beautiful (just a little foggy that day, and rainy off and on). Toddlers were on the train. We went to the sled dog training camp outside of Juneau. You get to hold puppies and go on a trail ride (on dry land) with the dogs pulling you. I would be a little nervous having a small child ride on the sled but that is just me. They explain all the training aspects, feeding the animal high fat and protein foods as they are very skinny due to running so often. And they love to run. I hope you enjoy your trip as much as DH and I did.
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Jun 26th, 2014, 11:22 AM
  #11
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thanks for your informative post, Dyer! Very glad to hear you had such a good time.

Ours is still in diapers so he's not allowed in any pools but we're OK with that. By any chance did you see anyone carrying their baby onboard with a hiking type backpack? I was looking at a map and we have an AFT room at the very back of the ship and it looks to be a long haul from an elevator -- we're also on the 7th floor.

We will expect rain and of course, will dress in laters. Thanks and I may hit you up with more questions!
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Jun 26th, 2014, 01:31 PM
  #12
 
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There were. The carriers of all types, even the "snugglies" seemed to have a hat or extension to cover the head in case of mist or rain. We were in room 7243 and I was surprised how much room there was and nooks and crannies for storing. We are always amazed at the ages of travelers. Those who are used to traveling with their small ones make it look so easy. There were people of all ages needing/using electric scooters and wheelchairs.
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Jun 29th, 2014, 01:49 PM
  #13
lyn
 
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We were on the Solstice earlier this year with our kids and 7 month old granddaughter. Re dinner: the staff loved the baby and were so helpful. We had the same approximate time and table every night in the Anytime section so we got to know each other well. The hostess can help you reserve the table for the next night. Most nights the baby behaved but when she didn't, one of us took her out for a brief stroll. Good luck!
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Jul 2nd, 2014, 03:46 PM
  #14
 
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I know I am going to receive hate mail for this comment. A 16 month old is really too young to travel, especially on a cruise ship, and the activities you describe do not appear too safe for a 16 month old on a carrier.
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Jul 3rd, 2014, 09:58 AM
  #15
 
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I disagree, especially in this particular instance where it appears the OP is going on a family cruise with her parents and sibling's family.

From experience, I know that sometimes a cruise is the easiest way for a large family group to all vacation together. In fact, my family (my parents plus 3 other siblings with their families) did this exact same cruise last summer. My sister had her 9 month old baby with her. Given the age of my parents and how hard it is to coordinate the schedules of everyone, that trip was likely the last one our family could do together while my parents are still alive. Leaving the baby behind or sister's family not going because of the age of her baby wasn't even a consideration.

Granted, considerations have to be made because of the baby, but if those considerations are taken into account then I don't really see much of a problem traveling with one so young.
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