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Princess Alaska cruise--disaster with kids?

Princess Alaska cruise--disaster with kids?

Old Aug 23rd, 2009, 08:30 PM
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Princess Alaska cruise--disaster with kids?

My MIL wants to take my family on a cruise to Alaska. She really likes Princess Cruise lines (travel agent suggested it and talked them up, she's never been on a cruise before). My concern is their brochure has nobody under the age of 50 in it and their website mentions kids as an afterthought. Like "we have four pools, one for kids!" (does this mean they're not welcome at the other three?) My kids will be 7 and 9 and while they are well behaved they are not angels by any stretch and so some restlessness at dinner, fighting with each other, etc., WILL happen in the public areas no matter what we do. I don't want to put ourselves in a position where all of the adult passengers who didn't want kids on their vacation are thinking to themselves "in my day kids never did that". Does anyone have any experience with an Alaskan Princess Cruise and am I worrying needlessly?
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 03:50 AM
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We've taken our family on two cruises, both at Christmas and the kids have a ball!! Especially at your childrens' ages. Just do it, a perfect family vacation. On the many other cruises we've been on the children are so busy you don't see much of them, but when we've seen them, they do seem to be happy as larks!
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 05:01 AM
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Have you been on an Alaskan Cruise on Princess with them though? My concern isn't that they won't have fun, it's that those cruises are so geared to adults that they won't be welcome by the other passengers.
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 06:04 AM
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This was in the 90's but I went on a Alaskan Princess cruise and there was 1 child on the whole ship. And he was traveling with his grandmother. I can say at least on my cruise that the average age was over 60.
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 06:15 AM
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Thanks, that is my fear. They have a 50 page color brochure with not one person under 40 on it, and no mention of a kids' club. It's on the Web, but it's pretty clear they don't really cater to families.
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 10:01 AM
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We recently returned from a cruise on the Coral Princess. There were children on the cruise and they did eat in the dining room and were all very well behaved from what we could see and hear. You do have a choice of eating at the buffet if you don't think the children can sit and behave for a 1 1/2 hr - 2 hr meal. On the Coral there was one adult pool that was enclosed. We went in June and found that there really were not alot of people in any of the pools because it is rather chilly due to the Alaska weather. I am pretty sure there is a kids club. Go on a few of the different blogs and you can get more information.
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 01:57 PM
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We went on Princess Alaska cruise a year ago - mid-June (one-way Whittier-Vancouver). There were no kids. Even our adult-kids (ages 18 and 22) thought fellow passengers were ancient. So look at it from 2 viewpoints. First, feloow passengers. We have been on several cruises on various lines. This cruise had the most adventuresome and least formal passengers of the others. If your kids behave, I believe few fellow passengers would care - they are there to see glaciers, whales, etc.

However, from your kids point of view. First, make sure there will actually be some sort of kids club or if they cancel it for lack of interest. And then consider if your kids would be happy there with only a few other kids.

Alaska is partially about scenery and, on land, mini-adventure. There are plenty of shore excursions that would interest them - it is the time on the ship looking at scenery that would get old fast with kids that age. But if they would be happy playing hand-held computer games, for example, and you would not consider their attendance a waste of money, then go for it.

Dinners were less formal than on other cruiselines. And there is always a buffet option.

I doubt you will find much difference on other Alaksa cruiselines. So decide if your kids can amuse themselves in reasonable quiet and go from there. Also, we were there mid-June and some northern schools were still in session - maybe mid-summer has a higher population of rugrats.

Hard to turn down a gift cruise - and memories cruising with grandparents are valuable. Just budget enough for shore excursions - they get quite expensive on Alaska cruises and there is little to see at most ports without buying a trip somewhere.
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 06:10 PM
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Thanks. I am actually less worried about my kids who will after all have each other and travel quite well, than I am about other cruisers opinion about our kids. My viewpoint has been about their behavior if they are quiet and not running around such that they can be ignored, then they're fine. But at church yesterday the 6 year old was lying on the pew, not sitting, and the guy behind us had issue with that and his issue with that caused my MIL to discipline the six year old. Hey, MIL, if you were okay with it before why does that guys' disapproval matter? And it got me thinking what it might be like on a cruise if the kids started to fidget during dinner or pick up difficult to eat items with their hands, or have a spat with each other in the public areas. As long as the cruisers are in general "laid back" we'll be good.
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Old Aug 25th, 2009, 07:35 AM
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Can you not steer your MIL to a cruise line that actually has a kid-friendly policy, with programming, for this family vacation? They do exist, and while I think that the Alaska cruise itinerary makes for a great family vacation, I doubt that you are going to feel comfortable with people's reactions to the kind of behavior you are describing above. We were on an Alaskan cruise this summer, the cruise ship was offering a kid's sail free package, and while we were hardly bothered by children on board, there were a few excursions with one particular family, kids maybe 8 and 5, that I could easily have tossed one or both overboard. Yes, I am joking, but some of the excursions, particularly those that have you out on small boats to see wildlife for several hours, really are too long for small children. And of course, these kids came with parents who could only weakly try to stop the whining which then escalated into sibling fighting.

Really, I would look for another cruise line.
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Old Aug 25th, 2009, 08:45 AM
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Apparently Princess is the best rated for children, by accounts on the Cruise Critic website. My kids are actually great on excursions, they love wildlife and absorb what the guide tells them. They are just kids, not miniature adults. I figure as long as they are not bothering other people I won't chastise them, because when you chastise them all the time that in itself becomes annoying to the other people around.
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Old Aug 25th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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Whoops, hit send too soon. So like in church, my daughter who was lying on the pew was quiet and easy to ignore. If had told her repeatedly to sit up that would have disrupted others much more than just leaving her where she was. Of course if they are whining or running around or pushing each other I will tell them to knock it off, but I try not to hassle them too much otherwise so that they can relax and have a good time themselves.
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Old Aug 25th, 2009, 10:15 AM
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I thought you were concerned that Princess was not a kid-friendly ship, but if you have found information that says otherwise, then I hope you have a great family vacation.

Looking at your original post, about the swimming pools, I would think that if one is labeled "just for kids", yes, it's entirely possible that kids are not welcome in the adult pools.

My point about excursions is that you should look at the length of them when deciding what to do. Children are indeed not miniature adults, but forcing them to sit or be quiet for several hours is not fair either.

And as far as your comments about fidgeting at dinner or eating with their fingers, well, you know your kids, but that would probably not be looked at kindly in a formal dining room by table neighbors. I'm sorry if that is not what you want to hear, but as the mother of 3 grown kids, I think that is what you will get.
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Old Aug 25th, 2009, 10:30 AM
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Yeah, I was concerned that Princess was not kid friendly because it wasn't marketed that way, so I posted here and on Cruise Critic. A lot of people responded on Cruise Critic to say that Princess was the best cruise to take children on. I think it depends on time of year. In July, there will be a lot of families and my kids will blend right in. Earlier or later, and they might be the only ones and that's when I think I would have problems.
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Old Aug 25th, 2009, 11:45 AM
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Yes, you should definitely see a lot of families in July, and your children will be a whole year older as well - I wouldn't be surprised if you find them with new manners and habits by then, too. If you involve them in the cruise planning, even by talking about the excursions, I would think that they will enjoy the experience even more.
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Old Aug 25th, 2009, 01:01 PM
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We went as a family group (16 people, 7 children) on a Princess Alaskan cruise in 2007. There were many family groups on board, tons of activities for the smaller ones to do (supervised) and the Lumberjack show in Ketchikan was great - a hands down favorite. The scenery was spectacular - we all did our own thing during the day and met for dinner at night. Don't worry about it - just do it - it's a gift!
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Old Aug 25th, 2009, 01:10 PM
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Oh, Socaltraveler, if only I could believe that year would bring dramatically better behavior! Unfortunately, for their age they're about as good as kids come, but for some adults that's still not good enough.
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Old Aug 25th, 2009, 01:21 PM
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I understand what you are saying, and most large cruise ships will give plenty of dining options that are casual, and better suited to kids than the formal dining rooms. Sometimes the kid's programs will even arrange for dinner activities and then the adults can have a leisurely dinner themselves. Remember just because you are going on a family vacation, you don't all have to spend every waking moment with each other, hope your MIL knows that too.
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Old Aug 25th, 2009, 01:50 PM
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Oh, socaltraveler, good point. I wouldn't mind so much spending the whole cruise with my kids (although they will be in the kids club by their choice I'm sure) but spending the whole cruise joined at the hip with the inlaws? Yikes!
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Old Aug 26th, 2009, 06:29 AM
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Monica - I think there is a significant MIL aspect to your question that we can not help you with. Your MIL, DH and you have to sit down and set some cruise ground rules and expectations before this is booked. A suggestion is that you and DH state up front that YOU are paying for your own excursions - then there is less tendency to spend 100% time with them and when she wants to go on a 10 hour nature bus ride that would turn the kids into maniacs with boredom, you have an easier out to go to the less authentic, a little cheesey Salmon Show (I made up that excursion - but you know what I mean) without her. Perhaps say something like - "On vacation the kids get on such strange schedules I think we should plan on doing Breakfast and Lunch separately and meet every night for dinner so we can talk about our day". If she chokes on her tea when you say that, you will know you have a problem.

How long has it been since you and her and the kids ate in a real restaurant together - might be worth a trip to see how everyone reacts before anyone signs on for this cruise.

Either that or plan to drink heavily on the cruise - you are going to need it.
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Old Aug 26th, 2009, 07:40 AM
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Gail's advice is so good; you need to have a meeting of the minds before any deposits are made. If your MIL is treating to this vacation, it would be good to know what she expects, and whether you and your DH are comfortable with this. One of the things I remember vividly from our June Alaska cruise was a situation very much like what Gail describes above, an excursion with an extended family of grandparents, and two sets of grown children with grandchildren - one set had teenagers and the other two who were probably about the ages of your kids. The excursion was just way too long, and the kids were typically bored and miserable after a few hours. OK, the parents did little to engage them and after awhile the whole tour boat got tired of it, but I think you can get the drift.

If not, the second idea to drink heavily is also good, but I suggest you and DH take turns . . .
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