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love_travel11 Mar 29th, 2011 07:40 PM

Alaska with a two year old - bad idea?

A trip to Alaska is something DH and I have been wanting to do for a long long time. We now live in Singapore and have a two year old son. I am wondering if it will be a good idea to do an Alaskan cruise trip with our son in June / July 2011? This will be our first cruise. Will it be a better idea to rent a car and drive instead (and plan our own trip as we always do)? Or should we wait for our son to be older and not do this trip now??

I have not provided much information on places we would like to visit etc. as i am still struggling to decide if we should do this trip now and if yes, how - cruise / drive?

Anybody has experiences touring Alaska with a toddler?? Please help...


gail Mar 30th, 2011 01:26 AM

The problem with Alaska with a toddler is that Alaska is huge - and that means it takes a long time to get anywhere, with long car, bus, train rides between. On a cruise, one must take some form of transportation from the port to see anything interesting, as most port towns are just t-shirt shops and the like. Toddlers often do not do well with long trips, especially when at the other end is beautiful scenery, which most toddlers are not very fond of. Depending on the temperment of your child, if they are bored and noisy, they might get some nasty looks from other travelers.

Cruises do have activities for children, but many cruise lines require that a child be out of diapers to participate - and many cruiseline pools do not allow children in diapers to use them. It varies a great deal how many children are on Alaska cruises - we went in June 2008 and saw very few children (Princess Cruiselines).

Renting a car and driving around has some advantages, but there are many parts of Alaska, including Juneau, which are only accessible by water or air. There is much to see by car - we drove around for about 8 days prior to our cruise - but again distances to travel can be long.

Denali National Park is an incredible place - but travel within is primarily by private or Park Service bus - and can take 8-10 hours. We saw lost of animals, but for children used to seeing close-ups of animals on TV or at a zoo, a few animals over 10 hours might not be enough to keep them interested.

With some planning, I think you and your husband would be able to make a trip like this work - but considering the distance and expense, I might wait a few years until your son could also enjoy the trip and you and your husband did not have to spend half of your time figuring out how to entertain him.

dfrostnh Mar 30th, 2011 02:10 AM

I think a lot depends on how you want to tour. If your son is happy in a backpack while you hike, that's a big plus. (We saw people on one short hike carrying a child on their shoulders and everyone seemed to be having a good time.) We watched the 4th of July parade in Kenai with friends who had a toddler in a stroller. There were plenty of children around at the Forest Fair in Girdwood (just prior to 4th of July). The Sea Life Center is Seward would work but maybe not a long cruise to see glaciers if the ocean causing people to get sea sick. I liked the farmers markets in Homer and Anchorage. You might take rest stops at a public library's children's book area and look for activities that might be fun for your child (we just missed a children's music performance by Hobo Jim at the Kenai Visitors Center). Our young friends took their children to the Wildlife Center on the Seward Hwy. The tram ride up Alyeska should also be fine. You can look for sea otters around the marina in Seward and who knows what you will see on your drives. June/July is when moose and their babies frequently hang around residential areas in Kenai.

It could work but, if it were me, I'd want to wait until my child was old enough to go on the long cruise to see orcas and whales up close. I thought it was magical.

schmerl Mar 30th, 2011 04:30 AM

I would wait until your child is older. To really experience Alaska you would be doing some hiking, glacier flights, walking on glaciers, rafting, etc. That would be difficult with a small child.

BudgetQueen Mar 30th, 2011 04:35 AM

Actually a cruise is excellent with a toddler. The convenience of scenic sailing, and port access is excellent. Plenty to see and do in ports, although there may be limitations with a toddler, there is still a lot of choices.

A superb itinerary is HAL round trip Vancouver, in my opinion. Includes both Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay. :)

Orlando_Vic Mar 30th, 2011 05:13 AM

I too, would wait until your child was older. While there are some things your son would enjoy (animal sightings), he would probably not be interested in the magnificent scenery and would make it difficult for you to engage in more active pursuits. Also, as gail has said, "Toddlers often do not do well with long trips." He would enjoy this much more in the future...and remember it for years to come.
Vic's travels:

Gardyloo Mar 30th, 2011 06:59 AM

I agree with BQ on this, mainly because the one thing a cruise is, is <i>easy.</i>

Alaska cruises call at ports where most of the activities, and all of the "excursions" are geared to make it as easy as possible for passengers, be they little kids that need special handling, or older or infirm passengers who need the same (but different.)

A car-based holiday, whether it be to Alaska, California or Europe, with a 2-year old will entail a lot of extra effort to manage the child - car seats, things to distract/amuse, provisions for snacks, or (not knowing your kid) tote bags for nappies/diapers, etc. etc. Breaking camp in the morning, buckling junior into the car seat, potty breaks, fussing at mealtime, finding another place to stop.... repeat, repeat... is tiring for both parents and child.

On a cruise, on the other hand, you unpack and settle in once. You can eat in the public cafes/restaurants, or you can order room service for any meal, any time. The ships have baby sitting services, so (gasp) Mum and Dad can go have a grown-up dinner without worrying about the whereabouts/welfare of the child.

In port, you can take excursions that accommodate children, or in places like Skagway, rent a car (with child seat provided) and take off up and over White Pass to visit a little chunk of the Yukon. From the ship (maybe even from your cabin) you can show your son eagles, maybe whales, or go to the movies, or to special kids' play areas...

To my way of thinking, it's an ideal way to spend a week or so of quality time with your son, at a very reasonable cost (as a rule you can cruise Alaska more cheaply than comparable car/hotel based holidays on a per-person-per-day basis) and with the comfort and security of having a very comfortable hotel room - maybe even a waterfront hotel room with a balcony - that moves through amazing country all the time.

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