Best Alaska Cruises For Families On Small Ships

When done right, Alaska family cruises can be an adventure of a lifetime, a transformative one where families can share beautiful memories and experiences. Imagine kayaking with your entire clan in front of the tidewater glaciers or whale watching from a small skiff, and so much more with your loved ones. 


You can introduce yourself and your entire family to the incredible wonder that the Last Frontier is, all aboard a family cruise ship. Ships, especially the smaller ones, offer the best Alaskan experience for families with impeccable accommodations, professional guides, family-friendly activities and excursions, delectable dining options, and educational programs. 


So, the next time you visit Alaska, don’t just visit it; explore it on the best Alaska cruises for families. 


Why Small Ships?

Small ships offer the best Alaska cruises for families. Small ships abundantly focus on family-friendly adventures. Their primary purpose is to let families authentically experience Alaska. Small ships give you the opportunity of exploring away from the cruise ship, with essential professional help both on and off the vessel. 


Some cruise ships also offer you the opportunity to indulge in activities like hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, skiff rides, and much more! Other cruise ships offer you the chance to visit remote Alaskan lands on guided walk tours. All of this will include outstanding wildlife viewing opportunities. You can get closer to bears, whales, eagles, and even the glaciers while creating memories of a lifetime. Onboard, your expert guides will educate you and enlighten you with programs that inform and entertain you. 


When should you plan and book your Alaska family cruise trip?


The cruising season for Alaska is pretty short. It usually begins in April and ends in September. Most Alaska family cruises operate when children are not going to school, especially during June, July, and August. Because of the shorter season and small number of cruise ships to accommodate all the families, it is recommended that you plan and book early. 


To get the best selection in terms of cruise itinerary, dates, and cruise ships, including the cabins, families should book at least nine months in advance. 


Pre-cruise logistics

To maximize your cruising experience, fly to Alaska in advance. Cruises usually embark in Sitka, Gustavus, Petersburg, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Anchorage. Arrive at these locations at least a day before your cruise departure. Arriving a day or two earlier gives you ample time to relax and acclimatize during those days before your return on the cruise back home. Most flight routes to Alaska are through Seattle, so an overnight flight will be required before returning. 


5 Best Alaska cruises for families 


So, what are the best Alaska cruises for families? 


At Leisure, we have compiled a list of the top 5 best Alaska cruises for families that are a favorite with almost every clan who traveled on them. Now, all of these are small ship cruises, which is the ultimate way to explore Alaska. 


Every family is unique, and every travel experience is personal. Before you go ahead and book one, review the trips and then contact your Alaska cruise agents to be matched with the best cruise ship for your vacation plans. Ultimately, the best Alaskan cruises depend on every family’s personal preferences and requirements. 


1. Wilderness Explorer 



Wilderness Explorer offers an active, eccentric, yet educational cruise experience to the Alaskan fjords and glaciers. Every day on this cruise ship will provide you with a new, exciting, adventurous opportunity with hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, skiff riding, and snorkeling. You can explore Alaska’s nature and wilderness up close and personally aboard this 74-guest cruise ship. 


All kinds of activities - accessible and challenging, appeal to all generations and age groups from children to the children at heart. 


Wilderness Explorer travels over eight days between Ketchikan and Juneau and lets you explore fjord cliffs, deep valleys, whales, glaciers, Tlingit culture, and the backcountry. Activities onboard enable personal exploration of the Misty Fjords National Monument. Moreover, children between 8-17 also get you a $500 discount on all departures, except holidays. 


2. National Geographic - Venture and Quest 



Explore the wilderness on the Alaskan coast aboard the 100-guest National Geographic ships Venture and Quest. The small expedition cruises are some of the finest ships you can find in Alaska. 


Aboard the ship, you will have a team of expedition leaders and naturalist guides from National Geographic itself, who are experts in their field, giving you and your family an unparalleled educational experience. 


The 8-day cruise is comfortable amidst the wilderness, with occasional off-cruise activities like skiff rides, kayaking, and shore walking. 


Families are welcomed aboard the ship on all departures, with multiple kids programs available throughout the summer season. There are also other special programs for children upon departure, like photo workshops, scavenger hunts, journaling, Zodiac-driving lessons, nature and science programs, and of course, impeccable dining options. Travelers under the age of 17 can get a $500 discount with double occupancy. 


3. National Geographic - SeaBird and Sea Lion



The compact wild Alaskan escape from Sitka to Juneau is almost 6-day long. National Geographic’s SeaBird and Sea Lion are some of the best ships to explore the 49th state. 


The ships keep both kids and adults engaged with hiking across temperate rainforests, rafting through the Chilkat River, visiting the ancient Alaskan villages, viewing the Glacier bay National Park, cycling around the glacial lake, visiting the Sitka Raptor Rehabilitation Center, kayaking and stand-up paddling through the glaciers. 


The small cruise ship is one of the best Alaska cruises for families with busy schedules since the itinerary packs all the fun and adventure into a span of just one week. Children under the age of 18 can get a $500 discount at double occupancy. 


4. Alaskan Dream 



Experience Alaska with your entire family the authentic way. The Glacier Bay and Island Adventure Cruises offer an authentic Alaskan experience through the local Alaskan lenses. The cruise ship provides an 8-day long itinerary that sails approximately 40-guests aboard. The ship moves slowly, giving everyone enough time to take all the beauty, culture, and nature in Alaska. 


Highlights of this cruise ship include visits to Juneau, Kake, Petersburg, and Sitka, with particular emphasis on Alaskan culture and its native history. 


The cruise ship is recommended for families of all age groups and generations, especially those with young children. The cruise ship offers its passengers a mix of wilderness, port visits, native culture, and shore excursions. Children below the age of 15 get an additional 15% discount on double occupancy prices. 


5. Sea Wolf 



Get a hands-on experience of the magnificent state aboard one of the best Alaska cruises for families. This 7-day long Sea Wolf cruise ship with its itineraries in Glacier Bay National Park takes you closer to the shorelines and glaciers. 


Families onboard can explore Alaska as an outdoor classroom experience from the historic 12-guests only M/V Sea Wolf cruise ship.


The small-size cruise ship offers its passengers all the knowledge with an onboard expert team that curates flexible educational experiences tailor-made for you. The cruise helps you have an up-close view of the wildlife and other adventures of Alaska. 


With a crew of expert naturalists, the team sure does know how to keep your clan engaged, especially your little ones. Onboard experts help you and your family learn more about the wonders and beauty of Alaska. 


Final Words

Aboard the best Alaska cruises for families; your devices are going to take a backseat as you explore the beauty and wilderness of Alaska in a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Indulge in whale watching, viewing the northern lights, and so much more. Spend quality time with your loved ones and experience Alaska like you never have before. 




Tour Price

Our private tours typically range from $500 - $1000 per person/per night depending on chosen hotels and room categories, vehicles used, types of tours, flight cost, time of year and other factors. Make an inquiry for a customized trip quote.

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