Cruising with 20 Month Old to Alaska

Updated on May 25, 2009
G.L. asks from San Lorenzo, CA
8 answers

Hi Moms,

My husband and I are taking a 10-night cruise to Alaska with our 20 month old son. We'll be on a Princess cruise ship. Do you have any tips/advice on cruising with a toddler? If you've cruised to Alaska before, any tips/advice on excursions or things to do in their port cities, like Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway? We're also stopping in Victoria, B.C.

Thanks so much!

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answers from San Francisco on

Our trip to Alaska was almost 20 years ago, and we toured without children. As I recall Skagway is like the "Carmel" of Alaska. Lots of boutique shops in a rustic setting. There was a stream that flowed through town, near the museaum I think, with more salmon than water. We were fascinated and I'm sure your son would be as well. I believe there is a native Indian Village near Juneau. If you're there for an overnight, you might consider renting a car and driving to the North Pole. I think it's about an hour drive and comes complete with a red striped pole and lots of Santa stuff. I can't remember which town we were in that had a sanctuary for injured animals, but you may want to do some research before you go. As far as Victoria goes, Buchart Gardens are lovely with lots of room for your little one to run around.
We toured Alaska in August when the sun stays out until midnight or later. The weather was Bay Area winter weather, some rain and temperatures in the 50's-60's the entire 3 weeks we were there so be prepared with proper clothing and check estimated temperature ranges before you leave. If you have time, consider requesting information from the tourist bureau of Alaska. Princess cruise lines offers lots of nice shore excursions. Perhaps your travel agent can acquire the list before you go so you can do some research on your options before making decisions.
Have fun on your trip. Alaska was memorable for us. We saw wild animals in very unexpected places and it's so different from the lower 48. We took a Princess bus tour for 2 weeks, then 1 week on ship through the inland passage. Our bus driver was a history professor at the University of Alaska and drove tours during the summer months, so every day we got something of a history lesson.



answers from San Francisco on

My husband and I did the Alaskan cruise for our honeymoon. It was the best thing we ever did and vow to go back someday. We did Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Haines, and started out in Vancouver on Royal Caribbean. I don't think we did anything in Skagway except walk through the town and gift shops. I don't remember what cities we did stuff in but we did every excersion we had time for. We went to a salmon bake, we did a nature walk with a guide to tell about local wildlife and plants, we canoed on a lake and when we were going back to the dock we raced the other two canoes on the trip, we rafted down the Chilkat River and saw eagles (awesome, I recommeend this one), we took a plane over the glacier and met the ship in Haines. Haines was our favorite spot. It was a tiny little town and we rode bikes through the woods (on a road) and saw the locals smoking salmon in their salmon shacks. We went to a local smoked fish store and sampled halibut, salmon, and other deliciously smoked fish. I remember in Juneau we stopped at a local bar and had a beer then almost missed the ship as it was pulling out. We were the last to board and they were pulling up the walking plank. Keep an eye on your watch when you are out and about. For the excursion, the vans/bus drivers know when to get you back, but if you're out on your own, you have to be back at a certain time, and you can't always hear the ship sounding its horn. I won't hope you'll have a lovely time because I KNOW you will!! This is the best cruise in the world. I've been on many cruises and this one took the cake!



answers from San Francisco on

Did it last year w/ a 3yr. & 6 month old. Just pray for great weather & no virises on the ship.(wish I could say my experience was positive, but I don't want to scare you + we had 2 w/ us)
The boat will have lots to do, but not necessarily for a 20 month old. I would take favorite coloring books, suprise toys, ect. Also, try to put aside some extra $$ for special "things to do on the boat souverniers. They always love to get new stuff & it does keep them busy for an hour or so.Bring what you can,diapers, favorite snacks, ect,. Hard to find things in those small ports & they are $$$$!!! Good luck!! Don't forget to look out the windows often & do at least 1 thing for yourself!! Have fun! Oh, one last thing we did not find out until on the ship. Canadian health laws will not let a non or partilly potty trained child into kids programs. HUGE bummer for us when we found out. We sailed a different Norwegian, so maybe there are different programs guidelines on your ship.



answers from San Francisco on

We were just on a cruise the week before last that stopped in Victoria. I highly recommend seeing Butchart Gardens if you can. It's about 20-30 minutes outside of the city, but there were many shuttles running back and forth, and your ship may have an excursion there that you can pre-buy. It was unbelievably gorgeous, and probably my husband's favorite stop out of the whole week. It's definitely worth the drive and your son can run all around the paths!

We also took an Alaskan cruise with his family about 10 years ago, and while we were sans children at the time, all of nature's beauty will probably captivate your son's attention -- from both on and off the ship. I remember taking a beautiful, easy hike at one stop -- which I would think you could do at any of the ports. Just walking around wherever you are, taking it all in, letting him run off some steam! Also, one of the ports you mentioned is known for having a spectacular, old railway/train that winds way up into the mountains, crossing gorgeous bridges and providing breathtaking views. I'm sorry I can't remember which port it is (NOT Juneau, though) -- but if you think that would hold your son's attention, I HIGHLY recommend it.

I hope you have a fantastic time. Alaska is so beautiful!

~ R.



answers from San Francisco on

i feel so silly. my husband and i just cruised alaska on princess this past august, and by brain is a complete blank on what we did. i'll blame it on being 6 mos pregnant. :o)

i do remember lots of fun shops to stop in and see in skagway. juneau was a bit of a bore. ketchikan was fun too. i think you can find tours when you get to shore that are train rides through the countryside or bus tours that would be interesting for a toddler. they can see the scenery, etc. maybe take him to the mendenhall glacier visitor center? forgot which port that is...

we did more adventurous things because we left our son (incidentally...20 mos at the time!!) with my parents.

i think we saw a small museum in juneau. some nature tours you can stop to see the salmon jumping, which might be fun.

princess should have sent you a big booklet with all the tours available. i think you'll find most of them won't be booked by the time you get on board, unless they are the really popular adventurous ones. when you get on board, you can also ask the tour guides which might be most fun/appropriate for traveling with a toddler. i remember a few things with botanical gardens that sounded really interesting, but we didn't have time to do everything. definitely make time to enjoy high tea in the afternoon in the main dining room. we didn't get to see victoria, but it should have lots of interesting things to see. if you get a chance to get to vancouver, it has one of the best aquariums i have ever been to, including beluga whales.



answers from Stockton on

We cruised to Alaska on Princess last summer with our 22 mo. old son. He wasn't old enough to be dropped off in the child care area, but they allowed him to go in to play as long as mom or dad watched him. There weren't very many child-friendly places to go on the ship.

Our son was VERY active & wanted to run off constantly. So, we used a "baby leash" so our son wouldn't get lost. Some people gave us strange looks for bringing it, but we were SO glad that we did.

We notified the cruise line in advance that we needed a crib in our stateroom. But, it was rather flimsy and was so easy for our son to climb out of that he never even used it. He ended up sleeping in the twin bed. We pushed the crib next to the bed so he wouldn't roll out. We had a mini refrigerator in our stateroom to keep milk, juice, and other snacks cold. But, since it was on the floor, our toddler kept opening & closing it all of the time. So, you might want to invest in a cheap refrigerator/appliance lock that can stick on temporarily with double-sided tape.

There weren't many outlets in the staterooms, so if your son needs a night light, radio, or other electrical toy to fall asleep with, make sure you bring an outlet extender.

Bring plenty of baby supplies including diapers, wipes, diaper cream, cold medicines (just in case), etc. It's nearly impossible to find these things on the the ship or in port. Also, bring coloring books, washable crayons, small toys, etc. to keep your toddler busy while waiting for dinner, or waiting to embark & disembark the ship. Also, having a lightweight umbrella stroller is a must!

Good luck & have fun. Toddlers can be a handful on cruise ships.



answers from San Francisco on

Hi G.,
We took our 11 month old on a princess cruise earlier this year to mexico so I can pass on some advice about the cruising part...
- inflatable bathtub: this came in really handy because the shower is pretty small and we don't normally take a shower with our son. It fit into the shower perfectly and was really easy to use and much safer for everyone. we got the safety first tub (
- crib - we didn't know that you had to reserve a crib months in advance, so if you haven't yet, a pack and play will fit in the room. The porter will have to make a special exception and push both beds to one side of the room, but it works!
- There is a kids zone, but at 20 months, your baby is still too little to be dropped off (different sections divided by age). But there is a family zone where you can play with him when there is some down time. They have daily presents for the kids, so maybe he can get some goodies too.
- If your son is not potty trained yet, there is one pool in the family zone that he can play in. On our ship, there was a slide which was great.
- laundry room: they have laundry facilities on every other deck so you can easily do laundry and not have to bring too many clothes.
- diapers, etc: I don't think that they sold diapers and other baby stuff on board, so you do have to bring all that stuff with you.
- we didn't look for babysitting services because we had family with us, but I've heard that some cruises may provide that, so that you can have a nice dinner/see a show...

hmm... that's all I can think of right now, but feel free to message me if you have any more questions... have a great time!



answers from Sacramento on

Have you discovered the site I used that last time we went on a cruise through the Northwest. They have message boards there based on cruise line and specific ship, so you can get really customized information from people who've been on the trip. I got some great tips from the boards there, such as which on-ship restaurants are good/not so good, which shore activities to pursue, etc.

Have fun!

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