7 Tips To Plan The Best Alaskan Cruise For Families

Best Alaskan Cruise For Families

It’s never too early to develop a lifelong passion for adventure! There’s something magical about bringing your entire family along to the land of northern lights, midnight sun, dog sledding, glaciers, national parks, epic fishing, and vast wilderness. That’s why you’re looking for Alaskan cruises and excursions that are perfect for younger children.

Nothing matches a family cruise to Alaska when it comes to making memories, bonding, connecting with nature, and seeing once-in-a-lifetime sights! Of course, the best Alaskan cruise for families should combine adventure with luxury touches. Popular cruise lines known for offering the best Alaska cruises include:

  • Princess Cruises

  • Holland America Line

  • Carnival Cruise Line

  • Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Celebrity Cruises

  • Royal Caribean

  • and many more

Of course, planning an amazing family cruise isn’t about which cruise line you choose to sail with! It’s all about the family-friendly shore excursions you book once you dock. When you come to the Last Frontier, glacier viewing, whale spotting, and visits to iconic national parks are all on the table.

Feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to where to start with planning your great Alaskan adventure? Don’t start building your itinerary until you check out this list of tips for the best Alaska cruise with family!


1) Choose A Cruise Ship That Docks At Icy Strait Point

While cruise lines dock at many different port cities, the truth is that many cruise ships actually end up at tourist areas that don’t showcase the “real” Alaska. That means that you’ll need to take an excursion away from town just to enjoy some breathtaking views and experiences. One exception is Icy Point Strait.

Located near the village of Hoonah, Alaska, Icy Strait Point is considered one of Alaska’s best spots for wildlife viewing and fishing. Hoonah is famed for being Alaska’s largest Tlingit village. While Hoonah’s year-round population is just 800 residents, it’s not uncommon for the village to receive more than 10,000 visitors in a single day during cruise season. Highlights include:

  • The warehouse shops are located just a few steps from the dock on Cannery Road but tend to have much higher prices than the shops in downtown Hoonah

  • Icy Strait Brewing

  • The Yaakw Kahidi Cultural Center

  • Birding tours

  • Kayak tours

  • Chichagof Island ATV tours

Hoonah and the Icy Strait offer a uniquely lush environment that has been preserved to allow the abundant local wildlife to run wild! As a result, this is one of the easiest places to spot various animals and mammals in the woods and waters that surround you during your visit.

A Cruise Ship That Docks At Icy Strait Point

2) Plan A Shore Excursion With Some Scenic Cruising

Getting off your ship to hop on a locally owned boat can be the best way to make a family cruise feel like a custom adventure. Countless families have planned once-in-lifetime experiences with help from Hoonah Travel Adventures. Our expert guides offer guests the opportunity to get a firsthand look at the local wildlife.

Our shore excursions bring you to some of the best spots in Alaska for bear watching, whale watching, fishing, birding, and more. Every single trip we offer is planned with the needs of cruise passengers in mind.

From picking you up at a convenient spot to ensuring you’re back at your ship to board in time, our crew will work hard to make sure your day goes off without a hitch! Our popular excursions include:

  • Guaranteed Whale Watching

  • Wilderness Tour and Brown Bear Search

  • Icy Strait Fishing Adventure

  • Icy Strait Kayak Adventure

  • Chichagof Island Birding and Nature Adventure

Tours with us bring you to places in the Alexander Archipelago where brown bears vastly outnumber people! All of our round-trip adventures last three hours. If you’re planning a day of family fun, you’ll be happy to know that all of our top-notch vessels have bathrooms.

Go adventuring with the company that caters to passengers docking with Alaska Cruises. Book a day you’ll never forget with Hoonah Travel Adventures!

A Shore Excursion With Icy Strait Whales

3) Discover The Best Family Friendly Activities At Denali National Park

Planning the perfect trip for young visitors when going to a national park isn’t always easy. You need to think about ways to balance a desire for adventure with age-appropriate activities. Here’s a look at some spots in Denali where kids can have fun:

  • Denali Visitor Center: As the main visitor center of the park, this spot offers tours, talks, and opportunities to learn about what’s going on during your visit.

  • Murie Science & Learning Center: Offers exhibits and activities for kids.

  • Riley Creek Mercantile: Offers snacks, ice cream, showers, bathrooms, and areas for sitting.

  • Winter Visitor Center: Visitors can stop in to get information on the night’s aurora forecast.

  • Sled Dog Kennels at Park Headquarters: Families can meet fluffy, friendly rangers! While there’s no guarantee that the dogs won’t be out on an important mission, visitors can always take a look around the dog yard!

  • Spruce Tree Trail: This 0.5-mile, 15-minute round-trip loop is wide and flat enough for toddlers to enjoy! Expect to see squirrels, spruce cones, wild blueberries, and wildflowers. Other kid-friendly trails in Denali include Horseshoe Lake Trail, McKinley Station Trail, and Mount Healy Overlook Trail.

Family Vacation At Denali National Park

4) See Puffins At Kenai Fjords National Park

Just wait until you tell your kids that you’re taking them to one of the puffin capitals of Alaska! With more than 50% of its land covered by ice, Kenai Fjords National Park is a favorite spot of coastal birds. In fact, this is a popular spot for cruising among people coming to the state specifically for bird watching.

Both tufted and horned puffins arrive each spring for the breeding season. They can be seen congregating in coastal colonies throughout the spring and summer.

Puffins At Kenai Fjords National Park

5) Explore The Beach At Low Tide At Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park covers 3.3 million acres of glaciers, mountains, rainforests, and fjords. However, it’s the wild coastlines that attract many visitors. With views that can give you beach meadows buffered by waves that carry humpback whales, these beaches are unlike any other beaches on the planet!

For families, the beach near the docks at Bartlett Cove is the best choice because this is the most developed area of Glacier Bay. In addition to being the “headquarters” of Glacier Bay, Bartlett Cove is a protected bay that offers a public dock that is used by countless boaters and kayakers in the summer months. The Glacier Bay Visitor Center offers displays and tourism information. This is also where you can get permitting information for a boat or campsite.

Experience Kayaking At Glacier Bay National Park

6) Take Advantage Of Alaska Cruises With Kids Programs

Many cruise lines offer kids programs that allow the youngsters on the cruise ship to get together for some fun. While you may love the idea of a family vacation, the truth is that many people who book Alaska cruises are looking for some wild adventures that may not be safe for children.

Having kid-friendly activities or childcare available on the ship can allow you to enjoy more strenuous excursions during your Alaska cruise. Experience a variety of family-friendly activities:

  • Alaska State Fair

  • Whale-watching tours

  • Glacier cruises

  • Fishing charters

  • Anchorage Museum

  • Alaska Sealife Center

Alaska Cruises With Kids Programs

7) Make A Family Scavenger Hunt

You can easily turn your Alaska cruise into a learning experience for your kids by creating a scavenger hunt for your trip! This trip will ensure that your kids stay alert as you travel over water, through forests, and around glaciers.

Experience the thrill of a scavenger hunt as you search for items, compete for the top spot on the leaderboard, and most importantly, create lasting memories of fun and laughter with your loved ones.

Alaskan Cruise Family Scavenger Hunt

Plan The Best Alaska Cruise With Family

It doesn’t matter if you’re getting to Alaska with Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, or any other popular cruise line. Everyone knows that the best Alaska cruises are all about what happens once you dock.

Regardless of which cruise line you arrive with, Hoonah Travel Adventures is ready to bring you on an unforgettable shore excursion in Hoonah, Alaska! We make connecting to the Alaskan wilderness easier than ever.

In addition to offering convenient bookings and transportation options, we take off just a short distance from where cruise ships dock in Icy Strait Point. Secure your reservation with us today!

3 hours
Group Size
Up to 30

Guaranteed Whale Watching in the Icy Strait Point, Alaska Area - LEO, Military, Teacher Discount!

Our Hoonah whale watching tour begins when we pick you up at the Icy Strait Point Excursions Hub. We drive along Shaman Point to the Hoonah City Harbor where our charter boat is waiting. Along the way, you may spot some of our local wildlife, including bald eagles, blacktail deer, and more. Hoonah is home to the largest concentration of Alaskan brown bears in the world, so keep your eyes open!

We then board the boat and leave Hoonah Harbor. While traveling along the shorelines, sightings of bears, deer, coastal ducks and geese, blue heron, puffin, terns, cormorants, and more are common. In the water, you may get a chance to spot humpbacks, orca, sea otters, sea lions, porpoises, and seals.

Large numbers of humpback whales come to Hoonah to feed in the nutrient-rich waters of Point Adolphus, Glacier Bay and Icy Strait every summer before migrating south again in the winter. The whale population begins to arrive in Hoonah in May and stays through September. Humpback whales are large baleen whales that can reach over 50 feet in length and weigh as much as 50 tons. They are most famous for their whale songs, thought to be used by males as a mating call. Humpbacks are amazingly active and typical whale sightings include diving, blows, and flukes (tails). Lucky whale watchers may get to see breaching or bubble-net feeding, a cooperative feeding method where a pod forms a circle and dives under the water. They blow air to create a wall of bubbles that force krill and plankton to the surface where the whales can eat them. Observing humpbacks practice bubble-net feeding is a real treat and a truly thrilling experience. We have a $100 whale sighting guarantee! If a whale is not sighted on your tour your will be credited $100.

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3 hours
Group Size
Up to 10

Wilderness Tour and Brown Bear Search - LEO, Military, Teacher Discount!

Chichagof Island, or Shee Kaax, is an island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Alaska Panhandle. At 75 miles long and 50 miles wide, it has a land area of 2,048.61 square miles, making it the fifth largest island in the United States. Chichagof Island has the highest population of bears per square mile of any place on Earth and its dense rain forests are some of the last grizzly strongholds!

The community of Hoonah, with a year-round population of approximately 750, is located in the northern part of Chichagof Island. The vast majority of the island is made up of pure, uninhabited Alaskan wilderness teeming with wildlife! The Ursus arctos, or brown bear, is the king of the forest, but Sitka black-tail deer, bald eagles, minks, martens, beavers, ducks, and seabirds thrive on the island and are sometimes spotted on this tour.

This Alaskan wilderness and bear search tour is only offered May through September because those are the months that afford the highest probability of bear sightings. In late April and May, the bears are coming out of hibernation and looking for food. In June, the bears are mating and eating grasses on the tidal flats. Older males fight each other for dominance and mating rights with the females, who at times are not receptive and force the male to give chase.

In July, the salmon start their migration from the ocean up the rivers and we find the bears feeding in coastal rivers and streams. In August and September, the salmon have made it further up the rivers to shallow streams where the bears chase them.

Depending on the month and the weather, the wildlife can be found in different locations throughout the island. Your guide spends a lot of time in the forest and knows where to look.

Join us as we search for these amazing creatures!

This tour is located on the Tongass National Forest under special use permit from the Forest Service, USDA.
Hoonah Travel Adventures LLC is an equal opportunity provider.

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3 hours
Group Size
Up to 6

Icy Strait Fishing Adventure

Fishermen come from around the world to cast their lines in the waters of Southeast Alaska in search of halibut and salmon. Join the ranks of these traveling fisherman and book a trip with us today!

3 hours
Group Size
Up to 12

Icy Strait Kayak Adventure

The reasons to Kayak with us are endless! A few reasons might be to experience unspoiled nature and stunning scenery amid a mountainous back drop! Or simply the serenity and peace that speaks to ones soul while gliding silently across the water in this majestic, remote location.

3 hours 30 minutes
Group Size
2 to 10

Chichagof Island Birding & Nature Adventure

In the lush vegetation of Chichagof Island, near Hoonah, Alaska, where Brown Bears outnumber humans, birding is an adventure! Your expert bird guide is also a naturalist, and you will learn about the natural and human history of the area, the plants, animals, fish, forests, and rivers. Pigeon Guillemots, Bald Eagles, Varied Thrushes, Steller’s Jays, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Red-breasted Sapsuckers are some of the favorites, but this is so much more than just another birding tour. Come experience the vibrant ecological web created here, in Hoonah, Alaska, near Icy Strait Point where the towering temperate forests of Chichagof Island tangle with the rich marine life of Icy Strait.