February 15, 2016

What I’ve Seen: Alaska Family Cruise

One of our favorite team members here at Thomson Family Adventures, Christine, went on a family cruise through Alaska with Un-Cruise. She is the best person to give some first hand advice on exactly what a small ship cruise is, let alone how much fun it can be! We were able to pick her brain a bit for some insight into this awesome experience.

Can you give us a brief overview of your Alaska family cruise?

I spent 8 days exploring southeast Alaska aboard the Safari Endeavour, which is a small expedition vessel, holding about 84 guests and 14 crew members. We traveled up and down the Icy Strait into quiet coves and bays where we were able to get off the boat and hike through the fields and woods in search for some interesting wildlife. Each day was a new adventure!

What was your favorite part of the trip?

Being out in the wilderness every day. Waking up and walking out onto the balcony, looking around and being completely surrounded by trees, mountains and calm waters. It was a very calming and peaceful atmosphere.

How many families were on the boat?

I would guess there was about 12-15 families in total. I traveled with two Thomson families. They ranged in age from 6-18 years old. It was really a great group of people to travel with. Everyone was friendly, laid-back, and ready for adventure. By the end of the trip we were all sad to leave each other.

How was it being on a boat for that long period of time? Were people getting sea sick?

Being on the boat for 7 days wasn’t too bad. There are plenty of activities to do while you are on board, not to mention the constant wildlife scene right outside the window. Each day you have the opportunity to get off the boat and go kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and exploring on land so you really aren’t on the boat for that much of the day. The crew did a great job of entertaining everyone, especially the kids!

The water was really calm; we were never in open ocean so there was no one really getting sick. We did have one night of rough weather, but even still it was much calmer than “rough” weather out in the middle of the ocean. I think anyone who suffers from sea sickness would do just fine on one of these cruises.

What kind of things were there to do on-board the ship during this family cruise to Alaska?

While on board ship, there is a lounge with lots of board games and arts and crafts for the kids. There are binoculars everywhere, so you always have an opportunity to see the whales, sea lion, birds or jellyfish passing on by. There is some fitness equipment as well for those looking to get in a quick workout. Yoga in the morning. Presentations and group games in the evening after dinner. For those looking for a little downtime or time to themselves, there is a library with many DVD’s that you can borrow to watch a movie in your cabin.

How does this compare to being on a larger more traditional cruise ship?

It doesn’t compare at all. It’s a completely different experience. I wouldn’t even put these in the same category. Typical cruise ships offer a lot of on board amenities, its part of the draw. The Un-Cruise experience is very different. This ship is a place to sleep. The real draw is the great outdoors, the wilderness, the explorations, and the unwritten, unscheduled adventures you will find along the way.

Were there things to do in Alaska before or after the cruise started?

Yes, there are many things you can do before, or after your cruise. You can spend a night or two in Juneau beforehand, exploring the little town. They have some great markets, and traditional shopping centers that are great for souvenirs. You can also do some excursions like dog sledding, or a Glacial Helicopter Ride, zip-lining, snowmobiling, etc.

Best advice for someone who hasn’t been on this type of family cruise before?

Make sure you go into it with the right expectations. This is not a typical cruise, with lots of onboard entertainments, shows, concerts, room service, 24-hour buffets, etc. This is a small expedition vessel. The real entertainment is out in the wild. If you have the right expectations, this is truly an amazing experience, and I think everyone should visit Alaska this way. I’d also try and take advantage of some of the excursions before or after your trip. After all, this may be the only time you go to Alaska, right?