The best family friendly small cruises in Alaska for young explorers

Last updated 11th August 2023

If Alaska is on your bucket list, one of the best ways to explore the state is aboard a cruise, which showcases glaciers, icebergs and sea life, as well as providing stops in intimate towns to learn about the culture of the native people and the wildlife. Todd Smith of AdventureSmith Explorations fell in love with Alaska at a young age and travels with his children to pass along that love. His tour company has developed a number of small-cruise tours that provide families with activities in an intimate setting. These are his favorites:

Discoverers Glacier Country

Choose a 36- or 84-passenger ship to wander through Southeast Alaska with visits to Glacier Bay National Park, the Tongass national forest, Frederick Sound and the Icy Strait. Cruises include complimentary massages, beverages, and themed departures such marine biology or photography. You can hike, kayak, whale watch and even hot tub on your trip. Kids age 8 to 13 save $500 on non-holiday departures.

Eastern & Western Coves Family Adventure Cruise

These active cruises carry 36 to 84 passengers for an education adventure. The Eastern Cove cruise travels along the fjords and channels of Alaska’s Inside Passage while the Western Coves cover the more western reaches of the same areas to take you deeper. Daily activities include kayaking, hiking, stand-up paddle boarding, snorkeling and more. Kids ages 8 to 13 are just $500 (except during holidays).

Glacier Bay and Island Adventure Cruise

Enjoy the slower pace of these family cruises through Glacier Bay that focus on the culture of the land with stops in Sitka, Kake and Juneau. Programs are made for kids 7 and older, with visits to the Huna Tribal House, becoming a Junior Ranger at the Reid Inlet, and exploring the Sitka Sound Science Center. Ages 15 and younger receive 30 percent off rates.

National Geographic Sea Lion and Quest

Led by the naturalists and professionals from National Geographic, these small ship cruises range from 62 to 100 passengers. Kids programs are available throughout the summer months, with educational activities such as scavenger hunts, nature and science programs, photo workshops and more. The 8-day cruises include kid-friendly menu options and special night activities, and kids 17 and younger save $500.

Charter Cruises

AdventureSmith Explorations provides 12-guest and smaller charter cruises aboard the Sea Wolf, Pacific Catalyst II and Discovery ships. These are perfect for families, especially multi-generations, and can be tailored to your interests and activities.

For more on AdventureSmith Exploration small-ship cruises to Alaska, visit the AdventureSmith website. Content and images provided by AdventureSmith.