Bucket List Trip: How To Take Your Family on an Alaska Cruise

Last updated 4th June 2018
Much of the thrill of an Alaska cruise exists in the journey itself — especially if you’re on a small expedition ship. Traveling the protected waters of Alaska’s Inside Passage by small expedition cruise ship allows for daily surprises: coming upon a group of humpback whales bubble-net feeding; an afternoon of kayaking in a secluded cove for close-ups of bears, sea otters and more; or the perfect evening for roasting s’mores over a bonfire.

One of the best ways to have all these experiences is with Alaskan Dream Cruises. Owned by local Alaska Natives of the Tlingit tribe, the company’s vision is to provide family sailings where you can “Become a True Alaskan.” This vision was clear from the beginning: to provide an opportunity for families to experience True Alaska — the Alaska the Tlingit tribe family has come to know and love through many generations of calling this place their home.

In order to accomplish this, they had to get beneath the surface, to venture off the common routes, to highlight destinations and wildlife areas very few guests to Alaska will ever have the opportunity to see. This included introducing guests to the faces and personalities of Alaska’s remote communities. Above all, it meant immersing travelers in a distinct way of life — a way of life characterized by a unique spirit of adventure and individuality.


Courtesy of Alaskan Dream Cruises

The Inside Passage is where the Tlingit ancestors thrived for millennia in the temperate rainforest of Southeast Alaska. The sea, rivers, forests and shorelines were teeming with wildlife and vegetation, providing an abundance of all the necessities of life. Villages were established in strategic locations for trade, security and food. Eventually, nations around the world heard whispers of the remarkable region and explorers from all walks of life sailed to the area, drawn by the allure of rich natural resources. Once the explorers experienced a taste of Alaska they often stayed, establishing small communities in the shadows of massive glaciers, along salmon-laden rivers, and unspoiled islands. Today, the communities of the Inside Passage are as diverse as her striking landscapes.

Taking into account the picturesque environment and unique communities of the Inside Passage, all of the all-inclusive itineraries with Alaskan Dream Cruises offer a mix of port excursions in intriguing towns and Native villages, as well as adventures in raw wilderness bays and glacial fjords. This approach offers families a comprehensive look at all the Inside Passage has to offer. Drawing upon the local knowledge passed down through the generations and gained by the staff’s own exploration, every Alaskan Dream Cruises experience is hand picked for its value in immersing travelers in True Alaska.


Courtesy of Alaskan Dream Cruises

For kids and families, daily excursions led by an onboard Youth Expedition Leader provide boots-on and hands-on learning opportunities. Activities range from cultural classes teaching traditional arts and crafts to nature hikes that teach kids to identify indigenous plants and animals. The surrounding mountains and the glaciers that shape them offer daily geology lessons. Plus, the maritime environment is the perfect place to learn about nautical charts and terms, and study the tides and intertidal zones.

As pioneers of Alaska day cruises, and after nearly 50 years of operation, the company has developed an unrivaled sense of the region’s most abundant wildlife areas. Routes are designed to travel through these places, while allowing ample time for up-close encounters. Commonly sighted terrestrial animals include both brown and black bears, mountain goats and Sitka Black-tailed deer. Occasionally, wolf and moose are seen. Of course, Southeast Alaska is famous for its seasonal migration of humpback whales, which are engaged in almost constant feeding behaviors. Orcas (killer whales), Steller sea lions, harbor seals, Dall’s porpoise, harbor porpoise and sea otters are also frequently spotted on the expeditions. Shipboard hydrophones enable staff and guests to listen for marine mammal communication.


Courtesy of Alaskan Dream Cruises

One of Alaskan Dream Cruises’s favorite places to take families is Orca Point Lodge on Colt Island. This private day lodge provides peaceful seclusion with modern comforts in an idyllic wilderness setting. Here, families can take in the scenery of Stephen’s Passage while indulging in fresh King crab — either from the warmth of the lodge or while nestled against the cozy beachside fire. After dinner, many guests enjoy beachcombing the shoreline. Of course, a visit to the marine touch tank is a must. At this tank, guests have the opportunity to view and handle several of Alaska’s intriguing intertidal invertebrates, including anemones, sea stars and hermit crab. Families will end the day around the fire, roasting s’mores and sharing stories.

Lounging next to this cozy beach fire at the end of the day in the Inside Passage allows guests to experience yet another quintessential Alaska experience. Families are bonded in the spirit that surrounds them, the adventures they’ve shared and the wilderness that they’ve encountered and explored. This is when they become a true Alaskan.