My husband and I wanted to watch our children enjoy their inheritance so we treated them to an Alaskan cruise. We started our trip in Seattle a few days early. One day we drove rental cars to Mt. Rainier and spent the day. We also visited the Pike's Place Market and the Space Needle. The Amtrak Cascades trip to Vancouver took four hours and followed the coast. We saw several bald eagles on the beach. We allowed for a overnight stay in Vancouver to be sure we made embarkation.
This was the first cruise for our adult children and spouses and their children. Embarkation went very smoothly and they were pleasantly surprised at the size of the staterooms and the amount of storage space. We had adjoining balcony rooms which enabled us to walk between rooms without using the hall. The family rooms had twin beds and bunks that lowered from the ceiling. Two of the grandchildren enjoyed the organized activities in the Fun Zone while the other two preferred their parents' company. All of them loved the enclosed swimming pool. There were 200 children on this voyage so some adults may have been discouraged by the number of children in the pool. Ours especially appreciated the pizza available poolside.
The grandchildren, ages seven to eleven, liked eating at the Horizon Court. The adults preferred the Anytime Dining. Service was too slow for the youngsters.
Everyone was able to find food to their liking although it did not seem as elegant to me as in "the old days."
Our gift did not include on board expenses. The adult children were shocked at the total cost of beverages and shore excursions. We did Princess trips in each port. The favorite was probably the whale watching and Mendenhall glacier in Juneau. One family took the sled dog excursion in Skagway which thrilled them.
We selected a land extension that used rail travel exclusively. The children could sit with their cousins, play games,talk,and move around. The downside is that this adds travel time and the food service is not very child friendly. The land tour was very well organized. We spent two nights in Denali. The Natural History tour into the park had two stops with short walks which made the five hour trip bearable for the young ones. They completed their Junior Ranger requirements and the driver stopped for a ranger to present them their badges on the bus. We had time for short hikes. In Fairbanks the Discovery riverboat ride and lunch was informative. The children were more impressed with panning for real gold. The Princess lodges were adequate but the food was expensive.
My husband and I had done the Alaska cruise with Princess in 1997. At that time we saw only the Hubbard glacier. My favorite days on the ship were the ones spent cruising Glacier Bay
and Prince William Sound. The captain turns the ship so each side gets a good view. We were blessed with clear cool weather which added to our enjoyment. I would highly recommend this trip, with or without grandchildren.