October 11, 2018
Almost every person I know has a cruise to Alaska on their travel bucket list. It's one thing to go tour the stunning landscape Alaska, but it's another to take in sights that can only be seen or accessed via the ocean. The idea of waking up surrounded by glaciers and seeing whales from my bedroom seemed like something that could only happen in the best kind of dreams.
My family of three recently had the opportunity to travel to Alaska with Princess Cruises. While part of me was beyond elated to go on an Alaska cruise, another part was a little concerned that a cruise might not be a good fit for a family with younger kids. After six days on the ocean, we couldn't imagine a better way to visit the 49th state with kids. We all had a blast -- including my 7-year-old son, Eddie. I could come up with a million reasons why every family should take an Alaska cruise, but here are my top eight reasons to go:
1. You can unplug.
So many of us rely on our phones for everything all day long, and it can be difficult to unplug and reconnect face to face. I love that there was only satellite Wi-Fi on the ship, which made the transition to disconnecting with the world so much easier. Although it can be stressful to fully unplug from our devices and plug into connecting with one another, there is nothing more recharging than doing this.
2. It's easy to see several places.
This is truly one of the coolest parts of being on a cruise. When you're on a cruise ship, you go to sleep in one city and wake up in a new city the next morning. I love that you leave your luggage in your room and simply walk off the dock, ready to explore. If you forget anything, you can simply walk back to the ship and grab what you need. It's so convenient with kids to not have to pack and unpack your luggage every time you head to a new city. Plus, you don't have to worry about finding transportation. Traveling on a cruise ship is stress-free. There's also a great concierge service to help you book amazing excursions in the various ports you visit.
3. You don't have to plan meals.
Talk about making it easy on families: Cruise ships offer everything from huge buffets to fine-dining options, as well as quick bites like homemade pizza, burgers and soft serve ice cream. The variety means you don't have to worry about planning for food with kids, which is awesome. It's great that you can order breakfast to your room via your interactive cabin TV and choose a time for delivery. Having my morning coffee sitting on my balcony watching for whales, bears and glaciers while my kid slept was pure bliss.
4. Cruise ships have incredible kids clubs.
Kids clubs might be the single most amazing part of family cruising. Princess Cruises offers kids clubs that are broken down into three age categories (3-7, 8-12, 13-17) to entertain your kids while you have some adult time in. (Think activities like a workout, spa treatment or outdoor movie.) I loved that Princess partners with Animal Planet and Discovery Channel to bring some quality educational programs in, as well. On our trip, they also offered a Junior Ranger program onboard. The offering is a part of the National Parks Program, designed to help breed an early love and appreciation for nature.
5. You'll fall in love with the endless ocean views.
I equate being on a cruise ship to staying in a hotel on the water. The cabins with balconies offer endless oceans views that constantly change, depending on where you're going. Seeing the ocean and other unique sights along the way feels priceless. On our cruise, we whale watched on our full days at sea, spying orca whales and sea lions from the comfort of our ship. You could easily sit on your balcony all day with a pair of binoculars in hopes of seeing something amazing. Plus, some astounding natural wonders can be spotted only by ship or boat; Glacier National Park and Hubbard Glacier, for example, are simply spectacular, and they're only accessible from the water. Witnessing those glaciers up close and watching them calve was one of the most stunning things I've ever seen. This is a view you will never get sick of.
6. Cruising is budget friendly.
Cruising truly fits every budget, which is great for family travel because all the basics are covered in the price of your fare. The kids club is included, and so are oh-so-convenient buffets, available three times a day. Cruising allows for every family to plan an epic vacation that fits their budget. You can splurge on certain days with an excursion, or simply walk into town and enjoy the local sites, then head back to the ship for a meal without spending a dime extra.
7. You won't miss your workout.
One of the most pleasant surprises of the trip was the full-sized onboard gym -- truly one of the best perks. On your full cruising days at sea, it is so nice to be able to pop down to a great gym to go for a run with an epic ocean or glacier view. I also took a TRX class, spin class and Pilates, then returned to more rest and relaxation.
8. The spa is a must.
A cruise ship spa is the ultimate indulgence. I loved getting a quick blowout for formal nights (we had two on our itinerary) and a massage on our last full day at sea. Pro tip: Book your spa appointment online before you even board your ship to make sure you get a spot, but if you do wait until you're onboard, discounts can often be had on port days.
--By Veena Goel Crownholm, Cruise Critic Contributor
Veena Goel Crownholm is a former Miss California, red carpet host and co-founder of the The Millennial Mamas. She loves health, wellness, anything related to entertainment and seeing the world. You can find her on Instagram at @veenacrownholm.