Alaska Family Adventures
By Felicity Long
Today’s cruise lines know a thing or two about entertaining families. But if you’ve been holding off on taking the kids to Alaska for fear there won’t be as many cool things to do as there are in the Caribbean, take heart. Chances are, whether you’re calling at Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, or one of Alaska’s other cruise ports, you’ll find hours of family fun on shore.
Treetop Fun in Alaska
Zip lines have become popular in recent years, and there’s a reason for that. They offer high-adrenaline fun in a controlled environment that, in most cases, works for school-aged kids up to adults. Throw in a setting as beautiful as the Alaskan wilderness, and you have an activity that will probably appeal even to moody teens.
Some Alaskan ziplines, such as the one in Grizzly Falls in Skagway, are canopy tours, which means that you’ll experience more than one zip, and, depending on where you are, your adventure may also include a challenging ropes course. The good news is that some lines offer teen-only zipline excursions, so that your kids can brave the treetops while the older or younger cruisers among you — or anyone uncomfortable with heights —can happily spend the day doing something else.
Tour Tip: Check for age, height, and weight requirements before you book, and make sure you set aside enough time to get to the venue and back, as tours typically take several hours.
Glacier treks offer a glimpse into a landscape so otherworldly that passengers often rate these guided walks as among the most memorable of their cruise experience.
From Juneau, for example, you can venture to the Mendenhall Glacier and walk along the eerie rock and ice formations with a naturalist guide. What’s more is that to get to the glacier, you and the kids are likely to be treated to eye-popping scenery along the way, either by land, water, or air.
Tour Tip: Bring your camera and sunglasses and bundle up for the adventure, but also pack a change of clothes, as you’re likely to get wet from the icy hikes.
Dog sledding is an iconic sport in Alaska, and even if you’re not watching the Iditarod race firsthand — unlikely, since it runs in the very chilly month of March — your family can still join the fun at a musher’s camp.
The experience typically involves meeting and learning about the animals, interacting with the trainers, and, if you’re lucky, cuddling a puppy or two. The high point is a sled ride pulled by a team of huskies. And because these are racing animals, be prepared to hit….
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Photo: Matt Stroshane/Disney Cruise Line