The 8 Best Alaska Cruises for Families of 2019

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The Rundown

Best Overall: See Norwegian Cruise Line Rates "NCL’s newest ship that's chock full of exciting family-friendly amenities."

Runner-Up, Best Overall: See Royal Caribbean Rates "If you’re looking for a cruise to Alaska with all the theme-park like attractions, then the Ovation of the Seas will not disappoint."

Best Budget: See Norwegian Cruise Line Rates "Daily activities range from games like “Deal or No Deal” to family dodgeball and trivia."

Best Amenities: See Disney Cruise Line Rates "Activities in the kids’ clubs are geared toward each age group."

Best Educational Cruise: See Princess Cruises Rates "The Camp Discovery kids and teens centers have cleverly-themed clubs for each age group."

Best Extended Cruise: See Carnival Rates "Little ones will love Dr. Seuss at Sea with character visits."

Best Activities: See Holland America Rates "The kid’s activities on some of the fleet’s vessels may surprise you."

Best Sightseeing: See Celebrity Cruises Rates "Guests can watch a show in the theaters or listen to live music."

Our Top Picks

01 of 08

Best Overall: Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Sails from: Seattle
  • Duration: 7 nights
  • Ship Name: Norwegian Bliss
  • Itinerary: Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Victoria

Norwegian Bliss is NCL’s newest ship that's chock full of exciting family-friendly amenities like laser tag, a race track on the top deck, and exhilarating waterslides that overhang the sides of the ship and the ocean. The 4,004-passenger Bliss has family accommodations as well, ranging from interior to spacious suites with concierge service and private breakfast. The kid’s club includes the teens club with art, music, movies and dance parties, an interactive club for tots, and the Splash Academy for games and themed parties. As an added convenience, the ship sails round-trip from Seattle, so families can drive into the same port for departure and arrival to cut the cost of flights (many other Alaskan cruises are one-way). 

02 of 08

Runner-up, Best Overall: Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean

  • Sails from: Seattle
  • Duration: 7 nights
  • Ship: Ovation of the Seas
  • Itinerary: Juneau, Skagway, Alaska; Victoria, Canada

If you’re looking for a cruise to Alaska with all the theme park-like attractions, then the Ovation of the Seas will not disappoint. Built in 2016, Ovation is currently ranked as one of the 10 largest cruise ships in the world with onboard features like a skydiving simulator, bumper cars and circus classes, and the North Star, a moving observation “pod” with surreal views. Kids can visit the Adventure Ocean kids club or “Splashaway Bay” waterpark, while teens have their own dedicated space, "The Living Room,” with Xbox, scheduled activities, and dedicated teen events. Nightly theater entertainment is superb, including the cutting-edge technological show, Pixels, and aerial performances.

03 of 08

Best Budget: Norwegian Cruise Lines

Norwegian Cruise Lines

TripAdvisor 

  • Sails from: Seward
  • Duration: 7 nights
  • Ship Name: Norwegian Jewel
  • Itinerary: Icy Strait, Juneau, Skagway Ketchikan, Vancouver

The Norwegian Jewel may be one of the line’s older vessels, but the ship is still jam-packed with things to do and has some of the best prices around for Alaskan cruises. At 2,376 passengers, Jewel is one of NCL’s smaller and less crowded vessels, but has many of the same specialty dining options and amenities found on larger ones – for a fraction of the cost. Daily activities range from games like “Deal or No Deal” to family dodgeball and trivia. For kids, there’s Entourage teens club, a video arcade, or the Splash Academy for the younger crowd. In the evening, the mesmerizing Le Cirque Bijou, an acrobatic act, takes the stage.

04 of 08

Best Amenities: Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line

Courtesy of Disney

  • Sails from: Vancouver
  • Duration: 7 nights
  • Ship Name: Disney Wonder
  • Itinerary: Icy Strait, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan

Disney takes its magic to sea on the Disney Wonder to Alaska. Onboard, there’s exciting waterslides, the latest Disney movies in 3D, pirate nights, and Disney characters everywhere. Kids can search the ship for the “hidden Mickeys” and girls will love getting dolled up like a Disney princess in the salon. Activities in the kids’ clubs are geared toward each age group, and there are some new features like Marvel’s Super Hero Academy in the Oceaneer Kid’s Club (complete with live stunt shows). The Disney theme continues into the dining rooms by showcasing classic movies, and in the evenings, there are live musical performances that are top notch. 

See more cruise options with our guide to the best cruises for kids.

Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08

Best Educational: Princess Cruises

Golden Princess Alaska Cruise

Princess Cruises

  • Sails from: Vancouver
  • Duration: 7 nights
  • Ship Name: Golden Princess
  • Itinerary: Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Whittier, Alaska

Fresh off an extensive refurbishment in 2018, the 2,600-passenger Golden Princess has a fresh new look and plenty of family-oriented activities at very competitive prices. Princess partnered with the Discovery Channel to offer educational experiences both at sea and during excursions in Alaskan ports. Onboard, families can watch movies on the outer deck, join a stargazing group, visit an indoor planetarium, or participate in the “Voice” talent show to see some budding stars. The Camp Discovery kids and teens centers have cleverly-themed clubs for each age group including the “treehouse” for little ones, the “lodge” for tweens, and “the beach house” for teens. For extended families traveling together, the two-bedroom family suites can hold up to eight people, and comes with a shared living area, balcony, and two bathrooms. 

06 of 08

Best Extended Cruise: Carnival Cruise

Carnival Miracle to Alaska

Carnival  

  • Sails from: San Francisco
  • Duration: 10 nights
  • Ship Name: Carnival Miracle
  • Itinerary: Juneau, Alaska; Skagway, Alaska; Icy Strait, Alaska; Victoria, Canada

For a longer family cruise from a convenient departure port, consider the 10-night voyage on the Carnival Miracle that sails round-trip from San Francisco – allowing guests to easily drive to the port. Onboard Miracle, there’s a plethora of fun activities like Hasbro, the interactive game show, a ship-wide scavenger hunt of “Clue,” cooking demonstrations, and live theater performances. Little ones will love Dr. Seuss at Sea with character visits and a “Green Eggs and Ham” breakfast, or kid-oriented Zumba classes to popular children’s songs. The cruise also visits the newly-created cruise port stop of Icy Strait – a less commercialized port of call full of artisan crafts and authentic experiences.

07 of 08

Best Activities: Holland America

Neptune Suite on the ms Eurodam cruise ship
Photo Courtesy of Holland America Line
  • Sails from: Seattle
  • Duration: 7 nights
  • Ship Name: MS Eurodam
  • Itinerary: Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Alaska; Victoria, Canada

Although Holland America isn’t known for their kid’s programs and has many onboard amenities that appeal to older couples, the activities on some of the fleet’s vessels may surprise you. On the 2,104-passenger Eurodam, Club HAL has different programs for kids like “Painting Picassos” and “Sing-Along Storytime,” as well as trivia and other contests geared toward tweens and teens. There’s also dedicated programs for children with special needs, plus port day activities onboard the ship. Holland hosts educational opportunities thanks to a partnership with BBC Earth, including “Celebrate Alaska,” a musical performance with footage from the TV series, Wild Alaska. Foodie families can head to America’s Test Kitchen for hands-on workshops and cooking classes.

08 of 08

Best Sightseeing: Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Eclipse - Celebrity Suite
Celebrity Eclipse Photo Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises
  • Sails from: Vancouver
  • Duration: 7 nights
  • Ship Name: Celebrity Eclipse 
  • Itinerary: Icy Strait, Juneau, Ketchikan

Celebrity may not have the amusement-park atmosphere that the Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian cruise lines have, but that doesn’t mean it’s not family friendly. The company has four different family programs: art, recreation, culinary, and STEM. Teens have their very own spa treatments including mani/pedis and facials, and the new shore excursion program highlights tours that are family-oriented. There’s also a sports court, pool volleyball, and lawn games on the unique, outdoor green space. In the evenings, guests can watch a show in the theaters or listen to live music and events throughout the ship.

Interested in reading more reviews? Take a look at our selection of the best Alaska cruises.

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