Five reasons to book Alaska small ship cruises

A year ago, we wrote extensively about our small ship cruise experience with Alaskan Dream Cruises. If you liked what you read (and saw in our small ship cruise review video), now is the perfect time of year to book your summer cruise. However, I realize Alaska small ship cruises are a serious vacation investment. If hikes, kayaking, wildlife viewing and shore excurions are on your list, you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by booking one of several Alaska small ship cruises.

5 reasons for families to book Alaska small ship cruises:

Sawyer Glacier

1. Eco-conservation begins with education.

As outdoor enthusiasts who have done all we can to pass on our love of the wilderness to our kids, we know that nothing makes children respect and value the planet more than a personal relationship with the natural world. On small ship cruises, the emphasis is outward (on the world outside the ship), instead of inward (deck parties and swimming pools). When kids see, hear, and touch the wildlife around them (whether that be while kids are exploring Alaska or the Galapagos), they are changed.

Case in point: the day we disembarked from our Alaskan Dream Cruises small ship cruise, we toured a museum of SE Alaska in Ketchikan. It took my kids about 15 minutes to view the entire facility, so I stopped them at the exit to ask why they’d spent so little time inside.

My oldest replied, “We already saw everything in this museum in ‘real life’ during the cruise, Mom.”

He didn’t realize it, but he’d summed up the reason for booking a small ship cruise. During our nine days on Alaskan Dream Cruises’ Baranof Dream family cruise, we visited Tlingit villages, kayaked amid sea lions, jumped into the frigid water of the Inside Passage, watched glaciers calve, stomped our feet to Norwegian folk dancing, eaten king salmon and crab, seen humpback whales breaching, made native crafts, and the list goes on. The entire time, we were surrounded by multiple expedition leaders (for both adults and youth) who pointed out sights, taught us scientific and cultural facts, showed us which berries to sample off the bushes, found eagles nests and bears fishing for salmon, and helped our kids paint, sew, and carve.

2. The kids will sleep well every night.

A common concern of parents considering a small ship cruise is that there won’t be ‘enough to do’ onboard. According to Wien, Alaskan Dream daily itineraries start at 7 am with breakfast and go strong until bedtime, with the goal of making each vessel ‘a moving summer camp’. The small ship may lack a game room and a climbing wall, but kids are always active, both on and off the ship. Because small ship cruise pricing is inclusive, parents can say ‘yes’ to kids all day long: yes, you can join that kayak tour, yes, explore the marine conservation center, and yes, have another cookie.

Hobart bay

3. Small ship cruises have a smaller environmental impact.

Due to their significantly smaller size, impacts of on-board consumption and off-vessel discharge for small ships can be limited to population areas which can handle this additional infrastructure (think 30 passengers instead of 3000). Limited on-board space forces small ship crews to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible, a practice Alaskan Dream and other small ship companies have mastered by necessity.

4. Small ship cruising allows for a local experience aiding a local economy.

In addition to gaining access to smaller, less populated ports of call, small cruise ships such as Alaskan Dream nurture positive working relationships with local tourism departments, attractions, and groups. In the case of Alaskan Dream, owners Bob and Betty Allen are members of the Tlingit Alaska tribe, a relationship that is fostered in their hiring practices, their cultural presentations, and their ports of call. “Native culture is strong in Alaska,” explains Wien. The Allens are highly involved in local communities, helping local causes and assisting to provide tourism dollars.

Kasaan alaska

5. Small ship foster multigenerational bonding.

While many cruise experiences will prompt families to leave their cell phones and electronic devices at home (or at least stowed in their bags), small ships take inclusiveness a step further. General gathering areas for all passengers encourage multigenerational mingling, and activities that may be out of the comfort zone of both father and son, mother and grandmother encourage familial bonding. Kids and parents absorb new information together, and then experience nature together in an unforgettable way.

Alaskan Dream did not sponsor this post.

Other great eco-cruise providers around the world:

AdventureSmith
Ecoventura
Discovery Voyages

Have you taken a small ship cruise? What eco and vacation benefits did you experience?

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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  1. After decades of leading trips to Antarctica, Alaska and the Galapagos, I started ExploringCircle with the hope of helping choose the perfect adventure cruise and educating on environmental and social issues. We make a 5% donation to groups working on important issues such as plastic in our water and water sanitation.

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