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Skippy

Europe or Alaska with elementary aged kids?

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I am trying to get some vacation ideas for next summer. Next summer the kids will be nearly 11 and 8. We’ve done 3 Caribbean cruises with them and they had fun.

I’m looking into the possibility of going to either Europe or Alaska. If you’ve been, what was more fun and memorable for all of you?

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I'd do Alaska. More outdoorsy stuff. Europe will be more historic sites. Unless your kids are history buffs, I think Alaska might be a better fit.

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I'd do Alaska. More outdoorsy stuff. Europe will be more historic sites. Unless your kids are history buffs, I think Alaska might be a better fit.

 

I agree - even my 14 yo still turns his nose up at Europe, though now that he is in HS and taking Ancient World History, I think he will better begin to appreciate it.

 

We did however take him to Alaska when he was about 9 (older brother 15), and he loved it. We did Totem Bight park in Ketchican and walked the town.We had a private whale watch and Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau and rented a car and drove into the Yukon, going to Carcoss, the smallest desert and Caribou Crossing where they panned for gold and played with sled dog puppies. They also enjoyed running and exploring on the huge beach in the small town of Carcross. Beautiful trip on Princess. If you go this way, I highly suggest a ship with a Carib deck balcony as they are half covered and huge.

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Our daughter enjoyed both. We did Med when she was 7.5 and Alaska when she was 12.5. She really enjoyed the Vatican and Valencia. Alaska she said our best day was in Glacier Bay just sitting on our balcony and looking at nature through binoculars. Of course, our child is very quite and reserved and is content, most days, reading a book or drawing. If your child is outdoorsy and very active, hiking in Alaska would be more their speed.

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My girls loved both. You can spend port days in both exploring outdoors - no need to do museums, etc. just because it's Europe. We did Europe first because ironically it priced out less expensive than Alaska at the time - and we're from Los Angeles! The big plus for Alaska in the summer is the weather - much more pleasant than Europe.

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Depends upon what made your carib cruises "fun" for your kids.

 

We did two AK and three Med cruises with our DD while she was in elementary and middle school (+ one HI, one Maritime, and one Baltic). DD is NOT a fan of beaches, or amusement rides, but likes impressionist art, hiking, and photography.

 

She really liked all of our cruises -- we balanced some museums with national parks and her father tolerated our shopping. She always liked the various kids club and still keeps in touch with some of the kids she hung with.

 

Now that she is out of middle school, she has spent most of her travel time with marching band trips and sports trips. No time for cruising!

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Depends upon what made your carib cruises "fun" for your kids.

 

 

 

We did two AK and three Med cruises with our DD while she was in elementary and middle school (+ one HI, one Maritime, and one Baltic). DD is NOT a fan of beaches, or amusement rides, but likes impressionist art, hiking, and photography.

 

 

 

She really liked all of our cruises -- we balanced some museums with national parks and her father tolerated our shopping. She always liked the various kids club and still keeps in touch with some of the kids she hung with.

 

 

 

Now that she is out of middle school, she has spent most of her travel time with marching band trips and sports trips. No time for cruising!

 

 

 

They liked swimming in the pool and the beach but they also enjoyed wandering around the forts at San Juan and seeing the different animals and nature on the other islands.

 

Are the swimming pools on the ships in Alaska open for swimming?

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They liked swimming in the pool and the beach but they also enjoyed wandering around the forts at San Juan and seeing the different animals and nature on the other islands.

 

Are the swimming pools on the ships in Alaska open for swimming?

 

Both of our AK cruises were very early June - the pools were open but particularly on at sea times could be a bit chilly (but we are from up on Lake Superior and so chilly is a very relative term)

 

There are a lot of opportunities to hike in AK - Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka in particular. Ketichan is pretty cool with the lumberjack stuff and the totem museum. The opportunity to visit a glacier is also pretty gosh darn interesting.

 

Med - you've got a lot of cool spots, Roman and Greek ruins, beaches, etc. A Greek cruise could be interesting - some beach opportunities but the ancient olympics site from Kotocolon, exploring Santorini, lots of new adventures, but many spots in Europe do require a bit of a trip from the port to the sights

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I travelled to Alaska while pregnant with my first, and it was amazing and I hope to take my kids back someday. The one thing to be aware of was that we had initially planned our trip to Alaska as a last minute, easy inexpensive trip since the cruise faire and airline tickets were quite affordable. Once I added up the cost of excursions and a land tour to Denali, the price jumped considerably. But it was certainly all worth it. The one thing I'd recommend is booking all excursions directly through the third party vendors to save money - the Bering sea tour in ketchikan is great, as is hiking after taking the Mt. Roberts Tramway, and booking the helicopter to dogsled tour directly through Temsco (note: Temsco recommended booking in Skagway, not Juneau since the weather tends to be more stable there and to book as early as possible since they will try to rebook you later in the day if they need to cancel due to weather, although we travelled in the shoulder season late May/early June and they may be completely booked up later and have no wiggle room in their schedule). Also, if you are planning a land tour to Denali do bear in mind this involves some long travel days - a long train or bus ride from Anchorage, and then in Denali itself long rides on converted school buses (which wasn't the world's most comfortable ride when you're pregnant).

 

If you are considering a Med cruise, please bear in mind that although Santorini is one of the most beautiful places it is a bit logistically difficult to visit. First, you have to tender (and everyone is fighting to get off early) since once you arrive you need to either book a ship tour since some ships will then bus you to the hilltops, or you need to wait on a very long line for a funicular or ride donkeys uphill to meet your tour guide if you are traveling independently or are on an independent tour. The donkey ride wasn't pleasant, as my donkey tried to race up as quickly as possible and scraped my leg against the concrete wall, and my brother's donkey tried to fight with the other donkeys and he lost a shoe halfway up (there's a souvenir store helpfully selling shoes at the top, so I think this may have happened a few times). Both cruise ship tours and independent travelers need to take a funicular down or walk down the donkey path, which can again get bottlenecked since many cruise ships dock in Santorini. And please also bear in mind that the Med can be extremely hot during the summer.

 

The other two cruises you might want to consider that my children loved are Norway and the Baltics. Norway is gorgeous, with lots of active tours available. There's a review in my signature line if this is something you'd like to consider.

 

The Baltics allow you to visit a lot of spectacular cities, most of which you can dock very close to the city center. Kid friendly attractions include Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Vasa and lots of great animal attractions at Skansen in Stockholm and the fountains of Peterhof in St. Petersburg. The only potential downsides are that St. Petersburg is very crowded, and ships now can give priority disembarkment to travelers on ship tours. If you can afford it, a private tour for just your family would let you start later on day one and earlier on day 2, and allow you to skip all the lines at museums. Our 3 year old loved St. Petersburg, and thanks to our tour guide adjusting the schedule to let us stay longer at the museums he loved, and taking breaks whenever he needed to we were able to see all the major highlights in this spectacular city over 2 days. You'd want to consider taking a smaller ship so you can dock directly in Stockholm, which is a truly gorgeous city with a lot to explore. Larger ships are often docked an hour away in Nynashamn, and you miss the beautiful sail in through the archipelago into Stockholm. Also, there are nice things to do close to where you dock in Germany such as the Schwerin castle if you don't want to travel all the way to Berlin.

 

You have a lot of great options, and ultimately it just depends on what you and the kids want to do. You might want to let them do some research on the various trips and see what they'd like best.

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We just took our kids to Europe (not on a cruise) this past summer at ages 7 and 10. They LOVED every minute. If I had to suggest an itinerary, I'd say something that leaves from Copenhagen. Tivoli Gardens was a huge hit for my kids, so definitely go there!

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We did Alaska with our son this past summer, and he loved it. We are looking at Baltic’s or South America (around the horn) as our next cruise adventure!

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Forums

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They liked swimming in the pool and the beach but they also enjoyed wandering around the forts at San Juan and seeing the different animals and nature on the other islands.

 

Are the swimming pools on the ships in Alaska open for swimming?

 

On HAL, the ships have retractable roofs over the lido pool so they close up in Alaska. The lido pool and that whole area is toasty regardless of the outside temps. I love that feature. Our family loves the lido deck space, especially in Alaska and Canada/NE. So nice and open but warm. I know a few other cruise ships on some other lines do. Might be something to look into.

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My kids had a great time on our Baltic cruise this summer (10 and 13)...see linked report. But it would depend on the kid. They didn’t mind visiting museums and historic sites. We went to aLaska when they were very little. For my kids it would have been less fun at their current age as they aren’t as interested in scenery etc

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We did a 7 night Alaskan cruise on Holland America the summer the kids were 10 and 6. we had a blast.  Defintely nice to have the covered lido deck.  We loved the Bering fishing tour in Ketichkan.

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