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Alaska Excursions for Kids under 2?

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Hey Everyone! I have looked all over, talked with Princess on the phone, talked to my travel agent and still can't get a straight answer about if we have to pay for shore excursions for our 17 month old! I'm an experienced cruiser, but this is my first time cruising Princess and cruising in Alaska. My baby has been on a cruise when she was 7 months old and we didn't pay for the excursion, but it was in Mexico and we booked on board.


For those of you who have booked whale watching excursions (or any other excursions for that matter) through Princess in Alaska, did you pay for your baby under 2? Did you book in advance? The answer they are giving us is pay for her in advance and you MAY get some money back when you visit the shore excursion desk on the ship. That's not a good enough answer for me. Will we or won't we? She isn't walking yet and can sit on my lap for any excursion a seat is involved. 


Any advice is appreciated!!! I'd love to hear actual scenarios! We are a group of 7, 6 adults and 1 toddler, so we'd love to get these booked sooner than later. 

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Posted (edited)

We've taken our children on several cruises, and have always chosen independent excursions so we can return to the ship easily if things don't go well.    We've taken our children all over the world, including  St. Petersburg and Cartagena, and our only excursion disaster was a princess excursion.  


In Panama, the Coral Princess docks at Gatun Lake and only allows passengers who have signed up for a Princess tour to leave the boat, as per Panama Canal Authority regulations. The boat returns back through the locks and then docks in Colon, where passengers on Princess cruise tours are able to reboard. We signed up for a short tour Gatun Lakes Cruise and Locks so we would be able to give our son a nap before he got overtired. Unfortunately, we were not informed until the day before Panama when it was too late to switch tours that there would be a substantial gap between when our tour ends, and when we would be allowed to reboard the ship. We were told at the end of the tour that we would be allowed back on the ship in an hour when it docked. The ship arrived on time one hour later, but no one was allowed to board for another hour, and the Panamanian authorities would not tell us when we would be allowed to board. That led to two very long hours standing outside of an elevator at the port in Colon with a screaming toddler who needed to nap. If we had known about this gap ahead of time, we would have either chosen a longer tour with the Embera Indians or simply disembarked in Colon and taken a cab from Colon to the nearby Gatun locks (although if you are planning this, please check the operating hours at Gatun locks, since I don't know what time they close, and the docking time for the Princess boats at Colon can vary based upon canal traffic). People without children who take short Princess tours in Panama are not likely to experience significant problems with the delay in reboarding the ship, since there is a very affordable supermarket and several restaurants with free wifi in the Port of Colon.  

The Princess Gatun lake cruise that we took was not very good, since there was very little wildlife (two monkeys and one sloth) and no other ships on Gatun lake. Wildlife and ship traffic are not guaranteed and on another day people might have more luck seeing interesting things on this tour but overall we were disappointed that our only Princess tour was the most disorganized tour we took on this cruise, and we would not want to utilize cruise tours in the future. 


  Alaska is perfect for independent excursions, since everything is pretty close to the port and there's little risk of missing the ship.  Harv and Marv do an excellent whale watching excursion., although their ships are small.  You'd be able to walk around a bigger ship with the cruise excursion, although I'm not entirely certain whale watching is an ideal choice for young children.    Please see my Alaska cruise review - it was the cruise I was pregnant with my first, so the only one without children present.  The Bering Sea tour is amazing, but doesn't allow young children.  The helicopter to dogsled on mountain is also amazing but gives no discount for children, so its a really pricey excursion, but a once in a lifetime opportunity.


Please also note that on Princess you can take a child under 3 to the kids club with parental supervision. The kids club staff was amazing with my 24 month old, and they helped him do all the arts and craft activities like the older kids.  According to Princess website, they will bring puppies on board on Alaska cruises so I'm sure she'll love that.  

Edited by kitkat343

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   We did Alaska in 2015 on Celebrity with a 1-year old and if I remember correctly we did not pay for him on any of the excursions we did. We did whale watching at Icy strait point, and at other ports we did dog sledding and also had a helicopter ride booked that was cancelled due to bad weather. Enjoy your cruise!!

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On 6/18/2019 at 1:13 AM, Bellas_mom said:

Hey Everyone! I have looked all over, talked with Princess on the phone, talked to my travel agent and still can't get a straight answer about if we have to pay for shore excursions for our 17 month old!

@Bellas_mom we are taking a Princess cruise to Alaska next month and this is wording I see on the Excursions FAQ in our cruise personalizer (I'll list the detailed click path after the quote):


"Toddlers aged 2 and younger sitting on a parent's lap (not occupying a seat), are not charged for most excursions. If a parent would like their infant to occupy a seat or would like to utilize a safety seat, the parent must purchase an excursion ticket for the infant at the published excursion price. Parents are also responsible for bringing a safety seat for their child."


If I were in your shoes and wanted to book Princess shore excurions then I'd print the information from the web page and book the excursions for the six adults but not pay for your 17 month old.  We often use independent providers for our shore excursions, it all depends on the type of activity and complexity of the travel to and from the ship, to include tender vs pier.


My click path:

Log in to your cruise personalizer

> Manage your booking now

> Excursion Reservations (it's at the top menu on the page)

> Browse & Reserve Excursions

> View Excursions (for any of your ports)

Scroll down to the section that states "Show Filter Options" then click

> Excursions FAQ

> Children's Excursion Pricing


Hope this helps!

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Thanks! I read that and that is what they read to your when you call Princess on the phone. I have been told that with any excursion that involves a boat and water, they need to be on the manifest (something to do with the coast guard rules). I added her on that one for now, but will keep on following up to see if she can be added w/o paying full child pricing. 


If it were just my husband, her and myself, we would book outside of the ship, but my parents insist on booking with Princess. 

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