How We Chose Our Alaskan Cruise – Things To Consider When Deciding On A Cruise Line and Cruise Ship

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Dream come true… for years I’ve dreamed of going to Alaska.

Now we’re going to go!

Alaska Scenery

Early in our marriage, my husband and I talked about someday seeing the wilds of this beautiful destination, Alaska.  Sean has been watching Gold Rush, Build It Alaska, and other reality tv shows that take place in Alaska and aching to see this amazing land for himself.   I’m so excited that this dream of seeing Alaska will actually be coming true!

Disney Cruise Ship

The first step in planning our vacation was to choose a cruise line and ship.  Everyone has different expectations, family dynamics, and dream vacations, but I thought I’d share our decision-making process in case it might help you plan yours.

Have you ever been on a cruise?  I’m kind of nervous, there have been so many negative stories about cruise disasters in the news.  But I have friends that have gone and they tell me how fantastic it is to travel on a ship.

My first and biggest priority is safety.  Health and welfare are key – this is our whole family traveling! Oh I forgot to tell you, I’m excited especially because my mom will be going along with us!  That means our ages range from 85 to 8.  But from what I’ve heard, cruises have “something for everyone” and are recommended for family reunions and multi-generational vacations.  We want to look for a cruise line that will have entertainment and activities for each member of our family, from the youngest to the oldest.

Disney Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show

This is most likely going to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip for us.  As much as I would love to be able to travel like this every year, realistically, this trip is at the very top (or over) our usual vacation budget.  We know we are only going to do it once, so we want to “do it right”.  There are many vacations where we try to get by on a shoestring, but this isn’t going to be one of those.  We will try to look for the best value, but price won’t be the highest consideration on this trip.

Things to consider:

  • Size of Ship
  • Port of Embarkation
  • Length of Cruise
  • Onboard Activities and Dress Code
  • Options for Port Adventures

Alaskan cruises are available in the very large ocean-going cruise ships or on smaller vessels.  The advantage to a smaller ship is that it can get closer to the shoreline to see glaciers and wildlife.  The disadvantage would be less onboard activities available and more motion for those of us prone to motion sickness.  For our family demographics, we decided a large ship was better.  My daughter is eight years old and I think the onboard activity selection is key to her enjoyment of the trip.

There are several ports that ships leave from, but most Alaska cruises start from Seattle or Vancouver.  I’ve read that it is often less expensive to travel to Seattle from other US cities and that going through customs in Vancouver can be a long, difficult process.  We didn’t have strong feelings about either port, but had an interest in seeing Vancouver.  My daughter has never been to Canada and I thought it would be a good experience for her.


Alaskan cruises are often  7 day and 9 day cruises.  We decided to choose the 7 day to keep the cost more in line.  We also wanted to find a ship with a casual dress code.  While my mom and I love to dress up, my husband?  Um, no.  He does not like to dress up for a wedding, let alone for dinner.  We definitely need to look for a “cruise casual” ship, possibly with the option of a formal event for mom and I!

After looking at our options, we decided that the Disney Cruise Line was the best fit for our family.  Just this week, Disney announced that The Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice awards were, and Disney ships received 29 Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice Awards, including 13 number one awards such as Best Overall, Best for Families, Best Service, Best Dining and Entertainment, Best Cabins and Public Rooms for the Disney Fantasy in the Large Ship category.  My experience with Disney Parks over the years gives me confidence that Disney will take great care of my family.  As I said above, health and safety are my number one concerns, and I know I can trust Disney Cruise Line with our welfare.

Mickey and Minnie

One of the other major reasons that we’ve chosen the Disney Cruise Line is because we are traveling with a child.  I know that, like no other cruise line, our daughter will be welcomed by Disney.  I had been entranced by a cruise line that advertises on PBS Masterpiece, but after reading their policy on children, I knew it wouldn’t be a good fit for us.  Although I would love the elegance of a formal, luxury, sophisticated, adult cruise… we’ll have plenty of time for that when we are empty-nesters!  Disney will make our cruise comfortable, safe, and MAGICAL!  I’m so excited!

So stay tuned!

 I’ll be posting as we go along the journey! 

If you have any tips for this first time cruiser, 

please leave me a comment below.

Disclosure:  Although Disney has subsidized some of our family vacations in the past, this trip is on our own dime.



  1. 1

    Can’t wait to hear me as we are thinking of going on a cruise to a Alaska also…

    • 2

      If you think of any specific questions, just leave comments and I’ll try to find out! I just read the online edition of the Disney Cruise Line Guide Book and it was full of handy info!

  2. 3
    Alice Jackson says:

    I went a few years ago with my family to Alaska on Princess Cruises – AMAZING is the only way to describe Alaska. My three favorite memories are the snorkeling we did – yes we snorkeled in Alaska! The water temperature in early August was about the same as it is in Lake Michigan but we did have wet suits on. My next favorite memory was our whale watching trip – I’ve got so many cool pictures from the whale watching. There were quite a few kids on the boat but they enjoyed it as much as the adults. And lastly, when Princess got to go into Glacier Bay National Park and we got to see the glaciers calving, totally AWESOME, saw some bears in the distance and lots of orcas. Your family will have a great time! The waters were very calm so I didn’t have any problems with motion sickness.

    • 4

      WOW! My biggest question lately has been the excursions, so I really appreciate your comment.

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