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5 Mistakes to Avoid When Cruising from Vancouver to Alaska with Kids

Last summer I took my first cruise with my kids from Vancouver. We took the Holland America Koningsdam from Vancouver to Alaska on a 7-day round trip voyage. I am pretty well-traveled, and so are my kids, but cruising was totally new to us. And I think we made almost all of the first-timer mistakes.

I have put together this list of mistakes to avoid so that you do not make the same mistakes when you are traveling from Vancouver to Alaska on a cruise with your kids!

Mistakes to Avoid on a Vancouver to Alaska Cruise with Kids

Cruise from Vancouver to Alaska with kids.

1. Read the List of Banned Items

It is long and has some surprising things on it. If you know me well, you know I love my Nespresso, and since we were not flying but driving and then parking at the cruise ship terminal, I thought for a minute that I could possibly pack it. Nope, in-room coffee makers are on the banned list. Here are a few other things:

  • power strip
  • drone
  • iron

We went on Holland America, but each cruise line will have its own list! Read it before you pack!

Koningsdam indoor pool and hot tub from 10th floor deck
Cruising from Vancouver to Alaska, sunny summer day when we left Vancouver

2. Do not Wait to Book Excursions on Board

Going on my first cruise (and booking last minute I might add) I really had no idea how things worked. I did not prebook any excursions until I got on board. Once on board, some of the excursions that were bucket list (and the most expensive) were sold out. Obviously, my big bucket list Alaska items were the same as others. I learned that all of the cruise lines and suppliers have access to the same tours so if it is sold out on your ship, it is probably sold out when you get to port as well.

Sled dog puppies on alask cruise with kids.
One of our excursions took us to a summer camp for sled dogs. The excitement of course, was all about the puppies!

3. Budget for Drinks

I am not a big drinker when I travel with my kids. So I did not intend to get a drink package that included alcohol on my Alaska cruise. I thought it would be nice for the kids to have pop, but realized that everyone in the room has to have a drink package if you are buying them. So if I bought them the pop package, I would have to buy it too. I dont drink pop. If I bought the higher package that included lattes for me to enjoy, the kids would need that package too (it included premium non-alcoholic drinks list). So we went for it. They were thrilled.

The drink package worked out to a little under $20 per person per day. That was about 4 lattes or 3 mocktails. The boys definitely got their money’s worth, but I am not sure I really did, as I did not always order more than 1-2 coffees. There were smoothie options I could have tried, but I did not really venture into the smoothie or mocktails at all. There is an option to order and pay for drinks as you drink them, I would love to try that next time and see if the drink package was worth it. 

Parisian inspired cafe on board.
Enjoying a latte abord the Koningsdam en route to Alaska from Vancouver

4. Decide if you want wifi ahead of time

We 100% went for wifi. I work remotely and being able to conenct is important. Phone plans have odd roaming fees and even though I was just of the coast of my home provice of BC, there was either no service or roaming service. We opted for the wifi plan for another reason. It gave my boys freedom to explore the ship on their own. Markus (who was newly turned 9 when we cruised) would have his phone with him and could facetime me and tell me he was going to the sport court or back to the room or whatever he was doing. We were easily able to communicate even when we were not together. It also gave them the option to connect with their friends back home(which is something that is important to us when we travel).

Once you decide whether or not you want the wifi, budget accordingly. For a trip that feels all inclusive, there are a lot of add ons that sneek up on you once you arrive.

Holland America room service
Some room serivce and downtime. Having wifi is important to our family, it may not be to yours, but it is an added expense to consider before you are suprised by it.

5. Talk to your Kids about Shopping and Souvenirs

This is a big part of travel. For most people anyways. Including us.

My kids are always given a budget and when it is gone it is gone. This really helps them think about what they really want. Yes the stuffed animal sled dog Alaska souvenirs are cute and it can easily get out of hand. If you have a plan, it is much easier to stick to the budget. Bring a good camera because photos are one of my favorite souvenirs, and that good camera might just be your phone. Do not think you need to buy something or bring professional gear. If you are posting online, I have a cute list of Alaska captions you can use.

So that is it, 5 first timer mistakes you can avoid now that you have read all of the mistakes I made on our first cruise from Vancouver to Alaska with kids.

Featured Photo Courtesy of: Holland America Line 

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  1. Alyson @ World Travel Family says:

    Interesting. So I’ve never looked at or seen a “banned list” on our 3 cruises. But we don’t pack items like kettles and irons. A drone…can they really ban you from carrying one if you don’t use it? For us as world travellers we’re likely to have it with us. It’s normally illegal to use them around boats anyway ( unless you happen to be friends with the owners as we are out on the Great Barrier Reef). We’ve never bought a drinks package, there has always been squash and juice if the kids wanted it and we found cocktai ( for my husband) and wine for me to be not very expensive on cruise ships. Buying a drinks package would just make us drink more to get our money’s worth. Shore excursions are my nemesis, I hate being herded around, but there really isn’t another option often, and yes, they cost a lot. And on ship WiFi in our experience has been useless. Did you find it useable? I guess the tech has improved in the last 10 years.