Cruising Alaska with Kids: Part 2
Skagway and the Yukon
A great question I get from families considering Alaska with their kids (and a question I had myself), was whether or not there was enough for kids to do. Obviously on a Disney ship it’s going to be kid friendly, but what about the ports? It only took me a few minutes of looking to discover that there were plenty of options to choose from, and in fact, I might have a hard time narrowing it down! You must, however, plan a little differently when you have small children in tow. We couldn’t very well choose the Skagway ATV Adventure with our 2-year-old – BUT – we did find some fantastic options for our multi-generational group that I am excited to share with you!
First port day for us was the quaint town of Skagway, Alaska. This is a unique port town, in that unlike many of Alaska’s ports, it is accessible by road and in turn, you can reach other towns from Skagway. In fact, you can drive straight up into the Canadian Yukon territory from Skagway, and that is precisely what we choose to do. The White Rail Pass is a popular option for cruise passengers looking for beautiful scenery and the opportunity to follow a historical rail route. Given the size of our group (4 adults and 4 children), we decided to save a little money and opted for a mini-bus tour which would take us parallel to the train tracks and all the way up to Emerald Lake in the Yukon. I admit, I was initially a little apprehensive about the length of the excursion (7.5 hours) with the kids; but looking back now, this was probably my favorite of all the excursions we took!
I booked the tour through ShoreTrips (one of my favorite third-party booking companies-we rarely book directly with the cruise line), and we were greeted almost immediately upon disembarkation, by the friendly tour company representatives from Frontier Excursions & Adventures. Once we hit our official start time, we headed off in a comfortable mini-bus with a small group of around 15 people or so. We followed much the same path that prospectors took years ago to journey into the Yukon and enjoyed informative narration along the route to better understand our surroundings. We quickly found one of the benefits to being on a mini-bus tour vs. a rail tour, were the opportunities for frequent photo stops. Our driver pulled over at various locations along the drive and we had the opportunity to stretch our legs and take pictures of the breathtaking scenery. Our driver let us know from the very beginning that if we saw wildlife or a reason to take an unexpected stop, to just give him a heads up and he would gladly pull over or turn the bus around. We took full advantage of his offer just a short time after crossing into Canada when a member of our group spotted a black bear swimming across the lake! We turned around and watched the bear swim the length of the lake and meander up onto shore. Our driver, who was nearly as excited as the rest of us, pulled the bus all the way back down to where the bear came ashore and we had an awesome photo opportunity as the bear stopped to eat dandelions just feet away from our bus! (Ironically – we had just been teasing the kids about playing with dandelions at that same stop –telling them that it was bear food – they didn’t doubt us again!)
We continued on our journey past snowcapped mountains with hanging glaciers and waterfalls flowing from high up on the mountain side, and eventually reaching what is known as the World’s Smallest Desert (an odd sight in the middle of the Yukon). After the necessary photo stop we continued on just a short ways and made our lunch-stop at Caribou Crossing. Here we enjoyed a BBQ chicken lunch and took a quick ride around the grounds behind a team of sled dogs (this is a summer training camp for dogs racing the Iditarod).
Side Note: If dog sledding is your primary objective – we can talk – this probably would not be my top pick for a dog sledding excursion – but the Yukon trip was well worth the use of a day regardless.
Finally we continued on to our final stop of the day at Emerald Lake. This was singularly the most beautiful lake I have ever seen in my life. The pictures (while incredible) do not even begin to do this location justice. The lake was the most beautiful color of green and I just couldn’t take enough photos as we stood there and admired it.
The bus ride back to the ship was much quicker as we only made a few brief stops and the kids pretty much slept for the duration of the return (making for a peaceful ride). We were returned to our ship right on time and headed back to our staterooms to prepare for our evening of fun back onboard the Disney Wonder. :-)
Be sure to stay tuned for upcoming articles on Juneau and Ketchikan as we discuss cruising Alaska with kids! And if you missed it, be sure to jump back to my first article in this Alaska with Kids series as well. If I can help you plan your Alaskan adventure please do not hesitate to reach out!
Autumn Andretta, Manager and Travel Agent