I'm going to Alaska with my extended family. We will have children ages 5-12 with us. We will be in the following ports : Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway and Seward/Anchorage.
I've done this trip twice, once before kids and once with kids. So, I will give you some tips from both perspectives. First off, the kids club on the boat is great. Most kids like it. Also, most Alaska cruises have indoor pools, which your boys should love.
Ketchikan: Before we had kids we did a float plane trip to watch bears eating salmon in a stream. Very cool, and there was this salty old mountain man who was your guide (old school rifle and all). Very beautiful flying over the little islands, etc. I'm not a fan of small planes, so I decided not to do it with kids, but if the small planes don't bother you, may be worthwile.
Second time around with the kids, we did a high speed catamaran trip to the Misty Fjords National Monument with Allen Marine Tours (its a pretty long day for kids and wife, but I thought it was awesome. Very beautiful).
Something to do in town, which is worth walking to (time permitting), is
Historic Creek Street. This is the historic red light district, that was built on stilts over the river. When we were there, salmon were running and there were seals in the river chasing the salmon. Pretty cool.
All of that being said, the one thing I would recommend above all else is getting a Halibut sandwich at Burger Queen. Shack across from the port. You can get the sandwich to go and eat it at the The Arctic Bar which is directly across the street on the marina. Seriously, this sandwich is like the best filet of fish you could ever imagined. Lovely. You'll probably want to get two.
Juneau: Before kids we did a helicopter trip up to Mendenhall glacier and did some adventure hike with crampons and ice axes. That was very cool (but a little excessive with kids). After the helicopter ride, we did a bike trip through the boat that took you up to Mendenhall Glacier and rode back down to town, ending at the Alaska Brewery. This trip was agreat. Road past salmon streams, saw the glacier, enjoyed some beers. Great all around trip.
When we went with kids, we tried to do the bike trip, but it was sold out through the boat and none of the bike stores in town had bikes with trailers or seats for kids. So, if you're bringing the kids along for this ride, reserve in advance and make sure they have equipment for them. After we couldn't put the bike ride together, we rented a car and drove up to the glacier, which is a good trip in itself. Up at the glacier, if you walk to some of the viewing platforms on the other side of the visitor center from the glacier, you have a chance of seeing bears (ask the rangers if there's been sightings and where you should go).
After hitting the glacier and before we jumped back on the ship, we did two things:
Skagway: Not much to do here. This town was basically built for the cruise ship tours. ost people ride the
White Pass & Yukon Route railroad tour, which is fine, with nice scenery. Before or after you can stroll around the town, which again, is fine. Generally, Skagway has a lot less to offer than the other stops, IMO.
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In Seward be sure to go to the Alaska Sea Life Center as the kids should love it and you will too. Not sure if you like/know authentic Native craft and jewelry, but if you do both Seward and Anchorage have some VERY FINE dealers of contemporary Native art, jewelry, fantastic masks, and carved bone/wood. Anchorage has MANY things to do depending on weather and time. If you like to hike there are parks and bike paths around the city and you are near Chugach State Park, at the foot of the Chugach Mtns. with excellent trails and views. For more indoor type of weather, besides the shops, the Anchorage Museum has a great Native collection and always interesting contemporary exhibits. Be sure to take the kids for a meal at the Glacier Brewhouse and if you get a nice night/sunset you and your partner might like to have cocktails at the Hilton Anchorage on their roof deck terrace. When it is clear you can enjoy a view of Mt McKinley (Denali) with your cocktail.
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