An alternative to Hawaii, there's always an Alaska cruise — even for 11-year-old

You have a grandson. He goes on vacation with you pretty much every year, usually to Hawaii. But Hawaii has had some shark attacks in recent months, which makes you uneasy, so you're thinking a change of pace might be good. Also scenery. Ah, Alaska. Sharks have been known to go there, too, but people don't go in the water as much as they do in Hawaii and, besides, you're thinking of watching them from the deck of a cruise ship. Dilemma: How do you know an 11-year-old will enjoy the cruise ship, never mind Alaska.

The preceding came to us as a query, from a travel agent who is a close friend. She asked what we thought.

It wasn't something we'd given much thought to, but if we were taking an 11-year-old on an Alaska cruise, this is probably what we'd do:

We'd tell him we were going to make it a Disney cruise, because Disney Disney-Alaska-1 copyappeals to all kids…even the ones who have grandchildren.

We'd tell him sure Disney has "clubs" that were age-specific, as many cruise lines do, in case he was concerned about getting stuck with someone who might be mistaken for being his little brother. Or, worse yet, little sister.

We'd tell him to soak up the scenery from the ship because, as boring as that might seem in principle, he can never be sure when or if he'd ever see glaciers calve again. Yes, we'd also tell him what calving means, and that it has nothing to do with a cow.

We'd tell him Alaska is one of those places everybody should see, at least once, because for people from big cities it feels like turning back the clock to another time, a time when all transportation wasn't motorized, when the buffaloes and assorted animal friends could indeed roam and when fresh air was really fresh.

We'd tell him there would be much to do. He'd be able to fish, to ride down exciting (rough) rivers on tubes or in tubs, and if his grandparents' pockets were deep enough to get in a helicopter or small plane that would land on a glacier up in the mountains, which are seemingly everywhere.

We'd tell him that just to make sure he encountered wildlife, we'd take him to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center because that's where they care for creatures like a three-legged reindeer or eagles that can't fly. He'd enjoy AWCC-brown bears copywatching the caribou fence with their antlers, and standing 10 feet from a grizzly. If nothing else, it would be a lesson about how this planet is not just for us.

We'd tell him that while he might not otherwise see wildlife up close, he might see it TOO close, so he should know how to behave if a bear or a moose was blocking his path because, yes, it happens.

We'd tell him there was much, much more to Alaska than snow, and that there could be that, too, even in months that elsewhere might be summery but that there is probably no other place where he could ride a sled pulled by dogs that run in the Iditarod, a race across the state in the snow and the cold.

We'd tell him that he will have as much fun as he wants to have, because there is no shortage of things to do in Alaska.

Or on a Disney cruise ship.

Island Princess
10 nights
December 10, 2013
Fort Lauderdale (return): Aruba, Cartagena,  Panama Canal, Colon,  Puerto Limon, Grand Cayman 
Inside: $705
Cost per day: $70
www.princess.com

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One Response
  1. Barbra Bishop says:

    Wow! This certainly leaves no doubt…. What a memorable experience this would be for an 11 year old….not to mention the grandparents!

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