How to Explore Glacier Bay National Park with Kids

View of Alaska glacier in Glacier Bay from ship.

Glacier Bay National Park should have a top spot on every family’s bucket list. But unlike most national parks, you can’t just load up the family car and drive to it. Glacier Bay is only accessible by air or sea.

Here’s how to explore Glacier Bay National Park with kids.

A Day in Glacier Bay

We offer more sailings to Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line. You can find a variety of convenient Alaska cruises that depart from Seattle or Vancouver and feature a day of scenic cruising in Glacier Bay.

The route time is subject to weather, but generally, expect to spend a good portion of the day in the park. Park Rangers come aboard to answer questions and identify wildlife. You will linger in front of a tidewater glacier for a chance to witness calving.

Learn more about the experience with your guide to Glacier Bay National Park.

Some Glacier Bay itineraries also visit Icy Strait Point. This Alaska Native-owned-and-operated port is only open when a cruise ship docks. Older kids will love the ZipRider; adults will find the restored cannery fascinating; and the whole family can warm up by the fire.

Why Cruise Glacier Bay with Kids?

A Glacier Bay cruise is the perfect introduction to the Great Outdoors. Club HAL® and a Jr. Ranger Program create an enriching, memorable experience for youngsters. Experience untouched nature with the comforts of cruising—delectable cuisine, lavish staterooms and world-class entertainment. Read more about planning a cruise with kids.

Other reasons to cruise Glacier Bay with kids:

  • Teaching moments: Glacier Bay is part of a binational UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve. Your little ones will soak up knowledge about natural science, wildlife, and the culture of the Huna Tlingit people, who lived in Glacier Bay for centuries. They’ll learn about the feeding habits of animals, the history behind famous Glaciers and why some glaciers are blue. They’ll add words like calving or moraines to their budding vocabularies, and our Dutch pea soup to their list of favorite things to eat.
  • Preservation: Children are the future. When they feel connected to a place, they’re more invested in its protection.
  • Memories: Glacier Bay is an extraordinary place with wild wonders around every turn. Even if they’re too young to remember the experience, you will never forget the look of awe on their faces.

6 Tips for Cruising Glacier Bay with Kids

  • Plan the night before. Plan out your day using the Navigator App. Anticipate empty bellies, the need for naps, make restaurant reservations and know what EXC activities you will attend.
  • Take breaks. It’s a big day for little attention spans. Consider booking a stateroom or suite with a verandah so that you can take in the views and have all your creature comforts right there. If they get antsy, switch it up and have a bite at the kid-approved Dive-In.
  • Dress for the weather. Alaska weather changes quickly. Load a small backpack with rain gear and warm layers, hats and gloves if you plan on heading to the decks.
  • Capture the view. Glacier Bay has many breathtaking views. Invest in kid-sized binoculars and a kid’s camera, so they can get the views without using yours.
  • Teach the kids to read a map. With its narrow inlets and towering peaks, Glacier Bay has the perfect topography to look at on a map. Ask your kids to mark it up and point out the sites as you go along. They will love this activity.
  • Practice staying present. As you witness the awesome power of mother nature, stay present in the moment. As caregivers to young ones, you’re constantly thinking about t-ball sign up or violin lessons or your to-do list. Use the time in Glacier Bay to put down the phone and catch your breath.

Read more about Alaska National Parks and comment below with the one you want to visit the most.

Article by Amanda Halm


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