Ship to Shore and More: Cruise Prep 101

Okay, so I will be the first to admit that I am a bit over the top when it comes to preparing for a vacation. I like to know when, where, what, and why of all aspects of a trip; poor preparation, I believe, can lead to vacation disappointment, especially with kids.

AKontheGO Fam is beginning to investigate our upcoming cruise from Seward to Vancouver, British Columbia via the Holland America ship Veendam. Our very helpful cruise line marketing and public relations staff, who also have small children, have been a wealth of knowledge about the specifics of shipboard life and the shore excursions we will embark upon as we settle in to enjoy such ports as Haines, Juneau, and Ketchikan.

In beginning my possibly obsessive-compulsive search for information on cruising with kids, I had a little difficulty finding exactly what I wanted. Even from the different cruise line Web sites, who list everything from packing tips to tipping the staff, but not much, I discovered, on packing, delivering, and entertaining the wee ones. Yes, yes, I am enrolling smallest Kid in the HAL children’s programs, but I wanted to know more, and the resulting posts, which will come to you straight from the AKontheGO Mom, are the result.

Today we talk about planning and packing to meet certain dress codes. Ah ha, I discovered that our seven-day cruise down the Inside Passage of Paradise will involve two “Formal Nights”. Formal? That gives me hives just thinking about it. How do we translate the term “formal” into something a four-year-old can manage without spilling ketchup or chocolate sauce upon the outfit’s tender threads? Never fear, my HAL marketing guru stated. Kids merely need to refrain from shorts or blue jeans, sandals and/or sneakers. There are certain dining rooms on most cruise ships that do not allow such above attire at any time, and a little sleuthing pre-cruise should deduce which ones. We were also advised to be sure to pack warm sweaters/coats for formal evenings, as a moving ship provides a bit of wind and chill, and those good-looking dress shirts and frilly, girly outfits will be fine for the dining room, but maybe not so much on deck.

I also asked regarding other clothing options, seeing that the HAL Web site talked about attire with respect to their much older clientele, who are the usual cruisers and not from these parts. Jeans, I discovered, are OKAY in Alaska, except in those aforementioned dining rooms. HAL understands that Alaska is a bit more understated with respect to dress codes (yes, I can attest to that), and many shore excursions involve walking/hiking and/or slogging through mud. So we can pack our Carhartts and tevas with confidence.

The word of the day on Alaskan cruising seems to be casual during the day, business or “church dress”, as my son calls it, for most of the evenings, and dressiest on the two formal nights, reserving the special sweater set or holiday outfit for kids on those evenings.

Stay tuned for even more Alaska cruise information. Next week: packing the extras for kids; what the lines don’t tell you about your stateroom…

Posted in General Travel Info, Logistics With Kids, Miscellaneous.