In a state with twice as much shoreline as it has highways, cruising might be the only way to see Alaska’s rugged northern wilderness. You may be surprised by the number of options you have when considering your Alaskan cruise. The following are some things to think about when planning a trip to America’s northernmost state.
Cruise routes to Alaska leave from either Seattle or Vancouver and weave through the beautiful islands of the Inside Passage. When choosing your cruise itinerary, consider how much time you have and how much of Alaska you would like to see. If you are planning to take a week-long vacation, your best choice is a round trip tour of the Inside Passage. These voyages usually call at Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan and allow travellers to see the beauty of Alaska from the sea while enjoying a few day trips in these key cities. Juneau is the capitol city where you will find the Mendenhall Glacier or ride the Mount Roberts Tramway up 1 800 feet! If that sounds like too much excitement, grab a beer at the famous Red Dog Saloon and enjoy some local music.
If you have more than a week to spend on your trip, consider a Gulf of Alaska tour or an extended itinerary that docks in Anchorage to allow for expedition trips to the interior. Sailing the Gulf of Alaska will take you through the Inside Passage, but this is not a round-trip cruise. This itinerary continues up to Seward or Wittier (both gateway ports to Anchorage). This route can make airfare more expensive and complicated, as you will be flying home from the far north, but the opportunities for over-land trips like bear-watching and fly-in fishing on some of Alaska’s remote lakes.
The type of ship you sail on will also determine the cruise experience you will have. If you are travelling with children, it might be wise to choose a larger ship with lots of entertainment and dining options. Alternatively, if you are more interested in nature and adventure than seeing big-name ports and on-deck rock climbing, opt for a smaller ship that makes expedition trips. The smaller ships can explore shallow inlets that big ships cannot enter and will detour to get the best glimpses of wildlife like local whale pods.
For an upscale Alaska cruising experience, try cruise lines like Oceania or Silversea. If it’s small ship adventure you want, book with American Safari Cruises. If you’re looking for a family-friendly trip on a family-sized ship, opt for Disney or Norwegian.