Alaska, the largest state in the United States, is known for its stunning natural beauty, rugged wilderness, and abundant wildlife. One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Alaska is through an Alaskan cruise. With a variety of cruise lines and itineraries to choose from, an Alaska cruise offers a unique way to explore glaciers, fjords, and charming coastal towns.
A typical Alaska cruise itinerary includes stops in popular ports such as Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway, as well as scenic cruising through the Inside Passage and visits to iconic glaciers such as Hubbard Glacier and Glacier Bay National Park.
Along the way, passengers can enjoy onboard amenities such as fine dining, entertainment, and activities such as whale watching and dog sledding.
An Alaska cruise is an ideal vacation choice for those who want to experience the natural beauty of Alaska in a comfortable and convenient way.
With a variety of cruise lines and itineraries to choose from, there is an Alaska cruise to suit every budget and preference. Whether you are a nature lover, adventure seeker, or simply looking for a relaxing getaway, an Alaska cruise is sure to provide a memorable experience.
Understanding Alaska Cruises
Alaska Cruise Basics
An Alaska cruise is a unique experience that combines luxury and adventure. These cruises take passengers through the stunning scenery of Alaska’s coastline, offering a chance to see wildlife, glaciers, and historic towns.
Most Alaska cruises are seven to ten days long, with itineraries that vary depending on the cruise line and sailing season.
When planning an Alaska cruise, it’s essential to consider the itinerary. Some cruises focus on the Inside Passage, while others include stops in ports like Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan.
The best time to cruise to Alaska is from May to September, with peak season in July and August.
Cost and Budgeting
The cost of an Alaska cruise varies depending on several factors, including the cruise line, itinerary, and sailing season.
On average, a seven-day Alaska cruise can cost anywhere from $600 to $2,000 per person, not including airfare or shore excursions.
When budgeting for an Alaska cruise, it’s essential to consider additional expenses such as gratuities, onboard activities, and specialty dining. Some cruise lines offer all-inclusive packages that include these expenses, while others charge them separately.
To save money on an Alaska cruise, consider sailing during the shoulder season in May or September.
These months offer lower prices and fewer crowds, but the weather may be less predictable. Another way to save money is to book early or take advantage of last-minute deals.
In summary, an Alaska cruise is a unique and unforgettable experience that combines luxury and adventure. When planning a cruise, it’s essential to consider the itinerary, sailing season, and budget. By doing so, passengers can ensure a memorable and cost-effective trip to Alaska.
Choosing Your Cruise Line
Choosing the right cruise line for your Alaska adventure is an important decision. Each cruise line has its own personality, policies, and perks.
Here are some of the top cruise lines to consider for your Alaska cruise:
Princess Cruises is a popular choice for Alaska cruises, with a wide range of ships and itineraries to choose from.
Their ships offer a combination of luxury and comfort, with plenty of onboard activities and entertainment.
Princess Cruises also offers a variety of shore excursions, including glacier viewing, whale watching, and dog sledding.
Norwegian Cruises is another popular choice for Alaska cruises, with their ships offering a more casual and relaxed atmosphere.
Norwegian Cruise Line ships feature a variety of dining options, including specialty restaurants, and offer plenty of onboard activities for all ages.
Norwegian Cruises also offers a variety of shore excursions, including helicopter tours, kayaking, and fishing.
Royal Caribbean Cruises offers a range of Alaska cruise options, with their Ovation of the Seas ship being a popular choice.
Royal Caribbean Cruise ships offers a variety of onboard activities, including rock climbing, mini-golf, and even skydiving. Royal Caribbean also offers a variety of shore excursions, including hiking, ziplining, and wildlife viewing.
Carnival Cruises offers a more budget-friendly option for Alaska cruises, with their ships featuring a variety of dining options and onboard activities. While their ships may not offer the same level of luxury as some of the other cruise lines,
Carnival Cruises still offers a great Alaska experience. Carnival Cruises also offers a variety of shore excursions, including scenic train rides, gold panning, and kayaking.
When choosing your Alaska cruise line, consider your budget, preferred level of luxury, and desired onboard and shore excursion activities. Each cruise line offers a unique experience, so research and compare before making your final decision.
Exploring Alaska’s Ports
Alaska’s ports are known for their stunning natural beauty, unique wildlife, and fascinating history. Each port offers its own distinct attractions and experiences, from glaciers and mountains to charming towns and cultural landmarks. Here are some of the top ports to explore on an Alaska cruise:
Although Anchorage is not a traditional port of call for most Alaska cruises, it is often included as a pre- or post-cruise destination.
The city is the largest in Alaska and offers a wide range of attractions, including museums, parks, and outdoor activities.
Visitors can explore the Anchorage Museum, which showcases the art, history, and culture of Alaska, or take a scenic drive along the Seward Highway, which offers breathtaking views of the coastline and mountains.
As the capital of Alaska, Juneau is a popular port of call for many Alaska cruises. The city is located on the Gastineau Channel and is surrounded by towering mountains and glaciers.
Visitors can take a scenic tram ride up Mount Roberts for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding wilderness, or explore the Mendenhall Glacier, which is easily accessible from the port and offers hiking, kayaking, and sightseeing opportunities.
Known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” Ketchikan is a charming town located on the Inside Passage and is a popular port of call for many Alaska cruises. Visitors can explore the historic Creek Street, which features colorful buildings and a boardwalk over the water, or take a scenic flightseeing tour over Misty Fjords National Monument, which offers stunning views of glaciers, waterfalls, and wildlife.
As the gateway to the Klondike Gold Rush, Skagway is a historic town located on the Inside Passage and is a popular port of call for many Alaska cruises. Visitors can take a scenic train ride on the White Pass and Yukon Route, which offers breathtaking views of the mountains and glaciers, or explore the town’s historic district, which features restored buildings from the gold rush era.
Icy Strait Point
Located on Chichagof Island, Icy Strait Point is a unique port of call that is owned and operated by the Huna Totem Corporation, a Native Alaskan-owned company. Visitors can explore the town’s cultural center, which features exhibits on Native Alaskan history and culture, or take a whale-watching tour to see humpback whales and other marine wildlife.
As the former capital of Russian America, Sitka is a historic town located on Baranof Island and is a popular port of call for many Alaska cruises. Visitors can explore the Sitka National Historical Park, which features totem poles and a restored Russian Orthodox church, or take a sea kayaking tour to explore the coastal waters and wildlife.
Overall, Alaska’s ports offer a wide range of attractions and experiences for visitors to explore and enjoy. From natural wonders to cultural landmarks, there is something for everyone on an Alaska cruise.
Alaska’s Natural Wonders
Alaska is a land of natural wonders, with breathtaking landscapes and an abundance of wildlife. From towering glaciers to majestic mountains, this state is a paradise for nature lovers. Here are some of the natural wonders that you can experience on an Alaska cruise.
Glaciers and Fjords
Alaska is home to some of the most impressive glaciers in the world. Glacier Bay National Park is a must-see destination for any Alaska cruise. The park is home to over a dozen glaciers, including the Margerie Glacier, which is over 20 stories tall and a mile wide. Visitors can witness the glaciers calving, or breaking off into the water, creating a thunderous roar and awe-inspiring spectacle.
Another popular destination for glacier viewing is the Kenai Fjords National Park. The park is home to the Harding Icefield, which feeds several glaciers, including the famous Exit Glacier. Visitors can take a boat tour to witness the glaciers up close and personal.
Mountains and Wilderness
Alaska’s mountains and wilderness are a sight to behold. Denali National Park is home to North America’s highest peak, Denali, which stands at over 20,000 feet tall. Visitors can take a bus tour through the park to see the majestic mountain and its surrounding wilderness.
The Kenai Peninsula is another popular destination for those seeking to experience Alaska’s wilderness. The peninsula is home to several state parks, including the Kachemak Bay State Park, which offers hiking trails with stunning views of the bay and surrounding mountains.
Alaska is home to an abundance of wildlife, including whales, bears, bald eagles, and Dall sheep. Whale watching is a popular activity on Alaska cruises, with humpback whales being the most commonly seen species. Visitors can also witness bears in their natural habitat, with sightings of both black and brown bears being common.
Bald eagles are also a common sight in Alaska, with over 30,000 bald eagles living in the state. Visitors can witness these majestic birds soaring through the sky or perched on a tree branch. Dall sheep, which are native to Alaska, can be seen on the mountainsides, with their white coats standing out against the rugged terrain.
In conclusion, Alaska’s natural wonders are a sight to behold. From glaciers and fjords to mountains and wilderness, this state offers a truly unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers. Wildlife watching is also a popular activity, with visitors having the opportunity to witness some of the most iconic species in North America.
Land and Sea Experiences
Alaska offers a unique combination of land and sea experiences that allow visitors to explore the vast landscapes and natural beauty of the state. This section will cover some of the most popular land and sea experiences available to visitors in Alaska.
Shore excursions are a popular way to explore the Alaskan coastline and its surrounding areas. These excursions offer visitors the opportunity to experience the natural beauty and wildlife of the region, as well as its rich history and culture. Some of the most popular shore excursions include whale watching tours, glacier hikes, and dogsled rides.
Alaska cruisetours are an excellent way to experience the best of both worlds. These tours combine a traditional cruise with a land tour, allowing visitors to explore the rugged wilderness of Alaska’s interior. The tours typically include transportation, accommodations, and guided tours of popular attractions like Denali National Park and the Alaska Railroad.
Northern Lights Viewing
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are a natural phenomenon that can be seen in Alaska during the winter months. Viewing the Northern Lights is a popular activity for visitors to Alaska, and there are several ways to experience this incredible natural wonder. Some of the most popular options include Northern Lights tours, snowmobiling tours, and dog sledding tours.
Whether you’re interested in exploring the Inside Passage, taking in the stunning landscapes and scenery, or embarking on a dogsled adventure, Alaska offers a wide range of land and sea experiences that are sure to leave a lasting impression. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that Alaska is one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world.
Preparation and Packing
What to Pack
When preparing for an Alaska cruise, it is important to pack for the unpredictable weather. The best time to visit Alaska is from May to September, but even during these months, temperatures can range from 40 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It is recommended to bring activewear, a sweater, and a water-repellent jacket. Layering is key, as it allows for easy adjustments to the changing weather conditions.
Binoculars are also a must-have item for an Alaska cruise. The stunning scenery and wildlife sightings are best viewed up close, and binoculars can enhance the experience. In addition, if the cruise ship has any outdoor activities like laser tag, it’s a good idea to bring appropriate clothing and footwear.
Traveling with Kids
If traveling with kids, it is important to bring activities to keep them entertained during the cruise. Many cruise ships have kids’ clubs and organized activities, but it’s always a good idea to bring some games, books, and other items to keep them occupied. It is also recommended to bring a stroller or carrier for younger children, as there will be a lot of walking and exploring.
When planning an Alaska cruise, it is important to consider transportation to and from the departure port. Many cruises depart from Seattle, Vancouver, or San Francisco, so travelers may need to arrange transportation to these cities. Once in Alaska, some popular destinations like Valdez, Talkeetna, and Fairbanks may require additional transportation arrangements.
Overall, packing for an Alaska cruise requires preparation for unpredictable weather and consideration for activities and transportation. Bringing appropriate clothing, binoculars, and activities for kids can enhance the experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best month to go to Alaska on a cruise?
The best time to go on an Alaska cruise is from May to September when the weather is milder and the days are longer. July and August are the most popular months to visit Alaska and are also the warmest months. However, the shoulder months of May and September offer lower prices and fewer crowds.
What is the average cost of an Alaskan cruise?
The cost of an Alaskan cruise varies depending on the length of the cruise, the cruise line, and the type of cabin. On average, a 7-day cruise to Alaska can cost anywhere from $700 to $1,500 per person, not including airfare or additional expenses.
How much is a 7 day cruise to Alaska?
A 7-day cruise to Alaska can cost anywhere from $700 to $1,500 per person, not including airfare or additional expenses. The cost of the cruise can vary depending on the cruise line, the type of cabin, and the time of year.
Do I need a passport for an Alaskan cruise?
If you are a US citizen, you do not need a passport for an Alaskan cruise that begins and ends in the same US port. However, it is recommended that you bring a passport or other proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate and government-issued ID, in case of an emergency or unexpected delay.
What are the best cruise lines for an Alaska cruise?
There are several cruise lines that offer Alaska cruises, including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Royal Caribbean International. Each cruise line offers a unique experience, so it is important to research and choose the one that best fits your preferences and budget.
Which Alaska cruise offers the best chance to see the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, can be seen in Alaska from September to April. However, the best chance to see them is during the winter months when the nights are longer. Several cruise lines offer Northern Lights-themed cruises, including Hurtigruten and Princess Cruises. It is important to note that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and cannot be guaranteed, even on a themed cruise.