The proud owner of some of the most fascinating coastlines on Earth, Alaska brings together perfected landscapes, enchanting wildlife and traditional villages together to present an integral destination on any cruisers to do list. Hidden behind glacier walls are seductive towns, large scale national parks housing famous wildlife and an intriguing selection of edible Alaskan treats.
Situated on the Arctic Circle, Alaska is America’s largest state and their wealthiest resource for gold and oil. Approximately half of the tourists arriving to Alaska travel by cruise ship and amenities and facilities have been perfected to suit the needs of cruising passengers.
Alaska has miles upon miles of rainforest and fascinating Arctic tundra that seem to magnetise cruisers from all over the World. With more mountains, glaciers and wildlife that almost anywhere else in the World, Alaska truly provides a plentiful experience for all of its visitors.
When is the best time to cruise Alaska?
The Alaskan cruise season runs approximately from May to September. Choosing the best time to go is difficult and dependent on your plans upon arrival, not to mention the unpredictable weather conditions that Alaska certainly does not apologise for. June to August brings the hottest temperatures but rainfall is not uncommon during this season. For people who are heading to Alaska for wildlife spotting and the famous fishing expeditions, summer is certainly your best bet for cruising. With colder weather and spontaneous downfalls of snow, May to September brings the winter season and the cheaper Alaska cruise deals. Despite the chance of cancelled tours and excursions due to weather, September does bring the highest chance of spotting the miraculous Northern Lights.
- Head to Sitka and experience Alaska’s most beautiful seaside town. With an embedded cultural heritage, Sitka offers diving, snorkelling and ocean rafting.
- For unbelievable views and landscapes, be sure to visit Misty Fjords’s National Monument. A national forest of epic proportions housing bears, wolves, otters, salmon, killer whales and heron.
- Perfectly situated and a common cruise destination, Icy Strait Point offers a remote wilderness experience and the largest, longest and highest ZipRider zip line in the World!
Alaska Cruises – it just doesn’t get more magnificent…
Alaska is divided into 3 regions for cruising:
Inside Passage (Round-trip) – When you sail the Inside Passage, you wind through a sea of eternity.
Jagged peaks rise higher and higher. Fjords carve their way through sheer rock.
Tidewater glaciers ebb restlessly to and fro and a vast archipelago of tiny, evergreen islands float on the icy brine. A thousand forms of beauty await you.
Winding along the breathtaking coast of Alaska, the Inside Passage offers magnificent views of forested islands, rock-walled fjords, and snowcapped mountains from the comfort of your cruise ship.
Inside Passage cruises usually include visits to tidewater glaciers, such as Hubbard Glacier or Glacier Bay, and transit through rugged fjords where mountains of ice have carved their way through sheer rock in eons past.
Typical ports of call on an Inside Passage Alaska cruise include Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, and Haines.
You can experience the area’s historic gold rush past and shop for handcrafted gold nugget jewelry, hop aboard the popular White Pass and Yukon Railroad, or simply marvel at the spectacular scenery of this unspoiled land.
Northbound Glacier Route – The Alaska Glacier Route usually includes the Gulf of Alaska during a seven-day cruise between Vancouver, BC and Seward, Alaska.
Popular ports visited include Ketchikan and Juneau and Skagway. Many travelers add a wilderness tour or train adventure to their Alaska Glacier Route cruise. Northbound cruises traditionally goes from Vancouver or Seattle to Seward.
Glacier Route cruises sail all along Alaska’s spectacularly rugged coastline through the Gulf of Alaska, stopping at historic Alaskan towns and touring mighty glaciers along the way.
Imagine viewing perpetually snowcapped mountains over three miles high from your sea-level vantage aboard ship.
You glide into College Fjord where you’re completely surrounded by sixteen ice-blue glaciers. It’s hard to visualize a more scenic journey than these one-way seven-day cruise adventures.
Ports include Ketchikan, Juneau, and Seward, among others. Many travelers add a wilderness tour or train trip to their Alaska Glacier Route cruise – you can travel in a state of the art, glass-domed railcar for a memorable journey into the wilds of the Alaskan interior
Southbound Glacier Route – The Alaska Glacier Route usually includes the Gulf of Alaska during a seven-day cruise between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, BC.
Explore our value priced Alaska Cruise options and start planning your dream vacation now!
When to Cruise Alaska
Alaska’s cruise season is May through the beginning of October.
The shoulder season (and best pricing) are May and September-October). The summer months bring lots of visitors so if you are planning for June, July or August you need to book early to get the sailing and cabin you want.
Alaska Cruises are typically 7 day adventures departing from Vancouver-British Columbia, and Seattle, Washington for Inside Passage cruises. Glacier cruises most typically leave from Vancouver-BC for northbound and Seward, Alaska for Southbound.
Seward is the main departure and arrival port for glacier cruises and is located about three hours from Anchorage by scenic motorcoach transfer.
Whale watching is best during the summer months (June and July)for sighting humbacks and Orcas. Bring your camera.
The weather during the season can range from balmy summer breezes to fog and rain. You will be most comfortable dressing in layers to accomodate changes in weather. Download our FREE recommendations for Packing For Cool Cruising!
Alaska Shore Excursions
Part of the excitement of cruising Alaska is getting off the ship at magnificent ports of call and exploring the geography and the magnificent abundant scenery.
Your cruise line will publish specific shore excursion offerings for your cruise which can be booked on board at the Shore Excursion Desk a day or two prior. Many cruise lines will allow you to view descriptions and book on line months prior to your departure to avoid disappointment of sold out tours.
You will be able to choose from adventures as diverse as kayaking, white water rafting, helicopter exploration of glaciers, salmon fishing, gold mine exploration or even a trip on the historic White Pass and Yukon railroad and many, many more!
Fortunately you have the ability to choose shore activities from quality providers other than your particular cruise line (and yes this is a commercial but one with many happy clients)!
Shore Trips is a very affordable alternative to cruise line provided shore excurisions. They offer quality tours and activities that equal or exceed that of the cruise lines and that makes it worthwhile comparing your options.
You can browse through all the offerings by signing-in to create your own TripPlanner® – an electronic mini-brochure of the ShoreTrips® that interest you (no charge to do this).
You can also view many testimonials from satisfied clients from around the world!
Never Fear – their policy allows cancellation without penalty up to 11 days before your tour and always refunds in full for ship itinerary changes and weather-related safety considerations.
Remember your cruise ship is your own floating resort however a great part of the fun is getting off the ship and taking part in terrific activities that let you experience the ports of call. You won’t be sorry… getting off the ship and exploring doubles the fun!
Alaska Cruises – Ports Of Call
Some of the best glacier viewing on Alaska cruises can be seen at College Fjord. Tucked into the northwest corner of Prince William Sound, this fjord boasts the world’s largest collection of tidewater glaciers — sixteen, named after Ivy League colleges by the Harriman Expedition that discovered them in 1899.
GLACIER BAY NATIONAL PARK
The icy wilderness of this spectacular national park and preserve displaysmassive glaciers that stretch from the ice-draped St. Elias and Fairweather mountain ranges to the ends of majestic fjords. The park is also home to an amazing world of marine life, including humpback whales, sea otters, porpoises and harbor seals. See it all through the eyes of a park ranger who comes aboard to add expert insight.
Cradled at the base of the Chilkat Peninsula, this picturesque town is the ancestral home of the Tlingit people and boasts the largest annual gathering of American bald eagles.
This capital city was once part of Alaska’s Gold Rush. Take an afternoon hike through the wild frontier surrounding Juneau or enjoy a quick tram ride up Mt. Roberts for spectacular views. Visit monumental Mendenhall Glacier, the largest ice formation accessible by road.
Alaska’s first city is also known as the “Salmon Capital of the World.” It’s built on steep hillsides along the water and features a colorful and bustling port. Visit Saxman Native Village and discover its vibrant Tlingit Indian culture and spectacular totem poles.
PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND
With its 3,000 miles of shoreline, Prince William Sound is one of the most scenic archipelagoes in the world. It also hosts the country’s largest gathering of migratory birds.
Situated on Baranof Island and nestled between snowy mountains and the Pacific Ocean sits one of the most beautiful seaside towns in Alaska. Sitka is a unique blend of Russian history and Tlingit culture.
Few one-time boomtowns retain the flavor of the gold rush days like Skagway. This “Gateway to the Klondike” is preserved as a National Historic Park and features one of the oldest narrow-gauge railroads in existence. Step back in time and soak up local flavor in the colorful taverns and shops.
This spectacular glacier-carved fjord showcases stunning vertical walls andoffers views of wildlife and waterfalls on its path to the twin Sawyer Glaciers. Linger in this magical place to watch blocks of ice calving off the glaciers’ towering faces.
Explore Vancouver from its late-Victorian era Gastown to its postmodern glass cathedrals. Stroll through Stanley Park for incredible views of downtown, the North Shore and the mountains. Or spend the afternoon at the second-largest Chinatown in North America.
VICTORIA, British Columbia
A one-time colonial post, this sophisticated seaside city is alive with colorful history. It’s also the sunniest spot in Canada. Take a stroll through the spectacular 35-acre Butchart Gardens or visit the Empress Hotel.
As gateway to the bustling city of Anchorage, Whittier is a small community that still enjoys a near wilderness state, as it was inaccessible by road until the year 2000.
Most Alaska cruises depart or arrive at the Port of Vancouver – and more information on and directions to the ports are available at the Port Authority site.