Travel Blog

A Guide To Alaskan Cruises

When you think of Alaska, what comes to mind? If all you think of is snow, snow and more snow, then you’d be in for a surprise. Of course, there is plenty of the white stuff around at certain times of the year, turning the dramatic landscapes into an enchanted winter wonderland, but you will also find that Alaska boasts some of the most spectacular scenery to be found in North America.

The Inside Passage, a route that almost every Alaskan cruise follows, is made up of imposing mountains, fjords and islands, with a spellbinding photo opportunity around every corner. Those who have a keen interest in culture will be fascinated by the indigenous people of the region who have adapted to life in the freezer through thousands of years of experience whilst travellers with an interest in wildlife might enjoy a spring visit when snow in the lower elevations has dispersed and bears, fresh from hibernation, forage along the river banks.

The Telegraph recently reported that more than one million passengers book a cruise in Alaska every year. This colossal figure makes the state one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world. Surely one million people can’t be wrong?

When should I book an Alaskan cruise?

Most Alaskan cruises run from mid-May to mid-September, mostly due to the changing daylight hours and the weather. However, if you are on the look-out for a cheaper deal, you might find some bargain journeys in the shoulder seasons of April and late September.

Which cruise should I book?

There are a selection of popular cruises to choose from at prices that will suit a variety of budgets, so shop around a bit before you make your final decision. Some of our favourites include:

  • Carnival’s eight-day cruise from Vancouver to Seattle, passing through the stunning Glacier Bay National Park, a 3.3 million acre site of glittering glaciers, snow-capped mountains and endless stretches of pristine coastline.
  • Saga’s 14-night cruise that combines a tour of the Rockies with a week of cruising Vancouver to Skagway, a fun tourist town which capitalises on its gold rush history with historic false-front saloons and shops as well as locals in period costume.
  • Crystal’s epic 32-day tour, ideal for those that are looking to spend a little more time at sea, ferries passengers from Anchorage to the city that never sleeps – New York.

Are there any excursions I should book?

Firstly, you need to consider the things there might be to do in your port of departure. Most Alaskan cruises set sail from San Francisco, Seattle or Vancouver; all make for excellent mini-breaks in their own right with lashings of dining, shopping and entertainment opportunities.

Anchorage, Alaska, is the state’s largest city and just a 30-minute drive from the heart of the wilderness. Recommended excursions from Anchorage include: guided trekking in Chugach State Park; a scenic ride on the Alaska railroad; guided sightseeing to explore the history and culture of the town; and a truly incredible two-person floatplane tour over the foothills of Denali, the Great Gorge and the Ruth Glacier.

Alternative activities are dependent on ports of call. Helicopter and floatplane tours are great options for those that enjoy seeing the world from a birds-eye view whilst those who prefer to keep an eye on the birds themselves might choose a bird-watching expedition. Wildlife aficionados can also book into bear-spotting or whale-watching tours whilst those that fancy a change of scenery might enjoy a trek through the Ketchikan rainforest centre. Skagway’s White Pass railroad is one of the most popular options for soaking up the scenery whilst relaxing in comfort, which, if you’re keen on a cruise, will be right up your street.

What to pack for an Alaskan cruise

  • Depending on the activities you might wish to participate in, essential items could include:
  • A sturdy pair of walking boots.
  • Motion sickness pills just in case of choppy seas.
  • Sunscreen - don’t be deceived by the temperatures, the sunrays are strong in this part of the world.
  • Waterproof clothing such as ponchos, raincoats, extra socks and even umbrellas.
  • Layers of clothing such as fleece jackets, hats and gloves as the weather can be unpredictable.
  • Binoculars to get the very best view of the wildlife.

Finally, don’t forget to add travel insurance to your holiday checklist. Medical Travel Compared compares a wide variety of insurers to help you find the best deal for your dollar.

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