With thousands of miles of scenic coastlines, wildlife, mountains, arctic tundra and glaciers it’s no wonder that over one million cruisers a year visit Alaska. Whales, eagles, bears, moose and seals can be seen from the deck of your ship. Called the last great frontier, you’ll find 17 of North Americas 20 tallest mountains and more than 100,000 glaciers here. Don’t forget to bring binoculars, warm outerwear or rain gear to best enjoy the views of glaciers, marine life, birds, and breathtaking scenery.
Cruises through the Inside Passage usually depart from Seattle or Vancouver. The scenic trip takes passengers by snow-capped mountains and fjords through the calm blue-green waters between the Pacific Coast islands. The main ports of call are Juneau, Skagway, Sitka and Ketchikan, but some ships stop in spots like Icy Strait, Haines, Wrangell or Petersburg.
The Gulf itinerary takes you between Seattle/Vancouver and Seward/Whittier, the gateway ports for Anchorage. You’ll visit Itineraries many of the same stops that a round-trip Inside Passage cruise does, plus extras such as Valdez, Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord. This is the perfect trip to take, if you want to add a land tour on to your cruise. Since these cruises disembark from either Seward or Whittier, moving on to a land tour is very simple. Most land tours last 4-7 days. This is a great way to experience Alaska’s mountains, animals, vast tundra, and a chance learn more about the culture.
Small Ship Adventure cruises
For those looking to get closer to nature and explore the many small inlets and shallow waters where bigger ships can’t go, this type of cruise is for you. You’ll find rafts and kayaks that can be launched from the back of the ship. These cruises offer hiking experiences and visits to ports off the beaten path. Each port of call offers a unique perspective and experience.
Ketchikan is between the base of Deer Mountain and the Tongas Narrows. Creek Street is the main attraction there. Filled with charming Victorian buildings and quaint shops the town is built on pilings over the water.
The town has a colorful past as the home of miners, loggers and fishermen. What was once the city’s red- light district during the mining years, is now lined with stores and restaurants. Look down as you walk through the streets built on stilts, you’ll see canoes, kayaks and leaping salmon in the waters below.
Ketchikan is the salmon capital of the world and the gateway port for scenic tours of the Tongass National Forest and Misty Fjords, as well as fishing trips. While there you can also visit the Totem Heritage Center and see the world’s largest selection of totem poles!
It's one of the rainiest cities in the United States, raining 230 days a year.
Juneau is Alaska’s capital. Located between Mt. Juneau and Gastineau Channel, its’ the only state capital accessible by only water or air. While there you can kayak, canoe or hike close to the Mendenhall Glacier. At the cruise terminal you can take the Mount Roberts Tramway 1,800 feet up for gorgeous views and hiking trails. Travel back to an earlier time and enjoy some honky-tonk music and great food at the Red Dog Saloon.
While there visit the Alaska State Museum and learn more about gold mining and the local wildlife, take a river raft excursion on the Mendenhall River or visit a salmon hatchery.
Founded as a gold rush town in 1897, Skagway was the entry point for hundreds of fortune hunters on their way to the Klondike in search of gold. Many of original buildings, board sidewalks and pebbled streets remain from that time.
Take a train ride along the narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Railroad for spectacular views. You’ll be following the tracks that the gold seekers took by foot over the pass to the Canadian border.
Take a gold rush history tour at the Klondike History Gold Rush National Park Trail of ‘98 Museum has artifacts, photos and records of the colorful history of this town. When your done, take a break for a brew at the Red Onion Saloon.
Located on the outer coast of Baranof Islands, Sitka’s first inhabitants were the Klinkut Indians. In 1799, Russian fur traders traveled here to make it their home. The town is also where Russia handed Alaska over to US in 1867 - $.02/acre. Today, Sitka is a unique cultural melting pot for the Klinkut Indians and Russian populations.
Explore Sitka National Park and see the many native totems. While there you can take the Mt Roberts Tram up 1800 feet to the Nature Center. Another highlight is the Alaska Raptor Center, a not-for-profit facility dedicated to healing injured birds of prey, primarily American eagles.
Tracy Arm Fjord is 27 miles long with cliffs that rise more than 3,000 feet on either side of the narrow passage and waterfalls that cascade down the steep rock walls. Named after Civil War general Benjamin Franklin Tracy, this narrow fjord is located approximately 45 miles southeast of Juneau.
You’ll find some of Alaska's largest glaciers, including the twin Sawyer glaciers, which often drop enormous chunks of ice into the waters below. While there you may see icebergs floating on the water.
Located within the Tongass National Forest, Tracy Arm Fjord is teaming with wildlife such as black and brown bears, deer, wolves, harbor seals, mountain goats and a variety of seabirds.
Glacier Bay is a destination millions of years in the making. There are 16 glaciers - that's more than anyplace else in the world! One of them is 265 feet high and 2 miles wide. In order to take in the spectacular views, your cruise ship will stop at several glaciers so guests can take in the amazing colors of these majestic and massive natural phenomenons. On most cruises, Naturalists come aboard the ship to narrate as you pass by the glaciers.
Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city, spanning 1,955 square miles, from the Alaska Native village of Eklutna all the way to Portage Glacier. Anchorage features dozens of parks and 122 miles of paved bike paths. A metropolitan city within the wilderness there are many fine restaurants and entertainment venues within miles of spectacular vantage points. Don’t miss the city zoo where you’ll find every animal and bird native to Alaska.
Denali National Park
Denali is six million acres of pristine preserve and amazing scenery. There are 35 species of animals and 135 species of birds in this self-contained wildlife domain. The park is also home to Mount McKinley, North America's tallest peak at 20,310 feet high.
Congress created the park in 1917; at the time, the purpose was to protect Dall sheep from over-hunting. The park's size and purpose grew over time. With terrain of tundra, spruce forest and glaciers, the park is home to wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou and Dall sheep. Popular activities in summer include biking, backpacking, hiking and mountaineering.
Fairbanks is the northern most city in the United States. Located at 64 degrees north latitude, it’s the perfect place to witness the aurora borealis, the midnight sun and sunsets and sunrises that last forever.
Tour a local museum, choosing from Fairbanks Community Museum, Pioneer Air Museum, Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum, or Tanana Valley Railroad Museum. Or go at your own pace with a self-guided gold rush walking tour. You can even take an old fashion paddle boat tour along the rivers that surround the town.