What draws so many people to cruise the rugged coastline of Alaska? The coastline itself is a major draw, with thousands of miles of stunning scenery that segues from majestic mountain peaks to rainforest, glaciers, and Arctic tundra. And, there’s beautiful wildlife – including whales, seals, seabirds, eagles, moose and bears – that you can often see from the ship.
In addition, Alaska’s ports of call are fascinating and surprisingly diverse. Ketchikan is a center of Tlingit Indian culture; Skagway maintains the character of a Gold Rush-era town; and Sitka preserves important pieces of its history as a Russian settlement.
While the cruise lines that visit Alaska offer lots of variety in cruise length, itineraries and style of ship, there are two basic types of Alaskan cruises:
Inside Passage cruises. These cruises are typically roundtrip, departing from Seattle, Wash., or Vancouver, British Columbia, which both offer fantastic opportunities for pre- or post-cruise sightseeing. The Inside Passage is a relatively sheltered waterway, dotted with islands and edged by breathtaking coastal scenery. Common ports of call include Ketchikan and Skagway, and sometimes the city of Juneau.
Gulf of Alaska cruises. These cruises also depart from Seattle or Vancouver, but the greater distance to be covered by the ship means that many are one-way. In addition to the Inside Passage, you can expect to explore Sitka, Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, College Fjord, and perhaps the Kenai Peninsula before disembarking in Seward, Whittier or Anchorage (or, select a reverse itinerary and end in Seattle or Vancouver). Occasionally, a cruise line will offer longer Gulf of Alaska cruises that depart from San Francisco, Calif.
Before or after cruising the coastline, many Alaska cruise passengers want to explore Alaska’s interior, tool. Some cruise lines combine land tours with their Alaskan cruises to create “cruisetours.” Popular choices for the land portion of an Alaskan cruisetour include Denali National Park, the Kenai Peninsula, Wrangell-Elias National Park or the Yukon Territory.
Talk with Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, soon to get more information about 2014 Alaska cruises and cruisetours.
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