Cruising is a great way to explore the world, but some of the most memorable destinations are actually close to home. Alaska is a U.S. destination that has some of the most incredible coastal scenery anywhere on the planet, as well as beautiful wildlife and multi-cultural experiences waiting on shore.
When we say the scenery is breathtaking, it’s no exaggeration. There are majestic mountains, dense forests, thundering waterfalls, and massive glaciers that glow deep blue and green. Along the shore, you may see brown bears, black bears or moose; Dall sheep and mountain goats scamper on the ridges. In the water, you may spot whales and seals, with seabirds gliding above.
As you plan an Alaskan cruise, the first decision is when to go. The cruise season is May to September, perfectly aligned with summer vacations. June, July and August are the warmest, with daily high temperatures from the mid-50's to mid-70's, but can also be a bit rainy. May and September are cooler but drier, and September is the best time to catch the Northern Lights.
Once you decide when to go, consider exactly where to go. There are two basic choices:
- An Inside Passage cruise is typically a seven-night roundtrip, usually from Seattle or Vancouver. The Inside Passage is the waterway between the coast of the Southeastern Alaska panhandle and a series of islands that shield the passage to the more turbulent water of the Pacific Ocean. The main ports of call are Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.
- A Gulf of Alaska cruise is frequently a seven-night, one-way cruise between Seattle or Vancouver and Seward or Whittier, which are the seaports for Anchorage. These cruises sail the Inside Passage, but because they are one-way rather than roundtrip, they can take you farther north. These itineraries often feature a call in Sitka as well as Anchorage.
If you’d like a longer cruise, there are a few that go beyond seven nights, or you could combine your cruise with a land-based journey to the interior. Another option is an expedition cruise, which will focus on nature and wildlife. The smaller expedition cruise ships are able to dock in villages and venture into inlets that are not accessible to larger ships. Ask Anita, your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert, for more information about Alaska’s ports, onshore activities and options for land tours, too.
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