Alaska Cruises and Cruise Tours
One Of Life’s Great Journeys
Alaska cruises are extremely popular, thanks to a landscape that presents breathtaking beauty and natural wonders on a grand scale. The Last Frontier’s majestic landscape is perhaps best viewed on Alaska cruises, especially for first-time visitors.
Alaska cruises are virtually all 7 days, with a few exceptions. For a more in-depth experience you can choose an Alaska Cruise Tour, which adds a land portion to your cruise. Cruise tours are usually 10 to 14 days long, including the cruise.
Roundtrip cruises depart from Seattle or Vancouver for a 7 day cruise to Alaska. You will experience historic Alaskan towns such as Skagway and Ketchikan, and your cruise will also give you a chance to see some of Alaska’s magnificent glaciers. Some ships offer the very popular “must-see” Glacier Bay, while others offer Hubbard Glacier, or Sawyer Glacier. Roundtrip cruises, especially the ones from Seattle, are the first to sell out.
Your second choice for 7 day Alaska cruising are the one way cruises from Vancouver to Anchorage (where ships actually dock in either Whittier or Seward) or vice versa. Ports of call are similar to those visited on a roundtrip cruise. Some ships offer Glacier Bay cruising, while others will let you experience Hubbard Glacier. Princess Cruises will also take you to the College Fjords. Note that compared to a roundtrip cruise there will be a one-way flight required either to or from Anchorage if you select one of these cruises.
Many cruisers, especially repeat visitors to Alaska, opt to extend their cruises with an Alaska cruise tour that includes a visit to Denali by glass-domed train, stays in mountain chateaus, and wildlife tours. Alaska cruise tours combine an ocean voyage with a stay on land, and the cruise lines have streamlined Alaska cruise tours so that guests pay one price for two vacations – one at sea, and the other in the Alaskan interior.
Those of you looking for this kind of more in-depth experience of Alaska have the chance to combine your 7 day Vancouver to Anchorage cruise with a land tour of three to nine days. These cruise tours come in a in a wide variety and there are so many versions to choose from that even the experienced traveler might feel confused. Well, things are not quite that complicated. In selecting your land tour there are two things you need to consider: how many days you want for the land portion of your vacation and what part of Alaska’s interior you want to see.
By far the most popular destination in Alaska’s interior, Denali covers more than six million acres of very diverse terrain and a complete sub-arctic eco-system. The highest mountain in North America, the 20,320 feet high Denali, rises majestically over the landscape and is the center of attention. Wildlife in the park includes bears, Dall sheep, moose, and more. A 3-hour Natural History tour is included in many cruisetours and will give you a good overview, but you should consider a cruisetour that includes the longer 6-hour Tundra Wildlife tour. The Tundra Wildlife tour will take you much deeper into the park through the best wildlife viewing areas and to the best view of the mountain.
There are many optional excursions offered during your stay in the Denali National Park area. While these differ depending on the cruise line, a sample of excursions would be: whitewater river rafting, midnight sun golfing, helicopter flightseeing, horse trail adventures, back country hiking, jeep safari, sport fishing, kayaking, and nature walks.
For those who have visited Denali, the Kenai Peninsula is a wonderful area where you can combine excellent sightseeing with many opportunities for recreation. It’s location close to where your ship docks in Whittier or Seward makes it even more attractive as a leisurely place to experience Alaska. Optional excursions and activities generally include nature hikes, horseback trail rides, mushing and helicopter flightseeing, Kenai River sport fishing, saltwater fishing, Resurrection Bay wildlife boat tour, Kenai River scenic river float, Kenai Canyon river rafting, and kayaking.
Virtually all Alaska cruises depart from either Seattle or Vancouver. A few longer 10 day cruises depart from San Francisco.