The best way of seeing the wild landscapes from America’s ‘last frontier’ is with the Alaska cruises. Here are some advices for those who want to take Alaska cruise holiday.
When to go
Although the season lasts from May to September, the best period is from mid-June to the end of August. Because Alaska is wet and windy, excursions may be cancelled or changed, so this is something you should be prepared for. Glaciers are not influenced by the sun, so they have their own weather systems even if it’s sunny in the port. Helicopter and floatplanes are vulnerable if weather conditions deteriorate.
The main departure ports are Seattle (USA) and Vancouver (Canada), but occasionally there are cruises which depart from San Francisco and Los Angeles.
There are about 30 ships that cruise Alaska, and two more popular routes.
The first one is the Inside Passage Route from Vancouver or Seattle, to Skagway, which includes visits to tidewater glaciers, like the 15 active ones in Glacier Bay. The most known ports in Alaska are Juneau (the capital), Skagway (known for its Klondike years) and Ketchikan. Tourist access is being made only by cruise ship or helicopter because there are no roads to Glacier Bay.
The second route is Glacier Route, which is wider and includes the Gulf of Alaska in a one-way cruise between Seattle or Vancouver and Anchorage. Some ports on this route are Haines, Valdez and Sitka.
How long to go for
A 7-day cruise should be enough, but on a 10-14 day cruise you’ll get more, meaning that you’ll see more wildlife and other ports.
The on-shore activities are quite adventurous in Alaska. These activities include glacier walks, dog sledding, kayaking, whale watching, train rides and watching glaciers calving.
The most popular shore excursion in Alaska is taking a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad in Skagway, which is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. This journey only takes 40 miles from the 100-mile lengths, and climbs 2,865 feet in just 20 miles. If the weather is good, you can do some sightseeing by helicopter or floatplane. A 30 minute flight has a price of $250 per person.
Which cruise line to opt for
In order to see some amazing scenery, you should book a balcony cabin. You can see odd pod of whales spouting off close by, or spot elusive brown bears and eagles. Even if you don’t have a balcony cabin, you can see beautiful coastlines, pristine wilderness and mountains.
For families with children: Carnival Cruise Lines , Disney Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International
For mature adults: Holland America Line, Oceania Cruises, Princess Cruises
For entertainment and activity: Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises
For luxury: Silversea Cruises
For relaxation: Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises
For affordable/good value cruises: Norwegian Cruise Line
For something different: The tiny ships of Alaska Dream Cruises, American Safari Cruises InnerSea Expeditions, and Lindblad Expeditions which get you up-close-and-personal to the landscapes you’re passing through. They have few onboard facilities, although they are intimate and offer a close-to-the water experience.