Alaska is a unique treasure, brimming with natural beauty, expansive wilderness and Arctic wildlife. It is a rugged destination, but you can experience the stunning coastal scenery of its southeastern panhandle via the comforts of a cruise ship.
Most major cruise lines offer wonderful cruises to Alaska, giving you a wide variety of ships, itineraries and staterooms to choose from. You’re sure to find one that accommodates your budget, too.
Plus, keep in mind that there can be a lot of variation in Alaska’s weather, even during the relatively brief cruise season (mid-April through mid-September). For the warmest cruise conditions, look at July sailings. Still, low temperatures can be in the 40s even during the peak of summer. Dress warmly to stroll the deck in the early mornings, and dress in layers so you can easily adapt when the temperature rises – it can reach the 70s or even the low 80s on a sunny midsummer day.
Most seven-day round-trip cruises from Seattle or Vancouver sail through Alaska’s beautiful Inside Passage. This waterway, carved long ago by glacial ice, is a maze of channels and inlets tucked in between majestic coastal mountains and forested islands. The views are simply breathtaking, and you might be able to spot whales and sea lions in the water; bears and Dall sheep on the land; and eagles in the sky.
Some of the popular ports of call along the Inside Passage are Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway.
Ketchikan is the place to learn about indigenous Tlingit culture, including traditional totem poles. This is also the gateway to Misty Fjords National Monument, which is as beautiful as its name implies.
The mountain-backed city of Juneau is the state capital and home to Mendenhall Glacier. Here, you can ride up the Mount Roberts Tramway to enjoy the incredible views, go trekking on the glacier, take a whale watching expedition or get a lesson in dogsledding.
Steeped in Gold Rush history, Skagway was the starting point for fortune-seekers headed to the mining districts of the Klondike and the Yukon. To see the path they followed, ride the train up to White Pass Summit. You can take a snowshoe expedition or test your prospecting skills by panning for a bit of gold.
There are other options for cruising Alaska, including itineraries that venture farther north, to Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula; and, some that combine a cruise with an inland adventure. Explore the options with guidance from your professional travel advisor.