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The hidden jewel of the northern hemisphere and the perfect getaway cruise to discover another world, an Alaska cruise is ideal for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. From stunning scenery to incredible wildlife, action-packed outings to tranquil waters, there’s something for everyone in America’s largest state. Whether you’re looking to discover hidden wonders like the intrepid prospectors of old, or go whale watching, everyone leaves modern day Alaska with a bountiful catch of tales and a horde of memories. With endless possibilities on how to spend your time on this unique part of the planet, it’s no surprise that Alaska cruises have become so popular.
You'll be pleased to know that Alaska cruises are available year round, meaning you can choose the itinerary and the time of year that best suits what you want to see. With changing seasons comes changing scenery and wildlife, so read below and see what time of the year will be best for you:
During an Alaska cruise the things you can experience are as varied as they are exciting, with some of the highlights including:
If you'd like to make your Alaska cruise even more special, why not see what more it has to offer by train. With the Rocky Mountaineer you’ll see all the extremes of North America’s vast nature and the iconic Rocky Mountains from the comfortable luxury of these charming train carriages. As you gaze out of the dome roofed window, you’ll be waited on by fantastic staff, who are as informative as they are attentive, to ensure you have a smooth ride and can take in all the dramatic beauty of the forests, lakes, rivers and ravines.
If you'd like to find out more about what you can do ashore during your cruise, read our guide to the top Alaska shore excursions.
For some of the best Alaska cruises, choose an inside passage cruise. This is the most popular way to take in the wonders of this part of the world as the deeper waters makes it more accessible for large cruise ships. Along the way you'll be able to visit historical destinations, Alaska's capital city, Juneau, and even Ketchikan, the Salmon Capital of the World.
While San Francisco may be a long way away from the first port of call in Alaska, it is a popular point of departure for Alaska cruises, giving you the perfect opportunity to explore one of America's most iconic cities. There’s no shortage of renowned sights in San Francisco as you head up the city’s iconic slopes in a retro tram from the movies. To cap it all off, the infamous island prison of Alcatraz will captivate you, while the awe-inspiring Golden Gate Bridge gives the perfect photo opportunity to show your loved ones back home.
Just over the border from US territory in Canada, you can make a trip ashore to discover the big city attractions and brilliant outdoor pursuits of Vancouver, such as the glittering views of the Puget Sound and the magnificent Cascade Mountains. Explore the Capilano Suspension Bridge and the cobbled streets of Gastown, Vancouver's historic district, which features restored heritage buildings, antique shops, boutiques and restaurants.
A few days sailing from Vancouver lies Alaska’s capital city, the awe-inspiring port of Juneau. Here you can hike or take a cable car ride over the stunning landscape as you marvel at the mighty Mendenhall Glacier set against the imposing backdrop of Mt. Juneau.
Sitka gives you a real taste of Alaska’s history and scenery. The town’s orthodox cathedral sports a Russian onion dome, and the nearby battle ground - marked by a path of totem poles - was the scene of Alaska’s first colonial rulers’ victory over the native tribes. Meanwhile, the backdrop of the Sitka National Park boasts some of the most iconic views in all the Inland Passage.
Anchorage serves as a fantastic gateway to the surrounding wilderness of mountains, fjords, forests and tundra that make up Alaska’s nature reserves. Having said this, the fascinating city has many sights to see on your way through. Whizz on a ride on the world’s longest zip wire from Icy Point for amazing views over the bay or learn about the local history and culture at the Native Heritage Centre.
On an Alaska cruise, see the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan which boasts the world’s largest collection of traditional Native American totem poles, with thirty three unique and original totems on display at the exhibit. Here, you can take a guided tour around the fascinating exhibitions to learn the story of the local people’s history and culture through their most famous art creations. For any thrill seekers, there's also the chance to take a zip line journey across the rainforest canopy.
While there's no shortage of amazing scenery on your Alaska cruise, Tracy Arm offers some of the most incredible sights. Included on many itineraries, or accessible by a small-boat excursion, this huge fjord provides unbeatable up close views of the natural beauty of this part of the world.
Denali National Park and Preserve is a must on an Alaska cruise for anyone wanting to see the wonders of inland Alaska. The landscape offers a breath-taking panorama from the various peaks of the hills onto the tundra below. Whether you strap on your hiking boots or take a tour bus, you’re sure to see a host of critters on your way, from grizzly bears and caribou to bison and wolves.
Glacier Bay is a vast and impressive sight to take in from your ship. As you journey up the fjords and stare up at the sheer glacial cliffs you’ll feel like your ship is really no bigger than a canoe. For the more intrepid travellers, other smaller watercraft are also available during your Alaska cruise to help you get up close and maybe even spot the local wildlife including humpback whales blowing spray and slapping the surface with their giant tails.