Alaska is by far one of the most pristine places on the planet to visit and one of the best ways to experience all its beauty is on an Alaska Cruise. Alaska cruises offer a front seat to more than 100,000 gleaming glaciers, 16 of the countryâ€™s 20 tallest mountains and wildlife beyond your wildest dreams.
An Alaska cruise allows the tourist to get up close and personal with amazing sea life such as the elusive humpback whale and natural wonders like brilliant crystal glaciers, all from the comforts of a veritable city at sea. You donâ€™t need a dumpy down coat and oversized boots to experience Alaska. The weather can be absolutely wonderful during certain times of the year, so the only things youâ€™ll need are a few cotton layers, binoculars, a camera and some sunscreen and youâ€™re ready to explore!
When to go
While a few of the smaller ships begin their Alaska cruise season around April, the Alaska cruise season runs May-September. Because the sun doesnâ€™t set in the summertime and temperatures are mild, June, July & August are the most popular (and most expensive) months to take an Alaska cruise Thanks to thinner crowds and super low fares, May and September are quickly becoming popular months to book. The weather can be tricky during the month of May as it is Alaskaâ€™s â€œtransitional periodâ€? weather wise. Temperatures dip fairly rapidly during the month of September, so keep an eye on the weather forecast before you go so youâ€™ll know exactly what to pack.
Types of Alaska cruises
Alaska cruises typically cover Far North Alaska (Barrow, Nome and Prudhoe Bay), Interior Alaska (Denali National Park), Southcentral Alaska (Anchorage, Kenai and Seward) and Southeast Alaska (Juneau, Skagway). Juneau, Nome, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and Nome are popular ports of call and the â€˜Gulf of Alaska Cruiseâ€™ is the most popular cruise itinerary among the most popular Alaska cruise lines.
The â€˜Gulf of Alaska Cruise,â€™ offered by Carnival Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Holland America Line, is typically a week long cruise sailing between Anchorage and Vancouver, B.C. Visitors will tour the glaciers of College Fjord, the mountains of Juneau and the coastal islands of Glacier Bay. Land excursions will cover the endless amounts of shops and restaurants available at every stop and the many architectural sights of Vancouver.
The vast majority of Alaska cruises offer excursions including activities such as bear watching, fishing, hiking, kayaking, rafting and visits to Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. There are also a variety of wildlife tours featuring opportunities to watch everything from sheep, moose and grizzlies to polar bears, bald eagles and caribou interacting in their natural habitat.
Alaska cruise costs
Base prices for most Alaska cruises will include: accommodations, onboard entertainment, activities, meals and standard facilities. Expect to pay for alcohol, gambling, tips and extras such as spa treatments as well as port fees and taxes. Unless you book an â€œair and seaâ€? package, you will also pay for airfare from your town/city to the port of embarkation, which is typically Anchorage or Vancouver. If you want to save money, best bet is to book online. Most cruise lines offer amazing Internet deals and discounts as well as specials for purchasing excursions in advance.
Whether your goal is to bask in the midnight sun, gaze at the Northern Lights or catch a rare glimpse of a wild grizzly, an Alaska cruise covers it all (and then some).