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Alaska

Stunning natural landscape, an appreciation for wildlife, curiosity, and a desire to see glaciers, are the most popular reasons for taking an Alaska cruise. There are essentially two types of Alaska cruises. The first departs and returns from Vancouver or Seattle. Often called an "Inside Passage Cruise" with a duration of one week, the ship sails up the coast of British Columbia and into the straits between the islands that belong to the State of Alaska. There is little to see other than water and trees as you "sail the inside passage", but with some patience and binoculars, you may spot some wildlife en route. Often these cruises stop in ports such as Ketchikan or Sitka, which are of historical and cultural interest, but not what one might expect in Alaska. Most people think glaciers, as this is what is promoted by the cruise lines in most marketing. Glacier Bay is the highlight of an inside passage cruise, as this is where the ship anchors for incredible views of glaciers "calving", or in layman’s terms, ice cracking and falling into the near frozen waters. Some cruise ships do not actually enter Glacier Bay, as there are limits on the numbers of permits issued by the Government for ships entering this National Park. Princess and Holland America get the majority of the permits, as they have been sailing in Alaska the longest. Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, and Norwegian, are often the sailings to look at carefully, as many do not actually go into Glacier Bay. Cold winds blowing off the glaciers call for gloves, scarves, hats, and winter coats, but only while in front of the glaciers. Other ports of call include Skagway, a small town of only 500 people that is home to the White Pass Railroad, giving visitors a scenic trip along the gold rush Trail of 1898 into the Yukon. Juneau is a terrific port of call for numerous activities, including cycling, kayaking, fishing, whale watching, and helicopter and bus trips to the nearby Medenhall Glacier. The Red Dog Saloon is a popular spot in town, giving visitors a taste of the past.

The second type of Alaska Cruise is generally called a Glacier Route Cruise, starting in either Vancouver or Seward (the port approximately 3 hours from Anchorage), sailing one-way either southbound or northbound. It is called "glacier", as many pass by another set of glaciers at College Fjord, or the Hubbard Glacier. It involves flying into or out of Anchorage in one direction, and this extra airfare cost can be quite expensive. Air Canada offers a few flights a week between Vancouver and Anchorage, or else you will be flying in and out of Seattle, to further complicate things. Most people who take either a Southbound or Northbound Glacier cruise, do so because they wish to spend some time in Alaska, either on a "cruisetour", or a separately arranged escorted tour. Independent stays in Alaska are not terribly easy to arrange, as car rentals cannot be picked up in Seward. The great distances and need for escort makes touring the best way to see the interior of Alaska. Visitors most commonly explore Denali National Park as the main highlight. If you are interested in combining a tour with your cruise, it is best to actually speak to one of our experts who have experience in making these arrangements. At this time, it is too complex for the web to properly handle. A popular addition to an Alaska Cruise holiday, is a pre or post trip through the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The Rocky Mountaineer Railtour offers stunning daytime views in a luxury glass top train, and visits to Banff, Jasper, Lake Louise, and the Okanagan Valley, can be an interesting add-on tour. Coach tours, car rentals, or rail tours can easily be arranged to coordinate with a flight in or out of Calgary. Ask us for details.

Weather in Alaska is unpredictable, even during high season in July and August. Rain and overcast skies are likely, although we have many clients donning shorts that experienced mostly sunshine. The Alaska season runs from May to September, with many great deals available at either end of the season. For those who have sailed warmer climate cruises in the past, be ready for far less time spent on deck. Deck areas are often near empty on colder climate cruises, as who wants to sit outside in a cold wind? There are a few that enjoy a hot tub experience in the cooler weather. You will find yourself doing much more reading, watching movies, and using indoor facilities on board. People who normally might skip the ice carving and art auctions on a sunny cruise, may find themselves lining up just to have a change of pace. Be prepared to bring lots of reading material for when you are not in port. You’ll need clothing "in layers", as you may need shorts, jeans, sweatshirts, sweaters, raincoats or k-way jackets, formal dining wear, and footwear to match.

Alaska Video


Alaska Pictures

Cruising thru Tracy Arm Fjord - Alaska cruise

Cruising thru Tracy Arm Fjord - Alaska cruise

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