Why I think Alaska is the World’s Best Cruise Destination
Cruising to Alaska - Like No Place on Earth We all have our favourite cruise destinations and for me, with over 60 cruises around the world under...Read more
Canadian Rockies and Alaska – A Winning Combination
A Review on One of the World's Most Desired Destinations I was recently on a cruise tour of the Canadian Rockies and Alaska – and it still...Read more
Cruising to Alaska – Like No Place on Earth
We all have our favourite cruise destinations and for me, with over 60 cruises around the world under my belt, Alaska is the best place on Earth to explore by ship.
Just thinking about the three Alaska cruises I have done with Princess Cruises makes me wistful and wanting to return soon. I even bought an Alaskan CD of nature-infused music on my last visit so I could relive the magic of this amazing place back home.
The Alaska summer cruise season runs from May to September during the warmer months in the northern hemisphere. Over one million people annually visit Alaska by cruise ship, with over a dozen cruise lines touring, including Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.
Because so many cruise lines sail to Alaska, competition is fierce, making fares very affordable. Seven-night cruises are often available from under A$1200 per person, twin-share, but the price is not the only reason to cruise to Alaska.
Here are some other reasons why Alaska is an ideal cruise destination:
Best way to see Alaska – Due to the rugged nature of Alaska’s mountainous coastline, cruising is the best and easiest way to explore the USA’s biggest State. In fact, the coastline of Alaska is longer than the coasts of all the other US States combined. The Alaskan capital, Juneau, is so hemmed in by snow-capped peaks and the sea that there are no roads in or out of the city from other centres making cruising the best way togo. Cruising in Alaska is so accessible, simply fly directly from Australia into Vancouver and you’re onboard your cruise to Alaska.
The Scenery – Breathtakingly spectacular sums up Alaska. Abundant pine forests, towering, snow-cloaked mountains, mighty glaciers plummeting into the sea, glistening lakes and frontier gold towns with ‘wild west’ saloons. The famous Inside Passage that almost every Alaskan cruise traces is a maze of beautiful waterways lined by a thick green blanket of pines, cedars, firs and hemlocks. Your cruise ship will stop in front of a massive glacier in Glacier Bay so you can watch the awe-inspiring process of ‘calving’, where giant pillars of ice tumble into the ice-blue water in front of you.
The Wildlife – From the ship or ashore you are bound to see some of Alaska’s rich bounty of wildlife including whales, otters, bears, deer, caribou, moose, bison, eagles and salmon.
The Culture – Alaska boasts a rich fabric of native Indian and Eskimo cultures, showcased in recreated villages and colourful song and dance shows that cruise passengers can visit.
Short Cruises – Most Alaskan cruises are seven nights long, with three ports (such as Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway) and three days at sea (including sailing close to glaciers) so there’s an ideal mix of days ashore and relaxing time at sea – the perfect cruise as it were. You can choose from round-trip cruises from ports such as Vancouver and Seattle or one-way cruises between Vancouver/Seattle and Anchorage (using the ports of Seward or Whittier), with a connecting flight back.
Great Ports – There may be three or more ships docked at the ports but each destination is filled with colour, excitement, wonder – and lots of shopping. A stroll along the restored frontier-era storefronts and saloons of Skagway will take you back to the days of the Klondike Gold Rush. Lofty peaks loom over beautiful Juneau where a stop at the traditional Red Dog Saloon with its straw floor will have you singing along with the guitar player. While in Ketchikan, we recommend visiting the river brimming with Salmon, and take a stroll along historic Creek Street, a former red light district during the Gold Rush.
Great Shore Tours – You are spoilt for choice when it comes to land excursions in Alaska – everything from native Indian cultural parks filled with colourful totem poles, kayaking trips with whales and sled rides on glaciers to salmon bakes at remote lodges, a scenic ride on the historic White Pass Railway, seaplane flights to far-flung fjords, glacier climbing and trips to see wild bears catch jumping salmon.
Land of the Midnight Sun – Because Alaska is so far north, you can enjoy extra long days of sunlight, daylight 24 hours a day during the summer solstice on June 21. Walking around the deck at 11pm after dinner and seeing Alaska in all her glory in muted daylight is a real thrill. Despite what you may think, Alaska is not that cold in summer, with average temperatures up to 18 degrees Celsius.
Add-on Tours – After travelling to North America for a seven-night Alaskan cruise we recommend visiting Canadian Rockies from Vancouver or Seattle. Alternatively, the wild interior of Alaska, including the wildlife-rich Denali National Park, from Anchorage is stunning. You could also bookend your cruise with both destinations! The major cruise lines run their own rail and coach tours through Alaska – and several run their own wilderness lodges. No matter which tour you add on, this is an unforgettable holiday!
Top 10 Alaska Cruise Tips
1. Vancouver is my tip for boarding your Alaskan cruise – spend a day before you board to explore this beautiful harbour city.
2. One of the best itineraries is the seven-day Gulf of Alaska cruise, one-way between Vancouver/Seattle and Anchorage. This cruise takes you further north to the fascinating city of Anchorage as well as the stunning College Fjord, renowned for showcasing the world’s biggest collection of tidewater glaciers.
3. The shoulder seasons of May and September can be colder and wetter but also more affordable but June-August are warmer, with lots more daylight – but also busier.
4. In Juneau, buy your own ticket up the Mt Roberts tramway to the top of the mountain for panoramic views. Enjoy a helicopter flight that lands on the glaciers and before returning to the ship, but make sure you stop off for a pint of local lager at the foot-stomping Red Dog Saloon.
5. When visiting the tourist strips of ports like Ketchikan, take time to stroll along streets back from the main shopping centres so you can get a better, more authentic feel for how Alaskans live.
6. Ride the White Pass Railroad in Skagway up through the mountains and if you can make the take time to walk through the nearby pine forests, dotted with lakes throughout – you won’t be disappointed. Quench your thirst at the fun Red Onion Saloon in town before heading back to your ship.
7. Although you see lots of snow and ice in Alaska, the pools onboard your ship are warm and the jacuzzis are hot. There’s nothing like soaking in a steaming, outdoor spa, drink in hand as you watch the spectacular scenery float by. You might get funny looks from other rugged-up passengers but you’ll be the one having all the fun!
8. Bring some binoculars with you so you can look out for bears and whales from the ship.
9. Highly recommended before or after your cruise is an add-on rail/coach tour through the Canadian Rockies and/or the interior of Alaska to the wonderful Denali National Park – home to North America’s highest mountain, Mt McKinley.
10. Book your Alaska cruise holiday, including your flights, through Cruise Express who can organise all the details and book you the best deal – and take time also to also check our 24/7 self serve ‘look and book’ page on our website.
Call our team on 1300 766 537 or visit our website for more information!
A Review on One of the World’s Most Desired Destinations
I was recently on a cruise tour of the Canadian Rockies and Alaska – and it still rates for me as the second best holiday ever – after my honeymoon!
So when we’re asked at Cruise Express about our favourite cruise destinations, the answer for me is always easy – the Canadian Rockies and Alaska. Why? Just look at any brochure for a combination cruise tour to the Canadian Rockies and Alaska and it’s obvious.
Nature drank a lot of coffee when she designed these two epic destinations. Twice as big as Texas, Alaska is a pristine paradise overflowing with grand glaciers, mighty mountains, fir forests that stretch forever and wondrous wildlife – plus near 24-hour daylight in the northern summer to see it in all its glory.
Whenever stressed, I close my eyes and imagine I am back in Alaska on the deck of a liner, gazing at the wilderness and drinking it all in. For me, Alaska and its unspoiled beauty evoke emotions that make me want to go back. Add a dose of ‘Rocky Mountain High’ vaccine to your Alaska cruise and you have a prescription for one truly breathtaking holiday.
I’ve cruised in Alaska three times and on one of those trips, I had the fortune of preceding my cruise with a rail and coach tour from Vancouver to the Canadian Rockies. Wow – what an experience!
We started in Vancouver, one of the world’s prettiest harbour cities, and took the bucket-list Rocky Mountaineer train to Jasper following a picture postcard route snaking through towering peaks. We enjoyed the view from domed glass ceilings on two-storey carriages affording stunning views in all directions. Just don’t drink too much water. Pity the traveller on the Rocky Mountaineer who goes to the restroom and comes back to hear fellow passengers spotted a whole family of brown bears waving at the train! Or so they’ll tell you!
Both the grand Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, with its steaming hot outdoor pool, and the beautiful Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise with those awesome views, have to be seen to be believed. Many travellers to the Rockies just take pictures of these famous hotels but Cruise Express staff can help you to actually stay there in premium, view rooms.
The best thing about combining the Canadian Rockies and Alaska in the one holiday is that after you return from the Rockies to Vancouver, the adventure is only half over as a luxury, week-long cruise to Alaska is still ahead of you.
It’s hard to find a week-long cruise as perfect as one to Alaska, with an idyllic mix of ports, scenic cruising past glaciers and relaxed days at sea. I love the three main Alaskan ports of Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway with their gold rush saloons, frontier spirit, colourful, indigenous Tlingit culture and the majesty of the mountains just a few streets away. The highlight, of course is Glacier Bay where massive glaciers thunder into the fjord. What a thrill! You won’t want to be inside playing bingo on that day!
For a more detailed review of cruising in Alaska click here for another blog post.
Combining the Canadian Rockies and Alaska is a real feast for the senses and having done it myself, I can only say: do yourself a favour and treat yourself to one of the best holidays ever. You’ll be escorted by friendly tour hosts, almost everything is included and everything is looked after from start to finish. You don’t even have to carry your bags between hotels, trains, ships and airports.
Click here for information or call Cruise Express today on 1300 766 537 and speak to one of our travel specialists to find out how you can begin planning your dream trip of a lifetime.