If you've been following cruising news, you've probably picked up on the fact that Alaska is one of top cruising destinations on Earth. With a distinct lack of sandy beaches and palm trees, America's northernmost state may not seem like a typical cruise destination at first glance - and of course it's not. But the very fact that Alaskan cruises are out of the ordinary makes them the perfect choice for those who want something a little more from their next cruising experience. There's far more to Alaska cruising than just the novelty factor however. This is a land which offers some truly exceptional travel opportunities to those who are keen to find a northern cruise. To get just a small taste of the wonders you could encounter on an Alaska cruise, read on and discover a wild world of glaciers, fjords, mountains and majestic wildlife.
Of all Alaska's cruising attractions, a visit to Glacier Bay may be the most visually arresting experience and is without doubt one of the most popular amongst Alaska cruising veterans. Giant walls of ice rise abruptly from the sea, the culmination of a massive frozen rivers that stretch for kilometres. Along the way, cruisers may have the chance to witness calving glaciers, icebergs, sea lions, bald eagles and bears among other incredible sights. To make sure you don't miss out on anything, there will be a park ranger aboard to give special presentations on Glacier Bay National Park, answer questions and even facilitate kid's activities. Glacier Bay is one of Alaska's stand out scenic destinations and the vast majority of visitors choose to experience it via cruising.
Most Alaska cruises will call in at the small town of Skagway - a town that was brought to life during the Klondike Gold Rush. These days, during the cruise season at least, most of the people you'll see will be fellow cruisers as there are only about a thousand full time residents. In town, make the effort to get to the Red Onion Saloon & Brothel Museum for a unique insight into a slice of the town's history. Some of the best things to do in Skagway will take you out of the town into the surrounding wilderness. The White Pass & Yukon Route will take you high into the mountains via rail - this is a perfect way to see Alaska's rugged landscape up close while remaining perfectly comfortable. A dogsledding shore excursion is sure to be popular with kids and adults alike - there's even the added bonus of getting to pan for gold and stepping inside a special chamber to give you an idea of the conditions on the legendary Iditarod Great Sled Race.
This is one of the rainiest cities in the U.S. but if you can ignore the near-constant drizzle you'll discover a very special location. Ketchikan has a reputation as the salmon capital of the world, so if you have a taste for this delicious fish you're in luck. You can do more than simply ordering salmon from a local restaurant - you can go on a fishing tour and haul in a mighty catch for yourself. It may even be possible to have the fish brought back to the cruise ship and cooked up for dinner - make sure to enquire with your cruise line about options ahead of time. If fishing isn't really your thing, consider heading into the treetops with Alaska Canopy Adventures, which will have you ziplining from trunk to trunk while enjoying a bird's eye view on the forest. Those who don't feel like fishing for their food should pay a visit to the truly excellent Burger Queen shack, while cruisers with a sweet tooth won't want to miss the boutique-style Ketchicandies.
Icy Strait Point
Not every cruise will stop at this small destination but many lines are beginning to schedule shore days at Icy Strait Point, a place tailored specifically for cruisers. Owned and run by local indigenous people, extreme care has been taken preserve the character of the village while at the same time providing entertainment and enrichment opportunities for the many visitors that step ashore every summer. The beautifully restored cannery is worth a visit, as is a culinary experience that will give you a unique insight into the survival importance of salmon for the local Tlingit culture. If you can though, try to go beyond Icy Strait point itself - boat trips leaving from here give you the chance to see both brown bears and whales. Another highlight is the nearby ZipRider zip-line, one of the longest and highest lines in North America which provides adrenaline spiking thrills and stunning scenery in equal measure.
To find a cruise that's headed to the wild waters of Alaska, simply head to Cruise Sale Finder - with all the best Alaska cruising deals from a range of different cruise lines at your fingertips, it'll be easy to find the northern odyssey of your dreams. Cruise lines offering Alaskan itineraries include Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess cruises.