Planning an Alaska Cruise

Looking Forward to Alaska Cruising

While December is not the season to cruise Alaska, it’s the perfect time to plan a summer cruise to the scenic grandeur and unique culture of the Frontier State. Most cruise lines visit Alaska from May through September, so the number of sailings is limited, and advance planning is important for securing the itinerary and ship that you want.

During the past decade, cruise lines have invested millions of dollars into Alaska’s port facilities. They have also expanded shore excursion options: you can hike, paddle a kayak, pan for gold, search for bears or skim over a glacier behind a team of sled dogs, to mention just a few popular on-shore activities. Or, enjoy the taste of fresh salmon, ride a narrow-gauge train through incredible scenery, learn about native Tlingit culture or zoom through the forest on a zip line.

Alaska can be enjoyed on a mid-size to large ship (500 to 3,000 passengers) or on a small ship (less than 500 passengers). Large and small ships each have advantages. Larger ships have terrific amenities – such as multiple pools, alternative restaurants and expansive sports facilities – to enjoy during the hours you aren’t on deck marveling at the view. A small ship won’t offer as many amenities, but can venture into inlets and bays where large ships can’t go. Small ships generally provide a better chance for passengers to spot wildlife and a closer look at icebergs and glaciers that glow with the blue and green colors of highly compressed ice.

While the southeastern coastline of Alaska is stunning and its charming ports are welcoming, Alaska’s vast interior is worth seeing as well. Several cruise lines offer “cruisetours” that combine a cruise with a land-based tour. One popular inland destination is Denali National Park, home of the impressive Denali peak and plentiful wildlife. Other scenic options include Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, which has snow-covered peaks, an active volcano and historic copper mines; and Kenai Fjords National Park, where the wildlife includes sea lions, porpoises and puffins, as well as humpback and orca whales.

To find out more about all of the options available for Alaska cruises and cruisetours, talk with your travel professional.

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Copyright © Margaret Owen, Cruise Pro