If you have Alaska, as the next travel destination on your bucket list, you are in the right place. If you want to take in the vastness of the northern sea with its wilderness that you have only seen in Sir David Attenborough’s documentary, you should embark on an Alaskan cruise. Even if you are an adventurous person and prefer kayaking and not a great fan of a luxury cruise ship, the Alaskan cruise line has some winning combination that will even entice your nomadic traveler’s mind.
If you compare the cost of taking a flight to Alaska and staying at hotels, you might find the cost of the cruise line is lower; even with all the boarding and food cost. Besides, the northern sea full of glaciers and wild sea creatures are what is most attractive about Alaska, if you opt for a flight you are going to miss all that fun.
Here’s what you need to know before embarking on an Alaskan cruise.
Choose the Right Time
Cruising through the glacier-filled arctic sea is nothing like gliding through the sunny Caribbean, and you can’t travel there all around the year. The cold months between October to April in Alaska are not suitable for an enjoyable cruise. Apart from a few winter sports lodges, visits during this season will be downright disappointing.
If you have to choose the best time to cruise Alaska, you should go for the warmer season; especially from mid-June to mid-September. Different seasons have something different to offer; June-July are suitable for enjoying wildlife, you can watch the splashing wild orca or wild bear. August to September, a cruise can drizzle you with some late summer rain.
However, if you want to enjoy some spectacular dance of northern lights right from your cruise ship deck you should choose late September as your travel season.
Choose a Cruise Line
One of the exciting facts about the Alaskan cruise is almost all big shot cruise lines operate cruises in different parts of Alaska. That being said, you might have a hard time choosing the right one from so many options.
Depending on your budget you can choose both luxury or budget cruise. Some are renowned for their family-friendly service and others for their extraordinary cuisine. If you opt for a budget-friendly cruise, Princess, Oceania, and Holland America are some trusted names in that route. If you want a larger cruise with luxury features, you can choose Norwegian, carnival, or Royal Caribbean.
Decide Round Trip or a One-Way Trip
Your choice of cruise line also depends on what sort of trip you are planning- a one-way trip or a round trip. While you get to enjoy the same feature twice in a round trip, it might be a little different if the routes are different. If you have plans to travel in Alaskan inland, you might have to opt for a one-way trip.
The round trip cruise usually covers less distance as they have to make it back in time. They rarely go beyond southern Alaska, which is sufficient to say won’t be enough if you are planning to cover the northern side. One way trip might take many exploratory routes that cover many sightseeing destinations. Keep in mind the further you travel, the more scenic beauty of glaciers you can find.
Choose the Departure Port for Your Cruise
Alaska has many ports along its shoreline, most of them are on the southern part. You can start your cruise from Seattle or Canadian Vancouver and end it in Anchorage. If you are departing from the USA, Seattle should be your departure point. However, departing from Vancouver can minimize your travel time as compared to Seattle it is closer to Alaska.
Anchorage is the most common arrival point for one-way cruises. Apart from Anchorage, Seward and Whittier are the second most popular cruise destinations. Some can also include Juneau, Haines, Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka as their port of calls. You should choose a cruise line that routes through the maximum of these ports with a minimum of travel.
Select A Route
Your selection of cruise lines should also be based on their cruising route. The routes decide what glaciers or scenic wonders you will enjoy along the way. Even the most mundane cruise will cover at least one of the large glaciers along its route. However, decide on a cruise that can give you maximum sightseeing in the shortest possible time and expense. Well, you don’t have to sit down with an Alaskan map and a pen to figure out a route, simply compare different routes online and see which one suits you the best.
The most common sightseeing destination on an Alaskan cruise is the Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, Tracy, and Arm Fjord. Among these, the Hubbard Glacier is the most gigantic with a four hundred feet high block of ice. A one-way trip should cover at least one or two of these glaciers. However, the routes can change due to the changing weather and the condition of melting glaciers.
Choose the Excursions
Along with the cruise journey, you can also include some excursion in your cruise package. Again, these excursions depend on what route your cruise ship will take. Keep in mind that depending on the cruise line you choose, these excursions can cost you extra.
The most common excursion up north is whale watching. From giant humpback to playful orca or beluga you can enjoy all types of whale watching. The cold arctic water is the ideal orca watching ground, do not miss the chance to see this apex predator on your Alaskan cruise. Apart from whale watching, you can also embark on some floatplane sightseeing, dog sledding, or bear-watching excursion.
Activities at Different Ports
Different Alaskan ports can offer different excursion opportunities as well. If you are a salmon lover, you should choose a cruise that stops at Ketchikan, the salmon capital of Alaska. Sitka will be a nice detour for history lovers, you can know about Russian colonization here. Juneau would be an ideal stoppage for hiking lovers; the capital of Alaska has some greatest hiking routes for getting up close with Alaskan wildlife.
The Bottom Line
An Alaskan cruise can turn out to be an unforgettable experience that you will cherish for a lifetime. Choose the cruise line wisely to make the most out of your cruise. While you are at it, don’t forget to pack warm clothes for your Alaskan cruise. Happy cruising! Those wild orcas await your arrival!