Best Cruise Excursions In Alaska
Skagway is such a fun cruise stop! There is SO much to do in Skagway including gold rush cemeteries, a great downtown area and a train ride through White Pass and into Canada. Choosing an excursion can be overwhelming when there are so many choices, so weve narrowed this busy port down to the 2 best cruise excursions in Skagway according to travel experts.
Nature Hike In Ketchikan
Recently my husband and I sailed on an Alaskan cruise and our first port day landed us exploring Ketchikan. There was a nature hike offered in the Tongass National Rainforest and we jumped on it. It was a couple of hours in length with a knowledgeable guide who trekked along at a pace easy enough for almost anyone to keep up.
There were several stopping points including a couple of breathtaking observation platforms where we saw salmon headed upstream and gorgeous waterfalls. Questions were encouraged and answered thoroughly including: Are there snakes in Alaska? And, the answer is no, by the way. We were offered snacks and bottled water, and came away with so much wisdom and knowledge about the Tongass Rainforest, its vast wonder and the habitats held within.
Most people concentrate on the glaciers when in Alaska, and rightfully so, they are fabulous. But, dont overlook a lazy day hike in the rainforest. Youll be pleasantly surprised.
From Becky Beall from Travel Voice by Becky
Chilkoot Trail Hiking And Rafting
Duration of excursion: 4 hours 15 minutes
Port town: Skagway
Part of Ben Fogles Great Adventures with Celebrity Cruises, the Chilkoot trail hiking and rafting excursion isnt just about the great outdoors as it also gives you an insight into the areas history.
The Chilkoot Trail is also known as the Canadian Gold Rush Trail as it was the most direct route prospectors took to get to the Yukon River during the Klondike Gold Rush.
Your excursion will start in Skagway and youll hike two miles before stopping for a snack in the lush temperate rainforest. Once you get to Saintly Hill you will be met with some spectacular views before you board an 18-foot craft on Taiya River.
This not a white-water rafting trip and instead is a peaceful journey down the river to the tidal estuary for views of the fjords and snow-capped peaks, glaciers and colourful fields of flowers.
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Bike & Brew Glacier View
Get your blood pumping then chill out on this excursion, which is a wonderfully active and delicious half-day tour. Like many Juneau cruise excursions, this one gives you a sample of how much the capital city has to offer. It includes history lessons, an 8-mile bike ride, and a stop at a historic building in downtown Juneau. There youll try some of Alaskas best craft beer.
Best Ship Renovation: Celebrity Cruises
The Celebrity Millennium, launched in 2000, has recently undergone complete modernization, which includes luxury staterooms, enhanced technology, and renovated restaurants and lounges.
Immersive dining at Le Petit Chef, where augmented reality intersects with luxury cuisine, private verandas, complimentary fitness classes, plus unlimited access to the Persian Garden and complimentary dining at Blu
Autism-friendly cruising, including sensory-friendly films and toys, and dietary options
Accessible staterooms with grab bars, roll-in showers, and wider doors
2,218 passengers put this squarely in the mid-size ship category
You wont find the over-the-top party-like activities of larger ships
If youre passionate about the finer things in life, Celebrity Cruises may very well speak to your soul. The Sky Suite in the Retreat, for instance, includes a long list of curated amenities , endless views, a Personal Retreat Host, private dining, and exclusive spaces, like the Retreat Lounge and Sundeck. And onboard experiences range from Macallan and Jack Daniels tastings to Riedel crystal workshops that show how different shapes and qualities of a Riedel glass change the taste of wine.
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Emerald City Highlights & Tillicum Village Excursion
As you know if youve reviewed any of my other Alaska cruise port guides, I recommend booking at least one Native Alaskan/American excursion on your cruise to educate yourself about the people who lived here long before big boats cames sailing through.
Theres even an option in Seattle to begin/end your cruise with this essential experience, thanks to the excursion offered by Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Over the course of the 6.5-hour tour, youll see some of Seattles top sights, make a stop at Pike Place Market, and board a boat to Blake Island where youll visit the Tillicum Village and enjoy dinner there. This tourist attraction isnt strictly traditional, but gives you a chance to experience the cultures of the Pacific Northwest Native peoples.
Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show And Crab Feast
Contributed by Chantelle, Flannels or FlipFlops
- Name of the Excursion: The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show and Crab Fest
- Port of Call: Ketchikan
- Booked through: Viator
About the Excursion:
This is a fun excursion, albeit a bit cheesy. Start of with the Great Alaskan Lumberjack show which is walking distance to the ship. At the show youll be divided into teams to root on the lumberjacks representing your camp. You are also asked to boo the opposing camps as they try to win the competition.
Its actually a lot of fun to hoot and holler while these skilled lumberjacks show off their trade. Its incredible watching the speed and precision with which they accomplish the tasks at hand. Young and old alike will have fun at this show, but you have to get into it to make the most out of it. Clap, yell, taunt, and laugh and youll have a great time.
After the lumberjack show, youll be directed where to go to enjoy a lunch of fresh caught Alaskan Crab. Its so delicious! If you dont eat crab, they will offer you an alternative meal.
This excursion is great fun, and still leaves you plenty of time to walk through Creek Street and the other things Ketchikan has to offer.
How To Book An Alaska Shore Excursion
The simplest way to book an Alaska shore excursion is directly through your line. You just check a box on an online form before sailing or while onboard, and poof! its all arranged. They send a ticket to your room, and when you walk off the ship there will be a tour guide waiting for you.
Another way to go is to book directly with a tour operator in one of the ports. The thing you need to know here is that many of the tour operators youll find in Alaskan ports are the very same tour operators that the lines are using to operate their tours. Often, the tours that the local tour operators will sell you are the very same tours that the cruise lines are selling you, at the very same price. Shopping around isnt necessarily going to get you anywhere.
Indeed, in some cases, the cruise lines own the tour operators in Alaska ports, or at least a piece of them. The parent company of Princess Cruises and Holland America, for instance, is a part-owner of Skagways big attraction, the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway.
That said, you can sometimes get discounts by calling a tour operator directly. Ive had some luck with that over the years. Its hit-or-miss.
Denver Valley Wilderness Hike & White Pass Railway
Many of the cruise excursions from Skagway include some portion of the Whitepass-Yukon railway. Since we had the longest time in port in Skagway, we really wanted to use that time to get into the interior of Alaska and see some of its raw beauty. So we picked a combination excursion from Packer Expeditions.
We started with a 20-30 minute scenic coach ride to Fraser, British Columbia We then caught the White Pass Railway as it was headed south back to Skagway. After eating a provided lunch on the train and getting a chance to hang off the back of our car to take pictures of the amazing scenery, the train stopped in Denver Pass before getting to Skagway.
Here we hopped off and started a four-hour, out-and-back hike through the Denver Valley. The scenery was gorgeous and we ended up resting near a beautiful waterfall and refueling with their provided snacks before heading back to the train tracks. The trip finished off with us catching the train back to Skagway. The train was late so I was very glad we booked through the ship and I knew the boat would be waiting for us.
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City Of Gold At The Edge Of The Arctic
Back in 1901, riverboat captain E.T. Barnette ran aground in the shallows of the Chena, so he set up a trading post. A year later, the nearby discovery of gold transformed the remote settlement into a boomtown, and Barnette the first mayor. Fairbanks today remains a destination for adventure seekers, as the gateway to Alaskas northern wilds and some its most isolated terrain. While home to just 32,000, Fairbanks is the big city of the interior and cultural hub for the sparsely populated region. You can still go for the gold in Fairbanks, panning just like the early prospectors did.
Glacier Bay National Park
Recommended by Bret and Mary of Blue Ridge Mountains Travel Guide.
Taking a small ship cruise of Alaskas Inside Passage had been on my bucket list ever since I first visited the state back in 1999. Twenty years later, to celebrate my daughters high school graduation, we finally made the dream come true, and the result was truly the adventure of a lifetime.
We booked our trip through AdventureSmith Explorations, a small ship cruise specialist that offers 25 Alaska cruises from numerous different cruise companies. We chose them because they also offer a range of land-based outdoor adventures and had some excellent early season deals on Alaska cruises. We were torn between two cruise companies international tour operator UnCruise Adventures and the locally-owned Alaskan Dream Cruises each of which had several Alaska cruise routes that worked with our window of availability.
Ultimately, Alaskan Dream Cruises 8-day Last Frontier Adventure was the itinerary we selected. It offered an active schedule that included lots of hiking and kayaking, had indigenous Tlingit people as the expedition leader and cultural interpreters, and several intriguing shore excursions that were not available from any other cruise line.
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Booking Through Royal Caribbean
Booking directly through Royal Caribbean tends to be more expensive, but is a safe option in terms of reliability and cancellation policies. Royal Caribbean vets tour operators thoroughly before offering an excursion to guarantee youll have the safest, most authentic experience possible.
On the chance a Royal Caribbean excursion runs late, the cruise ship will wait for the tour group before leaving port. If for some reason the ship is unable to wait, Royal Caribbean will make arrangements and cover the cost of the tour group’s return to the ship.
Booking through Royal Caribbean directly also tends to be convenient, as all excursions are listed directly on the Cruise Planner site. You wont have to browse the internet and read reviews from independent companies prior to booking an excursion. Plus, if you have onboard credit, you can put that toward an amazing excursion!
Gold Panning Shore Excursion
A fun activity for children and history buffs is a gold panning shore excursion. Alaskas gold rush history began around 1896, when thousands of gold prospectors headed to the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and the Yukon with a hope of striking it rich.
A gold panning excursion takes guests back in time to the gold rush era, offering a history lesson combined with hands-on activities. Guests will even have the chance to pan for gold in a creek, with a high chance of collecting a small amount of gold to keep for themselves.
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Rafting The Mendenhall River
If youre looking to go whitewater rafting in Southeast Alaska, the Mendenhall River rafting trip is your only option. So dont miss out! You start with a float in Mendenhall Lake with a view of the blue-tinged Mendenhall Glacier. The current picks up, and soon youre bouncing through some mild, Class III rapids with ice cold water splashing in your face. The river winds through the forest, and you end the trip floating through a Juneau neighborhood. Watch for real Alaskan wildlife, like a family barbecuing salmon in their backyard!
Sitka: Sea Otters Raptors & Bears Oh My
- Who Offers This Excursion? This Sitka cruise excursion is offered by almost everyone: Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Princess, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean, oh my!
- Find 8 other excursion options on my guide to the best Sitka cruise excursions.
While youll be trying to spot wildlife throughout your Alaska cruise, I thought it was important to include a diversity of excursions on this list. This excursion is arguably one of the best chances to see wildlife and sea life in any cruise port!
This wildlife-focused day cruise is offered the sister company of Alaskan Dream Cruises . Ive read the book of their family company history and I know theyve perfected this tour over decades of service. Its the excursion with the best boats, the best experience, and the best chance to see wildlife. Need I say more?
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Dog Sledding Or Helicopter Flightseeing
Most folks identify Alaska with dog sledding. But since dog sledding is a winter activity, cruise ship visitors in the early days never had a chance to experience it. That all changed when helicopters became readily available to travelers. On this wildly popular tour with TEMSCO Helicopters, you’ll fly over the Denver Glacier by helicopter, then land there to visit a dog camp. You can take a ride on the sled and even learn the basics so that you can take the reins yourself. Definitely an unforgettable experience!
Take Advantage Of Ocean Now
One of the newest innovations from Princess Cruises is Ocean Now. With Ocean Now, guests can order their favorite food and drinks to be delivered to them just about anywhere on the ship.
Using the wearable Ocean Medallion technology, staff can pinpoint your location on the ship to provide the most personalized cruise experience. Guests can simply use the Medallion Class app to order beverages, food, or even stateroom amenities. Then, just sit back and wait for it to be delivered.
The Ocean Now technology also allows for Crew Call assistance. In essence, you can chat with staff via the app instead of visiting Guest Services.
Now, everything you need on your sailing with Princess Cruises in Alaska is at the touch of your finger tips.
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Best Cruise Lines Revealed In World Of Cruisings Wave Awards 2021
World of Cruising today revealed the winners of this years Wave Awards celebrating the very best of the best in the cruise industry.
The cruise industry was feted for its achievements this evening at World of Cruisings glamorous Wave Awards 2021 held in central London.
The Wave Awards celebrate excellence and innovation in the cruise sector, recognising cruise lines, travel agents, tourist boards and ports.
As ever it was tough competition but it was only body per category who could take home the trophy So who won?
Best Expedition Cruise Line was revealed to be Hapag-Lloyd Cruises while Saga Cruises won Best for Solo Travellers as well as the Best Value for Money Cruise Line.
Royal Caribbean International also received a double win by triumphing in the Best Family Cruise Line category.
Best Premium Cruise Line was Cunard and Best Specialist Cruise Line was Hebridean Island Cruises.
Lastly, in the cruise line categories, MSC Cruises ship MSC Bellissima was crowned Best New Ship Launch.
Also in the 2021 Wave Awards were Industry categories, Ports & Destinations and Passenger Favourites.
These are all the winners of this years Wave Awards.
Ride On The White Pass Railroad
White Pass RailroadLeighton Smith
If your cruise stops in Skagway, dont miss a trip along the White Pass Railway. The explorers searching for treasure during the Klondike Gold Rush took this path, so there is plenty of history to learn about the area. This excursion is family-friendly. As the train travels to the White Pass Summit, adults and kids alike will have plenty to view as the train passes through a gorgeous and varied landscape.
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Alaska Cruise Excursions Tips
When it comes to Alaska cruise activities tips, here are five tips to ensure that your Alaskan excursions are fun, memorable, and comfortable.
Following these five simple tips will ensure that you have the best Alaska cruise excursions and finish your vacation with a host of good memories to reminisce about later.