Why Cruise To Alaska
The 49th U.S. state is home to a beautiful mountainous landscape and an abundance of wildlife, from bald eagles to bears and moose. It possesses a unique Gold Rush history and a vibrant mix of native Alaskan cultures. You wont find this blend of scenery, outdoor pursuits, history, and culture in any other cruise itinerary.
Plus, many of the Inside Passage ports are tricky to visit by land. For example, Ketchikan is only accessible by air or sea. You cannot visit the breathtaking glaciers of Glacier Bay by car. If you want to explore this region of Alaska, youll need a ship to get there.
Unlike other cruise destinations, Alaskan ports arent separated by vast swaths of ocean. When you cruise the Inside Passage, the ship is constantly within site of land. Most sea days offer something to see, even if not an official scenic cruising day. Its a different kind of cruise experience, and one many travelers are eager to pursue.
What To Pack For An Alaska Cruise
Your packing list for an Alaska cruise will look very different from your Caribbean one. Youll want to include the following items, as well as all the typical cruise essentials:
- Rain jacket and other rain gear
- Warm layers, hats, and gloves for chilly days and glacier viewing
- Binoculars for wildlife spotting
- Bug spray for those pesky mosquitos
- Hiking boots if you plan on getting out into nature
- Swimsuit and sunscreen because sometimes its warm and sunny
- Camera with wide angle and telephoto lenses
- Day pack for carrying extra layers, souvenirs, etc.
- Waterproof bags for kayaking or rafting trips
The Best Alaska Itineraries
My first visit to Alaska started in Anchorage, where we took the Alaska Railroad to Whittier to board Regent Seven Seas Mariner to explore Prince William Sound, Kodiak and the remote Dutch Harbor before heading to Russias Kamchatka Peninsula and the northern islands of Japan.
What I saw in Alaska took my breath away, and weve returned several times since. While that particular cruise was aboard a pricey luxury line, there are ships in all price ranges sailing a variety of itineraries, so dont let budget stop you from visiting.
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Top Alaskan Ports Of Call
No matter which type of itinerary you select, youll likely visit a mix of these ports. Like so many places around the world, many of these ports now cater to the cruise market. If you want to see nature at its finest, go beyond the immediate port area. And if you want to see some of Alaskas most rustic and charming villages, book a voyage with a line like Alaskan Dream Cruises and UnCruise that visits destinations like Baranof Island, Chichagof Island, Petersburg and Wrangell.
How Far Off The Alaskan Coast Do Cruise Ships Sail
Most Alaskan cruises travel close to the land as sightseeing the spectacular landscape is a big part of the experience. However, check your itinerary in case of further travel out to sea. If concerned about seasickness, the Gulf of Alaska does get choppy at the end of the season, even being close to shore.
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Lets Talk Essentials For Your Alaska Cruise Packing List
Let us face it. Pickpocketing and identity theft happen all over the world. It is always better to be prepared than sorry.
A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items to add to your Alaska cruise packing list. This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and available in several colors.
With lots of organization, you have peace of mind that everything has its own place. You will be able to carry most of your valuable documents safe and secure next to your body.
You may be like me and already own a travel pouch, and you do not need or want to buy a new one. If it does not come with RFID Protection then these color-coded RFID sleeves will be handy to prevent identity theft.
This is the exact configuration my family and I use. The color coding keeps things organized. And there are enough for everyone.
I tend to keep my luggage locked when I travel. Even my carryon I store in the overhead bin I keep locked. These TSA compatible durable luggage locks have easy to read numbers. They are easy to use and come in a variety of colors.
If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone, you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.
It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And it is really fast to charge. I really like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses.
Alaska Cruises In June
Of the few warm summer months in Alaska, June has the longest days all year, with summer solstice falling on the 20th. Southeast Alaska experiences daylight nearly around the clock in June, making it a good time to see everything there is to see on an Alaskan cruise.
Wildlife is visibly abundant, with whales making their journey back into Alaskan waters from Hawaii. There is a heavy concentration of humpback whales in Southeast Alaskan waters during the summer months, and it is not uncommon to see them feeding with their young.
There are also grey whales, orcas, Dall porpoise, seals, sea lions and sea otters inhabiting the area where the Sikumi cruises. And look ashore for black and brown bears who are in full swing for summer, hunting and fishing for food.
Summer solstice is an exciting time all over Alaska, so make plans to visit a town or festival before or after your custom Alaska cruise on the Sikumi.
“Our adventure was close to its end… I could feel the nostalgia growing inside me. I would miss this boat and her crew. Our once-in-a-lifetime experience was their routine, and I couldn’t help but envy them.”
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When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska To See The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, Latin for morning light coming from the North, are one of the worlds most amazing sights.
If youre hoping to see the Northern Lights on your cruise, the best time to cruise Alaska is the last part of the shoulder season, late September. With days beginning to shorten and the nights getting longer, a September cruise itinerary offers the last possibility of the year.
You can also book an Alaska cruisetour with an optional Evening Aurora Pursuit excursion in Fairbanks that offers the best chance to see this spectacle of light.
Average Cost Of Alaskan Cruise
The average cost of a seven-day Alaska round trip ranges from $580 to $1,200 per person for an interior cabin, double occupancy. Upgrading to a stateroom with balcony ranges from $775 to $1,710 while using suite room costs around $1,350 to $1,900.
The average cost of the Alaskan cruise for a 10-14 day round trip ranges from $1,100 to $2,300 per person for an interior cabin, double occupancy. Cabins with ocean view cost around $1,800 to $2,200 while balcony rooms range from $1,800 to 4,400. Suite rooms cost around $4,500 to $6,200.
These figures do not include onshore lodging and will depend on the dates of the cruise and the choice of cruise line.
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Enjoy Food & Excursions On This 7
This 936-foot long cruise ship is packed with everything you need to have a good time while embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. You can enjoy regional cooking, spa and salon amenities, wine tastings, and a host of onboard activities. Some of the activities include a blues club, performance stage, a casino, and a kids activity hall.
Dining options that are included in ticket costs are Pinnacle Grill, Lido Market, and The Dining Room. There are also other dining options onboard including a cafe, sushi restaurant, and a pizzeria.
This week-long cruise follows the following itinerary:
- Day 1: Seattle & Puget Sound
- Day 2: Cruising
Grand Lounge. Photo courtesy of Oceana Cruises.
Cruise Tips For Alaska Weather
If youre thinking of going on a summer cruise, Alaska could be the place to go. The Alaskan cruise best time season runs from late May through September, with being the hottest months for travel. Alaskan cruises may seem to be reserved for those who like harsh weather conditions, but the fact is that Alaskan weather varies greatly depending on the location.
Most itineraries circumvent the main territory by cruising the Inside Passage, a portion of the state that passes alongside Canada. You wont need your winter gear on these trips since they dont travel near the Arctic zone. Heres what to anticipate on your future Alaska cruise each month, as well as what you should bring.
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Whats The Best Time To Take An Alaska Cruise
I have taken Alaska cruises during all the major seasons and can promise you that no two are alike, from the weather to the wildlife to the cost of tickets.
Most Alaska cruises run between late April and early September, with peak season in June and July.
Here is what you can expect from each cruising season.
Cruise Routes & Itineraries
All northbound glacier route cruises depart from Vancouver, Canada. For southbound glacier route cruises, Princess Cruises uses the port of Whittier, while the other cruise lines use Seward. Round trip cruises from Seattle and Vancouver are also available, although we highly recommend the one-way glacier route Alaska cruises.
We specialize in booking one-way cruises that are seven nights long, which is the primary option for the glacier route. There are also limited options for roundtrip cruises that are 10 or 14 nights long. In general, there no big ship Alaska cruise options less than seven nights, with the exception of some early or late season repositioning cruises.
If you plan to travel into southcentral and interior Alaska on a land tour, you should pick a northbound or southbound glacier route cruise, all of which use Whittier or Seward as their “turnaround” port. Glacier route cruises also typically give guests the opportunity to see more glaciers and wildlife, as well as having more time in the Inside Passage.
Cruise line preferences can often play a big role as well. For more details, see this page about picking the cruise that is just right for you.
We generally recommend one-way glacier route cruises, which are only available from Vancouver. This allows you to pair your cruise with a pre- or post cruise land tour so that you can see southeast Alaska as well as southcentral and interior Alaska.
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Dress In Layers They Said
When I asked people who had been what to take, everyone said dress in layers. What did that mean? Did it mean long underwear, ski pants, heavy sweater, thermal socks, fur lined boots, parka, hat, gloves and a scarf? Those are the layers I dressed in on a trip to Germany in December.
Or did it mean, capris, t-shirt and a vest?
Not knowing, I packed EVERYTHING and ended up paying a $100 heavy bag charge. And I only ended up wearing about 1/3 of what I took.
What To Pack For A Cruise To Alaska In July
July enjoys the warmest average temperatures of the summer , which is why its one of the best times to cruise to Alaska. Be sure to pack a mix of short and long-sleeved T-shirts and waterproof pants that can convert into shorts, in case you get extra sunny and warm days during your cruise.
Chances of rain also increase as the summer months go by, so dont forget to bring all of your rain-related gear, including a light roll-up waterproof jacket, when you cruise in July.
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Featured September Cruises To Alaska
Increase your chances of seeing fall foliage on an Alaska Southbound Glacier Cruise itinerary that sails from Seward, Alaska down to British Columbia. The northern ports youll visit along the way may already be showing signs of autumn, and by beginning in Alaska, you can enjoy a couple of days before your embarks to explore on land when the first signs of the impending Alaskan winter are just starting to show.
Getting To Alaska For Your Dream Alaska Cruise
There are many kinds of Alaskan cruises. Many sized cruise ships set sail from all over the Pacific Northwest with a variety of itineraries.
Likely, you will fly into either Seattle, Washington, or Vancouver, British Columbia. These are the most popular origination destinations. Departing from Seattle will not require a passport.
However, if you wish to plan an add-on segment in conjunction with your Alaskan cruise, then you most likely may need a passport to show the Canadian officials.
Be sure to check with your cruise line to verify if a passport is required.
And check how long it will take to obtain one if you do not already have a current passport.
Some cruises leave out of Anchorage as well, and if you fly directly into Anchorage, you will not need a passport.
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This Alaska packing list contains the basics of what you should bring to Alaska for your cruise.
You may need to modify it depending on the length of time you will be in Alaska, and the time of year you will be visiting Alaska. Have a great trip!!!
If you have already cruised Alaska, what is your fave packing tip!!?
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Itineraries To Alaskas Best Places
One of my first cruise trips to Alaska began in Anchorage in the United States in North America. I boarded the Regent Seven Seas Mariner for a cruise via Prince William Sound, Kodiak, and secluded Dutch Harbor before proceeding to Russias Kamchatka Peninsula and Northern Lights.
I was surprised by what I saw in Alaska, and Ive been back numerous times since. While the trip was on a high-end luxury line, big ships in different price ranges sail various routes, so dont allow a lack of funds to keep you from going. I actually had a great time!
Best Camera Gear To Pack For Your Alaska Cruise
Of course one of the top reasons to take an Alaska cruise is for the epic scenery! Those calving glaciers and wild animals you will encounter may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So you will want to be ready with your photography equipment.
This Sony Alpha 6400 mirrorless digital camera is a significant investment for sure. However, this configuration has all the necessary accessories that you would ever need or think of.
When packing for your Alaskan cruise, consider bringing along a waterproof action camera. It may be misty on some of your tours, and you may also get splashed.
A wee bit less expensive but still chock full of accessories is the GoPro Hero 7 Digital Action Camera. This particular configuration includes a top value bundle kit too.
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Selfie Stick And Tripod
So sometimes it is just not feasible to ask others to snap a picture of us. This portable and very lightweight FugeTek Bluetooth tripod is certainly a consideration. My daughter gifted me this exact tripod for my birthday and I absolutely LOVE it!
Extra SD Cards
This San Disk 32GB memory card would be great to add to your Alaska cruise packing list if you intend to bring along a GoPro.
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In The End It Depends On You
If at all possible, everyone should cruise Alaska at least once. You will be astounded by the loveliness of the country and its rich history, the excitement of wildlife sightings of bears, moose, and Dall sheep, and the mystery of the surrounding marine life. Everyone takes a Caribbean cruise, but Im sure youll want to come back to Alaska and watch it all over again, just as I do.
Cruises Of Various Types
Youll be able to locate whatever kind of cruise youre searching for in Alaska. All of the main ships traveling in Alaska in 2020 are included in my graphic at the bottom of this page.
Sailings to Alaska are available on almost every mass-market second cruise company. Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, both of which have a lengthy history in the area, provide cruises and cruise-and-land tour vacation packages. Plus they have hot tubs to die for on the starboard side!
However, Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and other major cruise lines offer trips as well.
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Alaska Cruises In August
Whales and bears alike are feeding before the long winter takes hold once again. A dense population of humpbacks feeds in the waters of Southeast Alaska preparing for their journey back to Hawaiian waters. Bears are fattening up for their long, winter hibernation, and migratory birds prepare to head South.
Alaska is alive with activity in August, and the warm, summer days of Southeast Alaska cause the landscape to move and change.
Experience the powerful and incredible force of calving glaciers and moving icebergs. And there is still plenty of daylight in August to experience all you can take in aboard the Sikumi.
It can rain more in August than in other months, but it can be beautiful as well.
Alaska is a fickle state, and the weather can be unpredictable – clouds and rain one day and warm, clear skies the next.
No matter the date, we can guarantee that once you step aboard the Sikumi, your trip will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, out and away from it all in the Alaskan wilderness.