Other Alaska Cruise Ports
The 7 cruise ports and terminals above are the ones youre most likely going to visit during your Alaska cruise. However, there are other less-common destinations you might see on your itinerary. Instead of a whole section on each, heres a quick breakdown of the activities and experiences I recommend in each:
Did you notice I mentioned Haines in the Skagway section? Haines is a perfect port for a cultural experience learning about Alaska Native heritage.
The name says it all: the best cruise excursion at Dawes Glacier will have you board a dingy and get close to the glacier.
A tiny community serviced primarily by the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system, Petersburg is a great spot to board a whale-watching vessel if you havent seen any yet.
Prince Rupert is a small British Columbian community known for close proximity to grizzly bear habitats. Book a coastal cruise or flightseeing to try and see the bears.
One of two northern cruise terminals, Seward is located in the heart of Kenai Fjords National Park. It might seem odd since youve been on a boat recently , but book a day-cruise of Kenai Fjords National Park .
Famous as the terminal for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, Valdez also has excellent access to glaciers. A glacier flightseeing or cruise tour is the best way to enjoy them.
Which Alaska cruise ports are on your itinerary? Let me know in the comments and any other questions tooor !
Four Glaciers By Helicopter And Dogsled Adventure
Without exaggeration, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. As if the ride in a helicopter over glaciers and a landing on an actual glacier were not exhilarating enough, you also get to at least pretend you’re in the Iditarod by getting on a real dogsled.
You fly over the massive and impressive Juneau Icefield and see the advancing Taku Glacier up close. You might also see the cascading Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier, the floating Dead Branch Glacier or the river-like East Twin Glacier before landing on Norris Glacier, home to a mushing camp. From the helicopter, you might also view bears, moose, mountain goats and other wildlife.
Once you land, your guide will take you on a dogsled ride over the snow-covered glacier and describe the 1,000-mile Iditarod race from Anchorage to Nome.
Different Cruise Lines And Their Types
There are many different cruise lines around the world with various ships. The most common type is the mainstream cruise ship. This cruise type appeals to the masses because of the numerous activities and amenities onboard. A luxury cruise is more spacious and has upscale cabins or suites. It also has more sophisticated amenities and dining options.
River cruise ships sail on smaller waterways and canals. These types of cruise appeal to couples, not so much families. And finally, theres the expedition cruise ships which sail to more remote regions of the world. These ships are smaller than the mainstream or luxury cruise ships. This last type of cruise is perfect for explorers and nature lovers.
Heres a list of the most popular cruise lines around the world:
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Glacier Bay National Park
Some Alaska cruises spend their entire itinerary at Glacier Bay National Park and understandably so. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is the largest in the world, home to dramatic glacier scenery and wildlife watching opportunities.
Cruise there and you can enjoy kayaking, visiting local villages or just admire the non-stop parade of glaciers passing by. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for calving glaciers and have your camera ready.
Summer is the best time to visit for warmth, with April to June being the driest months. That said, a visit in winter gives you the chance to capture fog-shrouded landscapes ideal for moody photography.
Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve
Visit a 48,000-acre bald eagle preserve and enjoy riverside trails and wildlife spotting. If youre on the fence about visiting just to see bald eagles, youre in luck while visiting Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve you might also spot bears, mountain goats, swans, and moose roaming the serene naturescape.
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Consider A Land Tour Before Or After Your Cruise
Cruises to Alaska primarily visit the states southeast region. Many of Alaskas most iconic landmarks, such as Denali National Park, are located further inland and inaccessible by a cruise ship.
Royal Caribbean recognizes that many passengers want to visit Alaskas inland destinations. Thus, they offer Alaska Cruise Tours.
Alaska Cruise Tours are a combination of a one way cruise and a land tour of Alaska. Both pre and post-cruise tours are available, meaning that you can decide to fly one-way to Alaska, do a land tour, and take a cruise back to Seattle or Vancouver, or do it the other way around. Land tours range from an extra 2-5 nights on land in addition to your time on a cruise ship.
Land tours offer a mix of guided tours and independent exploring. All accommodation and transportation is organized by Royal Caribbean, making your time on land worry free. Activities and excursions on a land tour may include boarding the Wilderness Express scenic train ride to Denali, cruising the Chena River in Fairbanks, and enjoying a scenic ride on the Turnagain Arm Drive near Seward.
Alaska Shore Excursions Costs
Likely most of the time, for most people, it comes down to price.
Because excursions are optional, you want to be sure its worth the cost of doing it. Otherwise, you may want to save the money and explore what there is to do in the port.
Sometimes an excursion can cost as much as your airfare. If you book several, they can be more expensive than your cruise. Perhaps it makes sense to use that money for another cruise vacation!
Perhaps youd rather explore the Alaska ports on your own for free.
It is important to remember, you will have just booked and possibly paid for your cruise. If youve paid for the gratuity fees, there is nothing else you will have to pay for pertaining to the cruise itself.
After that, you can determine how much you have to spend for excursions and other discretionary spending.
If you and your family do excursions each day in port, it adds up quickly.
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Sitka Raptor Center And Native Tales
Sitka is noteworthy among Alaska towns for its strong Russian and Tlingit heritage. This tour gets you to key historical points as well as to a top local attraction — the Alaska Raptor Center, where you get to view birds of prey that include bald eagles, close-up.
In Sitka, you’ll also see St. Michael’s, the first Russian Orthodox cathedral in America visit the forested Sitka National Historical Park, where in 1804 the Battle of Alaska was fought between the Russians and native Tlingits drive to Castle Hill, where the post-Alaska Purchase flag was first flown by the U.S. in 1867 and enjoy a performance of Tlingit stories and songs in a traditional-style clan house.
Mount Roberts Tramway In Juneau
While this felt like an excursion, it actually wasnt.
This tram ride in Juneau was very economical and also made it seem like we did something in Juneau.
The tram goes 1,800 feet up and was a quick ride. It was fun for the kids as well as the adults. You will get to see Juneau and all the beauty of the city. When on the tram, looking out one way you will see all the trees, and the other way you see more of the city. There were stellar views it was a wonderful experience, especially for the price.
I would absolutely do this again on a return visit. If we had more time, it would have been fun to ride up and down multiple times. With your purchase, you get access all day.
Once you take the scenic tram to the top, you will enjoy the lookout from a vantage point of 3,819 on Mt Roberts. Take a minute to go to the lookout rail right off the tram. You wont remember to do it on the way back down and wont be able to if there is a line. The view is incredible. You will be able to see your cruise ship as well.
Afterwards, we went into the nature shop which was a small gift shop. However, it also had a lot of hands-on exhibits and information. You can walk around this building to learn about eagles. There is also an area where you can see craftsmen working on totem poles.
In addition, there are incredible hiking trails which range from moderate to challenging. You can even hike down the mountain.
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Saxman Totem Village With Lumberjack Tour
A visit to Southeast Alaska is not complete without an introduction to the areas original inhabitants. Their fascinating history and culture is one reason Ketchikan is such a special place to visit. Another important element of the town is the logging industry, which was one of the mainstays of the Ketchikan economy through the 1990s. This tour introduces you to both.
The Saxman Village tour offers a deep look at the culture overall, and particularly their totem poles. In fact, Saxman Totem park is one of the worlds largest collections of totem poles, and your guide will help explain the stories and symbolism behind them. The Lumberjack show is an entertaining look at the world of logging and the skills needed to survive in this dangerous industry. Lumberjacks compete in a dozen events including sawing, chopping, axe throwing, and log rolling.
Baranof Castle State Historic Site
Known by the locals as Castle Hill, this is one of the most important historical sites in all of Alaska. Before the Russian settlers arrived, the Tlingit clan built a strategic fortification on this hilltop.
Then, after the Russians handed over Alaska to the US government, the first Alaskan flag flew on Castle Hill in 1867. You can learn more about the history of the site from the many plaques that line the ascending walkway.
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Skagway: Best Of Skagway
- Who Offers This Excursion? As mentioned, this excursion is offered by many of the cruise companies. The Best of Skagway tour is offered by Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean.
- Find 9 other excursion options on my guide to the best Skagway cruise excursions.
In my opinion, there is just too much to choose from in Skagway. Thats why I consider a city tour to be the best Skagway cruise excursion, like the top Alaska cruise excursion that I recommended in Seattle.
The Best of Skagway tour shows you the best parts of this small Alaskan community. Its offered by many of the cruise companies that make port stops in Skagway. On this 6.5-hour tour, youll have three incredible experiences and three that are totally unique to Skagway .
First, youll board and ride the White Pass and Yukon Route, a narrow-gauge railroad that ascends the White Pass for epic views and scenery. Next, most tours disembark at the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp and Salmon Bake for a bawdy historic reenactment about Skagways history and a meal of fresh Alaska salmon. Finally, some tours add on a saloon stop at Red Onion Saloon you can raise a glass in camaraderie with the legions of intrepid gold miners who passed through Skagway over the centuries.
Alaska Cruise Do #8 Late Dinner Seating Means You Wont Feel Rushed While Ashore
Late seating for dinner for our cruise was 8:15PM but when you factor in what time zone you came from, it may feel even later. Another universal truth when cruising is there is no shortage of food.
My recommendations on the Disney Wonder include Boiler Bites, Pinocchios Pizzeria, or even room service. This will get you over the late afternoon/early evening cravings. Our favorites were the gyros at Boiler Bites.
On disembarkation day, those with the late seating at dinner also enjoyed a later breakfast before leaving the ship.
And I mentioned that there was 1 Dont:
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Best Large Cruise: Royal Caribbean
Courtesy of Royal Caribbean
- Ship: Ovation of the Seas
- Duration: 7 nights
- Itinerary: Alaska Inside Passage, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria
If youre looking for a cruise to Alaska with all the theme-park-like attractions, then the Ovation of the Seas will not disappoint. Built in 2016, Ovation is currently ranked as one of the 10 largest cruise ships in the world with onboard features like a skydiving simulator, a cocktail bar tended by robots, aerial performances in the theater, and the North Star, a moving observation pod with surreal views. The first two days of the voyage are spent at sea so theres plenty of time to explore the ship and try different activities. Or, dine at specialty restaurants like Chops Grille, Royal Caribbeans iconic steakhouse Wonderland, an eclectic array of dishes, or Giovannis table, a favorite Italian restaurant.
Must Do Alaska Excursions
Hi everyone, Is my forst time using Trip Advisor I hope you can help me.
My family and I are going to a Cruise in May 2017 for 7 nights. Some information as follow:
Itinerary: Departs at Vancouver / Arrived at Whittier
1. Vancouver, British Columbia — 4:30 PM
2. At Sea — —
3. Ketchikan, Alaska 6:30 AM 2:00 PM
4. 8:00 AM 9:00 PM
5. Skagway, Alaska 7:00 AM 8:30 PM
6. Cruising Glacier Bay, Alaska 6:00 AM 3:00 PM
7. College Fjord, United States 6:00 PM 8:30 PM
8. Whittier, Alaska 12:30 AM —
Could you please advice the best excursions in every port, if you will buy them through the cruise or better once you have arrived or maybe a website, cost aprox., any other information I need to know?
If you also have any comment in regards to that ship, please let me know. We ere in between this and Holland Noordam.
I appreciate, thank you ver much!!
What you ‘must do’ and what I might have enjoyed doing may very well not be the same, nor our budgets similar to do those things. There are many, many things on offer in each port so what you need to do is sit down with Princess cruise excursions list, study them, port by port, and decide on what would be of most interest to you within your budget. Then come back and we can assist by providing more information including ideas in regard to privately booking the same or similar thing where you would obtain a much more personal experience rather than booking through the ship.
Feel free to ask more questions.
Edited: 5 years ago
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Alaska Cruise Do #4 Slow Down And Unwind While At Sea
After several days at sea and a few excursions, I found myself craving a break from the lets-do-it-all-and-squeeze-it-all-in mentality. As relaxing as cruising sounds, it can be quite frenetic if you let it. Here are some activities Id suggest to dial it back a notch:
- Read a book.
- Stretch out and take a nap on a lounge chair.
- Have a specialty coffee.
- Go watch a movie. We had plenty of options, including recent releases Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2, and Beauty and the Beast.
- Treat yourself to a spa treatment. We went with a mother-daughter massage.
Miscellaneous Alaska Cruise Packing List Items
- Travel documents
Alaskas cruise season begins in May and ends in September, and though those summer months are the warmest, the weather can still vary from month to monthtemperatures are known to drop drastically even on a daily basis.
Always consider layering items when packing for an Alaska cruise, regardless of the time of year youll be sailing. If you have already booked your cruise and know what dates youll be traveling, here are some extra tips on what to wear on an Alaska cruise during specific months of the year.
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The 8 Best Alaska Cruises Of 2021
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“Airport transfers, shore excursions, meals, wine and spirits, and park admission is bundled into the price.”
Best for Adventure: Alaskan Dream Cruises See Rates
“Excursions focus on local culture such as totem carvings, folk dances, and other Tlingit cultural presentations.”
But My Cruise Is Next Week
Didnt book early? Or maybe you werent intending on doing any excursions, but now you’ve heard about one that sounds absolutely MUST DO!
No worries! These things happen and thats part of the fun of vacationing. In some cases, you might be out of luck . But for many other Alaskan cruise excursions, its possible to snag some last minute spots. Just shoot us an email to see what tours are still available. And, were sometimes able to find extra spaces or work with our operations team to create spots, even if other companies display tours as fully booked.
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And The One Dont: Dont Overpack
We packed way too much. This is easy to do. After all, when encouraged to bring lots of layers and preparing for varying weather, boots and bulky jackets/coats take up a lot of luggage space. Yes, to that extent, packing for changes in weather and the range of 30-80 degrees can be tricky. But heres the secret to save money on checked bag feesDo laundry onboard.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park Visitor Center
This is not a paid excursion but something free in Skagway.
Something we really enjoyed is the National Park Services historic sites in Skagways historic district. There are 20+ gold rush boom town buildings here.
In addition to being able to take free ranger programs, including their guided tours and talks, you can also go inside some of the buildings to experience them as they might have been.
Be sure to check out the Visitor Center Museum, the Mascot Saloon Museum, the Moore House Museum, and Jeff. Smiths Parlour Museum. You may walk past these at first, not realizing they are part of the sites.
You will also see the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway here. You book an excursion for a 40 mile roundtrip on this narrated train tour.
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