Tuesday, April 16, 2024

What To Do On An Alaskan Cruise

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Best Overall: Norwegian Cruise Line

Alaska Cruise : 6 Things You Need To Get Right

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

  • Ship Name: Norwegian Bliss
  • Itinerary: Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Victoria

Norwegian boasts that it has the youngest fleet cruising to Alaska,” and the Norwegian Bliss is NCLs newest ship . Bliss has buzzworthy features like laser tag, a race track on the top deck, and thrilling waterslides that overhang the sides of the ship. The ship has accommodations for every type of cruiser, including solo staterooms and elegant suites in the Haven, a luxurious enclave. Another perk of this cruise is that is sails round-trip from Seattle, so guests can drive or fly into the same port for departure and arrival . Bliss also has a beautiful observation lounge ideal when sailing the Inside Passage.

Do The Math On Balconies Versus Interior

If you can afford it, its preferable to sail on a balcony versus and interior cabin. But there is a lot of demand for these rooms and the prices can be significantly higher than an interior cabin. While a balcony is nice, its not like there arent places around the ship to take in the scenery. In other words, if the price difference it outrageous, book the interior cabin, save the cash, and still get to experience 95% of what passengers with a balcony get to see.

Other Things To Do On Board

Alaska cruises are different than cruises elsewhere because of the narrow passages. On cooler days, heartier souls lay on lounge chairs facing away from the ship and watched the mist- and cloud-covered mountains as we passed them.

Mountain watching is probably the most serene and inactive thing to do aboard ship. Hats, gloves and extra layers of clothing are often a must. Tours of Glacier Bay bring nearly all of the passengers onto the decks for hours of viewing.

Otherwise, most ships have a library of several hundred used books as well as a game room for card players. The librarys books were often left behind by cruise passengers. Dont expect a Library of Congress.

More time indoors compared to cruises elsewhere makes it a good idea to pack extra audio books, ebooks, music and movies onto portable electronic devices such as smartphones, ebook readers and laptops.

Dont bother with Internet access during spotty weather in remote areas or if unwilling to pay the high shipboard access fees. Instead, wait for free wi-fi access at certain shops and visitor centers on shore.

Finally, dont forget to bring the old-fashioned entertainment: hardcover, paperback and puzzle books.

If not, expect to spend a lot of time in bad weather either watching TV in a tiny cabin, snoozing in a lounge or shivering on the deck wrapped in coats and towels.

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Book A Ship With Somewhere Warm To Swim

Sure any cruise ship you select is going to have hot tubs for passengers. But we suggest looking for those that have a solarium or other covered spots with pools. Only a few ships have them, but covered pools are a great spot to be able to relax and swim while staying out of the chilly air that can accompany a cruise to Alaska.

You Will Take A Ton Of Pictures

9 Things to See and Do on Your Alaskan Cruise

If you have been relying on your smartphone as your camera, it might be time to upgrade. It seems like everywhere you look, there is an image straight out of a travel magazine. Inevitably, you will take a lot of pictures. Investing in a digital camera, or even a new mirrorless camera, will give you the picture quality you want without maxing out your phones memory.

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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.

Indulge In Fresh Fish And Seafood

Fishing is one of Alaskas main industries and you can find some of the worlds best fish and seafood in its coastal towns. Especially Ketchikan is renowned for its fish dishesits the unofficial world capital of salmon. If you time your cruise well, you can see the famous salmon run in the river running through the town. A visit to the Ketchikan hatchery is fascinating as well.

Additionally, you can also go on a shore excursion with a crab boat. King crab is another Alaskan staple and you should definitely grab some freshly caught crab with melted butter!

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No Marijuana Isnt Legal On The Ship

Sailing from Seattle to Alaska? One quirk is that recreational marijuana is legal in both states. However, its a bad idea to bring it on the ship and is against the rules. Cruise ships follow federal law, which says pot is illegal. Plus, the ship travels internationally, making it an even worse idea to bring marijuana or CBD oil. Instead, just enjoy in port if you want to partake and leave the rest on land.

Begin Planning Your Cruise Now

5 things to do on an Alaskan cruise!

Alaskan cruise itineraries go on sale up to 2 years in advance. If you want the cheapest rate and best selection of cabins, we recommend booking your cruise as soon as possible. We normally book a year or more in advance when cruising this region. Your deposit is always refundable, and you will lock in a rate that is sure to increase over time. If rates do dip down, you can always call to get a price adjustment. Count those pennies, as you are going to need them for other portions of the trip.

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The Cheapest Rates Occur During Shoulder Season

If costs are a major concern, consider traveling in either May, the beginning of the season, or September, toward the end of the season. The cruise fares will be the lowest during these times of year, and crowds will also be the lightest. Do note that weather could be an issue, as it tends to be less ideal during these months. It is also possible that certain shore excursions will not run due to weather conditions. During our September cruise to Alaska, we were lucky enough to have great weather and save some cash.

Layer Your Clothes During The Day

When youre out and about in Alaska, be sure to layer the clothes that you wear. Temperatures can range 40 degrees in a day, as well as dealing with different elevations, rain, clouds, and sun. To be sure youre prepared for anything, layering your clothes can give you options for when it warms up or it cools down

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Pick Your Cruise Line Wisely

Recently, cruise lines have been adding more and more ships to the region including newer mega-ships like Norwegian Bliss and Ovation of the Seas. The decision of what cruise line you choose will have a major impact in the composition of your fellow cruisers as well as the selection of onboard entertainment. Families should stick to Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival, or Disney Cruise Line ships. Couples may want to consider Princess Cruises or Celebrity Cruises. For those looking for a more subdued experience, Holland America or some of the other boutique lines might be a good option.

Packing For An Alaska Cruise Is Easy

The 8 Best Things to do on an Alaskan Cruise
  • Dress in layers! Youâll hear this again and again when researching what to pack for your visit to Alaska. But what does that mean exactly? Begin with a lightweight short sleeved shirt , add a hoodie , cardigan sweater or fleece sweater , add to that an all-weather coat , & scarf if it is warranted. If you get hot, simply shed enough clothes to make yourself comfortable.
  • Most importantly, bring an all-weather jacket, preferably with a hood. I recommend a waterproof, breathable jacket rather than just a nylon windbreaker, especially if you plan to do a lot of outdoor stuff. Sometimes the wind kicks up across the ocean and even though it is sunny & warm, the cold wind will go right through you. The jacket doesnât have to be heavy & lined, if you layer correctly, youâll take care of the warmth, this will simply keep you dry! Brands youâll find in my closet are Patagonia, , Columbia, , & when I can afford it , North Face or Arcâteryx ð

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Best And Worst Months To Cruise To Alaska

The best time to cruise to Alaska depends on both warm temperatures and a lower risk of rain.

Historically, July has ideal combination of the two, followed by June and then August. Rainfall is usually lowest in May and climbs steadily until reaching the highest point in September. May is ideal for rain but not for temperatures, which are often quite a bit cooler.

The best time to visit Alaska certainly isnt the winter, but winter is a great time to plan the trip.

The majority of Alaskan cruises run between May and September. July and August are the most active cruise months, according to scheduled cruises on major travel booking websites. July and August also have the warmest temperatures.

Average high temperatures can reach into the mid 60s Fahrenheit or high teens Celsius along the Alaskan coast during the summer months of June through August. On a good day, they will climb into the 70s as they did on > our first Alaskan cruise .

They reach the mid to upper 50s Fahrenheit or low teens Celsius during May and September, according to historical records from the U.S. National Weather Service. Because of these cooler temperatures, fewer cruises are available in either month.

Despite temperatures in that are similar to July and August, June usually has fewer cruises.

You Can Dress Down While Onboard

Over the years, getting dressed up for evenings on a cruise has become a fading trend. Furthermore, Alaskan cruises have always been more casual than their Caribbean and Mediterranean counterparts. Jeans are perfectly acceptable in the dining rooms, although shorts are probably not appropriate for multiple reasons. There are still formal nights onboard most cruise lines, but feel free to dress for comfort if you choose. After all, this is a vacation.

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Dont Forget Cruise Insurance

Think of all the recent headlines ships getting tossed around the Norwegian coast, unfortunate incidents with planes in Alaska and thats not to mention the everyday occurrences like missing a flight or getting hurt or sick. If youre taking any vacation, but especially a trip to remote regions like Alaska, getting insurance for your trip is a no-brainer.

But You Can Take A Cruise This Summer

What to do on an Alaskan SEA DAY (NCL Encore Test Cruise)

And even though big ships are resuming their itineraries, you might consider a small-ship cruise instead. Operators will sail this summer out of Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and even Seattle. These ships, carrying 10 to 100 passengers, do not offer the bells and whistles of a big-ship cruise. But youll visit smaller coves and communities, with the focus on wildlife viewing and beach landings in small skiffs, kayaking, hiking and photography.

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Best Modern Cruise: Celebrity

  • Ship Name: Celebrity Solstice
  • Itinerary: Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Alaska Inside Passage, Victoria

For an upscale Alaska cruise without the luxury price tag, Celebrity is a fantastic option. The award-winning, Celebrity Solstice is a dignified ship that focuses on modern well-being. Activities include culinary classes, silent discos, and educational lectures. Theres also a half-acre of fresh grass with hot glass demonstrations, private cabanas, and outdoor movies. The ship also has a fabulous fitness center and programs, and the Canyon Ranch Spa situated right next to the Aqua Class cabins. These cabins include access to a health-conscious restaurant as well as the relaxation room and other spa perks. This voyage includes a full day cruising Endicott Arm for fabulous views before concluding in Victoria.

Still Pack A Bathing Suit

While the weather is not exactly beach friendly, the pools and hot tubs on the ship are still open. If you are lucky, the weather may get warm enough in the afternoon for you to take a dip in the pool. Or, you could unwind in one of the hot tubs onboard or relax in the spa. Think of how perfect it would be to enjoy the scenery at sail away while being gently massaged by these warm water jets. This is an experience that will make all your friends back home jealous.

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Whats The Weather Like On An Alaskan Cruise

We started our Alaskan Cruise with 88 degrees and sunny in Seattle and spent the day lounging by the pool with drinks in our bathing suits. The next day at sea, we froze! So we ended up bundled up the whole day.

TIP: Dont forget your bathing suits! It can be warm your first day, plus there are plenty of hot tubs to relax in after a full day hiking around Alaska! This cover-up was perfect for my cruise! It still looks cute and kept me warm enough to get from the hot tub to my room. Even appropriate enough to wear to the buffet.

Our day in Skagway was also in the mid 80s and very sunny. I ended up in a tee-shirt for the majority of the day. But the locals said it was only a high of 50 and cold the week prior. So really, you just never know what kind of weather youll have on an Alaskan Cruise.

Excursions on your Alaskan Cruise can vary a great deal too. Some popular examples of Alaskan Cruise Excursions can include:

  • Hiking
  • Scooters

And SO much more!

Is this your first time on a cruise? Dont miss my great Tips for First-Time Cruisers: Things You Need to Know Before Your First Cruise!

Top Alaskan Ports Of Call

Things To Do On An Alaska Cruise

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.

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You Need To Pack Layers

Packing for an Alaskan cruise is not an easy task. Given the fluctuations in temperature, which in our experience was up to 30 degrees in one day, you will need plenty of clothes in varying degrees of warmth. Layers that can be easily packed, and taken on and off during the day, are preferable. We really liked our Columbia 3 in 1 jackets. You will want to also set aside some separate outfits for those afternoons and evenings on the ship. This cruise will really test your true packing abilities dont plan on traveling with just a carry-on for this trip!

Alaska Cruise Weather By Month

The following breakdowns of weather by month combines 30 years of weather data for five major Alaska cruise ports from the U.S. National Weather Service.

These historical averages are simply averages and will vary somewhat from year to year and port to port. But they give cruise planners a general idea of what to expect with weather and what clothing to pack.

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Pack With Us For Alaska

Our Alaska Packing Playlist features packing and planning videos for your cruise to Alaska. From clothing, outerwear, and gear, to packing carry-on only , weve gotcha covered.

You can also shop our , specificifally curated for Alaska, OR shop our latest packing video to have you safe and comfortable on your cruise and flight!

See more packing tips here.

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During The Day At Sea

9 Best Things To Do On An Alaska Cruise

As soon as your ship heads out to sea, it gets colder and colder. Our first day at sea, we woke up and were FREEZING. I put multiple layers on to go to the buffet for breakfast.

So pack lots of comfortable and warm clothing for the days you are at sea. Everything you do on the ship can be very casual. I brought a good pair of fleece-lined leggings and some casual joggersand pretty much lived in those while I was on the cruise.

The fleece-lined leggings are also great to have on hand to layer under jeans and other pants for extra warmth.

I also recommend having some tee shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and hooded sweatshirtsfor walking around the ship during the day. I practically lived in this North Face Pullover when we were on the ship. It comes in a bunch of different colors too!

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