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Advantages Of Visiting Alaska In July
- Looking for warm weather? July is Alaskas hottest month, with daytime temperatures ranging between 50-70 degrees and 18-19 hours of daylight.
- If youre planning an arctic cruise, prepare for cooler weather, as the temperature up north dips down to 33-45 degrees. Also pack an eye mask for sleeping, as arctic cruises enjoy nearly 24 hours of daylight.
- Grizzlies, black bears, and mountain goats dot the landscape. In the sea, humpback whales and otters splash about, and overhead you can spot millions of migrating shorebirds.
- For the anglers, July is spawning season for salmon, making it perfect for fishing trips.
Alaska State Fair. Photo by Matt Hage/State of Alaska.
Taku Lodge With Salmon Bake
This long-running favorite tour combines a number of appealing activities into one trip: a scenic glacier flight with Wings Airways, a float plane landing, a visit to a remote lodge with a chance for a guided nature walk, and a barbecue of king salmon .
That remote lodge is the Taku Lodge, built in 1923 and located just across the river from the advancing Taku Glacier . Get out and enjoy the lodge and its wilderness ambience. Local guides offer a short nature walk on a wilderness trail, or you may choose to relax. Then enjoy a time-honored Alaskan traditionthe salmon bake. The succulent grilled salmon attracts bears, of course, and you may be lucky enough to spot one!
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Compare: 12 Cruise Ships In Alaska
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It’s hard not to revert to hyperbole with Alaska. Here lie more than enough towering snow-capped mountains, breathtaking calving glaciers, extraordinary wild animals and quirky frontier towns to wow hundreds of thousands of cruisers annually. With more than two dozen mainstream ships plying Alaska’s island-filled southeast region from May to September, passengers certainly have options.
This chart features a representative from every major line in the mainstream and luxury markets, from the intimate and upscale Silver Muse to mega-ships like Norwegian Bliss.
Each of the 12 ships, which were hand-picked based on their popularity among all cruise options in Alaska, caters to a different type of traveler. Families on a budget might find the most “bang for their buck” onboard Carnival Spirit, while couples looking to splurge can pamper themselves with Seven Seas Mariner’s lavish suites and all-inclusive fine dining.
Familiarize yourself with the biggest contenders’ itineraries, exclusive regional offerings and more to determine which is the best Alaska cruise option for you.
Best Luxury: Regent Seven Seas
Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas
- Ship Name: Seven Seas Mariner
- Itinerary: Sitka, Juneau Skagway, Ketchikan, Vancouver
For a luxury cruise experience though the Inside Passage, Regent Seven Seas has a few sailing dates on the Seven Seas Mariner, an all-suite ship. On Mariner, all staterooms have a private balcony perfect for watching the glaciers and fjords float past and a minimum of 300 feet of space. Onboard, guests can unwind in the award-winning Canyon Ranch spa, take in an evening show, and dine on gourmet cuisine. Being a smaller ship , its size allows the staff to anticipate guests needs and personalize the experience. On the Alaska voyage, the ship calls on many popular ports and also treats passengers to Sitka, a unique port steeped in Tlingit culture and Russian history, before concluding in Vancouver.
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Whats The Best Time To See Whales On An Alaska Cruise
Gray whales, humpback whales, orca, beluga whales Alaska has them all. Here are some quick tips to help you increase the odds of seeing whales during your cruise.
- Humpback whales: June and July are the best months for seeing these giants of the deep. Over 500 humpback whales spend summer within the Inside Passage, so select a cruise that passes through this route and visits the Barren Islands.
- Beluga whales: You can spot belugas in Turnagain Arm from mid-July through August, just south of Anchorage. September is also a good month for belugas, as long as your cruise passes Nome.
- Gray Whales: April and May are ideal for gray whales, as they feed around Kodiak, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Seward.
- Orca : The ideal time for orca spotting is between early May and early June when you can find these colorful behemoths feeding in Resurrection Bay and along cruise routes going between Seattle and Alaska.
A Qualified Success: Alaskas Abridged 2021 Cruise Ship Season Ends With Hopes For Next Year
Juneau saw 74 ship calls over a shortened sailing season. Just over 115,000 people came to the city by large cruise ship this year compared to almost 1.3 million in 2019.
It was a qualified success, said Robert Venables, executive director of Southeast Conference, about the summer cruising season.
He said it was unusual to see a large cruise ship in Southeast Alaska so late in the year. Typically, the summer sailing season ends at the beginning of October.
It was something of an experiment, Venables said. I think thats something to really build on and something that we could look forward to in years to come, I hope.
For many businesses and residents, the season will act as a bridge, helping them to survive until 2022 when many hope the visitor industry sector will return to something approaching normal.
Liz Perry, president and CEO of Travel Juneau, said the summer season was driven by independent travelers who typically make up a tiny fraction of those who arrive on cruise ships. Around 100,000 people came to Juneau independently and hotels reported reasonable occupancy rates, she added, but for retailers it was a different story.
On the cruise side, retailers were very happy to have even an abbreviated season, Perry said. But most will tell you that revenues were 5-15% of their 2019 revenues.
In the third quarter of 2019, she made $49,000 from tours. This year, it was $10,000.
It definitely exceeded my expectations, Clem said about her retail earnings.
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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!
How To Choose The Perfect Alaskan Cruise
Dont get overwhelmed with all the options. There is a perfect Alaskan cruise itinerary for everyone. Ill walk you through all of the considerations when booking your cruise to make sure you have the cruise of a lifetime and can enjoy Alaska to its fullest.
When sorting through all the different Alaskan cruise itineraries, here are six decisions to consider:
Now, lets break each of these steps down:
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What Is The Best Month To Cruise Alaska
The best month to visit Alaska depends on what you hope to experience during your trip.
- Do you want as much sun and daylight as possible? Then book a June or July cruise.
- Would you like to see lots of wildlife? Then purchase a May, August, or September cruise as these months feature young animal families and migrations.
- Do you want to get into the interior and see Denali National Park or the Yukon? Then select July or August.
- Are you chasing bright tree foliage? Then book a cruise at the end of August or in September.
- Would you like to avoid mosquitoes? Then May and September are the best months for your cruise.
- Are northern lights on the itinerary? Then your trip will be in September or October. Would you like to fish for salmon? Then select any summer or shoulder month.
The good news is that no matter which month you choose, your Alaskan cruise will reward you with incredible experiences and memories that last a lifetime.
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.”
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The Best Alaska Cruise Routes
Of course, these are just some of the highlights that help make up any one of dozens of Alaska cruise routes. Planning a trip should never feel like a game of Tetris — things should just fit into place automatically. At least, thats the theory. It’s often trickier than it might at first seem.
Fortunately,Cruise Critic can help with that. Selecting Alaska as a destination allows you to filter results tailored to your own needs. You can choose cruise lengths, departure location, and even indicate which ports of call you want to make.
Once that is settled, all you need to do is peruse any one of the hundreds of Alaska cruise routes listed on the site.
Where Does It Stop
Each cruise line and often individual itineraries within the same cruise line makes different stops as they travel through Alaska. So one important thing to consider when you choose an Alaska cruise is where you want to visit and what you want to see and do. Heres what you can expect in the main Alaskan cruise ports of call .
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How To Pick The Best Alaska Cruise For You
Youll see from our chart below that dozens of ships are sailing Alaska in 2020. And this just includes the mass-market and luxury ships. There are even more if you count all of the small ship and expedition vessels. Thats a lot of information to parse as you determine which ship is right for you, so consider a cruise line that caters to your specific needs or interests. Consult this list, and then check the chart to find a vessel that might fit your own preferences, from ships with the fewest passengers to those with the least expensive cruise fares to the ones offering exactly the itinerary you want.
Guide’s Choice Photography Discovery
Serious photographers are often frustrated when they find a nice spot, set up for a shot, and the guide yells, “Time to get back on the bus!” This tour is for photographers, so there’s ample time to get your shots just right. Better still, your professional photographer guide has the flexibility to take you where the “action” is, whether it’s a field of wildflowers by the Chilkat River, brown bears feeding on salmon near Chilkoot Lake, or a juvenile bald eagle exercising its wings for its first flight.
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Whens The Best Time To See The Northern Lights On An Alaska Cruise
Seeing the northern lights from the cruise ship is a rare occurrence, but if youd like to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis from the balcony on your stateroom, then you need to book a trip in late September or early October.
To maximize your chance of witnessing the northern lights, get off the boat and join a land excursion to Fairbanks. The aurora season in Fairbanks lasts from the end of August to April and the lights can be seen 4 out of 5 nights .
The 6 Most Important Factors To Consider When Choosing The Perfect Alaska Cruise
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INSIDER SECRET: Youll want to choose your cruise line carefully. Some cruise lines, like Carnival, cater to families and budget travelers, while others, like Celebrity, are known for offering a more luxury experience.
If you have looked into or taken an Alaskan cruise before, you know how confusing it can be to choose the right cruise itinerary. There are many different ports of call, none of which you have likely heard of before, tons of scenic cruising days , plus one-way or round-trip options.
Its overwhelming, to say the least. Alaskan cruises offer some of the largest variety from week to week and ship to ship compared to any other cruising region in the world.
But there are good reasons to have so many options. Once you know what differences to look for, you can find the right itinerary for that perfect Alaskan cruise.
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Top 8 Best Cruise Ships Going To Alaska In 2020
Think this is the year you will take the family to the Last Frontier and go on an Alaska cruise? Sounds like a great plan, but you might be wondering which is the best ship to go on an Alaska cruise.
There are a lot of great ships that will traverse the Inside Passage from May through September, each with their own assortment of amenities, activities and fun things to do. In fact, you will find a great range of value with options that run the gamut of ship size and offerings.
Here are our picks for the best ships cruising to Alaska this summer.
What Excursions Do You Want To Do
Each cruise port has a range of different excursions available at an extra cost. Some of the more common ones like floatplane sightseeing, bear-watching, whale-watching, dog sledding and fishing you can do in multiple places, but others are only available in one location.
Its worth doing a bit of research in advance to work out what you want to do as some of the most popular excursions book up fast, especially in peak season. So if theres something you particularly want to do then its a good idea to reserve a spot when you book your cruise. The pros of official cruise line excursions is that youre usually allowed off the ship first and itll wait if there are delays, but they can be pricey and sometimes have big group sizes.
Float plane in Juneau
You can also book excursions independently, either through companies like Get Your Guide or Viator, or directly with local operators. There are usually tour desks lined up at cruise ports too where you can book something last-minute too if you dont want to book ahead we did a last-minute trip to the Mendenhall Glacier from Juneau when we knew itd be a sunny day. Make sure you allow plenty of time though as the ship wont wait if youre late back.
An excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier
Alaska Hubbard Glacier Cruise Celebrity Eclipse
This starts in Vancouver and takes you through the iconic Inside Passage to Ketchikan and Juneau. Youll explore basically the entire Alaska panhandle, which is home to some of North Americas most breathtaking coastline, including deep fjords, calving glaciers, and coastal mountains and forests. The final destination on this epic Alaska cruise is the massive Hubbard Glacier.
This is one of the best Alaska cruises if you have a weeks time. In 2019, there are twelve sailing dates, running from late-May through mid-September.
- From/to: roundtrip from Vancouver
Best Overall: Norwegian Cruise Line
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.
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Where Does The Ship Depart From
The three main departure points for Alaskan cruises are Seattle and Vancouver in the south and Anchorage in the north. Seattle is popular with cruisers from the US as they dont need to go through immigration and can often get cheap flights. But you end up travelling through a large section of open sea which can be rough, some short trips miss out the Inside Passage and ships have to make a compulsory stop in Canada so theres less time in Alaska.
Vancouvers Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal
Vancouver is the most popular departure point for Alaska cruises so youll have the biggest choice of cruise lines, itineraries and departures. If youre travelling internationally there are plenty of flights, and routes mostly travel through the Inside Passage with more to see.
Most departures from Anchorage actually leave from the ports of Seward or Whittier rather than Anchorage itself. So you need to allow time to get to the ship from the airport. Its 60 miles to Whittier and 125 miles to Seward so will take at least a couple of hours, but its probably safer to stay overnight, especially if youre flying internationally. Theres some beautiful scenery along the way though, and one bonus is you can get there via the Alaska Railroad.
Sailing out of Vancouver