Alaska’s sheer size is somewhat difficult to comprehend. The coastline consists of around 47,000 miles of natural beauty, with an additional 3,000 rivers and a whopping 3 million lakes. The inland areas contain 39 different mountain ranges, comprising of 17 of the highest peaks in North America, including the country’s highest summit - Mount McKinley, in Denali. Alaska is, of course, known for its ample uninhabited land, with the state holding the record for the least densely populated land in the United States at just 1.264 inhabitants per square mile, compared to the most densely populated, New Jersey, with 1,205 inhabitants per square mile.
This expanse of empty land is home to eagles, bison, wolves, and black bears, whilst just off the coastline live humpback and killer whales, sea lions, and all manner of vibrant sea life. Many travellers head to Alaska hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the native wildlife, which is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Alaska cruise season tends to run between May and September, due to the wide variety of extreme weather conditions typical of the state’s Arctic climate. The west coast of Alaska is exposed to storms heading east across the Pacific Ocean, so while the late spring and summer months tend to bring quite sunny and clear weather, rain, sleet, snow, and freezing conditions are common during the winter.
Some travellers argue that the best time to cruise around Alaska is in the spring, when the snow and ice is just beginning to melt, fuelling the many waterfalls and adding to their beauty.
Spring also brings exceptionally long days, with the famous midnight sun lasting from May to July - a fascinating phenomenon that really has to be seen to be believed. In contrast, however, there’s also something to be said for cruising late in the season. The later months bring with them the unique opportunity to view the magical northern lights, with colours painted across the sky as if it were an artist’s canvas. Alaska is an ice age wilderness, bigger, bolder and more beautiful than you could ever imagine. A cruise to Alaska is sure to take you on a truly surreal journey and voyage of discovery that will stay with you forever.
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The city of Juneau is truly spectacular and one of the only cities in the United States that cannot be accessed in or out by road. It’s one of the world’s most intriguing destination, as the area revolves entirely around its stunning nature and the waters of Gastineau Channel. Juneau is the Alaskan capital and full of exciting diverse contrasts, with a bustling city life whilst boasting a charming combination of western commercialisation and Alaskan traditions. It is this enchanting combination that makes the destination so unique. Upon arrival into Juneau the location almost feels like a frontier but in fact is actually a truly welcoming, spectacular place to visit aboard an Alaskan cruise.
Not only is Juneau an exciting destination for scenery and historical heritage but it is also a wonderfully fun, relaxed place to visit. The fascinating sites combine brilliantly with the modern day city treats including fantastic shopping opportunities. This is also the ideal place to enjoy adrenaline pumping excitement and many cruise lines will offer a variety of sporting orientated excursions. Experiences often include sea kayaking in the intimate bays or even a famous drive-up glacier opportunity. A once in a lifetime opportunity comes in the form of a dogsled experience combined with the chance to soak up the local scenery aboard your very own helicopter ride, that has taken the Alaskan cruise experience by storm. The chance to do such an outstanding tour is truly amazing. During the dogsled experience you will meet 250-300 friendly Alaskan huskies before heading off for a journey across a remarkable glacier. An alternative to dog sledding would be to take in a flight where the Taku River becomes your own ‘runway’ as you land to enjoy the Taku Glacier Lodge.
Another area of distinction and again jam packed with entertainment is the awe inspiring Mendenhall Glacier. This unbelievable ice giant is the most accessible glacier in Alaska and boasts a remarkable sight. The glacier is situated just beyond the mountainous backdrop of this impeccable destination and portrays an astonishing ice mass. The exploration trails here are superb and offer a variety of different lengths, depending on how difficult you wish the trek to be. Mendenhall Glacier excursions are often combined with other festivities to enjoy the day. These often include a white whale watching experience or should you prefer you can sample the original salmon bake at the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery. For something more active and certainly adrenaline pumping then there’s always the chance to try a white water rafting experience. This opportunity provides unrivalled views of the glaciers and will be organised by a professional guide that will accompany you all the way. The beauty of such an experience here is that the Mendenhall Glacier rafting experience is suitable for all experience levels and actually offers a somewhat gentle challenge rather than the rough ride you might expect; perfect for taking in the sights.
The culinary flair here is amazing and there are many cruise lines that will provide the chance to experience a full flavoured Alaskan feast. The Alaskan-caught wild salmon is truly spectacular along with such specialities as Cheechako baked chicken; Chilkoot baked beans and White Pass pasta. The local cuisine is sublime so be sure to sample the sensational savours.
To try a treasure hunt of your own, head for Alaska's Gastineau Mill and pan for gold at this iconic location. You will travel through Juneau’s historic downtown before arriving at your destination to see if you can find your fortune. This tour is extremely fun for all ages and offers a detailed insight into the historic features of the area. Juneau presents a wonderful opportunity to explore Alaska at its finest. This outstanding port of call provides an amazing choice of fabulous excursions no matter the cruise line you are travelling with. Juneau is a must see aboard an Alaskan sailing.
Renowned for being the Salmon Capital of the World, this stunning port of call provides a fascinating experience starting with its superb old city. Ketchikan is located at the base of the impressive Deer Mountain and the downtown area slips beautifully between the glistening waters and the mountainous forest backdrop. The city nestles into the hillside, compromising of many boardwalks and wooden staircases that allow locals to get around. It’s a well-known fact here that there is actually more totem poles in Ketchikan than anywhere else in the world.
The locals in Ketchikan are friendly and welcome tourists with open arms. Not only does Ketchikan provide tourists with a relaxing day in wondrous surroundings, it also gives you the chance to explore a truly historic destination. Take a walk along the harbour, see the collection of boats that line the stretch and are ready and waiting to head out for the next fishing expedition and marvel at the impeccable waters of Tongass Narrows for even more for exquisite scenery before uncovering what Ketchikan has to offer.
The locals in Ketchikan are friendly and welcoming, and will provide a brilliant insight into their famous history and art collections as ancestry here is incredibly important. A notorious feature includes the Totem Heritage Centre which welcomes guests to discover the history behind the towering stature of totem poles and also acts as a generous location, salvaging the totem poles and restoring them to their former glory. The communities here are amazing and the local knowledge is worth exploring whenever possible.
Upon arrival the sight that immediately catches the eye of visitors is the impressive stature of Deer Mountain. This spectacular location provides brilliant hiking adventures with a range of walking treks suitable for all levels of fitness. The treks will vary in difficulty so be sure to look into this before setting off. One of the most incredible treks to enjoy is to climb the Upland Way and take in the breath taking views over the city centre. Not only is Deer Mountain famous for its superb scenery but it is also a great place to enjoy a kayak experience. The well protected waterways here are sensational and there will be tour opportunities with a variety of cruise lines to give kayaking a go and take in the sights up close. One of the most renowned points of interest at Deer Mountain has to be the Hatchery. This wondrous location provides a fascinating insight into the world of salmon cultivation, where over 300,000 Coho and King salmon are raised here each and every year.
If you’re up for an adventure try an Alaskan sport fishing adventure, try a catch and cook fishing trip or do something a little less adventurous by taking in the city centre sights by horse and carriage followed up by a tasty crab feast. For something truly special and once in a lifetime, there is an opportunity with numerous cruise lines to take in the Misty Fjord scenes by seaplane that is an incredible sightseeing adventure. As the nation's second largest wilderness area, Misty Fjord is amazing sight to see by seaplane and the excursions comes complete with a spectacular water landing that allows you to step out onto the plane’s float. Along with the magnificent scenery, the Misty Fjords National Monument is a fabulous monument that you can explore.
With much to see and do in Ketchikan the opportunities are endless and the hardest decision you’ll have to make here is what to do first.
Not only is Ketchikan exceptionally beautiful, this delightful port of call opens up a new world of adventure. Sightseeing is astonishing and the historical heritage here boasts the chance for a great day of discovery.
Set right on the waters of the famous Alaskan Inside Passage, Sitka is without question one of the most exotically beautiful ports in the region. The surrounding area glistens in wondrous scenery or jagged mountains, a towering volcano and the most impressive sight of all; Tongas National Forest, the world’s largest temperate rainforest.
Sitka has gone through a hugely diverse range of historical influences over time and still remains a beautiful destination. The area continues to reinvent itself whilst always maintaining its delicate grace and splendour. Once home to the Tlingit Indian Tribe and even a Russian empire, this outstanding port of call has primarily flourished as a unique commercial fishing zone but in modern days, the locals have created a tourism dynasty. The area is only accessible by air and sea so a trip via a sensational cruise itinerary is often the finest way of seeing this extraordinary place. The elements of its historical influences now provide a unique blend of cultures that never fail to compliment the Alaskan wilderness backdrop. This diverse cultural background creates a once in a lifetime experience.
The climate here is fantastically mild and therefore allows for a remarkable array of wildlife throughout the area. The low population levels mean the area is beautifully unscathed and a simply stunning sight to behold. Waterways even provide the perfect opportunity for humpback whale feeding grounds and world class fishing adventures for salmon and halibut.
Away from the magical backdrop of wildlife and landscapes, the town itself is also full of charisma. Guests will find a magnificent choice of things to see and do, including lavish museums, Russian orthodox artistic flair, innovative souvenirs and the treasurable Saint Michael’s onion-domed cathedral. Many visitors to the town also wish to take in the Raptor Centre’s veterinary project and in particular the amazing birds of prey.
The range of excursions here is truly unique. The choice with most cruise operators is excellent and provides an abundance of options depending on how active you wish to be. Take in the volcanic scenery by ocean craft reaching speeds of up to 50mph, the perfect way to witness the remarkable marine life and amazing areas of Kruzof Island. Alternatively passengers can opt for a journey into the sea life extravagance aboard the only semi-submersible to immerse yourselves under the hidden treasures of Alaskan waters.
A truly special and once in a lifetime excursion option is to combine Sitka’s new Brown Bear sanctuary and the award-winning Sea Otter Quest. The rescue facility at Silver Bay is a non-profit centre for orphaned Brown Bear cubs and provides a wonderfully educational insight into the makeup of these fascinating creatures. An incredible home has been created for these vulnerable animals to live and survive using an abandoned woodland mill. This is not the only excitement of the day as the next stop will be to board a catamaran before arriving at the location for your own private Sea Otter Quest. This is the most amazing opportunity to witness incredible marine life in their natural habitat and sights often include sea otters, harbour seals, brown bears, whales, sea lions and even Sitka’s renowned Blacktail Deer.
The sightseeing here is truly unique and a pleasure for all the senses. This impeccable destination continues to enthral and enchant each guest to reach its shores, sit back and enjoy the magical destination that is Sitka.
The port of Skagway presents a stunning destination, incredibly vibrant and wonderfully welcoming. Set in the Southeast, this tremendous terminus has passengers feeling as though they have taken a trip back in time. A true feel of Alaskan life is uncovered here with the sense of being back in the famous Alaskan gold rush. At the time the city was known as the “Gateway to the Klondike”.
The Dawson Gold Fields forced a huge change to the setting of Skagway following the arrival of gold hunters from all over the world in 1897. This was originally a quaint town, bare and intimate before the arrival of this era and the sudden formations of saloons, inns and the now ever popular dancing venues. The boardwalk here is delightfully charming and portrays an array of saloons along a rustic walkway. The saloons here actually do date back to the historic era and many of the venues form part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park. The area has predominantly been restored to former glory and the many venues along the renowned boardwalk feature intriguing artefacts and insights into the outstanding heritage.
Skagway is considered one of Alaska’s most popular ports and it’s certainly not hard to see why. The scenery here is truly captivating and combines perfectly with the unique surroundings of by gone eras. Such charismatic features have caused the port to grow in stature over the years and many cruise operators now visit the location on a regular basis.
It is important to acknowledge that this port of call is not just about talking a trip back in time. The many superb restaurant and shopping venues bring guests back into the modern day realm. It is the combination of past and present designs that make the destination so alluring.
One of the most amazing attractions at this port of call is the chance to witness the White Pass and Yukon Railroad. This iconic method of travel is aboard the sensational narrow gauge railway and this is now notorious for being an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. This fabulous experience shares the acknowledgement with other mesmerising locations around the world including the Panama Canal and Paris’s enchanting Eiffel Tower. The route was made famous in 1898 when over 20,000 gold hunters made the decision to take on the challenge of the White Pass trails. The historical wonders along the way are truly spectacular and once at the peak of the climb, the views provide a once in a lifetime vantage point to capture the sublime Skagway setting.
Excursions here provide a brilliant range of choice; however, the most popular by far is to travel along the White Pass trails, especially to see the Yukon Route and the Fraser Meadows. The reason for the distinct popularity of this tour, along with the historical elements, is the amazing sightseeing opportunities as you travel. Glaciers, gorges and waterfalls line the route for an unforgettable view. The Gold Rush trails are a superb experience and many passengers decide to take the chance to head for the Klondike Highway Summit, there’s even the chance one you reach the peak to head back down via a mountain bike experience or even by dog-sled should you wish. If you would prefer to try something different and discover the dramatic array of wildlife here then perhaps opt for a gentle boat trip along the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve tributaries. The surrounding scenery is magnificent with flanking mountains rising to 6,000 feet as well as the chance to witness some of the famous wildlife here along the river bank. This is often combined by many cruise operators with an open camp fire experience for a delightful lunch at a log pavilion before heading back towards Skagway.
This majestically beautiful port of call offers something completely unrivalled and unique. Skagway is a gem of a cruise port and a wonderful destination to visit aboard an Alaskan sailing.
Whittier has a small town feel with a big heart. Only 400 residents are located here and the port of call sits beautifully at the edge of the Prince William Sound. The surrounding area is truly spectacular with port nestling right on the edge of the northwestern Sound point within a long fjord region. The destination is enclosed by fascinating wildlife throughout its clear waters, glaciers and rain forests. Wildlife here includes otters and the incredible sight of orca whales.
The climate here varies and the location is often renowned during winter periods for its swirling winds and bitterly cold temperatures but during the summer and autumn months, the area is extremely beautiful with a blissful peace and complete tranquillity. Arrive at this time and you are in for a wondrous treat to see this port of call in its element. The port of call has become increasingly more popular in recent times as an alternative embarkation and disembarkation to the busier port of Seward. It may be a quaint sight at first but the area actually boasts a history steeped in military distinction having been a key defence point for Alaska during World War II.
As well as being a beautiful port of call itself, Whittier also acts as the perfect gateway to Anchorage, Alaska’s more vibrant cosmopolitan area. Anchorage is often a key highlight aboard an Alaskan sailing due to the superb array of cultural and entertainment options to explore here. A hugely spirited destination with a beating heart and soul, Anchorage provides a fascinating location to visit. This is another reason the port of Whittier is often used as an alternative to Seward as the port is in fact an hour closer to Anchorage, providing a more convenience route for holiday makers. Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city and sits right in between the incredible Chugach Mountains and the famous Cook Inlet. The Alaskan wilderness consumes the surrounding area and provides an utterly unique and mesmerising backdrop to one of the world’s most picturesque settings. Close by guests will also find the awe inspiring sight of Mount McKinley, the largest of the North America peaks and a hugely impressive point of interest. This awesome skyline dominance provides a wonderful view before arriving at the simply stunning Denali National Park.
Denali National Park is quite literally incredible. Witness the alluring arts centre along with the many sublime restaurants as well as its own zoo to explore. The Alaska Native Heritage Centre resides here for a glorious insight and the many museums dotted around provide a fascinating view through the looking glass into the history of this extraordinary state. At this captivating point you can do anything you wish. Simply unwind and relax taking in the scenery or opt for something a little more active by undertaking a mountain bike experience, kayaking or even pan for gold in the famous mines.
Whittier and Anchorage come together to portray a truly breath taking experience and an unforgettable destination. Wildlife resides everywhere, even in the heart of the city and the most amazing memories will be formed at this superb port of call.
Excursions include exploring the Anchorage city highlights, cruising the Prince William Sound or enjoying a kayaking adventure. Soak up the magnificent sights of Blackstone Bay and its impeccable glacier scenery or immerse yourselves in the Alaskan traditions. There is no finer sight than this glorious destination.
Yakutat Bay provides a wonderfully scenic welcome to its cruise passenger guests. The destination is the only sheltered deep water port in Alaska and the surrounding backdrop of glacial ice fields is absolutely captivating. The port of call is the perfect gateway to take in the majestic sight of Hubbard Glacier, the most famous glacier in the area and a spectacular sight to behold. Hubbard Glacier is also the largest tidewater glacier in the whole of North America. The amazing vision spans over 6 miles wide and spreads 76 miles inland. At the tip of the Yakutat Bay this iconic locations portrays a 300 foot tall ice span leading into the peaks of Mount Logan, the tallest peak point in Canada. It may seem like a hidden gem but this port of call is a spectacular point of interest aboard an Alaskan sailing.
Hubbard Glacier is steeped in history and during the year of 1986 became even more famous due to the incredible movements that took place. The glacier eminently moved forward blocking Russell Fjord and causing a huge issue of trapped wildlife. Sea lions and dolphins in particular found themselves wedged within the newly formed area and it wasn’t until October that year that created dam finally forced through and broke free to release approximately 6 billion cubic meters of seawater into the bay. During the time of the movement, the height of the water level rose to over 90 feet before the release. It is believed to be the largest water discharge ever recorded on the continent.
Away from the majestic sight of glaciers as you enter the area, Yakutat Bay provides the entry point and welcome centre to the Yakutat City, which by area forms the largest city in the USA, an amazing statistic and a truly magnificent sight, it is in fact now considered to be the eight largest city in the world. The wonderful thing about the destination, however, is that although the area is extremely large, spanning 9,000 miles, there is actually only a local population of less than 1,000, making the area unscathed and as picturesque as ever.
Cruise operators revel in showing their passengers the remarkable sights of this area and take pleasure in unveiling the fascinating insights of such a tremendous port of call. Excursions are fantastic and the scenic Hubbard Glacier can be seen from as far as 30 miles away, making the entry to the destination simply stunning.
The port of Yakutat Bay continues to boast a unique wow factor and welcomes passengers to an unrivalled point of interest along the way during their enthralling Alaskan cruise.
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