Dream of cruising? Or maybe you’re a veteran cruiser looking to venture beyond the Caribbean or Mediterranean. If you haven’t had the chance to cruise Alaska and are wondering whether its worth it?
The answer is a resounding YES.
Take it from a cruise lover. I’ve been on 14 cruises (4 to Alaska) and Alaska has been my favorite. Even as a resident of Alaska, I still love to set sail for Alaskan shores.
Below are my Top 5 Reasons to cruise Alaska. Maybe one will resonate with you! If it does, plan your trip soon; or, you’ll only be another year older when you do.
#1: The Scenery is Life-changing
Really? But how?
In our daily lives, sometimes our focus is so narrow, we only ever see the screen in front of us. Can you really take time in a crowded city, an office cubical, or sitting in traffic to feel that you are part of a natural environment far greater than yourself?
No, you can’t. It’s places like Alaska where Mother Nature slaps you across the face with magnificent vista after vista that make you realize how amazing this planet is! This is a “you’ve got to see it to believe it” reason to cruise Alaska.
You are literally on the verge of wilderness inhabited by ~750,000 people. To put this in perspective, if Alaska’s population density were in Manhattan, there would be 14 people there.
Mountain, coastal, and glacial landscapes (many untouched), go on for miles. Ever seen a glacier calve? That alone is worth the journey.
At the least, you should come away with a sore jaw from picking it up off the deck, and an appreciation for and commitment to bettering wild places. Ideally, like me, the scenery may help you discover the best of who you are.
#2: The Wildlife
Where else on the planet can you cruise to a place where at any given point you may see bears, moose, deer, mountain goats, orcas, whales, Dall porpoises, seals, sea lions, otters and eagles from your balcony.
No one told you, hey, cruise Alaska in your bathrobe! Heck, order room service and never miss an animal! But seriously, I have seen all of that wildlife and more on Alaskan cruises.
Sometimes, a pair of binoculars is necessary. And, it’s worth taking a shore excursion to view a specific animal, like bears or whales, if it’s foremost on your must see animal bucket list!
#3 Cruise Alaska-Generally Smooth Sailing
Like your English teacher taught, I won’t say “always” as that’s a dead giveaway for false. But, most Alaskan cruises head up the waterways of the inside passage which are generally much calmer than the open ocean.
There’s scenery on both sides of the ship almost constantly! It’s a sea-sick sufferers paradise.
I can say this with some confidence after research done on our best friends we cruise with. The wife suffers severe sea-sickness even with a scopalamine patch. On a Caribbean cruise we took, she described it as “a ride I can’t get off” as she lay in her cabin absolutely miserable.
After 2 Alaska cruises? Not one bout of sea-sickness.
For cruises up to the ports of Seward or Whittier, you’re in the Gulf of Alaska so subject to bigger ocean waters, but it’s a fairly short haul. Generally there’s a detour into one of the fjords as well.
My advice to the faint of stomach? Cruise Alaska to test those sea bellies out!
#4 Wide Variety of Excursion Choices For Everyone
When you cruise Alaska, the options for excursions are varied, educational, relaxing, exhilarating (ok I’ll stop).
Yes, go wild and fish in the back country or ocean, snorkel, hike, sled dog or climb a glacier, and find the bears. But, that doesn’t mean you have to leave kids or grandparents on the boat!
There are plenty of activities that don’t invoke the fight or flight response. Just a few examples are lumberjack shows, salmon bakes, gold panning, the tram in Juneau, totem tours in Ketchikan, the train in Skagway, Russian historical sites in Sitka…the list goes on and on.
Point is, all family members can walk away feeling like they had their own Alaskan Experience.
#5: So Many Cruising Choices
Cruising and tourism are big business in Alaska! You’ve got the big boys like my favorites Holland America and Princess. Or many intimate options that go to smaller ports and can get closer to land. Check out this article from Cruise Critic for a more thorough review on smaller cruising options.
Then there’s the Alaska Marine Highway for the cruising “do it yourselfer”. Take your car, dog, a tent, some food and explore Alaska on your own terms.
Generally, it’s convenient to catch a big cruise as Seattle, WA; Vancouver, BC; and Anchorage, AK have international airports. There are plenty of options to get to and from the ports.
Of course, by water, you only scratch the surface of southeast Alaska, and maybe enjoy the beautiful drives from Seward or Whittier to Anchorage. Exploring Alaska can go well beyond this with cruise tours into the heart of the last frontier, or just renting a car and driving yourself.
Living here, I promise, you won’t discover everything there is to see in Alaska in a lifetime!
Journeyer beware, when you cruise Alaska, the sites, sounds, smells and overpowering grandeur will get in your blood. Like the Baked Alaska at the buffet, you’ll want to come back for more over and over again. Then, like me, you may just move here because you can’t live without it.
Melodramatic yes… I am passionate about my state! Check back for more articles on choosing a cruise, itinerary, port and excursion reviews and Alaska cruise packing tips. Bon Voyage!