5 Reasons to Take an Alaska Cruise
Why Cruise to Alaska?
So Alaska is one of your dream destinations but you are not really the cruising type. Maybe your travel style is more backpacks and hiking boots than black tie and high heels? Don’t worry, you are not alone! The great value and convenience of Alaska cruises attract both veteran cruisers and first timers. Here are some of the reasons to consider taking a cruise:
The Celebrity Solstice at the dock in Ketchikan, Alaska
1. Alaska Cruises are a Great Deal
Alaska cruises are the least expensive way to see a lot of Alaska in a short amount of time. Right now, a 9 day Norwegian Sawyer Glacier Cruise with 1 night hotel in Seattle runs $999 per person in June. Compare that with the ferry ticket for 1 person at $500 per person round trip from Bellingham to Ketchikan (and that’s winter rates) or an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Ketchikan in June at $404 round trip and you begin to see the value of the cruise which includes accommodation, meals and transport all in one price.
If you are planning your first trip to Alaska and have less than 2 weeks to travel, it’s hard to find a better deal or an easier way to see the state than the Alaska Cruise. There are plenty of options for cruises; choose from Inside Passage round trips or the one way itineraries that begin or end in Seward or Whittier. A cruise will give you an overview of the state at a great price.
Cruise ship at Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park. The National Park Service has lots of information online to help visitors make the most of their cruise ship visit to Glacier Bay. Photo: NPS.
2. Glaciers and the Inside Passage
Even without the port calls, Alaska cruises journey through some of the most spectacular scenery on earth. The Inside Passage has thousands of islands and hundreds of miles of lush rainforest shoreline with mountains that rise to three thousand feet straight from the sea. Then there’s the wildlife: orcas, humpback whales and dolphins frequent the waters and can often be spotted from the decks of cruise ships. But perhaps one of the best reasons to take an Alaska Cruise is the glacier viewing.
Alaska is home to an estimated 100,000 glaciers but many of them are in inaccessible areas or, like Glacier Bay, require a special side trip to get there. Almost every Alaska cruise makes one or two special glacier viewing stops. Some cruises actually go into Glacier Bay, others stop at the Sawyer Glacier or Hubbard Glacier. Cruise ships can take you up close to glaciers that are otherwise difficult to access and many of our guests tell us that the glacier stop was one of the highlights of their trip.
Hiking the Rainbird Trail above Ketchikan, Alaska.
3. See a Big State and Unique Ports
Alaska is a big place! It’s almost 300 miles from Juneau to Ketchikan and another 103 miles from Juneau to Skagway. Cruising allows you to visit the unique ports along the Inside Passage and experience each town’s distinct character. Ketchikan is all about salmon and fishing; Juneau is the state capital; Sitka was the Russian capital of Alaska; Skagway is a gold rush town; and if you happen to stop in Icy Strait, you can visit the small fishing community of Hoonah. Cruises offer a taster menu of Alaska which is perfect for first time and returning visitors because there are so many things to do in each of the ports of call…
Bears viewing tours are available in many ports on the Alaska Cruise.
4. Activities for Everyone
Fishing, hiking, dog-sledding, gold panning, kayaking, flight-seeing, bear tours, helicopter tours, whale watching tours…. you get the idea. There are literally hundreds of shore excursions to take you away from the cruise ship crowds and out to see the real Alaska. Want to see whales? Take a whale watch tour. Always dreamed of the Iditarod? Go dog sledding on a glacier. If it’s big fish that you are after, you’re in luck, in fact, avid fishermen can take a fishing excursion in every port.
Tours and shore excursions are designed especially to fit into the cruise times in port and to help cruise passengers get out of town and experience Alaska. If you are traveling with a group of family or friends, the beauty of the cruise is that everyone can do something that suits their interests in each port then meet up back on the cruise ship. To make the most of the amazing shore excursion options, do some research online, plan ahead, and try to book direct with the local tour operator. Check out our blog posts Alaska Cruise Planning 102: Port Highlights and All About Alaska Shore Excursions for more information about shore excursions in Alaska.
Bring the whole family kayaking in Ketchikan!
5. Because You have Always Wanted to Visit Alaska
Go on, admit it, you’ve always wanted to see Alaska. This is your year! The cruise is a great way to see a lot of the state at an excellent price and we promise: Alaska won’t disappoint.