When deciding on an Alaskan Cruise, you must consider two main options.
- The Inside Passage
- Glacier Bay Cruise
First off, an Alaskan cruise is not for everyone. Younger people looking for a party should skip this one for when they really want to enjoy nature and romance, and look instead to a Mexican Riviera or Caribbean cruise instead. Secondly, lets dispel a couple of myths or pre-conceived notions about Alaska.
- Alaska is cold. But April through September, which is considered prime season and in-fact the only time during which cruise lines operate to Alaska, has much milder climate. Depending on which cruise you take, temperature varies from the 40′s to the 70′s during the day.
- There are no Penguins in Alaska. Penguins are only in Antartica.
The Inside Passage is the more popular type of cruise, with departures mainly from Seattle or Vancouver, and with ports of call in Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. Of course, some of these ports can change depending on the cruise line and the time of season.
The Glacier Bay Cruise is a one-way cruise (unlike the Inside Passage which is round-trip). If you want more action, wild-life and adventure, this is the one for you.
While I have yet to do the Glacier Bay Cruise, the Inside Passage is definitely a cruise I can recommend from experience. If you are in the US, it is easier to depart from Seattle, but don’t shy from the Vancouver departure. You can always fly to Seattle and take a round-trip shuttle from Seattle airport to the port in Vancouver.
So what can you expect to see on the cruise? How about the Bald Eagle while sea kayaking in Juneau, Hump-back Whales while jogging on the track at the ship, Brown Bears while zip-lining between trees in Ketchikan, Seals relaxing atop floating ice in the sea and wild Salmon swimming upstream to lay their eggs?
Based on age, fitness and interest, you have a variety of excursion options. One thing I recommend highly in Skagway (if that is your port of call) is to take the White Pass and Yukon Railroad Tour. This tour is offered in conjuction with multiple options. I took the bicycle tour which includes taking the White Pass and Yukon Rail to White Pass and taking a bicycle down. Along the way, you can pause to take photos of the waterfalls, the White Pass Railroad, glaciers from above, and the mountains surrounding you.
One of the things I liked very much about the Alaskan cruise is the fact that every second day (on my 7-day cruise) was spent at sea. This gives you a chance to enjoy the amenities of the ship and the views offered by the glaciers and icebergs. For this reason it is worth getting a cabin with a balcony when you cruise Alaska.