Breathtaking scenery, gleaming glaciers, abundant wildlife, and Native American culture are only a few of the spectacular attractions that draw cruise vacationers to Alaska. With so much to see and do in Alaska, it's no wonder the state's official flower is the alpine forget-me-not!
Alaska is truly one of cruising's showcase destinations. Itineraries give passengers more choices than ever before - from traditional loop cruises of the Inside Passage, round trips from Vancouver or Seattle, to one-way Inside Passage Gulf of Alaska cruises.
A variety of cruise ships sail to Alaska, including luxury vessels and midsize ships, most of which offer expanded kids programs for family vacationers. While the majority of ships sail from Vancouver, Seattle is increasingly becoming a popular summer homeport for many lines. Both embarkation/disembarkation points allow ships to visit the most popular ports on an Alaska cruise, including Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway.
Though Alaska cruises have generally attracted an older passenger demographic, more young people and families are setting sail for the 49th state, and children are a common sight aboard ship. Cruise lines have responded with youth programs and some discounted shore excursions for children under 12. Shore excursions have become more active too, often incorporating activities families can enjoy together, such as bicycling, hiking and kayaking. Many cruise lines also offer pre- or post-cruise land tours (combined with the cruise, called a cruise tour). Some cruise lines even hire native speakers, naturalists, or local personalities to lead discussions stimulated by the local environment.
Ships that visit Alaska on a seven-day itinerary typically sail along the Inside Passage and visit Glacier Bay National Park or Hubbard Glacier, stopping at four ports along the way. Most cruise lines also offer a variety of extended cruise-tour package options which take passengers deeper into Alaska via train and include land stays at lodges and sightseeing in Denali National Park, making their trip to Alaska even more comprehensive.
For climate and sunlight purposes, cruises to Alaska sail strictly during the summer months, from early May to mid-September.
June, July and August can be classified as peak season, when average daily high temperatures can reach 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so those looking for the best value should check sailing dates in May and September when temperatures hover around 50 degrees.
Be mesmerized by awe-inspiring glacier fields and extraordinary wildlife not found in any other part of the United States. This is big adventure country and the best way to experience it all is on a cruise.
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