The 49th state is the largest in the U.S. and one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations.
Alaska is a true wilderness; vast, isolated, rugged and ‘it will change your life forever’ beautiful. The scale is beyond epic with towering mountains, expansive glaciers, wide flowing rivers, abundant wildlife, lush rainforest and active volcanos. For such a frontier region, where people can seem rarer than wolves and bears, it is uniquely and wonderfully accessible by cruise ship.
Most cruises follow the Inside Passage – generally setting off from San Fransisco, Seattle or Vancouver to traverse this famous waterway of deep fjords lined with forest. Some venture further to the Gulf of Alaska and expedition lines access even more remote areas in smaller ships. Anchorage, Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau are common port stops and excellent gateway towns for exploring the Alaskan landscape. Helicopter tours, dog-sledding, salmon fishing, hiking glaciers, kayaking, scenic rail trips and zip-line rides are exciting add-ons to any cruise.
Silversea sets sail from Vancouver in 2017 on the small but perfectly formed and ultra-luxurious Silver Shadow. Bound for Seward, the quaint Anchorage rail-road town, this all-suite ship is ideal for viewing the scenery and wildlife as well as engaging in a diverse and well-curated enrichment programme. The seven-day trip offers a range of interesting and exciting shore excursions.
Crystal’s Northern Wonders trip, on the world-leading Crystal Serenity, reaches Anchorage from Vancouver in seven days including scenic cruising of Glacier Bay and the Hubbard Glacier. Passengers can opt for sea-plane tours of Tongass National Forest, expert-led halibut fishing and a visit to the Alaska Rainforest Sanctuary.
Seabourn offer extended cruises to Alaska, in particular the twenty five-day Exploration of the Last Frontier on the lovely Seabourn Sojourn which comprehensively visits all the ‘bucket-list’ Alaska sights as well as more secluded, quieter places. The Denali Experience is a four-day fully escorted trip of this majestic national park offered as an extension to any Alaska cruise.
Alaska is a ‘ready-made’ expedition cruise destination and Lindblad, which leaves from Seattle, has a wealth of experience in this field. Voyages tend to be on the active side, reaching further into the surrounding areas of British Columbia and magical Haida Gwaii. Three ships tour Alaska; the brand new National Geographic Quest and the sister ships National Geographic Sea Lion or Sea Bird. A a six-person team accompanies each voyage including a highly qualified expedition leader, expert naturalists, an undersea specialist, certified photo instructor and wellness specialist.
The Alaska cruise season is short, with sailings running from May to September, and the weather is sometimes unreliable, even in summer. Passengers should prepare for rain and occasional choppy seas – excursions are sometimes a casualty of inclement conditions and can be cancelled – and take plenty of layers to keep out the glacial cold. Alaska also has thirty five species of mosquito! But don’t be put off by rough seas and bugs, a cruise of Alaska will change your life – for the better. It is an enriching and expansive experience and millions of people who describe it as ‘the best cruise of their life’ can’t be wrong.