Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in the world to cruise. Its sweeping coastline affords spectacular views of the incredible landscapes the state boasts. With awe-inspiring sights like glaciers, amazing wildlife and more, there are so many delights to be found on an Alaska cruise.
Read on to discover the wonders you never knew you could find on an Alaskan cruise.
1. The beautiful scenery is non-stop
Alaskan cruises are known for their beautiful scenery but many people don’t realise that that scenery is non-stop. As you traverse the coastline of the 49th state, you’ll quickly realise that there are no “boring bits” of Alaska. As you sail up the Inside Passage, the views vary from lush temperate rainforest to glaciers to fjords to mountain ranges. Every time you glance out of your stateroom window, stand on the deck looking out or let your eyes wander at dinner, you’ll be reminded again just how incredible Alaska is.
We spoke to Britni, a lifestyle and travel blogger at Play, Party Plan. Firstly, we asked Britni what it was that inspired her to go on an Alaskan cruise: “I actually went on the cruise for my mum’s 50th birthday. An Alaskan cruise had always been on her bucket list, so we did a big family cruise together when she turned 50. We’d done quite a few Caribbean cruises together before and the natural beauty and wildlife really inspired us to choose Alaska.”
When asked what it was that surprised her most about her cruise, Britni, says: “The thing that surprised me most was how incredible the scenery is from the ship. Just being on the cruise itself and watching as you passed by glaciers and other natural creations, looking for sea life in the water, and feeling the crisp air while walking around the ship was something I loved and didn’t expect beforehand.”
We also spoke to Jill Olson, a travel blogger and cruise enthusiast at Finding Jillian. She too remarked on how overwhelming the scenery was: “I knew I would enjoy the wildlife we would see and to this day, still highly recommend whale watching to anyone who mentions an Alaskan cruise to me. But what truly was mind-blowing to me was the breathtakingly beautiful landscape. Everywhere we looked, whether it was a forest of trees or a glacier, everything seemed so natural and almost painfully beautiful. I actually recall saying out loud, “How can anyone see this natural beauty and not believe in a higher power?” One moment in particular was the morning of our glacier viewing. Our ship made its way into what appeared to be a cove and then rotated full circle in place so that everyone could experience the majestic glacier. I was in awe of the beautiful glacier and also the fact that our massive ship was spinning as if on a turntable. This is something that after 12 Caribbean cruises was very new and very exciting.”
We also spoke to Esther Irish, family, lifestyle and travel blogger at Laugh with Us who had this to say: “The beauty of seeing Alaska is what drew me. Its mountains, glaciers, and wildlife are breathtaking to behold. I love to cruise. I’ll go anywhere, but what sets an Alaskan cruise apart is the scenery that you will see daily without ever leaving your ship. It’s magical.”
Finally, we spoke to Catherine, blogger at My Side Of 50, who told us what inspired her to take an Alaskan cruise: “I was inspired to take an Alaskan cruise because I love seeing the beauty of nature in different parts of the world. As a native Texan, I knew I would see sites I had never seen before in Alaska. And I have always been enthralled by the beauty of Alaska that I saw in photographs over the years. It didn’t hurt that so many of my friends and family members had been on an Alaskan cruise and raved about how beautiful it was.”
Catherine remarked that it was the weather that surprised her the most: “I enjoyed the weather more than I thought I would. We took our cruise in July and while I looked forward to escaping the Texas heat, I feared I would be cold the whole time. The weather was actually quite temperate and the only really cold part was when we sailed by the glaciers. But that was still so fantastic to see. We just bundled up and enjoyed.”
2. Just because it’s a cruise doesn’t mean it all has to be at sea
When people think of cruising they quite rightly think of a holiday at sea. However, a cruise can be much more than that. With our fantastic land + cruise packages you can put your fear of missing out to bed. You’ll have the ability to explore by both land and sea. After you enjoy an outstanding cruise you’ll keep the adventure alive and explore Alaska and Canada through an incredible guided tour or by rail. Particular highlights are a guided tour through Denali National Park and a breath-taking train journey on the McKinley Explorer or Alaska Railroad.
3. The locals are lovely
Canadians are globally known for their light-hearted and friendly attitudes, and that strength of character has also hopped the border to Alaska. When visiting, the people you meet will welcome you and be proud to talk to you about their state. Yes, the land itself is beautiful but so are the souls of its residents and this is something you’ll never forget once you leave.
Jill from Finding Jillian spoke to us about the welcoming attitudes of the people she met once in Alaska. We first asked her why she opted for an Alaskan cruise: “My inspiration to take an Alaskan cruise actually rested on my husband. I am a beach bum at heart and he happily allows me to book the great majority of our vacations to warm weather destinations with beach access and ocean views. He had wanted to go to Alaska for a long time and I wanted to do something that HE would truly enjoy. And, the trip still involved a cruise, which is always a good idea in my book.”
Jill then told us about her experience with the locals: “The heart of the caretakers we encountered moved me. Everyone from the naturalist on our whale watch excursion to the ticket taker at the White Pass Rail conveyed a love and respect for this beautiful and majestic area. Caretaker is the most accurate word I can come up with to describe their obvious love of their home. It was an experience I will never forget.”
4. You can hear the ice calving
Ice calving, also known as glacier calving, is an incredible thing to experience whilst on an Alaska cruise. It happens when chunks of ice break from the edge of a glacier and crash into the water. The incredible sound the house-sized pieces of glacier create is unlike anything else you can hear on earth. The crack as the ice finally splits, the noise as it grinds down the glacier and finally the crash as it hits the water is incredible, and something everyone should listen out for on their trip.
5. You can see wildlife from the ship
Alaska is known for its raw natural landscape and wildlife. Many people don’t realise just how much of that wildlife they’ll be able to experience from the cruise ship. The waters around Alaska are full of different species of whales, porpoises, dolphins, seals and sea lions. You may be able to see these from the ship.
As well as whales you could even see bears from your ship. When travelling close to the shore, especially near wooded areas like the Inside Passage or on your way to Anchorage keep a keen eye on the shoreline and you will be lucky enough to catch a sight of bears fishing.
Even if you don’t spot whales or bears from your ship, most cruises offer wildlife watching excursions as a key part of the experience. You can book a tour for when you anchor in one of the many exciting port towns in Alaska. Experienced guides will show you the way to wildlife hotspots with the best chances of seeing these majestic animals.
We spoke to Nicole, a blogger at Go Far Grow Close. She told us what inspired her to take an Alaskan cruise: “I live in Vancouver, British Columbia and have a second home in Whistler, British Columbia. Every day of my life, I am surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world. The coastal mountains dominate our landscape to the north with the majestic Pacific Ocean below battling for my attention. I am in the enviable position to go skiing on some of the best ski hills in the morning and then, should I choose, sail in the afternoon. When I thought about taking an Alaskan cruise, I thought about all this. How I could spend a week looking out from a ship gazing at spectacular mountain ranges, the Pacific Ocean, and the raw natural beauty of the Pacific Coastline, and I knew that I had to take the cruise.”
We then asked Nicole what it was that surprised her most about her cruise: “The natural beauty on the Alaskan cruise far surpassed my expectations. I saw pods of orca whales and dolphins several times. Walking on the ice fields created an overwhelming feeling of being so small in comparison to the natural wonder before me.”
6. You’ll experience the “Last Frontier”
Cruising Alaska really is a great way to see the state. Its long sweeping coastline is home to a whole range of sights like glaciers, wildlife and more, and best of all, it’s completely unspoiled. By cruising you get a constant, roaming view of Alaska, and don’t have to think about anything apart from enjoying yourself.
We spoke to Joe, travel blogger at Travel on the Side, who told us what inspired him to take an Alaskan cruise: “When I think of Alaska, the word ‘adventure’ is what pops into my mind. It really still has that sense of the ‘last frontier.’ It’s a combination of all the natural beauty – the mountains, ocean, glaciers, forests, lakes, and wildlife – that make it a travel destination bucket list. On an Alaskan cruise, you get to experience the untamed wilderness, whether it’s watching a glacier calve or seeing grizzlies up close. For me, that’s not an experience I can get back home and that’s what makes an Alaskan cruise so inviting. It’s all about experiences! Taking a cruise was the best option to cover Alaska and see places like Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway that are not accessible by automobile.”
We then asked Joe what it was that most surprised him about the trip: “Up until our Alaskan cruise, I had never wanted to go on a cruise! I was a naysayer (It will be too cramped on the ship, the food won’t be good, the activities will be boring). The cruise experience completely changed my mind. I found I actually enjoyed being treated like a king! The food was great. I liked that we had options: we could enjoy the nightlife on the ship or have a romantic evening to ourselves strolling the decks and taking in the ocean sounds. It was the best possible transportation to see the sights and sounds of Alaska. I really appreciated the whole cruise ship as your hotel and transport model. We enjoyed it so much that we took another cruise the following year and have another one lined up this year.”
7. You’ll learn about the state’s rich culture
What people don’t expect of Alaska is its rich connection to its history. The region’s past is rich and varied, spanning thousands of years of native history. Whether examining traditional totem poles in Ketchikan or learning more about the Gold Rush in cities like Juneau, there is a lot of history in this state. Taking an Alaskan cruise is a great way to explore it.
If you are interested in seeing the unexpected delights of an Alaskan cruise or finding your own then take a look at our different cruises.