Best shore excursions in Alaska

posted July 23, 2018


Best shore excursions in Alaska

Alaska is home to a variety of Mother Nature’s most spectacular creations. Whether it’s the three million lakes, the 6,640 miles of coastline, the 70-odd volcanoes, the 100,000+ glaciers or the array of wildlife, you’ll find plenty to take your breath away.

There’s so much to see and going on an Alaska cruise is just the beginning of your adventure in America’s largest state. To make the most of your cruise and experience the splendour of Alaska, book yourself onto plenty of shore excursions along the way.

Whether it’s by air, land or sea, there are lots of excursions to Alaska’s most famous wonders. Here we take you through some of the best ones.

Icy Strait Point

Duration of excursion: 4 hours

Port town: Juneau

Icy Strait Point

When your Alaska cruise drops anchor, kayaking at Icy Strait Point should be at the top of your list of things to do. It is one of the best ways to experience the placid waters around Port Frederick and hopefully spot some of its rich marine life.

This Celebrity Cruise excursion, which has been crafted by BBC television personality Ben Fogle, will allow you to explore remote bays and estuaries and see a range of wildlife.

From May to September you can see humpback whales during their Alaskan migration, while sea lions, brown bears, deer and eagles are also commonly seen throughout the year.

This trip will expand your kayaking horizons and deepen your appreciation for the unspoiled wonders of Alaska and its waterways.

The Mendenhall Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek

Duration of excursion: 6 hours and 30 minutes

Port town: Juneau

Mendenhall Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek

Alaska Shore Tours, which offers a network of top-rated shore excursions throughout the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska, recommends the Mendenhall Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek excursion.

Haley Mortenson, an Inside Passage expert, says: “In Juneau, if guests are in good physical condition, I always recommend the Mendenhall Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek! This is the most in-depth glacier tour available during a cruise-length visit (less than 1 day). This once-in-a-lifetime experience allows for 2 hours of exploring the stunning landscape of the Mendenhall Glacier. The extremely knowledgeable guides focus on safety, education, and finding stunning landscapes throughout the tour. From Moulin’s to crevasse, to ice caves (if they are safe), exploring the face of a glacier is a stunning experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.”

Alaska’s whales, glaciers and rainforests

Duration of excursion: 5 hours

Port town: Juneau

Whales in Alaska

Juneau is Alaska’s remote capital, accessible only by air and sea. It is surrounded by stunning wilderness that is just waiting to be explored.

The Celebrity Cruises Alaska’s whales, glaciers and rainforests excursion leads you through the temperate rainforest around the Mendenhall Glacier, one of North America’s most spectacular and accessible glaciers.

The glacier is part of the 13-mile Juneau Ice Field and it’s surrounded by trails of varying distances. These trails could provide glimpses of wildlife like black bears, beavers and bald eagles as well as sights of beautiful waterfalls.

As part of this trip, you will then jump on a boat with large panel windows and a low-to-the-water vantage point to look for humpback whales, orcas and other marine wildlife.

Adventure Kart Expedition

Adventure Kart Expedition

Duration of excursion: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Port town: Ketchikan

If you live life in the fast-lane you should consider an Adventure Kart Expedition for the off-road adventure of a lifetime with Holland America Line.

Bounce down a network of rugged mountain trails in your own ATV, a tour guide leading the way through the forest. Before your adventure, you can learn about the history of Ketchikan as a motor coach will transport you to the rainforest and the Adventure Kart base camp. A guided trek into the wild temperate rainforest is all you need to gear you up for your karting adventure.

During your kart expedition, you will explore the remote backcountry in some of Alaska’s most stunning wilderness. During the trip, you can get unparalleled views of the Behm Canal, Tongass National Forest and the iconic Inside Passage.

Tongass Rainforest hiking expedition

Duration of excursion: 3 hours

Port town: Ketchikan

Tongass Rainforest hiking expedition

If you are a keen hiker, then take a walk on the wild side in the Tongass National Forest and marvel at its beauty.

Tongass National Forest is the world’s largest temperate rainforest and is home to majestic mountains, fjords, islands, bays and old-growth forest.

It is these natural surroundings that the Tongass Rainforest hiking expedition, designed by Royal Geographical Society fellow Ben Fogle, visits. Your guide will meet you on the dock in Ketchikan before a short drive to the trailhead.

The walk is three miles long and during the hike, there will be plenty of photo opportunities and wildlife spotting opportunities. These sightings could include brown and black bears, deer, wolves, mountain goats and moose as they all call the Tongass Rainforest home.

Your guide will share the secrets of the rainforest and tell you about the best viewing spots for wildlife during the hike.

Skagway Helicopter & Dogsled Excursion

Duration of excursion: 2 hours

Port town: Skagway

Skagway Helicopter & Dogsled Excursion

With glaciers, dogs and helicopter rides, the Skagway Helicopter & Dogsled Excursion has everything.

Alaska Shore Tours’ Haley Mortenson tells us a bit about the excursion: “Out of Skagway, I would definitely suggest the Skagway Helicopter & Dogsled Excursion. This is the truly iconic Alaskan Tour.

“It is an absolutely breath-taking experience to fly over Alaska’s ancient glaciers high up into the ice field. Once there you get to combine Alaska’s stunning landscapes with its historic sport of dog mushing, even getting the opportunity to mush yourself. It is one of our most expensive tours but really worth the money for something you won’t experience anywhere else in the world.”

Chilkoot trail hiking and rafting

Duration of excursion: 4 hours 15 minutes

Port town: Skagway

Chilkoot trail hiking and rafting

Part of Ben Fogle’s Great Adventures with Celebrity Cruises, the Chilkoot trail hiking and rafting excursion isn’t just about the great outdoors as it also gives you an insight into the area’s history.

The Chilkoot Trail is also known as the Canadian Gold Rush Trail as it was the most direct route prospectors took to get to the Yukon River during the Klondike Gold Rush.

Your excursion will start in Skagway and you’ll hike two miles before stopping for a snack in the lush temperate rainforest. Once you get to Saintly Hill you will be met with some spectacular views before you board an 18-foot craft on Taiya River.

This not a white-water rafting trip and instead is a peaceful journey down the river to the tidal estuary for views of the fjords and snow-capped peaks, glaciers and colourful fields of flowers.

Misty Fjords Flightseeing Tour

Duration of excursion: 2 hours

Port town: Ketchikan

Misty Fjords Flightseeing Tour

If you want to soar above some of the world’s most spectacular scenery, then a Misty Fjords Flightseeing Tour is an absolute must.

Haley Mortenson from Alaska Shore Tours, adds: “In Ketchikan, I would opt for a Misty Fjords Flightseeing Tour. This protected national monument (the Misty Fjords National Monument) is full of amazing landscapes that are only accessible by boat or plane, making for a stunning and serene experience. You will soar past 2,000-foot granite cliffs and the plunging waterfalls atop them, with a remote water landing to get out and experience the beauty for yourself from the pontoons of the floatplane. It is a truly unique landscape that I have not seen anywhere else in the United States, and one that never disappoints.”

Adventure Park: Zip lining excursion

Adventure Park: Zip lining excursion

Duration of excursion: 3 hours 15 minutes

Port town: Skagway

From the port of Skagway you’ll board a van and get a 20-minute narrated drive through the historic downtown area of the city as you start your ziplining excursion.

Once you arrive at the adventure park, expert guides will give you safety equipment to wear and instructions. Thrill-seekers can then enjoy the ropes course and zip-lines as well as a suspension bridge. The six zip-lines go through the Alaskan forest canopy and there is a daring Walk the Plank section that you can try and complete.

If the adventure park isn’t enough, you will also get some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains during your time at the park.

If you feel inspired, then book your Alaskan cruise with Canadian Affair today!

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