9 Things Every Traveler Should Do on an Alaskan Cruise

Written by: Amanda Bailey on August 19, 2016

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As many travelers have realized, the only way to fully take in Alaska’s vast beauty and diverse wildlife is by ship. Many of the world’s top cruise lines, including Holland America, Princess, and Norwegian Cruise Line, have developed Alaskan cruise itineraries that keep passengers coming back again and again.

In fact, there is now an abundance of itineraries and excursions available for Alaskan cruising. Perhaps it’s the myriad of options, combined with its captivating landscape, that bring 40% of Alaskan cruisers back for a second, or even third trip.

1. Enjoy Views of the Serene Inside Passage

The coastal rainforests in Southeast Alaska are the largest in the US.

The coastal rainforests in Southeast Alaska are the largest in the US.

The Inside Passage is the standard coastal route for oceangoing ships en route to Alaska. The vessels weave between Alaska’s coastline and a series of islands boasting fjords, wildlife-rich forests, magnificent mountains, and massive glaciers. When cruising to Alaska, the journey is definitely as worthwhile as the destination!

2. Explore the Last Frontier by Rail

In Alaska, the journey is as rewarding as the destination, especially via train.

Ride in comfort and enjoy views of the Alaskan wilderness via train.

For travelers that have the time to incorporate a land portion to their cruise vacation, venturing inland by rail offers more gorgeous glimpses of Alaska’s scenery. The route will depend on the itinerary and cruise line, but be prepared to soak up 360-degree views as The Last Frontier zips by.

3. Experience Denali’s Majesty

The diversity wildlife is one of the major draws of Denali

The diversity of its wildlife is one of the major draws of Denali National Park

The jewel of the 6-million acre National Park and Preserve is Denali, America’s highest peak. A plethora of wildlife call Denali home, and it’s also a popular park for backpackers, hikers and bikers.

4. Absorb Alaska’s History in Ketchikan

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Overlooking the town of Ketchikan

This funky, historic town is the perfect place to watch salmon migrate in the summer. Take advantage of the picturesque scenes on Creek Street, a boardwalk that runs along the east side of the Ketchikan Creek.

5. Check out the Hubbard Glacier

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Even the largest cruise ships are dwarfed by the Hubbard Glacier, which soars up to 30 stories high. It’s easiest to appreciate the stunning blues of this six-mile wide giant from a distance, which is why cruise passengers will have the best views!

6. Visit an Iditarod Dog Kennel

An Iditarod Husky looks ready for his next run!

An Iditarod Husky looks ready for his next run!

Several cruise lines can arrange private tours of Iditarod Dog Kennels, or even experience of riding a sled pulled by a team of huskies! Tours given by local guides give travelers an inside look at what everyday life in Alaska is like, in addition to the routines of the dogs and their trainers.

7. Spend Time Discovering Juneau

An awe-inspiring view of the Mendenhall Glacier, near Juneau

An awe-inspiring view of the Mendenhall Glacier, near Juneau

Options for excursions and entertainment are plentiful around Alaska’s capital city. The nearby Mendenhall Glacier is accessible by hike, kayak or canoe, and the Mt. Roberts Tramway climbs 1,800 feet up a mountainside to give passengers a birds-eye view of the temperate rainforest below.

8. Kitsch It Up in Skagway

Skagway is one of the most popular stops for Alaskan cruise ships.

Skagway is one of the most popular stops for Alaskan cruise ships.

Experience the excitement of the Gold Rush here, where the feel of good old days remains. As one of Alaska’s most popular ports, there are plenty of tourist shops selling chachkes, but visitors can also get a history lesson at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Visitors Center, or even strike gold themselves by panning at Liarsville Gold Rush Training Camp.

9. Marvel at Glacier Bay National Park

One of the many glaciers within Glacier Bay National Park

One of the many glaciers within Glacier Bay National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage site encompasses some of Alaska’s most lush wilderness, spectacular glaciers, and snow-capped mountains. It also includes a marine park and opportunities to see whales, seals, otters and bears.

For more stunning photos from Alaska, visit our Flickr album with pictures from KHM Travel Group staff member Janet and her husband’s recent Alaskan cruise with Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Ready to plan your Alaskan cruise? Contact your local travel agent!