A big reason for Alaska’s popularity has to do with the appeal of the unspoiled scenery, but there is more to the 49th state than first meets the eye. Here’s why you should put a summertime cruise to Alaska on your calendar (aside from a pleasant break to the intense heat).
It’s Alaska: You will be cruising in a “bucket list” destination, a place where scenic wonders, such as massive glaciers roaring into the sea, are best viewed from comfort and safety of your cruise ship.
The wilderness: Much of the state’s coastline is wilderness, and whether you’re shipboard or out exploring on shore excursions, you’ll experience the sheer vastness as you view emerald forests, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, glaciers and fjords.
The wildlife: Have your camera ready! Bald eagles are abundant all throughout Alaska. You’ll likely see more than one whale and even more than one whale type – there are 16 whale species that spend time in Alaskan waters, including humpbacks and orcas. Plus, bears, mountain sheep, moose, wolves and caribou… just to name a few.
Frontier spirit: One of the best things about traveling in Alaska is meeting Alaskans. Open a conversation with “Have you seen a bear recently?” or “How are the salmon running this year?” and you’ll likely hear some very memorable .
Rich Native culture: Experience Alaska Native culture in small villages and the larger ports of Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. Visit museums and cultural centers and take time to view the towering totem poles that showcase the artistry of the Native peoples.
Gold Rush history: Back in 1898, prospectors flocked to the Klondike, hoping to become instant .Remnants from the Klondike Gold Rush remain and make for a fascinating history lesson as you explore places including historic Skagway.
Easy access inland: “Cruisetours” – land options that can be combined with your cruise – get you to Anchorage, the Kenai Peninsula, Denali National Park and Fairbanks, as well as into the Yukon Territory and the Canadian Rockies. Take advantage of your time in Alaska and go deeper into the territory for even greater natural encounters.
Choice of ships: Cruising in Alaska can mean anything from seeing the top sights on a large ship (with the option of shore excursions to more remote places), to spending more of your time in the wilderness with smaller ships. Additionally, there are luxury cruise options for those times when you like a little Cognac with your glacier viewing.
Good eats: You might not think of Alaska as a culinary destination, but one bite of a local catch and you’ll be hooked. There’s a reason Juneau was featured on Bravo TV’s Top Chef.
Amazing shore excursions: Whether trying to catch “the big one” while salmon fishing, taking a helicopter to hike the top of a glacier, flightseeing over ice fields, kayaking past frolicking seals, trekking to see bears, gold-panning or riding a dogsled, Alaska shore excursions bring extreme bragging rights.