The United State’s 49th state, Alaska is a true wilderness destination, but it’s easy to sample its many highlights in comfort by taking a cruise holiday. From the famed Inside Passage to the spectacular Denali National Park, an Alaska cruise comes complete with wild and wonderful scenery, breath-taking wildlife encounters and a fascinating history that incorporates frontier gold-rush towns and Native Alaskan cultures.
Covering an area roughly one-tenth the size of the state of Victoria, Denali National Park is an essential stop on any Alaska adventure. The third-largest national park in the United States, your sightseeing options include a scenic flight over the tallest peak in North America, white-water rafting through eleven miles of canyons on the Nenana River or visiting Husky Homestead for an insight into the uniquely Alaskan pastime of dog-sledding.
Sitka’s history as a Russian outpost up until 1867 means you’ll find it unique among Alaskan ports of call. Sailing into port you’ll see vestiges of Russian influence, such as the unmistakable onion dome of St Michael’s Cathedral, but it’s also a great place to discover more about the Native Alaskan culture and heritage. Take a walk up Castle Hill to enjoy the town’s stunning natural scenery or visit the Alaska Raptor Center for an up-close encounter with some of Alaska’s most amazing wildlife, including owls, hawks, falcons and eagles.
One of Alaska’s original goldrush towns, this was once the primary gateway to the legendary goldfields of the Klondike: a raucous and often lawless frontier town that was packed with trading posts, saloons and guesthouses. When the goldrush ended at the start of the twentieth century, Skagway faded almost overnight, but today’s cruise ships have ensured the town’s survival. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in gold rush lore: enjoy a meal or an Alaskan-brewed beer at the once-notorious Red Onion Saloon and follow the route of early prospectors on the narrow-gauge Yukon Route Railroad to try your hand at panning for gold.
A National Park and Preserve that covers a total of more than three million acres, and includes more than a thousand glaciers, as well as tundra, forests and icefields. A region that’s rich in wildlife, you’ll want to keep your eyes open for bears, wolves and mountain goats on land, as well as sea otters, dolphins and whales in the waters offshore. Dress warmly and find a vantage point on deck, with your camera handy, ready for an unforgettable day of wildlife encounters and dramatic, calving glaciers.
Almost certainly the most remote of US state capitals, Juneau is also one of the most beautiful, surrounded by water, forests and mountains. Catch a seaplane to Chichagof or Admiralty Island for a little bear spotting or hike up Mount Roberts in search of bald eagles. To sample the best flavours of Alaska, try wild salmon barbecued over an open fire, followed by blueberry cake washed down with hot apple cider while listening to Alaskan folk music at a salmon bake feast.
When you sail north from Vancouver, the town of Ketchikan is your first Alaskan landfall after entering the picturesque fjords of the Inside Passage. Its background as a major fishing hub means it’s a great place to try your hand at landing a salmon, halibut or King Crab, but it’s also one of the best places to experience the rich culture of the Native Alaskan nations. Visit the Totem Heritage Centre for the chance to see Tinglit culture in action, including working carvers and a dance show.
These are some of our favourite Alaska ports of call, but it’s easy to add on additional Alaskan adventures before and after your cruise holiday – ask your personal travel manager for options.