Enjoying Your Cruise to Alaska

Written by Scott Travis

September 10, 2015

Woman Looking at Snowy MountainsMy husband, Scott, and I just got back from our second Alaska cruise on Princess Cruise Lines. It was so much fun to make new memories together. On our first visit, we brought our kids along to experience the beauty and the wildlife of Alaska. They loved it! This time, Scott and I wanted to explore a different side of Alaska this time, so we left the kids with Grandma. Cruising with a special friend or spouse in Alaska can’t be beat for sharing good food, adventure, and luxury. I know we will talk about the zip line for years to come.

Cruising Alaska
Eight cruise lines have large ships that go to Alaska each summer.

  1. Celebrity Cruises
  2. Holland America
  3. Royal Caribbean
  4. Crystal Cruises
  5. Princess Cruises
  6. Carnival Cruise Line
  7. Disney Cruise Lines
  8. Norwegian Cruise Line

I recommend Princess Cruises.
I like Princess Cruises because their stunning ships appeal to all ages. Every 7 night cruise includes a visit to the magnificent Glacier Bay. Don’t even think about missing Glacier Bay! I’m not the only one that loves Princess Cruises. Readers of Travelers Weekly voted them as the  #1 cruise line in Alaska for 8 years running.

Despite their popularity, Princess Cruises have so many ships sailing you generally get one that fits your schedule. Cruises begin each year in late May and last until the beginning of September. Ask me about the best time of year to see humpback whales bubble netting. Are you interested in seeing the fall colors in Denali National Park? They are amazing–I’ve seen the first hand!

Princess has great itineraries. You can do round trips leaving out of Seattle or Vancouver. You can also choose a 7 day, one way cruise, called “Voyage of the Glaciers.”. When you call, we can discuss the advantages of one way and round trip cruises. Turn your Voyage of the Glaciers into an epic adventure by adding a land tour. The land tour varies from 3 to 8 days and always includes at least 2 nights at a Denali National Park Princess Lodge and an entire day inside the park. Denali is famous for Dall sheep and the highest mountain in North America. And you’re almost guaranteed to see a grizzly bear in the park–I have, both times I’ve been there!

Explore Great Ports
The cruise ships generally stop in these 3 ports: Ketchikan (furthest south), Juneau (state capital), and Skagway. Each port has something special to offer.

The  train ride to the Canadian border up the White Pass and Yukon Railroad is a very popular excursion, and with good reason.  On clear days the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. On our most recent  trip, Scott and I hiked the Chilkoot Trail, biked around Dyea (a gold rush ghost town) and the Gold Rush Cemetery, and floated down the Taiya River. Getting immersed in the magnificent forest, seeing the spawning salmon, and reliving the rich history of the area, melted our stress away.

Don’t miss visiting Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. It is picturesque on a sunny day.  Our first time in Juneau, we enjoyed hiking to a waterfall near the glacier. Our friends from the ship raved about their adventure that included a helicopter ride, hike and dogsledding. They said it was  “once in a lifetime” adventure. Next time, we’ll do that!

This last trip into Juneau, Scott and I went whale watching in the morning and ziplining in the afternoon. Scott and I saw humpback whales bubble netting. The whales work as a pod to trap fish within a circle of bubbles and then coming up through the school of fish with mouths open wide. They only use this method in Southeast Alaska.

Ziplining was a hoot! We had 8 runs over rain forest, and our guides were reassuring and enthusiastic. I never felt unsafe, but certainly had an adrenaline rush the first few runs. It’s not an excursion for everyone, but we loved it.

Ketchikan is the southernmost town on the Inside Passage. The most popular activity to do in Ketchikan is take a flight tour of Misty Fjords National Monument. It is beautiful! Ask me before booking your flight for tips. The Totem Bright State Historical Park and the Totem Heritage Center give a real insight to the Northwestern first people’s culture. Scott and I were excited about taking a kayaking tour in nearby Orca Bay, but it got cancelled due to wind and rain. The tour company had our safety in mind. I was disappointed, but the covered lumberjack show that replaced it was quite entertaining.

Booking Excursions
All cruise lines offer wonderful excursions that you can purchase before your cruise. Excursions are NOT included in the price of your cruise. The lines choose tour companies that are excellent and guarantee that they will wait for you to get back if anything arises. But the prices may stun you. A simple 2 hour guided hike may cost $90 each, so it quickly becomes expensive! I can offer you excursions from a couple of different companies that have more reasonable prices. As well, every port will have vendors nearby that try to make last minute sales, and you can get a good deal that way, if you’re willing to take the minimal chance of missing an excursion. Ask me about how to get the best deals on different excursions and how to maximize your time in port.

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  1. Angela Abeyta

    I’m hoping to be on an Alaska cruise in the next couple of years

  2. heather

    I like Skagway and Homer. We will definitely be a repeat visitor to Alaska one day.


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