There’s a place not far from home where scenic nature trails outnumber roads, where glaciers make up five percent of the land, and where wildlife exceeds the number of people – this is Alaska. As America’s biggest state, it’s understandable that you may not know where to start. But that’s why you have us.
WHEN TO GO
While high season runs from mid-May through late September, the most popular time to travel is from late June through August. Typically, this is the warmest time of the year, with temperatures averaging between the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, as opposed to the cooler 50’s and 60’s of May, June and September.
When cruising in the springtime, you’ll witness flowering fields and plentiful foliage, along with tons of wildlife, as native animals have not yet migrated to higher ground for colder the winter months.
If you travel later in the season, you’ll be sure to see Alaska’s early autumn, rich colorful leaves and the first snowfall atop the mountain peaks. Animals will most likely have returned to lower ground and there’s a much stronger possibility of seeing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.
However, cruising either very early or late in the season provides the advantages of discounted fares, higher availability of luxury suites and ports of call void of the typically tourist crowds.
WHAT TO BRING
Sunscreen: Yes, even in the cold Alaska air you’re still susceptible to sunburn and windburn! So, be sure not to skimp on this important travel essential, perfect for blocking out harmful UVA and UVB rays all year long.
Sleep Mask: Depending on the time of year, you could be dealing with longer days and virtually no nights; sometimes the sun doesn’t set until midnight! So if you’d like to stay in sync with your “regular” sleep patterns, a sleep mask can be a particularly helpful aid to combat the endless summer sun.
Bug spray: Varying with the season, mosquitoes in Alaska can be anywhere from a mild annoyance to a major pain. It pays to bring along an environmentally friendly bug spray, especially if you’re going out hiking or planning an outdoor excursion.
A wide range of clothing: Even in the warmest months, Alaskan weather can be unpredictable, so it’s good to have a broad range of clothing along for the trip. It’s best to pack layers as this will help you stay warm in the mornings, strip down in the afternoons and get cozy again in the evenings.
WHAT TO DO
There are endless options of things to experience on your Alaskan adventure, but we consider these to be the Top 5 must-see sites:
Glacier Bay is a spectacular 65-mile long fjord and the world’s tallest coastal range. It’s considered the best place to witness calving, or giant chunks of glacial ice breaking off into the ocean to form icebergs!
Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is one of its most popular attractions and features exciting attractions like the Mendenhall Glacier, the Mt. Roberts Tramway and the Alaska State Museum, to name a few.
Ketchikan, or ‘The Salmon Capital of the World,’ is a great place to spot all kinds of wildlife, including fish, deer, bear, mountain goats and aquatic animals like humpback and orca whales. It also has the largest collection of Native Alaskan totem poles in the world, and is considered a very historically significant city.
Inside Passage is considered one of the most scenic areas in not only Alaska, but in the entire world! With wildflowers in the summer and explosions of autumn foliage in the fall, it also boasts loads of wildlife, from migrating whales to majestic bald eagles.
White Pass & Yukon Route Railway is a landmark railroad line built during the Gold Rush. Now one of Alaska’s premier shore excursions, it transports passengers back in time through a unique historical journey.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the major cruise lines that sail to Alaska and what they offer:
Celebrity Cruises is a great choice if you’re looking for a more tranquil trip. There are plenty of verandas for viewing wildlife and nature, and Celebrity is well-known for their exceptional cuisine and wide variety of on-board options. Nine unique itineraries deliver bucket-list wonders like Hubbard Glacier and Tracy Arm Fjord. Aboard their 2016, 2017 and 2018 cruises to Alaska, encounter the Last Frontier on 19 exclusive shore excursions, available for low add-ons.
Princess boasts a bunch of affordable balcony cabin suites, ideal for sight-seeing and offer a wide array of entertainment options, including casinos, movie theaters and even some popular off-Broadway shows! Princess, the #1 cruise line in Alaska, brings more people to the ‘Great Land’ than any other. And they some of the very best options for experiencing Alaska, including award-winning voyages and in-depth Land & Sea Vacation pairings that include national park visits, Princess Wilderness Lodges and the Princess Rail.
Oceania is a smaller cruise line where fewer passengers make for a more personalized and intimate experience. There’s a strong emphasis on cultural enrichment and a fantastic Alaska Explorer Youth Program. Oceania cruises include 2-for-1 fares, free airfare and more… onboard they never charge a dining supplement in their exquisite specialty restaurants, and Oceania Cruises guests always enjoy free and unlimited soft drinks, bottled water, specialty coffees, teas and juices.
Regent is elegant and upscale with an emphasis on educational enrichment. They even include onboard lectures from area experts to give your experience a truly authentic atmosphere.
Royal Caribbean is the perfect pick for family fun. With a more relaxed environment and a huge array of activities you’ll be plenty busy between water parks, climbing walls, and trampolines along with Las Vegas-style shows geared towards kids.
No matter when you go or what cruise line you choose, you’re sure to fall in love with Alaska.