An Alaskan Cruise is an adventure like no other! With stunning ships sailing through the region during the summer months, it’s a bucket-list holiday for many wanderlusters. You’ll find yourself journeying from the depths of the wild to the dizzying heights of mammoth glaciers, exploring surprisingly metropolitan cities and quirky small towns – all in one trip! To make sure you get the most out of your Alaskan experience, we’ve compiled our 10 top tips for an Alaskan cruise. Once you’ve read these you’ll be ready to grab your bags and set sail on the voyage of a lifetime!
When is the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise?
The Alaskan cruise season runs from May – September every year.
While you might find prices are slightly lower in the shoulder months of May and September, you can enjoy better weather during the summer months and in some instances have a better chance of spotting certain wildlife that you might be keen to see.
July is generally considered to be the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise as you are likely to get the best weather and also the best wildlife sightings.
Clothing essentials for an Alaskan climate
The temperature is often pleasant during the Alaska cruise season, but it can still switch drastically from day to evening, or from port to cruising. Therefore, packing layers is essential for this voyage.
If you plan to do outdoor activities, it is not the time to be fashionable! Make sure you bring the appropriate clothing with you so that you stay comfortable, dry, and warm, and can fully enjoy the extraordinary shore excursions in Alaska.
Such clothing includes a decent pair of walking shoes or hiking boots that are water resistant, rain ponchos or jackets, windbreakers, and warm layers.
Rain gear is essential as it is more than likely you’ll experience at least a shower or two while you sail through Alaska.
Remember, not all your time will be spent out and about exploring the wilds, so be sure to pack some nice clothes for evening dinners onboard your ship,comfortable clothes for days spent cruising and of course, some swimwear to enjoy the onboard water facilities.
You can also avail of laundry services onboard your ship to help cut down how much you need to bring.
Splash out on a balcony room
Here at American Holidays, we all agree that if there is a time to upgrade to a balcony room it is on an Alaskan cruise holiday – you honestly won’t regret it!
On your holiday to Alaska you will be sailing past some of the most spectacular, unspoiled scenery that can be found anywhere on the planet. Imagine waking up in the morning and being able to step out onto your balcony and relax as you drift past glaciers, ice capped mountains, abundant wildlife and icy blue waters. Most itineraries will include at least one day cruising where you don’t stop at any ports, especially on the days you sail past the most impressive glaciers so it’s fantastic to be able to enjoy these spectacular moments from the privacy of your own balcony!
You can of course spend time walking around the ship to view the beautiful surroundings, but there is nothing like waking up and going to sleep with the breath-taking grandeur of Alaska outside your door. You can’t beat seeing the magnificence of Hubbard Glacier and Margerie Glacier, some of the largest glaciers in the Northern Hemisphere, while on your own private balcony. It is also a much more comfortable way to watch for calving (the thunderous process of large chunks of glaciers falling off into the ocean).
Trust us; a balcony cabin is a must!
When to book your Alaskan on-shore excursions
An Alaskan cruise holiday is not the type of cruise where you should stay on the ship in any port because there are so many exciting excursions to experience.
However, waiting to book these activities onboard the ship, or delaying until the actual port of call, could be a risk as they do tend to fill up quickly.
Our top tip for an Alaskan cruise is to take the time to do some research before you go and make sure you book the tours and activities you won’t want to miss. Many of these activities are real once in a lifetime opportunities so make the most of it!
The Alaskan landscape is as varied as it is vast so there are so many different excursions you can enjoy. From dog sledding over snow covered glaciers, to gliding over rainforests on ziplining adventures, from wilderness river wildlife safaris to glacier trekking and from scenic rail journeys in the Yukon to fishing expeditions. No matter what you chose, you are in for the trip of a lifetime!
Keep an eye out for wildlife
One of the big attractions of an Alaskan cruise is the opportunity to spot so much wildlife in its natural environment.
Expect to see orcas, humpback whales, dolphins, sea otters, eagles, moose, puffins and even bears.
If you are lucky you might spot the famous ‘salmon run’ where bears try to catch the leaping salmon in their mouths.
For the avid bird watchers, make sure you choose an itinerary that goes through Alaska’s Inside Passage as this is one of the best spots to see all sorts of incredible birdlife.
Take the time to learn about your surroundings
While attending a lecture might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about fun things to do on your cruise holiday – on an Alaskan cruise, we highly recommend it.
Most cruise companies will arrange for rangers and local experts to come onboard especially during cruising days when you are sailing by glaciers to tell you more about these magnificent features, how they have evolved, what wildlife to look out for in the area and so on.
Believe us, you’ll enjoy the experience all the more when you have a better understanding of the magnitude of what it is you are witnessing.
Consider adding a land tour to your Alaskan cruise
Some cruise companies give you the opportunity to add an Alaskan land tour onto your cruise holiday.
These are a great way to journey even further into America’s ‘last frontier’ and see even more of this beautiful region. Alaskan land tours can take you to the stunning Denali National Park, to Fairbanks where you can learn more about Alaska’s gold rush history, Anchorage, Alaska’s main city and lots more.
Plus you can travel on wilderness trains and coaches that give you plenty of wildlife spotting opportunities and you’ll be able to stay in authentic Alaskan lodges. Land tours can be added on pre or post cruise to add an extra layer of exploration to your trip.
Try the local cuisine
Alaska is known for its abundance of fresh seafood, including salmon, halibut, and king crab.
One of the most popular ways to enjoy Alaskan seafood is to try it grilled or smoked. Many restaurants and food stands offer fresh, grilled salmon or halibut that’s been seasoned with local herbs and spices. Another popular option is to try king crab legs, which are often served steamed or boiled with melted butter for dipping.
But seafood isn’t the only thing on the menu in Alaska. The state’s culinary scene is also influenced by its indigenous peoples, as well as by the many immigrants who have settled there over the years.
For example, one traditional Alaskan dish is akutag, a dessert made with whipped animal fat, berries, and sugar. Another popular dish is reindeer sausage, which is often served with sauerkraut or in a delicious breakfast sandwich.
If you’re looking for a unique culinary experience, consider timing your trip alongside the Alaskan Seafood Festival, known as SalmonFest. It is held every August in Anchorage and celebrates the state’s seafood industry with cooking demonstrations, tastings, and other events.
Early bird catches the worm
Alaska is home to a wide variety of incredible wildlife, from grizzly bears to humpback whales. While you’ll have opportunities to see these animals throughout your Alaskan cruise, many of them are most active in the early morning hours.
This is because the cooler temperatures and lower light levels make it easier for them to hunt and forage.
So if you’re hoping to see these animals in action, it’s important to set your alarm and be ready to go early in the morning. Depending on your itinerary, you may be able to spot animals from the ship itself, or you may need to go on shore excursions to see them up close.
Don’t forget to bring these must-have items!
With so much to plan and prepare for, it’s easy to forget some of the random must-have items that can make your journey even more enjoyable. From binoculars to bug spray, here are some often-overlooked essentials to consider packing for your Alaskan cruise.
- Binoculars: There’s plenty of wildlife to see in Alaska, and a good pair of binoculars can help you spot animals from a distance.
- Portable charger: A portable charger can be a lifesaver if you need to charge your phone or other devices while you’re out and about on excursions.
- Travel adapter: Alaska uses the same electrical outlets as the rest of the US, but if you’re travelling from outside the country, you may need a travel adapter to charge your devices.
- Camera and extra memory cards: While we are all used now to using our phones to take all our pictures, it’s worth considering bringing a proper camera that will really allow you to zoom in on the fantastic wildlife and nature you are going to witness.
- Go-pro: A go-pro is also a really fun accessory to capture those thrills racing across the snow on your on-shore excursions.
- Sunscreen: Even on cloudy days, the sun’s UV rays can be strong in Alaska. Protect your skin by packing a good sunscreen with a high SPF.
- Insulated water bottle: Staying hydrated is important on any trip, and an insulated water bottle can keep your drinks cold or hot for hours, no matter the temperature outside.
- Bug spray: If you plan on spending time in the great outdoors, especially in wooded areas, make sure you bring bug spray to protect yourself from mosquitoes and other biting insects.
So, there you have it – 10 top tips to help you make the most of your Alaskan cruise and create unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime.
From spotting incredible wildlife to trying local cuisine, there’s so much to see, do, and explore in Alaska.
Don’t wait any longer to start planning your dream holiday – contact us today and let one of our travel experts help you design the ultimate Alaskan adventure that you’ll never forget!
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