Alaska Cruise Overview
With the grand, snow-capped Alaska Mountain Range towering over the horizon and giant glaciers lining the coasts, the untamed natural beauty of an Alaskan Cruise is truly one-of-a-kind.
There are two different Alaskan cruise options: Inside Passage cruises and Gulf of Alaska cruises. Inside Passage cruises generally sail roundtrip from Vancouver or Seattle and traverse the waterway known as the Alaskan Inside Passage, which stretches along 500 miles of Alaska's southern coast. Gulf of Alaska cruises also traverse the Inside Passage, but travel all the way up to the Anchorage area. Because of this extra leg, Gulf of Alaska cruises are always one-way trips traveling either northbound or southbound.
Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is a popular Alaskan cruise port. It's a great place to view wildlife such as bald eagles, seals, and humpback whales. Juneau is also home to Mendenhall Glacier, which may be viewed from above via helicopter ride.
The town of Skagway transports visitors back to the Gold Rush era of the late 19th century. Downtown is filled with quaint, frontier-style shops. Skagway also offers Alaskan cruisers a wide array of activities, including horseback expeditions, climbing lessons, fishing charters, and adventures along the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad.
Most Alaskan Cruises also make a stop in the city of Ketchikan. Nicknamed "Alaska's First City," Ketchikan is generally one of the first destinations on an Inside Passage cruise itinerary. It's home to some great shopping and dining as well as Tongass Rainforest, the largest temperate rainforest in the world.
Alaskan cruise ships often sail past Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in America. Watch as large chunks of ice break off and fall into the bay!
Glacier Bay contains some of the most scenic views found anywhere in Alaska. Cruise through this 65-mile fjord while gazing out at Glacier Bay National Park's 16 magnificent glaciers.
Icy Strait is considered Alaska's "true wilderness port." It's most often visited on a Gulf of Alaska cruise, but it's also included on some Inside Passage cruises. Many different kinds of outdoor excursions are available in Icy Strait, including brown bear expeditions, salmon and halibut fishing, and glacier flyovers.
Seward is located on the Kenai Peninsula, about 125 miles south of Anchorage, and serves as one of the Gulf of Alaska's main cruise ports. Seward features an array of activities including hiking, kayaking, and sailing and it's home to many glaciers. Another port city unique to the Gulf of Alaska cruise is Whittier, located in beautiful Prince William Sound. Whittier, with a population of less than 400, is just a scenic two-hour train ride from Anchorage.
Alaska Cruises Climate
Alaskan cruises are normally offered during the summer months (between May and September). Temperatures range from the mid-50s to the 70s during the day, but can drop into the 40s once the sun goes down. May is generally the driest month of the year. The water in the Gulf of Alaska can sometimes be choppier than that of the Inside Passage.
Alaska Cruise Departure Ports
Inside Passage cruises generally depart from Seattle or Vancouver, but there are a few Inside Passage cruises that leave from San Francisco and Los Angeles. Northbound Gulf of Alaska cruises depart from either Seattle or Vancouver and end in Seward or Whittier. The southbound route is simply the northbound route in reverse.