Alaska Cruises: The Inside Scoop
At first thought, the appeal of taking a cruise to Alaska is seemingly nonexistent – why would anyone want to cruise to somewhere cold?! Well, believe it or not, Alaska is the perfect destination for cruising; an Alaska cruise gives you a continuous view of nature at its very finest. Personally, I would always recommend booking an outside cabin for your Alaska cruise, if not a balcony cabin. Of course, this is a personal choice, but there is something spectacular about awakening to the breathtaking view of glaciers outside your window.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities for adventure at every Alaskan port – opt to book the shore excursions offered onboard, or if you’re feeling really independent, research potential activities before you go and plan your port excursions yourself! There are plenty of independent guides that can help you explore Alaska as you see fit.
Before booking your Alaska cruise, be sure to research the different cruise dates and itineraries carefully. The least expensive options are usually roundtrip Inner Passage cruises, which typically last 7 days and begin and end at the same port. These are a great option for families, and also make booking airfare that much easier, since your cruise begins and ends in the same city.
A typical roundtrip Alaska cruise itinerary departs from Seattle or Vancouver and spends the first day cruising the Inside Passage. Next, you’ll visit three or four ports such as Juneau, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Hubbard Glacier and Sitka, depending on the ship and departure city.
Another option for Alaska cruise itineraries is the less convenient but more comprehensive “open jaw” Alaska cruise – these cruises start and end at different ports and sail either southbound or northbound along the coast of Alaska. This type of itinerary allows you to visit more Alaskan ports than a roundtrip cruise.
So, when should you take your cruise to Alaska? The Alaska cruise season runs from May through September, and you’ll usually find the lowest rates when it is a bit colder. In May and September, you can expect temperatures to average in the 50s and 60s, while the summer months of July and August offer temperatures in the 60s and 70s.
If jaw-dropping natural beauty and pristine scenery isn’t enough to entice you, perhaps a specialty Alaskan cruise is more up your alley. Cruise lines do offer specialty or “themed” cruises, such as culinary or wine-themed itineraries, which include special dining and onboard activities/amenities in addition to the usual cruise itinerary.
Finally, as with all cruises, be sure to look beyond the “bottom line” when booking your Alaska cruise. A low rate for a stateroom is important, but does that rate include port taxes? What ports will you visit? Is the cruise line offering complimentary onboard credit or other added values? Check out some of this week’s top cruise deals.
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