The Alaska Cruise Season is just around the corner.

Interestingly, I still meet quite a few people who have never even considered cruising to the so-called Last Frontier. Personally, I can’t get enough of the place – so much so, that I’m even hosting an exclusive Cruise Tour with Cruise Experts Travel that will take us from Fairbanks to Anchorage, and then on to Whittier and the Coral Princess for a weeklong journey back to Vancouver.

Beautiful Wrangell, Alaska is well known for its historic Petroglyph Beach.

Alaska boasts some of the most stunning scenery, like Wrangell’s historic Petroglyph Beach. Photo © Aaron Saunders

The biggest myth about Alaska that I hear constantly is that it will be cold. Sure, it can be “chilly”, and damp, and wet. Can it rain? Sure; in fact, Ketchikan receives an annual average of just under 4,000 millimeters of precipitation each year. Either way you slice it, that’s a lot of rain! But, in the four times I’ve visited Ketchikan, I’ve had half rain and half gorgeous sunshine; so much so that I got a wicked sunburn last August.

The biggest revelation for most people: Alaska isn’t as cold or as far North as you’d think. In fact, the ocean currents tend to keep it on a milder climate that is on par with parts of Scotland and Ireland.

Arrival into Vancouver on August 18, 2012. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Many Alaskan cruises sail roundtrip from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

But warm temperatures and constant sunshine aren’t the be-all-end-all to a great cruise vacation.  So, with the 2013 Alaskan season heating up, here’s why I love sailing to the 49th State:

Wildlife

Prelude to a Cove: It's easy to imagine what the first pioneers must have seen here, well over 100 years ago. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Set out on a hike through the Alaskan wilderness – just a 10-minute walk from the piers in Skagway. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

I always seem to be the guy looking the other way when a whale breaches, but there’s no denying the fact that wildlife aficionados will fall in love with Alaska. To make the most of your time here, take one of the whale watching excursions (like the ones offered here), and bring your camera along: whales, ice floes, birds, and maybe even bears are just some of the creatures you might sight along the way.

The Scenery

Disembarking passengers on a shore excursion near Tracy Arm, Alaska. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Disembarking passengers on a shore excursion near Tracy Arm, Alaska. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

I actually think Alaska is prettier when it’s foggy, misty and raining. Clouds hang low over snow-capped mountains and roll down until they’re so low you’ll feel like you can touch them.

Native Culture & Gold Rush Fever

Ketchikan Today: Native History, Gold Rush tales and modern shopping. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Ketchikan Today: Native History, Gold Rush tales and modern shopping. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

When shopping in Alaska, bypass the main streets in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Go look for the smaller, locally-run shops and you’ll find some of the most amazing Native Indian artwork and artifacts you’ve ever seen. There’s also a wealth of history available on the Gold Rush and the history of Alaska and its reliance on the maritime industry. For me, the first thing I do when I get off the ship in any port is to seek out the local bookstore and clean out their Maritime History section.

The Inside Passage & Alaska’s Glaciers

Today was so nice that we were even able to make it near Johns Hopkins Glacier, which is normally choked with ice and impassable for large cruise ships. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Johns Hopkins Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

I’ve been on cruises around the world, and the Inside Passage and Glaciers of Alaska still rank, in my opinion, as the best in the world. Both Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier offer superb scenic cruising opportunities, while Tracy Arm Fjord culminates with the spectacular Sawyer Glaciers.

The Ships

The Zuiderdam towers over Skagway, Alaska. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Both Holland America’s Zuiderdam and Celebrity Infinity, pictured here, return to Alaska in 2013. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the diverse and varied cruise ships that sail to Alaska. The 2013 fleet offers a spectacular lineup of new vessels and old favorites, from the Carnival Legend to the returning Norwegian Sun and the massive Celebrity Solstice. Ultra-luxury lines Regent and Silversea return for another nearly sold-out Alaska season, while plenty of small-ship operators like Lindblad Expeditions and Un-Cruise are heading north once again.

Few areas of the world offer so many different itineraries onboard so many exciting ships.

For a full look at what Alaska has to offer, check out our Live Voyage Report from onboard the Zuiderdam in Alaska! 2013 Alaskan Cruise Itineraries can be found by clicking here!

 

2 Responses to Five Good Reasons to Cruise to Alaska

  1. Darlene says:

    I agree with you, Aaron. We are taking our fourth cruise this summer, this time on ms Volendam. We have encountered exactly 2 drizzly days in all our time there.

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