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Destination Focus

Final Frontier: Why a cruise to Alaska is a must

Alaska cruise travel landscape, Glacier Bay Johns Hopkins Glacier on sunny day with sun flare. Summer vacation in Alaska, USA
photo_camera Glacier Bay, summer vacation in Alaska, USA

With dozens of new flights and cruises, there’s never been a better time to discover the breathtaking natural sights, cultural highlights and thrilling activities of America’s 49th state.

Why go?

Dubbed America’s ‘final frontier’, Alaska’s magnificent glaciers, abundant wildlife and pristine scenery are almost inaccessible by land. That’s why a cruise is the ideal way to explore this breathtaking region which – at twice the size of Texas – is also the country’s largest state.

Nature with a big ‘N’ is the lure of this sparsely populated area, where passengers will catch glimpses of polar bears, whales, moose and other captivating wildlife in their natural habitat. Alaska’s motto since 1967 is ‘North to the Future’, meaning that Alaska is a land of promise for future generations.

With interesting activities available for all ages, along with cruises that coincide with the summer holidays, this destination is also a firm favourite with families. Luckily, since dozens of the globe’s best-known cruise lines head for Alaska during the season, which runs from mid-May to mid-September, it’s easy to book, too.

Cruises generally leave from Seattle, Vancouver or Anchorage, but passengers should know that departures from Seattle include two full days at sea – giving them time to experience the ship. Clients should also pack plenty of clothing to be prepared for the Alaskan weather, which often veers from mildly warm to freezing cold in the space of a few hours.

Norwegian Bliss, Alaska, cruise, cruising,
Norwegian Bliss in Alaska

Sail the Inside Passage

Sailing the Inside Passage (alaskainsidepassage.com), a vast stretch of protected ocean dotted with islands, fjords and bays that stretches from British Columbia to Skagway, is one of the highlights of an Alaska cruise. Top attractions here include Alaska’s capital, Juneau, where passengers can join an excursion to see the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier, or take a 20-minute float plane ride to visit Admiralty Island, dubbed Fortress of the Bears because it’s home to one of the world’s largest brown bear colonies.

Visit Skagway

Skagway (skagway.com) – another thrilling Alaskan attraction – was once the nearest port of entry for gold diggers heading out to make their fortune in the Klondike, and passengers can follow in their tracks with an enthralling trip on the narrow-gauge White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad.

Go Further Afield

The historic town of Ketchikan (visit-ketchikan.com) is famed for its totem poles, which can be spotted around town or in The Totem Heritage Centre, while Seward is the gateway for excursions to see killer whales, sea lions and puffins in the world-renowned Kenai Fjords National Park.

Alaska is also an ideal destination for clients who want to book a host of exciting pre- or post- cruise excursions, including trips to Denali National Park or the Kenai River Valley.

“Pairing the mountains with the deep blue sea is also a natural match for those looking to explore the Great White North,” says Rocky Mountaineer European regional sales director Steve Harris. “Guests can add their journey on board Rocky Mountaineer before or after their cruise.”

Alaska, humpback whale, photography: Alain Aude
Humpback whale in Alaska

Best itineraries include:

Trail of the Gold
Ponant’s eight-day On the Trail of the Gold Prospectors cruise from Juneau on 19 August 2020, calling at Skagway, Haines, Ketchikan and Vancouver. Prices from £4,141pp for a deluxe stateroom, including regional flights, ponant.com

Meet the Glaciers
Princess Cruise’s seven-day Voyage of The Glaciers departs from Vancouver on 31 August 2019, calling at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Anchorage. Prices from £599pp, princess.com

In the Wake of Pioneers
National Geographic’s 15-day In the Wake of Pioneers expedition cruise departs from Nome on 15 September 2019, calling at King Island, St Matthew Island, St Paul Island, Dutch Harbour, Unga Island, Geographic Harbour, Sitka, Kake, Prince Rupert, Alert Bay and ending in Vancouver. Prices from £6,730pp for a double cabin, nationalgeographic.com

Top Selling Tips:

  1. The most popular shore excursions sell quickly, so impress clients by booking them well in advance.
  2. Passengers will find it well worth paying extra for a balcony room so that they can spend as much time as possible admiring the stunning scenery.
  3. Since most of Alaska’s magical glaciers and breathtaking wildlife can only be seen
    from the water, a cruise really is unique.

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