Mention the word ‘cruise’ and most people immediately begin to conjure up images of sun kissed Mediterranean islands and palm tree fringed Caribbean beaches. While these are idyllic, contemporary cruising pushes the boundaries of traditional destinations and offers passengers the chance to explore breath-taking regions. Alaska is one of our favourite unconventional cruise destinations, playing host to stunning scenery, diverse wildlife, rich national culture and an unforgettable cruising experience. To give you an idea of what’s on offer in the frosty North American state, we’re shining the spotlight on five of its most spectacular destinations.
Located at the head of Lynn Canal, Skagway is a hotspot for cruise ships touring the region. With a population of just 920 permanent residents, it’s a lovely place to get an authentic taste of small town Alaskan life. Broadway Street is the town’s main strip, peppered with colourful National Historic Park buildings, shops and cafes. A downtown walking tour is a great way to soak up the heart of the historic district while adventure lovers can embark on pulse pumping hikes and treks to nearby mountains and passes. A tour of the gold mines is another way to really get a feel for Skagway’s gold rush era past. To add to its appeal, Skagway is one of the driest cities in Southeast Alaska, making it ideal for those hoping to miss the rain, snow and drizzle! Want to check out this pint sized Alaskan town? Get there with Royal Caribbean’s 13 night Alaska and the Rockies – Fly/Rail/Cruise package.
Sitting on the Gastineau Channel, Juneau is a mecca for cruise ships passengers on the search for spectacular scenery and quintessential Alaskan charm. The town centre is nestled between Mt Juneau and Mt Roberts, making for incredible views in every direction. Historic old buildings line mazes of narrow streets and staircases which are just begging to be explored. Getting lost in them is an experience in itself! The waterfront is just as lively, drawing in multi-level cruise ships and one man fishing boats alike. The majestic Juneau Ice Field crows the city, creating glittering glaciers throughout the year. Nature lovers will jump at the chance to hike the region’s world class trails while those who prefer a more relaxing experience can soak up the atmosphere at one of the many coffee houses. Celebrity’s 17 night Alaska and the Rockies – Fly/Rail/Cruise will take you to this incredible state capital as well as a collection of other popular Alaskan destinations.
Denali National Park may be located in the heart of Alaska but that doesn’t stop cruise lines from letting their passengers explore the wild region. Holland America Line’s 13 night Alaska & Denali – Fly/Stay/Cruise/Tour includes a day tour and overnight stay in the magnificent national treasure, where passengers will get the chance to spot native wildlife such as grizzly bears, moose, caribou, foxes and wolves. The icy Mt McKinley peak is a sight to behold and for those with itchy feet, Denali National Park boasts some of the world’s most spectacular walking trails.
Tracy Arm Fjord
Lying between towering 3,000-foot high granite walls, Tracy Arm Fjord is an undisputed natural wonder. The waterway stretches for around 35 miles and meanders through the untamed Tongass National Forest. As ships cruise the world famous fjord, passengers can marvel at waterfalls, rocky outcrops, snow-capped peaks and native Alaskan wildlife such as whales, seals and the illusive bald eagle. The dramatic Sawyer Glaciers mark the end of the fjord, emitting an enchanting blue glow. If you’re determined to experience Tracy Arm Fjord’s incredible natural beauty, Celebrity’s 10 night Luxury Alaska – Fly/Stay/Cruise will take you there in style!
Perching on Revillagigedo Island, Ketchikan is a place of unspoiled natural beauty. The port sits at the foot of the looming Deer Mountain which makes for a pretty spectacular backdrop. Culture buffs will love the chance to check out the most extensive collection of 19th-century totem poles on the planet as well as three specially curated museums. The suspended boardwalk of Creek Street is strewn with colourful houses, shops and cafes which are perfect for people spotting and watching the world go by. As the ‘salmon capital of the world,’ trying Ketchikan’s signature dish is a not to be missed meal! And for holidaymakers that want to get out and explore the natural scenery, Tongass National Forest boasts sweeping mountain views, tumbling waterfalls and an abundance of wildlife. For those that want to travel there in unparalleled luxury Celebrity’s 17 night Rocky Mountaineer & Alaska Cruise is just the ticket.
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Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit:jjjj56cp, Ted McGrath, Tracy Arm, blmiers2, puck 90, benandjenn