- Explore ‘America’s last great frontier’ combining luxury rail travel and an incredible cruise into the heart of Alaska
- What to see and do – from discovering the gold rush history of Skagway to cruising the pristine waters of Glacier Bay
- Discover memorable wildlife in their natural habitat – from brown and black bears to orca and humpback whales
Alaska is a destination like no other. One of the world’s last great wildernesses, it’s a must-see for nature lovers who enjoy holidays to America. What’s more, on our Canadian Rocky Mountaineer and Alaska Cruise, a visit to this remote state can be combined with an exciting tour of Canada, which includes a memorable ride on an iconic train. Need any more encouragement? Here are five reasons to book an Alaska cruise for 2021.
1. The scenery is out of this world
Why cruise Alaska? For a start, the landscapes you sail through are absolutely spectacular. Photographs don’t do the views justice, as it’s only when you’re actually aboard an Alaska cruise that you can truly appreciate the area’s natural beauty, its icy fragility – and the scale of your surroundings.
Our Alaska cruise from Vancouver travels through the pristine waters of Glacier Bay. The UNESCO-listed national park is dynamic, inspiring, and thought-provoking – it was entirely covered by a 32km-wide glacier just 200 years ago. Today, visitors here quickly become transfixed by eight tidewater glaciers, huge walls of blue and white ice that creak and groan, then often collapse into the chilly waters below.
More beguiling sights appear as you cruise along the narrow 40km-long Tracy Arm fjord, the most magnificent being the massive twin Sawyer Glaciers. Startingly blue and imposing, but seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it takes little effort to visualise the Ice Age!
2. Excursions ashore are amazing adventures
While there are always memorable excursions to enjoy while on ocean cruises, the experiences on Alaska cruises are unique. Take, for example, the optional excursion of travelling by seaplane to the remote Tongass National Forest, the largest in the United States, where you can spot brown bears fishing in the rivers for salmon.
Juneau, Alaska’s state capital, doesn’t have a road linking it to the outside world, so an Alaska cruise is one of a few ways of reaching the destination. The shore excursions available here include the additional option to take a remarkable helicopter trip, enabling you to get a bird’s eye view of the frozen landscape and glaciers.
When the ship is docked at Skagway, there’s time to explore this historic ‘gold rush’ city – 40,000 hopefuls stampeded to the settlement in 1898. Skagway is also where the White Pass and Yukon Railroad starts, so don’t miss the chance to take a ride on a restored carriage along a 100-year-old route through the tranquil Alaskan wilderness.
3. Fun activities will delight and thrill
If you’re a bit of a daredevil and seldom sit still, then an Alaska cruise is sure to appeal. It’s an exciting expedition, one where you awake in the morning, and your main dilemma is what new activity should you embrace first. Dog lovers will be eager to go on an optional exhilarating sledge ride, being pulled by a team of enthusiastic Alaskan huskies – you can often meet some incredibly cute puppies too.
Perhaps you’d prefer to paddle a sea kayak and enjoy a peaceful few hours soaking up the awe-inspiring natural setting on an optional excursion. Be alert though, as there could be sea lions, porpoises, and even humpback whales in the water close by. You can also board a seaplane and head off fly fishing, or take a zipline descent through the forest canopy – all options that add even more to your experience.
Activities are not all for thrill-seekers, though – there’s fun to be had even if you wish to take things at a more leisurely pace. But be prepared to be thrilled, especially if you attend a traditional Alaskan salmon bake or crab feast.
4. Wildlife encounters are awesome
Embark on an Alaska cruise, and it will feel like you’ve landed right in the middle of a TV wildlife documentary. Whether it’s catching a glimpse of a black bear at Glacier Bay or a mighty moose, these are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will stay with you forever.
While kayaking you could get up close to a harbour seal basking on an ice floe or a sea otter searching for food. On a hike, you may stumble upon a mountain goat or watch a wolf. But don’t fret if you’re not the Indiana Jones type. From the safety (and comfort) of a large open observation deck on your cruise ship, you have the perfect wildlife-viewing spot. Humpback whales feed in the nutrient-rich waters, and during May and June an orca or two may put in an appearance too.
Don’t forget to look up to the sky if you want to spot the national bird symbol of the United States. Alaska is home to the bald eagle – which actually has a snowy-feathered head.
5. Life aboard your cruise ship is first-class
You may be exploring America’s last great wilderness, but an Alaska cruise doesn’t involve back to basics accommodation and campfires. Far from it. The MS Koningsdam caters for 2,650 passengers and is a luxurious, stylish cruise ship with well-appointed, elegant staterooms, a three-deck atrium, and spacious public rooms filled with art and antiques.
With 13 restaurants and bars, you’ll have plenty of dining options and socialising venues. Some are intimate, others less formal, but you can rest assured you’ll enjoy excellent food and drink.
Other ship facilities include a two-tier theatre, piano bar, casino, and the Crow’s Nest observation lounge. You’ll also find a spa, hair salon, steam room, and pool.
What to wear on an Alaska cruise
The best time to cruise Alaska is between May and September, so pack according to the weather. The average daytime temperature in Juneau in May will be around 12°C and this only rises to 16°C during the summer months. Warm clothing is a must, including a waterproof jacket and jumper. Bring layers – and suitable footwear – if you’re planning energetic daytime activities. You’ll probably wear trousers more often than shorts.
The dress code during the day will be relaxed, but like most ocean cruises, passengers tend to dress up a little in the evenings, wearing perhaps tailored trousers with a collared shirt, or a dress or capri pants with a blouse for women. Note that there are two formal evenings on the MS Koningsdam when men will be requested to wear a jacket and tie.
Experience a stunning, incredible adventure
Alaska cruises are becoming ever more popular among UK travellers who are fans of ocean cruises, and it’s easy to see why. Our Canadian Rocky Mountaineer and Alaska Cruise sails through jaw-droppingly stunning scenery and you’ll witness equally as impressive landscapes while touring Canada. It’s a combination of a perfect holiday.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.