Alaska is the largest state in North America but thanks to good rail links from the coast, quick travel into more central regions is available. Some of the planet’s most beautiful wildlife calls Alaska home, while the natural landscape includes some of the most attractive national parks on earth including Glacier Bay and Denali, with overnight stays in charming lodges available.

The most popular season for cruises in Alaska is from May to September, but all year round Alaskan tourist attractions offer some great entertainment, with many documenting the rich history of the area.

Visually stunning and dramatic landscapes of Alaska

Due to the vast expanse of land that makes up the Alaskan territory, many cruises operate on a 'cruise and stay' basis - involving a stay over one or more nights in accommodation on land before either returning to the ship or flying home. This allows ample time to appreciate the unique sights and sounds of Alaska, from the expansive forests and beautiful wildlife to the massive glaciers that shape the landscape of this visually stunning state.

During your stay you may encounter some of the small communities that are scattered around the forests of Alaska. Deeply traditional, these villages are welcoming to strangers, more than used to tourists and only too happy to introduce newcomers to their way of life. Many cruise operators offer itineraries that combine Alaskan cruises with trips to neighbouring Canada, where you can trek through the Rocky Mountains as well as many other activities and excursions around the Canadian border.

Many of the ports you will find yourself in during your Alaska cruise are steeped in history, with the gold rush a particularly strong theme. Memorabilia can be found at various museums at ports including Skagway and Sitka, although the state capital Juneau is a little more modern so lacks the sense of tradition of other Alaskan ports, although some gold rush paraphernalia can still be found.

Juneau is the smallest of America's state capitals but is big on tourism, especially cruises. Opportunities for shore excursions here are plentiful and varied in nature, with plenty to do during your day trip including helicopter and tramway tours. Ketchikan is definitely gold rush country but is also home to Misty Fjord, a stunning area of exquisite beauty, including shimmering, crystal clear lakes and majestic waterfalls.

Sitka, the former Russian capital of Alaska, retains much of its Russian heritage and offers an intriguing blend of eastern European and Alaskan culture. Walled by snow-capped mountains, the port provides plenty of reminders of the gold rush, as does Skagway, whose old fashioned streets and buildings look as charming from the air during a helicopter tour as from the ground.

Activities & excursions

Nature hikes through the stunning natural landscape allows cruise passengers to see wild bears and elks, amongst many others. Whale watching off the coast is another popular activity, thanks to the willingness of these amazing creatures to perform for their audience. Other animals that visitors may be lucky enough to meet include sea lions, and the largest population of bald eagles on earth who can be seen fishing the rivers for salmon.
As well as nature lovers, fans of outdoor pursuits will love the activities available during an Alaskan cruise holiday. Alaska's rivers offer the ideal environment for rafting, canoeing and jet boat rides.

Ports including Sitka and Skagway are ideal for sightseeing, with wild forests and imposing glaciers providing the sort of memories that stay with you for life and seem almost dream-like when you return to the ship. There are several ways to enjoy a tour of the local landscape, one of the most popular being by air. With helicopters and floatplanes ready to whisk you skywards as you swoop over rivers and mountains, you can get a bald-eagle's eye view of this dramatic natural environment.

Another way to see Alaska is on a dog-sledding tour, with many cruise operators enjoying a great relationship with local providers to ensure you experience the authentic Alaskan way of travel. There is also plenty to do if you make your own way around the ports, with many traditional shops to browse, plus mouth-watering locally-sourced food available at a variety of places to eat in each port as well as friendly bars where you can sample the local beers. There are also several diverse tourist attractions, including no less than five museums in Skagway alone.


Alaska offers a varied culture thanks to a rich history, the relics of which are clear today to anyone exploring its ports and inland areas. Sitka, for example, was the site of an ownership struggle in the early 1800s between Russian settlers and the indigenous Tlingit people of the south-east Alaskan coast. Today it is clear to see that Sitka's identity is shaped by an amalgamation of the two cultures, with elements of each apparent in every element of life in the area.


Alaska experiences fairly extreme weather inland, from the icy winters to blazing hot summers. Due to the size of the state, it also varies from place to place. The south-east coast, home to Ketchikan, enjoys a rainforest climate, so pack your waterproofs as the weather can be unpredictable at the best of times. Winter is the time to enjoy dog-sledding and other snow-based activities, while the summer months are perfect for fishing and rafting as the long days offer plenty of sun.

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