In recent years, the number of cruise lines offering cruises in Alaska has risen steadily.
The variety of ships that cruise Alaska, ranging from small informal ships to the world’s largest cruise ships, means that it’s always possible to find a cruise to suit your lifestyle.
And part of the reason for this growth in popularity is that it allows people to reach certain inaccessible locations that they might otherwise not see.
However, unlike most cruise destinations, Alaskan cruises are seasonal. They begin in May and continue until September when some of the waterways freeze making it impossible to reach certain places.
May and September are slightly cheaper, while June, July and August are considered to be the peak season, when average temperatures can reach 60, 70 or even 80 degrees during the day. However, the temperature at nights can still be quite cool.
Perhaps the best time of year for a cruise in Alaska is late May. The last signs of winter still remain, which means you’ll see snow on the mountains, yet the weather is starting to warm up, and the prices are slightly lower because the peak season hasn’t started.
Alaskan cruises tend to follow one of two principal routes; the Gulf of Alaska or the Inside Passage.
The inside passage is a round trip starting at either Seattle or Vancouver. From there you’ll visit places such as Ketchikan, Sitka, Haines, Skagway, Juneau, Misty Fjords, Sawyer and Glacier Bay.
Alternatively, you may prefer to cruise in the Gulf of Alaska, which is a one way cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage or vice versa. You’ll see places such as Seward, Hubbard Glacier, Valdez, College Fjord and some of the locations visited on the inside passage, including Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.
Now it’s just a case of deciding where you want to go and what you want to see. With cruises in Alaska, it’s important to plan which excursions you want to experience because they can make the cost of your cruise rise quite rapidly (for example, taking a tour in a sea plane). So plan what you want to see and if you want to go on a shore excursion with limited places, make sure you book early to avoid disappointment. It might be possible to book your excursions before you begin your cruise, so remember to make enquiries.
And finally, no information about an Alaskan cruise would be complete without a few words on what to pack. From May to September, it’s summertime in Alaska, so although temperatures aren’t sub-zero, there is a noticeable change in temperature between day and night. So avoid the temptation to pack the thickest clothing that you can find. Instead, try to pack plenty of thin layers of clothing so that you can add or remove extra layers to compensate for the changing temperature. Oh, and it’s also a good idea to pack a good pair of binoculars so that you can make the most of the spectacular views.