Any trip to Alaska is a significant investment in time and money. So, you should know there are a few ways to see the the Last Frontier. You can take an organized tour… plan your driving trip on the road on your own… or take a cruise. Either way, it is an awesome trip which provides glimpses of wild beauty you don’t see often in our country.
Alaska Tutka Bay Wilderness Lodge
I have traveled by land on my own on the Kenai Peninsula…
Disney Wonder in Alaska
and I recently took a cruise to Skagway, Juneau, Tracy Arm, and Ketchikan.
More travelers undoubtedly cruise – it is smoother sailing on many levels. (Not just to Alaska – The cruise industry has seen a bounce in bookings in 2012, despite the early year disaster in Italy. It is clearly a popular way to travel… some 19 million cruisers a year with more than 200 ships out at sea.)
I sailed on the Disney Wonder…. with three young kids, I would say this is the best cruise line to take to Alaska – Alaskan cruises tend to attract an older generation, so Disney’s entry into the area three years ago is a welcome travel benefit for families.
Here are some reasons to take a cruise:
Soccer “Field” on the High Seas
1) Young kids – there are activities to keep all ages busy and happy – seriously, there is so much to do it is overwhelming. Something going on every hour – oops make that minute. Many ships have activity centers with supervision so you can drop off the kids without a worry. Teens and tweens really like this independence! There were even outdoor basketball courts and soccer fields.
2) It is fantastic for multi-generational trips.
3) Travelers get to see the stunning glaciers and Inside Passage while sailing.
4) The ship offers plenty to do indoors if there is bad weather – movies, shows, spa, gym, coffee house, etc.
5) The entertainment - on Disney anyway – is top notch. We watched musicals, hit Disney movies in the ship’s theater, magic shows, and my personal favorite – a hilarious ventriloquist/comedian who is good enough to be in Vegas.
6) Travelers only unpack once, but see a variety of destinations.
7) Staff always available to answer your every question, or fulfill your requests.
Here are things you need to know about a cruise that brochures don’t tell you:
1) On the surface, cruises are not as authentic a view of Alaska… the port towns are built for the tourism the ships bring (just look at how many ships are in port at one time in the above photo!) However, if you take advantage of the cruise ship excursions, it plenty makes up for it. Nice choice of things to do, without have to do separate research.
Zip Lining in Ketchikan, Alaska
2) Be careful – the excursions can add up. They are expensive, so before you think you find a trip within your budget, make sure you research the shore excursions you may want to take. For example, we took a three our zip-line adventure that cost $178 a person. There are dozens of port adventures to choose from, which is convenient and fun for the traveler.
3) Small rooms – the average size stateroom is 177 square feet!
4) You need to be OK with having many people around sometimes.
5) If you plan to do some work, and need Wi-FI, it can be expensive at sea.
The best time to travel to Alaska is May – September. You should book as early as possible so you have a choice of rooms and excursions. There are regular cruisers who want the same room every year who call the day bookings become available. Although… if you want to risk it, sometimes you can get a better deal waiting.
In the upcoming posts, I will highlight some of our excursions!