Bald eagles don’t just flirt with the treetops, they swoop through the air on crisp cushions of frost, their eyes afire with life. Glaciers don’t just protect the shorelines, they reach out and embrace the waters, merging with the sea in a million different angles, each one ablaze with the sun’s shimmering touch. Around every bend, Alaska unleashes the kind of beauty that will remain as vivid in your memories as your grandchild’s first step.
Immense in size and landscape, Alaska is best experienced from the calm waters that hug its striking coastline. Cruise ships provide the vacation essentials along with luxurious rooms, scrumptious dining, relaxing spas, first-class entertainment for adults and children alike, and Alaska provides the scenery of picturesque villages bursting with culture, humpback whales swimming alongside, dense forestland engulfing the distance.
From May to September, premier cruise lines, such as Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Princess Cruises, set sail from Seattle or Vancouver with their compasses pinned on North. With each ship offering unique services while touching base at numerous historic ports, your best bet is to contact your local travel agent to find the right itinerary for you and your family.
Most ocean liners voyage along the great Alaskan shores by one of two routes: the Inside Passage or the Glacier Route. Vessels traveling the Inside Passage meander through the channels and fjords of Alaska’s panhandle to hidden villages only gold miners know. The Glacier Route bypasses the inner channels and follows the coastline further north, visiting unsurpassed glaciers and seaports en route to Seward, a stepping-stone to Anchorage and the interior.
The ports of call along either route rival the majestic scenery, beginning with your ship’s likely starting point, Vancouver, considered by travel agents as one of the great cities of the western world. Picturesque and multicultural, Vancouver is worth an extra day before or after your cruise to explore a true Canadian gem.
Further north up Stephens Passage, your ship will port in Juneau, Alaska’s capital. Gold put this city on the map, but today Juneau relishes its cosmopolitan feel while still embracing its wilderness suburbs. While docked, strike it rich at the Gold Rush Historic District or take a bus tour of the Mendenhall Glacier for a truly eye-opening experience.
The next stop is Skagway, a small town with a major appeal. Skagway exploded overnight in 1898, when the town absorbed 20,000 prospectors during the Klondike Gold Rush. Today, Skagway is home to an old-fashioned Main Street with shopping you just won’t find in the lower 48, while enchanting visitors with organized tours to the Trail of ’98 Museum and the Gold Rush Cemetery where fool’s gold glimmers in the headstones.
The last destination for many cruises is Seward, perched at the head of Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula. One of Alaska’s oldest and most scenic communities, Seward provides an ideal launching point to Anchorage, where, on a clear day, you can peer past the moose traipsing through the streets and see North America’s tallest mountain, Mount McKinley (20,320 ft.), 130 miles away in the heart of Denali National Park.
Discover the Alaska of legend from the comfort of the waters. Cruise ships allow you to relax in luxury and feast on the finest cuisine as your grandchildren play under the supervision of a cruise counselor. Cruising this wild coastline is a soothing vacation full of scenic adventure for the entire family.