Interested in visiting Alaska. Suggestions on sites to see and whether to take land/cruise or land only. All insights appreciated!
Been x 2 both times on cruises. I think cruise the best way to go. You get to see the most with the least amount of hassle and can get off for many great shore excursions. The ships will truly give you the up close and personal experience with nature.
Cruise Line? How many days? Thanks!
You will love Alaska. We cruised May 2016 on the Celebrity Millennium. We booked most of our port excursions on our own using suggestions through Cruise Critic (like TripAdvisor for cruising). We did not have a land stay with the cruise but that can be booked if you have the time. You must be prepared for varied weather conditions. It can be chilly and rainy but the view will always be awesome. Keep us posted on your progress. If you need more details after you commit, feel free to reach out. Good luck!
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Celebrity Cruises was awesome. Did the 7 day cruise once and 10 day the second time. If you can, find one that includes the Tracy Arm passage. The most incredible scenery I’ve ever seen.
Oh…and if you can, spring the extra expense for a balcony. For Alaska, it’s worth every extra penny.
We did a trip over land. Flew into Anchorage and drove down to Homer/Seward, then headed up to Wasilla and Denali. I loved the land trip b/c the landscape is just amazing!! we booked overnights in Anchorage and Wasilla, then just found places to stay in Homer. We did a flight over Denali park as it was closed to cars for the season. The wildlife we saw on the drive was incredible–beluga whales, bears, moose–all right by roadside. Now since it was off-season (Sept) the roads weren’t crowded at all. We took a lot of side trips to little towns. Best vacation ever. You will love it! Agree with Deb on the weather–prepare for rain, snow and heat 😉
I agree that the Tracy Arm passage is stunning – well worth cruising for!!!
I would love to drive or flyover Danali! Glad you had a great vacation. Alaska is truly breathtaking!
I concur with what’s already been said about Alaska…definitely try to do a land/cruise vacation versus just a land vacation. You get to see some of the smaller towns which are picturesque. Also, while some of these towns are close, they could be several hours apart by land because there are few roads through the mountains.
Things to keep in mind if you do cruise Alaska–it’s going to be colder on the water than on land. It can be comfortable temperatures on land, but when you’re on the desk of a cruise ship, you will need hat, gloves, coat, etc.
We saw plenty of right whales on our cruise, but it was particularly great when the ship sailed through a pod of humpback whales, including some youngsters, as we finished up dinner one night.
We took a Disney cruise to Alaska. My kids were age 8 and 11 and they loved the Disney cruise! We loved all of the experiences and scenery of Alaska! We got off the ship at Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. Each had a variety of cool things to do. In Skagway, we took a walk through the cute touristy town. Then, we went on a train ride of the countryside. It was cool, but we didn’t feel it quite lived up to the hype we heard. In Juneau, we went up the tramway, which led to a stunning view from above Juneau on an amazing nature hike! In Ketchikan, it was the salmon hatchery and the totem poles that caught our attention. Again, we did a lot of walking and ate fresh salmon at a quaint restaurant right by where the ship docked. It really was a great trip! We went in August and the weather was pleasant, but cool. The Disney cruise was out of this world! The glaciers at the Tracy Arm fjord were unbelievable – a rare place/experience! Highly recommended. 🙂
Thanks for all the great info! We are thinking we will do land on our own and then a cruise following. Appreciate any other tips you have!
@miatagirl I'm a little late to see this, but I moved to Jax from the Anchorage area. I highly suggest the land visit, having lived up there, I still never get tired of the views on the Turnagain Arm. The drive (or train ride) from Anchorage to Seward is spectacular. You can take a boat tour out of Seward to see whales and get up close to glaciers, or you can kayak or hike up to them. Exit glacier is easily accessible. You can take a train from Seward as far north as Fairbanks. They have glass dome roofs to enjoy the views. Homer and Denali are also must sees. Homer is a cool little fishing town, probably best to visit in summer. Just know that road traffic is greater in summer, due to fishing season, and there is only one road back north to Anchorage. Just avoid returning north to Anchorage on a Sunday night and it shouldn't be too bad. Denali NPS runs buses into the park in Summer and Fall and you'll see a ton of caribou and bear. You can see moose just driving around Anchorage. Beluga whales in turnagain if you're lucky. I have also seen humpback whales from the shore in Seward. A flight tour is also a good idea. You can get glacial flybys and incredible views. I have not done a Denali flight tour, but I'm sure that's great. You'll find flight tours out of Talkeetna. If you're a hiker at all, I can recommend some great hikes. Note that May and June are nice, but as early as July it can start to get rainy. August can be very rainy. September I've found to be pretty nice, maybe my favorite time of year. Fall starts in August and so there is peak color in September, and by the end of September there will likely be snow on the peaks and it's a beautiful contrast. As soon as the days get short enough to have nights again, you can catch auroras borealis, another big bucket list item for people. I think September is prime for that because it's not terribly cold yet and there is enough darkness to see them. My best aurora siting was in September. There are apps to track and predict when to see them. I can also recommend. The biggest requirement will be patience and an ability to stay up very late. Sometimes they hit at 2am, sometimes 9pm, sometimes they go all night. It's best to get away from the city lights as well. I can recommend some viewing spots. Fairbanks is prime viewing, although I've not been. You can sit in Chena hot springs and watch the aurora apparently. Fairbanks is in a location that has a much higher probability of seeing the aurora on any night.
Anyway… I have tons of info to share as you can see! haha! Have a great trip! Would love to hear what you end up planning. 🙂
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