The business of cruises to Alaska has recently grown year on year as people tire of doing the same beach-based activities for their holiday year after year. The opportunity to see, or even visit, a glacier, the beauty of the northern lights, especially when viewed from the comfort of a ship's deck, and the wonderful and unique scenery, make Alaska a good choice for a memorable holiday.
There are, broadly speaking two routes to follow: the Southern route which takes in the Glacier National Park, the Hubbard Glacier and some of the larger towns and cities, such as the capital Juneau, and the Northern route which focuses more on natural features of Alaska and provides more hands-on experiences with glaciers as well as visits to frontier towns for a glimpse of the history of this unforgiving but beautiful area.
The size of the ship you choose determines the precise itinerary, as a rule smaller vessels can get the closer to the shore but tend to be less sumptuous than the larger liners which must stay further from the shore. Cruise liners do have a much greater range of amenities for the guests. The size of ships offering cruises to Alaska range from chartered yachts that essentially hold a large family, all the way up to immense liners that can hold 2000 to 2500 people. The latter category is almost filled by the top five global cruise companies: Disney, Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruises.
Packing your suitcase for a comfortable visit includes some unusual items. You will be aware that your swimsuit is not necessary, but you may also want to leave the sun-cream at home. This would be a mistake as, despite the cooler temperatures, Alaska is prone to very high UV-levels. The glare off the ice reflects these so you can get a double dose of sunburn while admiring the glacier! Multiple layers, rather than one or two bulky items, will keep you comfortable and able to adapt to changing circumstances, and hiking boots are a must for exploring the glacier fields.
A good camera with high-powered zoom is strongly recommended for taking pictures of both the stunning scenery and the wildlife. Wildlife that you may spot includes bears (both black and polar), delicate Arctic foxes and even perhaps, if you are extremely lucky, puma or lynx.
- Alaskan cruises are growing in popularity every year
- There are two routes, a more modern southern route and the nature-focused northern route
- Check the specific itinerary with your travel agent to make sure it meets all your needs