Friday, April 25, 2008

Cruising Alaska

If you have only cruised in tropical destinations, I'd like to suggest widing your horizons to the Last Frontier, Alaska. What images come to mind when you think of Alaska? You probably think of Eskimos, cold days, glaciers, snow and ice. Quite a contrast to the palm trees and sandy beaches of the Caribben you are probalby thinking.

Yes, depending on when you go to Alaska you may experience some chilly temperatures. You'll definitely be able to see glaciers, since they've been around for thousands of years. Even with global warming, they won't completely melt for some time, I'm sure.

If I told you that you could also experience 70-80 degree days, would you be surprised? Cruising season goes from May to September. During the summer months, it wouldn't be surprising to have warm days like that.

The Inside Passage is Alaska's biggest cruise destination, but popular cruises also visit Prince William Sound, the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea. Many passengers choose to extend their time in Alaska before or after the cruise. I highly suggest that because the cruise ships can only go to certain destinations. You want to go to Fairbanks to experience the all night twilight or if you are extremely lucky, the Northern Lights.

Denali and Mount McKinley are probably the second biggest Alaskan destination, but those can only be reached by land - usually by train. While in Denali on our first visit to Alaska, we experienced a light snow shower, saw a mama bear with her baby cub, saw several sheep and other wildlife. We stayed overnight in Denali and had a marvelous time.

While cruising the inside passage, we saw Hubbard Glacier calving, ice floating in the water, eagles feeding just off the ships port side, whales, seals and other wildlife. The great thing about Alaska is no two days will be exactly the same. You never know what Mother Nature has in store for you to see.

There are many options when doing a cruise / cruisetour in Alaska. Because of the complexity of these options, I strongly encourage you to work with a professional cruise specialist. Because of the short cruising season, you will want to plan early. For best cabins and options, I'd suggest booking a year in advance. If your budget of vacation and money will allow it, I'd suggest getting a balcony cabin and extending your stay so that you can really experience Alaska.

In a future article, I'll tell you more about our first trip to Alaska. We did a pre-cruise tour of the Canadian Rockies, a 7 night Inside Passage cruise, and a post-cruise tour that included Fairbanks, Denali, and Anchorage. We are going back to Alaska this year for our National Conference, so I'll be writing you about that trip also. If you have questions in the meantime, please contact me.

Definitely put Alaska on your list of cruises to do beyond the Caribbean. Write me when you get back to tell me if you are glad that you did. My husband didn't want to go, but after we went, he can't stop talking about it, even years after the cruise.

No comments: