Alaska cruise advice for first timers

March 28, 2013  |  Share:

Choosing to explore Alaska by cruise ship is a fantastic way to experience the breathtaking state in comfort. Whether you choose to sail on a majestic liner or an intimate smaller vessel, an Alaska cruise cannot fail to impress you. Rolling landscapes and towering scenery form the backdrop to a magnificent journey as your cruise ship hugs the rugged coastline.  For those thinking about visiting this stunning region on a cruise holiday, take a look at our Alaska cruise advice for first-timers.

Best time to explore Alaska on a cruise

Although known for severe weather, Alaska is in fact a state with a climate as diverse as its landscape. The interior of the state can top 32°C during the summer, while the southeast and south-central maritime regions average between 13°C and 21°C, making the summer period from July to mid-August the peak time for tourists. Those that come in the winter can enjoy the magical and captivating northern lights, but with temperatures frequently falling to -50°C, visitors will have to be prepared! If you’re looking to avoid the crowds (and the freezing temperatures!), May and September also offer a milder climate and are ideal for first-time Alaska cruisers.

What to pack for an Alaska cruise

The demands of Alaska are very different for those accustomed to packing for a warm-weather cruise. Leave your Hawaiian shirt at home and be certain to pack a trusty pair of hiking boots – if you visit Alaska and don’t take advantage of the outstanding scenery through some exploration, you’ll be missing out on some awe-inspiring vistas. Don’t forget layers and your waterproof coat – the Alaskan coastline is lush and green thanks to its heavy rainfall, so don’t get caught out! While you’re unlikely to be basking in the Alaskan sun on the top deck for an afternoon, make sure you bring your sunscreen. This is especially important if you’re off on a glacier tour where the reflection from the ice is extremely strong.

Must-see ports of call in Alaska

An Alaskan cruise promises extraordinary and changing scenery, but it is important to make the most of your chance to explore the traditional port towns your ship will call at.  Stop at Ketchikan and explore an old Gold Rush town, where miners left their ships in search of a possible fortune in Yukon. A visit to the Alaskan state capital, Juneau, offers stunning architecture and an opportunity to shop. Sitka, a port town surrounded by sea and snow-capped peaks is the perfect port for indulging in the region’s Russian heritage.

Best Alaska cruise shore excursions

There are limitless inspiring excursions to help you see the very best of Alaska. In a region famed for its varied wildlife, opting for an exploration excursion is a must. If you decide to cruise with Regent Seven Seas, choosing the Whales, Wildlife & Bear Search tour could be the perfect way to spend your port day in Icy Strait (Hoonah). Oceania Cruises offers a superb tour exploring the Russian history of Sitka. Russian America, Raptor Centre, and Russian Dancers allow visitors to immerse in the Russian historical and cultural highlights of the former capital. Perhaps choose Crystal Cruises for your Alaskan voyage and take an Adventure Kart Expedition in Ketchikan.

Combine an Alaska cruise with a trip on the Rocky Mountaineer

Why not make your first time Alaska cruise a once-in-a-lifetime trip and compliment your voyage with an added Rocky Mountaineer tour? Join the train before your voyage and follow the dramatic scenery of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Alternatively, take the railway before your cruise and meet your ship in Vancouver for a breathtaking adventure.  At The Cruise Line, we offer a fantastic selection of cruise itineraries that can be tailor-made to include a trip on the Rocky Mountaineer.  Simply give us a call today on 0800 008 6677 and let us know your requirements.

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