Alaska cruise excursions
Our one week cruise was a bucket list item for both Kevin and I and we had several Alaska cruise excursions planned. Kevin had never cruised before so when I saw a great deal on an Alaskan cruise came up I thought it would be the perfect introduction to cruising. Both Kevin and I had always dreamed of visiting Alaska so it was looking like a win-win! Our port of embarkation was in Anchorage and the cruise ended it’s journey in Vancouver, Canada. Between, we would be stopping at 4 ports of call: Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. While planning our trip we were overwhelmed with all the available Alaska cruise excursions! For each port of call, we decided to explore the town and then join one of the adventure tours being offered.
The town of Sitka was the first port of call on our Alaska Cruise. Sitka is the home of the indigenous Kiksadi Clan of the Tlingit people. In the 18th century, Russians established an outpost in Sitka and remnants of the Russian influence on Alaskan culture are still evident. In the town of Sitka, we were able to visit three sites. The Sitka National Historic Park which is filled with beautifully carved totem poles. At the Alaska Raptor Rehabilitation Center were we were able to get an up-close and personal look at some bald eagles and other birds of prey such as falcons, hawks, and owls. Our last stop was the iconic and beautiful St. Michael’s Orthodox Church.
Sitka Adventure: Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest
For our Sitka, Alaska cruise excursion, we signed up for a Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest. The scenery we were able to witness was stunning. Thanks to the smaller boat, we were much closer to the water than when we were on the cruise ship. We were able to see all the fish (including some flying fish) and jellyfish that could be found in the area. As advertised, we got to see sea otters splashing around in the waters! In addition, during our wildlife quest, we also saw bald eagles, seals, dolphins, and whales.
The following day we cruised north into the town of Juneau. Juneau is the Alaskan state capital and features both the Alaska state museum and Alaska state capitol building within walking distance of the port. Instead of touring downtown, we opted to take a cab for a trip 20 km out of town to view the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier. Like all Alaskan glaciers, the Mendenhall Glacier is in retreat. The Mendenhall Glacier is shrinking at an astounding rate of over 30 m per year. Originally, we had planned to take a helicopter tour over the glacier and do a glacier walk. The weather had not been kind to us, and our adventure was scrubbed due to dangerous conditions. Instead, we had to settle with viewing the glacier from afar from the viewing platform at the welcome center. The spectacular views certainly didn’t disappoint us!
Juneau Adventure: Sea Kayaking and Whale Watching
We had a couple of Juneau, Alaska cruise excursions planned. The afternoon saw us sea kayaking in Auke Bay. It was an amazing experience that allowed us to get up close and personal with some bald eagles in the wild all the while surrounded by the beauty of the Mendenhall Glacier.
In the evening we joined a whale watching excursion on Stephan’s Passage. We boarded a catamaran specifically designed for viewing wildlife. Stephen’s Passage is the summer feeding ground for humpback whales. It was pretty incredible watching the humpback whales bubble net fishing as well we saw them perform some pretty awesome acrobatics!
Near the northern end of the Inside Passage, we stopped at our third port, the town of Skagway. Skagway is easy to explore by foot. Many of the buildings have had their storefronts restored to resemble what they would have looked like during the gold rush days. The historic downtown forms part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park.
Skagway Adventure: Whitepass and Yukon Route Railway
Continuing with our Klondike Gold Rush theme, we boarded the Whitepass and Yukon Route Railway for a three-hour journey along the gold rush route culminating at the Whitepass summit near Fraser, British Columbia. The scenery along the way was breathtaking! The large windows on the vintage style locomotives allowed us to take pictures of sights such as Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point, and Dead Horse Gulch. It was absolutely incredible chugging along the tops of the Rocky Mountains and catching the summer flowers on the rocky terrain.
The final port of call in our Alaskan cruise was the city of Ketchikan. The boat docked within walking distance of downtown, so like the other three ports of call, there was no need to hire transportation. We spent most of our time along Creek Street. The buildings there once made up Ketchikan’s notorious red light district. The quaint antique-like buildings have given up lingerie and ladies of the night for trinkets, souvenirs, and local art.
Ketchikan Adventure: Mountain Point Snorkel
Our last Alaskan cruise excursion would have us diving into the frigid North Pacific to get a glimpse of the underwater world. We were bussed to the shores of Mountain Point where we donned 7mm wetsuits, boots, and hoods to protect us from the chilly waters. We snorkelled over an amazing kelp forest where we saw fish and various invertebrates. We even got the opportunity to handle some starfish!
These are just a few examples of the Alaska cruise excursions that you can partake in from the various Alaskan ports. Depending on the cruise line, you may also be stopping at other cities along Alaska’s shoreline. We found that in 3 of the 4 ports our originally planned excursions were cancelled due to weather. It is good to be flexible with your plans and know what other activities are available. We were able to sign up for other activities easily. Make sure you’re prepared for Alaskan weather. Here are some great tips on what to pack.
Have you ever thought about combining adventure travel with cruising? What are your favourite memories?
Having experienced over 20 countries across 4 continents Christina is well versed at travel planning and thrives on sharing that information with others with the hopes of encouraging more families to experience this incredible world that we live in.
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