Alaskan cruises are so beautiful and picturesque that it is hard to decide what to do while you are there. Here I will discuss some of the things I did and loved while in Alaska. Hopefully this will help you decide what excursions and adventures you would like to do also.
I will be discussing these ports, but because Alaskan ports have a lot in common this information can go to many other ports.
Ketchikan is known for its beautiful rainforests, but these are not the rainforests you picture. They are not tropical trees. It is acres and acres FULL of tall evergreen trees. They are so unique and massive unlike I had ever seen before. We took time following trails, finding rivers full of salmon upstream, and finding beautiful waterfalls. The local visitor center helped us with trail maps and directions so we adventured on our own. There are other great tours that also include bald eagles and other wildlife. We also spent some time shopping in the few shops by port. We mostly bought more warm clothes since this was our first stop. I still use my Alaska beanie today!
Skagway had a great town center that we really enjoyed shopping in after our other excursions. They had decently priced stores with fun stuff. They even had Christmas nativities even though it was September. There was definitely something for everyone!
Skagway is also home to a few dog sledding teams! We really enjoyed learning about the dog sled teams and having fun hanging with the dogs and puppies. Those dogs are masters of their trade. If you love dogs it is well worth going to meet them, but even if you don’t you will enjoy it. I am not a huge dog lover, but I still really enjoyed our time there.
Skagway is also the portal to the White Pass Yukon Train which was made famous during the Klondike gold rush and was built in 1898. The scenery is beautiful on this ride! So full of life and history. The train tells stories as you ride up or down the mountain and even sells fun souvenirs while aboard. It ends with a crossing into Canada where you end in Fraser, BC before riding the train back down. I dutifully stamped my passport (with a fake stamp) since I had crossed the border! It was a really great way to relax and enjoy the scenery. Our group rode up the mountain by bus and then rode the train down from Fraser, BC which is also an option.
I left my heart in Juneau. For in Juneau we visited Glacier Bay where thousands of humpback whales reside during the warm season of Alaska. After riding a bus to the bay we hopped on a boat and drove out into the bay. There were whales everywhere. In all directions you could see spouts blowing out there suppressed air. We found whales lunge feeding and even had the lucky opportunity to find a while breeching (a very rare occurence). With that many whales your odds are much better for viewing and enjoying these amazing creatures. I would show you the video but all my screaming was a little ridiculous.
Juneau also has the Mendenhall Glacier, which I wish we had spent more time there. It is about a mile hike on a well walked dirt path to get to the glacier. Once you are there it is so majestic and amazing it is well worth the hike.
Victoria, British Columbia
In Victoria they have the Butchart Gardens built in an desolate limestone quarry started by the Butchart family in 1904. The garden had small beginnings but is now a MASSIVE expanse of beauty and serenity. The garden is filled with thousands of flowers, plants, bushes, trees and shrubs that are beautiful much of the year. It is definitely worth your time to visit.
I would also recommend a city tour since there is a lot of history and many of the guides are funny and entertaining. As a state of the United Kingdom they still are very much interested in the throne. There are also some great restaurants to visit. Just ask a local and he will tell you some great places to eat or visit.
Although this list is not an exhaustive list of all the possible ports in Alaska it gives you a great idea on things you can do while visiting the area during a cruise. I am not a fisherwoman so none of these ideas include fishing which is very popular in Alaska also. Just watch out for bears trying to steal your freshly caught fish. Believe me, the fish isn’t worth it. Let it go!
Another side note: Most Alaskan Cruises include a Fjord of some kind (Fjord: a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley or in other words large, tall glaciers only reached by ship). Fjords are NOT a stop. They are just a drive through type of experience. Because of the fjords I highly recommend a balcony stateroom on an Alaskan Cruise. You can view the fjord from the warmth of your room or wrap up in your comforter with your room service hot chocolate on the balcony if you choose. It is beautiful and majestic but it is several hours long of viewing.
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