Welcome to the land of the midnight sun. It’s no secret that Alaska is one of the most beautiful places in North America. If you are looking to check off this bucket list destination, consider an Alaskan cruise vacation. Home to stunning glaciers, lush forests, and pristine waterways, world-renowned cruise ships sail to this breathtaking state. Some of my preferred Alaskan cruises are Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises. These cruise lines are popular for their incredible shore excursions and glacier national park tours. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the cruise ports of Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan. Each of these towns has its own unique charm and offers plenty of exciting excursions.
Visit Juneau, Alaska
If you plan on cruising to Alaska, the capital of Juneau should be on your list of stops. This charming city is located in the southeastern part of the state and is known for its stunning natural scenery. While there are plenty of things to do in Juneau, here are some of the top excursions to consider for your cruise vacation.
Whale watching: One of the most popular excursions in Alaska is whale watching. Juneau is a great place to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat as it is home to both the humpback and orca whales. This wildlife journey not only includes whale watching but the chance to see other wildlife such as seals, sea lions, and/or a bald eagle.
Mendenhall Glacier: A Mendenhall Glacier Trek is a popular choice for cruisers looking for an active excursion and who are physically fit. Learn about the history of the Mendenhall glacier as you hike through miles of forests until you reach the point of the glacier. From there, you will be fitted in gear and trek along this ever-changing river of ice. Because you will be traversing various terrain and cool/wet areas, multiple clothing layers and hiking boots are a must.
Salmon Bake: Maybe a salmon bake is your choice of excursion when in Juneau. Did you know this tour was featured on Bravo TV’s Top Chef? Stroll along Salmon Creek, observe the waterfalls, and settle down for an all-you-can-eat buffet. Enjoy Alaskan-caught wild salmon grilled over a wood fire, roast marshmallows, and listen to local folk music. Your belly will be full and your heart happy with this excursion.
No matter what your interests are, there’s sure to be an excursion in Juneau that’s perfect for you.
Historic Skagway, Alaska
This gold rush town offers cruisers plenty of opportunities for sightseeing and outdoor activities. Located in Alaska’s panhandle, this small town is the gateway to the Yukon Territory, making it one of the most popular cruise ports. Although a little over 1,000 people live here, there are various excursions to choose and here are a few options.
Dog Sledding: A dog sledding adventure is an option while visiting Skagway. Known as Alaska’s state sport, you can learn about the art of mushing, and how the Alaskan Huskies train without snow and take a short ride with an experienced dog musher. Some of the mushers have even competed in world-renowned races like the Yukon Quest and Iditarod. And to top off this excursion, you will even enjoy some puppy play time (cuddles are appreciated).
Gold Panning: In this entertaining and educational excursion, travel back in time to learn about the gold rush on this family-friendly tour. Your guide will show you the Gold Dredge and you will learn about the art of gold panning. Afterward, head off to the trough to try your hand at gold panning. Once finished, have it weighed. The best part…you can keep your finds!
Chilkoot Trail: For those who love the outdoors, take a hike on one of the many trails in Skagway. There are trails for all levels of hikers. The more adventurous might want to try their hand at the Chilkoot Trail, which runs between Skagway and Dyea. The trail is lined with gold rush artifacts and alpine lakes. This challenging trail is not for the faint of heart; however, the rewards are definitely worth it.
With a comprehensive list of excursions, you are sure to find one in Skagway to make your cruise vacation an unforgettable experience.
Beautiful Ketchikan, Alaska
Home of the world’s largest collection of totem poles and known for its world-class fishing, Ketchikan is a beautiful place to explore. With more than a million visitors each year, most arriving via an Alaskan cruise, this picturesque town is a popular destination. Here are a few of the activities you can enjoy while in Ketchikan.
Fishing: Whether you are an experienced angler or just getting started, you’ll be sure to have a great time reeling in some of the best fish around. Take an excursion that sends you out into the Salmon Capital of the World. Every year, millions of salmon return to spawn in its rivers and streams. The best time to fish for salmon is when the majority are returning to spawn (from late June to early August).
Ziplining: If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping excursion, head to Alaska Canopy Adventures, one of Alaska’s top zipline companies. They have everything from the beginner’s line to the expert’s line with some zip lines being over 600 feet long. They even have a zip line that goes over a waterfall. How cool is that? They also offer canopy tours, canopy walks, and rappelling. With experienced guides, you can be sure that you’ll have a safe and enjoyable time.
Totem Heritage Center: Take an excursion to the Totem Heritage Center which is home to the world’s largest collection of totem poles. The goal of the center is to preserve and promote the totem pole tradition. During this excursion, you will learn about the history and culture of the Tlingit people and about the log poles carved which depict various images (symbols, faces, mythical creatures, and animals) – each with a story of their own. Learn about the carving process and enjoy live demonstrations when you head to the carving shed.
Creek Street: While in Ketchikan, be sure to check out Creek Street. It is a fascinating place with a rich history. A former red-light district, Creek Street is now an elevated boardwalk that runs along Ketchikan Creek. The once lined street of over 30 brothels has been replaced with shops and restaurants. Visit “Dolly’s House,” a green-colored house found at Number 24 Creek Street that was once the most popular brothel in Ketchikan. Don’t forget to bring your camera to photograph the walkway on Creek Street— it is the most photographed street in Alaska!
With many different excursions available, find the one in Ketchikan that suits your interests and enjoy Alaska’s “First City”.
Plan My Visit
There are many different ports of call in Alaska, each with its own unique attractions and activities. Let’s find the right Alaskan cruise for you and start planning your cruise vacation today! To begin planning your Alaskan adventure, call 813-591-5971.
I really enjoyed reading this article. It makes me want to book a cruise to Alaska.
We are so glad to hear that!