Five Great Reasons to Cruise to Alaska

As a Vancouverite, every year, I swear I’m not going to do it again. And every year, despite what I said the last year, I set sail for Alaska.

The fun and vibrant Norwegian Pearl docked at the AJ berth in Juneau, Alaska on June 4, 2013. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The fun and vibrant Norwegian Pearl docked at the AJ berth in Juneau, Alaska on June 4, 2013. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Coming from the Pacific Nothwest, Alaskan cruises are both convenient and economical. There’s no need for sky-high airfares, multiple connections, and lost luggage like when I get the itch to visit the Caribbean. But even if you need to take a flight or two, Alaska should be on everyone’s bucket list.

Sure, Alaska suffers from the same horrifying case of “trinket-itis” that inflicts the Caribbean. Diamond and jewelry stores are threatening to push out local shops run by local retailers, and there’s more than enough tacky crap in every gift shop to really give your gag reflex a workout.

But in many areas, a cruise to Alaska remains unparalleled, even if it pours rain for the entire week.

Here’s what I love most about cruising to the 49th State:

The Scenic Cruising

Holland America's Zaandam traveling back down the inlet. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Holland America’s Zaandam traveling back Glacier Bay National Park. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Except for the magnificent fjords of Norway, you’d be hard-pressed to find more scenic cruising experiences than the fjords and inlets of Alaska. Not to mention, of course, the fabulous Inside Passage that spans the distance between British Columbia in Canada and Alaska.

Clouds hang perilously low on mountains and at the start of the season, don’t be shocked if the odd growler or ice berg drifts by. In the summer, you could be rained out or work on your tan up on deck. I’ve seen both, and there’s no rhyme or reason to either.

But there’s nothing like seeing eagles and bears on the shoreline, or standing watch through the straits leading in to Ketchikan and Juneau as a small procession of stark-white cruise ships steam in, their superstructures gleaming against the navy-green and blue landscape that surrounds them.

The Beer

Alaskan Beer Tasting up on the Lido Deck poolside. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Alaskan Beer Tasting up on the Lido Deck poolside aboard Holland America’s Zuiderdam. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

I like to joke I never enjoyed beer until I went to Alaska and tried the Alaskan Amber Ale that Juneau-based Alaskan Brewing Co. puts out. If your cruise line is any good, they’ll have the stuff onboard. If not, head ashore for a fresh draft pint. In fact, it took me years to finally eat and drink like the locals in Alaska, and I’d recommend anyone heading North, To Alaska should enjoy at least a beer or two on shore with the locals. Ask them about life up north; you’ll find they’re far more insightful than the folks working the diamond shops who simply migrate north after the Caribbean season ends.

The People

Lindy (left) and Cam (right). Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Lindy (left) and Cam (right); guides on the Cruise Experts Travel “Best of Alaska” tour I hosted during the summer of 2013. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

As alluded to above, it’s the people I like most about Alaska. They’re nice, inquisitive, and self-sufficient. That being said, they’re nobody’s fool, and they love their State fiercely. Don’t come asking stupid questions, or you’re liable to get a stupid answer. My favorite, overheard in a bar in Skagway, was from a man who hailed from the Midwest: “Skagway is awful. I don’t know how you live here. I’ll bet you guys drink a lot up here, dontcha?” The fortysomething woman manning the bar replied, “Only when you folks are here.”

The Towns

How busy is it in Skagway? Busy enough that this was the best street scene I could catch. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Skagway, Alaska during a visit aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Pearl. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

I like to complain about the trinket shops and stores hawking T-shirts with stupid sayings, of which there are plenty, but I do love Alaskan towns. No two are alike, and each has their own distinctive rhythm and way of life. I love Skagway for its remoteness, but my all-time-favorite town is still Ketchikan.

The Glaciers

This should say everything.

Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The biggest misconception about Alaska, however, is the idea that all cruises to the Last Frontier are created equal. They’re not. There are big-ship cruises that offer more entertainment, dining and options for amenities than you can shake a stick at.

There are small-ship ultra-luxury cruises on lines like Regent and Silversea. Un-Cruise Adventures offers small-ship journeys dedicated to those who want to see the side of Alaska less explored; who eschew the tourist stores in favor of Alaska’s wide-open spaces.

There are Cruise Tours that combine overland journeys with a weeklong voyage from Alaska to Vancouver. There are cruises that sail roundtrip from Vancouver, and roundtrip from Seattle.

In fact, there’s so much diversity, we created a special website dedicated soeley to Alaska: Alaska Cruise Experts.

Night falls aboard the Coral Princess as we speed towards Ketchikan, Alaska. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

In the end, maybe that’s what we love most about Alaska: the variety. Both on-land, and at sea.

Posted in Alaska Cruises, Alaska Cruisetour, Cruise Tips & Advice, Experiences by the Experts | Leave a comment

Which Alaska Cruise Is Right For You?

Vancouver, Seattle, Or Northbound-Southbound?

With departures from Vancouver, Seattle, Seward, and Whittier, which Alaska cruise is best?

With departures from Vancouver, Seattle, Seward, and Whittier, which Alaska cruise is best?

Years ago, if you wanted to sail to Alaska there was but a single departure port: Vancouver. A few voyages might sail north and south between Alaska and British Columbia but by and large, the vast majority of sailings operated roundtrip from Vancouver.

That all changed in 1999, when Norwegian Cruise Line set up shop in Seattle with their petit Norwegian Dynasty. The ship may be long gone, but cruising to Alaska from Seattle certainly isn’t. This season, there are more options than ever for cruising to The Last Frontier – but sorting out which one is right for you can be a daunting task.

Having sailed all three varieties, we put them to the test here:

Roundtrip Vancouver

Princess Cruises' Sapphire Princess docked at Canada Place in Vancouver.

Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess docked at Canada Place in Vancouver.

The classic Alaska cruise if there ever was one, sailing roundtrip from the iconic sails of Port Metro Vancouver’s Canada Place cruise terminal has a lot going for it. Located at the foot of downtown Vancouver, Canada Place is bookended by vibrant and modern Coal Harbour to the west, and the historic buildings of Gastown to the east.

On a sunny day, nothing beats sailing away from Canada Place with a throng of well-wishers lining the public observation decks to see you off as your ship backs up into Burrard Inlet and begins its journey out into the Inside Passage by passing under the Lions Gate Bridge.

The Inside Passage is the greatest feature of these roundtrip departures, as guests get to spend a day of scenic cruising on their way to and from Alaska. It makes for a powerful introduction to the beauty of the natural landscape here for first-time visitors, and keeps repeat cruisers coming back.

This year, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Silversea Cruises all call Vancouver home. Note that ultra-luxury lines Regent and Silversea have both been staunch supporters of Vancouver for years. There’s a reason for that: their guests demand it.

If there’s a downside, American guests may find it is rather expensive to fly into Vancouver International Airport (YVR) compared to other destinations in the United States. Which brings us to…

Roundtrip Seattle

Celebrity Solstice makes her Alaskan homeport in Seattle, Washington.

Celebrity Solstice makes her Alaskan homeport in Seattle, Washington.

For Americans, sailings departing roundtrip from Seattle are attractive thanks to the lower cost of flying into Seattle-Tacoma International Airport just south of the city. Those who don’t mind long hours on the road can even drive right up to the cruise terminal and park their cars in long-term parking.

Pier 66, primarily utilised by Norwegian Cruise Line, sits right in the heart of downtown, nearly at the foot of the Space Needle. Holland America Line and Princess Cruises use the newer Pier 90/91, just to the west of the city.

There may not be any bridge to sail under upon departure, but the beautiful views of Puget Sound beckon as ships make their way past the impossibly-small-looking ships of Washington State Ferries and out into the open Pacific Ocean.

Operating from Seattle this year are all of the “big ship” lines, including  Celebrity Cruises, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean.

Because of Seattle’s location further south, ships departing from Seattle don’t typically sail the Inside Passage, preferring instead to swing out into the open (and sometimes bumpy) expanse of the Pacific Ocean. That’s the downside. On the upside, these itineraries more frequently include ports of call like Sitka, Alaska – and nearly all include a brief evening call in Victoria, British Columbia to comply with U.S. Cabotage laws.

But there’s a third possibility that many cruisers prefer thanks to its flexibility:

Northbound/Southbound Voyages

Princess Cruises' Coral Princess at her berth in Whittier, Alaska.

Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess at her berth in Whittier, Alaska.

Northbound and Southbound Voyages (sometimes referred to as one-way cruises) typically sail between Vancouver and the Alaskan ports of Seward or Whittier, or reverse. This will be the de-facto option if you’re interested in an Alaska Cruisetour that includes an overland journey to places like Anchorage, Fairbanks, or Denali National Park.

These one-way journeys are also popular with another segment of cruisers: those who find seven days in Alaska to be all-too-short. North and Southbound voyages can be combined to create Back to Back voyages that depart roundtrip from either Anchorage or Vancouver. If you want to get really creative, you can even switch your ship or even cruise line for one segment of the journey to experience two entirely different styles of Alaskan cruising.

Leading the way on the cruisetour front are Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, though nearly every cruise line operating in the region offers their own unique cruisetour packages.

Of course, being based in Vancouver, we’re a little biased in thinking the Vancouver departures are the clear winners. But for those who have yet to sail to Alaska – or those who are looking for something different – it’s hard to go wrong with any sailing to this beautiful, remote, and often mysterious state.

Still have questions about sailing to Alaska? We’re here to help. Get in touch with us online, or give us a ring if you prefer a good ‘ol voice-to-voice chat.

Posted in Alaska Cruises, Alaska Cruisetour, Cruise Tips & Advice, FAQ, For New Cruisers, Ports, Seattle, Vancouver | Leave a comment

5 Attractions to look forward to when cruising through Alaska

Denali National Park

Denali National Park

Alaska is a land full of mysteries, myths, beauty, and lots and lots of beautiful attractions. What better way to enjoy a cruise to Alaska than to see all it has to offer you? Alaska has something for everyone whether you are a child, teen, adult, or a senior.

1. Tracy Arm Fjord – Tracy Arm is a Fjord with tons of beautiful glaciers awaiting your presence. These glaciers are located towards the south of Juneau which is a very attractive and a very popular destination in and of itself. There is amazing scenery including a waterfall tumbling down on rocks and glaciers, making it look even more fascinating. You can see the Tongass National Forest touch the edges of the icy cold water. If you decide to go up, you will be able to lay eyes upon Sawyer Glaciers, where wildlife is impossible to miss out on.

2. Kenai Fjords National Park – The beautiful coastline has much beauty to offer all of our cruise members and visitors. This park is one of the best sightseeing destinations in Alaska; if you want to be up close to wild animals, this is the place for you. You can continue your journey to the Alaska Railroad to access Exit Glacier to lay eyes upon more amazing and fun attractions. Do not forget to capture the brown grizzly bears in action, playing, fighting, and hunting.

3. Alaska Highway – Have you heard of Dawson’s Creek? It is one of the known rivers which flows through British Columbia, Canada. This rivers runs through the Yukon into the center of Alaska, and so does the Highway route. This highway is one of the most beautiful ways to travel into Canada, using the Whitehorse passageway. You can rest in the motel for a while, grab a snack, shop, and enjoy the natural beauty of the highway which is surrounded by tall mountain peaks and flowers.

4. University of Alaska Museum of the North – Home to over 1 million artifacts, this museum is your ultimate guide into the history of Alaska itself. The collections at the museum are unique on their own, they are the basic starting of how the rich cultures started with the Natives, and include many beautiful and unusual specimens as well. This beautiful museum has an attractive design itself, and is quite alluring and mind blowing. Bring your grand children on a trip which can enlighten them on the history of the continent and vistas that can fire up their imagination!

5. The Northern Lights – Everyone has heard about the lights; shiny, colorful, and out of this world, shining high in the sky while the long wintery nights cover Alaska like a winter blanket. This majestic lightshow is the best if you come during the months of September through mid-April. Needless to say the sight will leave you mesmerized.

For more information on the attractions of Alaska, or which cruises are best for your particular areas of interest, give us a call at 1-800-565-2784!

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6 Usual (and Unusual) Activities to do in Alaska

Alaskan flightseeing

How about an Alaskan flightseeing tour?

If you are wondering what is in Alaska for you then you need to visit and do these 6 activities, which are for all. Make the most of your Alaska Cruise trip in where else, Alaska! So what are you waiting for? Book your tickets take a trip down to a land of fun and adventure.

1. Visit the Alaska Zoo – Have you ever wanted to see a bear covered in snow? How about sharks, whales, turtles, many amazing fishes, and many more? If so, Alaska Zoo is the destination which you must visit. Get a chance to see your favorite wild animals like bears, wolves, and even snow leopards up close like never before. Alaska is home to unique wild life as well as the natives, so do not think twice; you are quite welcomed to come and visit anytime!

2. Flightseeing – Do you love heights? Want to lift off the ground and travel into dream land? Why not do that while you are taking in the most breath taking view of Alaska from the highest point you could have ever imagined? Get your opportunity to see Alaska like never before, watch over the thick forests, see the most amazing waterfalls, and enjoy the view like never before.

3. Whale Watching – Whales are incredible sea creatures; they are playful, fun to watch, and leave everyone giggling with the huge splashes they make. Want the opportunity to see some of the coolest whales? Why not try your luck at spotting the Humpback? Or the Blue or Grey whale? Even the Sperm or Beluga whales too? Do not miss such an exciting opportunity as whales like the Sperm whale can only be seen in the sea of Alaska in their natural habitat! Other sea attractions are nothing compared to the natural ones you will see, that is our promise.

4. Northern Lights – Alaska has one phenomenon which has the entire world talking; you guessed it, the Northern Lights. These lights shine across the pitch black sky like a rainbow after rain, but more colorful and magnetic like never before. These majestic lights are the attractions which just simply cannot be missed; this is your ultimate opportunity on the Alaska Cruise to catch up on what makes Alaska different than the rest of the world.

5. Dog Sledding – You must have definitely seen in many movies, and must have also read in your text books about Eskimos and their favorite method of travelling. How about if you were given the opportunity to run your own sleds, not with Santa’s reindeers though, but the most adorable huskies? Now, you get the chance to make this wish come true, travel across the Tundra while being in control of your own dog sled. Go on adventures and feel the excitement which the Eskimos do while they journey across the continent. Now it is your time to live it big in Alaska!

6. Aviation Museum – Have you ever wondered how Alaska modernized in terms of travel? Those who traveled miles on foot or handmade boats now travel using more modern methods, but how did it actually happen? You can find all of the answers to all questions at the Aviation Museum. Learn how Alaska took flight, and get a chance to click a few amazing pictures, and do get them framed too!

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5 Authentic Desserts You Must Try in Alaska

Baked Alaska Dessert

Baked Alaska Dessert

What is a perfect cruise trip without the best delights to accompany you? This is why we are going to give you the names of the 5 must have desserts on your cruise to the one and only chilling destination, Alaska. Alaska is full of beauty, wild life, fun, and romantic sunsets, so it is time to grab your forks and spoons and dig in while you enjoy every moment!

1. Baked Alaska Cake

The best dessert known all over the world and of course, Alaska is the Baked Alaska Cake. This delight is an ice cream sponge cake which is stuffed in delicious, creamy, and fired up with meringue. This classic dessert has yums stuffed inside, including delicious frozen delights. You can even get yours covered in rum! It is time for you to dig into the most delicious treat which Alaska has to offer you.

2. Wild Berry Cobbler

Offering you the juiciest berries and in lots of varieties, this dessert will have you on the edges of your seat. You can choose from your favorite cobbler recipe and top it off with the freshest berries in the entire continent. These lip licking berries include blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries too. After all, the wild berries are the best one, right? Want to make your trip even more interesting? Why not add some more fruits to delight your taste buds? Go for the mossberries, lingonberries, or even the salmonberries as well, spice up your life!

3. Akutaq (Agutuk)

This dish is a challenge to those who dare to try a taste of Alaska for the first time. This beautiful dish was actually created by the natives who called it Eskimo ice cream, which is ice cream with a hint of seal oil, snow, berries, and reindeer fat. Yes this dish does seem like a challenge for those who have never tried some of those ingredients, but, it is rated as an all time favorite of Native Alaskans. All of these unique ingredients are whipped up and the texture of the delight becomes a bit foamy. Sugar is not a part of this dessert, but, you can get it added if you want to for more fluff in your dessert. Are you Alaskan enough to try it?

4. Tongass Cookies (Forest Cookies)

We are still not sure of how this one originated, but knowing that this one of a kind dessert includes ingredients like coconut, healthy oats, and textured Rice Krispies, we think that Santa’s elves came up with the idea for this. The cookie even has 2 different kinds of sugar to delight your taste buds; you can munch on these non-stop on the cruise you do not want to miss. You only need to keep your eyes on the stash though; it will not take long for these chewy delicious delights to come to an end.

5. Romanoff Bread Pudding

What could be more perfect than the combination of strawberries, whipped cream, and last but not the least, liqueur? Dig in to fresh strawberries deeply covered in thick, delicious, and fresh whipped cream topped with your favorite flavor. There is also the heavenly presence of fresh cheese and soft bread pudding too.

For more information on the delights of cruising to Alaska, or any other cruise around the world, give us a call toll-free at 1-800-565-2784!

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A Journey You Will Never Forget – Alaska & Yukon Cruise 2015

Katmai Crater National Park Alaska

Katmai Crater National Park, Alaska

You have done so much for all of your loved ones all throughout your life. Now, it is time for you to lay back, relax, and enjoy the beauty of life at its best. Hop on an Alaskan & Yukon cruise and enjoy every minute by making the most of what matters. Bring your spouse along, and make a trip to the land of natural beauty, highlighting the following sites of unforgettable adventure:

Glacier Bay National Park

We bring to all of our guests amazing attractions such as Glacier Bay National Park. A park which leaves you mesmerized as you lay eyes upon the most beautiful glaciers you have ever seen. Sparkling like diamonds bathing in a beautiful crystal blue color, these glaciers are stunners to say the least. That is not all, enter the bay during the summers and  see whales in their natural habitat.

Sawyer Glacier

Love animals? This is the place to be if you wish to cruise on an Aqua-Safari. Get the chance to see some of the most adorable animals in action. Watch them play, watch them in nature; no bars or sign posts keep them from your scrutiny! Killer whales, seals, otters, find them all at Sawyer Glacier. You can even spot wolves, bears, deer and even moose!

Denali National Park

Welcome to 6 million acres of pure beauty. Here, at Denali, you will find the most amazing forest and tundra, filled with wildlife at its best. While you wait for your next cruise destination, get a chance to click some amazing snaps with ‘The High One,’ the highest peak in all of North America! Zoom through the valleys and enjoy the floral beauty surrounding the entire park. You won’t miss spotting grizzlies going on their hunt; catch them live in action.

Inside Passage

Imagine the smile on your face when you spot the most beautiful sunset ever between spectacular glaciers. There can be no better venue to finally get away to with your spouse, right? There is something in Alaska and in Yukon for everyone, regardless of age; if you are as young as 4 or as young as 40, these views will steal your breath away!

Go Native!

Alaska is not just about the mountains, glaciers and wildlife; there is more to this beautiful continent than which the eye sees. Alaska is the home to many cultures, which it has accepted and embraced as its own. With natives who speak more than 90 languages, this continent will capture your heart. Learn about the stories each totem pole has to say, take a sneak peek inside how they live their lives on a daily basis, sit inside the comfy log house, dance around the camp fire, tell stories from your childhood, let your inner artist out, and pass on the tales of adventure to your grandchildren.

To book your cruise, visit us at www.AlaskaCruiseExperts.com or simply give us a call at the following numbers. Be young, wild, and free in Alaska.

Toll Free: 1-800-565-2784

Vancouver: 604-737-8100

International: +1-604-737-8100

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The Landscape of Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay, Alaska

A visit to Glacier Bay is one of the most common highlights when cruising in Alaska. It is one of the most diverse regions in the state, with 3.3 million acres divided into snowy mountains, beautiful glaciers, temperate rainforest, crystal clear fjords and dramatic coastlines. While Glacier Bay offers an overabundance of sightseeing opportunities for a single day, here are four major natural attractions that cruisers can see during a port stop at the UNESCO-protected Glacier Bay National Park:

  1. Temperate Rainforest – While not something commonly associated with the frozen climate of Alaska, it is possible for plants and animals to survive and thrive in arctic conditions. Huge volumes of annual rainfall fuel the plants growth, which then provide shelter and nourishment to support many different species of wildlife, some of which are unique to the arctic region. While many envision Alaska to be a country of white, parts of Alaska are indeed a rich and fertile green; from the tops of trees to the forest floor, and even the trunks of the trees, coated with lichens and mosses. Travelers visiting in the summer are often taken aback by the vibrant hues of purple, pink, and yellow flowers that flourish throughout the Alaskan landscape.
  2. Glaciers – As one might imagine, one of the highlights of visiting Glacier Bay is, in fact, the glaciers. There are 16 different active tidewater glaciers in Glacier Bay, some of which are more than a mile long and stretch on as far as the eye can see. One of the most remarkable surprises of these glaciers is the spectrum of blues, pinks, and even yellow reflections dancing across the surface of these glaciers.
  3. Fjords are long, narrow valleys in the landscape filled with water from the sea. They provide a navigable network of waterways throughout Glacier Bay Park and offer travelers a perfect way to experience the mountains, glaciers, and other natural elements that make up Glacier Bay. The waters here are crystal clear and still, forming near-perfect natural reflections of the landscapes, as well as providing breathtakingly serene photo opportunities.
  4. The mountains in Glacier Bay are just as impressive and beautiful as the fjords and glaciers themselves, and stand tall as a remarkable backdrop for the exceptional natural features of Glacier Bay. The daring traveler might even try their hand at mountaineering in Glacier Bay, though it is not for the faint-hearted; only experienced climbers will revel in the challenges presented by the harsh climate and tricky, icy conditions.

For more information on cruising to Alaska, or cruising to anywhere else in the world, call us at 1-800-565-2784, or visit us on Facebook.

AlaskaCruiseExperts.com

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What Kind of Aquatic Wildlife Will I See in Alaska?

Photo cred ejphoto.com

Pictured Above: the Alaskan Horned Puffin

It is widely accepted that cruising is an ideal way to experience the unique and wonderful features of Alaska. Between sailing past magnificent glaciers and snowy mountains, the scenery itself is worth the adventure alone. For many visitors, however, the main highlight of their cruise is encountering a variety of aquatic wildlife along the way!

  1. Humpback Whales tend to live in groups in the areas around Juneau, Seward, Homer and Hoonah, and are known to entertain travellers by dramatically arching their backs and flicking their tails up into the air before diving down to get food. Humpback whales are also known to occasionally breech from the water – an exciting scene for keen photographers.
  2. Killer Whales, while they tend to be more difficult to spot than Humpback Whales, also live around the coast of Alaska, and there are a couple resident pods near Juno. It can sometimes be easier to spot the whales from a smaller shore excursion than a large cruise ship, which also enables you to be much closer to the animals, an ideal option for those hoping to return home with some breath-taking photos.
  3. Puffins can be spotted in and around Glacier Bay National Park, one of the most common ports on an Alaskan cruise itinerary. These distinctive birds are easily recognisable by their orange- and yellow-coloured bills, and it is quite special to see them happy and active in their natural habitat, even if you aren’t an avid birdwatcher.
  4. Sea Lions also reside in Alaska, and tend to thrive in southeast Alaska, commonly seen resting on rocks by the water’s edge. These awkward-looking animals are extremely loud when humans get close to them, and tend to live in huge colonies, easily spotted out of the water.
  5. Sea Otters often share a habitat with sea lions, so it’s not uncommon to see both around the same area. Sea otters don’t have the luxury of thick blubber to keep them warm, however, so they’re recognisably smaller than Sea Lions, with thick fur coats instead. You are more likely to catch a glimpse of one swimming than to see them lying on the rocks with the sea lions.

Most aquatic animals are active during the Alaskan sailing season between mid-April and September. Naturally, one advantage of cruising through Alaska is that travellers massively increase their chance of seeing aquatic wildlife simply by spending an abundance of time on the water. For more information on cruising to Alaska, or cruising in general, call us at 1-800-565-2784 to speak with one of our cruise specialists, or get in touch with us on Facebook.

AlaskaCruiseExperts.com

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5 Haunted Places in Alaska

haunted eklutna spirit houses chugiak alaska

Eklutna Spirit Houses in Chugiak, Alaska

With Halloween festivities in the air, we thought it was apt to compile a list of haunted destinations that we sail to. From hotels, to museums and grave sites – if the cool Northern air hasn’t already chilled you to the bone, these five haunted places in Alaska probably will.

  1. Buckner Building – Located in Whittier, Alaska, this building was constructed in 1953 and named after General Simon Buckner, who died in World War II. The building is now abandoned, however it used to contain a movie theater, a bowling alley, and a jail, as well as many tunnels that led to other buildings in town. It is rumored to be haunted by spirits of its past.
  2. Gaslight Lounge - Gaslight Lounge is in Anchorage, Alaska, and revelers have reported hearing strange noises emanating from the walls. Some claim that the jukebox starts up and plays by itself during after hours.
  3. Eklutna Spirit Houses - There is a cemetery located in Chugiak, Alaska with Spirit Houses, or structures built on top of the graves that contain items belonging to the deceased, such as cups, pipes, rifles and utensils. Those who practice the Eklutna religion (a combination of Russian Orthodox and Eskimo beliefs) believe that the souls of the dead wander for 40 days, looking for their personal items. The houses were built in an effort to keep the souls from wandering into their old villages and haunting those who have unknowingly reclaimed the departed’s personal items.
  4. Nana Museum of the Arctic - Urban legend has it that if you leave a basketball in the museum’s auditorium and say, “Alex, come and get your ball!” the sound of a bouncing basketball can be heard. It’s said that the source of the sound comes from a boy who lost his basketball beneath the museum, went to retrieve it, and never returned.
  5. Gakona Lodge and Trading Post - Some say a happy poltergeist roams the grounds of the Gakona Lodge and Trading Post, playing little tricks on visitors and lodge employees alike, such as moving items just a few inches out of place, or turning on lights and water faucets.

While the Alaskan cruising season is generally from April-September, cruises to Alaska can be booked all year round, and there are several other cruise destinations available during the Alaskan cruise off-season throughout the Caribbean, Europe, and South America. If visiting spooky destinations is of interest to you, check out 5 Haunted Castles to Visit on a River Cruise. For more Alaskan cruise inspiration, visit us on Facebook.

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Sea Day and Saying Goodbye to New Friends

A day at sea: the perfect way to end the Best of Alaska cruisetour. A day cruising on the Crown Princess in Alaska certainly isn’t a bore, though. I admit, exhaustion took over me on the last full day of our trip. I could’ve gotten up at my standard time, but I wanted to catch the 10 o’clock comedy show the evening before. The first night we saw the comedian’s show, he was hilarious and I’m glad I caught him the second time around. So I slept in on this last day, and it felt good.

Princess-Patter-sea-day

Bored at sea? Not on the Crown Princess.

However, there were a few fun activities I missed like Zumba fitness dance class at 9 am and morning trivia at 10 am. There was also line dancing at 10:45 am and Bingo at 11:30 am.

After enjoying my last sit-down lunch served by Princess’ hardworking waitstaff (I finally had the burger I was contemplating since the start of the cruise), I made sure I would attend the Princess Grapevine Wine Tasting event. Elite members may attend this event free. A $9.50 fee applies to other guests.

Grapevine wine tasting on the Crown Princess August 1, 2014

A list of the wines we tasted.

As a wino, I think this event is worthwhile for those who seek to learn more about wine, but don’t know much.

Grapevine on Crown Princess

Dessert wine is served in the Princess shot glass, which you get to take home as a souvenir :)

Note, if you’re serious about wine already, perhaps a visit to Vines in the Piazza is a better option for you. Tapas and sushi are included with a purchase of a glass of wine. Not sure what to pair with what you’re eating? Ask your waiter for recommendations. We ended up going there later this evening to experience it. This is something I’d do over and over again on my next Princess cruise.

Today was also the day our Best of Alaska group met one last time to socialize. All the way at the top aft of the ship is Adagio, a bar and lounge that not many people are aware of. Thinking about it now, it would’ve been the perfect place to get some writing done! We learned that one of our guests won Bingo that day and at the beginning of the trip, she won a free facial! What a way to start and end a cruise!

We exchanged stories of our shore experiences and what we did on the ship. It was bittersweet. I was excited to get home to see my cat, sleep in my own bed and get back to my regular routine, but I realized I’d be saying farewell to our friends the following morning.

Best of Alaska group July 2014

We gathered at the end for one last photo. Four of us aren’t in the photo :(

I can’t say what the other Best of Alaska groups are like. Looks like they had a fantastic time, too. But I bet I had one of the best set of travelers with me. That is one of our goals on our Best of Alaska trips, though. At the end, we want everyone to feel like they’ve made new friends. I’m also willing to bet the other groups feel the same way we did.

As this trip comes to an end, I want to thank my new friends for joining me and Ian on this trip. Some of my best travel moments happened with you.

For photos of this trip, check out the album on our Facebook page.

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