Tips on Making the Most of Your First Alaska Cruise

Though it’s exciting travelling to a different part of the world, it can feel overwhelming at the same time. After all, regardless of your destination, whether it’s via a short car trip or a on cruise thousands of miles away from home, you want to make the most of time.

Here are tips on how to make the most of your Alaska cruise.

1. Get on the ship early, but not too early. You can start getting on at 11 am or noon. Check your cruise documents. Make sure you’re onboard at least an hour before your ship is scheduled to leave the port.

Golden Princess

A view of the City of Vancouver looking west from aboard the Golden Princess docked at Canada Place.

If your stateroom is ready once you board, start unpacking your carry and get settled in to your home for the next 7 days. If your room isn’t ready, bring your carry on along with you and head over to the buffet to enjoy lunch while taking in the view of your embarkation city, whether it’s Seattle, Vancouver, or San Francisco.

2. Bring a small carry on (not just a purse, ladies). You’ll want to include your travel documents, camera, a thin jacket and your sunglasses in here along with anything else you think you may need in the event your luggage doesn’t arrive to your stateroom immediately. You’ll also want this carry on to be small because this is what you’ll be pulling around with you in case your room isn’t ready right away. You’ll also be needing it on the day of disembarkation.

3. Book your shore excursions in advance. The cruise lines stress this because their activities fill up fast. We stress this because ours do too. Being the Alaska Cruise Experts, we have a dedicated shore excursions department at CruiseExperts Travel.  Our most popular activities include dogsledding on a glacier combined with a helicopter tour above Juneau, a heli-flight tour bringing you to magical Misty Fjords, and ziplining through the trees in the rainforest.

kayaking in Ketchikan

For a good chunk of the time, it was just the three of us (tour guide, me and my boyfriend) kayaking on the water in Ketchikan. Complete serenity.

The differences between ours and the cruise line’s, however, are number of people per excursion and our prices. Our groups are always intimate at no more than 8 people (but we can accommodate large parties) and our activities will save you up to 25% from what the cruise lines charge. Essentially, we offer a more private experience for you at lesser cost to you.

4. Pack walking shoes with good grip. Plain old running shoes will do. You’ll want to explore Alaska in comfort and make sure the shoes aren’t brand new. It’s likely to catch some dirt, especially if you’re doing shore excursions.

Mendenhall Glacier

You’ll want comfortable walking shoes in Juneau, particularly if a hike to Mendenhall Glacier is on your list.

5. Check the weather a couple of days before you leave for your cruise so you have an idea on what to pack. Weather in Alaska is volatile so it could be raining, cloudy and cold during your whole trip or it could be bathing suit weather throughout. Even if the forecast shows warm weather, still pack a light jacket and a sweatshirt and clothes that you can layer on. You’ll be glad you did on those glacier days.

Glacier View

On those glacier viewing days, you want to layer on your clothes to keep warm.

6. Wake up early (6 am) to catch the whales in action. Most whale sightings from onboard the ship happen early in the morning.

whale watching in Alaska

Get up early to catch whale sightings.

7. Lastly, for any cruise, set aside a change of clothes the night before disembarkation day. The night before your cruise ends, you will be asked to leave your luggage outside your stateroom door. You wouldn’t want to be stuck wearing your pajamas until you get your luggage back which isn’t until you disembark the ship.

For more cruise tips, follow us on Twitter @AKCruiseExperts.

About Vanny

Vanny is Cruise Experts Travel’s Social Media Coordinator. She is a passionate world traveler and has been given an exciting opportunity to share experiences, tips and advice on everything cruising and travel in Alaska.
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