Maybe it’s because I took my first-ever cruise to this region back in 1998 aboard Norwegian Cruise Line‘s long-departed Norwegian Wind, but I find myself thinking of Alaska a lot lately. The 2016 Alaska Cruise Season begins in April from Port Metro Vancouver‘s Canada Place Cruise Terminal, and on April 29 for departures from the Port of Seattle.
Over the nearly two decades inbetween, I’ve sailed North, to Alaska nearly a dozen times – and it’s highly likely I’ll set out once again on a journey to this most scenic of cruise destinations.
Cruising Tracy Arm Fjord aboard Silver Shadow. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Frequently maligned for its recurring bouts of liquid sunshine, Alaska is often overlooked as a cruise destination. People want sun, sand, beaches, Mediterranean drinks with little umbrellas in them. And while you’ll find cocktails, it’s true you won’t find a lot of beaches worth swimming in. Palm trees don’t sway, and temperatures rarely peak above anything that would cause you to break a sweat (though they definitely can).
What Alaska has, though, is history. Scenery. Nature. You’ll see bears and whales and harbour seals and birds of all kinds. You’ll see towns that exist because of their Klondike Gold Rush past, and which still have a hard edge to them to this day. Cruise ships come here in droves, sure, but Ketchikan doesn’t exist to serve cruise passengers. Nor does Juneau, the isolated capital city of Alaska, where no roads connect it to other parts of mainland Alaska.
Skagway’s White Pass & Yukon Route railroad. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Today, I think it’s fitting to take a look – in pictures – at some of what makes an Alaska cruise so great. Each voyage is unique and different, but for those who sail here every year, Alaska has a funny way of wriggling its way into your soul and staying there – even if it does rain a bit.
Curious about taking your own voyage to Alaska? We can help. Have a look at our current Alaska Cruise Specials on our site, Alaska Cruise Experts, or give us a call if you prefer at 1-800-565-2784. We’d be happy to help!
Until then, enjoy Alaska!
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun approaches the dock in Ketchikan. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
The railroad was a critical lifeline for the Gold Rush town of Skagway, Alaska. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders
Rain pelts Skagway, Alaska in September, 2006. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders
Kayaking off Baranof Island with Un-Cruise Adventures. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Sailing British Columbia’s Inside Passage aboard Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders
Welcome to Ketchikan! Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders
Skagway, Alaska was the site of the Klondike Gold Rush in 1898. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders
Alaska, 1998: Holland America Line’s Maasdam, as seen from the deck of Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Wind. Photo © Aaron Saunders
Disney Cruise Lines’ Disney Wonder in Tracy Arm Fjord. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Sun called on Wrangell during her 2005 season. Today, only luxury lines and small-ship expedition cruises visit. Photo © Aaron Saunders
Beautiful Wrangell, Alaska is well known for its historic Petroglyph Beach. Photo © Aaron Saunders
Alaska cruises from Seattle all include a call on beautiful Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
Near Juneau, July 1998: the classic Island Princess departs Juneau, bound for Ketchikan. Photo © Aaron Saunders
The State Capital of Juneau, Alaska. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders
Holland America’s Zuiderdam at her berth in Skagway in September, 2006. Photo © Aaron Saunders
Ketchikan, July 1998: I’ve never seen it rain so hard in my life. Note the green “Norwegian Cruise Line” ponchos, which were provided free of charge at the time. Photo © Aaron Saunders
Ketchikan – the Salmon Capital of the World, and one of my personal favorite ports of call in Alaska. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders
Exploring Alaska with Un-Cruise Adventures. Fabulous! Photo © 2014 Aaron Saunders
There’s nothing like scenic cruising through Alaska’s Inside Passage. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders