Are you taking a cruise to Alaska? If so, then you probably already know that there is so much to do and see at every port of call. Regardless of where you are stopping on your Alaskan cruise, you will have a long list of Alaska cruise excursions to consider.
After our recent Alaskan cruise, we decided to create this list of the Top 5 Alaska Cruise Excursions to help fellow cruisers narrow down what adventures they should experience while in Alaska.
Alaska is a beautiful cruise destination with so much to explore, so you will want to make sure you capture it all. From the natural landscapes, to the wildlife, to the adventure, there is certainly something for everyone. So, grab you camera and binoculars, and get ready for an amazing journey way up north…to Alaska!
Top 5 Alaska Cruise Excursions
A Walk on Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska
The capital city, Juneau, is located on the northern edge of the Inside Passage and is the third largest city in the state with a population just over 30,000. Although, it is not directly accessed by road, Juneau is a major tourist destination and a favorite cruise ship port of call. This city is known for its whale watching tours, salmon bakes, and glaciers to name a few.
In our mind, you can’t full appreciate Juneau without experiencing the Mendenhall Glacier. That is why a walk on Mendenhall Glacier definitely makes our list of the Top 5 Alaska Cruise Excursions.
There are various tour combinations offered including glacier walks, helicopter tours, and dog sledding on the glacier.
During our 2014 cruise to Alaska onboard Celebrity Solstice, we had the pleasure of taking a helicopter tour with Temesco. Albeit a little pricey, we would definitely recommend this excursion to anyone. The aerial views are amazing and walking on a glacier is just priceless! Be sure to have your camera ready for this once is a lifetime opportunity.
Float Plane Tour in Ketchikan, Alaska
Known as the “Salmon Capital of the World”, Ketchikan, Alaska, is the southernmost city in Alaska and another popular cruise ship destination. Ketchikan is home to the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles, the Misty Fjord National Monument, and plenty of RAIN.
The harbor is also a transportation hub bustling with float planes.
While visiting Ketchikan, a Misty Fjords Flightseeing excursion should be on your to-do list as this is another one of our Top 5 Alaska Cruise Excursions. Misty Fjords is a 2.2 acre portion of the Tongass National Forest that is best observed by float plane. So, hop in and be prepared for an awe-inspiring ride of your life. If you are not the adventurous type, don’t worry- there’s still plenty to do in this great city.
Since we had already booked the helicopter tour in Juneau, we opted for a more low-key and low-cost excursion in Ketchikan, a Ketchikan Highlights and Totem Pole Park excursion including a lumberjack show and a visit to Potlach Totem Park. But, we will be returning to Ketchikan in 2018 and plan on taking a float plane this time around.
White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad in Skagway, Alaska
Skagway, Alaska is another popular cruise ship port of call when you head way up north to Alaska. This historic town was made famous by the 1898 gold rush, which lead to the discovery of about $30 million worth of gold.
Now, Skagway is largely supported by tourism with much of its population being seasonal
Given the town’s rich history, a ride on the White Pass Railway makes our list of the Top 5 Alaska Cruise Excursions. Not to mention that it is routinely rated as the most popular excursion in Alaska.
The 28 mile ride on this narrow gauge railway between Skagway, Alaska and Fraser, B.C. is sure to provide you with rich history, scenic views, and breathtaking photo opportunities. You will get to see portions of the original Trail of ’98, among other notable sites. This tour is great for all ages and fitness levels, so make it a family day!
Bald Eagle Preserve in Haines, Alaska
Located north of Juneau and just south of Skagway, Haines, Alaska, is nicknamed the “Valley of Eagles”. Though this town is a less frequented cruise ship destination, it can be accessed by a short 45 minute ferry ride from Skagway.
On our list of the Top 5 Alaska Cruise Excursions is the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Enjoy a scenic raft ride down the Chilkat River to the Bald Eagle Preserve that was founded by the State of Alaska in 1982 to protect the world’s largest concentration of bald eagles and their critical habitat. Thousands of eagles travel here to feed on the salmon, with the peak of their gathering usually occurring in fall and winter.
Along your journey on the Chilkat River, be sure to keep your eyes open for other wildlife besides eagles and get that camera ready to capture these creatures in their natural habitats. Don’t worry, no paddling is necessary, so this trip can be another family adventure with many lasting memories.
Wildlife Cruise in Sitka, Alaska
Sitka, Alaska, the former Russian capital of Alaska, is situated on the western shore of Baranof Island, located on the outer coast of Alaska’s Inside Passage. Like most southeastern Alaskan cities, Sitka is only accessible by air and sea but is considered a remote location even by Alaskan standards; therefore, it is a less frequented cruise ship stop.
Sitka is known for its abundant wildlife year round, so a wildlife cruise is definitely on our list of the Top 5 Alaska Cruise Excursions.
If your cruise ship does stop in beautiful Sitka, there are several options from various cruise lines and local private shore excursion companies
offering wildlife tours in Sitka Sound where you are guaranteed sightings of creatures such as sea otters, humpback whales, harbor seals, bald eagles, brown bear, and black-tailed deer. So hop aboard one of the many tour vessels and enjoy the luxury of a heated cabin while exploring all that Sitka has to offer. If you are not visiting Sitka, many of the other Southeastern Alaska cruise ports offer great wildlife excursions as well.
So, now that you have read our list of the Top 5 Alaska Cruise Excursions, what are you waiting for? Start planning your Alaska cruise vacation now, complete with these great shore excursion opportunities, for a truly unforgettable experience!
Have you taken a cruise to Alaska? What was your favorite excursion? We would love for you to share your experiences and help fellow cruisers plan the perfect cruise vacation to Alaska.