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 visiting on your Alaskan cruise, you will have a long list of Alaska cruise excursions to consider. From the natural landscapes, to the wildlife, to the adventure, there is certainly something for everyone. To help with your cruise planning, we give you our picks for the Top Alaska Cruise Excursions.
Top Alaska Cruise Excursions
A Walk on Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska
The capital city of Juneau is located on the northern edge of the Inside Passage. Although not directly accessible by road, Juneau is a major tourist destination and a favorite cruise ship port of call. Whale watching tours, salmon bakes, and glaciers are popular attractions in Juneau.
In our mind, you can’t fully appreciate Juneau without experiencing the Mendenhall Glacier. There are several ways to visit this icefield, but nothing compares to a helicopter ride and guided walk on the glacier.
During our 2014 cruise to Alaska, 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! During our return trip to Juneau a few years later, we opted to stay on land and visit the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.
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Float Plane Tour in Ketchikan, Alaska
Known as the “Salmon Capital of the World”, Ketchikan is the southernmost city in Alaska. It is also another popular cruise ship destination. Ketchikan is home to the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles, the Misty Fjords National Monument, and plenty of RAIN.
During our first visit to Alaska, we opted for a more low-key and low-cost excursion, a Ketchikan Highlights and Totem Pole Park tour. This excursion included a lumberjack show and a visit to Potlach Totem Park.
However, the best way to see the Misty Fjords National Monument is by floatplane, so an excursion with Taquan Air was on the top of our list for our return trip in 2018. The Misty Fjords National Monument is approximately 2.4 million square acres of forest, lakes, and passageways. The impressive 3,000-foot tall granite walls of this protected area have been carved out by melting glacial ice over tens of millions of years. The result is awe-inspiring ledges and deep “canals” of fresh sea water of which you will get a bird’s eye view.
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White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad in Skagway, Alaska
Skagway 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. Much of its population is seasonal.
Given the town’s rich history and magnificent landscapes, a ride on the White Pass Railway 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 a historical narrative, scenic views, and breathtaking photo opportunities. You will get to see portions of the original Trail of ’98, among other notable sites.
Related Post: Top Things to Do in Skagway, Alaska on a Cruise
Located just south of Skagway is Haines, Alaska. This “Valley of Eagles” is a short 45 minute ferry ride away from Skagway. The Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve 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.
Sitka, Alaska is situated on the western shore of Baranof Island. It is located on the outer coast of Alaska’s Inside Passage. Sitka is most known for its abundant wildlife year round. The city is only accessible by air and sea; thus, it is a remote location even by Alaskan standards. Again, it is a less frequented cruise ship stop. If your cruise ship does stop here, there are several shore excursion options offering wildlife tours in Sitka Sound. Here, you will see creatures such as sea otters, humpback whales, harbor seals, bald eagles, brown bear, and black-tailed deer.
If you are not visiting Sitka, many of the other Southeastern Alaska cruise ports offer great wildlife excursions as well. Among the options are bear adventures via floatplane, whale watching expeditions, and various other wildlife safaris.
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What could be better than marveling at the glaciers from your cruise ship? How about getting up close and personal on a small vessel that is able to maneuver through the ice to provide vantage points that you could never get from the balcony of a larger ship. Many cruise lines now offer excursions that allow you to board these high speed catamarans directly from your cruise ship in Juneau.
While you are admiring the views, you cruise ship will also make its way in the same direction so that you can re-board at the completion of the tour and continue along to your next port of call. This excursion is definitely on our agenda for our next visit to Alaska.
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Now that you have read our list of the Top Alaska Cruise Excursions, what are you waiting for? Start planning your Alaska cruise vacation now! It’s never too early to start planning for 2021 or 2022.
Have you visited Alaska? What is your favorite Alaska cruise excursion? Drop us an anchor below to share your top shore excursion options.