Check out the many Alaska glacier and wildlife cruises available through the Inside Passage or across the Gulf of Alaska in Seward or Whittier if you are headed to Alaska this summer. Here’s some useful tips from Smarter Travel – June 2008 – Ten easy ways to save on an Alaska cruise.
While Alaska is known as the Last Frontier–home to fishermen, trappers, hunters and gold miners, the fact is more than one million travelers each year see the Great Land by way of one of the Alaska cruises that start in Vancouver, Seattle or San Francisco. In addition to the large cruise ships that ply the waters of the Inside Passage, there are many day-cruises that offer up-close views of glaciers and wildlife around the state.
a. Portage Glacier Cruises. Operated by Holland America Line, the m/v Ptarmigan is a boat that was specifically designed to sail up to the face of Portage Glacier. This one-hour cruise operates several times each day all summer long. It’s just 54 miles from Anchorage (near Girdwood)—so it’s the quickest way to Big Ice from Alaska’s largest city (included in the Alaska TourSaver book).
b. Major Marine Tours in Seward. Choose from a variety of tours to get up-close and personal with Big Ice and wild critters in Kenai Fjords National Park. Our favorite tour is the “National Park Cruise” which includes a visit to Aialik Glacier. You’re likely to see some whales after leaving the Seward Small Boat Harbor. But keep your eyes open and your binoculars ready for porpoise, puffins, eagles, sea lions, Orcas (killer whales) and other wildlife (included in the Alaska TourSaver book).
c. Alaska Galore Tours in Juneau. Enjoy a three-hour cruise to see giant humpback whales, sea lions, Orca killer whales, seabirds, eagles and puffins. The cruise leaves from Auke Bay, just north of the Juneau Airport. Alaska Galore’s experienced captains know just where the whales like to go to feed! Don’t miss it (Included in the Alaska TourSaver book).
d. Juneau Lighthouse/Whale Watching Adventure. Sail from Auke Bay to prime whale-watching grounds en route to Sentinel Island lighthouse. The lighthouse was built in 1902. At Sentinel Island, follow your guide along the boardwalk and inside the lighthouse. Check out the stunning views of Lynn Canal from the Boardwalk (Included in the Alaska TourSaver book).
e. Riverboat Discovery in Fairbanks. This is an authentic sternwheeler–just like the ones that used to sail all the way up the Yukon River during the Gold Rush days. See a Bush plane demonstration. Visit with Iditarod
Sled Dog Race mushers. See a native village on the banks of the Tanana River. Don’t miss it. (Included in the Alaska TourSaver book).
f. LeConte Glacier Cruise from Wrangell. Take a four-hour cruise from Wrangell to see the LeConte Glacier up-close! LeConte Glacier is North America’s southern-most tidewater glacier. Snow-covered peaks rise more than 4,000 feet out of the fjord. Travel through vast iceberg fields. Spot Harbor Seals on the icebergs that fill LeConte Bay. LeConte Glacier is an active advancing glacier with frequent calving (Included in the Alaska TourSaver book).