Preparing for a cruise to Alaska seems awesome. Whether you choose a boat or plan time in the harbor, you don’t want to miss out on all the outdoor and cultural activities that Alaska has to offer.
It is best to research which activities are right for your interests, fitness, and budget. Some travelers may want to see as much wildlife as possible, while others may want to learn more about Alaska’s history and culture.
Here are some of the best things to do on an Alaska cruise.
What to do in the port
The nature of Alaska is colossal. Being the largest state in the U.S., it can be difficult to understand how vast the nature of Alaska really is. If you are looking to explore the outdoors, there are excursions to suit any interest and fitness level.
In the warmer months, consider a Bike and Brew tour in Juneau, where you will walk along some trails along the Mendenhall Valley and the Tongass National Forest visiting the Mendenhall Glacier. And, as the name suggests, these bike rides end with a stop at a brewery in downtown Juneau.
If you like hiking in the mountains, check out what day hikes are in the harbor. Ketchikan, for example, has several hikes of varying difficulty. If you’re ready for a challenge, push yourself to reach the summit of Deer Mountain. With a three-mile elevation change of more than seven miles, it’s certainly not easy, but you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Alaska in all directions.
There are many ways to explore Alaska’s nature, however, without sweating. After all, most excursions and activities are based on outdoor exploration. For something soothing and scenic, book your ticket on the White Pass and Yukon Railway at Skagway. It’s a train ride from Skagway to the mountains, through dense pine forests, waterfalls and snowy expanses.
Another not-so-tough outdoor adventure is a whale watching excursion. Whales are seen on the southeast coast of Alaska during the summer months. Although you can spot whales on a cruise ship, booking a whale watching tour allows you to get up close and personal with these magnificent sea creatures.
One helpful tip when looking for a coastal excursion is to filter by Royal Caribbean’s Cruise Planner website by “Activity Level”. You can filter out light, moderate, and hard excursions. This can be helpful in making sure that an outing fits your or your team’s physical abilities.
Have a drink in a salon
While it has tiki bars in the Caribbean, Alaska has lounges. In many Alaskan ports you will find a historic saloon or western theme. These establishments can be a great place to eat and drink after a dry excursion or to rest before returning to the boat.
A popular place to visit in Juneau is the Red Dog Saloon. Saloon was established at the height of the city’s mining era and has been recognized as the oldest man-made tourist destination by Juneau. Walking in the salon is like walking back in time to the early 1900s. The establishment is eclectic, with the decoration of the border theme as well as others funky decoration, such as a collection of banknotes and business cards placed on the walls.
Saloon offers very reasonably priced drinks, as well as standard American and Alaska fare. Be sure to try some special saloon drinks, such as Alaskan Duck Fart shot and draft root beer. Or enjoy a warm Irish coffee while listening to live music by a local guitarist.
Luckily, the Red Dog Saloon is just a few blocks from the boat too few drinks, it won’t take long to return to the container.
Consider a dry walk before or after your cruise
Cruises to Alaska mainly visit the southeastern region of the state. Many of Alaska’s most landmark landmarks, such as Denali National Park, are located further inland and are inaccessible by a cruise ship.
Royal Caribbean admits that many travelers want to visit inland destinations in Alaska. Thus, they offer Alaska Cruise Tours.
Alaska Cruise Tours are a combination of a one-way cruise and an Alaska land tour. Both pre- and post-cruise trips are available, which means you can decide to fly to Alaska on a single trip, take a land tour and take a cruise to Seattle or Vancouver, or vice versa. Land visits are an additional 2-5 nights on land, in addition to the time spent on a cruise ship.
The land tour offers a mix of guided tours and independent explorations. All accommodation and transportation is arranged by Royal Caribbean without worrying about your time. Land walk activities and excursions can include climbing the Denalira Wilderness Express scenic train ride, walking along the Chena River in Fairbanks, and enjoying a scenic ride on Turnagain Arm Drive near Seward.
What to do at sea
See the landscape from public spaces
Many cruises to Alaska offer a few hours at destinations such as Hubbard Glacier and Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier. These days, the ship arrives at a glacier and slows down, travels across the glacier, and rotates the ship 360 degrees to ensure that passengers can see the landscape from anywhere.
Many travelers will be able to see the landscape from the comfort of their balconies, but this is not necessarily the best place to do so.
Balconies are usually facing in one direction only. If the ship is sailing past the Hubbard Glacier, you will spend a lot of time looking towards it the opposite the direction of the glacier from your balcony.
Seeing the glacier from a public area of the ship, such as from the back of the pool, allows you to look at the landscape while the ship is there. Is the glacier on the starboard side of the ship? Just go to that side of the pool deck. Is the best approach behind it now? Take a short walk to the back of the boat.
One recommendation, especially if you don’t have a balcony room, is to study the best areas of the boat to see the landscape when you board the boat. You may find some “secret” sites, such as the wings of the Solarium Bridge or the outdoor seating of the Windjammer, that offer wonderful views with fewer crowds.
Don’t do anything!
It’s quite fun, even though this article is about the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise, some of the most memorable moments on the ship will be when you don’t rest and look at the scenery around you.
One less cruise to Alaska about the activities offered on a specific boat and more to the destination. Royal Caribbean makes very scenic itineraries through the inland passage of Alaska, which means that a day at “sea” can also mean a day of tourism.
While some Royal Caribbean vessels traveling to Alaska will offer more activity than others, don’t let this be a factor in deciding which vessel you choose. However, you may spend less time doing indoor activities, and more time to relax with a great view.
Generally, an Alaska cruise offers activities that suit different budgets and interests. And while it may be relative to the “best thing that can be done” on an Alaska cruise, these options can be a great starting point for planning your trip.
If you’re looking for more inspiration on what to do on an Alaska cruise, read our live Alaska blogs for more ideas on Explorer of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas. Also, don’t forget to watch a full tour of the Ovation of the Seas by boat if you travel to Alaska next summer.