As a Certified Travel Advisor an ASTA Verified Travel Advisor and a CLIA Master Cruise Counselor, Zac Wilson is the owner of Daydream Vacations Travel Agency in Granbury, www.DaydreamVacations.com.
Alaska is The Last Frontier, and a travel destination on many bucket lists. As the largest U.S. state, Alaska has a lot to offer visitors. You can experience the Northern Lights, fishing, hiking, nature, culture, museums, art and history, wildlife viewing, winter activities, sightseeing, floatplane tours, local cuisine, national parks and more!
The question I hear often is “should I visit Alaska by cruise ship or just fly up there and stay in a lodge?”. The answer depends on what you want to see and do.
Alaska by cruise is a great way to explore more of Alaska in a short amount of time. Alaska is a huge state covering 665,400 square miles. It’s not possible to see and do it all, especially in one visit.
A cruise ship will take you to popular tourist attractions, cities, and activities. But not all cruise itineraries are the same. The best destination is Glacier Bay National Park. In my opinion, if you don’t cruise through Glacier Bay then you didn’t really go on an Alaskan cruise. Only a few ships per day are allowed in the national park, so make sure your itinerary includes this experience.
You can also experience cities like Skagway, which are only accessible by ship or floatplane. Skagway is a trip back in time to an old gold rush mining town. My son and I enjoyed visiting the Iditarod training camp for the husky sled dogs in Skagway.
Cruises will also take you to places like Juneau, Anchorage, Ketchikan, Sitka, Icy Strait Point, and more. Popular activities include seeing the glaciers, whale watching, dogsledding, crab fishing, salmon bakes, floatplane tours, and experiencing history, culture, and cuisine.
Alaska by land offers unique experiences. There are many wilderness lodges in Denali National Park. This is a great place for immersing yourself in the wilderness. See Mount Denali, hike the trails, see the Big 5 (moose, bear, dall sheep, caribou, and wolves) as well as bald eagles, red fox, musk oxen, and more, go on a fishing trip, sight-seeing by rail through the mountainous wilderness … the possibilities seem endless.
The best reason to visit by land is in Fairbanks, for a chance to witness the aurora borealis — the northern lights. This is a natural phenomenon that is not guaranteed, so most travelers will stay several nights to increase their chances.
My favorite trip is a 14-day land and sea experience. Fly to Fairbanks and stay two or three nights to see the northern lights, then transfer to Denali National Park at the Wilderness Lodges for three nights, then take the rail tour to the cruise port, board the ship in Whittier for a seven-day cruise itinerary that includes Glacier Bay National Park and typically Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, and ends in Vancouver, Canada. This is not a cheap vacation, but it’s worth the investment.
My two biggest tips for an Alaska vacation are book your trip nine months to a year in advance for best availability, and take binoculars or a camera with the largest zoom you can manage. My binoculars had a 16x zoom and I still felt like it was lacking.
firstname.lastname@example.org | 817-559-7150