Alaska Cruise Tips. 6 Need To Knows Before You Go

Alaska Cruise Tips. 6 Need To Knows Before You Go

August 7, 2019 100 By William Morgan


I’m Gary Bembridge of Tips For Travellers.
I’m going to share with you six critical
tips if you’re thinking of going on
Alaska cruise that will ensure that you
have a phenomenal cruise. So first of all
when is the best time to go? The
Alaska season is relatively short. It
runs from May to September, with May and
September being the cheapest months to
go. The peak season is June / July time and
it’s also the time when you like to see
the most wildlife. The important
thing to know about Alaska is assume
when you go, no matter which month you go,
is that it’s going to rain. May is
probably your chance of having the least
amount of rain and also September.
So the peak of the season tends to have
a lot of rain, and in the packing tips
I’ll talk a little bit about how you
deal with that. The second tip I have is
around choosing your itinerary. There are
two basic itineraries, the first of which
is the Inside Passage and the second is the
Gulf of Alaska. On an Inside Passage
cruise there are four main activities
that you’ll do: you call at Juneau, which
is the capital of Alaska and it is the only
capital in North America that you cannot
reach by road. It’s very much linked to
the Gold Rush. You call at Skagway,
which is the northernmost place that you
can go and visit which is a very small
town only has around about 900 people in
winter and about 1200 people in summer. It was the gateway to the Klondike Gold
Rush.
You’ll also visit Ketchikan, which used
to be the salmon capital of the world,
and you’ll normally spend a day cruising
through one of the glacier inlets like
Glacier Bay. The pros of an Inside
Passage Cruise is it gives you a great
overview of Alaska and you’ll get to see
some of the really interesting and
important places and you’ll get to see
stunning scenery and great glaciers.
The downside it is a round trip and go
to Vancouver to Vancouver or Seattle to
Seattle and so you double back on yourself and
so you have two days just
cruising through the Canadian Inside
Passage,
and so does a little bit repetitive.
The other itinerary is the Gulf of
Alaska cruises. They also tend to be one
way so they are northwards or
southwards normally between
Seattle or Vancouver in the south and
Anchorage in the north. The pros of these
is not only do they spend about four
days in the inside passage (so you’ll get
to see the similar things) but you’ll
also see much more like
other places such as the Valdez
or the Hubbard glacier or the College Fjord. The
downside is it probably means two
flights. You’re either going to fly into
Seattle or Vancouver and you’re going
to fly in or out of Anchorage as well, so
there’s more flying. A third tip is
who should you go. There’s a huge
amount of choice. There are normally in a
season up to 29 ships doing Alaska, lots
of different cruise lines. I went with
Holland America Line and the reason for
Holland America Line is they are the
company that has been operating in
Alaska for longer than anybody else. They
have been in Alaska for over 70 years.
One of my tips though when you decide
on who to go with is look at the cruise
line and look at the ship and make sure that
particular itinerary is going to take
you into Glacier Bay. Only two cruise
ships are allowed per day into Glacier
Bay. That’s really important that
you go into Glacier Bay because it is
absolutely magnificent, but certainly I
would recommend take a look at Holland
America line just because they have been
going there for such a long time and
are knowledgeable and also very
importantly they can also get you into
Glacier Bay. My fourth tip is around
what cabin. One of the things I would
recommend that you look at, if you can
afford it, is getting a balcony cabin. The
scenery is quite remarkable in Alaska,
even just cruising along on sea days
it’s beautiful scenery. So actually
having a balcony cabin is pretty
magnificent. Which side of the ship
should you be on? If you’re on a Gulf of
Alaska trip as you head north bound you
should actually be on the starboard side
(or the right-hand side) of the ship
because the scenery is all going to be
on the right-hand side of the ship. If
you’re heading southbound being on the
port side (or the left-hand side)
because all the scenery’s going to be on
the left-hand side. If you’re doing an
Inside Passage it’s probably less
critical. However I was on the port side
(the left-hand side) and certainly in Glacier
Bay that was a real plus being on the
port side as you cruise to glaciers there
the way that the ship was positioned for
much of the time, the
important places you want to look at are
going to be on the left-hand side (or the
port side). So when it come to packing, think of
layers. First of all you start with your
comfort layer. This is a t-shirt or an
undershirt and comfortable trousers like
a pair of jeans. Secondly what you need
is your warmth layer. So sweater,
sweatshirt
or an all weather puffy coat, a
nice warm hat, scarf or a neck warmer and
some some nice thick socks.
Pack some long johns if you are going onto glaciers. Third you have your protection
layer. Some sort of raincoat
ideally with a hood or poncho with hood.
Also what I strongly recommend in the
protection layer, particularly if you are going
hiking or onto glaciers, is some waterproof over trousers.
Make sure that you have a waterproof
gloves. Now what some people have
recommended is actually having under
gloves which are texting gloves so
gloves that are it will enable you to
use your mobile phone or to manipulate
your camera if you want to take pictures.
Bring sunglasses particular if you’re
going on to things like glaciers or snowy
areas. In terms of shoes what I recommend
is make sure that you take leather shoes,
because it’s going to be wet. They’re
going to get wet and obviously if you have
some kind of canvas shoe then
that’s going to be a real problem.
Obviously if they’ve got more of a
hiking spin to them that’s good as
they’ve got a bit of ankle protection.
That’s really good if you’re out hiking
or walking. If you go out to the glaciers
you will be given over boots to put over
whatever type of shoes you’re
wearing. My sixth tip is a really
important one and one unfortunately that
is probably going to blow your budget.
There are some phenomenal excursions and
things to do. However it could end up
costing you quite a lot of money. There
are basically five main types of
excursions:
whale watching really really popular
place, glacier based excursions whether
that’s just going and viewing them,
walking on them going dogs sledding,
activity based excursions so things
like ziplining, kayak,
hiking, eating and drinking going to
salmon banks or touring local breweries
and then there are cultural immersion
ones where you get to experience some of
the Alaskan culture. If you really want
to see things like glaciers and whale
watching there is quite a hefty cost
associated with many of those, but I
would strongly recommend to try and
budget to do one trophy excursion and
perhaps one other excursion which is
going to be memorable unique and
distinctive in Alaska. So for example in
Juneau, although you can do this in some
of the other ports, dogs sledding. You can do
them on the Mendenhall Glacier here or you
can do them on Norris Glacier. But
they can cause anything up to
$650 per person.
Getting onto glaciers either hiking or
doing dogs sledding is a thing that you will
never forget. Another thing I would
strongly recommend you do in Skagway is
go on the White Pass and Yukon railway.
This is a very historic railway. It’s a
narrow gauge railway that was built in
the 1900s and you can do it in standard
carriages or you can also do it in
premium carriages. That’s going to
cost you between $120 right up to about
$320. In Ketchikan I would
recommend you go to the great Alaskan
lumberjack show. That’s going to cost you
about $35. There are of course
many other things that you can do in
Alaska which are going to cost you much
less money or you will find in some of the ports
there are Trolley Tours or
simple walking
tours you can do. In Juneau you can
go up the Mount Roberts Tramway which
is not going to cost you very much money.
So what are your options? You can
obviously go with the Cruise Line,
one of the options that many people will
go with because they know that if any of
the tours are running late the ship will
wait for you. There are independent
providers which will also offer
excursions – often many of the same
excursions or very similar excursions.
They will tend to be a lower cost. They
will meet you at the port and they do
promise to help sort out if anything
runs late and they don’t get you back to
the ship on time. Of course you can
simply go and self explore. A lot of
these towns are quite close to where the
ships dock and then just get off where
you’ll find there are local tour tour
operators offering similar
tours – often a lower cost. Do bear in mind
that that dream excursion may be cancelled because of poor weather, normally
not because of rain as Alaskans and Alaska tours are used
to rain – it is more if there’s things like
fog they cancel because it’s
not safe to fly.
So those things hopefully will help you
have an incredible Alaskan cruise.
Certainly those tips are things that I
learned from my experience and
definitely knowing those before I went
would have made my cruise even better.
The Alaska experience is phenomenal. I
absolutely loved it.
I’m glad that I budgeted for and did
some of those magical excursions
because they did make the experience
just quite incredible. If you enjoyed
this video please watch many more of my
Tips For Travellers videos because I
have many more videos with tips about
Alaska and lots of other traveling
inspiration, advice and tips.