Chapter 3: How to Make Your Alaska Cruise an Adventure
If you wish to visit America’s largest state, you might feel overwhelmed. With so much land to cover, how do you determine where to go and what to see in this majestic state? We’ll help you develop a plan. Let’s learn a little about the state many dream of visiting but never get to see.
Because of Alaska’s size, it is divided into five regions — the Arctic, Interior, Southwest, Southcentral and Inside Passage. To start your planning, learn about these different regions as each one is unique. Here is a summary to help you get started:
- The Arctic: Home to the Inupiat Eskimos and the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.
- Interior: Alaska’s heartland and location of Denali National Park.
- Southwest: Includes a diverse landscape from the Aleutian Islands to the volcanoes of Katmai National Park.
- Southcentral: Home to over half of Alaska’s population — the perfect region for travelers who want both wilderness and amenities.
- Inside Passage: Fjords filled with wildlife, grand forests, island scenery and a complicated history makes this a fascinating region.
Alaska is rich in both natural resources and abounding beauty and had been inhabited by people since 10,000 B.C. Several of the migrant groups that originally called Alaska home remain there today. Russia controlled most of what is now known as Alaska during the 18th and 19th centuries. It wasn’t until 1959 that Alaska became a state. A colorful history in native and Russian culture makes this state feel like no other. It feels like a world all its own.
Perhaps the main draw of Alaska is its rugged wilderness and abundance of wildlife. Where else in the United States might you see a polar bear? Alaska provides the opportunity to view:
- Unusual birds
- Dall sheep
- Gray wolves
Mountain lovers appreciate that Alaska is home to most of the highest peaks in America, or 17 out of the 20 highest peaks. Denali, located in Denali National Park, is the highest peak in the United States at 20,320 feet above sea level. Denali means the “Great One.”
A trip to Alaska lets you get close to the Great One, as well as other spectacular natural creations such as:
- More than 70 volcanos
- 6,640 miles of coastline
- Over three million lakes
- An estimated 100,000 glaciers
Let’s not forget the chance to see the aurora borealis dancing across the sky. If you’re excited to embrace the magnificent beauty of Alaska, we are happy to help you get there.
Alaska Cruise Price
Windstar Alaskan Cruise prices range from $1,699 to $8,034 per person, providing options for a wide range of budgets.
For example, our Denali and Alaskan Wilderness Cruise provides an assortment of everything Alaskan. You’ll travel from Fairbanks to Vancouver and experience a world of treasures in between.
With the Denali and Alaskan Wilderness Cruise, you’ll spend four days touring the land and 14 days cruising along coastlines and glaciers. You’ll have endless opportunities to view wildlife both onboard and inland while sailing the Inside Passage or touring Denali National Park.
Besides 14 days aboard the Star Legend, you’ll also enjoy four hotel nights included in your package. Taxes, fees, alcoholic beverages and additional tours are extra.
Peak tourist season in Alaska runs from mid-June through late August. During this time, you’ll have the best chance of witnessing calving glaciers and orcas or minke whales. Sunlight hours are at their longest. However, cruises can book up quickly during peak season, so you’ll want to book as far in advance as possible.
For typically lower prices and fewer crowds, consider cruising in May, early June or September. It will be slightly cooler and get darker a bit earlier, but you’ll enjoy other benefits. In September you’ll have the chance to take in fall foliage, bald eagle sightings and snow on the mountains. You might catch the northern lights.
When and where you go depends on your budget and what you wish to experience.
Make Your Alaskan Cruise an Adventure
Traveling to Alaska aboard a yacht or cruise ship is adventurous. Depending on your current home surroundings, you may or not have the opportunity to watch moose in your yard while you sip your morning coffee or eat fish from the same waters grizzly bears catch their meals. If you are feeling tired of the same old scenery, Alaska is a sure way to liven things up.
Even though the adventure begins the moment you step foot aboard a cruise ship, there are plenty of ways to take the adventure to the next level. Windstar offers a variety of excursion options with each cruise to enhance the overall experience. Here are a few excursions to consider adding to your itinerary with Windstar:
- Kenai Zodiac Tour: With the Kenai Zodiac Tour, you’ll board a Zodiac boat directly from the Windstar ship. While aboard the boat, you’ll tour around Kenai Fjords National Park to view glaciers up-close and for a chance to see harbor seals, black bears and puffins.
- Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest: Navigate narrow passages and bays aboard a waterjet-driven vessel to view numerous wildlife while cruising Sitka Sound. Comfortable, warm seating, restrooms and snack bar allow you to enjoy viewing wildlife such as sea otters, whales, sea lions, bears and more with the guidance of an experienced sea captain.
- Dog Sled Summer Camp in Juneau: Is dog-sledding on your bucket list? If so, Juneau is the place to be. Participate in the Dog Sled Summer Camp and learn how to be a musher by a professional dog musher. You’ll get to meet the Alaskan Huskies and then relax on a sled as they carry you along 1.5 miles of gorgeous Alaskan landscape.
- ATV Adventure in Haines: Want to explore Alaska like a local? How does driving an ATV through the Alaskan wilderness sound? Have no fear – guides will travel with you to make sure you enjoy your adventure safely and with expertise. You’ll have endless opportunities to spot wildlife as you traverse remote areas and gravel roads. You’ll enjoy a mountain picnic before heading back to Haines.
Have fun browsing our different excursions and consider the many unforgettable ways you can get acquainted with Alaska.
Ideas to Add to Your Bucket List
Just making it to Alaska might be an item on your bucket list, but you can probably check off a handful of other bucket-list must-dos throughout your journey. Not too many places offer so many opportunities to view wildlife — or the chance to ride a dog sled.
Everyone has their own sense of adventure. One person might have it on their list to eat the best poutine in Alaska, while another might find it fulfilling to stand on a glacier. This choice is yours, but here are a few bucket-list recommendations for a complete Alaska experience:
- Watch a glacier calve: An Alaskan cruise will increase your chance to see this awe-inspiring sight. A calving glacier is one that breaks off and floats in the water.
- Spot a bear: What trip to Alaska would be complete without a bear sighting? Any time of year offers the chance to view wildlife. However, bears emerge from their dens in the spring and can be found fishing for salmon in the summer and fall.
- Visit Denali National Park: Become awe-stricken as you look out at America’s tallest peak.
- Tour by kayak: Get close to a sparkling icy blue glacier by kayak.
- See the northern lights: The best time to see the northern lights in Alaska is in the dead of winter, between the hours of 11:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. However, you can see the lights at night any day from September to about April 20.
- Have a late-night cocktail under the midnight sun: In Barrow, Alaska’s northernmost community, the sun does not set from May 10 to about August 2. Even in Ketchikan, the state’s southernmost community, there are more than 17 hours of daylight in June. If you’re a night owl at heart, Alaska welcomes you home.