Many people are fascinated by Alaska, with its views, lakes, rivers, glaciers, and volcanos; Alaska has it all! However, not many people know what a trip to Alaska includes or what it should look like. If you’re considering cruising Alaska, we say go for it! Keep reading to learn more about booking your trip, packing for Alaska weather, and how to enjoy your cruise.
Best Time to Plan an Alaska Cruise
Frankly, there is no wrong time to plan an Alaska cruise, timing of your cruise depends solely on what you’d like to see. For instance, if you want to experience optimum sunlight, 18 hours of light per day in fact, book your cruise for the month of June. If an average of 14 hours of light per day will suffice, and you still hope to see green meadows brimming with wildflowers as well as a variety of wildlife species native to Alaska, a cruise anytime April – August won’t disappoint.
If cooler temperatures, smaller crowds, and darker days are more your thing, go ahead and book a cruise later in the season. Late August – early September passengers will get to see Alaska in all of it’s autumnal beauty, while winter months will enhance passenger’s odds of seeing the Northern Lights.
Just a heads up, lower rates are offered throughout May and September because these are considered shoulder months for Alaska cruise lines, so if you’re looking to save a few bucks, be on the lookout for these deals.
Choosing Your Cruise
So, you know the time of year you want to book your cruise, but now you have the daunting task of choosing your cruise line. This can be overwhelming at first, but there is a cruise line out there for everybody.
Disney: If you’re looking for a family-friendly cruise line, Disney Alaskan Cruises is where it’s at. This is a great cruise to take with the kids because there are a ton of age-specific activities, as well as grown-up things too such as adult-only pool areas, gyms, and spas. Keep in mind when booking that a lot of families go this route, so at times the ship can appear crowded and noisy.
Carnival: Carnival offers an Alaskan cruise option at a good value with plenty of things to do onboard including Vegas-style shows and programs specifically for kids. If having a luxurious room is important to you, it’s best to opt-out of Carnival as their cabins are a bit basic for some.
Celebrity: If you know you’ll be spending a good portion of your time on the ship simply lounging and taking in the scenery and wildlife, check out Celebrity Alaskan cruises where the verandas are plentiful. This line is known for great service, delicious food, and a quieter nightlife than most ships. While there is a kids program, this line is less family-oriented than the first two.
Crystal: While Crystal Alaskan cruises can be pricey, it’s all about the luxury with this line. Tons of amenities are included in the price, and with onboard activities such as yoga and music lessons, guests are sure to feel pampered and relaxed throughout their entire trip.
What Excursions are Offered?
To really get out and experience the last frontier, you’ll want to book some excursions while on your cruise. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or something more leisurely, you’re guaranteed to find what you’re looking for in Alaska.
Dog Sledding: Experience Alaska like you never thought possible as Alaskan Huskies carry you across a glacier for a once in a lifetime experience.
Glacier Tour: Book a family-friendly glacier tour to revel over all the mighty wonders of the water.
Railroad Ride: Another wonderful multi-generational excursion to book is a trip on the railway. You’ll want to make sure you have your camera ready for all the mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and trestles Alaska has to offer.
Whale Watching: For a lot of us, whale watching may be the first thing we think of when an Alaskan cruise comes to mind, and for good reason; not only does whale watching make for an unforgettable experience, but you can even select tours that have a 100% guarantee that you will see whales.
Brewery and Tasting Experience: Discover the last frontier through a good brew, as you learn about Alaska’s history of beer-making from the Gold Rush to the present, followed by a tasting of up to six brews.
Wildlife Tours Enjoy a hike through gorgeous Alaska and observe the wildlife native to the area, which includes beavers, otters, bald eagles, and brown bears.
What to Pack
Your cruise is booked, your excursions have been selected, it’s now time for the final task: packing. But what does one pack for an Alaskan getaway? No worries, we’ll be your guide.
The number one tip when packing for Alaska, be aware that the weather is ever-changing, so packing clothing that can be layered when the temps are cool, but easily removed when it’s warm is the best way to be sure you’ll be prepared for your day. You’ll also want to make sure the clothes that you are packing and potentially layering, still allow for ample movement.
What to pack for your Alaskan cruise:
– Short sleeved and long sleeve tees. Bringing a mixture of both kinds of tees will better prepare you for changing weather. If you plan on cruising during the summer months, pack a few more short-sleeved t-shirts than you would in the cooler months, and opt for more long-sleeved tees as the weather cools off.
– A lightweight jacket. If the day takes on an unexpected chill, you’ll be glad you packed a lightweight jacket to throw on. Bonus points if it’s water resistant, just in case.
– A raincoat. Summers in Alaska can be very wet, so don’t get caught in the rain unprepared. Raincoats can easily be rolled up and thrown in a backpack for any outdoor excursions you may have on your agenda.
– A scarf, hat, and gloves. It can get a little breezy on the ship, so it’s nice to have a scarf on hand to keep your neck and chest warm, a hat to keep your head warm, and gloves to keep your hands warm.
– Zip pants. Really, any comfortable pants will do, but zip pants will come in handy on the days you need your legs covered in the morning, but need shorts come afternoon.
– Waterproof shoes. Whether you prefer rain boots or hiking boots, if you plan on partaking in outdoor activities, you’ll be happy you have water resistant footwear.
– Sweaters or Hoodies. A warm sweater or hoodie is easy to throw on with any outfit or to simply carry around on deck if you’re feeling chilly.
– A swimsuit. Yes, you read that correctly. Just because you’re cruising Alaska doesn’t mean you won’t want to take a dip in a heated pool or hot tub.
– Dinner clothing. Check your cruise dress code regarding dinner attire. Typically guests are asked to dress casual. If you are taking a longer cruise, you may have the option of one or more formal dinners, again, check the cruise line dress code to see what you should pack.
– A camera.
– Insect repellant.
– Water-resistant cell phone bag.
– Phone charger.
– Reusable water bottle.