Joining an Alaska day cruise or whale watching tour gives you unparalleled opportunities to view dramatic, steep-walled fjords, tidewater glaciers thousands of years old spilling into the sea, and whales and other marine wildlife feasting on the ocean's bounty. If you include all of our islands, Alaska has almost 46,600 miles of shoreline — far more than any other state — making cruises an ideal way to explore Alaska’s vast coastal and marine habitats.
Half-day or full-day whale watching and glacier tours are the best way to see humpback whales, orcas, gray whales, and other marine animals like Steller sea lions, sea otters, and Dall’s porpoises. You'll also get a new perspective on Alaska's magnificent seabird colonies, which make their homes on sheer cliffs. Be sure to keep an eye on the shoreline to spot land mammals including bears, mountain goats, and deer. Many tours cruise up to the face of one or more tidewater glaciers that flow into the ocean from icefields perched high in the mountains.
Day cruises on the ocean are available in most parts of the state, but they're especially popular out of Seward in Kenai Fjords National Park, Whittier and Valdez in Prince William Sound, and all the way up and down the Inside Passage, with popular spots including Glacier Bay National Park and Misty Fjords National Monument. Cruises range anywhere from a couple of hours to full-day, and many include meals served onboard during the cruise.
If you're traveling through an interior part of the state, look for river cruises, where you can ride in a jet boat as it races up mighty glacier-fed rivers, or tour through iconic Alaska sights in an authentic stern-wheel paddle boat. Popular destinations for river cruises include the Susitna River in Talkeetna, the Chena River in Fairbanks, the Copper River in Cordova, the Knik River in Palmer, and the Stikine River in Wrangell.
In addition to day cruises, cruising to and around Alaska on a multi-day cruise itinerary is one of the most popular ways to explore the state. You can book cruise packages on small and large cruise ships, or book a private cruise for the ultimate customized Alaska cruise adventure.
Explore ways to experience Alaska by day cruise below.
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Escape the transformative natural beauty of Alaska. Get the inside scoop with our official State of Alaska Vacation Guide.