Cruising into Summer
Alaska’s nearly endless summer days, wide-open spaces, outdoor adventures, wildlife viewing opportunities and cultural learning experiences are the stuff of travelers’ daydreams... But now is the time to turn those dreams into reality and book your Alaska vacation.
This interactive map can help plot your route in Alaska, no matter how you opt to travel. While cruising is the most popular and most often all-inclusive way to visit the Great Land, there are a multitude of options and decisions remaining to plan your trip. (Click on “cruise” in the map menu to see all the different routes available.)
Small and large cruise ships travel Alaska’s Inside Passage and beyond, offering a variety of cruising styles, whether you’re looking for a luxury vacation, family cruise, or an adventurous expedition. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas is the largest and most groundbreaking cruise ship to sail in Alaska in 2022, complete with a rock wall, escape room, and laser tag, in addition to other onboard entertainment options.
Alternatively, Alaskan Dream Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions, and UnCruise offer more intimate onboard experiences and wilderness exploration. Board Cunard’s elegant ocean liners to meet featured speakers like Sir Ranulph Fiennes, or choose Hurtigruten, the first cruise line to operate hybrid, battery-powered ships in the region and offer remote “Work from Ship” programs. Windstar Cruises recently introduced its revamped Star Breeze, an all-suite yacht, to Alaska waters. And don’t forget Holland America Line and Princess Cruises, which have the most experience sailing in Alaska; Princess introduces the line's newest ship, the Discovery Princess, in 2022, and Holland America Line is celebrating 75 years of operation in Alaska.
Once you pick the right cruise line for you, keep some of these popular ports in mind as you choose between itineraries and start planning your epic shore excursions!
This small island community surrounded by the Tongass National Forest is rich in history and culture. Walk the historic Creek Street boardwalk to explore a variety of shops and galleries, featuring work by many resident artists. Visit Totem Bight State Historical Park to wander amongst Alaska Native totem poles and enjoy accessible trails. For more immersive Indigenous experiences, head to the nearby Alaska Native village of Saxman or the Totem Heritage Center. Ketchikan is an excellent place to go fishing or hiking. It’s also well known for snorkeling and sightseeing trips into Misty Fjords National Monument.
Alaska’s capital city sits along the Gastineau Channel and just south of the massive Juneau Icefield, meaning a trip to Mendenhall or Taku glaciers is a must, and can be combined with flightseeing, kayaking, dog mushing, a salmon bake and more. Whale watching, bear viewing, and fishing are also extremely popular activities, but don’t overlook Juneau’s food scene. Take a walking tour through local restaurants or just pick a local eatery, coffee shop, brewery, or distillery in the walkable downtown area to visit on your own. And whatever you do, don’t miss the Alaska State Museum and the Sealaska Heritage Arts Campus to learn about Alaska Native history and culture.
One of the most popular destinations in the state, Skagway offers the best glimpse into Alaska's gold rush history. Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park has preserved much of the downtown's historic buildings and wooden sidewalks, which you can walk on your own or on a guided tour. Hop on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, built during the boom in 1898, for a scenic ride into the mountains — and to access great hiking trails. Or rent an e-bike to explore the nearby ghost town of Dyea. Want to try something new? Go gold panning or dog mushing on a nearby glacier.
Often recognized as one of the most picturesque towns in Alaska, Sitka lays in the shadow of Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano. While visitors might be drawn to the adventures (hiking, kayaking, whale watching, and fishing), the town’s Russian and Alaska Native history should be explored in Sitka National Historical Park. Learn more about modern Tlingit culture with Sitka Tribal Tours. And if you’re looking for wildlife, the Fortress of the Bear and Alaska Raptor Center are both local rescue centers that take in orphaned or injured animals and allow visitors to learn from up-close-and-personal encounters.
Unlike most Alaska ports, Icy Strait Point is an Alaska Native-owned wilderness cruise ship destination located just over a mile from the Alaska Native village of Hoonah. Centered around a historic fishing cannery, the port offers adventurous excursions from whale watching, wildlife viewing, kayaking, and even a ride down the world’s largest ZipRider zipline, mixed with cultural and culinary excursions. Want to walk the remote beach or forested trails? You can do that too. The port has eliminated most vehicles on site with new gondola systems to carry passengers between sites. Restaurants feature fresh local ingredients and shops are filled with works from local artisans.
The gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward is the embarkation or disembarkation point for many cruises in Southcentral Alaska, but you’ll want to plan to spend extra time here. A day cruise into the park for wildlife and glacier viewing is a must unless you plan to kayak or SUP through the fjords (guided of course!). Exit Glacier is also in the park and can be accessed on land by a short hike. The Alaska SeaLife Center is a great way to learn about the area’s marine life — behind-the-scenes encounters even allow visitors to feed animals. Fishing charters, dog mushing, and zip line tours are also on offer.
Want to learn more about Alaska’s most popular cruise destinations? Order an Alaska Vacation Planner now.
Alaska: AKA Your Next Adventure
Where will your Alaska adventure take you? Order our Official State of Alaska Vacation Planner and plot your course.