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Alaska by Cruise Ship - a destination series; choosing your destinati

Dawn Princess
Dawn PrincessWikimedia

Alaska cruises typically depart from Seward, Anchorage, Seattle or Vancouver with a few exceptions. You can choose a large ship with over 2,600 passengers or an all suite, all inclusive, luxury yacht that holds just 380 passengers. Cruise companies offer glossy brochures and your travel agent will have these on hand or can order them for you, making the experience of selecting your destination fun and fascinating. Itineraries can last as short as three days to up to two weeks with land tours often added on, that might include Alaska's top two attractions, Denali and Glacier Bay National Parks. Shore and land excursions might include dog sledding, salmon fishing, whitewater rafting, flight seeing or panning for gold. Onboard activities are similar among large ships, and often scaled back and more intimate on small ships. Enjoy enriching experiences on board including authentic Alaska cuisine, entertainment and expert naturalists. There are often themed cruises that offer jazz music, culinary and wine, photography or nature classes complete with lectures from instructors and demonstrations from experts. Large cruise ships follow the two most popular routes: the Inside Passage Cruise – a loop from Vancouver or Seattle to the top of the Panhandle and back, and the Glacier Cruise – a one way cruise either to or from the Prince William Sound area. The small ships also service these routes, but call at smaller ports too, and offer imaginative itineraries into more remote areas of the coast. The Alaska fleet is one of the newest in the industry with most ships less than 10 years old.

The Inside Passage: The Inside Passage gets its name because it is literally inside a long chain of islands which provide a protective buffer from the rough seas of the North Pacific ocean. Cruising Alaska means viewing rugged capes, cliffs and fjords that define the coast and provides spectacular displays of nature. The inside passage route is extremely popular due to its dramatic scenery, interesting ports and its mild, maritime climate. An excellent introduction to Alaska is experienced by first time cruisers who will delight in the round trip route that will offer 2,000 miles of intricate channels, passes, straits and islands full of wildlife and scenic backdrops. Cruisers will enjoy the twisting channels and passes that provide breathtaking views, while the ship's officers navigate through tight passes with treacherous obstacles; steep, towering mountains and cascading waterfalls. The larger ships will follow the main route through Southeast Alaska, but the smaller ships will travel the narrower channels and pull up to some of the smaller, more intimate ports. Along the glassy, sheltered waters of the breathtaking Inside Passage one might see the humpback whales just off the side of their ship, or spot a bear walking along the rocky shore of an untouched island. The highlight of the Inside Passage cruise will likely be one of two main glacier locations; Tracy Arm or Glacier Bay. . Both offer amazing views of active tidewater glaciers and are near feeding areas for humpback whales. Visits to ports or quaint gold rush towns like Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka will give passengers a taste of the strong frontier spirit of Alaska.

The Glacier Cruise: These cruises to Prince William Sound are typical one way, 7 to 10 day voyages that will whisk passengers past some of Alaska's largest and most active tidewater glaciers. The itinerary will normally include 4-5 days of travelling the Inside Passage with several port calls and glacier stops along the way. Once your ship leaves the protection of the Inside Passage, you will be at sea for about 24 hours as you make your way to Prince William Sound. Yakutat Bay is a popular stop with a view of the massive Hubbard Glacier. On the way to Prince William Sound, ships pass Cape St. Elias, a haunting, lonely cape jutting into the gulf and at Hinchinbrook Entrance they will enter the peaceful waters of the Sound where they will see the active Columbia Glacier and the many glaciers of College Fjord. Ship's passengers visiting College Fjord will experience the chunks of ice dropping with a thunderous crash into the open sea. Itineraries in this area might include ports of call at Valdez or Whittier, or Seward in Resurrection Bay. Nothing can prepare you for the sights and sounds of the rivers of ice and Alaska's legendary glaciers - towering rivers with crystal blue ice, at one moment silent and majestic, the next dramatically, loudly shedding massive icebergs into the sea below.

“It's like you've always imagined, only better – a land of epic attractions where superlatives aren't enough to capture the majesty of its towering mountains, sparkling waters and Ice-Age glaciers.” (Princess Cruise Line 2015 brochure)

If all this sounds enticing, it's only a phone call away. Call Mary at 318-588-2567 at Maric Ticket 2 Travel to begin planning your Alaska Cruise vacation, or email maricticket2travel@yahoo.com. Please come back frequently to read updates on Alaska cruising.