Getting on a cruise and seeing the melting glaciers live was the first thing which used to come to our mind whenever we thought about a trip to Alaska. A few adjustments on a long weekend and a short flight from Seattle enabled us to tick off an important candidate from our travel bucket list.
Its been just a few weeks since we came back from Alaska and we are already planning another trip to Alaska but this time it will be winters with another gem, Northern Lights. So, subscribe to our blog to get a notification for all other future posts and travel the world with us.
How to reach
The nearest airport is Anchorage which is also the major airport to reach Alaska. Similar to any other place in the USA, car rental is the best option to explore the place. An amazingly scenic ride of few hours from Anchorage to Seward will be the starting point of your Alaskan trip.
Anchorage to Seward
Usually, we don’t recommend driving in the night but Alaska is an exception, where there is no concept of night in the summers.
We drove from Denali National Park to Seward overnight with a stop at Girdwood, a nice small town lying midway from Anchorage to Seward. If time permits, you must take a tram to the top of Mt. Alyeska here which is definitely worth the efforts.
Which cruise to choose?
We had this confusion when we were planning our trip and after reading a lot of reviews and comparing different options, we finalized one. Before we even share the name of our tour company, let me describe the deciding factors for booking your first Alaskan Cruise tour.
Time: There are tours for 6 hrs vs 9 hrs, so you need to decide one according to your time availability. I believe the main difference is that if you stay longer, there are more possibilities for seeing wildlife during the cruise.
Food options: There are few cruise options with both lunch and dinner while there are others with just lunch and snacks. Confirm for the vegetarian food options if it applies to you.
Departing Port: There are multiple starting ports which takes different routes. The cruises departing from Seward are the most famous ones if viewing wildlife along with Glaciers is your priority.
Size of ship: I personally feel the small ships are more fun as they can go closer to the rocks, waterfalls and we even passed through between rocks. But smaller ship will have a more bumpy ride experience as compared to larger ones.
Considering the above deciding factors, you can choose the right option for you with cheaper rates. Every cruise ship will stop if the captain will see a wildlife and the ships departing from the same port will most likely follow the same path and visit the same glacier. So, experience wise all will be the same with a few different perks. We booked a tour with AlaskaCollection and they offered lunch on board and dinner on Fox Island.
Start the journey
We reached the boarding location where there were a couple of restaurants for breakfast and we also carried some snacks for the next 9 hrs on the cruise. Normally, it is allowed to carry your own food on the cruise, please check with your tour company.
Tip: As there are no assigned seats, it is better if you come a little early to grab your desired place (mostly by the window).
It is very hard to choose the best part of the entire cruise for 9 hrs, whether it is those amazing landscapes on the way, a close encounter with humpback whale for the very first time in our life or the amazing view of melting glaciers. We are not sure which one to choose so we will leave it for you to decide.
Encounter with wildlife
Our Alaska trip of 5 days was a bliss specifically in terms of wildlife which we encountered first in Denali National Park and then in Kenai Fjords National Park. A special credit to my new 28-300 mm lens which I bought just before our trip and it enabled me to get some great clicks from a distance.
We also got to see seals and there were not just 1-2 like in those Aquariums in the cities. We could count 20-30 at one place having a tan at the rock.
After several failed attempts, a lot of patience and some distant glances, we were able to see the humpback whale just 10 feet away from our ship.
Suddenly, we saw the floating icebergs on the water and we immediately stepped out at the deck to realize that we reached the most awaited part of the entire journey, the Glaciers.
It was an amazing experience to watch falling ice from the great glacial wall. We never saw anything like this except in Game of Thrones. This was definitely the real version of The Wall.
If you are an adventurous soul and also has required stamina, you can kayak to the glaciers instead of taking a cruise tour or maybe both if time and money permits.
Our cruise ship made a brief dinner stop during our return journey at Fox Island. We didn’t explore the island but we found some special flat stones in various shapes at the shore. We took few as souvenirs from Alaska and headed back home.
Please let us know in the comments if you find the content useful in planning your next Alaskan Cruise Trip.