Why cruise Alaska? Alaska cruises offer some of the most breathtaking scenery in the world, opportunities to spot rare wildlife, try delectable seafood, and learn about Alaska’s extraordinary culture and history. 

When people say Alaska is a wild place you have to see to believe, it’s true. An Alaska cruise provides insight and experience into the Last Frontier that TV shows and films can’t deliver. 

While it’s straightforward to fly or drive to Anchorage or Fairbanks, that’s not the case for the southeastern part of Alaska. Wrangell, Sikta, Ketchikan, and other small fishing villages, are only accessible by water or small plane. 

Why Cruise Alaska?

Alaska’s grand landscapes are unmatched by anything in the continental U.S. As a result, thousands of people set sail for Alaska each year to experience its wilderness and beauty. Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • Unmatched Access to Wildlife and Ice
  • Visit Small, Unique Towns
  • Glimpse Rare Wildlife from the Water
  • Get Up Close to Ancient Glaciers
  • It’s the Perfect Excuse for a Pre- or Post-Cruise Land Tours
  • Alaska Will Never Be the Same Again
Orca in Alaska

Unmatched Access to Wildlife and Ice

Imagine being close enough to touch a glowing blue glacier or taking a small boat within a few feet of a moose on shore.

Alaska’s wild panhandle is sparsely populated, so nature is free to thrive. Whales, sea lions, and orcas (also known as killer whales) come to Alaska each summer to feed and raise their young. Bears, deer, moose, wolves, and other iconic mammals spend their nearly full day of sunshine eating, playing, and preparing for the long winter.

You will see many sights from the deck of your ship, but getting onto smaller vessels is an excellent way to study Alaska up close. When you arrive in each village, you can choose from various premium activities or plan something on your own.

Visit Small, Unique Towns

As the country’s largest state, most of it is inaccessible by road, which is why Alaska has the highest number of bush pilots in the country. In particular, Southeast Alaska towns are only open to visitors by sea or air, making Alaska cruises the perfect way to see the sights during shore excursions.

The panhandle’s small villages have just a few hundred or thousand residents that reflect a unique culture and history of people who embrace the way of life outdoors.

Glimpse Rare Wildlife from the Water

Alaska’s southeastern coastline is called the Inside Passage, with unending views of snow-capped mountain tops, glaciers, rainforests, and breathtaking fjords.

Alaska cruises present frequent opportunities to get close to nature and see Alaska’s abundant marine life in its natural habitat. Imagine waking up to views of humpback whales breaching or orcas playing outside your cabin.

Grab your binoculars to spot harbor seals sunning on icebergs or bald eagles soaring in the sky. Dall sheep and mountain goats scale mountainsides with cat-like precision while bears check beaches below for a quick snack.

Get Up Close to Ancient Glaciers

Although you can see glaciers from the air, nothing compares to getting up close on a ship.
Glaciers are the most impressive of the inspiring sights you’ll observe on your Alaska cruise. As your ship carefully navigates icebergs and crystal waters, you’ll get VIP access to the glacier’s immense blue wall of advancing ice.

Marvel at thundering glacial calving from your ship’s open-air decks or your balcony, and you’ll see why Alaska cruises are some of the world’s most popular trips.

It’s the Perfect Excuse for a Pre- or Post-Cruise Line Land Tours

Whether your cruise begins or ends in Alaska, take advantage of your time to plan a pre- or post-cruise land tour in Sitka. Take a whale-watching trip, visit the raptor center, stop by the Fortress of the Bear, rent a sea kayak, try dog-sledding, or don a wetsuit and snorkel the coral-rich northern reefs.

Alaska Will Never Be the Same Again

Any Alaskan can tell you that climate change devastates Alaska’s iconic glaciers and immense rainforests. As the globe continues to warm, glaciers retreat, animals lose habitats, and higher ocean levels push coastal villages underwater. Except for the incredible Hubbard Glacier, which thanks to its positioning, is actually advancing.

Fortunately, you can rest easy that your impact on the environment is minimal, thanks to Ocean Victory™ and its low emissions profile.


When to Take an Alaska Cruise

The great northern state of Alaska has short, mild summers and long, dark winters. Therefore, the best time to cruise Alaska is between May and September. Typically, the daytime temperatures are comfortable from 60°F to 70°F, while sunny days can get into the 80s. However, evenings can be cool, in the 50s or 60s.

Alaskans celebrate the summer solstice because they appreciate daylight when they have it. Hence, June and July are the peak months to visit Alaska. On the other hand, you’ll find fewer crowds and lower prices if you take your Alaska cruise during May or September.

When packing for your Alaska cruise, be prepared for all types of weather. Bring a warm coat, gloves, hat, and hiking boots. But don’t forget a rain jacket or windbreaker, sweaters, t-shirts, and lightweight pants. The trick to properly dressing in Alaska is wearing layers you can peel off if it gets warm or put back on when it cools down or rains.

USA River Cruises offers any number of amazing trips for those looking to truly take in Alaska. Tours to Denali National Park, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, and the Tracy Arm and Kenai Peninsula fjords really give you the opportunity to experience the 49th state.

Alaska cruise
The Ocean Victory

Why small ships make the best Alaska cruises

Small ships enhance the Alaska cruise experience by providing more intimate encounters with wildlife and nature. Additionally, you can avoid crowds and spark camaraderie with your fellow cruise mates.

Small ships can go where large cruise ships cannot. They easily navigate the shallow finger-like inlet fjords to visit villages like Metlakatla, Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness in Tongass National Forest, Wrangell, Petersburg, Kake, and Frederick Sound.

Expedition vessels for outstanding exploration. American Queen Voyages’ new expedition ship, Ocean Victory, is a cutting-edge expedition vessel with a unique X-bow design that decreases ship movement in turbulent waters. Also, it has a lower deck platform for water-level viewing and for launching inflatable Zodiac landing craft and kayaks for intimate exploration.

Cruising with fewer guests means your trip is enriched with personal relationships, scientists, naturalists, and other guest lecturers you won’t find on the mega ships. In addition, our biologists will guide you through a Zodiac safari to search for Alaska’s magical wildlife, like orcas, whales, sea lions, bears, moose, wolves, birds, and more.

More environmentally friendly than larger ships. With a more modest size and less capacity for passengers, these boats leave a much smaller carbon footprint. They use less fuel, produce less waste, and often prioritize sustainability practices. So why not consider breaking away from the megaship mold and try something that’s not only better for Mother Nature, but better for your vacation too?

Cruise with American Queen Voyages in 2023 on award-winning Ocean Victory’s second Alaskan season!

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