Travel Guide Alaska
Alaska is one of the world’s most popular places to cruise, with cruisers more likely to be relaxing under a comfortable blanket than in a bathing suit. In Alaska, you will find unlimited opportunities for photography, sport fishing, kayaking, viewing nature, learning about exotic cultures, and seeing a part of the world unlike any other.
Norwegian Cruise will pick up Keystone Canyon (Valdez)- a unique port of call.
Alaskan Ports of Call
Alaska’s capital sits on the shores of the Gastineau Channel and is surrounded by towering mountains – it may be the most dramatic setting of any U.S. state capital. The Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway is a short jaunt from the ship and offers spectacular views.
A famous Juneau landmark is the Red Dog Saloon, with its honky-tonk atmosphere and Alaska draft beer. Abundant shopping is available in downtown Juneau. Boat tours are offered for whale watching. Depending upon the season, you may also see dolphins, seals, bald eagles, and sea lions. About 12 miles from downtown is Mendenhall Glacier, known as the river of ice.
Mendenhall Glacier & Whale Quest
This is our top excursion in Juneau, as it features glaciers and wildlife from two very different vantage points, by land, and by sea. A narrated motorcoach ride takes you to view and photograph the famous Mendenhall Glacier. Back aboard the motorcoach, you will take the scenic route through the Mendenhall Valley. At Auke Bay, you’ll board a water jet-powered catamaran specially designed for wildlife viewing through the island-studded waters of Stephens Passage.
Sea Kayak Adventure
Your kayak adventure along Juneau's coast begins with a short drive by bus to North Douglas Island, where you will enjoy scenic views of the Mendenhall Glacier. Here, the guide will hand out life jackets and rain gear before teaching them paddling techniques. Then you will board the two-person kayaks with your travel companion, or assigned partner, for the breathtaking trip, which will give you a sense of how Aleut Indians traveled the coastal waterways.
One of the larger cities in Alaska, it lies on the border between Alaska and British Columbia. Known as Alaska’s “First City,” it’s the southernmost city on the Inside Passage, making it the first one that many of our vessels reach. Ketchikan was founded in the 1880s as a fishing village and became a major center for salmon processing. It is the salmon capital of the world. Over the years, the fishing and timber industries grew, making Ketchikan a major city. The wooden boardwalk in the center of town, near where cruise ships dock, is one of the most Instagrammable spots in Alaska.
Saxman Native Village & Lumberjack Show
A favorite with fellow passengers as it reflects the rich culture of Southeast Alaska’s Native Americans and offers the excitement of the lumberjack competition. The first stop is Saxman Native Village where tribal elders and others have worked hard to maintain many of the traditions that have long defined their culture. The next stop is the Village Carving Center where world-famous carvers work and pass on their skills to eager apprentices. On the return trip are sights of Creek Street and the thrilling Great Alaska Lumberjack Show with chopping, sawing, tree climbing, and much more.
Misty Fjords & Wilderness Explorer
Explore Misty Fjords, one of nature’s most spectacular creations while cruising in luxury aboard one of the fastest sightseeing vessels in Alaska. The adventure begins as you leave Ketchikan’s picturesque harbor, passing by colorful fishing boats and floatplanes, in route to a wilderness experience you’ll never forget. Enjoy first-class service, an informative naturalist’s presentation, and watch for wildlife as you ‘fly’ at sea level past the rugged coastlines bordering Revillagigedo Channel.
Located on Baranof Island in Alaska's panhandle, Sitka is said to be the oldest town, some say 10,000 years old. It’s also the fourth-largest city by population and has a rich Russian history. Whale watching, bear sightings, totem poles, and the Tongass National Forest are a few of the attraction's guests can experience in Sitka.
Best of Sitka–Bear Sanctuary, Eagle Rescue & Native Trail
On this tour, a Native Alaskan guide provides commentary and points out sites of interest during the transfer to Sitka's Raptor Hospital for a close-up encounter with Alaska's bald eagles. After the eagle experience, you will enjoy a scenic 7-mile drive along Sitka's rainforest coast to the Fortress of the Bear, a non-profit sanctuary for orphaned brown bear cubs. Watch resident brown bears as they frolic and play in their 3/4 acre habitats created from a re-used mill site. Next up is the 112-year-old Sitka National Historical Park to see totem-lined forest paths.
Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest
You will enjoy a cruise that guarantees wildlife viewing and offers the opportunity to observe sea otters, whales, sea lions, porpoises, harbor seals, brown bears, black-tail deer, bald eagles, and a variety of marine birds. An onboard naturalist will explain the workings of this remarkable ecosystem. They will also learn about the sea otters' recovery, following their near-extinction at the hands of Russian fur hunters in the early 1800s.
After gold was discovered in 1896, Skagway, the Gateway to the Klondike, quickly grew to a town of more than 20,000 residents. However, today the town has fewer than 1,000 permanent residents—although the population doubles during the cruise season to serve the needs of passengers arriving in Skagway. Walking along the main street in Skagway, you feel as if you’re in an old-time Western frontier town. Looking down the street and seeing the snow-capped mountains in the background, it’s easy to believe you’ve entered a very different time and place.
White Pass Scenic Railway
No trip to Alaska is complete without a ride on the White Pass Railway and Yukon route narrow gauge railroad. This unforgettable journey aboard the "Scenic Railway of the World" travels from tidewater to the summit of White Pass, a 2,865-foot elevation. The 40-mile round-trip ride in a vintage rail retraces the original route to White Pass Summit passing Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point, and Dead Horse Gulch. This fully narrated tour features panoramic views of mountains, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles, and historic sites including the original Klondike Trail of '98.
White Pass Railway, Klondike Gold Fields Panning
You will not want to miss this golden opportunity to experience the Klondike's rich past on this historic White Pass Railway and dredge tour. In Skagway, guests will board the White Pass Railway and visit the Klondike Gold Feilds beginning with a journey down the west side of White Pass Canyon to Skagway via motorcoach.
Icy Point Strait
Located 22 miles southeast of Glacier Bay National Park and just down the road from Hoonah, it's Alaska's largest Huna Tlingit village. Icy Strait Point is a new port for cruisers.
Thanks to its cultural ties to the Tlingit population, this port welcomes only one cruise ship at a time, preserving its natural beauty and offering an authentic "wilderness experience." where you can view untouched wilderness and wildlife. Norwegian's cruise through Icy Strait will prove to be one of the most memorable of your client's vacation. The town is built around the restored Hoonah Packing Cannery.
Keystone Canyon (Valdez), Alaska If you’re interested in dramatic landscapes and diverse wildlife, then Valdez is for you. Ideally nestled along Prince William Sound, this picturesque town seems to have it all—towering mountains, wildflower-carpeted meadows, iceberg-dotted waters and expansive glaciers. Feel Free to go a little wild on an exhilarating shore excursion, from fishing and whale watching to glacier hikes and much more. Or explore the town’s Gold Rush history, browse local shops and savor fresh seafood.
Canadian Ports of Calls
British Columbia’s capital is on the southern tip of Vancouver Island which retains its British colonial atmosphere. Despite its northern location, Victoria’s climate is quite temperate, and the frequent light rain nurtures its beautiful flowers.
Positioned between the snow-dusted North Shore Mountains and the rich, blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver blends big-city sophistication with small-town charm. Your clients won't want to miss Queen Elizabeth Park, a 130-acre civic arboretum accented with sculptures.
The deepest port in North America, Prince Rupert serves as Canada’s gateway to Alaska and the Queen Charlotte Islands. Your clients will want to see the totems of the Haida and Tsimshian Indians in the beautiful city parks, with spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean.
Glaciers you may see on your cruise
Glacier Bay, which was discovered by famed naturalist John Muir in 1879, offers some of the most spectacular sights in Alaska. If nature is cooperative, here’s what you will experience as the ship glides slowly into Glacier Bay. First, small chunks of ice float past the ship, with wisps of mist rising from the icy waters. Sounds like thunder echoes
from the distance. The bigger chunks of ice float past. The clouds part. To the left, a sheer, broad wall of ice, ahead a grayish one. These are the renowned glaciers. The thunder? It’s the sound of “calving”: huge slices of ice cracking from the glacier face and plunging into the cold, deep waters below. Are we getting too poetic? Think again: Glacier Bay is one of the most poetic places in the world.
Sawyer Glacier isn’t as well-known as Glacier Bay, but many naturalists consider it more spectacular. Located within the large Tongass National Forest, the narrow, 25-mile-long fjord of Tracy Arm leads to Sawyer Glacier. The face of South Sawyer Glacier is one-third of a mile long and calves large and small icebergs regularly.
Named for Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Franklin Tracy, this fjord is located near Juneau. Hundreds of harbor seals make their home on the floating ice within Tracy Arm. Mountain goats, whales, and bears are some of the other wildlife your clients can see here. But the real star is a huge glacier and its mountainous setting of 7,000-foot, snow-capped, waterfall-lined cliffs.
And yes, it is massive, extending 76 miles from i
ts source, resulting in the longest tidewater glacier in Alaska. In fact, the cliff face you will sail along is over six miles wide and over 300 feet from the top to sea level. But massiveness is just one element that makes viewing Hubbard so exciting. It also happens to be one of Alaska’s most active glaciers, releasing huge chunks of ice crashing and thundering into the water.
PORT TIPS FOR ALASKA
These suggestions apply to all activities in Alaska:
Bring layered clothing, since temperatures can change considerably during the day and/or in different environments such as near glaciers, in rainforests, in town, etc.
Bring binoculars on the cruise and take them on any Shore Excursion off the ship. It will enable you to see distant wildlife.
Finally, be sure to bring a camera (one that they can carry with them easily). You’ll find more photo opportunities in Alaska than in almost any other place in the world.
In addition, almost all ports feature Shore Excursions that include variations on the following options: area overview, whale watching, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, kayak or catamaran adventures and cultural tours about the native populations.
June-August, daytime highs range from 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit (15-26 degrees Celsius), with night times dipping to 40-50 degrees (4-10 degrees Celsius). May and September are typically 5-10 degrees cooler. Keep in mind that temperatures will vary wildly depending on what region you plan to visit.