Alaska is huge; by area it is the largest state of the USA and spans what were once five time zones. With its myriad of islands and fjords, Alaska has a longer coastline than all other U.S. states combined.
Alaska also has more than 3 million lakes, over 3,000 rivers, 17 of the USA's 20 highest peaks, 100,000 glaciers and 15 national parks. Soaring snow-covered peaks, glaciers and fjords, bears, salmon-filled rivers and the shrill call of eagles echo the grandeur of this state, which offers an experience like nowhere else on earth.
It is difficult to travel around in Alaska, not only because of its size, but also because there are not that many roads and highways. In fact, many of the cities and towns in Alaska are only accessible by boat or by air. This may be one of the reasons why Alaska cruises have become increasingly popular in recent years. On a cruise to Alaska you are able to cover big distances, and at the same time experience some of nature's wonders to be found here.
Alaska Cruises typically follow one of three different routes: The Inside Passage, The Northbound Glacier Route or the Southbound Glacier Route.
Inside Passage cruises usually include visits to tidewater glaciers, such as Hubbard Glacier or Glacier Bay, and transit through rugged fjords where mountains of ice have carved their way through sheer rock in years past. Typical ports of call on an Inside Passage Alaska cruise include Juneau, Ketchikan, Skageay and Haines.
Northbound Glacier Route cruises sail along Alaska's spectacularly rugged coastline through the Gulf of Alaska, stopping at historic Alaskan towns and touring mighty glaciers along the way. Ports include Ketchikan, Juneau and Seward among others.
Southbound Glacier Route cruises usually include the Gulf of Alaska during a seven day cruise between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver, BC.
Alaska's cruise season is May through the beginning of October. The shouldering season (and best pricing) are May and September-October. The summer months bring lots of visitors so if you are planning for June, July or August you need to book well in advance to get the sailing and cabin you want.
Alaska cruises are typically 7 day adventures departing from Seattle, Washington for Inside Passage cruises. Glacier cruises most typically leave from Vancouver-BC for northbound and Seward, Alaska for Southbound. Whale watching is best during June and July for sighting Humpbacks and Orcas.