The Ports of Call

Alaska may be our biggest state, but there are not very many ports of call. While you are planning your excursions, try to budget for at least one flight in a small plane or helicopter. There are plenty of other sources for information about the cruise ports and available excursions. A grossly oversimplified summary of some our favorites follows:

Becca and her dogsled

Dog sledding on the Juneau Ice Cap is unforgettable.

Juneau: There are a number of premier glacier experiences here. Helicopters can take you up onto the Juneau Icecap for trekking, climbing, or dog mushing. The scenery is other-worldly. This is also one the best places for reliable whale watching. Depending on your itinerary, you might be able to do both the glacier and the whales. There are great art galleries on Front Street.

Ketchikan: Taking off from the harbor in a seaplane and landing on an isolated lake in Misty Fjords National Monument is something you will remember forever. Among the giftie-shoppies, you will find some very nice native art and silver jewelry.

Skagway: You have to take the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway, all the way to Lake Bennett if it is being offered. Remember those six continents you will pass through, while learning about the Gold Rush and admiring the scenery. The General Store has outstanding croissants.

Sitka: Take the marine wildlife tour for sea otters and other birds and beasts. The Raptor Rehabilitation Center is great for up-close viewings of eagles and other large raptors.

Haines: Wildlife fans should take one of the trips into the Chilkat wilderness. History buffs should take the ferry to Skagway and take the White Pass.

Icy Strait Point: If your ship sails into Glacier Bay, take the Grizzly Bear search. If you are only on a cruise, this is one of the few chances you will have to see a Grizzly in the Southeast. If your ship does not sail into Glacier Bay, take the Glacier Bay flightseeing.

Seward or Whittier: If your ship sails into Seward, take the Kenai Fjords marine wildlife tour, one of the best experiences in Alaska. If your ship pulls into Whittier, take the 26 Glaciers marine tour, one of the best experiences in Alaska.