Cruising Alaska

Are you thinking about cruising the Inside Passage (the Alaska Panhandle) or the Gulf of Alaska?  May thru September is cruise season in Alaska, with May and September considered to be the shoulder seasons when you can expect to find discounts.  June is usually drier than July and August, but the weather can fluctuate dramatically so you’ll want to be prepared for anything.  It’s not unusual to book a cruise a year in advance since most people want to go during the peak period when the weather is more predictable.

If you’ve never been on a cruise, consider what fits your style.  Do you like party crowds and all the amenities of the larger ships or would you be happy with fewer luxuries on a smaller vessel that may offer more intimate encounters with wildlife?   Whether you choose to book with a travel agent or not, researching the possibilities first is key to helping you determine where you want to go, what you want to see, the availability of shore excursions, how much you want to spend, and what questions you should ask a trusted travel professional.

Start your research in the Travel Neighborhood by checking out books and DVDs about Alaska.  To learn more about the history and culture of Alaska, read The Quiet World, Coming into the Country, Shopping for Porcupine, and essays by Nick Jans.

If you’ve explored Alaska, we want to hear from you!  Where and when did you go?  What did you enjoy most about your Alaskan adventure?  What surprised you?  Do you have recommendations you would like to share?

Kimberly Sain

As a Public Services Specialist, in addition to Reference work I promote the Travel, Pets, and Lawn & Garden neighborhoods, coordinate nature-themed programs for adults and families, and serve on the Big Read planning committee. My interests include exploring new travel destinations, U.S. national parks, Alaska, hiking trails in Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas, birding, sandhill cranes, monarch waystations, Kansas native plants, citizen science activities, and reading nature essays. Peter Matthiessen's Shadow Country is my all-time favorite novel.

  • Lissa

    We went in 2004 through the Inside Passage. We were on a Princess cruise, it was a bigger ship but not particularly party-centered. The part I liked best was that we booked our shore excursions in advance, so whenever the boat docked we had interesting outings pre-planned for us (including wet-suit snorkelings in ALASKAN waters, a lumberjack show, a whitewater raft hike, and a helicopter ride out to walk on a glacier). And of course we took many photos, although in retrospect most of them are pictures of water, or ice, or ice and water together :). I hope that we can go again someday!

  • Kim Sain

    A helicopter ride to a glacier? Sounds perfect!