2019 Alaska Cruise Guide: Top Tips for Cruising Alaska

2019 Alaska Cruise Guide: Top Tips for Cruising Alaska

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We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise to Alaska
with our little JellyBean in May of 2019. If you follow these ten tips, you’ll likely
enjoy your Alaskan cruise as much as we did! Our first tip is to not let the idea of “having
to have” a balcony prevent you from taking an Alaskan cruise. Many people will say that you must have a
balcony for an Alaskan Cruise. However, during our cruise there was plenty
of opportunity to see the sights from our ship’s public areas and open decks. In fact, even though we had a balcony, all
of our most memorable experiences and photos happened in public areas of the ship and we
spent very little time sightseeing from our balcony. We found our balcony to have a fairly limited
view, while the public areas and open decks had a much wider view of all sides of the
ship, allowing us to fully appreciate the scale and grandeur of what we were seeing. Our next tip is to do a good amount of research
for any ship you’re considering to ensure the ship is a good option for Alaska. A few questions to consider are: Does the ship have good public viewing locations? Are there inside public areas with expansive
windows? Does the ship have covered outdoor viewing
areas? And, if you’re interested in swimming, does
the ship have an indoor pool? Our third tip is to consider Glacier Bay National
Park for your itinerary if your Alaskan cruise is truly going to be a once-in-a-lifetime
visit. Glacier Bay National Park is a 3.3 million
acre park full of breathtaking mountainscapes and 1,045 glaciers and it’s one of the biggest
highlights of any cruise that spends the day there. The park can only be accessed by two cruise
ships each day, so the number of people who can experience the park is relatively limited
compared to other Alaskan destinations. Our next tip is to consider a round-trip cruise
from Vancouver If you’re worried about seasickness on your Alaskan cruise. Ships sailing to Alaska from Vancouver typically
sail in the protected waters of the Inside Passage east of Vancouver Island. Flanked by land on both sides for the majority
of the route, the journey tends to be calm and the scenery is beautiful. By contrast, ships sailing from Seattle typically
sail in the less calm Pacific Ocean for a day at sea and join the Inside Passage north
of Vancouver Island. Our fifth tip is to pack a sleep mask if you
have a balcony or oceanview cabin and have a difficult time sleeping in brighter conditions. When we cruised in late May, a really early
sunrise and really late sunset meant that we had over 17-and-a-half hours of daylight
and zero official hours of night. With so much sunlight, our cabin was never
completely dark, even with the curtains drawn. Our next tip is to pack for all seasons when
visiting Alaska. While many people will tell you to dress in
layers when visiting Alaska, that wasn’t quite helpful enough during our visit. The day prior to embarking on our cruise,
the weekly forecast indicated high temperatures in the 40s and 50s for the entire trip. In actuality, temperatures climbed into the
70s and we found ourselves wishing we had packed shorts. We also found that we could not rely on weather
forecasts once we were on board the ship as the forecasted temperature for the next day
was often wrong by 10 degrees or more. Our seventh tip is to make sure you budget
for shore excursions and consider independent tour operators. Alaska offers many unique, once-in-a-lifetime
wildlife and outdoor experiences and those excursions tend to be more costly than excursions
offered in Caribbean ports and elsewhere. We were able to save some money by booking
online with independent tour providers who guaranteed an on-time return to our ship or
they’d cover the cost of getting us to the ship at the next port. Our next tip is to use the internet to discover
many resources for exploring Alaskan ports on your own. In addition to finding free walking tours
online for each of the ports we visited, we also found a website that listed the berth
locations for our ship. The docking information was helpful for our
planning since some ships dock much closer to downtown and tourist areas than others. And if you’re planning to visit the Klondike
Gold Rush National Historical Park in Skagway, the park’s website explains how to reserve
free tickets in advance for the ranger-led tours and how kids can be sworn in as Junior
Rangers. Our ninth tip is to make sure you add scale
to your photographs. Many sights in Alaska are hugeand it can be
hard to represent the true size unless you add a reference for scale to your photos. For example, if you’re taking a photo of
a mountain — such as the 3,500 foot tall Mount Juneau — make sure you include some
buildings or other objects that help show exactly how tall it is. Our final tip is to bring a large map of the
areas your Alaskan cruise will be sailing to and hang it in your cabin. During our cruise, the map was very helpful
for identifying landmarks and other points of interest as we cruised by, especially in
the Inside Passage area. The map was also fun for showing our little
JellyBean where we were and how our ship would get to the next destination.

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