By: Joel Dash Special to the Boca/Delray newspapers
There is no better time than this summer to visit Alaska, and the best way to see Alaska is on a cruise. Departure cities for seven-day excursions are Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Longer treks are available leaving from San Francisco, CA. The most popular choices include a seven-day inside passage cruise which returns to your departure point, or, the Cross Gulf of Alaska – which are one way cruises starting or ending in Anchorage, allowing for exploration of Denali National Park, Fairbanks, and beyond.
The Inside Passage is a narrow waterway surrounded by 1,000-foot cliffs of ice. You will find that water and wildlife mix quite nicely in this haven for kayakers, anglers and glacier gazers. The ports of call (depending on specific ship) are Ketchikan-Granit cliffs, 1,000-foot breathtaking waterfalls, crystalline lakes and low-hanging mists. Many indigenous totem poles can be spotted along the way.
Tracy Arm Fjord is home to twin Sawyer glaciers. You can see some of the world’s most awe-inspiring “tidewater” glaciers and cascading waterfalls. Alaska’s capital city, Juneau, sits at the base of Mt. Juneau and is surrounded by salt water. It is an ideal jumping off point for tons of outdoor activities. Mendenhall glacier is located just outside of town. My first experience flying in a helicopter was landing on this glacier and then hiking and sight seeing. Dog sled rides are available as well.
Skagway is home to the White Pass Scenic Railway where you take the unforgettable journey aboard vintage rail cars up twenty miles to the White Pass summit, at an elevation of 2,865 feet. Hubbard glacier is one of the most active and longest “tidewater” glaciers in North America with 1,350-square-miles of blue ice.
In Sitka, a former Russian outpost, you can visit Sitka National Historical Park to learn about the native Tlingit people. Enjoy authentic Tlingit dancing and art at Icy Strait Point. You can even get closer than you’d ever imagine to humpback whales and brown bears in this memorable town.
An inner passage highlight is the 3.3 million acre, Glacier Bay, home to Glacier National Park. Experience eye-popping magnificent glaciers, snow-capped mountains and a plethora of active seabirds. The most spectacular view is when your cruise ship reaches the end of the bay providing a 360-degree-view of blue-ice glaciers, where you can watch glaciers “calf” or break apart into the bay with thunderous effect.
The Canadian port stop features Vancouver, British Columbia, a cosmopolitan city with Queen Elizabeth Park, a 130-acre horticultural jewel accented with Henry Moore sculptures and Victoria, British Columbia with beautiful Butchart Gardens, the treasures of Chinatown and the sights of the Inner Harbor. The northern cruise terminal is either Whittier or Seward, which takes you into Anchorage. There you can tour the Alaska Heritage Center or gallery hop before enjoying the local nightlife. Optional sightseeing on all of the cruises includes flightseeing, fishing, salmon bakes, dog sledding and panning for gold.
The following cruise lines will all be sailing to Alaska this summer. They are Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Ponant, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Silversea. Princess alone will have seven ships while Holland America will have six.
Is the Alaska market saturated with cruise ships? In a word, Yes! This means it’s of benefit to you and a great time to take an Alaskan cruise because the prices have never been lower. In addition to all of these above-mentioned ships, there are expedition ships with less than 100 passengers: American Cruise Line, Un-Cruise Adventures and Alaska Dream Cruises. Choose between expeditions luxury, premium and contemporary levels.
Dash Travel “has been there since 1959”. We’ve been on all 7 continents, to over 100 countries, all 50 states and on over 100 cruise ships. We are uniquely qualified as an experienced, concierge travel agency. Visit www.DashTravel4Charity.com. Call 561.498.8439 or drop by at 504 East Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach.