Glaciers, Mountains and Wildlife is what comes to mind when people think of Alaska. It is this and more! Travel up the Inside Passage to Alaska on a large cruise ship, or on a smaller ship. If cruising isn’t for you, then you can fly into the larger cities of Anchorage and Fairbanks and travel by rail, motorcoach, private vehicle or plane. The Alaska Railroad is a great way to see the scenery and stops off at Denali National Park. You’ll see a variety of wildlife deep within the park and the stunning Mt McKinley towering above. Fly up to the Arctic Circle and visit the small communities of Barrow and Nome, follow the Alaska pipeline down country to Valdez, known as the ‘Switzerland of Alaska’. Travel by bush plane to the small settlement of McCarthy (population 50 people), located in Wrangell/St Elias National Park, walk on a glacier, see the bears of Brook Falls or go salmon fishing. Alaska appeals to all!
• The Inside Passage
• Denali National Park
• Glacier Bay National Park
• Barrow – Top of the World!
The summer season and when the cruises operate, are from mid May to mid September. Whenever and wherever you travel in “The Great Land,” clothing is always a primary consideration. Emphasis should be based on comfort because the dress code is informal and casual. A layered technique is extremely good here. Temperatures in Alaska during the summer range from 15°C-26°C. Night time and early mornings are cooler, from 4 – 10°C. Late August and September departures could encounter cooler temperatures and slightly fewer hours of sunlight, as autumn/fall arrives early at these latitudes. The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) can be seen from Fairbanks, and north of Fairbanks from September to April.
I was lucky to experience travelling overland before cruising in Alaskas Inside Passage, and I feel this is the way to go. Yes Alaska is in America, but it is totally different from the lower 48 States, with a short season and long days, up to 22 hours of sunlight in Fairbanks. You can’t help but fall in love with Alaskas Interior. Skagway would have to be one of my favourite areas with its board walk and the Red Onion Saloon. It really gives you the feeling that you are living in the Klondike Gold Rush era. Another favourite was travelling on the Whitepass Yukon Railroad from Skagway to Fraser. You don’t have to be a train buff to appreciate this. Whitehorse to Beaver Creek and onto Fairbanks, as known by some people the pothole highway caused by the permafrost. Believe me this does not stop the convoy of motor homes travelling over these roads. Stopping at Beaver Creek, you really feel like you are in the middle of nowhere.
Fairbanks is a city that has a diverse range of things on offer, from the Pipeline through to Santas house. My favorite was the sternwheeler cruise, leisurely cruising down the Chena River was my favorite giving me a better understanding of the Athabascan culture. Fairbanks to Denali and onto Talkeetna is a must by rail. It you can travel by dome car, you wont regret this as you sit back and relax as you enjoy the scenery or alternatively you can go downstairs and enjoy a meal. Denali National Park: Even though you have the long day light hours, it is a must to have 2 nights. This will allow you a full day tour into the National Park and more chance of seeing the wildlife. Dont forget your binoculars!
Leaving Anchorage, head to either the port of Seward or Whittier for your cruise back down the inside passage to Vancouver. I loved Glacier Bay National Park, watching the calving of the Glaciers up close and seeing the occasional bear. Frederick Sound and Tracy Arm was amazing with the Whales so close to the ship. It was almost like they were playing with the boat. Misty Fiords National Monument lived up to its name, it was Misty most of the morning, but so peaceful. A day at sea relaxing and enjoying the ship before heading back into Vancouver or Seattle. Sue
Currency US Dollar
Why we love it Wild, untamed, rugged and remote. Alaska’s coastal fjords and inlets are ideal for exploring by cruise, its small towns are as ‘local’ as local can get, and its wilderness areas abound with grizzlies, moose, caribou and wolves – pretty exciting stuff! We highly recommend a cruise of the Inside Passage, getting up close to glaciers and icebergs, whale watching, spotting bears grazing on the shores, and stopping in at fascinating ports of call, some with a real Norwegian flavour. Alaska’s National Parks are fiercely protected and truly pristine. Our favourite is Denali National Park in Alaska’s Interior. Denali is the Athabascan name for Mt. McKinley, meaning “the high one.” The area offers activities including hiking, rock and ice climbing, photography, wildlife viewing, nature walks, horseback treks and river excursions. Private vehicles are not permitted within the National Park but the famous Alaska Railroad runs right along the edge of the Park through spectacular mountains, with the chance to take a tour into the Park in search of moose, caribou, bear and Dall sheep. If you can, it really is worth taking the time to head north into the Arctic Circle, one of the most unpopulated regions in the world where the rich culture of the Arctic Eskimo people is a real highlight. For the gourmands amongst us, Alaska means one thing – salmon, and lots of it! For a more visual feast, head to Fairbanks from late September through to early April and you’ll experience the most incredible spectacle of Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights. Another iconic Alaskan event is the annual Iditarod Dog Sled Race when teams of up to 16 dogs and their musher race over 1150 miles in 10 to 17 days from Anchorage to Nome. Jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forest, desolate tundra and below-zero temperatures create an extraordinary race only possible in Alaska.
Weather Temperatures in Alaska during the summer (June to August) range from 15 degrees C – 25 degrees C. Evenings and early mornings are cooler. Late August and September brings cooler temperatures and slightly fewer hours of sunlight, as autumn arrives early at these latitudes. Whatever the time of year, when packing your clothes think comfort because the dress code in Alaska is informal and casual.
Social customs & quirks Alaska – where the odds are good, but the goods are odd! Alaska is known for its abundance of single men. Gold miners, oil workers, hunters, trappers and fishermen move there in droves to live out the fantasy of a rugged, prosperous life on the frontier, a fantasy not often shared by women. On a more cultural note, Alaska’s unique Native culture can be experienced through many avenues including totem carving, Native dancing, the blanket toss, traditional music, crafts and festivals.
Festivals & events Summer brings many festivals and State Fairs including the Anchorage festival of music, Gold Rush Days in Juneau, and Spirits Day – a celebration of Alaska’s Native heritage, all held in June. The uniquely Alaskan Moose Dropping Festival takes place in Talkeetna in July – a raucous party which includes the Mountain Mother contest, a parade, the moose nugget (moose poop) toss game and a moose nugget dropping contest. And in winter its got to be the Iditarod Dog Sled Race which normally takes place in March.
Health* One word – mosquitoes! Take plenty of insect repellent. Other than that, take local advice on avoiding run-ins with bears, and dress for the somewhat unpredictable weather.
Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.
The Un-cruise cruise from Seattle to Alaska was amazing - it was everything we had hoped for and more. The ship and the crew were fantastic. Our cabin was excellent, others on the Cruise said they thought we had the best location on the boat, thank you for booking that cabin for us. We had beautiful weather all the way and even got treated to a spectacular show of the Northern Lights. We saw lots of wildlife whales, orca, seals, bears, dear, porcupines, eagles, lots of different seabirds. We had the most amazing weather for the whole of our time in Alaska, what a trip!
I just wanted to let you know that we were delighted with the trips we took part in with Uncruise in Alaska recently. The land tour into Denali was excellent. Wade was a very experienced and helpful guide. On the whole, the time was well planned. We were lucky enough to have 3 days of fine weather and saw the mountain right to the top on those days, which is something that many visitors do not see. We also felt that the UnCruise on the Safari Endeavour was also excellent in all aspects. There was plenty of wet weather gear available, including boots. The staff were very obliging, the meals were delicious and Uncruise's arrangement in having a hospitality room available in Juneau, very close to the pier, during embarkation and disembarkation day was an excellent idea. Thank you for being willing to talk to me before we left New Zealand. I found our conversation was reassuring. We also thought the wire bound booklet from World Journeys, personalised to our journey, as well as the black zipped folder which was a good size to easily hold tickets and important papers were both great. I wasn't aware that any other of our fellow travellers who were provided with anything so good from other companies.
We had a fantastic time with UnCruise and would recommend them to our friends, which we indicated on the survey.
There were only 17 of us on the boat from Seattle to Ketchikan and as there was more of the crew than us for that first week we were spoilt rotten!!The food and service was outstanding. What a fantastic bunch they are. We were extremely impressed with their knowledge and their
sense of passion and fun and they worked hard!
We enjoyed them as friends as we felt we had got to know them quite well over the 12 days on board. We were the only Kiwis on the cruise and have invited them all to visit NZ and of course stay with us!
Thank you for all your assistance with organizing the cruise and hotel accommodation for us it certainly helped heaps.