9 Discoveries of an Alaskan Cruise
- Bald Eagles are Like Alaskan Pigeons – Half the world’s 70,000-strong population of bald eagles stick to Alaskan skies, with about 15,000 said to be found in Juneau alone. Gaze up at the spruce trees that blanket the hills.
- Glacier Bay Will Blow Your Mind – With an entire day dedicated to skulking through Glacier Bay National Park on most Alaskan cruises, you’ll spend hours watching a real-life screen saver outside, dwarfed by groaning glaciers and ice-blue jagged cliff faces. Only two ships are permitted inside the park at any one time and ranger commentary guarantees you get well acquainted with Margerie, Lamplugh, Reid and John Hopkins glaciers.
- Encountering a Grizzly Bear – Populations are plentiful here.The Alaska Department of Fish and Game estimates that Alaska is home to roughly 100,000 to 200,000 black bears and 25,000 to 38,000 brown bears. Watching a bear gorge on salmon from a chilly creek or seeing a mother bear wandering the shoreline in the early morning, her two cubs trailing behind her, is an unforgettable sight.
- Spotting Whales – Aside from an up-close encounter with a bear, humpback whale sightings are perhaps the most thrilling wildlife encounter to be had in Alaska. To spot whales, look for their blow—a waterspout that can rise 10 feet high. Whales typically blow several times before rising gently to reveal their hump backs for a few moments. Before they start a deep dive, when they might disappear for a few minutes or nearly half an hour, they may “wave” with their fluke (tail) in the air.
- Giant Rainforest – Tongass National Forest is North America’s largest national forest, spread across 17 million acres of glacial-carved landscape. Hike through the otherworldly landscape, past 500-plus-year-old trees and across spongy muskeg (peat bog).
- Totem Poles – The Totem Heritage Center was built to preserve and exhibit the only original totem pole collection in the United States. Thirty-three poles were retrieved from abandoned Tlingit and Haida villages around Ketchikan.
- It Feels Like Russia – In the 1800s, Sitka was the capital of Russian America so you can expect onion-domed cathedrals and other Soviet architecture from the days after Alexander Baranoff sailed in and founded New Archangel (which would later become Sitka).
- Shore Excursions that Please Everyone – Really! Floatplanes, helicopter flight seeing, fishing, scenic train rides, dog sledding, glacier trekking, rainforest hiking, historic trolley rides, authentic salmon bakes, crab feasts, zip-lining, rappelling adventures, lumberjack shows, totem poles, marine wildlife boat tours, kayaking… the options are endless. There are choices for active adventurers and mellow sightseers of all ages, interests, physical abilities and budgets.
- Wi-Fi is Limited – Yes, this is a good thing. Enjoy the magic of Alaska with family members who will be a bit disconnected (albeit forced) from the normal distractions that technology allows. Your “out of office” email auto-reply will really mean something and you’ll be better for it.
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Still on the fence? Stay tuned for our next post on 6 Things You Should Know Before Booking Your Alaska Cruise.