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Alaska Cruise Tips. 6 Need To Knows Before You Go

I'm Gary Bembridge of Tips For Travellers. I'm going to share with you six critical

tips if you're thinking of going on Alaska cruise that will ensure that you

have a phenomenal cruise. So first of all when is the best time to go? The

Alaska season is relatively short. It runs from May to September, with May and

September being the cheapest months to go. The peak season is June / July time and

it's also the time when you like to see the most wildlife. The important

thing to know about Alaska is assume when you go, no matter which month you go,

is that it's going to rain. May is probably your chance of having the least

amount of rain and also September. So the peak of the season tends to have

a lot of rain, and in the packing tips I'll talk a little bit about how you

deal with that. The second tip I have is around choosing your itinerary. There are

two basic itineraries, the first of which is the Inside Passage and the second is the

Gulf of Alaska. On an Inside Passage cruise there are four main activities

that you'll do: you call at Juneau, which is the capital of Alaska and it is the only

capital in North America that you cannot reach by road. It's very much linked to

the Gold Rush. You call at Skagway, which is the northernmost place that you

can go and visit which is a very small town only has around about 900 people in

winter and about 1200 people in summer. It was the gateway to the Klondike Gold

Rush. You'll also visit Ketchikan, which used

to be the salmon capital of the world, and you'll normally spend a day cruising

through one of the glacier inlets like Glacier Bay. The pros of an Inside

Passage Cruise is it gives you a great overview of Alaska and you'll get to see

some of the really interesting and important places and you'll get to see

stunning scenery and great glaciers. The downside it is a round trip and go

to Vancouver to Vancouver or Seattle to Seattle and so you double back on yourself and

so you have two days just cruising through the Canadian Inside

Passage, and so does a little bit repetitive.

The other itinerary is the Gulf of Alaska cruises. They also tend to be one

way so they are northwards or southwards normally between

Seattle or Vancouver in the south and Anchorage in the north. The pros of these

is not only do they spend about four days in the inside passage (so you'll get

to see the similar things) but you'll also see much more like

other places such as the Valdez or the Hubbard glacier or the College Fjord. The

downside is it probably means two flights. You're either going to fly into

Seattle or Vancouver and you're going to fly in or out of Anchorage as well, so

there's more flying. A third tip is who should you go. There's a huge

amount of choice. There are normally in a season up to 29 ships doing Alaska, lots

of different cruise lines. I went with Holland America Line and the reason for

Holland America Line is they are the company that has been operating in

Alaska for longer than anybody else. They have been in Alaska for over 70 years.

One of my tips though when you decide on who to go with is look at the cruise

line and look at the ship and make sure that particular itinerary is going to take

you into Glacier Bay. Only two cruise ships are allowed per day into Glacier

Bay. That's really important that you go into Glacier Bay because it is

absolutely magnificent, but certainly I would recommend take a look at Holland

America line just because they have been going there for such a long time and

are knowledgeable and also very importantly they can also get you into

Glacier Bay. My fourth tip is around what cabin. One of the things I would

recommend that you look at, if you can afford it, is getting a balcony cabin. The

scenery is quite remarkable in Alaska, even just cruising along on sea days

it's beautiful scenery. So actually having a balcony cabin is pretty

magnificent. Which side of the ship should you be on? If you're on a Gulf of

Alaska trip as you head north bound you should actually be on the starboard side

(or the right-hand side) of the ship because the scenery is all going to be

on the right-hand side of the ship. If you're heading southbound being on the

port side (or the left-hand side) because all the scenery's going to be on

the left-hand side. If you're doing an Inside Passage it's probably less

critical. However I was on the port side (the left-hand side) and certainly in Glacier

Bay that was a real plus being on the port side as you cruise to glaciers there

the way that the ship was positioned for much of the time, the

important places you want to look at are going to be on the left-hand side (or the

port side). So when it come to packing, think of layers. First of all you start with your

comfort layer. This is a t-shirt or an undershirt and comfortable trousers like

a pair of jeans. Secondly what you need is your warmth layer. So sweater,

sweatshirt or an all weather puffy coat, a

nice warm hat, scarf or a neck warmer and some some nice thick socks.

Pack some long johns if you are going onto glaciers. Third you have your protection

layer. Some sort of raincoat ideally with a hood or poncho with hood.

Also what I strongly recommend in the protection layer, particularly if you are going

hiking or onto glaciers, is some waterproof over trousers.

Make sure that you have a waterproof gloves. Now what some people have

recommended is actually having under gloves which are texting gloves so

gloves that are it will enable you to use your mobile phone or to manipulate

your camera if you want to take pictures. Bring sunglasses particular if you're

going on to things like glaciers or snowy areas. In terms of shoes what I recommend

is make sure that you take leather shoes, because it's going to be wet. They're

going to get wet and obviously if you have some kind of canvas shoe then

that's going to be a real problem. Obviously if they've got more of a

hiking spin to them that's good as they've got a bit of ankle protection.

That's really good if you're out hiking or walking. If you go out to the glaciers

you will be given over boots to put over whatever type of shoes you're

wearing. My sixth tip is a really important one and one unfortunately that

is probably going to blow your budget. There are some phenomenal excursions and

things to do. However it could end up costing you quite a lot of money. There

are basically five main types of excursions:

whale watching really really popular place, glacier based excursions whether

that's just going and viewing them, walking on them going dogs sledding,

activity based excursions so things like ziplining, kayak,

hiking, eating and drinking going to salmon banks or touring local breweries

and then there are cultural immersion ones where you get to experience some of

the Alaskan culture. If you really want to see things like glaciers and whale

watching there is quite a hefty cost associated with many of those, but I

would strongly recommend to try and budget to do one trophy excursion and

perhaps one other excursion which is going to be memorable unique and

distinctive in Alaska. So for example in Juneau, although you can do this in some

of the other ports, dogs sledding. You can do them on the Mendenhall Glacier here or you

can do them on Norris Glacier. But they can cause anything up to

$650 per person. Getting onto glaciers either hiking or

doing dogs sledding is a thing that you will never forget. Another thing I would

strongly recommend you do in Skagway is go on the White Pass and Yukon railway.

This is a very historic railway. It's a narrow gauge railway that was built in

the 1900s and you can do it in standard carriages or you can also do it in

premium carriages. That's going to cost you between $120 right up to about

$320. In Ketchikan I would recommend you go to the great Alaskan

lumberjack show. That's going to cost you about $35. There are of course

many other things that you can do in Alaska which are going to cost you much

less money or you will find in some of the ports there are Trolley Tours or

simple walking tours you can do. In Juneau you can

go up the Mount Roberts Tramway which is not going to cost you very much money.

So what are your options? You can obviously go with the Cruise Line,

one of the options that many people will go with because they know that if any of

the tours are running late the ship will wait for you. There are independent

providers which will also offer excursions - often many of the same

excursions or very similar excursions. They will tend to be a lower cost. They

will meet you at the port and they do promise to help sort out if anything

runs late and they don't get you back to the ship on time. Of course you can

simply go and self explore. A lot of these towns are quite close to where the

ships dock and then just get off where you'll find there are local tour tour

operators offering similar tours - often a lower cost. Do bear in mind

that that dream excursion may be cancelled because of poor weather, normally

not because of rain as Alaskans and Alaska tours are used

to rain - it is more if there's things like fog they cancel because it's

not safe to fly. So those things hopefully will help you

have an incredible Alaskan cruise. Certainly those tips are things that I

learned from my experience and definitely knowing those before I went

would have made my cruise even better. The Alaska experience is phenomenal. I

absolutely loved it. I'm glad that I budgeted for and did

some of those magical excursions because they did make the experience

just quite incredible. If you enjoyed this video please watch many more of my

Tips For Travellers videos because I have many more videos with tips about

Alaska and lots of other traveling inspiration, advice and tips.