A kid on a zipline while on an Alaska shore excursion

Alaska Cruise Excursions

Experience true adventure in alaska.

Feel like a local with our unique land and shore excursions that give you a taste of true Alaska life. From the historical fortunes of the Klondike Gold Rush to the glacial treasures of the Inside Passage, get up close to the Great Land’s famous riches and best kept secrets.

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Dogs sledding with their musher through Alaska

Discovery & Animal Planet Excursions

Unlock a world of adventure with Discovery at SEA™, our exclusive partnership with Discovery™ and Animal Planet™. Immerse yourself in Alaska and see the best the region has to offer with "Recommended" tours or choose "Exclusive" Alaska cruise excursions that you can only experience with Princess – like fishing for king salmon, dogsledding through beautiful terrains and canoeing past Mendenhall Glacier.

A humpback whale breaching the waters of Alaska

Alaska is teeming with wildlife. See the Great Land’s most famous animals — like humpback whales — on our Alaska shore excursions. Marvel at bald eagles in their natural habitats while in Ketchikan. See humpbacks play alongside sea lions in Juneau. Or keep a lookout for Denali National Park’s Big Five — including moose, caribou, grizzly bears, wolves and Dall sheep — while on a bus tour in the park.

Learn more about Alaska wildlife

Native Alaskan totem poles

The Great Land was built on a strong culture. On our Alaska shore excursions, step back in time to learn how these traditions came to fruition and how they're practiced today. Attend a lumberjack axe-throwing competition, watch a Native dance performance and excite your taste buds at a salmon bake with locals. Or watch a craftsmen thoughtfully carve totem poles at a Native Alaskan village.

A Family panning for gold as part of the Gold Rush History in Alaska

Gold Rush History

Strike it rich on any of our cruise excursions in Alaska where you can pan for gold like the many treasure hunters before you. Tour mining camps and meet experienced miners. Visit a restored saloon to craft cocktails from age-old recipes. Or board a gold rush-era train that takes you through Yukon territory and brings you up close to some of Alaska's most historical sites.

A man showing off a fish he caught in Ketchikan while on an Alaska cruise

With waters as prosperous as the treasures on land, discover what lies below the surface on our Alaska cruise excursions that take you out to sea. Hear thrilling tales from members of the award-winning TV series Deadliest Catch . Or learn to fly fish from an expert guide. As a part of our unique culinary experience, Cook My Catch, bring your fresh-caught fish on board and have our chefs prepare it for your dinner.

A woman exiting a Helicopter on top of mendenhall glacier

Glaciers are the epitome of Alaska. Sailing past them is a sensory experience that inspires both the mind and heart. Watch as Hubbard Glacier calves into the water and listen for the rumble of “white thunder” that it leaves in its path. Land by helicopter on top of Mendenhall Glacier, and feel its strong roots beneath you. Or navigate its rugged terrain by way of flightseeing or dogsled with our Alaska shore excursions.

Learn more about glaciers

Sternwheeler riverboat leaving the dock at Fairbanks, Alaska

Sightseeing

There’s a world of sights to be seen in the Great Land and our Alaska cruise excursions give you a front-row seat to it all. Bring history books to life when you tour Skagway, the former gateway to the gold rush, and visit Gold Dredge 8 in Fairbanks to learn even more about mining. Travel along the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, or aboard a riverboat sternwheeler for sweeping views of Alaska’s greatest treasures.

A couple kayaking on an outdoor adventure in Alaska

Outdoor Adventures

There’s a reason it’s called the Great Land — including its great outdoors. Get up close to renowned glaciers on a flightseeing tour, zipline through Tongass National Forest and hike along the mountainside of Ketchikan’s Deer Mountain Trail which takes you 3,000 feet above sea level. Whether you prefer to traverse by land, sea or air, our cruise excursions in Alaska will bring you on a wild ride.

A couple exploring denali national park on Alaska cruisetour

Denali National Park Tours

Home to the highest mountain in North America, Denali National Park is brimming with magnificence. Search for the Big Five — grizzly bears, Dall sheep, wolves, caribou and moose — while on a bus tour in the park. Most Princess Alaska cruisetours include a tour into Denali National Park.

Learn more about Denali National Park

Why Book Excursions with Princess?

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

Award Winning Excursions: Discover age-old traditions, relive mining history and make local connections with the people lucky enough to call the Great Land home. Experience the very best of Alaska with Princess.

Exceptional Value: Book shore excursions with confidence! We offer competitive pricing, friendly service and unmatched destination expertise.

Guaranteed Return to Ship: Take full advantage of your Alaska cruise activities when you book a shore excursion through Princess. Rest assured that we won’t leave without you, so you can focus more on the moment and less on the clock.

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The 6 best Alaska cruise shore excursions — from heli-hiking to whale watching

Gene Sloan

There are some cruise destinations — Barcelona, for instance, or Venice — where you really don't need to sign up for shore excursions . You can just walk off the ship and head to the major attractions on your own.

For the most part, the ports of Alaska aren't like that.

To get the most out of an Alaska cruise , you'll want to sign up for a tour in most if not all of the ports you visit. And not just any old tour. You'll be looking for the best Alaska shore excursions that get you out into the Alaska backcountry.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter.

In Alaska, many of the biggest "attractions" — breathtaking mountain landscapes, glaciers, fjords, breaching whales and feeding bears, for instance — are related to the Great Outdoors. As a result, many of the best Alaska shore excursions for cruisers are found outside of the towns where ships stop. If you just stay in the towns and explore on your own, you'll miss a big part of what Alaska is all about.

Related: The best Alaska cruise for every type of traveler

Picking the best Alaska shore excursions

People who know me know that I love talking about Alaska port towns. This isn't just because I spent more than two decades writing about Alaska and other cruise destinations for major newspapers. For many years, I was the co-author of Frommer's "Alaska Cruises & Ports of Call" guide. In researching nearly half a dozen editions of that book, I spent many days exploring each of the major cruise ports in the state. I've tried a large number of the shore excursions in places such as Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. I've also poked around these towns a lot on my own.

As noted above, my biggest message to anyone planning an Alaska cruise is to get out of the towns . Sign up for something — a hike, a rafting trip, a train ride, a fishing outing — that gets you out into Alaska's spectacular outdoor settings.

But I also have a few specific, top-line pro tips when you're thinking about the best Alaska shore excursions:

  • Get up in the air . It'll be expensive. We're talking $250 or more per person. But there's nothing like seeing the grandeur of Alaska from a helicopter or floatplane. The Juneau Icefield, in particular, is a sight to behold. It covers around 1,500 square miles. You can see it on a flightseeing tour from Juneau, with some tours including landings on the ice.
  • Don't miss the whales. Even if you're not a big wildlife person, you'll be mesmerized by the humpback whales of Alaska. They are huge (at up to 52 feet, longer than a Greyhound bus), and there are boat tours that will get you up close to them. The best places to do this are out of Juneau and also Icy Strait Point if your ship stops there.
  • Splurge for a trip to Misty Fjords National Monument . This glacier-carved wilderness area, not far from Ketchikan, is another don't-miss sight. It's everything you think of when you think of Alaska: icy blue lakes, waterfalls, snow-capped peaks and glacial valleys. The only way to get there is on a boat or floatplane tour, and they typically start at over $200 a person.

Unfortunately, as you can see from the above, many of the most spectacular excursions in Alaskan ports are expensive. But Alaska is not a place to skimp. Alaska is a place where you may want to budget almost as much per person for your shore excursions as you do for your cabin.

That said, you don't have to splurge for a big outing at every call. In Juneau, for instance, you can get an outdoor experience with a relatively inexpensive trip to the nearby Mendenhall Glacier. It's just 12 miles from the cruise ship docks and reachable by bus or taxi. The bus will set you back an astounding $45 per person, round-trip, which I find an intolerable gouge (but … it is what it is). If you have a few people, you're probably better off with a taxi, which runs around $35 each way. For two or three people traveling together, it's not all that pricey a trip.

Either way you do it, you'll find some nice hiking trails around Mendenhall Glacier and a visitor center. There's a creek there, too, where I've sometimes seen salmon running. One time, I even saw a bear. Speaking of which: A bear is something you think you want to see in Alaska until you actually see one. Then you're just hoping you don't get eaten.

Related: The best Alaska cruises for couples

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

I should also be clear that the towns themselves aren't devoid of attractions. While I highly encourage Alaska-bound cruisers to get out into the wilderness, there are plenty of worthwhile things to do in each of the main port towns.

In Juneau, food tours have become popular; think King crab bisque and Alaska salmon. The Alaska State Museum is beautiful and worth a visit. Skagway is like a Gold Rush-themed movie set. You should at least walk its main street (Broadway), with its wooden-board sidewalks. If you're a craft beer fan, like me , you also might want to sample a Spruce Tip Blonde Ale at the Skagway Brewing Company. It's made with Sitka spruce tips picked locally in the spring.

In Ketchikan, you should save a few minutes to stroll up Creek Street, along Ketchikan Creek, where you might spot salmon running. It's the ultimate Alaska selfie spot.

Related: The best cruises to Alaska from Seattle

How to book the best Alaska shore excursions

The simplest way to book an Alaska shore excursion is through your cruise line. You check a box on an online form before sailing or while on board, and — poof! — it's all arranged. They send a ticket to your room, and when you walk off the ship, a tour guide will be waiting for you.

Another way to go is to book directly with a tour operator in one of the ports. Many of the tour operators you'll find in Alaskan ports are the same tour operators that operate the ship-sponsored excursions. Often, the tours that the local tour operators will sell you are the same tours that the cruise lines are selling you, at the same price . Shopping around isn't necessarily going to get you anywhere.

Indeed, in some cases, the cruise lines own the tour operators in Alaska ports, or at least a piece of them. For instance, the parent company of Princess Cruises and Holland America is a part-owner of Skagway's big attraction, the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway.

That said, you can sometimes get discounts by calling a tour operator directly. I've had some luck with that over the years. It's hit or miss.

Related: 8 tips for booking the best cruise shore excursion for your money

The 6 best Alaska shore excursions

Below, I've listed six of my all-time favorite Alaska shore excursions. These all are tours that you'll find in the tour lineups at every major cruise line that operates in Alaska. That said, different lines sometimes have different names for these tours — and sometimes different pricing.

For the listings below, I've used the tour names and pricing listed in the current tour sheets at Princess, which along with sister line Holland America, is the biggest cruise operator in Alaska.

Related: The ultimate guide to picking a cruise line

Dog-sledding and glacier adventure by helicopter

Cost: $669.95 per person

Port where available: Juneau

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

For those with a hefty bankroll, this might be the ultimate Alaska shore excursion. Combining helicopter flightseeing over the seemingly endless Juneau Icefield with a landing on a glacier for dog sledding, it hits two of Alaska's most iconic experiences.

It's also insanely expensive, as I know from firsthand experience. I once took my entire family of five on this excursion, dropping more than $2,000 in the process. That's a huge chunk of change for an outing that lasts three hours.

But I'll tell you this: I don't regret doing it. Not one bit. For starters, the views of the Juneau Icefield as you fly to and from the dog-sledding camp are incredible (assuming the weather cooperates). But the real joy was seeing my three young girls interacting with the teams of Alaskan huskies that live at the camp.

Once you arrive at the camp, you'll meet the dogs and their mushers, see where they live, get a quick tutorial in mushing, and then head out for a spin around the camp on a dog-pulled sled.

Related: These are the best times to visit Alaska

Whale watching and wildlife quest

Cost: $189.95

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

If it's Alaska's famous humpback whales that you want to see, you'll want to book a whale-watching tour. The waters around Juneau are particularly known for humpback whales — so much so that the operator of this excursion offers a whale-sighting guarantee.

Setting off from the Juneau harbor in a whale-watching boat, you'll cruise to nearby areas to see not just humpback whales but harbor seals and sea lions, too. You might even spot a killer whale or porpoise.

The boat used for this excursion has both inside and outdoor viewing areas. The trips last about four hours, including transfer time from your cruise ship to the whale-watching boat.

Related: The ultimate list of Alaska cruise tips

Note that if you have a big enough group, it sometimes pays to arrange a private boat out of Juneau to take you to see humpback whales. Many lines offer a private boat charter for whale watching as a tour option, or you can arrange one through a local company.

Klondike rock climbing and rappelling

Cost: $119.95

Port where available: Skagway

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

If you're like me, you may be a little terrified at the idea of climbing the sheer face of a rock cliff. But don't let that scare you away from this 3 1/4-hour tour. It's a hoot.

Experienced climbing guides will meet you at your ship and drive you up the Klondike Highway to an area of granite cliffs that's the perfect playground for beginner and more seasoned climbers alike. Upon arrival, the guides provide you with all the gear you need — climbing shoes, helmets and harnesses — for a safe scramble up a 70-foot-high wall. They'll also offer plenty of instruction (and encouragement) plus a snack of trail mix and hot chocolate.

If it all sounds a bit daunting, know that you don't need any experience at climbing to do it; I sure didn't have any when I tried it, nor did my young daughters, who absolutely loved it. There are multiple routes up the cliffs, some perfect for beginners. After making it to the top, you'll rappel back down — an entirely different kind of thrill.

Related: How to plan a cruise with points and miles

White Pass & Yukon Route Railway ride

Cost: $149.95

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

Call it the iconic attraction of Skagway, Alaska. A ride into the mountains on this narrow-gauge railroad is the tour everybody takes when visiting the Gold Rush town-turned-tourist hub. And for good reason. It offers an easy way to get deep into the Great Alaskan Outdoors.

Truth be told, I'm a fan of more active excursions. But for someone who isn't going to hike, bike, horseback ride or raft their way through the wilderness around Skagway (there are tours for all of those things, too), a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Railway is one of the best ways to get a glimpse of the area's classic Alaskan scenery.

Related: 13 things you should do before every cruise

From the comfort of a vintage rail car, you'll get stunning views of mountains, gorges, glacial rivers and waterfalls as you climb nearly 3,000 feet to the summit of White Pass — the headwaters to the mighty Yukon River. Designated an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, the 20-mile route is a marvel in its own right, with improbably steep grades at times and segments that pass over soaring wooden trestles and around tight, cliff-hanging curves.

Heli-hike and rail adventure

Cost: $399.95

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

This is another tour with a sky-high cost. But, in my opinion, it's well worth the money. Indeed, it's one of my all-time favorite Alaska shore excursions.

The five-hour, Skagway-based outing begins with a transfer from your ship to a nearby helicopter pad, where you'll find a helicopter waiting to whisk you high into the surrounding Sawtooth Mountain Range.

On a quick flight to your destination — a mountain trail in the Tongass National Forest — you'll get spectacular views of the mountains and Goat Lake. You'll land at Glacier Station, a remote mountain helicopter pad alongside the White Pass & Yukon Railway tracks. From there, you'll set off on a two- to six-mile guided wilderness hike on a trail along the Skagway River. The highlight of the hike: a magnificent view of Laughton Glacier.

Returning to Glacier Station, you'll end the day with a ride back to Skagway on the White Pass & Yukon Railway, which makes a special stop to pick you up.

Misty Fjords National Monument by seaplane

Cost: $299.95

Port where available: Ketchikan

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

There's nothing that says Alaska quite like a trip in a floatplane. And, if you're going to do a floatplane ride, there's nowhere better than in Ketchikan. You'll find a small armada of floatplanes waiting to take you to nearby Misty Fjords National Monument.

Misty Fjords is one of those quintessential Alaska destinations that's so beautiful you just want to cry. That is, if it's not too "misty" to see it. It got its name for a reason. The area is often shrouded in clouds and drizzly rain. Ketchikan is known as one of the rainiest places in North America, with over 13 feet of rain each year. So, yeah, bring a rain jacket.

But, also get ready for lovely views of glacier-carved fjords, cliffs and rock walls jutting thousands of feet out of the ocean. The whole thing is covered with temperate rainforests and features huge waterfalls (thanks to all that rain). It's definitely a sight to see.

Note that there often are two versions of this tour available: One that is about two hours in length and only includes flightseeing and a slightly longer version that includes a water landing within Misty Fjord National Monument.

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The 16 best alaska cruise excursions for 2024.

Venture off the boat to see wildlife, glaciers, railways and more.

The Best Alaska Cruise Excursions

Tour attendees looking at crabs on the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour.

Courtesy of Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour

A cruise to Alaska is one of the best ways to visit many parts of the 49th state, including the Inside Passage and the southeastern port towns of Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. You can also see dozens of glaciers on a cruise, plus remote places reachable only by water, like Glacier National Park & Preserve. Traveling by ship allows you to get closer to one-of-a-kind experiences in Alaska's interior, especially if you extend your vacation with a cruisetour (a package that includes the cruise and a land portion either before or after your voyage).

When it comes to excursions, many cruise lines offer the same experiences ashore for larger ports of call, often with a slight variation in the itinerary. The most popular tours highlight the best activities and attractions, such as the Mendenhall Glacier Ice Adventure Tour in Juneau, the Misty Fjords National Monument in Ketchikan and the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway in Skagway. You'll also find entertaining offerings from cruise lines that call on smaller, less visited ports, like Icy Strait Point (Hoonah), Sitka, Seward and Haines.

While some tours cost less than $100, don't be surprised to find over-the-top experiences that run about $750 per person – such as heli-flightseeing tours, where you'll land on a glacier and go dog-sledding with a team of Alaskan huskies. If you're comfortable with going it on your own, you might find lower prices on some excursions by booking directly with tour operators. Alaskan outfitters are used to working around cruise ship arrival and departure times, so their tours tend to fit into those schedules.

U.S. News has compiled this list to help you find the best Alaska cruise excursions, from the most popular (and affordable) options to once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

Icy Strait Point (Hoonah)

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View of Juneau with mountains in the background and water in the foreground.

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Even though it's surrounded by water and mountains – and there's no road into town – Juneau is one of the most visited ports in Alaska, welcoming hundreds of thousands of visitors each summer. You'll find plenty to do in Alaska's capital, including whale watching tours, salmon bakes and more.

Mendenhall Glacier

View of Mendenhall Glacier.

The Mendenhall Glacier is one of the top attractions in Juneau, so many tours include a visit to the Tongass National Forest to view the 12-mile-long sheet of blue ice. Some cruise lines, like Princess Cruises , offer self-guided trekking excursions that include a ride on the Juneau Goldbelt Tram, which affords views of the Chilkat Mountains and other panoramic scenery. You can also opt to see the glacier from the water by boat or kayak, or on a float trip.

However, if you're going to splurge on any one excursion, it's this one: Sign up for a helicopter landing on Mendenhall Glacier, followed by a dog-sledding adventure with a team of Alaskan huskies. During the approximately 30-minute helicopter ride, you'll fly over rainforests and spectacular summits, but the real fun is when you arrive at the camp to go zipping through the snow led by your team of dogs and a professional musher.

The Mendenhall Glacier helicopter excursion is offered on Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, Viking Ocean Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises.

Whale Watching and Wildlife Quest

A humpback whale breaching out of the water in Alaska.

Whale watching is another top activity when visiting Juneau, and many cruise lines offer several options for tours. Holland America Line has a five-hour, small-group excursion for just 20 guests; you'll search for humpback whales on a safari vessel, then hike on Mendenhall Glacier where you can look for beavers, Arctic terns, porcupines and black bears. If you prefer an even smaller group, Princess Cruises offers a 3.5-hour private whale watching tour for six people. Possible sightings include humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, eagles, harbor seals, lighthouses, glaciers and maybe even a bear along the shoreline.

One of Viking Ocean Cruises ' excursions, the Best of Juneau, lasts more than six hours and takes guests on a naturalist-led whale watching cruise by catamaran. Before heading back to shore, you'll have a lunch of local wild-caught Alaska salmon on remote Colt Island, followed by a scenic drive to Mendenhall Glacier to end the day.

Alaska whale watching and wildlife excursions are offered on Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Viking Ocean Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line.

Taku Lodge Salmon Bake

Alaska

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a 3.5-hour Taku Glacier Lodge Flight & Feast excursion that will tick several quintessential Alaska adventures off your bucket list. After flying over the Juneau Icefield (the fifth-largest ice field in North America) in a classic De Havilland seaplane, guests will land in the river at the historic Taku Glacier Lodge across from Juneau's largest glacier, the 5-mile-wide Taku Glacier.

A traditional Alaska salmon bake (with all the fixings) and drinks made with glacier ice are another highlight of the day. You might even see a black bear sniffing around for leftovers after your feast. Following lunch, take a walk in the lush Tongass National Forest before heading back from the wilderness.

Salmon bake excursions are offered on Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Viking Ocean Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line.

Ketchikan, Alaska, on a clear morning.

Ketchikan sits at the southernmost entrance to Alaska's Inside Passage. It is one of the most visited ports in Alaska, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Visitors come to this part of the state for the beautiful scenery, Alaska Native culture and fresh seafood, including Alaska salmon and king crab. And they just might enjoy an entertaining lumberjack show or floatplane ride to kick off their day while in town.

The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show

Closeup of ax resting on a lumberjack's foot.

Watch Alaska's hearty lumberjacks battle British Columbia's tough woodsmen in a head-to-head competition to see who can win the title of "Bull of the Woods." The thrill-a-minute show – a guest favorite – features a 50-foot tree climb, ax throwing, log rolling, buck sawing and springboard chopping, along with plenty of lumberjack lore. Some lines, like Princess Cruises, offer just the show; it lasts a little over an hour, so there will be plenty of time for a self-guided tour of Ketchikan before heading back to the ship. You may also be able to book a combination tour that includes the show and an ax throwing lesson (plus a competition of your own), or a trip to Totem Bright State Park, where you'll learn about the significance of totem poles and the Native Tlingit and Haida cultures.

Holland America Line offers a tour with the lumberjack show and a feast of local Dungeness crabs. For another culinary option, check out the 3.5-hour excursion with Norwegian Cruise Line . It includes a visit to Saxman Native Village, where you'll sample smoked wild game meats, dine on chef-selected dishes prepared with regional ingredients, and taste local wines and beers.

Lumberjack shows are offered on Alaska voyages with Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises , Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises.

Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour

A man holding a crab on the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour.

Embark on the Aleutian Ballard, the Bering Sea fishing boat made famous by the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch" television series. The approximately three-hour excursion gives guests a firsthand experience of what it's like to sail on the vessel as a Bering Sea crab fisherman and catch massive king crabs, octopuses and other marine life with 700-pound crab pots. The boat may also stop at nearby Annette Island, where you'll have the chance to see whales, sea lions, seals and bald eagles soaring overhead (one may even try to snag your catch!). You may also get to watch local fishermen at work.

Some lines that offer the fisherman's tour include Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, Viking Ocean Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises.

Misty Fjords by Floatplane or Cruise

Alaska

The more than 2 million-acre Misty Fjords National Monument is one of the top attractions in Alaska . Described by naturalist and author John Muir as "the Yosemite of the North," the awe-inspiring destination is best viewed from above on a floatplane. From the sky, you'll see towering 1,000-foot waterfalls, the volcanic Revillagigedo Island, snowcapped peaks, verdant forests and 3,000-foot walls of granite descending into the fjords. On a floatplane tour, you'll also have the chance to land on the water and take in the spectacular scenery from another viewpoint.

If you're not a fan of small planes, some lines offer the option of taking a cruise from Ketchikan's harbor. You'll sail into Behm Canal surrounded by the scenery of Misty Fjords, and you may even see wildlife or bald eagle nests. You'll also cruise by Eddystone Rock, a massive volcanic spire emerging from the sea, as well as waterfalls and 3,000-foot cliffs sculpted by glaciers.

Cruise lines that offer floatplane or cruisetours of Misty Fjords include Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Viking Ocean Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea Cruises.

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Street in town of Skagway, Alaska.

Skagway is another busy and popular cruise port in Alaska. It's one of the most popular towns on the Inside Passage itinerary; its fascinating Klondike Gold Rush history dates back to 1897. Take notice of the historic false-front shops reminiscent of the gold rush days as you explore. Many of these buildings are part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, and you may even see people strolling down the streets dressed in period costumes.

White Pass & Yukon Route

Alaska

One of the top-rated attractions in Skagway is the White Pass Summit Scenic Railroad journey through Alaska's wilderness. The narrow-gauge railroad is an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark – an honor shared by the Panama Canal, the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. Dating back 125 years, the historic railway features vintage rail cars and climbs to a steep 2,865 feet at the summit over just 20.4 miles. Along the way to the summit – located at the official international border between the U.S. and Canada – you'll listen to the history of the Klondike Gold Rush while passing by Inspiration Point, Dead Horse Gulch and Bridal Veil Falls. After making a loop at the top, the train will head back down the mountain. You might even see snow on the ride if your cruise to Alaska is early in the season .

Excursions on some lines combine the rail journey with other activities, like biking on the Klondike Highway from the summit or visiting Liarsville, a gold rush trail camp. Others include a stop (and a cold beer) at the Skagway Brewing Company. In addition, some cruise providers offer the train ride in a luxury class rail car, which includes complimentary beverages, snacks and a private guide who will explain the history of the railroad as you watch the scenery pass by.

Norwegian Cruise Line's six-hour excursion features a ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route, a salmon bake at Liarsville and an adult beverage with one of the "madames" at the renowned Red Onion Saloon. Meanwhile, Silversea Cruises ' new 5.5-hour tour includes the train ride; a trip to the Yukon Suspension Bridge, which sits 65 feet above the white water rapids of the Tutshi River; and a hearty lunch of bison chili.

Cruise lines that offer the railroad (and combination) tours include Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Musher's Camp and Sled Dog Discovery

Two sled dogs in harnesses in Alaska during the summer.

If you want to cuddle with Alaskan husky puppies, then this excursion is for you. Norwegian Cruise Line's approximately three-hour excursion takes guests to a professional musher's summer camp in Dyea Valley, where they train sled dogs for the Yukon Quest and Iditarod races. After a thrilling ride into the rainforest on a four-wheel-drive vehicle, you'll head out on a summertime dog sled with 16 Alaskan huskies at the helm. Before puppy play time, you'll learn how the mushers care for the dogs and prepare for the races. Depending on the cruise line, some tours may end with roasting s'mores by the fire.

Some lines that offer this excursion are Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Chilkoot Trail Hike and Float Adventure

Alaska

The historic Chilkoot Trail was the main route for those in search of untold riches during the famous gold rush years. Today, the trail, located in Gold Rush National Historical Park, is a rainforest full of birds and wildflowers. Excursions to the park include hikes with river floats on the Taiya River (there are no rapids) or bike tours of the trail. There are also wilderness kayaking outings to Chilkoot Lake, which is home to the five species of Pacific salmon, waterfowl, bald eagles and one of the largest brown bear populations in southeast Alaska.

Some cruise lines that offer these excursions include Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Sitka, at dawn, with mountains in the background and water in the foreground.

Sitka is the only community in the Inside Passage that sits on the Pacific Ocean. The small city – home to just 8,500 residents – was owned by Russia before the U.S. purchased the land in 1867. Today, you'll find remnants of this Russian heritage, like onion-shaped domes and Saint Michael's Russian Orthodox Cathedral. Sitka also has a strong Tlingit culture. In terms of shore excursions, you'll find plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing surrounded by pristine landscapes.

Sea Otter and Wildlife Quest

Seat otters resting in the Pacific Ocean just off of Sitka, Alaska.

Royal Caribbean International's three-hour jet boat cruise on Sitka Sound features panoramic scenery (including snow-capped peaks) and the chance to see abundant wildlife. During the tour, look for playful sea otters, whales and brown bears walking along the coast. The line also offers another tour – Sea Otters, Raptors and Bears Oh My – that features a naturalist-guided catamaran cruise followed by visits to the Alaskan Raptor Center (a rehabilitation center for birds of prey) and the Fortress of the Bear (a rescue operation for orphaned bears).

In comparison, Carnival Cruise Line 's VIP wildlife quest in search of whales, sea otters, coastal brown bears and more concludes with a feast of wild salmon cooked over a wood-fired grill, Alaska crab and prime rib at the Fin Island Lodge. Following a wildlife Zodiac cruise around the archipelago, Holland America Line's version of this excursion also visits the lodge for lunch in partnership with Food & Wine magazine.

You can find this excursion on Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line.

The Best of Sitka

Totem poles in the Sitka National Historical Park in Alaska.

Several cruise lines offer a version of this tour, which features an exploration of the top attractions in Sitka. On this excursion, you'll visit the Fortress of the Bear in Tongass National Park to learn about the facility's work with orphaned bears. There's also a stop at Sitka National Historical Park, where the 1804 "Battle of Alaska" between the Russians and the Tlingits was fought. Here, you'll see handcarved totem poles created by skilled Tlingit artists and get to meet local Native artists to learn more. The excursion also includes a visit to the Alaska Raptor Center.

Lines that offer this excursion include Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Viking Ocean Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Beach and cruise ship ramp at Icy Strait Point, Alaska.

Icy Strait Point in Hoonah may be a much smaller port than others on this list, but it is a jumping-off point for endless outdoor explorations, including whale watching tours and searching for coastal brown bears. Icy Strait Point is Alaska Native-owned and -operated and is home to the largest Native Tlingit village in Alaska. While here, explore the wilderness areas of Chichagoff Islands, visit the 1912 cannery museum, and grab lunch with fresh Alaska king and Dungeness crabs before taking a ride on the world's largest ZipRider. (Or, play it safe and plan to take that ride down the mountain before lunch.)

Whale Watching & Bear Search

Humpback whales bubble net feeding in Icy Strait, Alaska.

The waters surrounding Icy Strait Point host the largest summer population of humpback whales in the state, especially around the Point Adolphus area. If you purchase a tour directly with the Icy Strait Point website, they'll even guarantee you'll see whales – or they'll refund your money. During the tour, look for orcas, Steller sea lions, porpoises and seals. But be sure to also gaze overhead for bald eagles and search along the shore for bears; the Spasski River Valley in the remote wilderness of Chichagof Island has one of the highest densities of coastal brown bears in the world. Some cruise lines offer a variation of this excursion that includes a boiled seafood feast back on shore at Icy Strait Point.

You can find this excursion on voyages with Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Viking Ocean Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

Scenic Mountain Ascent & World's Largest ZipRider

Thrill-seekers (who love heights) will jump at the chance to ride the world's largest and longest zip line, which sits more than 1,300 feet above sea level at the top of Icy Strait Point. The ride to the summit on the SkyGlider mountaintop gondola is also a rush, but the real excitement comes as you zoom down 5,330-foot zip lines with five other riders at 60 mph – with views of the forest below and Glacier Bay National Park in the distance. A break-activated landing on the beach brings riders safely back to the ground. The price also includes unlimited rides on the gondola.

Cruise lines that offer this excursion include Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises , Viking Ocean Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line.

Cars parked along the street in Seward, Alaska.

A less visited port than some others on this list (according to CLIA), Seward is the ancestral home to the Alutiiq, or Sugpiaq, people. Its breathtaking natural beauty – with mountains on one side and Resurrection Bay on the other – has been shaped by glaciers over thousands of years. Top attractions in Seward include the Alaska SeaLife Center and a charming downtown area. It also offers access to Kenai Fjords National Park.

Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise

The port side of a small cruise ship with Kenai Fjords National Park's sea stacks in the background.

During your stop in Seward, take a full-day excursion to see the astounding beauty of Kenai Fjords National Park. The impressive fjords are surrounded by mountains standing more than 6,000 feet tall and an ecosystem rich in wildlife. While there, watch for a variety of whale species, sea otters, porpoises and sea lions, and onshore, you might see bears and mountain goats. There are also 191 documented species of birds in the park and many glaciers. As you get up close to Holgate Glacier, listen as chunks of blue ice calve into the water.

Some cruise lines, such as Viking Ocean Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, offer this as an individual tour, while others like Holland America Line include it as part of a cruisetour. You can also book the excursion directly with a local tour operator if you're embarking or disembarking in Seward.

Haines, Alaska, in the evening reflected tidepools.

Haines, a small port about 20 miles north of Skagway, is best known for its Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. The 49,000-acre preserve has the largest natural gathering of eagles during the late salmon runs and boasts pristine forests, marshlands and rivers brimming with wildlife.

Glacier Point Wilderness Safari

A view of Davidson Glacier in Alaska.

Norwegian Cruise Line's five-hour excursion takes guests on an adventure into the wilderness by boat while cruising North America's deepest and longest fjord, the upper Lynn Canal. You might even see breaching whales and playful sea lions en route to Glacier Point, where you'll disembark at the beach upon arrival. After a drive through the forest and a hike in the woods, you'll have unforgettable, up-close views of the Davidson Glacier by canoe.

Lines that offer this excursion include Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises. Holland America Line offers this excursion from Skagway.

Eagle Preserve Rafting Float Adventure

An eagle flying the sky of Alaska.

Look for bald eagles soaring overhead as you raft down the gentle Chilkat River through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. The waters are overflowing with salmon that come to spawn, serving as food for as many as 400 bald eagles living in the Chilkat Valley. Don't be surprised to see brown bears or 1,600-pound moose coming to feast along the riverbank during your rafting adventure.

Some lines that offer this excursion include Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Silversea Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Lin e. Holland America Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises host this excursion from Skagway.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi is a U.S. News & World Report contributor and an avid travel adventurer who fell in love with Alaska on her first visit to the state many years ago. She's returned several times both by land and sea to view wildlife and chase the northern lights in one of the best places on the planet to view them. She's even considered moving to The Great Land as a full-time resident. Pratesi used her deep knowledge of Alaska and the cruise industry to write this article.

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The 11 Best Alaska Cruise Excursions in 2024

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The best Alaska cruise excursions can range from the thrilling to the serene. Passengers can fly on sleds led by huskies , ogle bald eagles and salmon-gobbling grizzlies , and soar over towering glaciers in a helicopter. And the best part? All these activities are planned for you as part of the cruise itinerary—as a way for travelers to sample the diverse wonders of The Last Frontier in one fell swoop.

Wildlife sightings may be the more popular Alaska cruise shore excursions, but travelers shouldn't overlook incredible opportunities to learn about the state’s Indigenous cultures , as well as culinary experiences centered around local delicacies such as fresh salmon, halibut, berries, and craft beer.

Just know that the real Alaska , teeming with natural beauty and wildlife, primarily lies away from crowded touristy ports. (Pro tip: for fewer people and more animals, the best time to cruise Alaska is in the spring.) Know, too, that different cruise lines can offer similar excursions, so first choose a ship that speaks to you, then immediately book excursions (popular ones sell fast). Here, an array of Alaska-bound ships with the best cruise excursions, sure to resonate long past your vacay.

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Take in Alaska's glaciers and ice fields from above during this Princess Cruises excursion.

Princess Cruises: Dogsledding and Glacier Adventures by Helicopter

Family-friendly Princess Cruises, in its 55 th season plying Alaskan waters, delivers exemplary excursions that include learning about gold rush history and gold-panning, as well as fishing trips on which one of the ship's chefs cooks your catch. The Dog Sledding and Glacier Adventure by Helicopter, created by an Iditarod musher (they lead huskies on annual 1,000-mile races over Alaska’s roughest terrain), combines two top-notch thrills. Don glacier overboots, board a helicopter, and fly over the Alaskan ice field as the pilot points out icefalls and rock formations. After landing on Norris Glacier, meet top Iditarod race veteran mushers and their dogs. Soon you’ll be whisked on a sled pulled by a team of exuberant huskies for the ride of a lifetime.

Ships and sailings to know: From May to September 2024, Princess offers Alaskan cruises ranging between 7 and 17-days on seven ships, including the 3,660-passenger Discovery Princess .

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Assist crew in pulling in crab pots and indulge in fresh Dungeness crab during this popular Celebrity Cruises excursion.

Celebrity Cruises: Wilderness Exploration and Crab Feasts

Adventurous couples relish Celebrity’s adult-oriented amusements, including inviting bars and lounges, fine restaurants, and relaxing spas. Big spenders book the Retreat, a luxurious private enclave—its Luminae restaurant showcases dishes by famed French chef Daniel Boulud. In Ketchikan , a four-hour Wilderness Exploration and Crab Feast in Tongass National Forest (America’s largest national forest) scores big buzz. Drive past jaw-dropping sights, like Native Alaskan totem poles, snowcapped mountains, and thunderous waterfalls. Relish a sightseeing vessel ride, assist crew pulling in crab pots (if you like), before tearing into unlimited fresh Dungeness crab with warm clarified butter, and cheesecake drenched in Alaskan blueberries.

Ships and sailings to know: Three premium ships, Celebrity Summit , Celebrity Solstice, and Celebrity Edge , cruise in Alaska from May until September 2024. The newest and most glam, 2,918-passenger Celebrity Edge, on its maiden Alaska season, offers eight-day voyages between Vancouver and Seattle .

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Several cruise lines operating in Alaska offer whale watching excursions.

Holland America Line: Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Quest

Holland America Line serves sustainable wild Alaskan seafood, with park rangers and local Indigenous tribe members often boarding for presentations. In Juneau, Mendenhall Glacier and Whale Quest rocks everyone’s boat. Gawk at one of North America’s most spectacular glaciers and learn about glaciers’ remarkable force in a compelling visitor center. Ride to Auke Bay and board a water-jet-powered expedition vessel designed for superior wildlife viewing. When sailing Stephens Passage—renowned as a summer breeding ground for humpback whales—you may well get close enough to hear these giants breathe.

Ships and sailings to know: This cruise line has plied Alaskan waters for more than 75 years, with seven ships sailing 6-19 day itineraries from May to September 2024.

The Alaskan Highway Yukon

The Klondike Highway runs from the Alaska Panhandle to Yukon, Canada.

Crystal: Klondike Highway and White Pass

Formerly Crystal Cruises, the ultra-luxury two-ship Crystal, now owned by global travel leader Abercrombie & Kent, has been beautifully remodeled while maintaining its primary lures: beyond-attentive crew and superb dining. Note this sensational Skagway outing offered on Crystal Serenity Alaskan cruises: Motor along on iconic Klondike Highway to White Pass, reaching its 2,865-foot majestic summit and the Yukon Suspension Bridge. Take an exhilarating walk on this iconic bridge, suspended some 57 feet above Tutshi River’s churning rapids below, if you dare. (Make sure somebody gets a pic.) Even if you beg out, you still get the astonishing view and a hearty bison chili lunch.

This European Country Is Set to Become the Most Visited Place in the World by 2040

Ships and sailings to know: The 740-passenger Crystal Serenity offers eight-and-nine-day Alaska voyages in July and August 2024.

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Several cruise lines offer bear viewing and photography excursions.

Seabourn: Anan Creek Bear Viewing and Photography

The outings on this adventure-minded Alaskan cruise exceed typical cruise ships, featuring Ventures by Seabourn excursions with Zodiac explorations, kayaking, and hiking led by expedition experts. In Wrangell, sign up for Anan Creek Bear Viewing and Photography, joining the expedition team bear expert and a photography specialist for this rousing small-group bear-viewing experience. Travel by boat to the Anan Estuary and Wildlife Observatory in the Tongass National Forest (Anan Creek has Southeast Alaska’s largest pink salmon run) and climb to the observation deck overlooking cascading waterfalls. Expect an electrifying view of salmon jumping and black and brown bears snatching their next meal.

Ships and sailings to know: The ultra-luxury 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey offers seven-day sailings between Vancouver and Juneau, as well as 10- and 11-day roundtrip Vancouver cruises from May to September 2024. Seabourn fares include all-suite accommodations, dining, alcohol, WiFi, gratuities, and 24-hour in-suite service.

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Several Alaska cruises stop in Icy Strait Point, a remote area ideal for observing wildlife in their natural habitats.

Norwegian Cruise Line: Spasski River Valley and Wildlife

Looking to cruise Alaska with your family in tow? Consider Norwegian Cruise Line. On offer are children and teenage clubs, plus families can come together to play video arcade games, laser tag, and race cars. During a Glacier Bay passage, a park ranger hops aboard to narrate scenic sights. Explore majestic Icy Strait Point—one of the world’s few places where wildlife outnumbers humans—with family-minded excursions like the Spasski River Valley and Wildlife tour. Motor to an elevated observation area in a postcard-perfect remote valley to safely observe bears, deer, and bald eagles in their natural habitats. Learn, too, about Tlingit Indigenous Alaskans who reside in nearby Hoonah, Alaska’s largest such settlement.

Ships and sailings to know: NCL primarily offers seven-to-10-day voyages, April through October 2024, on multiple ships.

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Passengers on Seven Seas Explorer Alaska cruises can enjoy fresh-caught salmon at the Taku Glacier Lodge.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Taku Lodge Feast and Seaplane Discovery

The Alaska-sailing 746-passenger Seven Seas Explorer is mega glam, with a museum-worthy art collection. This writer gives a shoutout to the Taku Lodge Feast and Five-Glacier Seaplane Discovery excursions. Soar by floatplane over the majestic Juneau Icefield, land in a river near Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier, and feast on fresh-caught wild salmon by a roaring fire at a 100-year-old lodge. On this outing, I inhaled two salmon filets that slid down my throat like silk. Spoiler alert: After this culinary escapade, I couldn’t eat salmon for two years anywhere else.

Ships and sailings to know: Regent's Seven Seas Explorer mostly offers eight-day cruises running between Seward and Vancouver, from May to September 2024. On this ultra-luxury line, fares include airfare, unlimited shore excursions (other than select tours), alcohol, dining, WiFi, valet laundry, and gratuities.

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The Kroschel Wildlife Refuge in Haines, Alaska is home to orphaned and rescued animals.

Royal Caribbean International: Kroschel Wildlife Refuge

Animal lovers of every age relish visiting the Kroschel Wildlife Refuge in Haines, a popular excursion among Royal Caribbean Alaska cruise passengers. Steven Kroschel, a wildlife expert who devoted decades to training wild animals for TV and films, owns the center that is home to orphaned and rescued animals, like lynx, Kodiac bears, arctic fox, porcupines, and wolverines. It’s also interactive; get close for photos and learn how the refuge protects these animals.

Ships and sailings to know: Royal Caribbean's nearly 4,000-passenger megaships, Quantum of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas , thrill families via free-fall skydiving, outdoor movies, and escape room games. Their Alaska cruises run from 8-14 days, April to September 2024.

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The Alaska Railroad is one of the most scenic train journeys in the US.

Viking: Scenic Train and Rafting

The Scenic Train and Rafting excursion delivers an inspired eight-hour shore tour, beginning with a train ride on the Alaskan Railroad through the vast wilderness. Gaze out windows, eying otherworldly views of the Placer River Valley and soaring peaks of Spencer Glacier, while enjoying a box lunch. Then meet guides to go rafting, paddling between dramatic icebergs and down the serene and scenic Placer River.

Ships and sailings to know: Viking’s adults-only 930-passenger Viking Orion sails 11 days May to September 2024, between Seward, Alaska and Vancouver. Viking ocean-liner fares include amenities like king-bed accommodations with spacious baths equipped with heated floors and anti-fog mirrors, dining, complimentary wine and beer with lunch and dinner, and spa access.

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Silversea’s lauded S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program highlights Alaskan ingredients and recipes.

Silversea: Sitka Culinary Adventure

Silversea’s lauded S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program features Alaskan ingredients and recipes on all its S.A.L.T. Kitchen menus, S.A.L.T. Lab culinary classes, and S.A.L.T Bar mixology offerings. Soon-to-be-scheduled S.A.L.T excursions will showcase regional chefs and ingredients. Meanwhile, foodie fun unfolds with Sitka’s Culinary Adventure shore excursion. Visit a tap room, tasting beers made with filtered glacial water. Then graze about town, tasting pelmeni (popular dumplings evoking Sitka’s Russian heritage), and other local goodies like chowders, shrimp, black cod tips, and “reindeer dogs.”

Ships and sailings to know: Three ultra-luxury Silversea ships offer 7-16 day sails from May to September, but only the 728-passenger Silver Nova presents Silversea’s lauded S.A.L.T. (Sea and Land Taste) program. Fares include all-suite accommodations, butler service, most dining, alcohol, a shore excursion in each port, caviar, WiFi, and gratuities.

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Through this UnCruise excursion, passengers can explore one of the most remote national parks in the US.

UnCruise Adventures: Explore Glacier Bay National Park’s Rarely Visited Outback

Attracting high-energy explorers drawn to less conventional shore excursions, this expedition-driven small-ship line visits bays and coves inaccessible to larger cruise ships. Traditional ships just cruise UNESCO World Heritage Site Glacier Bay; on Wilderness Discoverer , the captain drops anchor in Fern Harbor, Sawmill Bay, and Dundas Bay during the Explore Glacier Bay National Park’s Rarely Visited Outback excursion. Count on a full day of activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, skiff expeditions, and beach strolls. Expert-led hikes take you deep into the breathtaking beauty of the backcountry of one of Alaska's most remote national parks . Few Alaskan cruisers can ever claim this experience.

Ships and sailings to know: The 76-passenger Wilderness Discoverer offers eight-day voyages from April to August 2024.

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Juneau Shore Excursions and Other Things to Do in Juneau

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In the 1880s, when prospectors Joe Juneau and Richard Harris founded the capital of Alaska, the town was known for its massive gold mines. But today, the city has become much more famous for its glaciers, whale watching, majestic mountain ranges, and dog sledding. There's plenty of things to do in Juneau. On your next cruise to Alaska , add these five Juneau shore excursions to your must-see list:

The Juneau Icefield flows from the town of Skagway, Alaska, to the Taku River, for a total of 3,885 square kilometres. Among the most impressive glaciers flowing through the ice field is the massive Mendenhall Glacier. When you set foot inside one of its ice caves, paddle down Mendenhall Lake, or explore the iceberg research station, you'll quickly see why this natural marvel is one of the most popular Juneau shore excursions. With gorgeous hiking opportunities, your holiday won't be complete without an excursion to this breathtaking site.

Witnessing whales gliding through their natural habitat is one of the most incredible things to do in Juneau. The city offers plenty of whale watching, as they love to travel through cold Alaskan waters in distinct pods. The types of whales you'll see when you're in Juneau will depend on the time of year you visit: If you cruise to Alaska between April and November, you'll likely see one of the approximately 600 humpbacks that thrive along the Inside Passage . Whales will inhabit the waters throughout the year, however, so there's always a chance for you to observe these creatures up close.

Why just sightsee when you can 'flightsee'? 'Flightseeing', also known as flight touring, grants you a bird's-eye view of the beauty infused into Alaska's natural landscapes. And you'll especially love exploring Juneau by plane or helicopter. Take this chance to view the deep crevasses and other glacial formations that you can't make out by sightseeing on land. Maybe we should call it a Juneau Air Excursion instead of a shore excursion.

Trams are a classic way to take in mountain views. From the Mount Roberts Tramway, you'll see Juneau from high above as you rise 549 metres in the air, climbing Mt. Roberts. Along the way, you'll have breathtaking views of the Gastineau Channel and surrounding mountains.

It's not a trip to Alaska without dog sledding — and there's no better place to experience the excitement of the sport quite like Juneau. On your Alaska cruise , you can spend time at the dog sled summer camp — arguably one of the best places to experience these fabulous dogs firsthand. This is a unique opportunity to join a small group and learn everything you need to know about the pups behind the musher.

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Princess Reports Passengers' Favorite Alaska Excursions -- and We Report Ours

By Matt Hannafin

With the 2008 Alaska cruise season now past, Princess Cruises ( www.princess.com ) has announced the winners of its ninth annual C.R.U.I.S.E. service awards, which recognize Alaska's best shore excursions. Winners are determined by Princess's passengers themselves, through responses they gave in surveys throughout the season.

"It's always gratifying to receive so many positive comments about the experiences passengers have on their Alaska shore adventures," said Charlie Ball, president of Princess Tours. "These awards are to recognize and thank those who make the shore experience special for our visitors."

To add a little perspective, I went through and added some commentary to Princess's list -- sometimes agreeing, sometimes dissenting, and sometimes taking off in a different direction altogether.

For 2008, Princess's top-rated Juneau excursions (along with their operating companies) were:

  • Alaska's Whales & Rainforest Trails (Gastineau Guiding Company): A small-group eco-tour that combines whale-watching with an easy hike on a rainforest trail near the Mendenhall Glacier.
  • Mendenhall Glacier Helicopter Tour (TEMSCO Helicopters): Several different options take you up above the massive (and massively receding) Mendenhall Glacier, outside town. Seeing glaciers from above is a completely different experience from seeing them at the waterline, exposing just how big they really are.
  • Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition (Alaska Canopy Adventures): A trip through Juneau's rainforest canopy, along more than 6,000 feet of ziplines and suspension bridges. The trip begins with a high-speed water crossing of Gastineau Channel to the site of the old Treadwell Mine, and a trip up the mountain in a 4x4 vehicle.

Frommer's Commentary: Princess's passengers sure have it right about the Mendenhall Glacier helicopter flightseeing tours , which are among the very best shore excursions I've ever taken, anywhere. I rarely advise spending above your limit, but in this case it's worth taking a hit on your credit card to sign up for the Helicopter Glacier Trek ($399, 4.25 hr.) or Extended Helicopter Glacier Trek ($499, 6.5 hr.), which include 2 or 3 hours respectively of rugged hiking and climbing on the glacier surface, using special boots, helmets, parkas, and ice axes provided by the company. With climate change shrinking the glaciers at an alarming rate, it may be an experience neither you nor your children nor their children will ever get to do again.

I also like the 4.5-hr., 11-mile Bike & Brew Tour , which sets off outside town along Fritz Cove Road. offering views of picturesque Auke Bay and the Mendenhall Glacier. The ride ends at the Alaska Brewing Company ( www.alaskanbeer.com ) for a tour and sampling of the product. Don't miss tasting the smoked porter, which is produced in limited vintages each year. A tasting goes through several years, showing how the taste changes over the years, like wine. The brewery notes that, "As it ages, the smoke becomes more of a subtle background note. Around the third and fourth years the beer's other flavors such as sherry, currant, raisin, and toffee-like nuances come forward. The fifth year sees the reemergence of the smoky character to the forefront."

Also, don't miss the tours of Alaska's governor's mansion , where you can see Sarah Palin's collections of moose antlers and also polar bear trophies.

Just kidding.

In rainy Ketchikan, Princess's passengers liked:  

  • Bering Sea Crab Fishermen's Tour (Commercial Fishing Adventures): The Bering Sea may be 1,000 miles from Ketchikan as the raven flies, but that doesn't stop this excursion from pretending. Aboard the F/V Aleutian Ballad -- a vessel featured on the Discovery Channel program Deadliest Catch -- the crew tells fish stories while sailing in calm waters and hauling in cages of crab and other sea creatures for viewing.
  • Mountain Point Snorkeling Adventure (Snorkel Alaska): A quarter-inch-thick wetsuit and surprisingly warm water allow you to snorkel an area rich with marine life.
  • Rainforest Canopy & Zipline Expedition (Alaska Canopy Adventures): More zipping, this time over eight ziplines and three aerial bridges suspended above a network of nature trails and boardwalks.

Frommer's Commentary: Princess passengers have the right idea getting out of too-touristy Ketchikan and into the surrounding waters and forest. Another great destination is Misty Fjords National Monument, which lies about 20 miles from Ketchikan and is only accessible by boat (or very small ship) or plane. The 2.3-million-acre, Connecticut-size monument starts at the Canadian border in the south and runs on the eastern side of the Behm Canal, which is bounded on its other side by Revillagigedo Island (where Ketchikan is located). It's topography, not wildlife, that makes a visit here worthwhile, with volcanic cliffs rising up to 3,150 feet and plunging hundreds more feet below the waterline -- a good reminder that this whole area is nothing but long-submerged mountains, and what's below the water was once green, forested valleys. The stock in trade of Misty Fjords is its quiet, unearthly serenity, its namesake mists imparting a storybook, Lord of the Rings kind of atmosphere abetted by dense hemlock and spruce forests, high ridges covered in alpine grass, and the occasional petrified lava flow reaching toward the shoreline.

Several excursions visit the area: a seaplane flightseeing trip that includes a brief water landing within the monument; a different flightseeing trip in which you fly to the monument and transfer to a boat for sea-level sightseeing and the trip back to Ketchikan; and a round-trip boat excursion.

A gorgeous island located about 265 miles southwest of Anchorage -- far off the usual Inside Passage and Gulf of Alaska route -- Kodiak is not a frequent stop on Alaska cruises, though it should be. Princess's great little Pacific Princess visits as part of her 14-night "Alaska Connoisseur" cruises, and other ships visit as part of Alaska-Asia sailings. In port, Princess's passengers liked:

  • Near Island Sea Kayak Adventure (Orcas Unlimited Charters of Kodiak): A four-hour paddle trip along Near Island, a part of the city of Kodiak located just south of downtown. Participants paddle through a boat harbor and along the shoreline to watch puffins, cormorants, and sealife, and stop at a quiet beach for lunch. (Note: Tour not available on all cruises.)

Frommer's Commentary: Kodiak is a great town. In 1784, its namesake island became the first permanent European settlement in Alaska when Russian fur traders established a presence here. Today it's Alaska's seventh largest population center with 13,466 residents (some 11,000 of them in and around the city of Kodiak), but the Russian presence is more cultural than ethnic. The oldest Russian building left standing in North America sits on Marine Way, and now houses the Kodiak Baranov Museum and its displays of Russian and Native artifacts. Across the street, the modern Holy Resurrection Cathedral is home to Alaska's oldest Russian Orthodox congregation, established in 1796. Some cruise lines offer a very cozy little excursion that visits the Monk's Rock Coffeehouse & Bookstore ("Music, Coffee, Icons, Books"!), a tiny, funky spot opened years ago by the Brotherhood of St. Herman of Alaska. A group of mostly non-Russian amateur musicians called the Kodiak Russian Balalaika Players put on a performance accompanied by borscht and the shop's own coffee.

Of all the towns commonly (or semi-commonly) visited on Alaska cruises, Sitka is my favorite. Partly due to its location (in a sheltered spot on the Pacific coast of Baranof Island, and not on the Inside Passage itself) and partly due to the fact that its location cuts down on big-time cruise traffic, Sitka retains a more residential feel than other large Southeast towns. It's also got a tremendous history (it was the capital of Russian Alaska, and saw huge battles between the Russians and Tlingits) and a lovely physical setting. Among the excursions available there, Princess's passengers liked:

  • 4x4 Wilderness Adventure (Greenling Enterprises): An off-road trip through the temperate rain forest on Sitka's Kruzof Island, using Yamaha Rhino 4x4 vehicles -- which are sort of a cross between an ATV and a golf cart.
  • Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest (Allen Marine Tours): A water-jet-driven tour boat takes you in search of sea otters, whales, sea lions, porpoise, harbor seals, brown bears, blacktail deer, bald eagles, and a variety of marine birds, while a naturalist provides commentary.

Frommer's Commentary: I actually advise cruise passengers against taking shore excursions here. The town is lovely enough by itself, most sights are within easy walking distance of each other (and the docks), and the various attractions all have very good interpretive programs of their own. Highlights include:

  • St. Michael's Cathedral: a Russian Orthodox church sitting right at the center of town, and filled with precious icons, paintings, vestments, and jeweled crowns.
  • The Russian Bishop's House: The home of 19th-century bishop Innocent Veniaminov, with downstairs displays of Sitka history and an upstairs that retains the bishop's living quarters and chapel. National Park Service rangers provide surprisingly enjoyable and informative tours.
  • Sheldon Jackson Museum: A fine collection of artifacts from the Tlingit, Aleut, Athabascan, Haida, and Tsimshian peoples, as well as the Native peoples of the Arctic. The core of the collection was assembled by the museum's founder/namesake, a Presbyterian missionary, during his travels around the territory in the 19th century.
  • Sitka National Historical Park: In 1804, the native Tlingit people made their stand here against the Russians, holding off imperial gunboats and Aleut mercenaries for 6 days before finally melting away one night after taking heavy losses. The land was officially protected starting in 1890, and in 1910 the site was designated a National Historic Park, emphasizing the Native perspective. In the visitor center, exhibits explain the history and the art of totem carving, displaying 19th-century poles as well as new ones created in the on-site Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center. Outside, a rainforest trail winds along the coast of the 113-acre park past a collection of towering totems nestled among the spruce and hemlock.
  • Castle Hill: Located in the center of town, this was where the first U.S. flag was raised on Alaskan soil, after the U.S. and Russia held a transfer ceremony here in 1867. You get a great panoramic view of town from the top.

Southeast Alaska's tourist central, Skagway in summer comes very close to being an Alaska theme park, but cruise passengers can take excursions out of town once they've gotten their fill of shopping and historic hokum.

  • Dog Sledding & Glacier Flightseeing (TEMSCO Helicopters): A helicopter takes you from Skagway to a dog camp on the Denver Glacier, where guides introduce you to mushing. Participants can either drive the sled or just go along as passengers.
  • Klondike Rock Climbing & Rappelling (Alaska Mountain Guides): A rock-climbing experience on the smooth granite walls of the White Pass, with dfferent climbing routes available for different levels of skill and fitness. At the top, all offer a view of the Skagway River, the White Pass & Yukon Route railway, and the surrounding forest.
  • Takshanuk Mountain Trail by 4x4 (Takshanuk Mountain Trail): A high-speed catamaran takes you to the nearby town of Haines, where you transfer to the Takshanuk trailhead and strap yourselves in to automatic-transmission 4WD Kawasaki Mules -- yet another golf cart cum ATV. The trail drive up to 1,500 feet passes waterfalls, creeks, and forest. Try not to scare the squirrels.

Frommer's Commentary: My usual approach to Skagway involves walking into town from the cruise docks, taking a few minutes to admire the historic 19th-century buildings that have been collected along Broadway, then heading out. (Though I usually set aside a few minutes at the end of the day to pick up a bear-print oven mitt or other tsotchke, then duck in the Red Onion Saloon -- a former brothel turned professional former brothel -- for a beer.) Walking maps describing the town's historic buildings are available at the Arctic Brotherhood Hall on Broadway between 2nd and 3rd. You can also get trail maps that describe the network of 1- to 10-mile trail routes that branch out right from downtown into the thick forest. Most of them involve some fairly strenuous hill-walking.

A great shore excursion option that didn't make Princess's list is the Eagle Preserve Scenic Float & Wildlife Cruise , which, like the Takshanuk Mountain 4x4 excursion, involves a catamaran trip to Haines. From there, you head by bus to the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve ( www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/eagleprv.htm ), then suit up in boots and a life vest for a gentle float by rubber raft down the Chilkat River. An expert guide both rows and provides commentary on the area's natural environment, steering the raft close to shore to spot animal tracks and keeping an eye out for moose, bears, eagles, and wolves.

And let's not forget the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway ( www.whitepassrailroad.com ), Skagway's major claim to fame. Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, it crosses the White Pass Summit, the boundary between Canada and the United States, and continues on to the towns of Fraser (British Columbia), and Carcross and Whitehorse (Yukon Territory). Excursions on the train are a crap-shoot: If you book one and arrive on a very overcast day, you may not see a thing from the windows of your vintage parlor car. If it's nice, though, you'll glimpse waterfalls, mountains, and still-visible parts of the famous "Trail of '98" miners' route.

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TravelAwaits

Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

7 Alaska Cruise Excursions That Are Worth The Money

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

  • Alaska Cruises
  • Cruises and Sailing
  • Destinations
  • Shore Excursions
  • Types of Travel
  • United States

Excursions come in all shapes and sizes. Some cruise lines include all excursions in the cost of your cruise passage, allowing you to choose the ones that suit your desires. Others include no excursions, which helps keep the initial cost of the cruise low, but you may find your onboard charging slipping higher than you expected. Still other cruise lines offer a hybrid option, where the basic tours are included and there is an upcharge for the higher-priced options.

A whale watch tour near Icy Strait Point, Alaska.

1. Whales, Wildlife, And Brown Bear Search

For a full-day, 5.5-hour wildlife adventure, try the Whales, Wildlife, and Brown Bear Search out of Icy Strait Point. This excursion is offered by Princess cruise lines.

On this guaranteed whale sighting tour, jump on a high-speed catamaran to cruise the very active feeding ground of the humpback whale. Return to shore for an often bumpy ride to the Spasski River for a guided drive in search of brown bear, black-tailed deer, and bald eagles. The walking portion involves covering about a half-mile of gravel and boardwalk pathways, meaning this excursion requires moderate exertion.

Views of the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska.

2. Mendenhall Glacier Exploration

Alaska is all about the ice. Glaciers are ubiquitous and the variety of glacier-centric tour options runs from genial walks to full-on glacial climbs.

Mendenhall Glacier is the top excursion for your Alaska cruise’s Juneau stop. You can choose from a large variety of tours, and many providers have handicap-accessible options. They vary in time and price, meaning there’s a glacier tour option for everyone.

Princess Cruises offers the creme de la creme Mendenhall Helicopter Glacier Trek . If you are searching for the bucket-list Alaska cruise item, this is it. The 4- to 5-hour heli/walking tour starts around $480. You will be fitted for outerwear, hard hats, mountaineering boots, and crampons. Your kit will include a much-needed ice ax. After you touch down on the glacier, your guide will lead you on a 2-hour hike. You do not need experience, but you will be hiking for about two miles on uneven terrain.

Disney offers the 5-Glacier Seaplane Exploration that explores the Juneau icefield and five of its glaciers. Your seaplane journey takes you over the Tongass National Forest before you soar over Norris, Hole-In-The-Wall, Taku, and the East and West Twin glaciers. Wildlife spotting is very likely; keep on the lookout for eagles, bears, and moose. This tour is perfect for adventurers who require or prefer little or no walking. The minimum age is 2 years old, making it accessible for most family members. 

The fishing port of Ketchikan in Alaska.

3. Sport Fishing

Salmon is king in Alaska, but there are many types of fishing adventures suitable for everyone from novices to hardened anglers.

Disney cruise line also offers a Ketchikan Alaska Fish Camp and Wilderness Dinner . The 5.5-hour fishing trip is available to family members 5 and up. Once you are outfitted with authentic Alaska fishing gear, you can cast your line in hopes of catching “The Big One.” After several hours of fishing, head to the campsite where chuck-wagon cooks will prep and cook your catch, serving up a wonderful outdoor dinner.

Panning for gold in Alaska.

4. Panning For Gold

If you are traveling with teens or tweens, gold panning in Skagway is a fun, hands-on activity for the entire gang.

Princess offers a 6-hour exclusive Gold Panning, Sled Dog, and Scenic Railway excursion. The tour includes a gold panning lesson during which you can participate in a prospecting session in a controlled pavilion. You will also watch a dog sled demonstration run that includes a meet-and-greet with the sled dogs and musher. The tour concludes with a historic train ride through Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point, and Dead Horse Gulch. This is a great tour for everyone in the family and requires only mild exertion.

Tourists on the Prince William Sound 26 Glacier Cruise.

5. Bering Sea Crab Fishermen

Hop aboard Holland America Line’s Bering Sea Crab Fishermen excursion and explore the world of Disney’s Deadliest Catch TV Series.

In the port of Ketchikan, travel along the Inside Passage with experienced fisherman hauling up the day’s king crab catch. Guests as young as 5 years old are welcome aboard the ship where stories of Alaska wilderness and maritime adventures will astound wide-eyed guests.

Food from the Silversea Alaska Culinary Experience.

6. Food Tours

There is no shortage of tours for the foodie in your group. Disney’s Woodhouse Wine Estates tasting visit combined with a downtown Seattle tour is a fun date night excursion without the kids. Princess offers a Juneau Foodie Walking Tour in conjunction with Bon Appetit where you can sample some of Alaska’s finest local cuisine.

View of Sitka, Alaska.

7. Scenic Drives In Sitka

Viking Cruises offers a 1.5-hour Scenic Sitka by Motor Coach excursion that is included in the passage price. This tour does include some incline walking when you visit Sitka National Historical Park, where you can view the site’s 18 totem poles. Learn Sitka’s Russian and U.S. history in this Southeast Alaska city.

Pro Tip: Booking Excursions

It is a good idea to choose an excursion that is booked through your cruise line. They will, in good faith, wait for you if there is a delay in your returning to the ship. If the ship cannot wait, they may make accommodations to get you to the next port of call. If you book an excursion with a private tour company, though, you are essentially on your own to get to the ship on time. If you miss the departure because of the tour arriving late, you will be responsible for catching up with the ship at the next port of call. That could be a considerable distance if they are at sea for two days, and some of the Alaska cruises have several consecutive days at sea.

Alaska Cruises are a bucket-list item you will want to explore at any age. You will find the history, natural beauty, and fresh-from-the-earth (or ocean) cuisine bring you closer to nature.

Still not sure an Alaska cruise is right for you? Read one traveler’s intimate account of her Alaska by small-ship cruise experience.

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Sandi loves writing about culture, cuisine, adult beverages, cruising, golf, skiing, road trips, hiking, New England, and photography. Traveling solo, with hubby Chris, or the entire Barrett clan there is always a story waiting to be told.

Alaska Shore Excursions

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Top Destinations

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Juneau is the Capital city of Alaska and is surrounded by ocean, glaciers, ice fields, and mountains. The area is abundant with whales and other wildlife.

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Skagway is a formerly lawless town that was once the start of the legendary Chilkoot Trail to the Klondike Goldrush.

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Ketchikan is home to the famous Misty Fjords National Monument, which is a labyrinth of glacier carved mountains towering 3,000 feet high over canals.

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Beautiful Sitka is located on Baranof Island and is surrounded by a maze of bays, islands, and waterways.

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Icy Strait on Chicagof Island offers true wilderness for great wildlife viewing and adventures. Highlights of Icy Strait include bear viewing, salmon fishing, and whale watching.

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Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska and is known as The Gateway to Denali. Nearby mountains and wilderness provide access to the interior of Alaska.

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Seward is a coastal town located about 125 miles south of Anchorage. It is home to the Kenai Fjords National Park which provides a great variety of tours!

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Whittier is only accessible by ocean or through a 2 mile one-lane tunnel under Maynard mountain. This coastal Alaskan town is home to only 200 year-round residents!

Why Alaska Shore Excursions?

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Juneau Glacier Dog Sledding & Helicopter Tour

$661.00 / Person

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Skagway White Pass Railroad Summit Excursion & Train Tour

$146.00 / Person

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Juneau Whale Watching & Mendenhall Glacier Tour

$239.00 / Person

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Icy Strait Premier Whale Watching Adventure

$180.00 / Person

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Mendenhall Glacier Ice Adventure Tour

$359.00 / Person

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Skagway Glacier Helicopter Tour

$399.00 / Person

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Deluxe Misty Fjords National Monument Tour

$375.00 / Person

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Icy Strait Exclusive Wildlife and Bear Search Tour

$150.00 / Person

Recent Reviews

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Local Guides

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10 Best Things to Do in Skagway

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12 Best Things to Do in Ketchikan

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7 Best Things to Do Near Icy Strait Point

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7+ best Alaska cruise excursions + EPIC tours! (Princess + booking on your own) 🏔 Alaska cruise travel blog

The best excursions to take on an Alaska cruise include whale watching , the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour , and Misty Fjords National Monument .

You don’t need to book excursions on an Alaska cruise, but excursions really can end up being the best part of your cruise.

The best Alaska excursions are expensive, but they are high quality and unique experiences which makes them worth it.

If you do an expensive excursion, there’s a good chance that it will be one of the major highlights of your Alaska cruise!

best things to do in alaska from cruise ship. best excursions to take on alaska cruise. the excursions are worth it on alaska cruise

I went to Alaska on Princess cruise ships, so my experience is looking for excursions for Princess cruises.

But of course, most of the excursions can apply no matter what cruise line you are on.

Here is your quick list of the best types of Alaska shore excursions you must consider:

  • Whale watching tours
  • Seaplane tours
  • Glacier tours
  • Helicopter tours
  • Dog sledding tours
  • Snorkeling tours
  • Sea kayaking tours

Here is your quick list of the best excursions in specific cruise ports

  • Best Skagway excursions
  • Best Juneau excursions
  • Best Ketchikan excursions

Are the expensive Alaska excursions worth it?!

The best Alaska shore excursions are expensive.

When you first start looking through tours, there may be a bit of a sticker shock!

How expensive are shore excursions in Alaska?

The cost of most of the best Alaska excursions will be $400 and up per person.

But if you start to look through enough of them, you start to get used to it. 🤣😵

There are cheaper excursions for “only” $200 that you are sure to love too, but the most epic Alaska experiences tend to be expensive.

Yes, when you do enough research on the absolute best Alaska cruise excursions, a $200 tour starts to look cheap! 😆😵

If you do just ONE of any of the types of epic Alaska tours as mentioned above, there is a good chance it will be THE highlight of your Alaska cruise!

Because I was booking a lot of Alaska cruise excursions, I read through TONSSSS of different reviews for tons of the expensive Alaska tours.

And for those most expensive Alaska tours, people repeatedly said it was the highlight of their cruise.

This is to say that the expensive excursions that are popular are GOOD because they provide you with an epic experience that will have you remembering your time in Alaska forever.

For example, while I’m sure you will have a good time on a “cheap” Alaska excursion like a gold panning excursion, I am even more sure that flying above the mountains and glaciers of Alaska will be something you will remember even better!

This is not to say gold panning will not be worth it, because this is also a classic Alaska excursion because of the Alaska’s gold rush history! But, I think Alaska’s mountains and glaciers will not as easily be forgotten!

best alaska excursions from a cruise ship. best alaska glacier tours

How to search for Princess cruise excursions for Alaska

If you do want to look through the offerings of Princess, you can do so by logging into your account at princess.com .

princess website. princess alaska shore excursions

Look for the “customer reviews” for each individual excursion!

You can also look directly at the Alaska shore excursions with Princess without logging in if you just want to browse:

  • Princess excursions in Skagway
  • Princess excursions in Juneau
  • Princess excursions in Ketchikan

But when you want to book, you’ll need to go into your account.

You can also book through the Princess app, but I personally don’t even like the way the shore excursions show up on the app so I wouldn’t even want to look through them!

And then when you are on the cruise ship, you can book through your stateroom TV, and of course directly at the shore excursions desk.

If you are getting on your Princess cruise ship without having booked excursions but are interested in doing so, then there is also a live shore excursions presentation with recommendations on shore excursions to book for all of the cruise ports you’ll be going to.

If you miss the live presentation, then there will also be a replay available on your stateroom TV . If you can’t find it, you can call guest services or do a “crewchat” with them on the Princess app to find out how to find it.

More below about the Alaska shore excursions that I did!

  • Just in case: Rain poncho for a day out and about
  • for higher quality ones, look at vortex diamondback binoculars
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  • Summer sled dog Yukon camp
  • Alaska rainforest walk
  • Mendenhall Glacier ice adventure

Best Alaska tours for an epic Alaska experience through shore excursions

I spent a lot of time reading through different tours and reviews, and these are the tours I ultimately ended up deciding that would give me the best Alaska cruise experience!

Also to note, I would have done the Hubbard Glacier excursion if it was offered on my cruise. It was not, because it was too early in the season. Yes, you can get off the cruise ship on the Hubbard Glacier sea day!

The best excursions are in Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan.

If you are going to other cruise ports, also see:

  • 26 glacier cruise in Whittier (one of the best glacier tours!)
  • Things to do in Sitka
  • Icy Strait Point gondola

If you have an Alaska cruise with Glacier Bay, that will also be a highlight of your cruise without even getting off the cruise ship. No excursion needed! (Or available.) You can see more about a Glacier Bay National Park sea day .

1. Dog sledding and glacier flightseeing tour

alaska cruise excursions. alaska dog sledding excursion. alaska dog sledding helicopter glacier tours

One of the most epic Alaska shore excursions you can do is a helicopter tour with a wilderness landing on a glacier to do dog sledding!

This means dog sledding on SNOW!

best tours in alaska. dog sledding excursion from cruise ship

It’s important to emphasize the SNOW part, because there are also dog sledding tours in the summer that are not on snow.

I am sure doing a dog sledding tour without snow will still be memorable, but for the ultimate Alaska dog sledding experience, you need to do a dog sledding tour on snow!

A dog sledding tour by helicopter means that you will get epic views of mountains and glaciers on your way to the dog sledding camp that is on a glacier at high altitude!

Because it’s at high altitude, there is still snow, even in the summer.

alaska cruise excursions. alaska dog sledding excursion. alaska dog sledding helicopter glacier tours

See more about an Alaska excursion with dog sledding

  • Dog sledding in Alaska

And if you like dogs and/or dog sledding, then you might like one of the onboard Princess cruise activity that happens on Princess cruise ships in Alaska called puppies in the piazza !

2. Juneau icefield seaplane tour with Taku Lodge salmon bake (Taku Lodge Feast & 5 Glacier Seaplane)

I did a seaplane tour in Juneau that included a landing in what felt like remote Alaska.

It was a landing at the historic Taku Lodge (which currently only does day trips and not overnight stays), and it included a salmon bake Alaskan-style lunch.

There was time both before and after the meal to walk around, which I did.

I thought it was a nice quiet leisurely walk through the forest.

Most people stayed around the lodge. If you do the Taku Lodge excursion, I recommend asking how much time you have before food, and then walking around!

From Taku Lodge, you can see the glacier called Hole-in-the-Wall Glacier.

alaska tours: taku lodge excursion. best alaska excursions. best tours in alaska from a cruise ship

Flying from Juneau, you will get epic views of Alaska on your way to Taku Lodge and on the way back too!

I saw glaciers and blue ice from above!

The tour is advertised as a Juneau icefield seaplane tour, so you will be flying over and seeing part of the massive Juneau icefield with lots of glaciers.

juneau icefield. alaska flightseeing tours: alaska seaplane tour. best alaska excursions. best tours in alaska from a cruise ship

See more about an Alaska flightseeing excursion

  • Seaplane tours in Alaska
  • Princess excursion: Taku Lodge Feast & Five-Glacier Seaplane
  • Wings Airways

3. Whale watching tour

best alaska excursions. best tours in alaska from cruise ship. alaska whale watching tour

Whale watching tours are one of the most popular types of tours during an Alaska cruise.

There are whale watching tours with different types of boats, and I chose a whale watching tour that had less people.

There were around 20 people on the boat.

It was a whale watching tour on a research boat .

Another whale watching tour company I’ve seen recommended a lot is Harv and Marv .

With a pick-up for the excursion from Juneau cruise port, we took a shuttle to Auk Bay to get on a boat to go see whales.

You know the pictures you see in all the whale watching advertisements of the whales jumping out of the water?!

aka breaching

Well, it’s actually quite rare to see whales like that.

Still, I was happy with what I saw.

Especially since I got a picture of a whale with its mouth open!

We also saw sea lions on a buoy.

I talked to someone who went on a different whale watching tour and their boat went past a whole bunch of harbor seals. I saw the picture and it looked really cool. I wish our boat had gone by it!

The thing about wildlife watching tours is that wildlife sightings are not guaranteed! At least, the variety that you will see.

Most whale watching tours in Juneau do seem to have a guarantee that you will see at least one whale. Although this doesn’t mean that you are guaranteed to get a GREAT sighting. 🤪

But this is just how it goes with wildlife viewing!

Patience is required.

And that’s also what makes it so exciting when you do see wildlife, whether it’s in the water or on land!

alaska excursion with scenic drive

See more about Alaska excursions

  • Whale watching in Alaska

4. Mendenhall Glacier excursion

The Mendenhall Glacier is one of the most popular things to do in Juneau from a cruise ship.

Most people will go to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center to get a distant view of the glacier.

This glacier is retreating which means that it continues to get further and further away year after year.

I did a canoe tour across the lake to get a closer look at the glacier.

You can’t actually walk on the glacier on this tour, but I thought this experience was so great.

We paddled the canoe to shore near the Mendenhall Glacier which means that we got closer to the glacier than the vast majority of people do.

We also got to see blue ice.

There was another tour group who was there about an hour earlier than us, and they were able to witness a big chunk of ice fall off the Mendenhall Glacier into the water!

Our tour guide was in touch with another tour guide and showed us the video.

This process of ice falling off a glacier is called calving, and calving is one of the best Alaska glacier experiences you can see!

Your best chance to see calving on a cruise if you’ll be going to Glacier Bay National Park is at Margerie Glacier!

You can do a Mendenhall Lake canoe tour without a shore landing, but I think it’s better if you had the short walkaround!

This was one of my favorite tours that I did during my 2 Alaska cruises.

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See more about an Alaska excursion

  • Mendenhall Glacier tour

5. Snorkel Alaska tour

Snorkeling in Alaska?!?!?!

I was VERY nervous about this, and even upon booking the tour, I was immediately having regrets!

But to reassure myself, I read all the reviews (again), and basically everyone who mentions the water temperature says that you will not be cold because you’ll be wearing a wetsuit and other cold water swimming gear!

And, even as someone that gets cold easily, I must agree!! 

For most of the time in the water, the water temperature didn’t even occur to me!

It was a water temperature of 50 degrees.

I was excited about seeing tons of small little clear jellyfish. And I saw a couple of red ones too.

I was also excited about seeing so many starfish.

Plus, I got the experience of cold water swimming and snorkeling in Alaska!

best alaska cruise excursions: alaska snorkeling tour

More about this Alaska excursion

  • Snorkeling in Alaska
  • Viator reviews + cost
  • Tripadvisor reviews

6. Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness seaplane tour

The Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness is one way you can experience the largest national forest in the United States.

According to the US Forest Service :

Tongass National Forest is the nation’s largest national forest and covers most of Southeast Alaska.

You Alaska cruise will be mostly if not all in Southeast Alaska. If you have a cruise between Vancouver and Anchorage , then you’ll be traveling more than just Southeast Alaska!

Tongass National Forest is the largest, intact coastal rainforest in America. Misty Fjords is a piece of this treasure.

The US Forest Service also says that Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness is the “largest wilderness area” in Tongass National Forest.

The seaplane takes off near the Ketchikan cruise port, then flies over Tongass National Forest, and then soon you’ll be over the Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness.

You can see fjords (of course) and waterfalls as you’re flying.

We then landed on a small island in Punchbowl Lake.

And when I say small… I mean SMALL!

best alaska excursions from a cruise ship. misty fjords alaska seaplane tour

More about this Alaska excursion:

  • Island Wings

7. Helicopter tour with glacier walk (Glacier Discovery by helicopter)

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You can do a helicopter tour in Skagway to see the Juneau icefield, glaciers, and snow-capped mountains.

Your helicopter tour is made even more epic by doing a wilderness landing on a glacier!

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You won’t choose a helicopter tour based on a specific glacier, as that will be up to the pilot and the conditions of the day.

My helicopter tour made a wilderness landing at Meade Glacier.

We walked around on the glacier, saw blue ice, and saw glacier waterfalls!

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  • Princess excursion: Glacier Discovery by helicopter
  • Temsco helicopters

8. White Pass Railway + Klondike Highway excursion

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One of the most popular excursions in Alaska from a cruise ship is the White Pass train.

This is a Skagway excursion , and it’s one of the most popular things to do in Skagway .

You will take a train up from sea level to the White Pass summit and beyond.

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You can do the White Pass railway as a standalone excursion, or there are many different combination tours you can do that includes the White Pass train.

I did the White Pass train in combination with the Klondike Highway.

You can do the Klondike Highway as a standalone excursion without the train, which is one of the cheapest Skagway excursions.

I did a combination tour of doing the Klondike Highway by bus up to the White Pass summit (and beyond!), and then taking the train back to Skagway.

This is a White Pass excursion that requires a passport.

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See more about an Alaska train excursion

  • White Pass Railway only
  • Klondike Highway + White Pass Railway (I booked this one)
  • White Pass Railway website
  • Chilkoot Charters and Tours

See more about more Alaska tours

You can also do the Klondike Highway by bicycle!

  • Sockeye Cycle
  • Princess excursion

And those are some of the best Alaska tours that you can do during your cruise!

More about Alaska cruise ports:

  • Things to do in Skagway
  • Things to do in Juneau

Read more about how I planned out my days on Alaska cruises:

  • 11-day Alaska cruise from Vancouver roundtrip
  • 7-day Alaska cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage one-way

HAPPY DOING ALASKA SHORE EXCURSIONS!

  • What is embarkation day like? Sample: Vancouver embarkation day
  • What is disembarkation like? Sample: Vancouver disembarkation and Whittier disembarkation
  • Dinner food menu on my Alaska cruise
  • Best whale watching in Alaska
  • Best dog sledding in Alaska (on a glacier, on snow, in summer!)
  • Snorkeling in Alaska 😂
  • Deadliest Catch tour (as seen on TV!)
  • Juneau icefield seaplane + Taku Glacier Lodge salmon bake
  • Nugget Falls in Tongass National Forest (Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area)
  • Helicopter + glacier walk to see blue ice
  • Klondike Highway to Fraser BC + White Pass summit train
  • What I did on another Skagway cruise ship arrival: Dog sledding and Yakutania Point
  • Totem Bight State Historical Park
  • Misty Fjords National Monument Wilderness seaplane + wilderness landing
  • Creek Street
  • Icy Strait Point to Hoonah
  • Sitka National Historical Park totem poles
  • What is it like: Glacier Bay National Park from a cruise ship
  • This was not available on my early season cruise: Hubbard Glacier excursion (yes, you can get off the ship on a sea day! available until early September... if it's not already sold out!)
  • Tips for first Princess cruise (getting familiar with Princess food + more!)
  • Ideas for your first Alaska cruise

Stuffed Suitcase

What to Expect: My Princess Alaska Cruise Review from Seattle

By: Author Kim Tate

Posted on Published: July 10, 2024

We’ve just set sail and I’m typing this while onboard my very first Princess Cruise. I’ve been on many other Alaska cruises so I’m writing this guide for you about my Princess Alaska cruise to help you know what you can expect.

What’s Included in this post:

  • Tips for Sailing from Seattle
  • Onboarding & My Room
  • Premier Package & Specialty Dining Reviews (including Caymus Winemakers & 360)
  • My Shore Excursion Recaps from Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan

discovery princess cruise ship in skagway alaska port

Our Itinerary – Discovery Princess (June 2024)

  • Glacier Bay
  • Victoria, BC

Sailing from Seattle

seattle skyline from ferry wheel and space needle

We’re local to Seattle, and so just drove down to Pier 91 to board the Discovery Princess . Our boarding time was 10:30 am to 2:00 pm. All passengers needed to be onboard by 2:00 pm for a 3:00 pm departure. If you’re a non-local, here are a few things to note about sailing Princess from Seattle.

  • Pier 91 is about 3 miles north of the downtown Seattle corridor. So, if you’re planning to visit the city beforehand, you’ll need to use rideshare, taxi, or shuttle to get to the cruise port from the main tourist area downtown. It’ll take you about 10-15 minutes to travel by car from downtown to Pier 91.
  • If you want to stay a day beforehand to tour the city, my favorite downtown hotels near popular attractions are the Thompson Hotel, Inn at the Market, and Four Seasons Seattle. The Westin Seattle and Motif Seattle might be slightly more price friendly and are close to the monorail, but further from Pike Place Market and the waterfront. The monorail can take you from downtown to the Seattle Center district where the Space Needle and other popular attractions are located.

Onboarding with Princess

When we arrived at Pier 91, we were able to be dropped off right by the cruise ships. There were two ships in port, a Holland America Line ship and our Discovery Princess cruise ship. There were bag tags available for those who hadn’t printed them in advance and a long line for bag drop and check-in.

There was a separate, shorter, line for those with no bag drop who were carrying on their bags (which we did). Although the bag drop check-in line was extremely long, it seemed to be moving quickly. It can be chilly and windy waiting outdoors for the bag drop line to move indoors, so be sure to have a jacket handy.

From the time of drop off until we were onboard was probably only 40 minutes when we boarded around noon. Everything moved extremely smoothly. We had checked in via the app in advance and so simply scanned our check-in app QR code and showed our passport at the first step.

princess cruises medallion on lanyard

Next, we had to go to the blue lane to get our Princess Medallions since we missed the shipping date. I HIGHLY recommend you download the app and check-in as soon as you’re able (at least more than 14 days before) and have your medallion shipped to you to save time.

Plus, you have the opportunity to personalize your medallion with special occasions and celebrations and preorder medallion accessories if you want. If you check-in early enough you can skip the blue lane and go to the green lane which had no line and was simply an ID and photo check point before heading on the ship.

Since we had missed the medallion shipping date, we went to the blue lane, which honestly moved extremely quickly and so it wasn’t a huge issue. We had our passports checked again and received our medallions which had our names and sailing date listed on them, which was very nice. The whole process was smooth and moved quickly. Getting 4000 passengers onboard a ship at a single point of entry could be a logistical nightmare but we were very impressed with how smoothly it all went.

We got onboard and headed to our room which was actually ready! They say that rooms aren’t guaranteed ready until 1 pm, but ours was. So we dropped our bags and headed to the buffet to get a little bite to eat. If you don’t want to eat at the buffet, make sure you board early and can make it to the restaurant before 1 pm.

Day 1 is a busy day! We had to confirm and make dining reservations and soon we were setting sail with a windy music sail away party happening on decks 16 & 17 at the pool. I also highly recommend if you want to enjoy the private Sanctuary retreat space (added cost) make sure to go book that on day 1.

Our Balcony Stateroom L129

balcony stateroom L129 Discovery Princess Cruises

Since I was hosted on this cruise, I didn’t choose our cabin, it was simply assigned to us. We were booked in a Category BF – Balcony Stateroom (Guarantee) and were assigned a room on deck 16, the Lido deck, towards the front of the ship. Since I’ve never sailed Princess, I wasn’t sure what to expect from our room; a balcony stateroom number L129.

Initial impressions: I was shocked we didn’t have a sitting/couch area in our balcony stateroom. Our room is simply a queen bed with a desk, one chair, and a mini-fridge cabinet. We did have a very spacious open closet space that is right next to the bathroom. The bathroom doesn’t have an enclosed shower, which is a first for me on a cruise ship.

bathroom in balcony stateroom on Discovery Princess cruise ship

Space wise, it’s fine for two people, however I miss having a couch and sitting area. The closet had ample hangers which I appreciated and there is a small shelf cabinet in the closet that worked well for my packing cubes. I unpacked, hung some items, left others in my packing cubes, then simply slid my suitcase under the bed.

The bathroom seemed small compared to what I recall from other cruises. I have a slender build and felt I had to keep the bathroom door open when drying off and getting ready simply to have room to move and breathe.

I was worried about being on the busy Lido deck 16, the same deck as the pool and buffet. However, the forward rooms on these decks are nicely separated and due to the fact that there is no forward stairs or elevators in front of the rooms, it hasn’t been an issue with excessive noise and foot traffic.

Personally, I’d avoid the L301 and L302 rooms in this section near the elevators as there is a lot of activity in this area. Also it’s worth noting that deck 17 overhung our deck, so many of my photos looking out from our balcony do show a white floor above us. You can see this in the image with my conclusion paragraph at the end of this post.

Being on the right (starboard) side of the ship was fine most of the time, however, in Glacier Bay we did hear the park ranger mentioning the left (port) side to see some of the sights. The ship does turn and pass all the spots again, you just don’t have the ranger audio commentary.

Thankfully when you reach the end of Glacier Bay and view Margerie Glacier, the ship spins a few times so that both sides of the ship can see the famous glacier.

The Discovery Princess Ship

atrium of discovery princess cruise ship

I was a bit surprised to discover that this ship can carry about 4300 guests, for our sailing I was told it was at 4003 guests, which seems like a lot! The ship was built in 2022, and still feels nice and new.

The layout of the ship is a little odd and not as free flowing as I’m used to on other ships. You’ll occasionally find elevators hidden behind walls and getting to a restaurant on the back of deck 5 means you have to go up to deck 6 to cross to it as you can’t cut through another restaurant on deck 5. It just wasn’t as free flowing and easy to orient myself as I’ve experienced before.

Discovery Princess does have a great three floor midship atrium where you’ll find shopping, bars, and dining. Plus, this open area is where many of the entertainment competitions and mini-shows take place. There is some seating on all levels around this space and many people would stand at the overlooking edges on decks 6 and 7 to watch the performances happening on deck 5.

One of my favorite spaces I discovered is the Retreat and Sanctuary on decks 17 and 18. The retreat is an adults-only pool, two hot tubs, and lounge space. This leads to the Sanctuary space which is a paid for private lounge deck with glass viewing over the front of the ship.

discovery princess sanctuary

You have to reserve access to the sanctuary in advance for $20 for half a day and $40 for the full day, or rent a cabana with a tv and mini-fridge for a varying price. When we asked if we could book a day they were already sold out. So, if you think you’ll want some lounge time in a quiet area with a view, book a spot in the Sanctuary right when you board.

Princess is soon debuting a Sanctuary Collection package that will be included with some upgraded stateroom fares. It will launch on the Sun and Star Princess ships in Fall 2025.

Our Premier Package

reserved seating for princess premier guests

We did have the Princess Premier Package (an added $80 per day per guest) as part of our booking which includes a few extra amenities:

  • WiFi 4 devices per guest – text, share, stream and video chat with the best Wi-Fi at sea
  • Premium Drinks, Bottled Water, Specialty Coffee, and Juice Bar – Top-shelf spirits and craft cocktails up to $20 each, in addition to what’s included with Princess Plus
  • Pre-paid crew appreciation (tips) – this is included in Plus packages as well
  • Professional photos included – unlimited downloads and three printed images
  • 2 Specialty meals included (per sailing) – dine at one of three specialty restaurants on the Discovery; Crown Grill (steak & seafood), Catch by Rudi (seafood), Sabatini’s (italian).
  • Unlimited dining at casual restaurants: Gigi’s Pizzaria, Ocean Terrace Sushi Bar, Salty Dog Gastro Pub, Gelato
  • Unlimited premium desserts at Gelateria, Swirls or Coffee and Cones
  • OceanNow® (delivery anywhere onboard) fee waived – order drinks and food on the app and it will find you anywhere on board
  • Unlimited Room Service
  • Unlimited Fitness Classes: Classes by Xpotential: Pure Barre, Yoga Six and Stretch Lab
  • Reserved Theater Seating (we really LOVED this perk!)
  • Princess Prizes – during casino hours, win prizes like wine tasting, onboard credit and more (we didn’t really understand or experience this perk)
  • Blue Medallion Clip On

Having the Premier package truly gives you more of an all-inclusive feel. You’re allowed to eat and order whatever you want at the extra dining spots. You have access to the top label alcoholic drinks, for example I could order a $19 glass of Pinot Noir where the Plus package was limited to a $15 glass.

My husband and I are both heavy internet users and thought the Princess WiFi was truly the best we’ve ever experienced. We could facetime with our kids and even streamed a couple of hockey games while onboard! I was easily able to download shows from my streaming accounts as well.

And we loved the reserved theater seating since some people would show up an hour before showtime to start getting good seats!

main dining fried chicken dish on discovery princess

There are three main restaurants onboard, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway that are open for dinner; and for our cruise, Ketchikan was open for breakfast and lunch as well. In addition to those there is a World Market buffet, Salty Dog Pub, and Gigi’s Pizzaria. 

fish at catch by rudi on discovery princess

Discovery Princess has added fee restaurants as well if you want a smaller, upscale dining experience. There is the Crown Grill steakhouse, Catch by Rudi seafood, and Sabatini’s Italian Trattoria. We also had the chance to experience two limited dining experiences, The Caymus Winemaker’s Dinner and 360 Dining Experience 7-course tasting.

I’ll be honest that we found the food in the main restaurants pretty standard for a large cruise ship. Everything was good, but not extraordinary. We enjoyed the meals but felt they were a little under-seasoned and the fish was repeatedly overcooked.

However, the specialty dining restaurants were a better experience. Which makes sense as the main dining rooms need to feed around 4000 guests and the specialty restaurants are only feeding a small seating of maybe 20 tables during the night. I’ll say that the 360 dinner was one of the absolute best experiences I’ve ever had onboard a ship, and I highly recommend you splurge on it if you enjoy experiential dining experiences.

The Caymus Winemaker’s Dinner

caymus winemaker dinner menu on discovery princess

I was told in advance to request the winemaker’s dinner experience and so I did on day 1. It isn’t a set scheduled event, so we had to wait to be told when our dining experience would happen. There was no publicity about this meal while onboard. It seems to be arranged by request or offered to guests who speak with the sommelier and show an interest in wine. I was told that it typically happens twice per cruise.

You’ll meet in the atrium and be escorted to a private table inside one of the main restaurants. For our seating we had 10 guests, which were 5 couples. We had a host and sommelier for the night and we ate and drank through 6 courses. The couples chatted during the meal and the sommelier shared information about the Caymus family of wines and their history.

The food was tasty and very unique; it was a great break from the standard main dining experience and the wine pours were generous and truly paired well with each dish. I’ll mention that the ship also did an AMAZING job accommodating Paul’s pescatarian diet and my sensitivity to mushrooms, including creating different plates for each of us at this meal when the dish included meat or mushrooms.

If you’re a person who enjoys private dining experiences and wine, this would be an excellent splurge for the cruise – just make sure to talk to the dining team on day 1 to arrange.

360: An Extraordinary Experience

360 dinner drink cocktail on princess

If you only want to splurge on one upgraded dining experience while sailing with Princess, 360 is the one I would recommend. Beyond the food being wonderful, the whole evening was unique and truly experiential.

You’ll meet in the atrium where you’ll be served a cocktail and have a photo taken against the 360 Princess Cruises backdrop, then you’re led into the back kitchen area of Catch by Rudi to a hidden room with a circular table that seats 20 guests.

The evening starts with a host greeting you and starting the story by grabbing a journal from the wall. Then Brooke Shields takes you on a travel journey around Europe tasting and drinking through a 7-course meal.

The lighting and table effects, the private servers for each couple, the energetic host, and the amazing makers storytelling videos immerse you in the food and drink you’ll consume. We loved it and so did the couples sitting around us!

Entertainment & Shows

princess theater on discovery princess cruise ship

There are a lot of activities happening on the ship to engage guests. Each day you’ll check the app or the daily sheet left the night before to find out times of activities. Paul and I were both surprised at how it seemed there were quite a few announcements made over the speakers through the day about events and activities.

There were maybe three a day? Compared to Norwegian where it seems there’s only one a day, it’s something to keep in mind if that’s something you want or don’t. The announcements do not get broadcast in your rooms.

Some of the events were things like egg dropping contests, paper plane flying challenge, music trivia, group workouts, art auctions, bingo, as well as skin and shopping events each day at the spa and shops.

The main theater had a show each night that featured two stage shows during the week and the other nights were acts like comedians, singers, and magicians.

The bars all had live music each evening, with the same performers each night but with different set lists. We felt the first stage show we attended was pretty good, not Broadway level but definitely enjoyable. The reserved seating for Premier guests was a useful perk.

TIP: if you know you want to watch a lot of the main theater shows, make sure you plan your dining accordingly. Paul and I often had dining times around 7 pm, which meant we had to go to the 9:30pm late show (first show is at 7:30 pm) and sometimes we were too tired to go after a busy day out. :)

Paul and I felt like there were a lot of things you could do, although some of the activities seemed to be somewhat aimed at selling you something. But overall, if you’re the type who doesn’t want to hang out in your room and love to pop into things, Princess seems to really try to have some kind of fun activity happening throughout the day.

Lotus Spa & Enclave

enclave entrance in lotus spa discovery princess

After having a few spa services on cruises, I’ve decided it might just not be my thing. I feel that you’re either pushed in and out quickly, which was my facial experience on Princess, or a big chunk of your treatment time is spent trying to upsell you on other services or products, which was my recent facial experience with Holland.

I did get a day pass for the spa Enclave area which is a special water therapy area not included in spa services. I believe the rate is around $49 a day. I’ve tried one of these areas before on the Norwegian Bliss ship, so was looking forward to checking this out.

Enclave has a large center jacuzzi pool with special jet areas around the pool. There are heated tile lounge benches throughout the edges of the space. And there are three heat therapy rooms as well as some water therapy cold/hot showers.

I visited in the late morning one day and didn’t feel the space was overcrowded, but did feel like my two hours was plenty of time. I tried each of the rooms and relaxed on a heated bench to read a few times. The space isn’t overly large so could easily get crowded.

Shore Excursions and Ports of Call

discovery princess cruise ship

I’ve been on quite a few Alaska cruises, as I’ve mentioned, and shore excursions are extremely popular with guests. I recommend booking early! Some popular excursions sell out months in advance. And most shore excursions happen rain or shine, so be prepared to pack accordingly.

One thing to note, if you’re not interested in any of the excursions or activities, the ships become extremely empty during port calls. You’ll find the pools, hot tubs, and restaurants clear and quiet, so keep that in mind if you’re just looking to relax. Of course, you’ll have to count on good weather to get people off the ship and to make you want to spend time in the pool or hot tub. :)

My Juneau Excursion:

boat ride for whale watching on juneau shore excursion

Alaska’s Whales & Mendenhall Glacier Trail: Small-Group Experience

The most popular activities in Juneau are seeing Mendenhall Glacier and whale-watching. I’ve done bus transfers to Mendenhall, rented a Jeep to self-tour around the sites, and on this trip I finally did a whale-watching trip.

Our small group tour was two groups of 20 people and we were separated onto small shuttle buses that took us on a drive of about 15 minutes to the port where we boarded a small boat at a marina. There was time to quickly use the bathrooms which were at the marina and do get busy.

The boat had an interior closed cabin with bench seating that just fit all 20 of us. There was a small front and back deck where we could go out when we weren’t moving. Plus the window walls of the interior of the boat could be pulled up and locked into place to allow the whole interior cabin to have open viewing.

We headed out onto the water and after traveling for about 15 minutes we came upon our first pod of humpback whales. There were quite a few of them feeding, and we even had the opportunity to see bubble net feeding, which is pretty rare!

In addition to the many seagulls flying over the feeding whales, we also spotted a bald eagle. I really wished I had my DSLR camera with a strong zoom lens as my iPhone photos just couldn’t capture the amazing details and size of these creatures.

If this is a bucket list trip experience for you, I HIGHLY recommend you bring a good zoom camera. There are point and shoot cameras for reasonable prices that would work well. I’d recommend something with a high optical zoom like the Panasonic FZ80 series or a Canon Powershot like the SX740 .

After spending a bit of time with that group of whales, we left again to look for more and passed a group of five Steller Sea Lions hanging out on an ocean buoy. We soon found another group of humpback whales that were feeding and shooting their breathing mists high. We spent another few minutes with this pod and then had to head back to the marina.

Once in the marina, we boarded our shuttle again to go to a bus parking area for Mendenhall where we split into two groups of ten. Our guide led us through a short hike through the woods, sharing some of the local fauna, and we ended up at a beach across from Mendenhall Glacier.

This was the first time I ever viewed the glacier from the vantage as I’ve always visited it from the main visitors entrance and done the hike to the waterfall near the glacier. So, just know that this visit to the glacier is simply a visual stop and not the standard visitor’s center experience.

We headed back to the bus and we passed over a creek that does get salmon running in it, although not this time but we did see them in August 2022. This time we spotted a porcupine high in the trees!

Our bus driver offered to drop us in the main area of Juneau for shopping, but the original drop off point is just slightly down from downtown at the dock. It’s only about a 10 minute walk along the dock. When we cruised on the Norwegian Bliss we docked farther away at the A1 dock which is a mile away from downtown. Our Holland America ships have always ported at the main docks in port.

Our Skagway Excursion

view from train over bridge on white pass scenic railway

Sip & Summit: White Pass Scenic Rail & Skagway Brewing Company

The most notable excursion in Skagway is the White Pass Scenic Railway. This is a historic train route and even some of the cars and engine are historically important. The purpose was for trade and moving products to the Canadian border. The train only operates during the peak summer season, so be sure you check the dates if you’re traveling in the shoulder season.

For our excursion it included more than just the train, and we started our day meeting in a parking lot after tendering to shore from the ship. Recent landslides have made tendering and shuttling mandatory for some larger ships.

A large tour bus soon came to the parking lot and we loaded onto it with guests who seemed to be from another pier – a Holland ship. The bus took us to an overlook viewpoint where we were able to see the town as well as the cruise ships in port. Then we traveled back to town and were dropped off at Skagway Brewing Company in town.

Our group had a private seating area on the patio of the pub and we were all served a flight of beers and a pretzel with beer cheese. The manager came to each of our tables to chat for a few minutes, and there was plenty of time for us to enjoy our beer tasting as well as the chance to shop in their gift shop. One of the big features for this brewery is their Spruce Tip Ale which was their first beer made with Sitka Spruce tree tips which contain vitamin C to help prevent scurvy.

After the brewery we loaded back on the bus and were driven a short distance to a parking lot near the train where we were assigned a train car for our group. We had researched in advance and knew the right side of the car was best; however, the train does turn around at the top and everyone stays in their same seats, so the left side of the car will see the sites coming back down the mountain.

There are about 10 rows of seats, fitting two people in each bench seat on each side. So a train car probably holds about 40 people. There is a bathroom in each car, and there are very small viewing platforms on each side of the train car, which you’re allowed to access if the conductor feel it’s safe. The trip will take about two and a half to three hours.

If you happen to get a clear weather day, this excursion is amazing. The views are unbelievable and you truly appreciate the challenge of mining and trade in this region. I will say that it can be a little unsettling if you’re afraid of heights as you’re often on train tracks right next to gorges; so keep that in mind if you don’t like heights. You’ll be given a route map on the train and it will help you keep track of the main sights along the way.

Glacier Bay National Park

glacier in glacier bay alaska

While not a cruise excursion, I did want to mention our stop in Glacier Bay as it’s one of the main draws for many cruisers. Some cruise ships and itineraries do not go to Glacier Bay since there is a permit limit each year. So if you really to visit this National Park, be sure to pick a cruise itinerary that has Glacier Bay included.

Glacier Bay is typically a one-day special experience. You’ll sail into the bay early in the morning and a couple of National Park Rangers will board the ship at the mouth of the bay. Throughout the day you’ll cruise up the bay to the end and the featured site of Margerie Glacier. The rangers will give audio commentary about sights along the way, and there are typically education events onboard including Junior Ranger badge programs.

Whether the weather will give you a clear blue sky day or a cloudy, rainy mess, is anyone’s guess. Keep in mind that the whole bay is gorgeous and it’s worth spending some time enjoying the views on one of the decks while cruising the bay. This would be a perfect day to reserve time in the Sanctuary.

Our Ketchikan Fishing Excursion

rockfish fishing in ketchikan - tiger rockfish that was released back

Alaska Fishing & Wilderness Dining – Discovery Exclusive

I actually did this exact excursion with my daughter Mia on our Holland Alaska Cruise, and we loved it so much I knew I had to book it for Paul, too. You’ll meet up on shore with a guide from Baranof Fishing and be led to their pier spot to have your fishing licenses checked or purchased.

With Holland we didn’t have any info to buy a license in advance; however, Princess did a great job having a sheet in our room upon boarding telling us what to do. So when we got to the pier we were able to just print off our licenses, meaning we got onboard a boat quicker.

Our guide took us out to one of his favorite spots to start fishing for rockfish. When I went with Mia in August, we were on a six-person open skift boat, but this time there were five of us on a small boat with a small cabin and back deck for fishing. They’ll loan you boots for the trip, and depending on weather they may give you waders. I can’t recall if they have coats for loan, but I wouldn’t count on it.

We had to chase the rockfish quite a bit this time, whereas when I fished with Mia, we all immediately got two fish each when we dropped our hooks down. So it was kind of fun having two different experiences. We also caught a few different types of rockfish, with Paul catching a tiger rockfish which had to be returned and I caught a fair sized yelloweye rockfish which we kept for lunch!

After we all caught a couple of rockfish, we headed to a different spot to go for salmon. With rockfish, we all were dropping lines into the water, whereas for salmon you’ll troll fish and have to watch rods for bites, then someone has to grab the rod and hope to reel in a fish. Salmon can be tricky and we have had a few pop off the hook when we’d try to reel them in. But in the end we came away with a lovely Pink Salmon to keep while we had to let a King Salmon go since it was too small.

With our fish onboard, we headed to a private island for some lunch. You’ll be brought ashore; keep in mind that you have to hop off the boat into very shallow water to go ashore, so you’ll need to be a little nimble. But they have a step stool and will help you get on and off the boat.

Onshore there is a campfire going and you can help yourself to fireside coffee in pitchers or use hot water to have some hot chocolate. Your guide will clean your fish and hand them off to the chef who will prepare the fish with amazing seasonings and a cioppino tomato soup. Our salmon was prepared with teriyaki sauce on a cedar plank board and it was all tasty. There was also blueberry cobbler for dessert. We finished eating and headed back to our boat to go back to the cruise ship.

Keep in mind, you’ll be fishing and sitting by a campfire; so consider packing a special outfit and/or jacket for this excursion. Or plan on having some laundry done on the ship; perhaps even pack some travel febreeze , hand wipes and sanitizer.

What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise

alaskan cruise packing list

Be sure to read my Alaska Cruise Packing List post which includes a free printable packing list! A few important notes:

  • Pack layers for clothes, weather can vary and wind and rain are a reality just as much as sunny 70 degree days. A good flannel, fleece, puffer, and raincoat could be ideal for varying weather.
  • Pack shoes that will accomodate your various excursions and dress, i.e. walking, hiking, or formal night.
  • Pack a pair of good binoculars – we had a cheap pair and they were worthless.
  • Pack some playing cards or travel board games if that’s your lounge style.
  • Don’t forget a day pack for shore excursions.

view from our balcony l129 on discovery princess

Taking a cruise to Alaska is definitely something I’d recommend. Things to keep in mind is that bigger ships might not be able to port right at the pier and you’ll have to tender or shuttle ashore. Itineraries matter and you should carefully look at the ports of call as well as the amount of time in each port of call which choosing your line.

This was my first Princess Cruise and I loved the medallion “key” technology as well as the great WiFi at sea. The specialty dining experiences were better than the main dining and the 360 dining experience is something I’d recommend to all my friends. Princess cruise staff onboard were all kind and helpful, from the servers in the buffet to the room stewards.

The ship size was bigger than I expected and did come with some extra lines for getting off and on at cruise ports. While I didn’t love the layout, overall it was a gorgeous ship and I did enjoy all the different venues and lounge seating areas. There weren’t a lot of “active” areas onboard like a ropes course or waterslide, but that might have been what helped keep the family quotient lower and as a traveling couple, that was enjoyable.

I asked two different couples that mentioned they had sailed 10+ times with Princess why the loved it so much, and both gave me the same response: because they know what to expect. So, if consistency is something that appeals to you, it certainly seems like Princess might be a great line for you to cruise.

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When to book Alaska Excursions?

By richart , August 20, 2023 in Princess Cruises

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50+ Club

New to cruising Alaska. Taking the inside passage on Discovery Princess in May 2024. When should I start looking to book excursions?

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disneyochem

disneyochem

Now.  I’m taking several cruises next year to Alaska (June -July 2024, August 2024) and have booked a number of excursions.

The more popular excursions through the cruise line tends to sell out early.  

I usually don’t use the cruise line excursions but I do have some shore excursion credits that need to be use so booked a couple with the cruise line.  Some private vendors don’t have online booking up for next summer but you can call and book the tour you want.    

I’m waiting for Black Friday sales to book my Kenai Fjord cruise out of Seward.

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NavyVeteran

Some excursions are available only from Princess. For example, the cruise lines book all of the seats on the train excursions in Skagway.

Reasons to book now:

  • The excursion might sell out. Some do.
  • The price may go up. That happens.
  • If the price goes down, you can cancel and rebook - if there is space available.

The only reason to wait is that you have to pay when you book for any excursions exceeding your onboard credit (OBC) balance. You will get a refund if you cancel, but you are tying up the money for now.

travelin.sisters

travelin.sisters

my thought is book asap if you know what you want & cancel if you change your mind

250+ Club

4 hours ago, richart said: New to cruising Alaska. Taking the inside passage on Discovery Princess in May 2024. When should I start looking to book excursions?

ASAP especially for ones like seaplane flight of glaciers and etc..they get booked up and you can always cancel

Ombud

1 hour ago, NavyVeteran said: Some excursions are available only from Princess. For example, the cruise lines book all of the seats on the train excursions in Skagway.   Reasons to book now: The excursion might sell out. Some do. The price may go up. That happens. If the price goes down, you can cancel and rebook - if there is space available.   The only reason to wait is that you have to pay when you book for any excursions exceeding your onboard credit (OBC) balance. You will get a refund if you cancel, but you are tying up the money for now.

Too true for any cruise!! While mulling over a disembarkation tour next May it sold out but I snagged a spot on the waitlist. Waitlist closed on another excursion.  Ah well, time to research the port with other roll call members

5,000+ Club

Especially in Alaska, never too early. The better excursions do sell out. It's not hype.

9 hours ago, NavyVeteran said: Some excursions are available only from Princess. For example, the cruise lines book all of the seats on the train excursions in Skagway.

Chilkoot Tours ( https://chilkootcharters.com/ ) also books seats on the White Pass railroad.  We've used them twice (2012 and 2018) and they had an entire train car reserved just for their passengers.  We highly recommend them.

voljeep

13 hours ago, disneyochem said: usually don’t use the cruise line excursions but I do have some shore excursion credits that need to be use so booked a couple with the cruise line.

if the shore excursion credit was from a previous Princess promotion (we have $100 each) it's been reported here that it is really just general OBC and applied to your folio charges.

I 'guess' that 'could' change at any time and be exclusively for excursions only

As soon as possible these cruises are especially popular with first time cruisers who see it as a bucket list trip and want to do everything in every port

2 hours ago, voljeep said: if the shore excursion credit was from a previous Princess promotion (we have $100 each) it's been reported here that it is really just general OBC and applied to your folio charges.   I 'guess' that 'could' change at any time and be exclusively for excursions only

The shore excursion credits are on Holland America cruises, not Princess.  HAL will only let you use the shore excursion funds on shore excursions--you lose it if you do not use it!

(I certainly prefer Princess's policy--we've had their shore excursion credit and used it as general OBC.)

charliedalrymple

charliedalrymple

No advice on booking excursions. However, our Alaska cruise was in May and a fair number of people said it was too early.  I can report that the weather was perfect every day and it remains our favourite cruise.

If there is anything you have your heart set on doing, I'd book as early as possible. We are cruising next month and will have our 3 year old with us. I know there are a lot of excursions that aren't small kid friendly so I wanted to make sure we got excursions booked that would benefit our entire family and booked our excursions back in the spring. 

no1racefan1

We are going to Alaska in May 2024 and I had our excursions booked by June. I recommend booking as soon as you know what you want, as there's really no benefit to be gained from waiting.

That being said, I have been keeping track of excursions on our cruise so I could see when they start selling out, and I have not yet seen anything sell out--so I'm sure that happens, but possibly not this far in advance. A couple of excursions only have a few spots left though.

Also, you'll probably note that there is only one time (early morning) listed for all excursions. I have read from other people that more times are likely to open up as we get closer, because a lot of Alaskan tour companies don't have their 2024 schedules finalized yet. So that's something else to keep an eye on as it gets closer. I went ahead and booked everything and will cancel and rebook if the timing works out better later.

AtlantaCruiser72

AtlantaCruiser72

My rule of thumb - if it's a "make or break" experience that is integral to your enjoyment of the trip book as soon as you know you want to do it.  This is true of excursions through the cruise line or third party operator.  If it's a "it might be nice" type of thing, but I could do something else, then there is no harm in waiting.

  • 2 months later...

georgetheblue

georgetheblue

No land excursions are available for booking for my august 24 cruise tour.  When will they be available?  I have t

wo nights in Cooper River, two nights in Kenai, two nights in McKinley that i want to choose an excursion.  The excursions are included in Denali and Fairbanks. Right now the only excursion availibilty is for the cruise portion. Is there time limit before princess releases the land excursions?

I always book our "must do" excursions ASAP so we never miss an opportunity to enjoy our favorite excursions.  We are cruising twice to Alaska in 2024 and have already booked our independent as well as our ship's excursions.  In fact, one of our ship excursion has already gone up in price.  Popular independent vendors can book up fast -- one of our independent vendors is taking reservations already for 2025.  Enjoy your Alaska planning.

Paula_MacFan

21 hours ago, georgetheblue said: No land excursions are available for booking for my august 24 cruise tour.  When will they be available?  I have two nights in Cooper River, two nights in Kenai, two nights in McKinley that i want to choose an excursion.  The excursions are included in Denali and Fairbanks. Right now the only excursion availibilty is for the cruise portion. Is there time limit before princess releases the land excursions?

We have a cruisetour booked for May 2024 and are experiencing the same as you -- cruise excursions are up to book, but the land tours are not.  I asked my CVP when we could expect them to be available and they said 'hopefully soon' but they also said that 'Princess no longer has a dedicated shore excursion department' so they had no one to contact specifically to ask. 

I check every day online and plan to book as soon as they are available.  Good luck 🙂    

Cool Cruiser

Not having cruised in over 20 years I had a lot of questions on this topic.  Can you book excursions before final payment?

Are they fully refundable if you change your mind or have to cancel the cruise?

It's been a rough year health wise for me and next year is my make up year for travel, but sometimes the universe interferes. So right now planning is exciting.

I would just keep checking the excursions every week.  I know in the past that many Alaskan vendors - some of whom are relatively small companies - didn't release their schedules until November or December.  They are obviously very busy during the summer cruising season and then it takes a while to get the next season set up.  Since Princess frequently contracts with those companies I imagine that everyone is working on scheduling now.  

WOW - That information is very disappointing to hear.  It explains why they were there for awhile but now gone.  Princess better get their act together on this problem.  FYI, my TA has a partnership with shore excursions group.com and they do have a few excursions for interior Alaska, so that’s something to look at.  

We’ll now I will be researching RCL to see if they are offering interior excursions on their landtours

Unable to open the RCL land destinations for excursions

12 hours ago, jannieb said: Not having cruised in over 20 years I had a lot of questions on this topic.  Can you book excursions before final payment? Are they fully refundable if you change your mind or have to cancel the cruise? It's been a rough year health wise for me and next year is my make up year for travel, but sometimes the universe interferes. So right now planning is exciting.

Yes you can book before final payment.  In fact, on our last cruise many were sold out months before the cruise.  For Alaska as others had said, if there's something you know you want to do, it's best to book ASAP.  

Excursions are fully refundable if you change your mind or have to cancel.  The only caveat is some flight-seeing excursions in Alaska have different cancellation policies, but those are disclosed at booking.  

As far as Alaska for 2024, everything I've read says bookings are extremely strong and our May 2024 cruisetour has been sold out for quite awhile.  So keep that in mind as you plan.  Good luck 🙂

Gentle Traveler

1 hour ago, Paula_MacFan said: Yes you can book before final payment.  In fact, on our last cruise many were sold out months before the cruise.  For Alaska as others had said, if there's something you know you want to do, it's best to book ASAP.     Excursions are fully refundable if you change your mind or have to cancel.  The only caveat is some flight-seeing excursions in Alaska have different cancellation policies, but those are disclosed at booking.     As far as Alaska for 2024, everything I've read says bookings are extremely strong and our May 2024 cruisetour has been sold out for quite awhile.  So keep that in mind as you plan.  Good luck 🙂  

Thank you!   I had better get busy!

Booked for May 24 - and have all our excursions booked.  I would book as early as possible.  Popular excursions or those that take a limited number of people sell quickly.

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princess alaska cruise shore excursions

Princess Cruises ship that crashed into San Francisco pier cleared for departure

New passengers had until 11 a.m. PT to decide whether to continue to Alaska.

The Ruby Princess cruise ship that was damaged after it crashed into a pier in San Francisco is expected to set sail on Sunday afternoon after it was cleared for departure.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced early Sunday morning that repairs on the ship, which startled sleeping San Francisco residents Thursday morning when it collided with Pier 27, are complete.

MORE: Cruise ship still docked in San Francisco after hitting pier

The Coast Guard lifted the Captain of the Port order at 1 a.m. PT Sunday.

The ship was scheduled to depart at 2:30 p.m. PT., Princess Cruises said in a statement.

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

New passengers who boarded the ship after the accident had until 11 a.m. PT on Sunday to decide whether to continue to the next port or disembark and end their trip. A total of 2677 guests and 1161 crew were expected to be on board when the ship departs -- down from the more than 3,000 guests who initially boarded, according to Princess Cruises.

MORE: Out-of-control cruise ship crashes into tourist boat on busy Venice canal

Originally a 10-day cruise, the trip has been whittled down to seven days and will return on July 16 as originally planned after stops in Ketchikan, Alaska, on July 12 and Prince Rupert, British Columbia, on July 13, according to Princess Cruises.

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

Guests who boarded Thursday were given the option to cancel their trip and receive a 100% refund on their cruise fare, post-cruise hotel packages and transfers booked through Princess, prepaid shore excursions and other prepaid items and taxes, fees and port expenses, according to the cruise line.

They were also offered a 50% voucher for a future cruise. Guests who did decide to stay aboard and embark on the shorter journey to Alaska will receive a partial refund of 75%.

MORE: USS McCain the 4th Navy warship to crash in Asia in 2017

The ship was returning from a 10-day cruise to Alaska when it slammed into San Francisco's Pier 27, a large dock on the waterfront of The Embarcadero that hosts cruise ships leaving and arriving in San Francisco Bay.

There were 3,328 guests and 1,159 crew members on board when it crashed, none of whom were injured and all safely disembarked, according to Princess Cruises.

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

While the ship was visibly damaged, the dock took the brunt of the crash, witnesses said.

The Coast Guard is investigating the incident, according to police.

ABC News' Nicholas Kerr and Ivan Pereira contributed to this report.

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Ruby Princess leaves SF for Alaska 4 days after crash at Pier 27, nearly 600 passengers fewer

The ship has been sitting at Pier 27 in San Francisco since colliding with the dock Thursday morning.

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SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- After colliding with the dock and sitting at Pier 27 in San Francisco since Thursday, the Ruby Princess cruise ship finally embarked on its journey to Alaska.

The U.S. Coast Guard announced Sunday morning repairs to the Ruby Princess have been completed and the cruise ship is "free to depart" for Alaska.

The coast guard said it lifted the Captain of the Port order at 1 a.m. Sunday.

Now, the cruise line said it was expected to depart the Bay Area at 2:30 p.m. Our ABC7 cameras saw the Princess ship move around 3:40 p.m.

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

Passengers had until 11 a.m. to decide whether they will stay on the ship to to continue the trip or leave.

Cruise passenger Anita Lawhon from Reno captured the moment the Ruby Princess finally set sail from San Francisco Sunday afternoon, she thought her "bon voyage" would never happen.

"Who would've thought we'd be sitting here in San Francisco for four days? I'm so excited go out toward the Golden Gate for the first time in my life, exciting," said Lawhon.

The ship's captain told passengers the green light was given overnight to sail.

"Actually, I just walked down because I wanted to see the state of repairs and was pleasantly surprised it looks great to me," said passenger Alexandra Shannon.

In a statement, the cruise line said, "Princess Cruises can confirm that repairs on Ruby Princess have been completed, and following inspection and certification by the United States Coast Guard the ship is safe and fit to sail."

"I got off the ship I decided to take the deal they offered," said Simon from Rio Vista, who declined to give his last name.

Ruby Princess had 3,256 guests and 1,161 crew onboard. Now, they are departing with 2,677 guests and 1,161 crew onboard. A difference of 579 passengers.

The delayed 10-day sailing will now be a 7-day cruise returning to San Francisco on Sunday, July 16.

RELATED: 'Go with the flow': Ruby Princess passengers anxious to leave as ship repairs continue

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

"The Ruby Princess is about 950 feet long and about 115,000-tons," Captain Allan Post with the Texas A &M Maritime Academy pointed out. "With that much weight and that much sail area, the vessel is affected by wind, by current, and by the technical abilities of its design," he said on Friday as repairs were being made.

On Friday, ABC7 saw crews from the Port of San Francisco and Coast Guard inspecting the hole in the vessel and repairs which have been done so far.

"Our main concern is the vessel able to transport passengers and operate safety," said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Levi Read on Friday.

Passengers who boarded the ship Thursday have been asked to stay on board and not come ashore. Originally, there were 3,256 guests and 1,161 crew onboard as the ship remains docked at Pier 27.

Princess Cruises says guests who elect to cancel their cruise will receive a 100% refund of their cruise fare, post-cruise hotel packages and transfers booked through Princess, prepaid shore excursions and other prepaid items and taxes, fees and port expenses. Each guest will also receive a 50% Future Cruise Credit of the cruise fare paid on this voyage, which may be applied to any future Princess cruise that is booked by February 1, 2024 and sails by February 1, 2025. They may remain onboard until 1100 local time on Sunday, July 9 to better assist with alternative plans they may be making.

Guests who continue with their Princess vacation will receive a 75% refund of the cruise fare paid as well as unused pre-paid shore excursions booked through Princess and the refundable portion of the taxes, fees and port expenses for the missed ports. Each guest will also receive a 75% Future Cruise Credit equal to the cruise fare paid on this voyage, which may be applied to any future Princess cruise that is booked by February 1, 2024 and sails by February 1, 2025.

VIDEO: Cruise ship hits iceberg in Alaska, returns to Seattle for repairs

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

Investigation into the bar pilot

We learned more about the Ruby Princess pilot. In some ways, this is an elite group. There aren't many bar pilots, 52 at the moment with four trainees in the pipeline according to the Board of Pilot Commissioners Executive Director.

The investigation into what went wrong with the Ruby Princess during docking at San Francisco's Pier 27 Thursday morning is in the early fact-finding phase.

"It appears the port quarter of the Ruby Princess made contact with Pier 27," said U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander William Williams.

The Coast Guard which is assisting in the investigation says the pilot is being drug and alcohol tested which is standard in a serious marine incident.

"The Coast Guard has sent two teams, an investigations team and an inspection port state control team to the vessel and will be conducting those inspections and investigations," said Williams.

princess alaska cruise shore excursions

The San Francisco Bar Pilots are responsible for safely navigating ships they board over the offshore sand bar to docks throughout the Bay Area.

A Spokesperson working with the San Francisco Bar Pilots told ABC7 News on Thursday, "We can confirm a pilot was involved in a hard landing at Pier 27 this morning. We are cooperating with all necessary agencies in looking into this matter and cannot comment further."

The Board of Pilot Commissioners tells ABC7 News the pilot is on the Pilot Evaluation Committee which is responsible for trainees and that anyone on that committee would have to be a pilot more than 10 years.

The investigation is now in the hands of the U.S. Coast Guard and other federal agencies who were notified about the early morning incident.

ABC7 News reporters Tim Johns, Suzanne Phan, Melanie Woodrow, Amanda del Castillo and Cornell Barnard contributed to this report.

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  1. UTV excursion in Skagway Alaska Review

  2. Alaska Cruise Mistakes

  3. Princess Alaska & The Dinner Disaster

  4. Sapphire Princess Cruise to Alaska Part 7: Sea Day and Disembarking in Vancouver @CurachaGomez

  5. Balloon drop

  6. Alaska Cruise Trip 阿拉斯加遊輪之旅

COMMENTS

  1. Alaska Shore Excursions

    Unlock a world of adventure with Discovery at SEA™, our exclusive partnership with Discovery™ and Animal Planet™. Immerse yourself in Alaska and see the best the region has to offer with "Recommended" tours or choose "Exclusive" Alaska cruise excursions that you can only experience with Princess - like fishing for king salmon, dogsledding through beautiful terrains and canoeing past ...

  2. Alaska Cruise Excursions

    Unlock a world of adventure with Discovery at SEA™, our exclusive partnership with Discovery™ and Animal Planet™. Immerse yourself in Alaska and see the best the region has to offer with "Recommended" tours or choose "Exclusive" Alaska cruise excursions that you can only experience with Princess - like fishing for king salmon ...

  3. The 6 best Alaska cruise shore excursions

    The simplest way to book an Alaska shore excursion is through your cruise line. You check a box on an online form before sailing or while on board, and — poof! — it's all arranged. ... or at least a piece of them. For instance, the parent company of Princess Cruises and Holland America is a part-owner of Skagway's big attraction, the White ...

  4. Excursions

    Go for a ride in an off-road vehicle, kayaking, hiking, nature watching, flightseeing, ziplining and more. Set amidst the peaceful forest, the park is home to 14 totem poles, each telling their own story, and a replica of a 19th-century clan house, offering a look into the Tlingit and Haida Native Alaskan cultures.

  5. Alaska Cruisetours

    Go deeper into Alaska. Kenai and/or Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Unique National Parks and Canadian Rockies Cruisetour options. 7-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise. 6-8 nights on land. Princess Alaska rail service. Stay in the Denali-area. Natural History Tour into Denali National Park. Fairbanks and/or Anchorage.

  6. Excursions

    View cruises with Juneau, Alaska. In 1880, it was slow going for Joe Juneau and Richard Harris as they searched for gold with the help of Native guides. After climbing mountains, forging streams and facing countless difficulties, they found nuggets "as large as beans." From their discovery came three of the largest gold mines in the world.

  7. The 16 Best Alaska Cruise Excursions for 2024

    Some lines that offer the fisherman's tour include Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Carnival Cruise Line, Viking ...

  8. 11 Tips From a Princess Cruisetour in Alaska

    These are 11 things travelers should know before embarking on a Princess cruisetour in Alaska. Fannie Q at Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge (Photo/Princess Cruises) 1. Pack Smart. The weather in ...

  9. The 11 Best Alaska Cruise Excursions in 2024

    Family-friendly Princess Cruises, in its 55 th season plying Alaskan waters, delivers exemplary excursions that include learning about gold rush history and gold-panning, as well as fishing trips ...

  10. Best Alaska Shore Excursions: Locals Pick The Best Cruise Excursions

    Since our film crews have shot more than 150 Alaska cruise excursions in the past few years, we know them intimately. But we aren't the only experts-so are the thousands of passengers who have taken Princess shore excursions, Holland America shore excursions, Carnival excursions, and all other ship excursions.

  11. 5 Juneau Shore Excursions

    On your next cruise to Alaska, add these five Juneau shore excursions to your must-see list: Mendenhall Glacier. The Juneau Icefield flows from the town of Skagway, Alaska, to the Taku River, for a total of 3,885 square kilometres. Among the most impressive glaciers flowing through the ice field is the massive Mendenhall Glacier.

  12. Princess Reports Passengers' Favorite Alaska Excursions

    With the 2008 Alaska cruise season now past, Princess Cruises (www.princess.com) has announced the winners of its ninth annual C.R.U.I.S.E. service awards, which recognize Alaska's best shore excursions.Winners are determined by Princess's passengers themselves, through responses they gave in surveys throughout the season.

  13. 7 Things I Loved, Plus 4 Things I Didn't During Princess's Alaska

    A trip with Princess Cruises will help you experience everything Alaska has to offer from the luxury of a cruise ship. ... From luscious food choices and all-day entertainment to excursions and off-shore adventures through Alaska's small coastal communities, the Alaska Cruisetour was probably one of the most fun trips I had taken all year ...

  14. 7 Alaska Cruise Excursions That Are Worth The Money

    3. Sport Fishing. Salmon is king in Alaska, but there are many types of fishing adventures suitable for everyone from novices to hardened anglers. Disney cruise line also offers a Ketchikan Alaska Fish Camp and Wilderness Dinner. The 5.5-hour fishing trip is available to family members 5 and up.

  15. Shore Excursions Alaska

    Discover glaciers, fjords and the cities of Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway on shore excursions with Princess Cruises during your Alaksa cruise. Discover the va. Discover the va. 05332 74992; Call me back; Mon to Fri: 10 am - 5 pm ... Shore excursions: Alaska . Discover the vast glaciers and towering mountain peaks of Alaska in style. Helicopter ...

  16. Best excursions

    99 reviews. 80 helpful votes. Best excursions - Princess Cruise Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan. 8 years ago. We are traveling with friends and family (group of 8) on the southbound Princess cruise from Whittier to Vancouver. There are so many excursions that look interesting.

  17. Alaska Shore Excursions: Alaska Tours & Things to Do

    Oceania Cruises; Princess; Regent Seven Seas; Royal Caribbean; Seabourn; Silversea; Viking Cruises; Cruise Ship Cruise Ship. Selection Required; Sailing Date Sailing Date ... We are proud to offer the best tours Alaska has to offer with Alaska shore excursions at wholesale prices. 212 Admiral Way Ste. 5 Juneau, Alaska 99801; 1-888-586-8489 ...

  18. 7+ best Alaska cruise excursions + EPIC tours! (Princess + booking on

    How to search for Princess cruise excursions for Alaska. If you do want to look through the offerings of Princess, ... 👆 An exciting moment on an Alaska shore excursion: A whale's mouth!!! 👆 Spot the sea lions! See more about Alaska excursions. Whale watching in Alaska . 4.

  19. Shore Excursions Alaska

    Shore excursions: Alaska. Discover the vast glaciers and towering mountain peaks of Alaska in style. Helicopter flights over the glaciers, kayaking, whalewatching tours or visits to sled dog kennels are just a few examples of the shore excursions offered. Bookable from 100 days prior to departure via our Cruise Personalizer.

  20. Princess Alaska Shore Excursions--what's your favorite?

    Thus, I'm only looking for Princess shore excursion recommendations 🙂 Our very first cruise was to Alaska and we did helicopter/glacier dogsledding in Juneau, white pass railway in Skagway, and no excursion in Ketchikan. Looking for things that are different than those, and a bonus if they include being outside hiking, exploring, etc.

  21. What to Expect: My Princess Alaska Cruise Review from Seattle

    We're local to Seattle, and so just drove down to Pier 91 to board the Discovery Princess.Our boarding time was 10:30 am to 2:00 pm. All passengers needed to be onboard by 2:00 pm for a 3:00 pm departure.

  22. When to book Alaska Excursions?

    Now. I'm taking several cruises next year to Alaska (June -July 2024, August 2024) and have booked a number of excursions. The more popular excursions through the cruise line tends to sell out early. I usually don't use the cruise line excursions but I do have some shore excursion credits that need to be use so booked a couple with the ...

  23. Excursions

    The gold rush was a boon and by 1898, Skagway was Alaska's largest town with a population of about 20,000. Hotels, saloons, dance halls and gambling houses prospered. But when the gold yield dwindled in 1900, so did the population as miners quickly shifted to new finds in Nome. Today, Skagway has less than 1,000 residents.

  24. MSC Cruises Debuts New Excursions For Yacht Club Guests

    MSC Cruises has announced that for the first time, guests traveling in the MSC Yacht Club will have the opportunity to book a selection of shore excursions curated just for them. Available on many MSC Cruises ships, the MSC Yacht Club offers its guests a secluded retreat while also allowing them to enjoy the facilities and entertainment ...

  25. Princess Cruises ship that crashed into San Francisco pier ...

    The ship was returning from a 10-day cruise to Alaska when it slammed into San Francisco's Pier 27, a large dock on the waterfront of The Embarcadero that hosts cruise ships leaving and arriving ...

  26. Ruby Princess cruise ship leaves San Francisco for Alaska 4 days after

    Ruby Princess leaves SF for Alaska 4 days after crash at Pier 27, nearly 600 passengers fewer . The ship has been sitting at Pier 27 in San Francisco since colliding with the dock Thursday morning.

  27. Juneau Shore Excursions and Other Things to Do in Juneau

    There's plenty of things to do in Juneau. On your next cruise to Alaska, add these five Juneau shore excursions to your must-see list: Mendenhall Glacier. The Juneau Icefield flows from the town of Skagway, Alaska, to the Taku River, for a total of 1,500 square miles. Among the most impressive glaciers flowing through the ice field is the ...

  28. MSC Cruises Unveils Exclusive Shore Excursions for Guests ...

    "The new offering has come following customer feedback and a desire for a more exclusive experience for MSC Yacht Club guests," says Marialuisa Iaccarino, head of shore excursions for MSC Cruises. "Guests will benefit from a seamless experience between the butlers' service onboard and the excursion experts ashore as well as having the ...

  29. Best Alaska Cruises 2024-2025

    Discover Alaska with Princess in 2024-2025. The best cruise line in Alaska just keeps getting better! From top-rated cruises that visit Glacier Bay National Park to scenic rail travel and exclusive Princess lodges, you will find a seamless Alaska experience with Princess. Learn More.