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Alaska Cruising: Seattle – Then North to Alaska!

Alaska has the longest stretch of coastline in the United States, the largest area of national parklands and the highest concentration of Glaciers. Your cruises will enter either Glacier Bay or Sawyer Glacier so you can view the majestic sites.

Your home for the seven nights of the cruise would either be the Norwegian Pearl or the Norwegian Jewel, both vessels are approximately 93,500 tonne cruise ship, in laymen’s terms means you can go for long walks and never leave the ship. Each ship can accommodate approximately 2,394 passengers, has 17 dining choices, 15 bars and lounges, spa's and fitness centres, swimming pools and amazing on-board entertainment.

The cruises depart from Mid-May to Mid-September, as this is the best time to visit Alaska. The days are longest and the temperatures are warmer. The season is ideal for outdoor activities liking hiking, river rafting, kayaking, slight seeing and fishing. It is Alaska so dress in layers with good comfortable shoes or boots, and a windproof jacket is a good idea. When the sun goes down you are still in Alaska!

Norwegian Cruise Lines depart from Seattle in Washington State, which is a short coach or journey from Vancouver or fast ferry from Victoria, which makes an Alaskan Cruise a great ending, or beginning, to your holiday to Canada or the USA.

Seattle is a great city to visit for a couple of nights pre-, or post-cruise. As Seattle is the home of Starbucks, why not start your day with a cup of coffee? You could head to the original store is located downtown on the corner of Stewart and Virginia Street in the Soames-Dunn Building. Take a walk-through Pike Place market where traders bring their fine Washington State wares to sell and the location of some great restaurants. Close by on Pier 59 is the Seattle Aquarium with its 40 foot, 55,000 lb viewing window which allows to view Pacific North-western wildlife in their 120,000-gallon aquarium. Take in a view from above by jumping on the Seattle Great Wheel on Pier 57 which is 175 feet high and built 40 feet into Elliott Bay. If that is not high enough, then try the Space Needle. Great views abound - Puget Sound, Mt Rainier and Olympic National Park can be viewed. Easy when you are 605 feet high and can see 360 degrees. The Needle can easily be reached from downtown by the Monorail built for the World Fair in 1962. Sports fans have a lot of choice in the city with the Seattle Mariners Baseball team at Safeco Field, and the Seattle Seahawks NFL (football) Team and Sounders Soccer (football) team at Centurylink Field. 

After departing Seattle, the cruise ships first port of call is Juneau, the capital of Alaska since 1959. One thing that you’ll notice about Juneau is that it can only be reached by boat or float plane! The cruise ship docks within walking distance of the city so do take a walk along historic South Franklin Street - the turn of the century buildings have been turned into gift shops, restaurants and bars. Other historic sites that should be on your list are the State Capitol Building and the Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church. A short drive from Juneau will take you to the Mendenhall Glacier, within the Tongrass National Forest, the largest National Forest in the United States. Watch ice carve off the face of the Glacier, go for a hike or check out the Visitor Centre. Take an excursion by air over the Glacier to see the pure majesty of the location. That’s right you can fly over the Glacier!

As you continue north through the Favorite Channel and then the Chilkoot Inlet you will reach the town of Skagway. From 1897, Skagway was the starting place for more than 40,000 Gold Rush prospectors heading to the Yukon by way of the Chilkoot Trail. Take advantage of the free walking tour that National Park Rangers lead around the historic districts, stopping at historic buildings like the Mascot Saloon Museum, the first cabin built in Skagway and one of the towns oldest bordello’s! The tours only take 45 minutes and run five time a day. Skagway is the departure point for the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. Experience the breath-taking panorama of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and historic sites from the comfort of vintage parlour cars. At the top of the route you can see White Pass at 2,885 feet, which is the international boundary between the United States and Canada.

My highlight of each cruise is either Glacier Bay or the Sawyer Glacier (depending on your cruise itinerary). Sawyer Glacier is reached through tight fjords with many sharp turns which bring you into the bay with the Sawyer Glacier at its head. Watch out for Seals floating pieces of small ice! Glacier Bay is the iconic locations for many Alaska Cruises as many glaciers have come together to form a unique ecological landscape. Recently we went to Glacier Bay and it was without doubt the highlight.

Heading back to Seattle, Ketchikan is the next stop. Ketchikan is located at the Southern Tip of the Inside Passage; it was founded as a Salmon Cannery Site in 1895 and the historic town still shows signs of its heritage. The downtown area has many attractions including historic Creek Street, a boardwalk road built over Ketchikan Creek. 

Victoria, the capital of British Columbia is normally your last stop on your voyage. The city has a very English influence with one of the many attractions being Afternoon Tea at one of the many restaurants but we recommend the Fairmont Empress Hotel near the Inner Harbour which has played host to the practice for the past 95 years. Close to the city are Butchart Gardens, over a century ago, Jennie Butchart began building one of the world's premier floral show gardens, 55 acres of gardens makes a great location to while away the hours. Another popular excursion from Victoria is a trip to see the Orca Pods which frequent the seas around the city. Depending on the time of year, you can also see Gray, Humpback and Minke Whales not to mention Seals, Sea Lions and Porpoises. A Marine Wildlife tour is a must and usually includes a trip to Race Rocks Ecological Reserve, which is the most southern part of Vancouver Island and of Canada on the Pacific Coast.

Holidays2USA partners with Norwegian Cruise Lines to Alaska, but also Hawaii and the East Coast of North America.You return to Seattle in the early morning and following a leisurely breakfast, you disembark and make your way to the airport to travel home. Perhaps you will continue your holiday in US or Canada? A great idea is to fly from Seattle to New York. Spend some time engaging in retail therapy. It certainly breaks up the flight time! Or head up to the Canadian Rockies, you’re in the neighbourhood after all.

Seattle, Glacier Bay Cruise & New York

Canadian Rockies Fly Drive plus Alaska Cruise

Enchanting Rockies & Alaska Cruise – Escorted Tour

 

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