Ah Alaska, the last frontier as they say and our nation’s largest state (almost three times bigger than Texas)! At some point or another curiosity to travel to this truly unique state occurs to almost everyone. Maybe it’s the diversity in terrain, the majestic mountains, the glaciers, or the unique wildlife that draws people in. Similarly for my family in June of 2008 we visited Alaska by road and drove through the state covering nearly 4000 miles in ten days. The experience was incredible, walking through Denali National Park and catching up on cultural sites along the way was truly a once in a lifetime experience.
So, this year when Sonia offered for me to join her and a few friends on an Alaska cruise, I wanted to share the sights and sounds of Alaska with my husband and kids and quickly signed up to join them. We boarded the Disney Wonder and left from Vancouver last month on a mission to see whales, eagles, glaciers, and mountains. Alaska is so big, and after looking at several cruise routes, it is NOT uncommon for cruise liners to not wander too far north due to weather and other considerations. Nonetheless, I was optimistic about what we would experience.
Alaska By Sea
The cruise line route, shown below, just barely touches Alaska – somehow I felt as though I had short changed the largest state of our union by touring its Southern most islands. The passages were beautiful and we did see a few orcas along the oceans surface along with a glacier. We went into Edicott Arm (which was not our intended stop which was Tracy Arm) but the hours of passage between the majestic mountains really made this cruise the experience what it was. Unlike Caribbean cruises, there is so much to take in and see in Alaska on the days at sea.
Alaska By Road
Below is the route we drove starting in Edmonton, Canada and making our way all the way to Anchorage (see our stops on the map below indicated in yellow). The sights and sounds along the way were incredible. Caribou and black bears roamed the streets freely along the Alaskan Highway. We even stopped at Liard Hot Springs and took a dip in the natural hot spring! We then spent an entire day roaming through Denali National Park, which is home to Mt. Mickley – North Americas highest peak at 20,320 feet (15th highest in the world).
Images from our road trip in 2008:
There was so much to be seen and experienced by land that after that trip I truly felt as though I had experience Alaska for what it was: the final frontier.
That being said the convenience of being on a cruise liner and of course having all the amenities of a Disney cruise at our finger tips did not hurt. However, I did feel as though the cruise route somehow did not do Alaska justice. On our five day cruise we had only one port stop in Ketchikan which is a quaint Alaskan town built entirely around cruise tourism. It was nice to get off the boat and we were fortunate to have participated in an awesome port excursion that shared native culture with us. The tour guide was an incredible spirit who was able to spot bald eagles from miles away; we saw several up-close too which was really cool!
Check out our Alaska Recap Video Here:
Also our Bald Eagle Encounter Was Incredible too!
Depending on what you are looking for and who you are travelling with, Alaska by water and Alaska by land offer two very different types of vacations. On one hand you have the convenience of prepared meals, an entertainment itinerary and let’s face it an on board “Kids Club.” By car you have the spontaneity of adventure on every turn without the guarantee of a three to five start hotel at each stop. As my kids get older, I crave a more ‘boots on the ground’ type of experience but with friends, there is nothing quite like the relaxing experience of a cruise.
Tip #1: Having gone to Alaska in both June AND July before, I can confidently say that the weather is amazing during this time of the year. On both trips I had packed winter coats and on both I did not need them. Just plan on layering up and you will be just fine! Here are our favorite pieces to layer up with:
I hope you found this helpful, thanks for checking out my post.