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Two Journalists Reveal What’s Amazing About an Alaska Cruise

Can you hear the glaciers calving and splash of whales breaching? That must mean one thing … the Alaska cruise season is just around the corner!

In 2014, Holland America Line will feature seven ships sailing exciting seven- or 14-day itineraries that stretch from the Inside Passage up to Glacier Bay and beyond. Guests can choose cruises aboard ms Amsterdam, ms Oosterdam, ms Statendam, ms Volendam, ms Westerdam, ms Zaandam and ms Zuiderdam.

In a move that will increase verandah and guest capacity in the Gulf of Alaska, Holland America Line is shifting Oosterdam to the Glacier Discovery itinerary alongside Statendam. Also new for the 2014 season, Amsterdam will sail seven- and 14-day cruises featuring unique ports and incredible scenic sailing that includes both Hubbard Glacier and Tracy Arm Fjord.

For many travelers, a cruise to Alaska is the vacation of a lifetime. Not only because of the stunning scenery, but also because of the abundance of natural beauty, flora and fauna, and interesting history. Not to mention all of the incredible activities and memorable shore excursions like glacier trekking, dogsled riding and whale watching. And the fact that it’s so remote makes a cruise the ideal way to see this breath-taking state.

Glacier trekking is an Alaska highlight. Photo courtesy photographer Steve Schimmelman.

Glacier trekking is an Alaska highlight. Photo courtesy photographer Steve Schimmelman.

If you’ve never taken an Alaska cruise and are thinking about booking, perhaps journalist Fran Golden’s article in “USA Today” that outlines the reasons why you should take a cruise to Alaska will help you make that decision to take the plunge and book your cabin.

It’s Alaska. You will be cruising in a “bucket list” destination, a place where scenic wonders, such as massive glaciers roaring into the sea in the Inside Passage, are best viewed from the water — including from the deck of your cruise ship. The rustic, uncrowded charm of the places you’ll visit is also captivating (though you will share the major ports with many fellow cruisers). — Fran Golden

AKCollage

The wilderness. Much of the state’s coastline is wilderness, and whether you’re shipboard in places such as Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve or out exploring on shore excursions, you’ll experience the sheer vastness as you view protected emerald forests, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, glaciers and fjords. To give you some concept of it, consider that Misty Fjords National Monument alone is the size of Connecticut.

The wildlife. Around the time you spot your third bald-headed eagle you’ll realize there are a lot of the birds in Alaska, including in Juneau and other developed areas. You’ll likely see more than one whale, and even more than one whale type — there are 16 whale species that spend time in Alaskan waters, including humpbacks and orcas. Spotting a grizzly bear is trickier, but keep your binoculars at the ready.

Frontier spirit. One of the best things about traveling in Alaska is encounters with Alaskans. Maybe it’s the rugged climate and remoteness of the place, but ask a few questions, such as “Have you seen a bear recently?” or “How are the salmon running this year?” and you’ll likely hear stories — including the requisite frontier tall tales.

Rich Native culture. A memorable part of your Southeast Alaska cruise will be experiencing Alaska Native culture in small villages such as Hoonah (home to Icy Strait Point) and larger ports such as Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka. Visit museums and cultural centers and take time to view the towering totem poles that showcase the artistry of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian peoples.

Continue reading Fran’s article HERE.

Journalist Aaron Saunders of From the Deck Chair also recently wrote an article outlining an Alaska cruise and what makes it so great. It’s a fun read for travelers who are thinking about taking a cruise to Alaska, and interesting for those who have been. Do you agree with his points?

I’ve done sailings out of both Vancouver and Seattle, but there’s nothing quite like departing from Vancouver. There’s a few reasons for this: Vancouver departures allow for a more scenic sail-away as ships cruise past Coal Harbour and Stanley Park before finally passing underneath the green superstructure of the Lions Gate Bridge and into the Strait of Georgia. — Aaron Saunders

Downtown Vancouver, as seen from onboard Zuiderdam. Photo by Aaron Saunders.

Downtown Vancouver, as seen from onboard Zuiderdam. Photo by Aaron Saunders.

In 2014, Oosterdam, Statendam, Volendam, Zaandam and Zuiderdam will sail roundtrip from Vancouver on a series of seven-day Inside Passage voyages. Oosterdam and Statendam also sail Glacier Discovery cruises between Vancouver and Seward. Guests who want to see more of Vancouver can take one of Holland America Line’s pre- or post-cruise vacation packges and see more of the city.

Alaska is, by any measure, stunning. In the Caribbean, a day at sea is simply that: a day spent cruising the open ocean. But in Alaska, a day of Scenic Cruising is right up there with transiting the fjords of Norway or sailing around the coast of South Africa. It’s also ever-changing. No two days are ever alike in terms of weather, wildlife or sights like passing cruise ships, barges, tugboats…

An Alaskan cruise without the glaciers is…well…not really an Alaskan cruise at all. It’s a tease. For the first-time visitor, look for itineraries that include a full day of scenic cruising in Glacier Bay National Park. It’s an unforgettable experience. — Aaron Saunders

Margerie Glacier calves into Tarr Inlet in Glacier Bay National Park. Photo by Aaron Saunders.

Margerie Glacier calves into Tarr Inlet in Glacier Bay National Park. Photo by Aaron Saunders.

Everyone I meet says that they don’t want to cruise to Alaska because “it’s cold”, or “it rains.” And it’s true – it can be cold, and it most certainly can rain. But if you’re discounting Alaska just because of those two potential factors (I’ve been there when it’s so hot I’ve been able to wear shorts for the entire week and have to apply sunscreen), you’re missing out on what really is a fabulous cruising destination. — Aaron Saunders.

To read Aaron’s article in its entirety, click HERE.

Are you traveling with Holland America Line to Alaska in 2014? If you haven’t booked, take advantage of Summer on Sale promotions for this summer. If you’re looking to go next year, bookings are open for 2015 so don’t hesitate to reserve your cabin today!

Is Alaska on your bucket list of travel destinations? Or have you been before? Tell us about your cruise in the comments below!

1 Comment
  • Michele

    Great read!

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