Best Places for Alaska Wildlife Viewing

Orca whale jumping out of blue ocean with green landscape in background.

It’s a whale. It’s a seal. It’s the Big Five! Holland America Line now offers more ways to see Alaska wildlife than any other cruise line, bringing you closer to the wondrous creatures of the Last Frontier. With the guidance of onboard wildlife experts and National Park Service Rangers, you could see whales breaching or bubble-net feeding, seals chilling on rocks, otters gliding through icy waters, bears hunting for salmon along the shore and more. You could even see Alaska’s Big Five on a cruisetour.

Here are some of the magical creatures that have made Alaska their home with tips on where to find them on your Alaska cruise:

Orca whale splashing in water.

Orca Whales

Orca whales are easily recognized by their black-and-white coloring and triangular dorsal fins. Often swimming along the surface, you can see sprays of water as they exhale (or spout). To increase your chances of seeing these majestic creatures, take a cruise between early May and early June, exploring their favorite hangouts in Juneau, Ketchikan, and Seward.

Learn about the different whales that navigate Alaska’s waters by checking out these whale-watching tips.


Alaska gets the seal of approval from these sea creatures. When they’re not diving deep or swimming shallow waters for a fresh catch, you’ll find them resting on floating glacial ice, sandbars and beaches. Spring and summer are the best times to see them in action. You can spot seals and otters in Glacier Bay National Park and Kenai Fjords National Park during your Alaska cruise.

Harbor seals resting on glacier ice in Alaska.
Bear and cubs peek around tree surrounded by green landscape.

The Big 5

Bears, moose, Dall sheep, caribou and wolves – oh my! These incredible animals make up Alaska’s Big 5. Though you may get a glimpse of them in different parts of Alaska, from Anchorage to Denali National Park, you could potentially spot all of them on an Alaska cruisetour from our luxury glass-domed McKinley Explorer.®

Bald Eagles

Having a wingspan of up to 7.5 feet, you can spot the bald eagle riding the wind and soaring across the sky. With an estimated 30,000 making Alaska their home, bald eagles can be seen year-round. Ketchikan, Juneau, and the Tongass National Forest near Sitka are just some of the places they dwell.

Bald eagle flying over blue waters.

Check out our Alaska wildlife guide to learn more about these beautiful animals and the many others that roam about the beautiful state of Alaska. And if you don’t already have them, check out our article on how to find the best binoculars for wildlife viewing in Alaska.


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