the Alaskan Cruise
by Mandy Karlik
Even if no one else ever took a "first
cruise" to Alaska, the Alaskan cruise business would continue at full
bore because most people who go there once, go back.
The largest state in a very large
country, Alaska is probably not the place you think it is. First, it is
a vast land where civilization exists in outposts against a wilderness
background. There are many parts of Alaska where animals outnumber
The wilderness theme crops up where
you would least expect it. Try to get in and out of the state's capital
city, Juneau, and you find that you need to do it by boat or plane. The
place is not accessible by car.
Flying is altogether a normal way of
going from point A to point B in Alaska. The state has made
flight-seeing popular since so many great natural attractions were best
accessed from the air.
Alaska also has a railroad system that
was built specifically to show off the state's enthralling natural
beauty. Though not extensive, you can travel by rail in Alaska in
dome-topped luxury club cars and see the mountains, valleys, and
wildlife from the comfort of a luxury vehicle.
That's not such a very different
concept from cruising, where you can sail by glaciers, mountains,
wildlife, and postcard-perfect scenery all without leaving the comfort
of the balcony of your stateroom. (If you like to travel inside
stateroom to save money, you can watch this from the many public rooms
on the ship.)
If you cruise to Alaska, expect to
find chilly temperatures, even in summer. Factor in the breeze off the
water and the chill when the sun sets and you can see why a cruise to
Alaska requires you to take what passes for winter wear in some of our
more southern states.
Of course, that has never stopped
adventurous souls from appreciating Alaska. The state has a very
diverse history. First, it's the only part of the United
States that was ever once part of Russia. You may find
Russian artifacts, habits, and even souvenirs in some places. When
Seward bought Alaska for the U.S. in the 19th century, the deal was
negotiated with Russia.
Early in its American history, Alaska
became the sight of a gold stampede as lots of miners headed north to
make their fortunes. A few even planned to pan for gold.
Today, Alaska is more concerned with
"black gold," or its native oil reserves. Despite abundant natural
wealth and beauty, life and even tourism
in Alaska isn't always easy. Many products and services in Alaska are
expensive, at least by lower-48 standards. The weather is cold, and
travel requires some pre-planning and fortitude.
That's why an Alaskan cruise makes
sense, particularly for those modern-day adventurers who aren't so sure
they want to climb a mountain of ice to see a glacier or struggle along
an unpaved road in an off-road vehicle in the snow to get to the next
When shopping for an Alaskan cruise,
look at the excursions that are offered. Most cruise ships offer plenty
of time for you to soak up on-board activities, so you should take
advantage of whatever shore excursions best match your interests.
Want to see polar bears? Go whale
watching? Go fly fishing? Flight-see around a glacier? Shop for native
art? Drive a dog sled? Most Alaskan cruises offer great excursions like
Some cruise shoppers penny pinch for
excursions, but it is usually a better deal to penny pinch on a
stateroom. Here's why. The biggest part of your bill in seeing Alaska
is getting there. That's your cruise fare. Once you're there, you may
be able to flight-see or whale watch or do other once-in-a-lifetime
thing for a few hundred dollars.
Think of it this way. If you wanted to
go fishing for Alaskan king salmon, right this minute, you'd have to
get to Alaska and then charter a fishing trip.
If you wanted to whale watch today,
you'd have to get to Alaska and then book passage on a whale-watching
On the cruise, you're already there.
You're just paying a supplement or upcharge for these incredible
experiences. If you have to economize, you're better off making do with
a smaller or inside stateroom and getting the excursions.
Years from now, you won't remember
your cruise so much from what your room was like but rather the
excursions you had.
About the Author
Mandy Karlik loves to travel and
wishes she was on a cruise ship to Alaska right now. If you're not on
an Alaskan cruise, either, find out how to get there by going to http://www.thecruise-shopper.com .