When you go to Alaska – a huge trip that many travelers target as a lifetime goal – you’ll want to ensure that you have plenty of opportunities to experience the state’s amazing wilderness and all the animals that live there.
Alaska cruises are great ways to see a nice portion of this natural wonderland — by water and during your time ashore. Expedition voyages on smaller ships that are built for function instead of form are a good way to get deep into the wilds of Alaska, where you will have good chances to spot all sorts of wildlife.
These ships, however, can be a bit austere, placing you in tight sleeping quarters with almost none of the amenities that you might be used to on your typical cruise. So, what if you don’t want to rough it?
What if you prefer a luxury cruise experience for Alaska. Will you still be able to enjoy an ample dose of adventure and have the chance to experience a good slice of what an Alaska cruise should be?
I wondered that very thing. Alaska is one of my favorite destinations, and I know that an expedition cruise really works well because of all you can see and do right from your ship.
But this time, I tried the luxury option offered by Regent Seven Seas on its Regent Seven Seas Mariner, a 700-passenger cruise ship. Here is what you can expect on a Regent Seven Seas cruise in Alaska.
Adventure on Your Excursions
The all-inclusive cruise features gourmet restaurants, in-suite dining and all drinks for no added charges. You also get a range of shore excursions to choose from that are included in your cruise fare. Among these choices at each port are plenty of great chances for adventure.
We went on a 28-mile bike ride in Sitka that left us pretty exhausted, but we were able to see most of the town as we rode into the hills and along the waterfront in Tongass National Forest. We stopped for a quick picnic lunch with views of snowcapped mountain tops and were kept company during our ride by soaring bald eagles that would swoop by to check us out.
We also went on a bear walk and spotted four coastal brown bears in Hoonah and spent another morning on a bike-riding excursion in Skagway before going off our own for an afternoon hike on the scenic Dewey Lake Trail that starts right in town. In Juneau, it was a canoe adventure on Mendenhall Lake to see the Mendenhall Glacier and Nugget Falls up close. And in Ketchikan, options included a pontoon boat inlet cruise and crab feast, canoe paddling and rainforest walks.
Regent Seven Seas offers unlimited shore excursions, so you can squeeze in two at one port if you can make the schedule work. The line also offers premium experiences (for a fee) such as helicopter rides, glacier hiking and dogsled experiences.
Excitement on the Ship
We spotted all manner of creatures while cruising Southeast Alaska’s Inner Passage and Outer Passage. Bald eagles were a regular sighting, and it’s great to know their numbers are stable and growing. Cruisers also delighted in gathering on the outdoor decks to see humpback whales, dolphins, orcas, Dall’s porpoises, sea lions and several bird species. A guest lecturer joins the cruise and provides expert commentary on the region during periods of scenic sailing.
And because this is a luxury cruise, you are able to sit back in the ship’s Observation Lounge and relax while sipping cocktails and enjoying snacks or even caviar with your new friends as you cruise through some of the most stunning and picturesque places in the world.
So, all in all, the luxury cruise in Alaska can be as adventurous as you make it. And if you like some of the finer things in life, it’s good to know that you will be traveling in comfort even as you explore the Last Frontier.
John Roberts is a freelance writer and operator of InTheLoopTravel.com. He writes about cruising and active travel, highlighting how people can connect with the world and other cultures through rewarding travel experiences.