Alaska is an intriguing, culturally diverse destination with thousands of miles of scenic coastline that make it a natural draw for cruise ships. Each of the ports offers a different perspective on life in the most northerly U.S. state. Ketchikan is a centre for several Alaska Native cultures, Skagway is Gold Rush-era oriented, and Petersburg reflects its Norwegian heritage, while Sitka touts Russian and Alaska Native ties.
Cruise travellers enjoy the history and the frontier ambience of the 49th state, but its wildlife and scenery are the main attractions. Towering mountains, massive glaciers, tranquil (and sometimes turbulent) waterways, countless acres of rainforest and Arctic tundra are the magnets for cruise passengers. Whales, eagles, bears, moose, seals and seabirds might be seen from your ship, in port or on a shore tour.
Alaska's biggest shortcoming is the weather. By booking an Alaska cruise, travellers are likely to be trading in a week of warmer weather at home for the possibility of gray or rainy days and chilly midsummer temps. Helicopter and float plane tours are regularly cancelled for imperfect conditions, and no tour can guarantee wildlife viewings. But, if you're willing to be flexible and take your chances, a visit to Alaska will not disappoint.