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Cruises to Fairbanks

Scenic view of Downtown Fairbanks, Alaska, USA from across the Chena river (Photo: Mikhail Varentsov/Shutterstock)

About Fairbanks

Fairbanks is in the middle of Alaska and not near the ocean. It gains its "port" status because it's a stop on some Alaska cruise tours -- and so the nickname, "the nation's northernmost cruise port." The northern lights that appear in the sky from August 21 to April 21 are a major draw for cruisers towards the end of the summer season -- along with heartier travelers who journey to see them at their brightest in the dead of winter.

Alaska's second-largest city after Anchorage, Fairbanks has a regional population just under 100,000 people -- and 16,000 moose, which you might see wandering at their leisure. The comfortable, casual, laid-back atmosphere lends a feeling of being in a small town. Surrounded by the beauty of wilderness, friendly locals graciously share stories about their lives, such as subsistence hunting and fishing, and how they deal with temperature extremes that fluctuate with the seasons between 90 and -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fairbanks is a fount of information for cruise passengers curious about the Gold Rush and exploring local Athabascan culture. You may walk among reindeer, hike tundra and boreal forests, sample craft beers at numerous local breweries, soak in hot springs and find Christmas attractions in nearby North Pole. Fairbanks has an active year-round arts community, which has led to painted murals and decorated ventilation drainpipes downtown. These, and the famous antler arch at the visitor center, are among popular photogenic sights.

In summer (prime cruise season), with the midnight sun and nearly 24 hours of sunlight, everyone is outdoors, and Fairbanks takes on a lively atmosphere, with beautiful gardens, farmers market and food trucks as part of the scene.

Fairbanks also is the gateway for exploration of Arctic Alaska, with day trips or overnights on the Dalton Highway north to above the Arctic Circle.

  • Why go to Fairbanks?

  • Fairbanks Cruise Port Facilities?

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Why go to Fairbanks?


Friendly locals; hidden gems for history buffs and foodies


Many key sights are not in downtown

Bottom Line:

Fairbanks is a great introduction to life in Alaska's vast interior

Fairbanks Cruise Port Facilities?

There are no port facilities in Fairbanks. Though the ocean is hundreds of miles away, an estimated 162,000 cruise passengers visit Fairbanks each year on various cruise tours and pre- and post-cruise extensions.

Good to Know?

When you wander around town, check out the parking lots. Many have electric outlets where people plug in the heater engine block in their cars overnight in winter, so they start up even when it dips well below zero. Summer travelers, of course, have no such needs, but if you return in winter, make certain your rental car is equipped with an extension cord.

Getting Around?

On Foot: If you're at a downtown hotel, it's an easy walk to shops, restaurants, galleries and the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center. Downtown is small and easily explored on foot.

By Bus: Most hotels offer shuttle bus service from the airport and from the Alaska Railroad depot. Your hotel will either be downtown or nearby, with shuttle service (for a small fee) available between top sights -- and also stop at the Fred Meyer store in case you've forgotten to pack anything.

A public bus system, MACS Transit, operated by the Fairbanks North Star Borough, includes service from the airport, around Fairbanksand also to the North Pole.

By Taxi: Taxis are plentiful, cheap and metered. There are rideshare options (Uber and Lyft) too.

By Rental Car: Rental cars are available at the airport and include brands such as Enterprise, along with local operators, such as Alaska Auto Rental and GoNorth Alaska.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

Currency is the U.S. dollar. Your credit cards and cash cards are accepted here. There are ATMs at the airport, in hotel lobbies and around town.


English is spoken here.

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