A Princess® cruisetour delivers an in-depth look at an amazing destination. Witness a hungry grizzly bear pounce on a slippery salmon, hear a thunderous roar as a huge chunk of a glacier breaks off and crashes into the sea. And that could be just the tip of the iceberg of your opportunities to experience nature’s grandeur in Alaska.
Our 49th state is roughly one-fifth the size of the entire lower 48. It boasts more miles of coastline than the rest of the U.S. combined, along with thousands of glaciers, more than three million lakes and North America’s highest mountain. Animal inhabitants easily outnumber people.
By combining a cruise with immersive land into one convenient travel package called a cruisetour, you can view Alaska from all angles. You see, hear and feel the state’s star attractions—glaciers, icebergs and spouting whales—from the deck of your ship. Shore excursions by floatplane, helicopter, tram or zip-line offer eagle-eye views of dazzling waterfalls and massive, slow-flowing ice fields. And during the land-based leg of your tour, you can venture inland to watch wildlife, or, on a clear day, spot Denali’s elusive snowcapped peak, all while staying in comfortable wilderness lodges.
Highlights of an Alaska cruise include scenic fjords, spectacular glaciers and incredible whales, all visible at sea. Between such sightings, you can disembark to visit charming coastal cities and historic towns. Available shore excursions run the gamut: Choose mild diversions or opt for a walk on the wild side.
Juneau, Alaska’s capital, is surrounded by jagged peaks, glaciers and water. No roads connect the city to the rest of the state, so to see it, you must travel by boat or plane. Adventure seekers love Juneau. Imagine the thrill of landing in a helicopter on top of a glacier. Then, shortly after you step on the ice, you get your kicks zooming over it in a dogsled! Feel the crisp wind on your cheeks as you become a musher, racing a team of eager huskies. Other Juneau adventures take you to new heights. Try the Alaska Zip-line Adventure tour atop the Tongass National Forest. Or hop a floatplane to Taku Lodge for a succulent salmon barbecue.
In Ketchikan, known as Alaska’s First City, learn about the town’s Native American and gold rush history and witness the world’s oldest collection of totem poles at the Totem Heritage Center. Ketchikan’s abundance of salmon makes it a sportfishing paradise. At Misty Fjords National Monument, take in the dramatic beauty of more than two million acres of sheer granite cliffs, 1,000-foot waterfalls and crystalline lakes.
Skagway, gateway to the Klondike goldfields, retains the feel of a gold-rush boomtown. Wander down wood-plank sidewalks past honky-tonk saloons. Ride the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway through terrain dubbed too steep for a mountain goat. Built in 1898, the vintage train chugs 20 breathtaking miles to the White Pass summit at the U.S.-Canadian border.
Glacier Bay National Park is a highlight of many cruisetours. A park ranger comes aboard your ship to help you spot abundant wildlife, including grizzly bears, seals and seabirds. The ranger also points out different types of glaciers while your captain maneuvers your vessel for prime viewing. Watching house-sized lumps of ice fall, or “calve,” off a glacier and hit the water with a massive splash is a sight (and sound) you’ll never forget.
Alaska is known as the last frontier, but when you venture into the interior on the land segment of a cruisetour, you won’t be roughing it. Most tours begin or end in Anchorage, the state’s largest city. While there, stop by the Alaska Native Heritage Center to meet members of the state’s 11 major cultural groups. Chat with a Tlingit totem-pole carver, or step inside a traditional Yup’ik dwelling.
Talkeetna is an ideal spot to hop on a small plane for a scenic flight to Mt. McKinley (also called Denali). The bush pilot circles the 20,320-foot summit of North America’s highest peak, providing awe-inspiring views you can’t get any other way. Amazing sights continue in Denali National Park. Postcard-pretty landscapes range from rolling meadows splashed with red and yellow plants to verdant forests. No wonder the park’s six million acres are home to Alaska’s top five animal attractions: moose, caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep and wolves. Look for wildlife and check out the magnificent parklands by helicopter, horse, self-driven jeep or park-run tour bus.
Experience a true Alaskan lifestyle at Husky Homestead-home of Iditarod Champion, Jeff King. This tour offers an authentic look into rural lifestyles based on 35 years of Alaskan adventures, from freight hauling on Denali to crossing the finish line in Nome, Alaska with a champion Iditarod team. Get a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into creating a championship team and carving a life in Alaska’s interior. Hear compelling stories from the trail and see actual racing sleds, arctic survival gear and equipment used to traverse 1,100 miles of Alaska’s most rugged terrain. At the end of the tour, you will have the option to hold Iditarod puppies in training.