Updated: Aug 28, 2020
Alaska is often a bucket list trip for many people, but most people don't know that you can get there by cruise for a very low price. I have cruised to Alaska twice with my Husband due to booking last minute (within 60 days).
I recommend cruising the inside passage from Vancouver, Canada to Seward, Alaska, or from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, Canada. We have done it both directions and they are the same.
To get from Anchorage to Seward, I HIGHLY recommend the train. You can view the routes here. The train from Anchorage leaves at 6:45 am and gets you to Seward at 11:05 am which allows plenty of time to check-in for your cruise if you arrive the day of. If you are departing in Seward, the train leaves at 6:00 pm and gets you to Anchorage at 10:15 pm. This route might not be the most ideal, so I recommend leaving from Seward for your cruise. A one way trip on the train starts at $99.
Below are the ports we've visited on an Alaska cruise and the excursions we recommend in each port.
A trip to Juneau is not complete without whale watching in Juneau. There are popular glaciers to see in Juneau but whale watching there is amazing. We went with Jalyee's Alaska and watched 14 whales bubble feed for 4 hours straight. It was amazing. Jayleen has a small boat and only takes out 6 guests at a time. She also has a hydrophone where you can hear the whales. Below are videos of our experience with Jayleen.
This port wasn't a popular stop for cruise ships a few years ago but has recently become a main stop for many ships due to it being isolated and being an absolutely beautiful town. We have heard bear watching tours are great in Hoonah, so you might want to look into that. But each time we've been in Hoonah, we go whale watching with Glacier Wind Charters. Shawn and Teresa own the company and were teachers in Alaska before taking people out to see whales. Shawn will be your captain and Teresa provides the yummy smoked salmon dip. (Insider Tip- she will share the recipe if you ask!!). They charge $180 per person for a 3.5-hour long excursion but we've always seen whales with them.
Our cruise was re-routed one year and we were able to go to Sitka, which was great as many ships don't go there. We chose to do a wildlife tour with Gallant Adventures and saw whales, sea lions, and otters. We actually had a humpback whale go under our boat and dive in front of us. It was an amazing opportunity to get photos of the various wildlife in Alaska.
One last thing to mention is your cruise will get you close to a glacier, depending on the weather, ice conditions, etc. So if you don't make it to a glacier in the port, you'll have lots of photo options from the ship.
Also, don't forget to be on the lookout for whales and other wildlife on sea days. We've seen a ton of humpback whales and orca's sitting on the deck and looking for wildlife.