Should I take an Alaskan cruise or a land tour or both?

Any traveler planning a trip to Alaska will at some point consider whether they should take an Alaskan cruise, a land tour, or combine the two options into one longer cruise tour vacation. The answer, of course, depends on how you like to travel and what you want to see and do.

Take a second to picture Alaska. What do you envision? Sitka spruce trees, misty fjords, and breaching whales? Huge mountains, sweeping tundra, and grizzly bears? Maybe all of it? Now think about traveling in general. Do you prefer to relax on your vacations? Are you the go-go-go type?

Alaskan Cruises

Alaskan cruise lines do a superb job providing an array of sights and experiences through Southeast Alaska, making a cruise a wonderful option for guests curious to see the state's dramatic coast and abundant marine wildlife. You'll travel through fjords, along tidewater glaciers, and to historic coastal towns only accessible by boat. While in port, guests can pick from numerous uniquely Alaskan shore excursions. You can take a guided walk on the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, ride the historic red trolley through Ketchikan, or climb aboard the vintage White Pass train in Skagway and retrace the steps of early gold rushers bound for Canada.

Back on board the ship, guests have no shortage of entertainment and dining options while at sea. Cruises also offer diverse activities to fit many different age groups, so they're often a great option for families.

A cruise is a good pick if:

  • You want the most opportunities to see humpback whales, orcas, seabirds, and other marine wildlife.
  • You love day trips, but also like the comfort of returning to the same room every night (and only unpacking once).
  • You find traveling with very large groups fun and interesting.

Alaska Land Tours

As ideal a choice as a cruise may be for many, it offers just one view of Alaska. Your Alaska land tour offers many others, ranging from big peaks of the Alaska Range, to the rolling tundra farther north. On a land itinerary, you can take a flightseeing tour of Denali and its surreal surrounding mountains. You can join a guide for a late evening nature walk through a boreal forest. In the Denali Park area, you can go whitewater rafting on the Nenana River or take a narrated bus tour into Denali National Park. There are ample chances to spot grizzlies, moose, and caribou.

Transportation is key to an Alaskan land package, both in terms of the time it takes, and the ways to do it. The railroad is relaxing and scenic, while deluxe motorcoaches are convenient and affordable. Renting a car offers the most flexibility and access. A land package also provides the unique opportunity to escape crowds that can be typical of any cruise port excursion. Generally speaking, a more adventurous and active traveler enjoys a land package that will allow them to do the kinds of exciting activities that are abundant throughout southcentral and interior Alaska.

A land tour is a good pick if:

  • You like to pick and choose your mode of travel, and enjoy staying in different towns and hotels.
  • You're an active traveler looking to get off the beaten path.
  • You'd like the chance to see more of Alaska with fewer other visitors.

Both a Cruise and a Land Tour

Still not sure which type of trip you should take? That's a great sign that you should do both. Tagging on a pre-cruise or post-cruise land package to a cruise offers the most complete Alaska experience. We call this a cruise tour. It's also made easy by seamlessly connecting the end of one and start of the other in a port town (typically Seward or Whittier).

A cruise tour is a good pick if:

  • You want to see as much of Alaska as possible in one trip.
  • You embrace both the freedom to explore, and the ease of following a clear itinerary.
  • You have at least two weeks to travel.

The best type of trip is the one that's personalized to your interests. Think about your vision of Alaska and how you like to experience a new place. Regardless of whether you travel by land or by cruise, rest assured that your Alaska experience will be a remarkable one and we are here to help plan it.