I live in the Pacific Northwest, so I’m particularly interested in cruises that depart from somewhere nearby…the thought of countless hours of flight (with children in tow) prior to embarking doesn’t rank too high on my “must do” list. Luckily, there are many options that require far less air time if you live on the West Coast, departing from cities in California, Oregon, and Washington.
From May through early October, one of the best options to be had is a cruise to Alaska. In addition to boasting some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet, this region has an abundance of history, traditions and culture just waiting to be explored.
I am of the opinion that one of the small ship lines are your best bet for cruising in this area. They not only gain access to smaller ports where larger vessels cannot dock, but the inlets and coves that pepper the coastline are perfect for smaller crafts, allowing for a true exploration of the region.
If you’re up to the flight to Anchorage and the physical demands of an active cruise, Gap Adventures has an itinerary called “Alaska Wildlife Adventure”, which should fit the bill. This 9-day cruise, (round trip Anchorage) incorporates visits to Denali National Park (including its kennel and dog sled teams) the Kenaitze North American Indian Tribe, hikes to Glacier View and the Grewingk Glacier, and a heli-tour of a volcano. Minimum age for this cruise is 12, and its next departure is Saturday, August 13, 2011.
Lindblad Expeditions starts an itinerary in Sitka, where cultural influences are evident in the architecture of St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church, and the totem poles of Sitka National Historic Park. This 12-day itinerary (next departing September 4, 2011) goes on to visit coastal inlets that allow for kayaking, hikes and wildlife observation. There is also a whale feeding in the Point Adolphus & Chichagof Island part of the voyage, and an entire day amidst the coves, fjords, tidewater glaciers, freshwater lakes and majestic mountains of Glacier Bay National Park. The cruise continues by visiting Juneau, Alaska; Petersburg and Chatham Strait; Misty Fiords; the Inside Passage of British Columbia; Johnstone Strait and Alert Bay; and the San Juan Islands, Washington before disembarking in Seattle.
Thinking about a small ship cruise? Read more about the benefits of small ship cruising here.