The 15 Best Activities To Do On An Alaska Cruise

Taking an Alaskan cruise is a splendid way to spend your hard-earned money. With 17 of the highest peaks in North America, over 6,000 miles of coastline, 100,000 glaciers, and 3 million lakes, Alaska boasts one of the most spectacular topographical layouts on earth.

Alaska Cruise

The beauty of these Alaska shore excursions is that you can tailor them to your interests, indulging in a wide array of fun adventures.

This article provides a list of 15 must-do activities when you visit the various ports of call on an Alaskan cruise.

1. Whale watching 

whale watching

Alaska’s icy waters serve as home to eight whale species, making whale watching an essential part of any itinerary to the Last Frontier. Different whale-watching tours offer unique experiences:

  • Board a jet boat in Juneau to witness the grandeur of these massive creatures.
  • Charter a sailboat from Resurrection Bay for a more intimate whale-watching experience.
  • A tour departing from Juneau guarantees sightings of humpbacks and orcas, culminating in a feast at the renowned Gold Creek Salmon Bake.

Regardless of the tour you select, the up-close encounter with these gigantic creatures will be an awe-inspiring, unforgettable experience.

2. Helicopter or seaplane tours 

Alaska seaplane

There are several helicopter and seaplane tours available, each offering a unique perspective of Alaska’s beauty. For instance, the Juneau Helicopter Icefield Tour takes you over breathtaking ice formations, deep blue crevasses, and shimmering ice rivers before touching down on the expansive glaciers.

Seaplane tours, on the other hand, can whisk you over the sheer cliffs and lush mountains of the Misty Fjords National Monument. Or, fly over Ketchikan, taking in views of towering waterfalls and spotting wildlife like black bears, mountain goats, and eagles.

3. Glacier tours  

Mendenhall Glacier

With 100,000 glaciers to explore, there’s a plethora of glacier tours in Alaska. A standout is the Mendenhall Glacier tour.

Here, a Private Glacier Trek in Juneau guides you through the rainforest along Mendenhall Lake before you get a close-up view of the glacier’s streams, crevasses, and glacial formations.

4. Dog sledding 

dog sledding in Alaska

Many helicopter tours offer dog sledding as part of the itinerary, providing a unique opportunity to fly over icefields before journeying through forests and snowfields with Alaskan huskies.

This activity is perfect for outdoorsy pet lovers and offers a unique way to immerse yourself in the Alaskan wilderness.

5. Jeep and canoe safari 

Canoeing in Alaska

A shore excursion that combines three distinct nature experiences in one enjoyable package is the Jeep and Canoe Safari. This adventure allows you to drive a 4×4 through the rugged backroads of Revillagigedo Island before paddling across a picturesque mountain lake in an Alaskan canoe.

A hike through an old-growth forest rounds out a memorable day immersed in the Alaskan outdoors.  

6. Kayaking 

Alaksa kayaking

Alaska’s abundant lakes make kayaking a natural choice for exploration and relaxation. However, navigating the iceberg-laden waters of Mendenhall Lake offers a kayaking adventure like no other. Enjoy serene views of Alaskan landscapes from the lake as you paddle around the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier.

Regardless of which Alaska cruise port you find yourself in, there’s bound to be a kayak rental affording you some quiet time amidst the country’s natural wonders.  

7. Rafting down the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve

Bald Eagle in Alaska

Day trips from Skagway take you on a picturesque rafting journey down the Chilkat River through the preserve, which hosts the world’s largest concentration of bald eagles.

The tour also includes a ferry ride along steep-walled fjords and a cascade of waterfalls. Besides the bald eagles, you might also spot moose, bears, and trumpeter swans.

8. Bear spotting

Black bear in Alaska

Most seaplane and helicopter tours offer adventure bundles that include bear watching. One such option is the Traitor’s Cove flightseeing adventure, which takes you over Margaret Creek Fish Ladder – a bustling aquatic thoroughfare during the summer. Where there are fish in abundance, black bears are never far behind.

Alternatively, you can opt for walk-in tours or overnight stays in bear-viewing lodges to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

9. Waterfall tour 

Alaska waterfall tour

A panoramic tour showcasing all the picturesque waterfall destinations in and around Skagway makes for an excellent introduction to Southeast Alaska. The excursion includes:

  • A rainforest hike leading up to the falls in the Gold Rush Cemetery
  • A trip to the second-largest waterfall in Southeast Alaska – Pitchfork Falls
  • A drive up the Klondike Highway to the Canadian border to take in the stunning views

Waterfall excursions in Alaska offer a series of postcard-worthy backdrops, perfect for nature lovers.

10. Zipline adventure 

Zipline adventure in Alaska

For a rush of adrenaline, go on a zipline adventure tour through the stunning vistas peppering Alaska’s national parks. In Ketchikan, for instance, an excursion transforms a waterfront property in the Tongass National Forest into your playground.

The adventure pulls you along seven ziplines, offering glimpses of bald eagles as you glide over the lush old-growth cedars. With awe-inspiring views of mountains and oceans, it’s a truly unforgettable way to soak in the sights.

11. Mountaineering

White Pass mountaineering

The White Pass mountaineering excursion is ideal for those seeking a challenging adventure in the wilds of Alaska. This tour takes you up the mountain pass bordering Alaska and the Yukon territory in Canada and into a remote trail marked by beauty and tranquillity.

Depending on route conditions, you can climb the summit of Feather Peak or Mount Cleveland, each standing around 5,500 feet (about twice the height of the Burj Khalifa). Regardless of the route you take, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of jagged peaks, alpine grasses, wildflowers, and streams.

12. Biking

mountain biking in Alaska

For two-wheel enthusiasts, consider a three-mile mountain bike expedition through the Tongass National Forest. Depending on your skill level, you can tackle different terrains as you ride under the towering Spruce and Hemlock trees’ canopy.

After the bike ride, enjoy a hearty meal of clam chowder, smoked salmon, and wild berry jam by a campfire in a rustic riverside camp.

13. Hiking 

For those who prefer exploring on foot, there’s also a rainforest hiking expedition through Tongass National Forest. This easy three-mile trail is suitable for the entire family, guiding you through meadows, groves, and waterfalls. This expedition will undoubtedly create lasting memories.

14. Fishing

salmon fishing boat Alaska

Experience the treasures of the Salmon Capital of the World with a half-day fishing charter in Ketchikan. The boat captain provides a local perspective as you try your hand at catching chum, king, pink, and silver salmon abundant in the waters of Clover Passage.

Given that over 40% of the US surface waters are in Alaska, you can book fishing trips throughout the state depending on the type of fish you’re after.

Suggested read: Can You Fish Off A Cruise Ship?

15. Adventure karting

 4x4 karting

In Ketchikan, experience the thrill of adventure as you navigate mountain and forest trails in a rugged 4×4 kart. The adventure kart expedition treats you with views of the Tongass National Forest, Behm Canal, and Inside Passage while challenging you with steep curves and climbs.

Final words 

As you can see, shore excursions in Alaska offer fun and adventure at every turn. There’s something for everyone, providing an array of activity options that will delight the whole family.

If any of the activities mentioned above pique your interest, reach out to a shore excursion provider to organize the different tours. They will ensure a high-quality, safe experience for you and your loved ones.

Prepare for a journey that will not only take you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes on earth but also offer a deeper appreciation for the wonders of nature. The adventures awaiting you in Alaska promise to make your cruise a truly unforgettable journey.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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