Alaska Cruise Shore Excursions: the Best in Each Port

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An Alaska cruise can be the most memorable vacation you ever take. Part of what makes a glacier cruise so special are the shore excursions – the activities you select to do in each of the three or four ports you dock at.

This article highlights the most amazing shore excursion at each of the three most popular Alaska cruise ports of call, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. Odds are, your cruise will stop at least two of these picturesque towns.

At each of your stops, you will have a wide variety of shore excursions to choose from. So which should you choose? Which excursions should you absolutely, positively not miss out on? That’s exactly what you’re about to find out.

The Best Ketchikan, Alaska Shore Excursion

Ketchikan is the southernmost port of call on most Inside Passage glacier cruises. It’s a beautiful little island town set amongst the lush Tongass rainforest, surrounded by magnificent peaks, waterfalls, and glaciers.

There is actually much to see within walking distance of the Ketchikan cruise ship docks, including the shops along quaint and picturesque Creek Street, with its historic buildings overhanging a crystal-clear, salmon-filled stream.

However, there is one Alaska cruise shore activity in Ketchikan that you will really kick yourself if you miss, and that is the float plane excursion to Misty Fjords National Monument.

Most Alaska cruise ship itineraries do not include a visit to Misty Fjords, so this float plane trip will most likely be your lone opportunity to view one of the most amazing places you will ever see. Known as the “Yosemite of the North”, Misty Fjords is a glacier-carved wonderland, where literally hundreds of waterfalls plunge down steep, verdant cliffs into the pristine waters of the long, narrow bays.

At the end of each fjord is an amazing glacier, which calves, breaking off icebergs which plunge into the bay in a thrilling natural spectacle.

The float plane is simply the best way to experience the majestic beauty of this national monument, and most tours include a stop within on of the fjords, so that you can actually get out and explore an incredible region that few people ever get to see.

Honestly, if I had to choose just one Alaska cruise shore excursion, this would be it. It’s an adventure you will thoroughly enjoy and I doubt you will ever forget.

The Best Juneau Shore Excursion

Juneau is a beautiful small city set on a salt water channel and surrounded by magnificent alpine peaks. The capitol of Alaska, Juneau is a nature lover’s paradise, with great shops, restaurants, and the only glacier within the municipal limits of any city.

The one Juneau shore excursion you really shouldn’t miss is the glacier-top dog sled adventure. What trip to Alaska would be complete without a dog sled ride? Of course, your Alaska cruise will take place in the summer (or late spring), so you will find most areas snow-free and in their lush, green summer state.

However atop one of the area’s massive rivers of ice known as tidewater glaciers, it is always winter. This trip includes a helicopter ride out of Juneau, during which you will get an aerial tour of the massive glacier, an astonishing site. This is without a doubt the best way to get a sense of the size of these glaciers.

Then you land on the glacier will be taken on a one-hour dog sled ride across the snow and ice. This is utterly fun and thrilling, the perfect way to experience Alaska.

The Best Skagway Shore Excursion

The port of Skagway is the northernmost in the Inside Passage. Located at the end of a long, beautiful fjord, Skagway has a rich gold rush history which lives on in its historic buildings and museums.

As with Ketchikan and Juneau, there is much to see within walking distance of the cruise ship docks in Skagway, including the wonderful small shops, museums, and restaurants of the main street.

The best Skagway shore excursion is the Glacier Point Wilderness Safari. The adventure starts with a 45 minute catamaran ride along Alaska’s deepest fjord to Glacier Point, where you will land on a beach, where a bus awaits to take you to a trailhead for a short walk to an overlook with an absolutely stunning view of the glacier.

From there, you will head to a landing, where you will board long canoes for a paddle past massive icebergs, along the base of the huge glacier. This is a simply incredible experience that you just can’t miss.

So those are the three best Alaska cruise shore excursions. Each is an exciting, once in a lifetime experience. If you manage to fit all three into your cruise itinerary, you will have an amazing, memorable, and downright fun trip. In fact, it could even be your favorite vacation ever.