9 Best Things To Do On An Alaska Cruise

Published by Darron Toy on

I’m Gary Bembridge of Tips For Travellers, and
I’m going to tell you about the nine amazing things that you absolutely
should do if you’re on an Alaska Inside Passage cruise. For many people, an
Alaska cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime event so I’m going to really focus on
things that are going to make that once-in-a-lifetime really really special.
Let’s first of all start by talking about Juneau. Juneau is actually the capital of Alaska it’s been the capital since 1906, and it was originally founded by
two prospectors Richard Harris and Joseph Juneau when they discovered
that there was gold in the area, with the help of a local Chief Cowie. It started
a major Gold Rush and many people flooded into what first was called
Harrisburg and eventually became known as Juneau. About 30,000 people live
there. The gold mines closed in 1940 and now it’s real heart is the administrative
capital of Alaska – and of course tourism. So what should you do in Juneau? Now
many people will go and see the Mendenhall Glacier, which is the big
glacier which is convenient for Juneau. However, what I recommend is you go dog
sledding. This is a helicopter trip where you board helicopters and you fly off
over Juneau, you go over the Juneau Icefield, you see magnificent glaciers and
eventually you land at the Norris Glacier. Here there’s around about 150
dogs which spend the whole season up there, and you get the chance to then go
dog sledding. It’s absolutely magical up there. It’s so quiet. It’s peaceful. It’s
an incredible experience. Once you finish the event you get a chance to interact
with the dogs before the helicopters bring more people and you board the
helicopters and fly back to Juneau. This is probably for me one of the most
magical travel experiences I’ve ever had. It is though rather costly, so if you go
to the Norris place here dog sledding it’s going to cost you at least around
about $630 per person. The dog mushing on the Mendenhall
Glacier is a little bit less, but if you’re going on a once-in-a-lifetime
trip to Alaska you may want to consider going dog sledding – but I would strongly
recommend get up onto a glacier even if it’s just a
landing trip. The other great thing to do in Juneau is
set up the Mount Roberts Tramway. This tramway heads up to one of the
two mountains that are in Juneau, you’ve got the Mount Roberts and you’ve got
Mount Juneau. The Mount Roberts Tramway opened in 1996. It’s one of the
steepest cable car rides in the world and it’s a great way to get incredible
views (even in wet and rainy weather which is what you’re likely to find in
Alaska). The third thing to do in Juneau, which is very popular, is to
visit the Red Dog Saloon. The Red Dog Saloon dates right back to the ancient
mining days. You often have to queue to get in it as it is so popular. It’s very
renowned for drinks food and a great party atmosphere. The second port I
want to talk about is Skagway. Skagway is right in the northern part of the Inside
Passage and is the most northern town. Skagway became famous as the Gateway to
the Klondike. When gold was discovered up in the
Klondike in the Yukon in Canada this became an incredibly important place as it
was one of the easiest ways of reaching the gold, even though it was many many
hundreds of miles away. 30,000 prospectors headed to
Skagway to then try and make their way to the Klondike either using the
Chilkoot or the White Pass to get to the where the gold was discovered. The
most important thing to do in Skagway is to go on the White Pass and Yukon
Railway. This was built to not only help prospectors find an easier way to get to
the gold, but it also became really important for carrying all the ore and
cargo back. The railway ran right up from the turn of the century (the 1900s) right
up until 1982. It was then resurrected in the late 1990s as a tourist attraction.
It travels from Skagway the town up many thousands of feet right up to
the White Pass, where it turns around and comes back down again. It’s about a 40
mile return trip up to the top of the White Pass and back down. There’s two
ways of going on the train. The first is, which is the bulk of the Train, is the
standard class. There is also though, if you really want to make it very special,
the premium carriage. The premium carriage cost three times the amount of the
standard carriage. So standard is around about $130
and the premium is about $320 US dollars. There’s only 14 people in
this carriage, you have big comfy seats, you have a guide just for the carriage
who serves drinks who serves food and gives you commentary all the way. Every one
of the carriages do have viewing platforms. The great thing they do is
there’s normally a train allocated for each of the ships that are in port
that day, and they come right to the ship and pick up passengers from the ship.
The second thing I would do if you’re in Skagway is actually spend time
exploring the town. It’s the most authentic and most old-world
looking of all of the places that you’re going to visit in the Inside Passage.
Many of the buildings are either recreations or restored buildings.
There’s some great tours and history about the Gold Rush and there’s lots of
great things to do just strolling around the town. The next port I want to talk
about is Ketchikan. Ketchikan emerged and grew out of a native fishing camp and it
really became important and developed in the late 1800s when a salmon cannery was
founded in Ketchikan, and it became the salmon canning capital of the
world. Later on it also became well known for
forestry and lumberjacking, and it also became a really important port as
prospectors moved up towards Skagway. Today it is now very reliant on tourism.
So what should you do in Ketchikan? I have three things that I recommend. First
of these is great fun, it is the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show on the site of
the old Ketchikan Spruce Mill. Now unfortunately you are not allowed to video
at the shows so I can just show you these stills of what goes on,
but there’s a whole series of different tasks. The Lumberjacks split into two
groups: the United States versus Canada. It has become a bit of an institution and
it’s very very popular. The second thing, which is another institution in
Ketchikan, is called Creek Street. Creek Street is a series of very
beautiful buildings which are built over the water, and , much of Ketchikan is
actually built over the water on stilts. Creek Street is the old red-light
district and between the early 1900s (about 1902) up until 1954 it was the
heart of the red-light district and prostitution within
Ketchikan. It’s has very beautiful buildings with lots of stories behind them,
including places like Dolly’s house which was one of the most famous Madams
in the area and it’s now a museum. The third thing is slightly more cultural, and
is Totem Bight. The park was originally created right back in the
1930s when it was realized that as many of the indigenous Native people were
starting to move to the centers to look for work there was a real concern that
some of the heritage and the culture would be lost, particularly beautiful
totems that were created (these sort of storytelling totems) and many of
them were just abandoned as people started to migrate towards more urban centres.
So the decision was made to start to collect and protect and preserve these,
and also keep the art of totem making alive. It’s not far out of Ketchikan and you
can get there on the trolley bus which runs tours of the city and heads
out there. The fourth destination that I want to talk about you’re not
actually going to get off the ship when you get there, and this is Glacier Bay.
One of the big watch outs I would have is if you’re heading into the
Inside Passage on any cruise, take a look and see whether you’re going to be going
to Glacier Bay. Only two cruise ships a day are allowed in there, so there’s very
limited amount of ships that go in there. So I, for example, cruised with Holland
America. Holland America have been operating in Alaska for over 70 years
and they are one of the cruise lines that will go into Glacier Bay
because they’ve been doing it for so long.
If you don’t go into Glacier Bay you may be going to some other places like
Tracy Arm – but Glacier Bay is the most magical and important place of all to
see. It’s official name is the Glacier Bay National Park and
Preserve. It’s 3.2 million acres and there’s a number
of very beautiful massive idal water glaciers. The main ones you’re seeing are
the Reid Glacier, the John Hopkins Glacier and the most impressive of all which is
the Margerie Glacier. Wrap up warm, make sure you bought a great camera
ideally with a zoom lens on and just go out there and enjoy it. Make sure that
you spend most of the day out on deck. You’ll normally spend the whole
morning cruising between these different places with representatives from the National
Parks will be on the ship and they will be giving commentary during the day. Once
you get to things like the Margerie Glacier the
ship we’ll spend some time there, because one of the things that everyone wants to
see is the calving of the glacier. You are very likely to see this happen because
it happens all the time during the day. But most importantly make sure that you
are on a cruise line that is going into Glacier Bay, because in my view
nothing beats Glacier Bay and you are going to be shortchanged if you are on a
cruise that goes into one of the other inlets. if you’re on Inside Passage
cruise there are four things that you are definitely going to be doing: you’re
gonna be going to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and you’re going to be
cruising through one of the inlets like Glacier Bay. To make your cruise, which is
probably a once-in-a-lifetime cruise, I’ve suggested nine things that you
absolutely should do. I really believe these made my Alaska Inside Passage
cruise magical and I would definitely do them again if I was going again. Hope you
found that helpful. I have a whole series of other videos about Alaska cruising
with lots of tips and advice on things to do so please watch those. The
thing I’d love you to do, if you enjoyed the video, is give the video a “like” and
very importantly please subscribe to Tips For Travellers and you’ll get much
more travel inspiration, advice and tips.


Ethan Hayes · June 14, 2018 at 5:11 pm

First view and comment

Tips For Travellers · June 14, 2018 at 5:18 pm

Do you have any tips to add on must-do things based on your Alaska cruise?

Robert Ellis · June 14, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Hope you brought your “ long johns”, with you. Great video, we did this on a princess cruise an boy did you nail this on what to see an do. Hope those viewing this will do as suggested.

Simpleton · June 14, 2018 at 6:09 pm

Your videos are always crisp and to the point with some wonderful visuals, please keep them coming.

David Tiner · June 14, 2018 at 7:41 pm

I enjoy your thoughts on cruising and thank you for sharing. I've been to Alaska 3 times and don't plan to stop cruising there till the Lord takes me home. It is a wonderful place to visit so tell the folks to make Alaska a more than once-in-a-lifetime visit!

Petr Frizen · June 14, 2018 at 9:43 pm

Magnificent vistas! Very exciting Alaska journey! Thank you, Gary!

Hector B · June 14, 2018 at 10:09 pm

Thanks for the wonderful content Gary. We are going to Alaska on Princess in mid July so your video is very timely. We are doing the 7 days at sea followed by a 4 day land tour. We are so looking forward to the trip. Am I to understand that you will be offering a series of Alaska videos in the coming weeks?

Michelle Orr · June 15, 2018 at 12:54 am

Thank-you for your help. I'll definitely do these as you said it's once in a lifetime experience. And thank-you for giving a price so I know how much it will cost. Going to these places on Norwegian cruise end of this month. 😊😊😊

Marshal Jim Duncan · June 15, 2018 at 12:58 am

Looks like a beautiful Cruise!

WD Harris · June 15, 2018 at 1:22 am

Great video….thanks for posting.

Visit With Us · June 15, 2018 at 11:14 am

This is a fantastic video Gary. Extremely informative with beautiful videography. Definitely one of my favourites of yours. 🙂

Tom Minton · June 15, 2018 at 2:55 pm

Great video! We just returned from a Royal Caribbean cruise to Ak. I can't add anything to your advice, you're spot on. However, if you take this cruise you'll be stopping in Victoria BC on the way back. Beautiful city! We had nothing planned, so we took a pedicab tour. Turned out to be a very fun and entertaining day. Fisherman's wharf for lunch. Cheers.

Frederick Kaludis · June 15, 2018 at 3:58 pm

One great ride in Alaska is White mountain railroad Carnival just purchased it and since I own stock I earn money every time someone rides it.

M Belue · June 15, 2018 at 7:42 pm

I really like your videos.

CP140405 · June 16, 2018 at 2:57 am

I rode the White Pass and Yukon from Whitehorse to Skagway way back (1982) when it was a working railway hauling lead-zinc ore out of the Yukon from the Cypress Anvil Mine.

And if you want to get a hotel room in Skagway, look for the hotel that has rooms with names… of the "entertainers" that occupied the rooms… instead of room numbers.

Moon Grewal · June 16, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Great info, thank you

abdulla tajedin · June 16, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Hey Gary, greetings from Yemen, I love your videos but I couldn't help noticing that you have a swelling on the right side of your neck. I hope that it's nothing, but id get that checked out by a doctor just in case.

iskijay · June 16, 2018 at 10:50 pm

Really helpful info 🙂 TY

J9cardstock · June 16, 2018 at 10:51 pm

Thanks so much. My husband and I hope to take an Alaskan cruise one day. Jeannine

Ivan Santos · June 17, 2018 at 7:06 pm

Great job!

Joan Hall · June 18, 2018 at 1:59 am

College fjord off of Prince William Sound is more impressive than Glacier Bay. There are 5 tidewater glacier in a narrower Bay. I went with Holland America in 2002.

SheFlungDung · June 27, 2018 at 12:26 am

Can you please tell us who you did your dog sled trip with?

Mary Elizabeth · June 29, 2018 at 6:47 pm

Great video Gary. Alaska is on the bucket list. Good tips to keep in mind.

CPTGANZ · July 6, 2018 at 10:30 am

excellent. i have acquaintances going on one of those cruises soon. thank you so much…

•bella • · July 8, 2018 at 10:53 pm

Im going to alaskan cruise in a week for my nana and pop pops 50th anviresery

Hella Young · July 11, 2018 at 8:16 am

So so so so helpful! Thank you!

Maggie Blame · July 17, 2018 at 9:55 pm

What’s the best Month to visit Alaska?

Kate Guns · July 28, 2018 at 12:36 am

Dog sledding??? It’s CRUEL!!!! These dogs live for 3-4 years because of people like you!!!!

Christina B · July 28, 2018 at 6:14 pm

Great great great videos

gloucon222 · August 1, 2018 at 12:51 pm


Jim STEELE · August 14, 2018 at 2:08 pm

Just what we were looking for before we go

NothingTo DoCrew · August 14, 2018 at 5:16 pm

Going to Alaska in a few weeks so i have been watching a lot of videos and this was one of the best/most informative. Thanks!

flyshacker · August 14, 2018 at 8:41 pm

For me, this video is your best and most helpful so far (of those few I have watched as yet). We are considering our first Alaskan cruise, and I never would have dreamt of dog sledding! Fabulous idea! All your other suggestions in this video are great as well. Many thanks!

Trish Hudspith · August 16, 2018 at 10:23 am

Thanks for the great tips, I'm really enjoying watching your videos, and get some great ideas of what to expect while on the cruise. My husband, and I and 2 friends are doing this cruise next June, I can't wait. Can you tell me did you do all these things on the one cruise, every time I see another idea I add it to what I want to do? I was just wondering if you have enough time in each port to do a few different things or if you need to pick from a list of things to do. Looking forward to watching more of your videos.

Porkins · September 13, 2018 at 3:19 am

Great video. I've done two Alaskan cruises now and did just about everything you recommended. All very fun and beautiful. I will say though that our first time at the Red Dog Saloon (2008) was a great experience but when we went last year in late May, the service was lousy.

Carolyn Gardner · September 18, 2018 at 7:04 pm

You could find better restaurants than the red dog saloon. It's too tourists and for the dog sledding it doesn't snow like that in Alaska. It depends on the season although Alaska weather is unpredictable. . He is talking about crowd tourist trap.

Carolyn Gardner · September 18, 2018 at 7:06 pm

Princess Cruise is more knowledge about Alaska.

Lisa Morice · September 28, 2018 at 5:07 am

Fantastic information and video footage. Now I have more of an idea what to look out for when we book our Alaska cruise in the future. Thank you.

TimDyck · October 4, 2018 at 8:18 pm

Once in a lifetime? We went last summer and already want to go again. We have been to Alaska by road befor but by ship was a wonderful experience that we would recommend to everyone. We not only spent a day in Glacier Bay but also a day in College Fiord which also have very impressive glaciers.

Nelvan Gonzalez · October 23, 2018 at 2:32 am

Very helpful information

maria manibog · December 8, 2018 at 10:06 am

Thanks for the tips Gary. We're going on September next year. Will definitely keep in mind your pointers.

Katia Simonvil · December 21, 2018 at 8:24 pm

What do you recommend for Sitka and Icy Point Strait in Alaska?

Craig Smith · January 4, 2019 at 8:00 am

Great video, thanks. However, that railway recommendation out of Skagway…..We did something we considered much better and much cheaper. We hired a car for the day and drove up the same route, stopping where we liked (as when we saw a family of black bears) , then we had a leisurely lunch at Caircross in the Canadian Yukon. Then we turned around at wonderful Emerald Lake, easily making it back back to Skagway before the ship was due to leave.

Beckie Dunning · January 18, 2019 at 6:01 pm

were going in may 2019 and in Juneau were doing the pan for gold an salmon bake, then in Skagway were doing the white pass RR. then in ketchican were doing the lighthouse totem and eagle watch. so are those worth doing

Heidi Currier · January 28, 2019 at 6:17 pm

Thank you Gary for the great video. My friend and I are cruising this June and we are starting out with a 3 day land tour and then cruise with Celebrity to Vancouver. Thanks to you video, I have a better idea of what to expect. Never cruised before and Alaska was on my bucket list.

Milan Filipovic · February 14, 2019 at 4:42 pm

Would you prefer to go during May or June? I plan on making my trip this summer of 2019.

MICHELLE Parks · March 3, 2019 at 9:50 pm

This was an excellent, Informative video. I really enjoyed watching. Alaska is a dream at this moment, but it will materialize one day for sure. Thank you

megan hadsermeravik · March 7, 2019 at 10:27 am

thank you so much

Imprint z · March 16, 2019 at 1:21 am

Great video and very helpful. Anyone know if these prices are in USD?

ShradysStyle · March 18, 2019 at 5:43 pm

Thanks for these amazing videos and tips.
I feel bad about dog sledding though 🙁
I know it's a really popular and fun thing to do.. but I don't know it just seems too inhuman to me.

Sharen Wolke · March 19, 2019 at 1:07 pm

Very informative. Great advice on best things to do in Alaska

Sonia Hamilton · April 5, 2019 at 10:26 pm

We are going to Alaska cruise in June 2020. I’m so excited !!

ron haynes · April 7, 2019 at 4:44 am

unfortunately, on these cruises, you are only seeing Southeastern Alaska. Just the panhandle. Take your rain gear. you are seeing less than 10% of the state!! I have lived in southeastern for quite a few years. Then moved up to Anchorage, Fairbanks and Wasilla. If you truly want to see Alaska, fly into Anchorage. Rent a small motorhome, go get lost. Discover Alaska that way. Climb around on the Matanuska glacier near Palmer, or climb Exit glacier down by Seward. Don't go on a tight schedule. Figure two weeks minimum. And stay as far away from the cruise companies as you can. Have a good time, and try to buy local.

zahra vasheghani · April 7, 2019 at 9:25 pm

Hi l am an iranian and lam living in tehran . l love alaska for living . because alaska is very nice and intresting . if is may be help me for coming to alaska . l like wild natures and winter snow of alaska . but l am an iranian and we are in sanction of us . l love alaska but l canot go there . help me please . sh a v 50 year free from tehran 🌹🐇🌹

Gloria Koch · April 17, 2019 at 3:42 pm

Going in 6 weeks on Ovation. This will be our third cruise to Alaska. 😜 Last time was 2 years ago on Princess and we were plagued with foul weather in July. At sea days were spent inside, NO ONE was out on deck! The Mt. Roberts tramway was shut down because you could not see anything past deck 8. I am disabled and RCCL is stationing an agent on the docks to help with getting my chair on and off the ship. Ovation has lots of indoor activities for our young grandsons. We only have 2 Alaska ports though, Skagway and Juneau. We will be 4 days at sea, one of which is Endicott Arm. Another port is Victoria. We depart from Seattle, Washington.

Sookie Too · April 21, 2019 at 11:06 pm


Javier Gomez · April 22, 2019 at 3:26 pm

Ive lived in this paradise for awhile

Anima Pundeer · May 6, 2019 at 1:44 am

Thank you for the video!! It was very helpful!

funitude · May 12, 2019 at 10:15 pm

Not a bad video, but go see where a whore fucked, no thanks.

Just Me · May 15, 2019 at 5:23 pm

Only 1:54 minutes into the video and I LOVE your suggestions already! Just the dog sledding makes me wanna go! Hip hip hooray….Great video! Quality and superbly done! Thank you!

Happy Hikers · May 24, 2019 at 4:31 pm

This is awesome and so helpful! Thank you!!!

Andrew Mokhtary · May 27, 2019 at 5:34 pm

29 people didn't go to alaska

Cruising Mimi · May 30, 2019 at 11:35 pm

Going in August 2019 and appreciated the tips for excursions per port. Hate to hear I might be “shortchanged” becauseI Cruise to Tracy Arm instead but I believe the experience will be awesome nonetheless. We wanted to celebrate a birthday and an anniversary consequently of our group I am planning so I wanted special dates!

Ernest Pitti · June 6, 2019 at 11:06 am

Love your videos! How is the weather normally in July?

Dhiraj Korada · June 6, 2019 at 6:59 pm

Can you please help me decide between RUBY princess vs Norwegian BLISS for my alaska cruise . We are two families traveling with 7 adults and one 7yr old and one 14 yr old kid

Florence Liu · June 14, 2019 at 8:09 am

We are leaving for the cruise in 2 days…. do you recommend renting a car driving through the Klondike or train is better?

mark anderson · June 28, 2019 at 2:44 pm

#1….get a tasty beverage, sit back and watch the AMAZING scenery that's everywhere…going for our 3rd time this September…its my favorite most relaxing cruise

Lashea Lashea · June 29, 2019 at 12:37 am

Wow I’m so tired of this Caribbean islands I may have to switch it up and try this.

PR DEACON · July 1, 2019 at 1:59 pm

How about Tracy crab shack? That is a great place for crab legs.

Randy Plett · July 4, 2019 at 7:55 pm

The number on the helicopter at 1:43 caught my eye. Maybe they should change that. LOL

Barb · July 7, 2019 at 12:51 pm

I took my first Cruise in May to Alaska and you were spot on with your recommendations thanks for the videos

Robert Weber · July 7, 2019 at 2:41 pm

Yet another informative video!

Sir 2k6 · July 18, 2019 at 3:41 pm

I live in Vancouver all my life and have never cruised to Alaska or even visited Alaska, time to change that. I will fly to Anchorage and cruise back to Vancouver. Thanks for these great tips. 👍🏼

Mariaj ImL · July 25, 2019 at 1:34 pm

Thank you for your vedio Iam going to ALASKA CRUIZE . in Aug.

Tina Meiners · August 15, 2019 at 8:05 pm

The whale watching excursion was fabulous as well.

The Florida Palate · September 6, 2019 at 7:24 pm

Great video! Do you have to get on a helicopter to go dog sledding? I’m going on Holland if America and I don’t remember them stating anything about a helicopter in the description.

Shirley · September 11, 2019 at 11:26 pm

I did mount Roberts railway and the red dog saloon. I liked the town although it did rain a bit. In skagway white pass railway had a rock Fall, so we went on skagway yellow bus and had some fun stories told to us.

jbug watson · September 15, 2019 at 6:25 am

Ya ill pay. people ..to give dogs a shit freezing life used by people for money wow i wad listening to u until i realised what dumbass way of thinking that is

Holden Choi · September 23, 2019 at 8:38 pm

Hi Gary, I just came back from an Alaskan cruise on Ruby Princess. Before going, I reviewed all of your videos on Princess cruises and Alaskan cruise. I believe I was able to get the most out of this trip because of your videos. So thank you for posting them.

Scott Tilden · October 24, 2019 at 1:54 am

Did you do the Alaska cruise solo ? Do you find a lot of solo travelers ?

angie chandler · November 5, 2019 at 3:47 am

Great information.

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