Explore America's last frontier by land and sea.
"Alaska is wild and unpredictable," warns our guide, Dave. "We don't know what we'll see or where we'll see it."
We've just boarded a boat in Juneau, along the state's rugged southern panhandle, and our hearts are set on spotting a whale. We cross our fingers and allow ourselves to be hopeful.
After all, we've come a long way to partake in an Alaskan cruise tour, and with an itinerary including Skagway, Ketchikan, Juneau and Anchorage—as well as the Inside Passage—the potential for adventure is huge.
It's also a big reason why so many visitors to Alaska choose to see the state via cruise tours—combination cruise and land-holiday packages. Cruise tours pack in all the expected cruise ship amenities, including myriad activities at each port of call. But what can't be accomplished during single-day port excursions is made up for with an extended, land-based tour before or after the cruise portion of your trip.
Many travellers do extensive cruise tours with itineraries that include such iconic sites as Glacier Bay, Kenai Fjords, Wrangell-St. Elias and Denali national parks. They search for Denali's "Big Five"—grizzly bears, caribou, moose, gray wolves and Dall sheep—learn to dogsled, fly fish and much more. Some tours even head for points farther east in the Yukon to explore historic gold rush sites. Whether you're a nature enthusiast, hardcore hiker or even a foodie, you're sure to find something that fascinates.
Travelling by bus and enjoying the convenience of pre-booked restaurants and hotels—and having luggage managed for you—makes cruise tour packages ideal for everyone, from young families to older solo travellers. They're particularly great for those who travel long distances to get to Alaska and want to ensure they do a thorough job of exploring the "last frontier."