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Alaska Cruise Port Guide

Alaska Ports of Call - Alaska Cruises - BestCruiseBuy.com Alaska Cruise - Cruises to Alaska - Alaska Cruises - BestCruiseBuy.com
 
There is a lot to see in Alaska. Use this a a guide to find the ports of call which are right for you.
Anchorage: Alaska's largest city is both a popular tourist destination and the centre of commerce for the region. Local wildlife museums include the Alaska Zoo and Potter's Marsh, where up to 130 species of waterfowl can be viewed from a boardwalk. Geographical reminders of the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake can be seen at Earthquake Park. To appreciate the wealth of local history, one should visit the Heritage Library and Museum and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.

A short trip north of town leads to the Eagle River Visitor Centre and the alpine beauty of Chugach State Park. At Eklutna Village Historical Park, highlights include St Nicholas Russian Church and the brightly painted 'spirit houses'. South of Anchorage, visitors can try their luck by panning for gold nuggets at Crow Creek Mine.

College Fjord Scenic Cruising: Some of the best glacier viewing in the state can be seen at College Fjord.  Tucked into the northwest corner of Prince William Sound, the fjord boasts the world's largest collection of tidewater glaciers - sixteen, name after Ivy League colleges by the Harriman Expedition that discovered them in 1899.

Denali National Park: This stunning region offers a wide variety of activities including hiking, ice-climbing, wildlife viewing and horseback trekking. Denali is an Athabascan name, which means 'the high one'. At 20,331feet (6197metre), Mount McKinley is the tallest peak in North America, and on a clear day it can be seen from Anchorage, 149 miles (240 kilometres) away. Denali National Park is famous for panoramic views of Mount McKinley and the Alaska Range. A popular day excursion takes tourists on a shuttle bus through the wilderness to see caribou, grizzly bears, wolves and moose.

Fairbanks: Alaska's 2nd-largest city is a trade and transportation centre for the Interior and Far North regions. From mid-May through to July, visitors can enjoy more than 20 hours of sunlight a day. Attractions range from the Alaskaland Theme Park to the
University of Alaska-Fairbanks Museum.

A fly-in excursion to Fort Yukon, located on the Arctic Circle on the Yukon River, gives tourists a vivid picture of life in Alaska's largest Athabascan village. Throughout the winter, Fairbanks hosts world-class sled-dog races, ice-sculpting competitions and skiing events.

Glacier Bay National Park Senic Cruising: How does it feel when a monumental chunck of ice splits off a glacier and crashes into the sea?  The sound is like thunder, and the impact shoots water hundreds of feet into the air. You hold your break as you catch the moment of film. Glacier Bay has more aactively calving glaciers than anywhere else in the world.

Glacier Bay is also home to an amazing assortment of marine life, including humpback whales, sea otters, porpoises and harbor seals.

The number of cruise ships that can enter Glacier Bay are restricted.  Holland America and Princess have the majority of ships that can cruise into Glacier Bay National Park.

Inside Passage Cruising: Carved by glaciers and blanketed with majestic hemlock and spruce, Alaska's 'panhandle' rivals Scandinavia for pristine water mountain views. A leisurely cruise among the fjords and forested islands of the Inside Passage takes you into prime habitat for bald eagles, sea lions, porpoise, and whales.

The Inside Passage of southeast Alaska is the home of Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian Indians - you'll see their rich heritage reflected in dramatic totem poles and other Native arts. Russian setters left a legacy on onion-domed churches gleaming with icons and gold. Prospectors, lumberjacks, and fishermen, have added to the complex tapestry of Inside Passage history and culture.

Like the coastal Indians that paddled cedar canoes along Inside Passage waterways, modern travelers use Alaska state ferries to connect port with port. Large and small cruiseships, charter boats, and private yachts call at picturesque towns and scenic wonderlands like Misty Fjords National Monument, Tracy Arm, and Glacier Bay. Highway access from the contiguous states comes at Haines, Skagway, and the friendly ghost town of Hyder, on the British Columbia border.

Juneau: Juneau sprung up as a boomtown in the Klondike Gold Rush and retains its spirit of adventure. Adjacent to Glacier Bay National Park, it offers breathtaking scenery and unequaled hiking as well as kayak opportunities in nearby Glacier Bay. Juneau's gold and mining history is available for buffs at the Last Chance Mining Museum as well as the Treadwell Mining Ruins. The Alaska State Museum also explores Alaska's history and displays Native artifacts and an eagles nest. A full range of restaurants will accommodate any taste. Many hotels and inns are available (although very populated in the summer months) as well as the cabins scattered throughout the National Forests (maintained by the US Forest Service).

Ketchikan:This city is famous for 2 things: salmon and totem poles. Around 14 feet (4 metres) of rain falls each year on this southeastern city. Visitors should not let this put them off, however, as it is here they will find the Saxman and Totem Bight Parks, which contain the world's largest collection of totem poles. The display includes some of the oldest examples in the world, as well as a range of new ones, which are carved by local craftsmen in an open studio. Excursions include a boat or plane trip into the Misty Fjords National Monument. The coastal rain forests and glacial fjords shelter many species of land animals and sea life.

Seattle: Stay in Seattle long enough, locals tell you, and you won’t tan - you’ll rust. However, calling Seattle ‘rainy” can be a bit of a misnomer. Overcast skies and fog can give the impression of rain. Truth be told, Seattle receives less rain than many major American cities – even New York, Chicago and Miami, and it summers are some of the most temperate in the Pacific Northwest. Encased by the glorious mountains of the Olympic and Cascades ranges and bordered by the craggy shoes of the Pacific Ocean, Seattle celebrates the natural exquisiteness of the outdoors.

Seattle, like Phoenix, AZ, seems to have more transplants of people from other states than actual residents. The University of Washington, a hip music scene rooted in the rhythms of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, and Puget Sound’s majestic outdoors draws students, next-generation hippies and rugged naturalists alike. Conversely, over 2,500 software development firms including giant Microsoft, biotechnology firms and healthcare companies attract professionals from across the world.

Seattle has developed from a quiet port into a cosmopolitan giant. Despite its popularity and reputation as one of America’s most livable cities, it remains unpretentious, even laid-back, and backpacks and briefcases make its scene a highly eclectic one. Fashion, arts and architecture lend to its sophistication, and major sports teams, a renowned performing arts community and a state-of-the-art convention centre attest to its metropolitan magnitude.

From caffeine-laced espresso and painstakingly prepared microbrews to culturally rich street corners and breathtakingly lush settings, Seattle delights and fascinates.
 
Sitka: One look at lovely Sitka and you'll know why Alexander Baranof, governor of the Russian American Company, decided to build his " castle" here. With views of island-studded waters and stately spruce forests reaching to the water's edge, Sitka is considered Alaska's most beautiful seaside town. Sitka's past is a unique blend of Tlingit culture and Russian history.

The historic and scenic community is situated on Baranof Island, nestled between forested mountains and the great Pacific Ocean, on the outer waters of Alaska's Inside Passage. Sitka offers a combination of Native culture, Russian history, and Alaskan wilderness which will provide a diverse and unequaled experience.

Wildlife adds to Sitka's natural beauty. Our mild climate, rich habitat and relatively low human population make Sitka one of the best places to view wildlife. Nearby waters are a popular feeding ground for humpback whales in the late fall and early spring. Summertime provides a wonderful opportunity to view tufted puffins and other sea birds at St. Lazaria National Wildlife Refuge. While out on the ocean, you may also spot sea otters, sea lions, whales and other marine wildlife.

Sitka lies at the heart of the largest temperate rain forest in the world, the Tongass National Forest. Enjoy the fresh outdoors on well-marked mountain trails. Take to the water for a picturesque boat trip or kayaking adventure among nearby islands or charter a boat to nearby fishing grounds to fish for world-class salmon and halibut.

Skagway: History never gets old in Skagway.  Few one-time boomtowns retain the flavor of the gold rush days like Skagway.  The Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park boasts restored buildings and Wooden boardwalks that invite you to stroll into the past.  Take your time and soak up the local flavor in the colorful taverns and shops. One of my favorites is the Red Onion Saloon, with its honky-tonk piano and costumed barmaids, is a treasure trove of memorabilia, featuring pictures of Klondike Kate, Peahull Annie and other vintage characters.

Vancouver: Vancouver is a major port and Canada's third largest city. It is situated in the southwest of the province, overlooking the Burrard Inlet on the Pacific and backed by the Coastal Range of mountains. There are many beaches (all are public,) the most famous being Wreck Beach, near the university. Downtown Vancouver has the second largest Chinese quarter in North America, celebrated by the new Chinese Cultural Center. Gastown, the reconstructed old Center
of Vancouver, is a pleasant array of cobblestone streets, cafés and shops. The traditions of the large German and Ukrainian
populations are reflected in the proliferation of ethnic shops and restaurants there.

Of the several museums and galleries, most notable are the Centennial Museum, H. R. MacMillan Planetarium , University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology (housing excellent examples of northwest First Nation art and artifacts), Vancouver Art Gallery, Science World (including four galleries of hands-on exhibits) and the Maritime Museum .

More points of interest are Stanley Park, Vancouver Aquarium, the newly-opened Downtown Historic Railway, and the Grouse Mountain Skyride on the north shore. The latter offers views of the city and the fjords of the Pacific coast from 1211m (3974ft). Vancouver is also a comparatively young city with the large University of British Columbia campus. A visit to the extensive Botanical Gardens of the university is recommended.

During the summer Whistler, just north of Vancouver, is a delight for naturalists. In the winter, however, it is the most popular ski resort on the west coast offering an award-winning design with first-class hotels and restaurants. In addition to more than 100 varied ski runs covering two enormous mountains, it has facilities for golf, windsurfing, tennis, mountain biking, river rafting, horse back riding, hiking, gondola and chairlift rides, as well as shopping and cultural entertainment.

Ferries to Vancouver Island pass through the spectacular Gulf Islands. A variety of tours and charter boats are available for island-hopping excursions.

In the east of the province, high in the Rocky Mountains, the huge wilderness areas of Yoho, Kootenay and Glacier National Parks. Here, hiking, angling and rafting trips as well as excellent winter sports facilities are in available. Nearby are the hot-spring resorts of Radium and Fairmont along with the Fort Steel Heritage Park, which celebrates the rich Canadian history of pioneer days. North of the rich angling and ranching country of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast lay vast tracts of untamed lakes, forest and wilderness stretching to the border with the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Some sporting resorts in this area are accessible only by air. Queen Charlotte Islands, reached by ferry from Prince Rupert in the far northwest, is an adventurous side-trip with good fishing opportunities. Another good wilderness route is the Alaska Highway , running through Prince George, Dawson Creek and Fort St John in the northeast. This former fur-trading trail gives good access to the provincial parks of Stone Mountain and Muncho Lake , which provide basic amenities for striking out into this rugged terrain. Both the scenery and the sporting opportunities en route are excellent.


Victoria: The provincial capital lies at the southern tip of the heavily forested and mountainous Vancouver Island. This most English of Canadian towns is distinguished by Victorian and neo-classical architecture and well-appointed residential areas. In the harbour area are the impressive Parliament Buildings and the Royal British Columbia Museum, which gives an overview of the region's history. During summer evenings a marching band finishes up at the Parliament Buildings. Also worth visiting are Maltwood Art Gallery, Thunderbird Park (where visitors may see modern-day First Nation carvers at work) and Craigdarroch Castle, an impressive 19th-century landmark mansion home. City life is enhanced by more than 60 recreational parks inside city limits. The Undersea Gardens offer a fish-eye view of harbour life.

Approximately 20km (12 miles) to the north the Butchart Gardens have delightful English, Japanese and Italian gardens set in a former limestone quarry.

Whittier: Welcome to Whittier, Alaska -The Western Gateway to Prince William Sound only 60 miles from Anchorage, Whittier beckons with all the beauty of Prince William Sound – a place where you learn the real meaning of the word “fjord”. The Sound is made up of many deep fjords with tidewater glaciers that calve before your eyes, and islands around every turn.

Whittier is also surrounded by the Chugach National Forest, the second largest in the United States and a vast wilderness.

Visit Whittier and see wildlife, beach comb and pick berries while walking along the harbor or hiking the Portage Pass, Salmon Run or Horse Tail Falls trails.

Whittier businesses are the starting point for your Prince William Sound adventure offering a variety of water-related recreation including day cruises, fishing charters, kayak tours and scuba diving. Winter activities include snow shoeing, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

Birds are also in abundance. Watch eagles soar or see thousands of seabirds gather in their nesting grounds at the kittiwake rookery just across Passage Canal from Whittier.

Whittier has a mild maritime climate, but be prepared for cool wet weather. Rain jackets are essential and casual comfortable
clothing is the rule.

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