Cruises: The second most popular cruise destination was revealed to be Alaska. Credit: Shutterstock

Amazing Alaska

Author: Vicky Mayer

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After a two-year pandemic shutdown, Alaska is opening up once again to cruise ships. So book your ticket now to this incredible destination – there's just nowhere else like it on earth.

Talk to anyone who's enjoyed an Alaskan cruise, and chances are they'll say: "Book your ticket today." The reason? Because Alaska is quite simply one of the most exciting, beautiful, and diverse destinations on earth.

Admitted to the USA in 1959 as the 49th state, Alaska is home to North America's highest mountain, its largest freshwater lake and greatest number of glaciers – not to mention some of its most spectacular wildlife, including bears, caribou (reindeer), and bison, while migrating whales are often sighted off the coast.

This huge territory is a cultural crossroads, too, with so much to see – from the beauty of carved totem poles and the gleaming domes of Russian Orthodox churches to stark reminders of the Gold Rush in former frontier towns such as Skagway.

‘The Great Land’ more than lives up to its name. Credit: Shutterstock

Even today, most of Alaska remains untouched wilderness – and thanks to an incredible 34,000 miles of coastline, there is no better way to appreciate it than from a stateroom balcony on your cruise ship. Mapping out an independent itinerary across this challenging landscape would involve planes, trains, automobiles and even ferries.

In contrast, cruising is a hassle-free and efficient way to totally immerse yourself in the journey and let the wonders of the landscape unfold before you.

-READ MORE: HAL Features 3 Alaska Itineraries-

That said, Alaska is a broad terrain, and exploring it solely from the water does run the risk of missing some of its attractions. That's why most cruise lines offer a rich and varied programme of shore excursions, as well as cruise-and-stay packages. With these you get the best of all worlds – coast, mountains, glaciers, and the stunning Denali National Park and vibrant cities such as Seward and Fairbanks.

Typically, excursions also come with plenty of activities to try out, such as ziplining through the rainforest, dog sledding and more.

Brown bears are a classic Alaska snap. Make sure you find a tour provider who knows the game. Credit: Shutterstock

What is the best time to visit?

Most Alaska cruise tours operate between May and September, as this is when the weather is at its most favourable (during the winter months, the area turns too cold for many cruisers' liking).

When it comes to choosing the specific month and itinerary for your cruise, have a careful think about the kind of experience you want to enjoy. For example, to minimise the risk of rain it's best not to travel in the warm months of June, July, and August; but on the other hand this peak period provides some of the best chances to see Alaska's majestic wildlife.

-READ MORE: Action, Adventure, Alaska!-

Alternatively, April and May are great months to visit if you want to avoid snow, while itineraries in September offer a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Get on board with HAL

This year marks an important milestone for Holland America Line, as it celebrates 75 years of operating in Alaska. To this day HAL continues to offer a scenic cruising experience, with picturesque views, mountains, and glaciers adding up to the perfect holiday for travellers who want to immerse themselves in this incredible natural wilderness.

-READ MORE: Holland America Line announces extraordinary Alaska holidays for 2023-

On a luxurious HAL cruise you'll get to see stunning glaciers, fjords, rivers, and forests, as well as eagles, brown bears, and whales in their natural habitat. You'll have the opportunity to travel through the incredible Glacier Bay National Park, part of a 24 million-acre UNESCO-listed World Heritage area.

And thanks to HAL's recently announced 'Alaska Up Close' programme, you'll be able to experience the real Alaska more vividly than ever before.

Glacier Bay is a majestic site, with comfortable departures from May to September. Credit: Shutterstock

"Guests won't just cruise through Glacier Bay," said a HAL spokesman, "they'll discover its ecosystem from native tribe members and National Park Rangers. They won't simply eat seafood, they will taste the salmon they caught that day, prepared by our onboard chefs."

-READ MORE: Why cruise Alaska? What to expect from beautiful US state & best time to go-

In 2022, six HAL ships will explore Alaska, either round-trip from Seattle or Vancouver, or between Whittier and Vancouver, with every cruise including a visit to one or more of the destination's iconic glaciers.

For explorers who wish to travel further, there's a choice of 16 different cruise tours, combining an Alaska voyage with an inland exploration of Denali National Park of the unspoiled reaches of Canada's Yukon Territory.

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About Vicky Mayer

Vicky began her career working on young women’s magazines before moving on to TV and entertainment titles. Her passion, though, has always been travel, so as Editor of World of Cruising, she combines her love of magazines with the chance to shout about cruise holidays around the world.