Cruising Newbe, What are the must see sites on an Alaskan Cruise

Hi, I am a first time cruiser, if you don't count cruising on a Navy Aircraft Carrier, and I am planning a Northbound Alaskan Inside passage cruise for next June and was wondering what are some of the must see sights or sightseeing trips you would recommend for a first time cruiser?

I will be traveling with my wife and celebrating our 32nd wedding anniversary and would like to make this a memorable, once in a life time experience.  Things to take in consideration is I am 65 and cannot do a lot of walking or be on my feet for an extended period.  Also my wife is scared of heights and will not fly in small airplanes or helicopter.

I know this kind of limits things but I am hoping your experience and resourcefulness can help me out.

Look forward to one day seeing you aboard a cruise.

Tags: First time cruiser

12 Answers

Would help a little to know which ports you will be visiting, I'm assuming you are coming in June 2016. Since you mentioned "Inside Passage" I'm also assuming you will be taking one of those "round robin" cruises, i.e. SEA-SEA or Vancouver to Vancouver in Southeast Alaska and not rounding Cape Spencer and crossing the Gulf of Alaska, therefore you won't be visiting Central Alaska or Hubbard Glacier at the head of Yakutat Bay. Should be a great cruise for you on your anniversary, you picked a good month to come, welcome to Alaska. In Southeast the most visited ports are (by number of ships) Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka and Hoonah. Not actually ports, but day glacier sight seeing sailing are Glacier Bay and Tracy Arm. You have ruled out flightsees, both fixed wing and rotor wing, too bad as that is really worth while (good weather days only though). I guess you wouldn't be enamored by zip lines, me neither, but there are a lot of those in Alaska anymore. My favorite is at Skagway, the White Pass and Yukon Railroad roundtrip summit tour up into White Pass, 3 hours. At Juneau, the AJ Mine Gastinueau Mill tour, (underground some of it). At Ketchikan, The Totem Heritage Center and the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, although I've only seen the one in Palmer. In Sitka, take a local tour which includes a lot, particularly Totem Square and the Raptor Center. There is a much to see and do down there, since you have plenty of time I suggest you try and get your hands on a copy of "The Milepost". Sort of the travel Bible for Alaska, whether you are driving, flying or on the water. It doesn't have to be a current copy as things don't change all that rapidly, a lot of libraries have them. The 2015 edition just came out if you want new Catch my review and pictures of an Alaskan cruise we took a few years ago, May 2010: "A super nostalgic cruise and a very good one. It introduced us to up scale cruising as well."

Thanks so much for the info. I should have stated we are taking the Northbound Inside passage cruise from Vancouver to Seward Alaska. Yes an its the one departing June 17th, 2016. I want to do the zip line but my wife won't. I will take your suggestions and look for the sightseeing tours you recommended.

Will let you know how it goes as I am planning to keep some kind of journal to document the cruise.

Awe, you are going to Central Alaska. Get to see Hubbard Glacier as well. In my opinion it is the best glacier calving viewing from a ship anywhere.

When in Seward try to take in the Alaska Sea Life Center there. How long will you be in Anchorage?

Also, if you are toying with the idea of taking a zip line, by all means wait until Hoonah (Icy Strait). They are the ones who got it all started up here, longest in the world they advertised for a while. Any way, zip lines are great, not the dangers that bungee jumping posed or the like. Wife did two of them in Juneau during the trip I previously posted about, I was on the gold mine tour. If I were to do one it would be at Hoonah as I bet you cross a lot more of climax forest Sitka Spruce (800 years old trees).

Hi orltsm ,

Welcome to!

Some of my favorite sights in Alaska:

Skagway - The White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad is a must-do

Juneau - Mendenhall Glacier (book the bus ride on your own after you get off the ship in Juneau)

Ketchikan - The float plane excursions to Misty Fjords is popular, but I loved just walking around the town and taking the funicular up to Cape Fox Lodge. Also took the city bus up to Totem Bight state park.

Hope that helps. Be sure to check out our Alaska info:

I too am following this post, as we are leaving in 3 weeks for the 14 day, 8 port cruise on HA Statendam, around the cape and back. This is our first cruise, but NOT our first time in Alaska, as I was stationed there years ago and we have spent many months visiting the interior. IMO, the price that HA wants for their shore excursions seems excessive. Is it better to book with the tour operators direct or use the cruise line for booking? I think this question is also important for the OP.

You can typically book excursions cheaper when not through the ship. The SHIP MATE app for your smart phone has excursions that you can book through it. It also has suggestions of things to do in each port.

Keep in mind though, if you book through the ship and your excursion is late getting back to the ship, the ship will wait for you. If you book on your own and your late back, the ship will leave with out you and you will be on your own to get to the next port to meet up with the ship.

You can see some of this on You-Tube video's "Pier runners" People running down the pier as the ship is pulling away. Funny yet sad.

P.S. Enjoy your first cruise I hope it is the first in a long line of cruises for you. Please post a review and photo's when you return. (fun to see photos of place and ships)

I agree with Kennicott. The Hubbard Glacier is awesome!

Hubbard Glacier---2010---From the Seven Seas Navigator

Thank you for all your recommendations. I was planning to book my tours at each tour company web site . I found two web sites that seem to be pretty good and offer a lot of information on Alaska: Our itinerary is: Vancouver (Depart June 17th, 2016) Ketchikan Icy Strait Juneau Hubbard Glacier (Cruising) Seward We will be in Seward just for that day but plan to stay in Anchorage for 1 day and fly out the next day. I have several questions that I hope you don't mind me asking. When we get to Seward, we will have between 8 to 10 hours of wait time before we catch the train to Anchorage. We wanted to take a tour around Seward or take one of the many tours available, but what do we do with our luggage? Is there a safe place to stow our luggage while we take a tour or do we lug our luggage with us? Also, aboard the ship, I wanted to go to the gym each day to do my physical therapy exercises. When is the best time that its usually not crowded, early mornings or late at night? Once we arrive at a port, when do tour busses arrive to take you on your tours? Will I have time in the mornings for some coffee and breakfast or do we need to get off the ship as soon as we can? I plan to book all my excursions, hotel and train reservations by the end of September using each company's web site. Any way, any help would be greatly appreciated.


* is not a booking agent or travel agency, and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners (travel agencies and cruise lines) provide prices, which we list for our users' convenience. does not guarantee any specific rates or prices. While prices are updated daily, please check with the booking site for the exact amount. is not responsible for content on external web sites.

Back to Top