What are some things you would have liked to have known before your first cruise to Alaska?

I have to give a talk to my local senior center about cruising in Alaska on April 22. I am trying to gather a list of things that people wish they had known before their first cruise to Alaska so I can pass them on to those that have never cruised before. Any tips, suggestions for shore excursions, or things not to miss will all be greatly appreciated.

11 Answers

I would have loved to have known how addicting it is!

FYI, I've never been to Alaska!

It depends on how willing they are to get off the ship and take tours. The "towns" the ships stop in are basically tourist traps...wall to wall souvenir and t-shirt stops. If the ship stops in Victoria BC, by all means go and see the BUTCHART GARDENS..its a bus tour to it and then some walking, but well worth it....incredible...not that that has anything to do with Alaska actually....the high point of the trip for us was riding the WHITE PASS ROAD....you get to see more of the country that way...don't miss it....they have a website...that inside passage itself was spectacular.....the ship turns around at the glacier (or whats left of it) and goes back the way it came...all hands on deck, unless the weather is wretched (which sometimes it can be) you can do pretty well just staying on your balcony if you have one......if you wanted sun and warmth, you're probably in the wrong place...hoodies are good...guaranteed seniors will be a bit on the cold side....the "plane rides" the touritas seem to like to take take are short....and expensive.....just remember you're going to a place thats actually bigger than Texas...you're going to see waaay less than 1% of it from the ships....

Its almost a rite of passage to "do an Alaska cruise"....we did it, and glad we did...but not going back....how they're going to handle it once they start cruising again (whenever that is) is anybody's guess...

Our first cruise was actually to Alaska. Only way I could convince my hubby to go on a cruise. So my answer will encompass both first time cruising and first time to Alaska.

1. Other cruisers are very friendly - did not expect so much chatting up but liked it!


2. lots of seafood on this cruise - guess due to the destinations, but not a big seafood eater. Maybe not all Alaska cruises do this.


3. As Yankee47 said, most of the area by the docks is very tourist trap-like. Lots of jewelry stores and souvenir shops. As you go further from the docks, this is less.

4. We are still proponents of using cruise line excursions. Almost each cruise we’ve taken has had to depart a little late due to some excursion running behind. They will not wait for non-cruise line excursions. The ship actually left a couple in Cartagena after waiting as long as possible, but the couple was not on a cruise line excursion.

5. Most excursions we’ve taken were worth it but recommend thorough reading of description to ensure you know what you are getting. (For example, transportation is important if you need heat or air conditioning)

6. We loved our Alaska cruise so much that we want to do it again. Sadly, Covid has caused us to have two Alaska cruises cancelled. (Like everyone else). Highly recommend Alaska and cruising!

I agree, it is very addictive.

Thank you. Those are some very good points. We have seen a few runners because their excursions have gotten back late.

Thanks, I’ll check that out. Sounds like it will be full of good advice for me to pass on to them. Melvin Reynolds, CTA, CATA, ACE Affiliate Agent, Cruise Brothers Alaska Expert 330-708-0592
Yeah, I noticed a lot of the type of gift shops you mention when we were there. We did the gardens, but it was late in the season and got dark very early, so we missed most of the beauty of them. Melvin Reynolds, CTA, CATA, ACE Affiliate Agent, Cruise Brothers Alaska Expert 330-708-0592

1. There's lots of wildlife to see from the ship, bring some binoculars.

2. Take the White Pass-Yukon Railroad in Skagway. Read The Call of the Wild to get background on it.

3. Be prepared for rain. You're more likely than not to have some rain.

4. At the risk of sounding obvious, don't plan on sunning on a beach. Some people think all cruises are like that.

1. There's lots of wildlife to see from the ship, bring some binoculars.

2. Take the White Pass-Yukon Railroad in Skagway. Read The Call of the Wild to get background on it.

3. Be prepared for rain. You're more likely than not to have some rain.

4. At the risk of sounding obvious, don't plan on sunning on a beach. Some people think all cruises are like that.

5. If you go in the summer and can't sleep when it's light, consider an inside room since the nights are very short.

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