Cruise from Vancouver to Alaska.
When you think about North America, it’s pretty easy to imagine bustling cities, highways and major infrastructure. While this is all true, the region is also home to some of the best wilderness spots in the world.
Around 82 per cent of Canadian land and 36 per cent of American land is mostly untouched by human activity, according to The Big Wild. This allows nature to run its course in these remote locations.
As such, if you want to see the wild for yourself, there are some cruises that can connect you to these remote areas. To learn more about what experiences are possible, we spoke to FBI Travel General, Groups and Events Manager Jeff Dimand.
The western coast of North America (from Vancouver to Alaska) is among the top cruising regions in the world. The combination of deep harbours, dense forests and spectacular fjords creates the perfect environment to explore. However, in the absence of sealed roads and airports, your only option often is to take a cruise north from Vancouver towards Alaska.
For Jeff, this is what makes cruising this region so special. You can venture into passages that few people have gone before and take in the wonder of nature without the sounds of traffic and congested cities.
“Due to the inaccessibility of the area, people go on a cruise to experience these regions. It’s not like the rest of the Canada where you can drive – there are no roads,” he said.
What is there to see on a cruise?
On a cruise north from Vancouver, the real highlight is the wildlife. As the four-month cruising season takes place during summer, this is the time when the animals venture out from the dense forest and begin to hunt for food. Whether these are bears or eagles, the chances of seeing wildlife is significantly higher in the warmer months.
This isn’t just true for land-based animals either. Summer sees the migration of stunning animals such as humpback and orca whales as well as otters and salmon hatcheries becoming more active.
Selecting a perfect cruise
Remember that FBI Travel works with all the major cruise lines from Princess and Celebrity to Crystal Cruises and Holland America. We can ensure that you get the cruise experience that best fits your budget, requirements and travel schedule.
The major cruise lines offer us special deals that may include cabin upgrades, drinks packages, on board credit or WiFi and when available discounted deposit terms. As a Virtuoso Agent, we also have value added benefits on certain cruises and hotel stays.
Most passengers would do a seven-day cruise from Vancouver or Seattle and return, but you can also sail one way as far as Anchorage and combine the balance of the cruise with a tour to Northern Alaska.
25th wedding anniversary to remember
Jeff chose the seven-night Inside Passage cruise with Holland America. Celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary in August, Jeff and his wife set off on the Nieuw Amsterdam with a verandah suite – primed for an adventure of a lifetime.
The experience starts with a scenic cruise through The Inside Passage where you can see the wonder of nature up close. The noises of the city are replaced with birds in the trees and winds passing through the forests – you’re truly a world away.
Jeff’s first destination was Juneau, the capital of Alaska, where the couple went whale watching.
“This experience was very special. From the boat we got to witness a number of whales breaching and spouting water – with the backdrop of the Alaskan mountains,” he said.
“Our guide also took time to explain more about whale breeding cycles, feeding behaviours and migration which we found informative.”
Back on dry land and Jeff and his wife visited the Mendenhall Glacier, a short bus ride from the cruise ship docks.
“The glacier is absolutely breathtaking and just a short walk from Nugget Falls and the visitor center. I’d recommend spending as much time as possible up at the Mendenhall Glacier, exploring the different trails and learning more about the local area,” he said.
Back on board the Nieuw Amsterdam, the next destination was Skagway. With a day off the ship, the pair took a three-hour train trip from Skagway into the mountains towards the US/Canada border which follows the Yukon Trail on the White Pass Railway.
“We went past beautiful waterfalls, along trestle bridges and through historic sites. It’s actually the original Klondike’s Trail which was used by the miners during the Gold Rush several hundred years ago,” he said.
As the ship begins to head back towards Vancouver, the cruise spends the day sailing around Glacier Bay, home of the massive Marjorie Glacier. This was Jeff’s highlight of the whole trip, hearing the loud thunder-like sound of the glacier calving into the sea.
“About 5-10 seconds after the thunder, you’ll see the entire front of the glacier collapse into the water. It’s a wow factor, because their glaciers are 200-300 feet high, dwarfing the ship,” Jeff described.
Before re-entering the Inside Passage and back to Vancouver, the Nieuw Amsterdam takes a stop at the small town of Ketchikan, Alaska which has the world’s largest collection of standing totem poles. Jeff noted that seeing the cultural side of Alaska was pretty special.
Life on the cruise ship
While it’s important to talk about what you can see on a cruise from Vancouver north to Alaska, you’ll also be keen to know more about spending time on the ship itself.
As Jeff noted above, he and his wife chose the balcony suite which gave them a fantastic view of the islands and forests as they sailed past. Additionally, the cruise ship environment delivers on everything that you could need from restaurants and entertainment, to exercise and relaxation.
The ship even had guest speakers such as park rangers and Alaska Natives to talk to the passengers about the history, culture and environments of the region.
“I couldn’t fault the service, it was great service with superb facilities,” he said.
Exploring the wider North American region
Jeff notes that if you have some time either before or after your cruise you should explore this part of the world a little more.
“I would recommend spending a few days in Vancouver, visiting the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Grouse Mountain,” he said. “Or travel by seaplane to Victoria, British Columbia for either a day trip or overnight stay at the Fairmont Majestic Hotel and make time to see the Rockies.”
While in Vancouver, you could also take in Stanley Park or spend a morning on a food tour of either Chinatown or the famous Granville Markets – where your dedicated Travel Advisor can organise you a chef who will take you on a 3-hour walking and tasting tour that you will never forget.