Alaska. America's 49th state and by far the largest (yet one of the least populous) in the nation. Removed from the continental U.S. and viewed as exotic and interesting because of it. It's no wonder that it has earned the nickname of “The Last Frontier.”
People have been trickling into Alaska from the Lower 48 for years – first during a gold rush, and later for the outdoors-centric lifestyle that the state has become known for. Even if you don't want to move to Alaska to live the simple life, chances are it's a place you've considered visiting.
If you've looked at a map and realized how far away Alaska is from the rest of the U.S., though, you may have reconsidered that visit. Because Alaska is kind of far away from everything unless you count the Yukon in Canada.
There's good news, though. Because so many people dream of visiting Alaska, many cruise lines now offer sailings from Seattle and Vancouver that take you up into that Last Frontier. And, while cruising to Alaska may not at first sound like fun, here are some reasons why you should consider it anyway.
Alaska is not an easy place to get to, or to travel around. Flights from the continental U.S. (and even from Canada) can be extremely pricey, and driving there can take days. On top of that, there are many places where it's physically impossible to drive to thanks to Alaska's mountainous terrain – the capital city of Juneau included (the city can only be reached by plane or boat).
Cruising, then, can make getting to Alaska much less stressful. You simply board a ship in Seattle or Vancouver, and within no time you'll be visiting Alaskan towns that would otherwise be tricky to reach.
Having been to Alaska twice now and having had the chance to talk to locals about why they moved to (or have chosen to stay in) a place so far removed from the rest of the country, I've learned that the relaxed pace of life in the state is a major draw. People who live in Alaska value living simply and taking time out of every day to enjoy the outdoors.
On a cruise, you, too, can get into this relaxed mood. Cruising in and of itself is relaxing – you don't have to worry about booking hotels or deciding on a place to eat or getting from Point A to Point B. You just sit back and enjoy the journey.
Speaking of the outdoors, you'll have plenty of opportunities to experience it on an Alaskan cruise – both on the ship and off of it. The great thing about sailing to Alaska is that you get to traverse through fjords and sea passages that you would never see if you were in a car or airplane.
From the ship, you can expect to see mountains, wildlife (like whales and eagles), and even glaciers. On land, there are far more opportunities.
Cruises to Alaska have much more diverse (and adventurous) offerings when it comes to shore excursions than, say, cruises in the Caribbean. In Alaska, you can ride an old mining railway in Skagway, hike on a glacier just outside of Juneau, go “flightseeing” in Ketchikan, or go on a wildlife quest in Sitka. Then there's fishing, bear watching, dog sledding, cultural shows, and even snorkeling, too.
Alaska really does offer something for everyone, whether it's adventure, scenery, or culture that you're interested in, and the cruise shore excursions on offer reflect this.
What interests you most about a cruise to Alaska?
Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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