Mendenhall Lake with 2 kayaks on the shore- best Alaska Cruise excursions

The 6 Best Cruise Excursions in Alaska

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Having the chance to take a cruise to Alaska is an opportunity of a lifetime. Once you’ve picked the perfect cruise line, and the cruise is booked, you get to start planning excursions at your various ports of call. This can be one of the most challenging tasks because there is so much to do in Alaska. I’ve asked cruisers from all over what their favorite Alaska Cruise Excursions are and am sharing them with you here! Read on to find the best cruise excursions in Alaska.

Best Cruise Excursions in Alaska -Skagway

Skagway is such a fun cruise stop! There is SO much to do in Skagway including gold rush cemeteries, a great downtown area and a train ride through White Pass and into Canada. Choosing an excursion can be overwhelming when there are so many choices, so we’ve narrowed this busy port down to the 2 best cruise excursions in Skagway according to travel experts.

Chilkoot Trail Hike and Float Adventure

Skagway Cruise Excursion

Contributed by Lisa of Waves and Cobblestones

About the excursion:  

This tour starts off with transportation to the Chilkoot trailhead.  The first part of the excursion’s activity is a hike through the forest on the Chilkoot Trail, which was used by prospectors to reach the gold fields of the Yukon.  Your guide will give you some rest breaks along the way to provide some local history and information on area flora and fauna.  This also allows you to catch your breath and take some great photos.  

The second part of the excursion is the easy part – just sit back and relax!  Enjoy the gentle float down the Taiya River as you watch the gorgeous Alaskan scenery go by.  Keep an eye out for wildlife – you’ll likely spot bald eagles perched in the tall trees or swooping gracefully overhead.  Your Chilkoot hike and float adventure ends with light refreshments and transportation back to your cruise ship.

Tips:  Be sure to wear sturdy walking or hiking shoes, as there are many uneven surfaces to navigate on the hike.  Dress in layers – you’ll warm up exerting yourself on the hike and then cool off while you’re enjoying the rafting part of the excursion.  Don’t forget your camera to capture the fantastic scenery!

Red Onion Saloon and Suspension Bridge

Contributed by Kelly from Just One Passport

  • Name of Excursion: Red Onion Saloon and Suspension Bridge
  • Port of Call: Skagway, Alaska
  • Booked Through: Princess Cruises
  • How Long Does it Last: 1 Full Day

About the Excursion:

We were met at the ship by our guide and transported to the Red Onion Saloon for breakfast. We were greeted by “madams” dressed in costume emulating the madams of the Clondike Days and were each given a garter belt to take home as a souvenir. Breakfast consisted of bacon and eggs, toast, juice, coffee, and our choice of mimosa’s, caesar’s or bailey’s in our coffee (I had them all). While we ate, we were serenaded by a gentleman playing the guitar, while the “madams” played the part throughout our meal.

Once breakfast was completed, we were guided upstairs to the brothal museum and shown the rooms and given a great deal of history from the Clondike Days. Once this part of the tour was completed, we loaded onto the bus and crossed the border into Canada to walk across a suspension bridge as it swayed 65 feet above rapids below. 

This is a fun, easy tour that is full of laughs and magnificent scenery and not a lot of extras are needed. Wear comfortable walking shoes so that you are able to explore the suspension bridge to the fullest and bring a jacket as due to the elevation of the Yukon, the weather tends to be a bit cooler. Do not forget to bring your passport as you are crossing into another Country. You will definitely want to have a camera handy to capture all of the beauty of the Yukon and the memorable moments that you will encounter throughout the day.

Best Cruise Excursions in Alaska- Ketchikan

Ketchikan is a popular port of call for Alaskan Cruises. In Ketchikan, you can explore many totem poles and cultural areas. The most popular area in Ketchikan is Creek Street, which is a street built on wooden platforms above the creek. This area used to be a popular spot for gold miners to visit saloons and brothels. Today, its a fun area to walk around, shop and learn more of the history of the area. You can take excursions to Misty Fjords National Monument, go hiking in the woods, or fishing. In our opinion, the best Cruise excursion in Ketchikan is the super fun excursion below.

Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show and Crab Feast

Lumberjack show Ketchikan

Contributed by Chantelle, Flannels or FlipFlops

  • Name of the Excursion: The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show and Crab Fest
  • Port of Call: Ketchikan
  • Booked through: Viator

About the Excursion:

This is a fun excursion, albeit a bit cheesy. Start of with the Great Alaskan Lumberjack show which is walking distance to the ship. At the show you’ll be divided into “teams” to root on the lumberjacks representing your camp. You are also asked to boo the opposing camps as they try to win the competition.

Its actually a lot of fun to hoot and holler while these skilled lumberjacks show off their trade. Its incredible watching the speed and precision with which they accomplish the tasks at hand. Young and old alike will have fun at this show, but you have to get into it to make the most out of it. Clap, yell, taunt, and laugh and you’ll have a great time.

After the lumberjack show, you’ll be directed where to go to enjoy a lunch of fresh caught Alaskan Crab. Its so delicious! If you don’t eat crab, they will offer you an alternative meal.

This excursion is great fun, and still leaves you plenty of time to walk through Creek Street and the other things Ketchikan has to offer.

Best Cruise Excursions in Alaska – Sitka

Sitka is a gem of a city that used to be part of Russian America. Sitka is where the land transfer agreement was made and signed that made Alaska part of the United States. Sitka is also where Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds fell in love in the “Proposal”. Sitka, like many Alaskan towns is accessible only by boat or air. If you want to experience Sitka by seeing different areas and wildlife then be sure and check out this excursion!

Sitka Bears, Raptor Center, and Totem Park Tour

Totem poles in Sitka Alaska

Contributed by Carrie of

  • Name of the Excursion: Sitka Bears, Raptor Center, and Totem Park Tour
  • Port of Call: Sitka,Alaska
  • Booked through: Viator (several cruise lines also offer a similar tour as a ship-sponsored excursion)
  • How long does it last: 2 hours, 30 minutes

About the excursion:

If you’re looking for one of the best things to do in Sitka, the Sitka Bears, Raptor Center, and Totem Park Tour should be at the top of your list!

On this short tour you’ll visit Sitka’s famed Fortress of the Bear, the Alaska Raptor Center, and Sitka National Historical Park, all located within a short drive from the cruise port.

At Fortress of the Bear, you’ll meet with naturalists who explain the Fortress’ mission to rescue orphaned bear cubs. You can watch the resident bears at play from the safety of a covered viewing platform.

The Alaska Raptor Center rehabs injured native raptor species, including bald and golden eagles, hawks, falcons, kestrels, and many species of owls. Watch one of the live presentations offered inside and meet a Raptor-in-Residence. You can also check out the Bald Eagle Flight Training Center, which mimics the birds’ natural habitat with plenty of space for injured eagles to practice their flight skills.

Then you’ll head to Sitka National Historical Park’s Totem Trail, which features twenty antique and modern totem poles along an easy, mile-long loop.

All admission fees are included in the tour. You’ll just need to wear comfortable walking shoes, and be sure to pack a rain jacket or umbrella if you’re cruising during the rainy season of July through September.

Best Cruise Excursions in Alaska- Seward

Seward sits on the Kenai Peninsula and is often the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park. Seward is beautiful and is nestled between mountains and oceans. You can explore Seward by hiking, fishing, or checking out the Sealife Center. To truly experience the beauty of this beautiful area, you’ll want to get out on the water! Check out this next incredible Alaska cruise excursion opportunity!

Fjords Peninsula Boat Ride

Seward Cruise Excursion- Giant Iceburg

Contributed by Paula from Paula Pins the Planet

  • Name of the Excursion: Kenai Fjords National Park Glacier & Wildlife Cruise 
  • Port of Call: Seward, AK 
  • Booked through: Viator
  • How long does it last: 6hours

About the excursion: 

During your Alaska Itinerary, this is a must-do, as this tour will take you on 100 miles (round-trip) trip of jaw-dropping scenery. During this Alaskan Excursion, you will see from lush forests towering walls of rock, icebergs, glaciers, and very abundant wildlife such as whales, seals, sea otters, sea lions, and a large variety of birds. 

Lunch is included on the tour, and there is a cafeteria where you can buy hot chocolate and coffee (and cans of beer). The staff is very helpful, and the captain did an amazing job explaining all about the Fjords and wildlife – This is a great opportunity for not only an amazing tour but also, to learn more about the Kenai Fjords. Don’t forget to bring a windbreaker because it gets really cold close to the glaciers, and your camera with an additional battery, as you will need it!

You may also like: Tips to make your cruise awesome

Best Cruise Excursions in Alaska- Juneau

Juneau, the capital of Alaska! Juneau is the only US capital that can’t be reached by road, you’ll need to fly here, or arrive by boat. When you arrive in Juneau you can spend time exploring the historic town and visit old saloons, restaurants and shops. You can walk to old churches and the capital building. No visit to Juneau is complete though, without a visit to Mendenhall Glacier! You can visit the visitor center and see the Glacier from above, or you can hop in a kayak or canoe and get up close and personal to this 13 mile long beauty.

Kayak to Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier

Contributed by Chantelle of Flannels or FlipFlops

  • Name of the Excursion: Mendenhall Lake Kayak
  • Port of Call: Juneau, AK 
  • Booked through: Viator
  • How long does it last: 6hours

After hopping on a van and driving about 20 minutes to the lake, youll be met by your guides for the day. You will be able to put some dry gear on that they supplied like pants and boots. You can wear your own if you wish. You are required to wear a life vest, and they help you with the kayak skirt to keep water out.

You’ll hop into 2 person kayaks and begin to paddle across the lake toward the glacier. You aren’t allowed to get much closer to the glacier than this photo as its not allowed. There are cameras up to be sure everyone follows this rule, and if not the tour providers can get in trouble. You also get to kayak past a waterfall.

The paddling is difficult since there is a current in the lake, and it was very windy. We still had an incredible time and seeing the Mendenhall Glacier up close is something everyone should experience.

After our kayaking we headed back to Juneau on the van, and still had plenty of time for souvenir shopping and exploring the port area.

Which excursion would you do in Alaska?

Hopefully this list of incredible the best cruise excursions in Alaska has you excited for your upcoming Alaska cruise! Bon Voyage!

Cruise Resources
These are my tried and true, favorite cruise-planning helpers:

➡️Cruise Critic– for reviews, deck plans, and cabin choices
➡️ Parking– for saving on your long-term parking
➡️Travel Insurance Master– Because, yes, you do need insurance

➡️Trip Advisor– For Reviewing Tours and Excursions
➡️Viator– For Shore Excursions
➡️Shore Excursions Group– More choices for small group excursions
➡️Resort for a day Passes in Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Bahamas

➡️Atlantis Day Pass
➡️Cruise Packing List for Caribbean or Alaska
➡️Cruise Tips
➡️Also, if you don’t want the hassle and stress of booking your own cruise, I can do it for you at no additional cost! You can
read more about Travel Planning Services here.

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