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7 Important Things to Know Before Going on an Alaska Cruise

Are you going on an Alaska cruise? For many, Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list cruise destination. You want to make sure you get everything right to fully enjoy and experience the beauty of Alaska. Here are the 7 most important things cruisers must know before going on an Alaska cruise. 

Important Alaska Cruise Tips

1. Check the Weather

Always check the weather when you are in Alaska. The weather in Alaska can fluctuate greatly. It might be sunny in the morning and then cold and rainy in the afternoon. 

Since many of Alaska’s activities are outdoors, it’s important to check the weather before heading out so you can dress accordingly—dress in layers!

Alaska cruise tips

2. Go During Peak Salmon Season

The peak season for salmon run in Alaska is the perfect time to visit. This is when the rivers are teeming with salmon. During this period, millions of fully grown salmon migrate from the ocean to the rivers of their birth. 

This triggers a series of events, attracting a variety of animals all vying to catch the salmon. As a result, there’s a higher likelihood of encountering bears in their natural habitat during salmon season. Also, the chances of spotting other wildlife, such as sea otters and seals, are also increased. The best time to go to Alaska to see wildlife in action is from mid-July to mid-August, during the salmon run season.

3. Balcony Cabins are Worth It

When you go on an Alaska cruise, it’s worth upgrading to a balcony cabin. Unlike other cruise destinations, where you can get by with an inside cabin, Alaska’s stunning scenery, glaciers and wildlife make a balcony cabin worth it. 

On an Alaska cruise, you have a greater chance of spotting marine life like whales and sea otters from the comfort of your balcony. If you’re unsure about upgrading, do it—it’s worth it! 

Alaska cruise tips

4. Bring Appropriate Footwear

Having the right footwear is important when going on an Alaska cruise. Since most shore excursions occur outdoors, you’ll need to be prepared for various outdoor activities and weather conditions. 

These activities expose you to the elements, whether walking in the snow, dog sledding, whale watching, hiking in nature preserves, or kayaking on rivers. Depending on the activity, you will need snow boots, comfortable hiking boots, sneakers, or water shoes. Make sure to check to see what you’ll be doing and bring the appropriate footwear for the activity.

5. Bring Binoculars

It’s a good idea to bring binoculars during your Alaska cruise. I’d even go as far as suggesting you bring one binocular for every person in your group. Trust me, when it comes to wildlife sightings, you don’t want to share binoculars! The window for spotting wildlife is brief, and sharing binoculars could cause you to miss out.

You’ll be using your binoculars a lot, on your balcony or on the upper deck to see the glaciers. You’ll also want your binoculars to see the bears and other wildlife when you’re out on a shore excursion. 

I suggest bringing a small, compact binocular that has a strap. If you’re cruising with kids, give each kid their own pair of binoculars. I like these kid binoculars, they are perfect for small hands!

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6. Bring an SLR Camera

You’ve probably heard people talk about how stunning the scenery is in Alaska. It’s absolutely true. I highly recommend bringing a quality camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes, glaciers, and wildlife. 

If you own an SLR camera, that would be the best choice rather than relying solely on your cellphone. Since you’ll be taking shots of wildlife from a distance, bringing a good SLR camera is a good idea. If you have a GoPro, be sure to bring it along as well. It’s perfect for shooting action videos. I love that GoPro has great stabilization, so you never get dizzy watching the footage. Alaska is truly incredible, and you’ll definitely want to document your experience with plenty of photos and videos.

7. Book Shore Excursions in Advance

One important thing to do when going on an Alaska cruise is to pre-book shore excursions. It’s not a good idea to wing it because to truly experience Alaska, you need to go on guided tours. Simply wandering around the cruise port won’t offer much besides souvenir shopping. 

To witness the wildlife, get up close to the glaciers, or go whale watching, you have to book shore excursions in advance since the popular tours tend to fill up quickly. So, don’t procrastinate; make your bookings early. You don’t want to go on an Alaska cruise and then miss out on seeing wildlife because you didn’t book shore excursions in advance! Check out my Alaska cruise packing list with free printable to help you with your packing.

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