It’s the Monday morning after the first snowstorm of this year, and although it waited until the end of January, Winter Storm Jonas made up for the lateness of the snows arrival this season. There was a blizzard warning where I live in Norwalk, Connecticut for almost 24 hours and we ended up getting about a foot of snow. Now the sun is shining and the roads are mostly clear, but I am still dreading the moment that I have to leave the comfort of my home.
So then why, while I sip my coffee this morning, am I thinking about Alaska? Am I crazy? Perhaps, but that would be for several other reasons. No, I’m thinking about Alaska because anyone considering going to Alaska this summer, especially on a cruise, should be thinking about it now, actually should have already been thinking about it for months.
Although there are several ways to visit Alaska, including train, coach or self-drive vacations, cruising continues to be how most people choose to see it, especially for the first time. It’s a great way to get an overview of several towns and to give you a taste of what the great state has to offer. With the cruise season only running from May through September, the good dates and cabins will book up quickly. However, more importantly, the shore excursions fill up even faster. If you have your heart set on a glacier hike that you get to via helicopter, that needs to be booked months ahead of time in order to avoid disappointment.
Maybe you’re thinking to yourself, I don’t care about seeing Alaska. If that is you and you’re not sure why you should visit Alaska, here are several reasons for you to consider.
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and where I now live in Connecticut is also very urban. Although I do occasionally see some wild turkeys in neighboring towns and literally had a deer run down my street in Illinois, there’s not a lot of opportunity to see some real wildlife outside of a zoo. Real wildlife like whales. And bears. And eagles and moose. And don’t forget the puffins! Alaska has all of that and more. You are practically guaranteed to witness lots of amazing creatures in their natural habitats.
Glacier Bay National Park
Part of a 25-million acre World Heritage site, Glacier Bay National Park is not to be missed. Only about two cruise ships per day are allowed to travel inside this park surrounded by mountains and full of wildlife and, of course, glaciers. A park ranger will board the ship in the morning and be available all day to answer any questions, give a narration of the sites that you are passing and host a ranger talk.
At 375 million acres, Alaska is by far the largest state. It is also the least populated. With all of that open space full of rivers, mountains and forests, it should be no surprise that there are many outdoor activities available. From salmon fishing on rivers to hiking in the mountains to a relaxing float trip, there are outdoor activities for everyone to enjoy.
If you’re looking for something that will get your blood pumping a little more, Alaska has you covered there as well. Ziplining through a rainforest? Check. Kayaking down rivers? Check. Helicopter to a glacier hike? Floatplane over stunning scenery and land on a secluded lake? Mountain biking through the wilderness? Check, check and check. If you’re looking for adventure, you’ll find plenty of options.
The Alaska Experience
Growing up in Illinois, we spent more than one vacation driving north to Wisconsin. So I know that you can find lumberjack competitions and Native American cultural experiences in more than one place. But where else can you find both of these things along with salmon fishing and salmon bakes, authentic gold rush towns and a crab fisherman’s tour on a boat from The Deadliest Catch. Oh, and did I already mention the rainforest? Alaska is a one of a kind experience, and one that everybody should know for themselves.
There are many other reasons to visit Alaska, and I think there is a unique reason for everyone. If I’ve convinced you, please consider joining me on a Grand Explorations hosted group on Norwegian Pearl’s August 14 departure. Our group rates are less than NCL’s website rate and it includes an extra onboard credit. You can find all of the details here.