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By TRAVELINK on April 12, 2023

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There are many reasons why Alaska tops travel lists: Rugged glaciers, snow-capped mountains and a variety of wildlife, to name a few. From incredible culture—like native woodworking and quaint fishing villages—to thrills like whale watching, dog sledding, glacier hiking and more, the Last Frontier has plenty to see and do when it comes to unforgettable adventures.

On a Royal Caribbean cruise to Alaska, navigating the largest state in the U.S. and exploring multiple sought-after places is easy to do. Imagine being able to jump on the White Pass and Yukon Route Railway in Skagway, Alaska, and walk across Mendenhall Glacier in the state’s capital of Juneau for instance—plus, along the way, you can dive into adventures on board like skydiving on RipCord by iFly and rock climbing with the ocean as your backdrop. With four ships headed to the 49th state of the U.S. this summer, you can have your pick of ways to do all that in one vacation.

Get a headstart as you imagine what to do and where by checking out nine of the coolest and most unique adventures you can experience on an Alaska cruise:


Have a Whale of a Time

Find it in: Juneau, Alaska

What: Join a group of fellow travelers on a whale-watching adventure. You just may see one or more of the eight species of whales that live in Alaskan waters (beluga, humpback, grey, orca, bowhead, blue, right and minke) as well as native sea lions, porpoises and harbor seals. Make sure to have your camera ready!

Cool factor: You can try your hand at species monitoring, plankton sampling and humpback whale identification with wildlife experts.

Fun fact: This is one of Royal Caribbean’s many GTSC-certified—meaning sustainably operated—shore excursions.


Kayak to the Tatoosh Islands

Find it in: Ketchikan, Alaska

What: Paddle in a single or double kayak around the Tatoosh Islands for a breathtaking adventure. And while you’re at it, keep your eyes peeled for the wildlife that calls it home, like bald eagles, sea lions, otters, starfish and sea cucumbers.

Cool factor: The islands are right inside Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the U.S. The forest covers around 17 million acres, which makes it bigger than the entire state of West Virginia.


Ride the Rails

Find it in: Skagway, Alaska

What: Travel back in time to the Klondike Gold Rush, when the White Pass scenic railway—now the 107-mile White Pass and Yukon Route Railway—was built to help reach the Yukon gold fields. It’s about 20 miles to White Pass Summit, and along the way, you’ll be able to take in the raw beauty of the land’s mountains, gorges and waterfalls.

Cool factor: You’ll get there in a vintage railcar, some of which date back to 1881.


Have Wild Encounters

Find it in: Ketchikan, Alaska

What: Follow a naturalist through the Herring Cove estuary, the natural habitat of Alaska’s black bears, and try to spot a bear on a fishing expedition in salmon-rich streams. You can get onto a private viewing platform for a great view of it all from a safe distance.

Cool factor: This expedition takes place in a coastal rainforest. While you might think that the Last Frontier is all snow and ice, its southeast region includes this very rare environment, which exists in only six other places outside of the state.


Drift and Dine

Find it in: Seward, Alaska

What: Explore the Alaska SeaLife Center, a renowned aquarium and marine mammal rehab facility. You’ll see sea lions, walruses and sea otters and have the chance for some special one-on-one encounters with animals as varied as octopus and puffin. Then you can board a sightseeing vessel for a five-hour cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park, where you’ll view glaciers and marine life as a park ranger guides you along the way.

Cool factor: To add even more flavor to the adventure, an Alaskan salmon and prime rib lunch awaits. Save room to sample some of the local brews available at the Seward Alehouse, too.


Take On the ZipRider

Find it in: Hoonah (Icy Strait Point), Alaska

What: With a vertical drop of 1,320 feet, one of the world’s most exciting zip lines awaits just outside Hoonah, Alaska, which is home to the native Tlingit. Soar over lush green rainforest while catching views of nearby Port Frederick and the many dramatic mountains Alaska is known for.

Cool factor: You could top 65 mph (105 kph) before reaching a soft landing on a harbor-side beach.


Fish for Halibut 

Find it in: Ketchikan, Alaska

What: Learn to fish in the waters of Ketchikan, Alaska, home to a large population of Pacific halibut, which is protected by fishing regulations since it’s an important part of the local economy. A tip: the best season for halibut fishing is from mid-May to mid-September.

Cool factor: Whatever you do catch while fishing, the boat captain can arrange to have it shipped home. And for instant gratification, grab halibut and chips at the Creek Street Grill, where you may even see a sea lion “dinner show” on the creek that the restaurant is named after.


Meet Mushers

Find it in: Skagway, Alaska

What: You’ll get to travel in a vintage railcar along the famous White Pass and Yukon Route Railway and then meet and learn from a professional musher and dogsled team training for the next Iditarod competition. If you’re lucky, you’ll even get to cuddle with some puppies.

Cool factor: Enjoy live racing demos, too, and the fact that your visit helps fund the team’s training.


Higher Straits

Find it in: Hoonah (Icy Strait Point), Alaska

What: Ride an all-terrain vehicle on the rugged trails of Chichagof Island, which is the fifth largest island in the U.S., inside Tongass National Forest. You’re also in for an interactive lesson on Tlingit culture, an Indigenous people from Alaska, British Columbia and the Yukon.

Cool factor: Icy Strait Point is overseen by the Huna Totem Corporation, which helps preserve the island’s heritage. It works to introduce visitors to contemporary Indigenous life while also developing Alaskan-owned businesses.

Ready to chart a course for Alaska? Our TRAVELINK advisors are ready to help book your vacation on a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Last Frontier. 


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Topics: New, Cruises, Travel Tips, Leisure Travel, Vacations