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Wonders of Alaska
Alaska is a vast state, more than twice the size of Texas, with more coastline than all other U.S. states combined. Fortunately, some spectacular sections of that coastline can be seen and explored via cruise ship.
During the Alaskan cruise season, from mid-May through mid-September, ships call on popular ports like Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. In some ports, the number of passengers that disembark from your ship may outnumber the townspeople. But, even the smallest outposts on the Alaskan coast will leave you with indelible memories.
Ketchikan is set in the lush greenery of the Tongass National Forest. A short walk from the cruise ship dock will take you to photo-ready Creek Street, where historic buildings perch on pilings over the tumbling creek. Consider taking an excursion to Misty Fjords National Monument, where waterfalls glide over granite cliffs, plunging into narrow bays carved by glaciers.
The capitol of Alaska, Juneau, is tucked between the water and a range of magnificent mountain peaks. On top of the peaks is the Juneau Icefield, which flows into about 30 different glaciers. One of these, Mendenhall Glacier, is just a few miles from downtown Juneau. You can skim over this glacier behind a team of spirited sled dogs – a perfect way to experience Alaska.
When you step off the ship in Skagway, you may feel as if the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898 is still in full swing, as the downtown has many restored Gold Rush-era buildings. Skagway was the starting point for two of the most direct routes to the gold fields: the Chilkoot Trail and White Pass. You can hike along the Chilkoot Trail, imagining yourself as a hopeful gold prospector; or, view gorgeous White Pass from the comfort of your seat on the White Pass and Yukon railway.
A cruise of Alaska calls for some out-of-the-ordinary accessories. Consider packing some eyeshades to wear at bedtime, especially if your traveling companion isn’t ready to close the drapes on your stateroom balcony just yet.  Around the summer solstice, the sky over Alaska stays light 24 hours a day. Bring clothing that you can layer, with fewer layers for warmer days and more layers for cool nights on deck. Also, pack more film or digital storage cards than you think you’ll need – you’ll find yourself constantly taking photos of the scenery, the wildlife and your fellow passengers.
To find out more about what you can look forward to on a cruise of Alaska, talk with your personal cruise expert.