Get More from an Alaska Cruisetour

Travelers often ask, “How can I experience the real Alaska?” The simple answer is spending more time there. By extending your stay and putting yourself in the right positions and locations, you can come home with amazing memories and photos that you’ll treasure for a lifetime. If you only take one trip to Alaska, make sure it’s a long one so you can truly get the most out of your journey. Here we have Royal Caribbean’s Brendan Halcomb explaining the true value of Alaska cruisetours.

Why is an Alaska cruisetour a “trip of a lifetime”?

Brendan Halcomb: With an Alaska cruisetour, you get more. The itinerary combines a seven-night sailing along the southeastern coastline of Alaska with a multi-night land tour to breathtakingly beautiful inland destinations, including Denali National Park. You get the extraordinary nautical journey, a luxurious rail crossing into the interior of the state along with top-rated lodges and included experiences led by local tour guides. It’s a complete Alaska adventure.

How far in advance should one plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Alaska?

BH: Typically, you’ll want to make reservations about 10 months in advance of the sailing date. The main reason to plan well in advance is the flights. Airline capacities are lower than cruise ship capacities, so flights are scarcer. Additionally, there is less rail and hotel space than cruise ship space, which means you need a long booking window. If you’re interested in open-jaw sailing where you start in one location and end in another, then you’ll need to book flights that match your one-way itinerary. For example, many travelers fly into Fairbanks, AK, or Anchorage, AK, and depart from Seattle, WA, or Vancouver, Canada. There’s also trip insurance to financially protect your trip.

How can visitors maximize their chances of seeing animals in the wild?

BH: Put yourself in a position to view wildlife as often as you can. There are multiple opportunities to see wild animals on both the cruise and land portions of an Alaska cruisetour. Wildlife safaris depart from ports like Sitka, Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan.
Spending a night or two at lodges located deep in the heart of Denali National Park surrounded by pristine forest improves your chances of seeing grizzly bears, black bears, moose or wolves. The longer you’re there, the more opportunity you’ll have to snap an iconic photo or spend a moment with your binoculars trained on a bear feasting on salmon.



As a company founded on love, we are invested in creating the ultimate setting for romance and connection. In fact, a recent study by the Sandals Institute of Romance, which explores trends in modern love, found that a majority of couples feel closest to each other while on vacation, with beach vacations topping the list of preferred ways to connect. In even more uplifting news, 88% of parents said they will make more time for romance this year and 76% expect to take a romantic vacation. At Sandals, we are all about creating opportunities for couples to connect in their own unique ways. From simple pleasures like taking in breathtaking Caribbean sunsets to exploring our islands or learning a new skill together like scuba diving – spending time together, alone, is such a powerful way to stay connected and keep the spark alive.


Denali National Park invites guests to explore the mountain landscapes of the Alaskan backcountry. Dozens of walking, hiking and biking trails allow guests to craft their own outdoor adventure. River rafting, flightseeing and sled-dog summer camps are also nearby. Flights to the remote western end of the park offer the best views of the tallest mountains in the Alaska Range and the glacier that connects them.


Alaska’s Big Five animals are bears, wolves, caribou, moose and Dall sheep. But those are just the beginning. More than 30 other mammals are commonly seen, like the red fox and arctic squirrel, along with over 160 species of migratory birds during the warmer months. Tours depart from Juneau in search of humpback whales, orca whales, Stellar sea lions, Dall’s porpoises and harbor seals.

How do adrenaline junkies get their thrills?

BH: Intrepid travelers should seek out the longest zip line in the world, which is located in Icy Strait Point. Or book an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tour in British Columbia from the ports of Juneau or Skagway. There are whitewater rafting trips down the Nenana River in Denali National Park. Between the visually stunning scenery and the exhilarating rapids, it’s a day you’ll never forget. There’s nothing quite like a helicopter tour for thrill seekers looking to maximize adventure time during a port stop. Take a chopper for a flightseeing tour over Alaska’s expansive landscapes before you land on a glacier and hike along an ice field. There are so many activities that will leave you breathless.

Tell us about an “only in Alaska” encounter.

BH: Mine was on the Kenai peninsula, out of the port of Seward. On Royal Caribbean Alaska cruisetours, we do
a 50- or 100-mile boat journey out through Resurrection Bay near the Kenai Fjords National Park. On that day, we had a spectacular display of young Humpback whale calves breaching and splashing. The whales were very active and playful and it’s a moment that was very special to me. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see whales during their migration to Alaska to take advantage of the rich feeding grounds. Experiences like the one I had on that tour distinguish between a good trip and a truly memorable one.

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