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Nearly half of Alaska's visitors travel via cruise ship each year. And while some of these cruise ships do not travel beyond Alaska's Inside Passage with a roundtrip Vancouver or Seattle itinerary, several cruise lines also offer one-way itineraries through the Gulf of Alaska that provide access to Southcentral Alaska via the ports of Whittier and Seward.
Regardless of what type of cruise you decide on, Alaska Private Touring can help make the most of your Alaska visit by providing options for private excursions in the various ports of call, and by offering customized private land services to supplement your cruise experience. No matter which cruise line you choose, or where you begin your journey, let us help you transform your Alaska dream adventure into memories that will last a lifetime.
Our team of experts lives in Alaska year-round and has traveled to and spent time getting to know each of Alaska's ports of call. We work closely with carefully selected partners throughout the state who have a provide ability to offer the highest-quality experiences available. These operators are our colleagues and friends, many of whom we have worked with for several years. Our comprehensive menu of tour and excursions is the result of these relationships and our own firsthand experiences.
If you are looking to extend your Alaska cruise with a pre or post-land tour, Alaska Private Touring has the knowledge and expertise to help you make the most of your time. Whether you are planning a Custom Group Program or wish to experience Alaska on guided Private Touring Program, we can design a custom program to match your specific needs and interests. Our pre/post cruise land services also include the embarkation/debarkation ports of Vancouver and Seattle, plus the Alaskan ports of Whittier and Seward. If you are interested in receiving some additional group touring or transfer services in these ports please let us know. Below please find a list of embarkation/debarkation ports for Alaska cruises, plus a brief description of the highlights of each destination. We also have a list of sample Pre/Post Alaska Land Programs to get you started.
Located in beautiful British Columbia, Canada, Vancouver is a destination all its own. Nestled on the slopes of the majestic Coast Mountain Range and surrounded by water on three sides, the city offers spectacular views.
Some of Vancouver's city tour highlights include Stanley Park, Grouse Mountain, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge, plus other famous city attractions including Gastown and Chinatown. Full-day adventures can also feature visits to nearby Victoria's Butchart Gardens, or perhaps a scenic ride on Whistler's Peak 2 Peak Gondola.
Vancouver's cruise ship terminal is located downtown and is often filled with cruise ships departing to or arriving from Alaska. For cruise guests wishing to spend some time exploring this scenic area before or after an Alaska cruise, let us put our expertise to work for you. We offer a variety of services in this area, including private transportation, hotel accommodations, and private sightseeing excursions. If you have more than a day or two we can even provide a more comprehensive package that includes Vancouver and its surrounding highlights.
Seattle is a vibrant city surrounded by natural beauty that is both inspiring and unforgettable. The 'Emerald City' is abundant with lush evergreen trees and is literally surrounded by water. Located on a narrow strip of land that separates Puget Sound and Lake Washington, the city is known both as a bustling sea port and the 'gateway' to all points north - including Alaska.
Most visits to Seattle include a visit to world-famous Pike Place Market and the iconic Space Needle. Seattle is also home to a number of attractions and museums to suit most any interest. In the nearby town of Everett visitors can see jets being made inside the Boeing factory. Wine country is a short drive from Seattle and the Woodinville area is home to dozens of local wineries.
More and more cruise lines are using Seattle as the starting point for roundtrip cruises along Alaska's Inside Passage. If your plans include some time in Seattle prior to or after your Alaska cruise, allow us to help make the most of your visit to the Emerald City. We can assist with private transportation, accommodations, and private sightseeing tours to ensure you receive a first-class, personal experience.
Located on Alaska's famous Kenai Peninsula, and accessible by highway, boat, or rail service, Seward lies at the head of Resurrection Bay and is a paradise for both adventurers and wildlife seekers. Seward is also the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, home of spectacular glacier scenery and abundant wildlife. Humpback and orca whales, Steller sea lions, sea otters, harbor seals, puffins, and more call this area home.
Other attractions in Seward include the Alaska SeaLife Center and Exit Glacier. For the more adventurous visitors Seward offers guided kayaking or glacier hiking programs. Iditarod champion Mitch Seavey and his family have their homestead kennel in Seward and offer the opportunity for visitors to learn more about dog mushing, take a dog sled ride, and meet and mingle with some adorable husky puppies.
Seward does not have a major airport and so visitors will typically fly in/out of Anchorage in conjunction with their cruise. But this means visitors have even more opportunities to see and experience Alaska! Most of the sample land program itineraries you will find on our site can be modified as a pre or post-cruise land program and include transportation, accommodations, tours, admission fees, etc. Whether you just need a private transfer between the Anchorage Airport and your cruise ship, or have an extra day (or more!) to explore, we can help you make the most of your time by creating a custom program tailored to your specific needs.
Located on the shores of Prince William Sound, Whittier is another of Southcentral Alaska's ice-free ports. This small town services the Alaska Marine Highway, the Alaska Railroad, freight barges, and commercial fishing.
Whittier does provide access to the glacier-filled Prince William Sound and marine wildlife is also a popular attraction on various day cruises from Whittier. Due to its close proximity to Anchorage (the nearest airport) and nearby Girdwood, most visitors will spend little time in Whittier prior to or after their cruise and will instead travel by highway or rail to other destinations with more amenities.
Regardless of how long you wish to spend exploring Alaska before or after your cruise, please contact us to see how we can customize one of our existing land programs for a Whittier arrival or departure. We can also help with private transfers or shorter stays such as 1 or 2 nights with an adventure or two in between.
Alaska Private Touring has all the resources needed for you to make the most of your visit to one of these port cities. Private vehicles including SUV's, Sprinter Vans, and full-size motorcoaches, plus access to all your favorite venues provide the basis for a grand day. Combine these with local driver/guides who are excited to share these unique places and all the pieces are in place for a special day and experience. Below please find a list of the most common Alaska ports of call and some ideas for what you can see and do in each one. Please contact us using the Custom Shore Excursion form to let us know how you wish to make the most of your Alaska visit by cruise ship.
Alaska's capital city, Juneau, is framed by the Tongass National Forest and the scenic waters of the Inside Passage making it the only state capital in the United States that is inaccessible by road. But those same features that set Juneau apart from the rest of the state also make it one of Alaska's most beautiful places to visit.
Outdoor enthusiasts will love Juneau's extraordinary kayaking, dog sledding, rafting, biking, hiking and glacier hiking. Beautiful downtown Juneau is perfect for a leisurely stroll and shopping. Alaska's most reliable whale watching takes place just a short boat ride from nearby Auke Bay. Juneau is also home to Alaska's most well-known brewery - Alaskan Brewing Company.
One of Juneau's most well-known attractions is the Mendenhall Glacier, is just a small part of the Juneau Icefield. A visit to the glacier can be combined with a number of other activities for a truly unique experience.
Ketchikan is known as the 'first city' as it is typically the first port of call for cruise ships. Located on Revillagigedo Island on the Tongass Narrows and surrounded by the Tongass National Forest, Ketchikan is the perfect introduction to Alaska.
With a deep Native heritage, Ketchikan is well known as home to the world's largest collection of standing totem poles that can be found throughout the city at the following major locations: Saxman Totem Park, Totem Bight State Park, Potlatch Park, and the Totem Heritage Center. These four parks hold the world's largest collection of standing totem poles and reflect the rich culture of Southeast Alaska Natives.
For visitors looking for a bit of adventure, Ketchikan offers a variety of excursions including guided hiking, canoeing, kayaking, ziplining, and even adventure karts. Nature and wildlife viewing opportunities includes nearby Misty Fjords National Monument, accessible by floatplane or boat.
If you're looking to do something low key and relaxing, why not take a stroll around Ketchikan. Situated in downtown is the famous, and historic, Creek Street; a boardwalk once noted for its brothels but now home to a variety of shops, galleries and boutiques.
Skagway is positioned in a narrow, glaciated valley at the head of a deep fjord and surrounded by staggering mountains. There is an excellent trail system that begins near downtown and takes you to alpine lakes, waterfalls, and even the graves of Soapy Smith and Frank Reid.
As the gateway to the Klondike, Skagway has a rich history in the Gold Rush. The stores along Broadway feature historic, false-front shops and restaurants, wooden sidewalks, and locals walking around in period costumes. This town truly transports you back in time.
Popular excursions in Skagway include flightseeing tours by helicopter or float plane, historical tours based on the Klondike Gold Rush, and other highway excursions that extend north into Canada's Yukon.
Skagway's most famous attraction is the historic White Pass & Yukon Route Railway. Built in 1898 during the Klondike Gold Rush, this narrow-gauge railroad is an international Historic Civil Engineering Landmark and features breathtaking panoramic views of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles, and historic sites from the comfort of vintage parlor cars.
Sitka is considered Alaska's most beautiful seaside town. Originally settled by the Tlingit thousands of years ago, the original name of this town was Sheet'ka. Russians first arrived in 1799, led by Alexander Baranof, governor of the Russian American Company, in search of sea otter pelts for the fur trade. After several battles for control of this lucrative land, in 1804 the Russian colony of "New Archangel" was established and became world-renown as the center of the fur trade. The city's unique history offers visitors a combination of Native culture, Russian history, and Alaskan wilderness that will create a diverse experience. Remnants of these two very different ways of life are still visible and include Castle Hill, the site of the ceremonial transfer of Alaska from Russia to the United States in 1867.
In addition to excursions focusing on Sitka's rich cultural heritage, Sitka also offers sea kayaking and marine wildlife tours. Other attractions unique to Sitka include the Sitka Sound and Science Center, the Alaska Raptor Center, and the Fortress of the Bear.
Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, sits on the south tip of Vancouver Island off the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. Established in 1843 as a fur trading settlement by Hudson's Bay Company, the vibrant city still reflects its historical past. This beautiful city is surrounded by water and mountains, offering breathtaking views in all directions.
One of Victoria's most notable attractions is the world-famous Butchart Gardens. Other highlights include the Victoria Butterfly Gardens, plus a variety of quality museums, including the Royal British Columbia Museum.
Victoria is also a great place for whale watching, as the clear, nutrient-rich waters surrounding the island are especially attractive to Orca and other species of whale. And for more active visitors, Victoria is a beautiful place to enjoy hiking, biking, canoeing, or kayaking.
Below please find some other useful links to help you plan your custom shore excursions. Please contact us using the Excursion Request Form to let us know how we can help you make the most of your visit to one of the lovely cruise ship ports.