Canada's West Coast starts at Vancouver and covers the first third of the Inside Passage ending at Port Hardy. Apart from a short stretch of open ocean between Vancouver Island and Rivers Inlet, where the Central Coast archipelago begins, the route north to Prince Rupert leads through a narrow maze of channels, passes, and reaches. Passengers should keep their eyes peeled for a whale or dolphin in Queen Charlotte Sound. With luck you might even see a white-coated Kermode bear on Princess Royal Island's lengthy shoreline.
Alaska is a destination full of Native American culture and Russian influence, a step back in time to the days of gold rush saloons and oil booms. Alaska, simply put, is a once in a lifetime, dream holiday. The geography of Alaska also means that a cruise is simply the best way to experience the range of places, sights and towns of this amazing destination.
There certainly is no shortage of Alaska Cruises to choose from.
Specialty cruises offer a small ship experience, allowing you to get a lot closer to nature and most have experts on board to teach you about the regions flora and fauna.
Larger cruise ships can cover more territory and give you a better overview of the area as well as letting you visit a range of ports to experience the different cultures that make up the Inside Passage.
Inside Passage cruises generally start and end from Vancouver, Seattle or San Francisco and combine visits to a variety of the ports in the Inside Passage such as Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and Sitka with scenic cruising to view some of the regions Glaciers. Inside Passage cruises are in protected waters so irrespective of weather, cruise conditions are usually smooth.
Cruises from Vancouver to Anchorage allow passengers to extend their vacation and visit some of the key attractions of the State including Kodiak Island, Denali National Park, Fairbanks and more.
NB cruises to Anchorage dock at the ports of Seward or Whittier as the tidal flow at Anchorage only allows small vessels to visit. The Cruise Lines provide transfers between Anchorage and Whittier or Seward.
Finally there are some interesting repositioning cruises available at the start and end of each season which combine an Inside Passage cruise with a ocean crossing to Hawaii or a West Coast Cruise down to Los Angeles, San Diego or Mexico.
The Alaska Cruise season begins in May and ends in September. Although July and August are the warmest months to experience these incredible sites, autumn and spring are the most fun, the most beautiful and the savings are the best.
Inside Passage – Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco
Anchorage – Vancouver and Whittier or Seward for Anchorage
Be prepared for one season colder than the time you are traveling. This is especially important for those who travel early and late in the season. The average temperature range is from overnight lows of 4c to daytime temperatures of 17c. The Inside Passage has an annual rainfall of over 50inchs but Anchorage rainfall is only 16inch pa.
Photo Credit: John Simos