What are the Best Excursions to Do on an Alaska Cruise?

Are you planning to set sail on an Alaskan cruise? You’ve made a great decision! Immersing yourself in our state’s breathtaking scenery and connecting with our vibrant culture and heritage is an experience you will never forget.

You are probably already aware that there are countless Alaska cruise options catering to diverse travel preferences. For example, most Alaska cruises travel along the Inside Passage as far as Juneau, while some (Cross Gulf Alaska Cruises) head as far north as Whittier and Seward. As such, our recommendations below are only a taste of what is possible on your own adventure.

Let’s dive into our picks for the best land excursions to do on an Alaska cruise, from the famous fishing in Ketchikan to small-group biking tours in Anchorage! If any questions come to mind as you read, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for the answers you need.

Feel the Thrill of a Fishing Frenzy in Ketchikan, Alaska

When a place is known as “The Salmon Capital of the World”, you know the fishing is good! For our first pick, we’re heading to Ketchikan, Alaska! Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first-time angler, Ketchikan promises an exhilarating experience. 

Join a fishing excursion to reel in salmon and other native fish amidst the stunning Alaskan scenery. Navigate pristine waters surrounded by lush forests, with bald eagles soaring overhead. Local guides, well-versed in the best fishing spots, ensure you’ll have an unforgettable day on the water.

If you have flexibility when it comes to dates, the best time for fishing is mid-to-late summer, when pink salmon return in their thousands. Nothing beats the feeling of catching your first wild salmon in Alaska!

If your cruise itinerary includes Sitka, you can enjoy great fishing there too. Because it overlooks the open Pacific Ocean, Sitka’s waters are home to a wider variety of species, such as king salmon and halibut.

Lift Off in a Helicopter Before Dog Sledding in Juneau!

Next up – Juneau, where adventure takes flight! Elevate your Alaskan experience by combining helicopter thrills with the timeless tradition of dog sledding. If your Alaska cruise stops at Juneau, seek out this hugely popular tour with TEMSCO Helicopters.

First, you can marvel at the breathtaking aerial view of the rugged landscape below, featuring mountains, ancient forests, and the famous Juneau Icefield. It’s at the latter where the helicopter touches down – but your experience is far from finished!

You then join a team of enthusiastic huskies waiting for you. Picture yourself hopping on the sled and traveling across the glistening glacier, channeling your inner Musher.

This excursion is on the expensive side, but it’s a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Are you hoping to visit some of Alaska’s famous national parks too? Check out our blog The Best National Parks in Alaska for Hiking and Camping for ideas and inspiration!

Soak Up the Surreal Surroundings on a Glacier Trek in Juneau

We stay in Juneau for our next Alaska cruise land excursion. In fact, we even return to the Juneau Icefield in a helicopter; but this time, it’s for a glacier trek! Strap on your crampons and embark on a journey through the frozen, otherworldly landscapes of Mendenhall, Herbert, or Taku glaciers.

Traverse ice formations, marvel at deep crevasses, and witness the raw beauty of these icy giants. Guided by experienced professionals, these excursions provide a rare opportunity to connect with Alaska’s glacial wonders in a way that few ever do.

Our top pick for glacier treks in Juneau is the Mendenhall Glacier Flight and Guided Walk with Alaska & Yukon Tours.

If you prefer slightly more traditional hiking, read our blog What are Some of the Best Places to Hike in Alaska? for more local tips.

Ride the Historic White Pass and Yukon Rail Route in Skagway

Skagway, steeped in gold rush history, welcomes you with an iconic experience – a train ride on the White Pass and Yukon Route. Climb aboard this historic narrow-gauge railroad and journey through breathtaking landscapes, from coastal rainforests to the rugged mountains of the Yukon.

As you wind through historic routes in comfort, learn about the Klondike Gold Rush and witness panoramic views that will leave you in awe. Watch as crystal-clear lakes, snow-capped mountains, and gorgeous glaciers pass by your window! 

This excursion is a delightful blend of history and natural beauty, making it a must-do on your Alaskan itinerary.

Ride a 4WD Up the Takshanuk Mountain Trail in Haines

Haines is a hidden gem that offers one of the best excursions while on an Alaska cruise – the Takshanuk Mountain Trail. Immerse yourself in the pristine Alaskan wilderness as you pilot a 4WD through lush forests and by crystal-clear streams, ascending to 1,500 feet above sea level for jaw-dropping views of Chilkoot Lake and the wider Chilkoot Valley.

For nature enthusiasts, this trail provides an opportunity to explore the unspoiled beauty of Haines, away from the crowds, and connect with the pristine landscapes that make Alaska legendary.

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Paddle into the Wild with Sea Kayaking in Sitka

Sitka, surrounded by island-studded waters, invites you to embark on a sea kayaking adventure. Paddle through pristine bays and coves, watching for seals, sea lions, and the majestic bald eagles that call this coastal paradise home.

The unique touch in Sitka is that your tour starts with a boat ride out to a “floating camp” as opposed to alongside a road or in town. You’ll get a lesson on paddling basics before setting off, so you can enjoy your adventure with confidence.

Led by experienced guides, this excursion offers a peaceful yet thrilling way to explore Sitka’s marine wonders. Navigate through kelp forests and witness the diverse marine life that thrives in these Alaskan waters.

View Bears in Seward with Backcountry Adventures

This is the only bear-viewing tour from Seward, and it’s a thrilling experience. An expert bear guide will lead you to the best bear-viewing spots in Lake Clark National Park, allowing you to witness these majestic creatures in a safe manner that does not disrupt the animals.

Backcountry Adventures will provide you with all the gear you need to explore this beautiful natural bear habitat. Lunch, ground transportation, and airfare are all included in the price too.

The opportunity to explore with dedicated guides who specialize in Alaska’s bears makes this is one of our state’s premier bear-viewing activities.

Brown bear in a river in Katmai National Park

Take a Cruise on Prince William Sound from Whittier

There aren’t many better places to view jaw-dropping coastal scenery and tidewater glaciers than Prince William Sound. And given its convenient location — both on the Sound’s shore and an hour’s drive from Anchorage — Whittier is a fantastic destination for a cruise.

Prince William Sound has the world’s densest concentration of tidewater glaciers. Some of these ice giants inch down from ice-capped mountains, covering dozens of miles before creating looming cliffs that tower hundreds of feet over the water. 

The Sound is also home to a diverse range of wildlife, including various seabirds, bald eagles, Dall’s porpoises, and otters.

Guided Bike Tours in Anchorage, Alaska

And finally, in Anchorage, prepare for a bike ride with Alaska Trail Guides! Our city is surrounded by world-class trails in stunning locations, from the Chugach Mountains to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Whatever your ability level and preferences, our local, professional guides know the perfect bike trail for you. 

With its ocean views, mountainscapes, stunning scenery, and even the possibility for bear and moose viewing — it’s no surprise that most of our visitors from cruise ships love the Anchorage Coastal Cruise Bike Tour.

Our blog What is the Perfect Place for a Cycle Tour in Alaska? is the perfect introduction to the wonders of mountain biking in Anchorage and beyond.

Book Your Mountain Bike Tours in Anchorage with Us!

So, what are the best excursions to do on an Alaska cruise? The options above and so many more! The difficult part is choosing which ones to do and what to pass on.
Be sure to browse our small-group biking tours in Anchorage to make the most of your time in our city. Our friendly team is here to help, so please contact us with any questions you may have.

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