Alaska cruising: A Time to Plan

While this hardly seems the time of year to be talking about places as cold as Alaska is right now, it's not a bad idea. This is when people start to make decisions for after The Thaw if they've got Alaska on their minds.

So, as a public service, here are some things you should know about Alaska cruises…

Holland America (139 scheduled trips in 2013) and Princess (119) are the industry leaders in volume, and both have seven ships touring the 49th state next year.

• For the complete package, you can't beat the cruisetours that Princess has perfected for seeing this beautiful state before or after your cruise.

Denali National Park is a must. And, if you happen to be 62 or older (and a U.S. resident), it's one of 10 places in Alaska where you can buy a lifetime National Park Pass for $10, for entry to any park in the U.S.

• Wildlife is a wish. If you want to be sure of it, find a way go to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, where wild animals are being rehabilitated for release. Other than that, even in Denali, it can be hit and miss.

• Be prepared for whatever weather. Spring to fall, the climate can be wonderful or wistful, so you have to accept there could be impediments ranging from rain to cold to mosquitoes to fog.

• If you're a first-time, one-timer try to take a flight over either the glaciers or mountains, or both. The scenery from a small aircraft is jaw-dropping.

• Historical stops — and there are plenty — at the usual ports (Skagway, Ketchikan, Juneau) are enlightening and only costly if you buy some of the "stuff" they're selling.

Everybody should see Alaska once…at least.


Celebrity Millennium
7 nights
May 24, 2013
Vancouver, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Anchorage
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $99

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