Inside Passage Cruises

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Inside Passage Cruises

Adventure Cruises in Inside Passage

An Inside Passage Cruise carries passengers along various stretches of the long coastal route. Reaching beyond the USA’s state of Alaska along the coast of Canada’s British Colombia, Alaska’s section of the Inside Passage runs for around 800 kilometres (500 miles) north to south and can span 160 kilometres (100 miles) across. Awash with spectacular scenery that encompasses towering mountains, gleaming glaciers, deep fjords, remote islands, lush forests, and tranquil beaches, there’s never a dull moment when you cruise the Inside Passage. A haven for wildlife fans, adventure junkies, and people who love to learn more about different cultures, Inside Passage cruises really are amongst the top adventure cruises in Alaska.

Top things to do & see on an Inside Passage cruise

From observing plentiful wildlife, bird watching, and trying an array of active activities and outdoor pursuits to honing your photography skills, sightseeing, admiring the dramatic landscapes, and meeting members of local communities, there is so much to experience on an Inside Passage cruise. Some top things to do when cruising Alaska’s and Canada’s Inside Passages include:

Glacier Bay National Park - A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Glacier Bay National Park is one of Alaska’s real gems. Stretching for 105 kilometers (65 miles), the many beautiful glaciers are a wondrous sight. The John Hopkins, Marjerie, and McBridge Glaciers are especially popular. Small ship cruises of the Inside Passage let you observe a range of wildlife from close quarters, including whales, seals, sea lions, otters, moose, bears, wolves, deer, and a host of smaller land-living creatures and birds. Kayaking and hiking are among the activities you can enjoy.

Tracy Arm and Endicott Arm - Two long and scenic fjords in the Fords Terror Wilderness; a highlight of the area is seeing the Sawyer Glaciers, glaciers that frequently calve, sending large icy blocks crashing into the waters below. The rocky and mountainous landscapes are punctuated by verdant patches of forest and cascading waterfalls. Wildlife you may spot while on your cruise includes whales, harbor seals, bears, deer, and wolves. Keep your eyes peeled for mountain goats, a rather unusual sight at such lower elevations, and watch birds bobbing on the waters and soaring overhead as you kayak through the clear waters.

Frederick Sound - The scenic Frederick Surround separates Admiralty Island and Kupreanof Island. A great place for summer whale watching, the Five Fingers Island Light can present an attractive sight in front of the icy landscapes behind it.

Misty Fjords - A sublime wilderness area and a national monument, be awed by the gigantic glacial cliffs as your Inside Passage Cruise makes its way through Misty Fjords. A smaller cruise ship might pass close enough to the many waterfalls for you to feel the spray from the powerful water. You can see the volcanic Eddystone Rock and listen to the calls of seabirds that musically fill the air.

Stephens Passage - In southeastern Alaska, Stephens Passage is known for its marvelous sights, sounds, and smells, with the resident whales, sea lions, gulls, and guillemots breathing life into the majestic surroundings. Deep waters and soaring mountains blend to create a visual dream, with rolling meadows and lush forests further adding to the appeal.

A range of Activities - Climb into a skiff (small one-person rowing boat) or kayak to feel completely free on the waters, soaking up the air of tranquility as you lose yourself in the many magical sights. Unleash your imagination as you explore. Join a guided hike to learn more about the magnificent landscapes and how they were formed over the years and discover more about the cultural groups and animals that occupy the remote areas. Discover the traditions and customs of different groups, including the Tlingit and the Haida, see intricate totem poles, visit cultural centers and much more.

Wildlife Encounters - A cruise of the Inner Passages offers wildlife encounters galore. Whether you’re an avid bird water or more interested in the creatures big and small that live in a watery home, there is no shortage of chances to be wowed. The icy waters are ecologically diverse, from enormous hales to small fish and everything in between. Myriad animals roam dry land, from bears, wolves, and deer to smaller creatures like weasels, ermine, and rodents.

Top Tips for Visiting Inside Passage

  • Don’t forget to take your camera for some spectacular shots of Glacier Bays’ gems, particularly the Marjerie Glacier and the John Hopkins Glacier.
  • Take a video camera to film the frequent calving of the Sawyers Glaciers and the whale activity at Frederick Sound.
  • Binoculars are advised for spotting wildlife from a distance.
  • Sturdy walking boots or shoes are required if you want to join hiking excursions.
  • Due to the typical climate and weather, dress in layers to combat the cold, and take wet weather clothes on your cruise. You might also want to invest in a waterproof bag for shore trips; keep your camera, money, and other essentials safe and dry.

Best time to cruise Inside Passage

Plan ahead and book your cruise of the Inside Passage for the relevant months that best fit the things you are most interested in seeing and doing. The best time to visit both Alaska’s Inside Passage and Canada’s Inside Passage is from spring to the end of summer. The temperatures are pleasant, especially in the summer; the days can be sunny and bright. Do be aware though that, although the rainiest months are generally October and November, the area is known for lots of rainfall all throughout the year.

You can watch migrating animals returning in the springtime and wildflowers bursting into bloom in the forests. Summer is several local species' main mating and birthing season; watch as seal pups drift on large blocks of ice and birds teach their offspring to fly and swim. There are also increased chances of seeing whales in the summer. The best time for hiking in the Inner Passages is from mid-summer onwards when the terrain has thawed.

Where do Inside Passage cruises depart from?

Alaska adventure cruises of the Inside Passages typically depart from Alaska’s Sitka, Juneau, or Ketchikan. Each is served by an international airport, with direct flights available to and from a range of Alaskan airports. Several direct flights connect Alaska with the mainland US. Still, if you add a connection, reaching the cruise departure points from almost anywhere in the USA is incredibly easy. Alternatively, you can also take an Alaska cruise from Seattle, removing the need to get to Alaska before your cruise adventure begins.

The closest international airports for an Inside Passage cruise are Sitka Rocky Gutirrez Airport (SIT), Juneau International Airport (JNU), and Ketchikan International Airport (KTN). Most flights to Alaska from the US mainland arrive in Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks; connecting flights are readily available from both Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Inside Passage Reviews

  • Rating 8.7 out of 10
  • 8.7 Fabulous
  • Rating 7.6 out of 10
  • 7.6 Good
  • Edward M
  • Flag of United StatesUnited States

Whale watching during passage was really fun. Many pods to view and captain did a great jump keeping them in fairly close view for our enjoyment. Wilderness Bay/Kake hike to rainbow falls and totem viewing was nice.

Cruising Inside Passage in September on the Alaskan Dream
  • Rating 9.2 out of 10
  • 9.2 Superb
  • William G
  • Flag of United StatesUnited States

Overall, I took more than 800 photos and videos, many from the deck of the Alaska Dream. The waters, the whales and otters, the extraordinary mountains draped in snow, ice, and clouds, and the sunrises and sunsets were perfect. Many great art subjects. We loved the opportunities to hike the beaches and interiors.

Cruising Inside Passage in August on the Alaskan Dream
  • Rating 9.2 out of 10
  • 9.2 Superb
  • Janet L
  • Flag of United StatesUnited States

Beautiful - whale watching in particular

Cruising Inside Passage in August on the Alaskan Dream
  • Rating 8.4 out of 10
  • 8.4 Very good
  • Joanne H
  • Flag of United StatesUnited States

Some kayaking on glassy waters.

Cruising Inside Passage in July on the Alaskan Dream

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