Why Alaska is the Best Cruise Choice for Younger Travelers
Cruising, in general, has a reputation for being a form of travel tailored more toward the older, retired set; cruising in Alaska even more so. But with many of the state’s most beautiful sites only reachable by boat, it’s the perfect way to see America’s last frontier, even for the younger folks. We found a recent cruise from Seattle up through the Inside Passage to be anything but akin to a week in a nursing home. We were met with adventurous fellow cruisers, made some great inter-generational friends, and found a perfect mix of relaxation and adventure.
In case you need to be convinced, here are some reasons why the under-60 crowd should consider an Alaska cruise:
You can be as active as you like
With glacier ice covering 16,000 square miles and nearly one third of the land sitting within the Arctic Circle, Alaska naturally lends itself to adventure travel, even when visiting on a cruise ship. There is a wide array of shore excursions you can easily book through your ship; our family split up most of the time with some choosing easier wildlife and nature-viewing trips, while others went far more adventurous by taking helicopters to remote areas to hike, climb glaciers, and fish for crabs. The point is, you don’t have to sit on the ship the whole time. Or you can. It’s up to you.
There is so much outside of the towns and cities
Most of the ports of call are adorable and have a charm about them that recalls the glory days of the Gold Rush. But if you have a limited amount of time in port, we recommend getting off the ship and getting right out of town. Alaskan beauty lies in its untamed nature, and some pretty wild spots are easily accessible from the ports of call. The Mendenhall Glacier (a 13.6 mile-long glacier extending from the Juneau Icefield) is just 12 miles from downtown Juneau, the Misty Fjords National Monument (a breathtaking glacier-formed wilderness) can be seen in a five-hour excursion from Ketchikan, and the Tongass National Forest (the largest national forest in the Unites States) can be easily accessed from most ports in the Inside Passage.
You don’t always have to rely on guided tours
With the beauty of Alaska lying in its wilderness, one can’t always simply get off a cruise ship and drop into some of the more jaw-dropping areas of the wild. You’ll need a guided tour for that. However, there are some ports of call that we would recommend skipping the tour and going it alone. Ketchikan is an adorable town with enough shops, restaurants, and tourist attractions (including delightfully kitschy lumberjack shows) to keep a cruiser busy all day. Many Alaskan cruises include a stop in Victoria, British Columbia, where an easy cab ride from the ship will drop you off in the center of the downtown action. On our recent trip, our guided tour of Victoria was the one excursion we regretted. Our short time in port would have been much better spent wandering the quaint downtown streets than making our way through some of the more obscure attractions on a bus.
You might make an unexpected friend
Yes, we were among the youngest people on our ship. Yes, the pace of some of our shore excursions could have been kicked up a notch. However, there’s nothing like watching humpback and orca whales breach the surface of the water mere feet away from your ship to bring people together. My husband and I bonded with a group of older ladies who were traveling together on one of these excursions, even exchanging emails addresses with promises of sharing photos after returning home. And it was great running into those same ladies back on the ship and cheers-ing with a glass of wine.
Why not just take some time to relax?
Younger people feel more pressure to pack as much as possible into a vacation, whereas the more seasoned travelers have seen it all and know how to unplug and kick back. On our Alaska cruise, we were particularly concerned about our days at sea, with no shore excursions to entertain us and lower temperatures meaning no pool time. What would we do with all this unplanned time? This time at sea ended up giving us some of the more memorable moments of our trip. With absolutely nothing planned, we were forced to just relax … and it was wonderful. Have a cocktail at 1 p.m.? Why not? Turn on our competitive side for a game or two of Bingo. Sure! Sometimes being forced to do nothing is the perfect way to truly tune out of real life during a vacation.