The waterways from Seattle to Alaska offer passengers numerous pleasures, including sails through the Puget Sound to reach Alaska's stunning Inside Passage and Glacier Bay, and views of islands and the rugged, gorgeous Pacific coastline. The wildlife-rich waters also offer passengers countless opportunities to spot orcas, humpback and gray whales, seals, sea otters and other marine mammals. Several major cruise lines offer popular summer trips to Alaska departing from Seattle. Keep in mind that cruises fill up quickly, because they only sail for a short duration from late May through September.
Cruise West: Gold Rush Inside Passage
Cruise West features a 10-night Gold Rush Inside Passage cruise aboard one of its luxury small ships. The trip traces the original route used during the 1898 Klondike Gold Rush, traveling from Seattle to Juneau and Alaska's celebrated Inside Passage, which is home to stunning glaciers, unspoiled fjords and towering coastal forests. Highlights include stops at the lovely San Juan Islands in the Puget Sound, Glacier Bay Park and Preserve and a sail through the spectacular Frederick Sound, as well as stops in Sitka, Petersburg and Skagway. An optional side trip to Denali National Park is available.
Cruise West 2301 Fifth Avenue, Suite 401 Seattle, WA 98121-1856 888-851-8133 cruisewest.com
Holland America: Alaska Explorer Cruise
Holland America Cruise Lines offers a popular seven-night Alaska Explorer trip that departs regularly from Seattle. The ship features ports of call including Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, on British Columbia's Vancouver Island. Trip highlights include cruising through the wildlife-rich Stephens Passage and extraordinary Glacier Bay National Park, a dog-sled ride in Juneau, visits to Keitchkan's Native Cultural Center and Raptor Center. Optional side trips include sea kayak excursions, glacial hiking, canoeing in a traditional Tlingit canoe, back-country jeep tours and flight-seeing in the Misty Fjords.
Holland America Line 300 Elliott Ave. West Seattle, WA 98119 206-281-3535 hollandamerica.com
Royal Caribbean: Tracy Arm Fjord
The Royal Caribbean has a seven-day Alaskan cruise departing regularly from its Rhapsody of the Seas ship. Ports of call include Seattle, Juneau, Skagway, the Tracy Arm Fjord, Ketchikan and Vancouver, as well as a sail through the Inside Passage. A cruise highlight is a journey through the Tracy Arm in the Tongass National Forest, which is home to bears, wolves and moose. At the end of the fjord are the majestic Sawyer Glaciers, which often appear bright blue as a result of the area's light mist.
Royal Caribbean International 1050 Caribbean Way Miami, FL 33132-2096 305-539-6000 royalcaribbean.com