If you need another reason to plan a cruise of Alaska – in addition to stunning scenery that includes sparkling glaciers, rugged mountain peaks and green forests – consider the state’s wildlife. The long twilight of the summer months maximizes the time available to enjoy sights such as sea otters at play, ptarmigans running or flying across open
spaces and bears dipping their paws in the water to catch fish.
Alaska’s wildlife is diverse and abundant: for example, more than 900,000 caribou and 100,000 black bears roam the state. Seabirds include the black-footed albatross, with a wingspan of up to eight feet; eiders, a type of sea duck; and distinctive yellow-billed loons, with their bold patterns of black and white spots. In the water, you might spot
white-sided dolphins, harbor porpoises and harbor seals, humpback and killer
whales or even a rare Northern Pacific right whale, which can weigh up to 220,000 pounds.
While you’ll be able to spot some wildlife from the deck of the ship, a shore excursion can take you closer to some of Alaska’s most fascinating creatures: perhaps to a place where eagles or bears are known to feed at certain times of day. During a flightseeing excursion on a helicopter or small plane, you may spot sea life, bears or a family of mountain goats from above. Or, you could hop off your cruise ship onto a smaller boat designed to get close to whales, sea lions and porpoises.
There’s even more wildlife to see in Alaska’s vast interior. If you take a cruisetour – a coastal cruise combined with a land-based tour to, for example, Denali National Park –
you’ll see lots of small mammals such as Arctic ground squirrels, red squirrels, red foxes and marmots. Look up to catch sight golden eagles, ptarmigans, gyrfalcons and perhaps even a bald eagle.
It may take a bit of hiking and a little luck to see black and grizzly bears, wolves, caribou, moose and Dall’s sheep. If you set out in search of wildlife, follow good hiking safety practices: for example, make some noise to let wildlife know you’re approaching; and, maintain a safe distance from bears (at least 300 meters) and other animals (at least 25 meters). Always stay close to your tour guide.
To find out more about how you can enjoy the wildlife, scenery and culture of Alaska on a cruise or cruisetour, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.