Planning an Alaska cruise and wondering which side of the ship is the best for breathtaking views? Look no further! In this article, we will guide you through the decision-making process, helping you choose wisely to ensure an unforgettable experience. Whether you’re seeking jaw-dropping glaciers, stunning wildlife sightings, or majestic mountains, we have the insider information that will help you make the most of your Alaska adventure. So, let’s set sail and discover which side of the ship is best for your Alaska cruise!
1. Factors to Consider
When planning an Alaska cruise, there are several factors you should consider to ensure you have the best possible experience. From the time of year and type of cruise to the itinerary and weather conditions, taking these factors into account will help you make the right decisions and create lifelong memories.
1.1 Time of Year
The time of year you choose to take an Alaska cruise can greatly impact your experience. The peak season for cruising in Alaska is typically from May to September, with the warmest temperatures and the most daylight hours. During this time, you can expect mild temperatures ranging from 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, making it ideal for outdoor activities and wildlife viewing.
If you prefer to avoid crowds and are willing to trade slightly cooler temperatures for a more peaceful experience, consider traveling in May or September. These months offer fewer tourists and cheaper prices while still providing breathtaking scenery and wildlife sightings. Just keep in mind that the weather can be more unpredictable during these shoulder seasons.
1.2 Type of Cruise
Alaska offers a variety of cruise options, so it’s important to consider the type of cruise that suits your preferences. Some cruises focus more on exploring the inside passage and coastal towns, while others venture further into remote regions and include excursions to glaciers and wildlife habitats.
Choosing between a large ship or a small ship cruise is another important decision. Large ships offer more amenities and entertainment options, while small ships provide a more intimate experience and access to narrower waterways that larger ships cannot navigate.
The itinerary of your Alaska cruise determines the ports of call and the attractions you’ll have the opportunity to see. Some popular ports of call include Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, and Sitka. Each port offers unique experiences, such as dog sledding, wildlife cruises, and historical walking tours.
Consider what activities and sights are most important to you and choose an itinerary that includes them. Whether you long to see majestic glaciers, spot whales in their natural habitat, or explore native Alaskan culture, there is an itinerary to suit your interests.
1.4 Glacier Viewing
One of the highlights of an Alaska cruise is the opportunity to see breathtaking glaciers up close. Glaciers are massive rivers of ice that flow from mountains to the seas, creating a stunning landscape. When selecting a side of the ship, consider which side will provide the best views of the glaciers you’ll be visiting.
1.5 Landscapes and Wildlife
Alaska is renowned for its stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife. From rugged mountains and fjords to lush forests and coastal plains, the scenery is sure to leave you awe-struck. Similarly, the wildlife in Alaska is diverse and plentiful. You can spot whales, seals, bald eagles, bears, and many other fascinating creatures.
Considering the side of the ship that offers the best vantage point for enjoying these landscapes and wildlife sightings is essential. Look for itineraries that allow ample time for scenic cruising and wildlife viewing opportunities.
1.6 Weather Conditions
Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s crucial to be prepared for various conditions. Even in the peak summer months, temperatures can range from chilly to comfortably warm, and rain showers are not uncommon. Dressing in layers is advised to adjust to changing weather, ensuring you stay comfortable throughout your cruise.
When selecting a side of the ship, consider the prevailing wind direction and whether your chosen side will provide shelter from strong winds or rain. Weather conditions can vary greatly from day to day, so it’s important to have flexibility and be prepared for all types of weather.
1.7 Personal Preferences
Ultimately, your personal preferences should guide your decision on which side of the ship is best for your Alaska cruise. Some people prefer to be on the side where most of the action happens, while others prioritize quieter areas for relaxation. You may also have specific interests, such as photography or birdwatching, which can influence your decision.
Take the time to reflect on what matters most to you and choose the side of the ship that aligns with your preferences. Keep in mind that both sides of the ship offer incredible views and unique experiences, so you can’t go wrong with either choice.
2. Port Side (Left Side) of the Ship
Choosing the port side (left side) of the ship for your Alaska cruise comes with several advantages. One notable advantage is that it offers better views when sailing southbound from Alaska’s major ports. This means you’ll have a better vantage point when approaching glaciers and other scenic highlights along the route.
Additionally, being on the port side allows you to enjoy the sunrise, especially during the early morning hours. Witnessing the breathtaking beauty of an Alaskan sunrise over the majestic landscape is a truly unforgettable experience.
2.2 Scenic Highlights
The port side of the ship provides excellent views of some of Alaska’s most iconic scenic highlights. As you sail through the Inside Passage, you’ll have the opportunity to admire stunning fjords, towering mountains, and lush coastal forests. The port side often offers unobstructed views of these picturesque landscapes, allowing you to capture incredible photos and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Alaska.
2.3 Wildlife Spotting
Alaska is home to a remarkable array of wildlife, and the port side of the ship enhances your chances of spotting these magnificent creatures. Whales, dolphins, seals, and sea lions are commonly spotted from cruise ships as they navigate through the Inside Passage. The port side can provide better visibility for wildlife sightings and increase your chances of experiencing these awe-inspiring encounters.
2.4 Potential Disadvantages
While the port side of the ship offers many advantages, there are a few potential disadvantages to consider. One drawback is that some ports may have their docks on the opposite side, making it less convenient when disembarking. However, this is a minor inconvenience that can easily be overcome.
Another potential disadvantage is that the port side might be more crowded due to passengers wanting to take advantage of the views it offers. This could result in a less serene and peaceful experience compared to the starboard side. However, if the views and scenery are your top priority, any slight increase in crowds may be well worth it.
3. Starboard Side (Right Side) of the Ship
Opting for the starboard side (right side) of the ship also comes with its own set of advantages. One significant advantage is that it provides better views when sailing northbound from the major ports in Alaska. This means that when approaching glaciers and other highlights, you’ll have an optimal vantage point from the starboard side.
Additionally, being on the starboard side of the ship allows you to enjoy the sunset, especially during the evening hours. There’s nothing quite like witnessing a stunning Alaskan sunset painting the sky in vibrant hues over the vast wilderness.
3.2 Scenic Highlights
The starboard side of the ship offers splendid views of Alaska’s scenic highlights along the Inside Passage. You can observe majestic mountains, mesmerizing glaciers, and enchanting coastal forests as you sail through this picturesque region. The starboard side often provides unobstructed perspectives of these natural wonders, allowing you to immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of Alaska.
3.3 Wildlife Spotting
Just like the port side, the starboard side is also known for excellent wildlife spotting opportunities. Many of Alaska’s captivating creatures, such as whales, seals, and sea lions, can be spotted from both sides of the ship as you journey through the Inside Passage. The starboard side offers fantastic visibility for wildlife sightings and the chance to capture unforgettable moments with your camera.
3.4 Potential Disadvantages
While the starboard side of the ship has its advantages, there are a couple of potential disadvantages to consider. Similarly to the port side, some docks at ports may be on the opposite side, which can be slightly less convenient when disembarking. However, as mentioned earlier, this is a minor inconvenience that should not overshadow the overall experience.
Another potential disadvantage is the possibility of encountering more crowds on the starboard side, particularly if passengers on your cruise prefer this side for its views. However, the allure of the scenery and wildlife sightings may outweigh any minor increase in crowds, especially if the starboard side aligns with your personal preferences.
4. Alaska Cruise Tips
Now that you have a better understanding of the factors to consider when planning an Alaska cruise and have explored the advantages and potential disadvantages of each side of the ship, let’s delve into some valuable tips to make the most out of your journey.
4.1 Bring Binoculars
Alaska’s vast wilderness is teeming with wildlife, and binoculars will enhance your ability to spot these creatures from the ship. Keep them handy so you can enjoy breathtaking closer views of whales breaching, eagles soaring, and bears roaming along the shoreline.
4.2 Consider Balcony Rooms
If budget allows, consider booking a balcony room. Having a private outdoor space allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the surroundings, watch glaciers calving, and spot wildlife without leaving your room. It’s a truly luxurious experience that adds an extra level of enjoyment to your Alaska cruise.
4.3 Research Excursions
Research and book excursions in advance to secure your spot in popular tours. Whether it’s a helicopter ride over a glacier, a dog sledding adventure, or a nature hike, Alaska offers a wide range of unique experiences that complement your cruise. Pre-planning ensures you don’t miss out on the activities that interest you the most.
4.4 Plan for Multiple Viewing Opportunities
Alaska’s ever-changing weather conditions can impact visibility. To maximize your chances of experiencing the best scenery and wildlife encounters, plan for multiple viewing opportunities throughout your cruise. This flexibility gives you a higher likelihood of witnessing the wonders of the state, even if the weather may not cooperate during certain parts of your journey.
4.5 Dress in Layers
As mentioned earlier, Alaska’s weather can be unpredictable, so dressing in layers is vital. By wearing moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a waterproof outer layer, you can easily adjust to changes in temperature and stay comfortable in various weather conditions.
4.6 Be Prepared for Rain
With an average annual rainfall of up to 100 inches in some regions, rain is a common occurrence in Alaska. Bringing a waterproof jacket, pants, and sturdy waterproof shoes will ensure you stay dry and enjoy your outdoor adventures, even in wet conditions.
4.7 Take Advantage of On-Board Naturalists
Most Alaska cruises feature on-board naturalists who are experts in the region’s wildlife, landscapes, and culture. Attend their lectures and presentations, ask questions, and learn from their wealth of knowledge. They’ll enrich your experience by providing insights and fascinating facts about Alaska’s unique environment.
4.8 Engage with Fellow Passengers
Alaska cruises attract a diverse group of fellow passengers who share a love for adventure and exploration. Take the opportunity to engage with your fellow cruisers, share stories and experiences, and make new friends. You never know who you might meet and the remarkable connections you can forge during your journey.
4.9 Keep an Open Mind
Alaska offers a rich and diverse range of experiences, and keeping an open mind allows you to fully embrace the beauty and spirit of the state. Try new foods, participate in cultural activities, and embrace any unexpected opportunities that come your way. Embracing the unknown can lead to some of the most memorable moments of your cruise.
4.10 Consult with Cruise Experts
Lastly, if you’re uncertain about any aspect of your Alaska cruise or need assistance in deciding which side of the ship to choose, consult with cruise experts. Travel agents specializing in cruises to Alaska can offer invaluable advice and insights to ensure you select the best itinerary, ship, and accommodations to meet your needs and preferences.
In conclusion, choosing the best side of the ship for your Alaska cruise depends on several factors, including the time of year, type of cruise, itinerary, and personal preferences. While the port side offers advantages during southbound sailing and sunrise views, the starboard side provides advantages during northbound sailing and sunset views. Ultimately, both sides offer incredible scenery, wildlife spotting opportunities, and unforgettable moments. By considering these factors and following the provided tips, you’re on your way to a remarkable Alaska cruise that will leave you with cherished memories for years to come.
Hi, I'm Mike, the author of Ocean Bliss Journeys. As the captain of this incredible website, my mission is to provide you with the ultimate sailing experience. Set sail on a journey of discovery with us and indulge in the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. Our handpicked cruises offer unparalleled luxury and unforgettable destinations. From romantic getaways to family vacations and hidden gem exploration, I've carefully curated tailored packages to ensure every moment is cherished. So, join me and embark on your dream cruise today. Let's create memories that will last a lifetime.