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Top 10 Alaska Cruise Excursions

Published: Jan 01, 2021
Last Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Alaska offers adventures that range from mild (a peaceful train ride) to extreme (riding a dog sled across a glacier, after traveling via helicopter). Outlined below are 10 of our favorite Alaska adventures, perfect for tourists and cruisers ready for an excursion.

Read on for our picks of the 10 best Alaska Cruise Excursions:

1. Dog Sledding on a Glacier - Juneau

Dog sledding is Alaska’s favorite pastime and a must-do for travelers. There are many ways to experience it for yourself, but one of the most spectacular is riding atop a glacier. You can take a helicopter ride with jaw-dropping views of Juneau Icefield to a remote musher’s camp. Then, let 10 Alaskan Huskies carry you across one of Juneau’s legendary glaciers. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Tour to Try: Juneau Dog Sledding Tour 

Port: Juneau

Time Needed: 3 hours

2. Deluxe Misty Fjords National Monument Tour - Ketchikan

The Misty Fjords National Monument is a must-see in Ketchikan. Floatplane trips include views walls of granite, lush forests, and more. Along the way, you’ll see cascading waterfalls, majestic fjords, and abundant wildlife. The highlight is landing on an alpine lake or remote fjord and stepping out onto the pontoon to enjoy the fresh mountain air and dramatic scenery.

Tour to Try: Deluxe Misty Fjords National Monument Tour

Port: Ketchikan

Time Needed: 2 hours

3. Mendenhall Glacier Tour - Juneau

Mendenhall Glacier is one of Juneau’s top attractions. The massive and mighty Mendenhall features an explosive river of ice, complete with rugged crevasses and a azure blue color. The glacier visit is family-friendly and accessible. Once you snap a few photos of the glacier, explore the trails to look for salmon and wildlife.

Tour to Try: Juneau Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier Tour or the Mendenhall Ice Adventure Tour to paddle up close.

Port: Juneau

Time Needed: 4.5 hours

4. White Pass Railroad Ride - Skagway

Step back in time to the Klondike Gold Rush as you ride the famous White Pass Railway. You’ll retrace the path that gold rushers took in the late 1800s, learning their stories along the way. Views include the best Alaska has to offer: mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, tunnels, and trestles. Make sure you have your camera ready for Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point, and Dead Horse Gulch.

Tour to Try: Skagway White Pass Railroad Summit Excursion

Port: Skagway

Time Needed: 3 hours

5. Alaskan Northern Lights - Fairbanks or Denali

alaska northern lights

Glimpse a once-in-a-lifetime magical and mystical view of the aurora borealis. The Alaska Northern Lights are most visible August through April when there is less daylight. You can view them from the wilderness, a cozy lodge, or even a hot springs.

Tour to Try: Denali Aurora Quest, Fairbanks Aurora Viewing Lodge, (or view all the Alaska Northern Lights Tours)

Port: Fairbanks

Getting There: You can ride the Denali Star Train on the Alaska Railroad.

Time Needed: 2+ hours


6. Stream Fishing- Icy Strait

Try fishing like a local on Chichagof island. Depending on the time of year, you can fish for Dolly Varden trout, Cutthroat trout, Pink (Humpy) salmon, Chum (Dog) salmon, Coho (Silver) salmon, and Steelhead. The tour will provide all the gear, tackle, and tips (and tall tales!) you need.

Tour to Try: Icy Strait Alaskan Stream Fishing

Port: Icy Strait

Time Needed: 4 hours

7. Whale Watching Cruise - Juneau

For an adventure on the water, cruise along Juneau’s Auke Bay in search of humpback and killer whales, Steller sea lions, Dall’s porpoise, harbor seals, bald eagles, and more. Views of the majestic, glacer-lined waters are beautiful, but gazing upon some of Southeast Alaska’s famous wildlife makes for an incredible trip. We recommend choosing a tour that has a 100% guarantee that you will see whales.

Tour to Try: Juneau Whale Watching Tour

Port: Juneau

Time Needed: 3 hours

8. Glacier Point Wilderness Safari - Skagway

Seals on Glacier Point

The Glacier Point Wilderness Safari excursion will give you the opportunity to travel through rain forests and fjords while taking in some of Alaska's most impressive scenery. The outstanding sights will range from wildflowers to expansive mountains, and eventually, open up to jaw-dropping views of the Davidson Glacier.

Tour to Try: Glacier Point Wilderness Safari

Port: Skagway

Time Needed: 6.25 hours

9. Crab Fishing Ride Along - Ketchikan

Travel along the calm waters of Ketchikan aboard the Aleutian Ballad crab boat (part of season two of the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch.) You’ll enjoy a comfortable ride, as the Aleutian Ballad has been complete is the only genuine Bering Sea crab fishing vessel licensed to carry leisure passengers. It’s been completely remodeled to provide the comfort and safety you expect from a top-notch excursion.

Tour to Try: Ketchikan’s Crab Fisherman Tour

Port: Ketchikan

Time Needed: 3 hours

10. Glacier Landing Helicopter Tour - Denali

Get a bird’s eye view of one of Denali's stunning Yanert Glacier. Fed from the precipice of Mt. Deborah, which towers over the glacial valley that you'll land on. You'll truly encounter the great Alaskan Wilderness on this Denali adventure.

Tour to Try: Denali Helictoper Tour

Port: Denali

Time Needed: 2.25 hours

Want more to do? Check out our list of the 10 best Alaska Excursions.

Alaska Excursion FAQ

1. What are the best Alaska shore excursions?

The best Alaska shore excursions are:


2. What is the best port for whale watching?

Juneau is the best port for whale watching, because seeing whales is 100% guaranteed. Icy Strait is also a good choice for whale watching, because whales are abundant (though not guaranteed).

3. What is the best port for dog sledding?

There are dog sledding options in many ports, including Juneau, Skagway, and Anchorage. Each excursion typically includes a helicopter ride and dog sledding on a glacier. It's a must do in Alaska, but which port you try it in is up to you.

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