Best 4
Alaska cruise ports

Alaska cruise
tips you can trust

 

Know the top 4
most popular
Alaska cruise ports
before you book

Read their descriptions below.

Ketchikan

Gold Rush town

Miners debarked ships here to begin their trek to Yukon and possible fortune.

Rain

It rains far more in Ketchikan than in Skagway, Juneau and Sitka because it sits in a rainforest zone. The stats: 4 meters or 13 feet of rain per year.

My Ketchikan excursion rankings

Click link to see rankings and descriptons.

Top 3 Ketchikan excursions

 

Juneau

Juneau's character

Juneau is accessible only by boat or aircraft (connecting roads do not exist). Because it's the Alaska state capital, Juneau has some relatively large 20th-century buildings. Consequently, it has less Alaskan gold rush ambiance than Skagway, Ketchikan, and Sitka. On the plus side, it rains less in Juneau than in those other port towns.

Best tourism aspects

Juneau offers the broadest variety of shore excursions and shopping venues of the top 4 Alaska cruise ports.

My Juneau excursion rankings

Click this link to see those rankings and my descriptions:

Top 3 Juneau excursions

 

Sitka

Setting

The port town is bordered picturesquely by the sea and snow-capped mountains.

Dual heritages

Russian settlers and the indigenous Tlingit people fought each other in 1804 (the Tlingits won). Today the town is a peaceful cultural blend of the two heritages.

Former Capital

Sitka was the Russian capital of Alaska before Russia sold the land to America.

My Sitka excursion rankings

Click link for pictures and descriptions:

Top 3 Sitka excursions

Skagway

Ambiance

The port town is bordered picturesquely by the sea and snow-capped mountains.

Rain

Russian settlers and the indigenous Tlingit people fought each other in 1804 (the Tlingits won). Today the town is a peaceful cultural blend of the two heritages.

My Skagway
shore excursion rankings

Click to read about them:

Top 3 Skagway excursions

Other main
Alaska Cruise ports

 

Haines

Small town. Can be visited as a day excursion from nearby Skagway.

Homer

Known for its sports fishing and Salty Dog Saloon. Near Seward.

Ice Straight Point

Its cannery is the chief tourism draw. Near Glacier Bay.

Petersburg

Nicknamed Little Norway. Limited tour options. Fishing and seafood processing reign here.

Seattle

Ranks second to Vancouver in cruise embarkations and debarkations. Don't miss the panoramic view from the Space Needle and the gourmet-dream Pike Place Market.

Seward

It's the leading cruise port serving Anchorage. The SeaLife Center is the town's finest attraction. Kenai Fjords is the best excursion destination.

Valdez

Columbia Glacier is the top tour. The eponymous town is wrongly associated with the infamous 1989 Valdez tanker oil spill.

Vancouver

Many cruises start and end here. Wonderful, livable city. One of the best attractions is the 360-degree view from The Lookout's observation floor.

Victoria

This attractive city's top 5 attractions are Butchart Gardens, Empress Hotel, Miniature World, Parliament Building, and Royal British Columbia Museum.

Whittier

It's second to Seward in serving Anchorage. Good base for exploring College Fjords.

Wrangell

Town offers little, but is a good base for wilderness excursions.

Note on Anchorage

Hardly anything is worth seeing in Anchorage. But the city is invaluable to cruisers for overnight stays who arrive or depart Anchorage by air. You have a choice of several major hotels. I like the Captain Cook Hotel for its traditional Alaskan ambiance.

Best cruise ships by category
Best 4 Alaska cruise ports to visit
Best shore excursions - overview
Helicopter tours
Floatplane tours
Best 3 Juneau shore excursions
Best 3 Ketchikan shore excursions
Best 3 Sitka shore excursions
Best 3 Skagway shore excursions
Denali National Park
Goldstar Dome railroad ride
More pre- and post-cruise options