Alaska Cruise And Land Tour: The Perfect Combination

Alaska cruise and land tour

Taking an Alaska cruise and land tour trip is without doubt the best way of exploring this amazing region. 

Alaska is the biggest of America's states and, in our opinion, the most impressive. Twice the size of Texas, Alaska has so much to offer in way of landscapes and wildlife. Simply taking a cruise does not do the region justice. This is why Alaska cruisetours are becoming so popular. 

Combining an Alaska cruise with a land tour allows you to experience the 'classic coastal Alaska' whilst also venturing into the heart of the state to places like Denali and Fairbanks. 

Only certain cruise lines offer 'cruise tours' - the most established include princess, holland America, Norwegian, Celebrity, and Royal Caribbean. 

There is also the option of booking an Alaska cruise and land tour separately. This takes a little more research, but it can work out cheaper sometimes. Either way, expect long journey times between locations. 

Below we have answered common questions regarding Alaska cruise and land tours. 

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Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

Typical Cruisetour Itinerary

Regardless of which cruise company you book with, the itinerary of the Alaska cruise tours generally follows are fairly standard route. After all, everyone wants to visit the same stunning locations. 

There are different length itineraries however. You can do a rush job and spend 3 nights on land which really just gives you a quick overview of Alaska. You can spend 4-5 nights which is a little less rushed and gives you more time to explore. Or finally, you can spend 6-8 nights on land which is the most relaxed option. It also gives you the chance to experience more of the landscape, participate in more activities, and gain a deeper understanding of Alaska in general. 

No matter which length land tour you choose, the cruise length is always very similar - generally 7 nights. However, the direction of the cruise is up to you. If you travel southbound you'll take the land tour section first before boarding your cruise ship in Alaska. If you sail northbound you'll complete the cruise section first and then meet your land tour in Alaska. The northbound option is much more popular, but are southbound option will be slightly cheaper because of this. 

Standard 12 Day Itinerary 

Please note that every itinerary is slightly different depending on who you sail with. 

  • DAY 1-7: Northbound cruise from San Francisco/Seattle
  • DAY 8: Seward to Anchorage aboard glass-domed train
  • DAY 9: Anchorage to Denali aboard glass-domed train
  • DAY 10: Explore Denali - travel to Fairbanks
  • DAY 11: Explore Fairbanks
  • DAY 12: Return home from Fairbanks
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Popular Excursions 

Both Alaska cruises and land tours are packed with optional excursions that can be booked prior to leaving. Although each cruise line offers different excursions, you can also book excursions direct with the providers so long as you are in port long enough. There is a range of excursions to suit each budget.  

For example, you may have your heart set on salmon fishing, but your cruise does not offer this. Then just find out how long you will be in port and arrange your own salmon fishing trip to fit in with the schedule. Often, your cruise company will be able to help you with this. For a list of our favourite Alaska cruise excursions, please click here.  

During the land section of your trip, you'll be given a number of other activity and excursions to choose from. These are by no means compulsory, but are often worth doing as they tie in nicely with your itinerary. 

Some popular options include bear watching tours, craft beer tours, nature hikes, rafting, glacier hiking, dog sledding, scenic flights, kayaking, zip line tours, fly fishing, and guided Denali tours. 

Some of these may be included depending on the package you book. A guided tour around Denali is a must and is often included as standard.

If you book your cruise in late September or early May, you may have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights near Fairbanks.  

Our Recommendation

If you love photography, then we strongly suggest taking a bear watching tour around Lake clark and a scenic flight over Denali. Both tours allow for some really epic shots that most people don't get to photograph. 

Top places To Visit

Alaska is a very big place and finding a single cruisetour that visits every location you want to see will be difficult, if not impossible on a standard package. Below is a list of the most popular places to visit during a cruise and land tour.

During Your Cruise

Inside Passage: Most of the major ports and glaciers you visit in Alaska are within Alaska's Inside Passage. This beautiful region is home to clear waterways, colossal glaciers, majestic mountains and plenty of wildlife including orca, eagles, moose, and bears.

Glacier Bay: Glacier Bay National Park is considered to be one of the most beautiful locations in America.

Hubbard Glacier: The longest tidewater glacier in North America and a great place to watch a glacier calving.

Tracy Arm: A beautiful winding fjord surrounded by sheer ice walls thousands of feet tall. 

Juneau: The modern capital city of Alaska that can only be reached by sea or plane. A lovely looking town with many historic elements.

Skagway: Built from the Klondike gold rush, this town is the starting point for the Yukon & White Pass Train journey.

Ketchikan: Located on an island and with a strong frontier spirit, Ketchikan is known for it's many totem poles.

Sitka: History fans love Sitka thanks to its unique past as both a Tlingit Indian village and the capital of Russian America.

Haines: This is one of the most picturesque towns in Alaska siting along a beautiful peninsula. This is the place to visit the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.   

During Your Land Tour

Seaward: This rustic fishing port is surrounded by unspoilt and protected land. A wealth of wildlife including bears, salmon, whales etc, can be found here. 

Anchorage: Alaska's largest city is a perfect blend of history and epic scenery. There is also plenty of activities on offer in and around the city. 

Denali: More than 6 million acres of unspoilt beauty is the easy way to describe this amazing National park. Take a scenic flight or bear tour, or just explore the amazing scenery on a quiet trek. 

Fairbanks: A mining town at heart, Fairbanks has a wealth of history and a literal wealth of gold. Maybe try gold panning if you're feeling lucky! 

Our Recommendation

There is no beating Denali National Park. As mentioned above, the landscape is simply breathtaking, as is the wildlife on offer. We would suggest visiting during September when the colours are becoming vibrant reds and yellows, lighting the park up like fire. This is not the peak month for cruises, but we still recommend it - the changeable weather will only enhance the trip! 

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Generally you'll find that cruise operators tend to book typical 'Alaskan lodges' during your land tour as supposed to standard hotels. Their view is that it's more authentic.

In one way they are right, but it's also worth noting that most lodges have been purpose built for just this. Regardless, most are equipped with the latest mod cons such as flat screen televisions and wifi. Even on luxury trips, you're unlikely to find pools and steam rooms, although some lodges do have small fitness areas and saunas. 

Many of the lodges are quite sprawling and you may have to walk some distance to your room. Often, a golf cart or something similar will be provided, especially if you have any difficulty walking or lots of luggage. Always remember to be on the lookout for bears as they frequently wander near lodges due to the smell.

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

Things To Consider

Whilst most people absolutely love Alaska cruise and land tour combinations, there are some things to consider prior to booking. 

Long days of travel: Often you'll be travelling over 5 hours to reach your next destination. This means you frequently have diNner after 8pm. 

Wildlife focused: If you don't love watching wildlife and hearing about wildlife, then this option may not be for you. Many of the tours focus on wildlife watching and your guides will speak at length about certain species. 

Train journeys: A 5 hour train journey through lush scenery may sound gorgeous, but the reality is it can get dull. Bring some games!

Motion sickness: The waters around Alaska are generally very calm, but of you suffer from severe motion sickness then a cruise and numerous train journeys won't be ideal.  

Meals not included: Be aware that most companies do not include meals during the land section of your trip. This means you'll need to arrange with the lodges when and where to eat. You will also need picking up, especially if you eat late. 

Please see our page on top Alaska cruise tips for more information. 


If you have any queries or questions regarding Alaska cruise and land tours, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Burnham Arlidge

Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has cruised to some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet.

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