Vacationing in Juneau, Alaska

Are you an Alaskan Cruiser?

Alaska has amazing scenery, incredibly rich history and native cultures, wonderfully modern shopping and dining and a natural, unspoiled splendor that few places on earth can best. For most people, deciding to vacation in Alaska isn’t an issue: there’s so much to do and see, the question isn’t “Should we vacation in Alaska?” but rather “How do we best experience all the treasures Alaska has to offer within a specific budget and timeline?” Besides the breathtaking natural beauty of Mount McKinley, the famous Inuit people and their gorgeous artistic creations, and the iconic Iditarod dogsledding race, Alaska is famous for much, much more. In fact, Juneau, Alaska is one of the most intriguing urban cities in the United States and as a result is one of the busiest cruise ports in the Americas.

The most popular ways to enjoy Alaska’s unique geography, history and culture include cruising, organized road tours, and customized travel itineraries. The people who prefer exploring by ship are often referred to as “Cruisers”, and those who enjoy the latter are referred to as “Destination Travelers.”

Determining whether you are a cruiser or a destination traveler is often tied to your personality type. Websites like TravelTypes.com claim to be able to help you discover your traveling preferences based on a simple personality test. Simply put, there are a number of factors to consider when planning your Alaskan vacation. Are you looking to relax or be active? Are you single or do you have a family? What is your budget? How many days/weeks/months are you planning for your vacation? Understanding exactly what you want to get out of your Alaskan vacation will help you plan the one best suited to your tastes, desires, budget and timeline and hence, give you the most bang for your buck.

Cruising: A Great Way to Sample Alaska

Many people choose to experience Alaska by cruise ship because it gives them the opportunity to sample several destinations in a single vacation. Many times, these “samplings” result in travelers being lured back at a later date to a specific place they particularly enjoyed during their cruise. Statistically, 11% of Alaskan cruisers return for land-based vacations and many choose to return to Alaska on other cruises, particularly on cruises to the same destinations.

Others choose to cruise Alaska because they feel it is a good value for their money. Cruises are usually sold as all-inclusive packages that include the cost of flights, transfers, accommodations, food, entertainment and activities/excursions. Alcoholic beverages, shore excursions and tips are usually not included. Data shows that on average, a cruiser will typically spend around $1800.00 per person/per week on an Alaskan cruise. Destination travelers spend a little less, closer to $1200.00 per person/per week, but generally destination travelers aren’t exposed to as many ports of call or amenities as cruisers during the same number of vacation days.

Alaskan Cruise Vacations Pack A Lot Into a Few Days

An Alaskan Cruise is a great vacation option if you’re able to commit at least a week to your time away. The average Alaskan cruise is 7 days long and ports of call stops typically allow one day to explore each area. If you prefer to more fully immerse yourself in the local culture or more deeply explore specific destinations, a land-based vacation may be better suited to your needs. Land-based traveling options include renting motor coaches, traveling by Alaskan railway and ferry or renting cars and small boats to get around on your own time schedule.

Besides the numerous local Alaskan adventures you’ll enjoy on an Alaskan cruise, there are other amenities that make exploring Alaska by cruise ship a wonderful experience:

1)      Cruises offer something for people of all ages. The average Alaskan cruiser is over the age of 25, and 25% of cruisers are accompanied by their children.

2)      Cruises are highly reliable in terms of timeliness and because they are usually part of an all inclusive vacation package, tend to be hassle and stress free.

3)      Many Alaskan cruise ships offer luxury services, including fine-dining and high-end spa amenities.

4)      Most Alaskan cruise ships strive to offer a large variety of activities and excursions, making the overall vacation experience more exciting and adventurous for the person who chooses to take advantage of these offerings.

5)      Cruise ships all have entertainment directors and their job is to be sure you are offered high quality entertainment on a daily basis.

Any Alaskan Vacation is a Great Vacation, As Long As You Plan Correctly

Ultimately the right means of travel for your vacation to Alaska is dependent on what you value personally and what you plan to get out of your vacation. If you choose an Alaskan cruise because you found a great deal but find it didn’t meet your personal expectations in regards to activities and how you spent your time, you may return home refreshed but not exhilarated.

Rather than evaluating a vacation package based solely on price or solely on other criteria, like whether the package is all-inclusive, be sure to give your vacation plans a lot of thought and make sure you are comfortable with your choice.  If you come home from your Alaskan vacation happy, relaxed and feeling that it completely fulfilled your expectations, you’ll know you got the best vacation value for your budget and before you know it, you’ll be planning to come back and visit the wonders of Alaska again.

Sources:

1-      FCCA- Cruise Industry Overview and Statistics- 2010.< http://www.f-cca.com/downloads/2010-overview-book_Cruise-Industry-Overview-and-Statistics.pdf>

2-      Cruise Lines International Association – 2008 Cruise Market Profile Study http://www2.cruising.org/press/research/Market_Profile_2008.pdf

3-      Smarter Travel. “Cruises versus resorts: How all-inclusive is your vacation?” http://www.smartertravel.com/travel-advice/Cruises-versus-resorts-inclusive.html?id=14312

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