Alaska cruise amongst the Aurora Borealis

For once, me and my travel partner decided, we would explore some new territory. As our season for vacations approached, we looked at the overwhelming trend of our past vacations: island hopping in the Pacific Rim, island hopping in the Caribbean, long stays in the Mediterranean and all of the surrounding countries. We had done all of these trips several times. Although they were all wonderful places and experiences, we felt like going to a completely foreign, almost untouched destination. To our surprise, our deliberations whittled down to one place: Alaska.

Although we both are American and speak English, Alaska sounded like one of the most foreign places we could travel to. With the numerous options different cruise lines offer, it wasn’t difficult to fill out our plans to see glaciers, whales, the frontier and the Aurora Borealis. We chose a relaxing, luxurious cruise with generous dabs of exciting scenery and experiences.

Frankly, I was surprised at the level of quality and personal experience this vacation offered. Because of the nature of cruising in Alaska, many of the ships in the line are smaller. This makes the experience far more intimate. Our suite (and almost everyone else) had a private balcony and exquisite furnishings. Like most luxury cruises, everything was included. But the fare aboard this ship was truly top notch. I often find that most cruise lines offer meals that measure up to decent catering service standards, but rarely exceed it. Well, this cruise did. Naturally, being in salmon country, there were some exceptional meals of this country’s most famous indigenous fare.

Our fees included unlimited shore excursions. We got to explore Grouse Mountain by tram in Vancouver, native art and totem poles in Katchikan, and heard the “white thunder” of crashing ice in the Hubbard glacier. For anyone interested in wildlife, I would highly recommend planning your trip according to the wildlife that you want to see. There are certain times of the year to get a look at particular groups of wildlife and scenery. The spring and summer are great times to catch the various whale migrations, and a number of smaller vessels specialize in whale watching tours. Conversely, the best times for seeing the Aurora Borealis is in the winter.

For all of the spectacular amenities aboard the cruise, and all the amazing sights and experiences that there are in the wild Alaskan frontier and water ways, there was one thing that stood out for me. By far, the most spectacular thing I experienced happened almost at the end of our journey on a warm, calm night. Even though it was summer, the Aurora Borealis blessed us with her dancing vivid presence. I won’’t soon forget the dazzling image of the Northern Lights dancing about us on one of the most spectacular vacations yet.

Carol Atkins is a Group Travel Leader with YMT Vacations.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Emily M says:

    What a wonderful review, you have painted such a vivid picture and from somebody who seems like they have been to a lot of lovely places. Confirms to me that the northern lights are a must see. I can’t imagine what they are like to really see and I think that is what makes them so enthraling. Sounds like a great holiday all round.

  2. Aurora says:

    I was lucky enough to experience that natural wonder of the Northern Lights during a trip to Finland a few years ago. It is a beautiful experience. I would love to see the Lights again in the future and this certainly sounds like a great way to do it.

  3. Joe Nanas says:

    Thank you for writing about your experience with that Alaska cruise. I have never been to Alaska and always wanted to cruise there some day.

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