From viewing the Northern Lights to witnessing a glacier, Alaska is a destination full of iconic experiences. These 8 bucket list experiences are not to be missed!
After visiting Alaska several times, I’m continually impressed with the amount of immersive experiences available when taking a cruise here — which is one of my favorite ways to explore this state. Being out on the water in a floating hotel, with the option to take tours on land, gives you the ability to see the best of both worlds — and you only need to unpack your suitcase once!
I will be cruising with Holland America this summer and I’m excited that I’ll be able to share details about nearly all of the experiences listed here. No other cruise line has explored Alaska longer than Holland America Line and I’m grateful to be able to explore this destination with one of my favorite cruise lines.
8 Bucket List Experiences in Alaska
Witness A Glacier
Glaciers are one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders on our planet. These massive bodies of slow moving ice are made up of fallen snow that gets compressed into ice over many centuries. Most glaciers today are remnants of the massive ice sheets that covered Earth during the Ice Age — how cool is that?!
I’ll never forget the first time I saw a glacier in Alaska!
From fly-in fishing and bear viewing to hiking and glacier landings, flightseeing is a great way to experience the landscape and wildlife of harder-to-reach parts of Alaska. It’s definitely an experience of a lifetime. Many Holland America cruises to Alaska include a flightseeing tour option at select ports.
See The Denali Big 5
The Denali Big 5 is a reference to the five large mammals you might encounter while visiting Denali National Park: moose, caribou, dall sheep, grizzly bears, and wolves. Denali National Park is centered on Denali, the highest mountain in North America and encompass 6,045,153 acres.
Holland America’s Alaska cruisetours offer full immersion in Denali. Each of their land and sea cruisetours include up to three nights at their beautiful 60-acre riverside resort. I love this option for those travelers looking to experience a little more land combined with their sea adventure.
Experience A Domed Rail Car
Another really fun option on Holland America’s cruisetours is a ride on a luxury single level domed rail car with panoramic views. The McKinley Explorer dome train provides summer service between Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Denali National Park. This unique way to experience Alaska is not to be missed!
See Alpenglow At Midnight
The calming colors of alpenglow is a photographer’s dream and it’s such a cool experience to see it at midnight. The further north you travel, the more hours of daylight there will be in the summer, so if you want longer days, make sure to include some of these stops on your trip.
Experiencing sunset at midnight is definitely something to experience once in your life!
Watch A Whale Breach
Alaska certainly has no shortage of whale watching opportunities, including Beluga, Humpback, Grey, Orca, Bowhead, Blue, Right, and Minke whales.
The best time to see whales in Alaska is May through September. During these months, you have a really good chance of seeing humpback whales and orcas from a cruise ship and small boat tours.
Meet An Alaskan
Meeting and spending time with someone who grew up in Alaska or has made Alaska their home gives you an appreciation for a different way of life. Holland America offers a number of tour options where you’ll be able to learn about Alaska culture and meet some locals.
View The Northern Lights
Watching the Northern Lights dance along the sky is a sight you will never forget and will remind you of how amazing nature truly is. The best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is between mid-September and early April so plan accordingly if this is something you don’t want to miss.