You’ve decided you want to add a land tour before or after your Alaska cruise—here are the 3 questions you need to answer before you book it.
1. How Much Time?
Most people add anywhere from 2 to 7 extra nights for a land tour. Here's how much you can expect to cover in each time frame.
Using your Anchorage hotel as a base camp, you’ll use this time to explore Alaska’s biggest city and enjoy its tax-free shopping, parks, and great day excursions within a few-hour radius. You’ll be able to choose from some great options, like glacier cruises, flightseeing, bear viewing, hiking, and scenic driving.
The downside: This doesn’t allow enough time to visit Denali National Park
This is the most popular length of land tour to add to your cruise, and most people explore Anchorage and then ride the Alaska Railroad to Denali. If the national park isn’t a must-see, this gives you enough time to see the glaciers and marine wildlife of Kenai Fjords or Prince William Sound, experience Anchorage, and even make it to the pioneer town of Talkeetna.
Tip: If you go to Denali, choose a land tour with two nights in Denali—there’s simply too much to see in one night.
If you’ve got the time, we definitely recommend you take a week; it gives you time to really experience Alaska’s major highlights. Cross-Gulf cruises dock in Seward or Whittier; from there you can continue north through Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, and conclude in Fairbanks.
Tip: See our simple guide to the best Alaska land tour destinations.
2. Escorted or Unescorted?
Once you’ve decided on the amount to time to spend, the next question is which type of land tour to book. First, you have to decide whether to go escorted or unescorted. Here’s the difference.
Escorted Land Tours
Transportation, accommodations, and meals will be included, while extras like flightseeing and rafting bring an additional charge. And you’ll spend your days with the same group of travelers, whether it’s a large or small group.
Unescorted Land Tours
You’re on your own, but some structured activities are set ahead of time (and you can get guidance if you need it). You’ll take guided day tours—a scenic flight, a bear-watching tour, or a day cruise, for example—that you set up according to your own schedule, and you’ll have to get yourself around via rental car, train, or bus. Unescorted tours also give you the freedom to stay at smaller lodges, eat at independent restaurants and roadhouses, and meet more locals.
3. Where Can You Book?
Princess and Holland America, the two biggest cruise lines, both have their own lodges and bus fleets for escorted land tours. (Of the two, Princess has invested in nicer lodges.) Of course, the cruise lines will want to book you at their property.
Alaskan Tour Companies
In many towns, the most special lodges are independently owned. We can direct you to Alaskan tour companies with all local guides, as well as great independent lodges and attractions. Many visitors prefer a custom itinerary with more local flavor—some would say it makes for a more authentic Alaskan adventure.