Three years after Alaska saw national parks visits drop 86% as Covid kept travelers close to home, adventurers are flocking back to The Last Frontier. Venture Ashore, a provider of independent cruise excursions, has added three new experiences for cruise passengers seeking authentic experiences in local villages, untouched forests, and on the water. Part of City Experiences, a worldwide portfolio of cultural experiences such as sustainable whale watch cruises and local-led food tours, Venture Ashore offers land excursions for cruise passengers looking to explore ‘beyond the boat.’ Its Essential Collection refers to personally curated experiences with expert local guides. If sustainable cruising to Alaska is on your bucket list this year, consider these three Essential Collection excursions to take you deeper into Alaska:
Trolley Tour Of Ketchikan, Saxman Totem Village & Wildlife At Herring Bay
Tour one of Alaska’s most historic villages by trolley on this expert-led, local tour by Venture Ashore. Take in in the town’s cannery, City Park, residential areas, and the waterfront, including well-known Creek Street, the former historic Red Light district with its wooden boardwalks. Your professional guide will tell tales of the “good old days,” from dance halls and brothels to enterprising bootleggers.
Then, leaving the town behind, your trolley heads south to Herring Bay, a quaint area far from the crowds. At this beautiful inlet cove, you might spot salmon season, seals, black bears, blue herring, and even bald eagles. Your final stop brings you to the Saxman Totem Village, the only totem park in Alaska. Here, you’ll see 29 authentic totems carved by Tlingit and Haida natives. The poles were moved here from the original sites in the 1930s and have been restored by native carvers. Your guide will share tribes carving rituals as you watch carvers turning tree trunks into works of art and culture.
Returning to downtown Ketchikan, you can be dropped off at Creek Street to stroll the boardwalk, do some shopping, or continue the ride back to return to your cruise ship.
Whale Watching And Mendenhall Glacier Combo Tour
A tour wildlife lovers, this excursion combines the magic of whale watching with a glimpse of the Mendelhall Glacier, known for its dazzling blue colors. Your tour starts with a short drive through downtown Juneau to Auke Bay. On your way, look out for humpback and orca whales, Dall’s porpoises, stellar sea lions, harbor seals, bald eagles, and more.
Arriving at the Bay, you will step aboard your boat and let your experienced captain lead the way through the Alaskan waters. Your knowledgeable guides will share the habits of these beautiful mammals and the best spots to spot whales and other wildlife. From here, it’s back to land to the well-known Mendenhall Glacier. Enjoy the overlook point, take in the spectacular views, get ready to take plenty of pictures, and enjoy the Visitor’s Center to learn about this 13-mile glacier and its surroundings.
Skagway Yukon Dog Sledding And White Pass Summit Adventure
This Skagway adventure starts in the Klondike Highway, where you’ll take in wildlife, stunning waterfalls, glacier-covered mountains, and views of the White Pass railroad. Follow in the footsteps of the 1898 Gold Rush stampeders up the White Pass and into the Yukon.
A trip across the Canadian border to the Province of British Columbia (B.C) takes you through the Tormented Valley, a subarctic alpine tundra as you take in the incredible views of Summit Lake, stopping at Canadian customs (passports are required here) Fraser B.C., and the Yukon Territory along the way.
Tutshi Dog Sledding Camp is your featured stop, and here you will meet Yukon Quest and Iditarod veteran long-distance mushers that lead the camp. The friendly canines are true athletes, and the camp exists solely for their training. Here, you will glimpse into the history of sled dog use throughout Canada and Alaska. So get ready to play with the puppies and see the dogs in action. The ultimate thrill comes when you board a UTV-style dog cart pulled by real Alaskan Huskies.
Why Local Tourism Matters in Alaska
Tourism accounts for 1 in 10 jobs in Alaska, accounting for $1.4 billion in payroll, according to the Research Development Council. Choosing local-led experiences creates sustainable income for residents, while buoying related industries, from restaurants to rental cars. Notably, one in three visitors to Alaska will return for a second trip, and (also according to the Research Development Council), many first-time visitors arrive on a cruise ship. This makes local land excursions an important part of adventure tourism to cruise-based destinations like Alaska.
Disclosure: Author has ties to City Experiences. This is not a sponsored article. As with all providers featured on Mindful Escapes, the companies mentioned reflect our values of locally led, sustainably minded travel.
More From The Journal
From Cape Cod to San Diego, these ethical whale watching tours use responsible providers and environmental best practices.
Kenai Fjords cover a spectacular land of ice, ocean, and mountain. Explore the glaciers and visit wildlife that thrives in this wild region.