Alaskan cruise

I will be going on an Alaskan cruise for my honeymoon this summer, around August. My fiance and I are planning to do as much kayaking as possible on this trip. We are trying to prioritize what treks we want to do. Which ones are a “must do”? Mendenhall Glacier, Auke Bay,

Tatoosh Islands, Skagway and the Seward area?



More info please
What type of cruise? On ship, ferry, private vessel? I’ve paddled a lot up there, as well as most of the inside passage, so I can help. But it’s big country with many options. E-mail me directly if you wish and I’ll share some ideas.

RE: Alaskan Cruise
I am going on a cruise ship. It starts in Seward and goes south and ends in Vancouver. We were probably going to stick to the excursions offered by our cruiseline, but we would like to do other trips farther inland so we want to narrow down the kayaking to one of two excursion, even though I would be just as happy to do it everyday.

I would be interested in your suggestions. I would like to do non-tourist kayaking treks but we will not be able to bring our kayaks onto a cruise ship.

Thanks, Siren

Limited flexibility
Siren, from all I’ve witnessed over the years, the cruise ships will have you guys controlled like cattle. That’s not entirely bad, as they will likely have pre-arranged tours set up with local vendors. I doubt you’ll have much time or flexibility to go off and do your own thing. My guess is that they will have these established tours set up in areas of great natural beauty, and the sub-contractors will do a nice job. At Skagway, take the train tour over White Pass to Lake Bennett. Very cool country!! Lynn Canal is nice, but can get really nasty. Paddling near glaciers is worth doing if you get the chance, but heed all the warnings about getting too close etc. Glacier Bay is amazing country, and Icy Straits offers excellent paddling and whale watching, as does Stephens Passage south of Juneau. Misty Fjords, south of Ketchikan is also a very awesome place. Tell me more, and I can be more specific. You’ll have a ball.

LeConte Glacier Bay
If offered, definitely spend some time exploring LeConte Glacier Bay. I spent a week kayaking and camping there a couple of years ago and it was spectacular. Navigating around ice bergs as big as multi-story buildings was both awe inspiring and scary as hell. Spending nights trying to sleep in grizzly bear country…well you can probably imagine. Having lunch in our boats up close and personal with a calving LeConte glacier was an experience of a life time.

I hope an opportunity to visit LeConte glacier is available to you.

We went on a different trip 2 yrs back
You’ll love it. I agree on the White Pass RR trip. I found the Mendenhall Glacier kayaking boring even by commercial standards. Your in tandems on flat water in the back bay area. They’ll take anyone who signs up so they can’t make it very challenging. But there were lots of eagles. I’d say try one of the other kayaking excursions. My wife had more fun whalewatching that day.

Take some good binoculars on the cruise ship theres a lot to see and almost anytime you watch the water for awhile you’ll see whales.

Enjoy your trip and congratulations!


Thanks for all the advise. I am meeting with the travel agent this week and will have more information on our options then. We are really looking forward to the trip. We have both considered Alaska as a duty location with the military and can’t wait to explore the area. Any advise regarding the weather on the water in August?



Probably fairly wet. Drier as you near Skagway. Temps 50’s to low 70’s, water temp about 40-45, 47 in lower BC. My experience…on one month long filming gig a few years ago in SE it was warm and sunny MOST of the time! Rare.

Skagway is in a rain shadow
I paddled from Ketchikan to Skagway in June 2004. Ketchikan is very wet and lush, with jungle-like woods. Much of the forest along our route was thick with undergrowth, damp, and dark. I always camped on the “beaches” when tides permitted, because the woods made me feel claustrophic.

But when walking into the woods in Skagway, the relative dryness and the wider spacing among trees (and lesser undergrowth) immediately struck me. I almost felt like I was in a CO forest. Even the soil felt and smelled different from Ketchikan’s.

Do some searches on the individual AK towns you’ll visit, and you’ll come up with charts showing average temps and precip figures for each. Seemed to me August was one of the wetter months (I’m going to AK this August also, but that timing was not my first choice).

Pick up a copy of Jim Howard’s book, “Sea Kayaking in Southeast Alaska” for good, detailed info specific to sea kayaking. In fact, I need to order a copy myself. has a link to where you can order this and other paddling books.

We will probably return to Alska at one point or another to do specifically kayaking tours. I took my fiance kayaking a couple of times in the Baltimore Inner Harbor area and now he’s hooked. So for a first time would you sugget sticking to the guided tours, or should we be daring and go off on our own with one of the other kayak rental companies?

This is probably a stupid question but should we be concerned with bears along the shore in the summer time?

Hey Pikabike, are you in the Colorado area, we just relocated there and I am looking for some good spots for the late spring, early summer. Maybe even trying out a little fast water.


What about “mother ships”?
I have seen several stories in the paddling mags about these - smaller ships, often refitted fishing boats or tugs that cater specifically to paddlers. These sound like my type of “cruise”.


bears along the shore in the Summer…

– Last Updated: Feb-06-06 4:03 PM EST –

Bears can be anywhere..In August many are on the streams looking for salmon..Also August is a rainy month, be perpared..

what month is best
What would be the best paddling month? I am meting with the travel agent tomorrow and we have been back and forth on the date to take cruise, we thought the later in the summer the more places we would be able to explore. If you had a chance of anytime of year to go, when would you?


Middle of June to middle of July
less rain…

Cruise ship restrictions?
Will they even LET you go off with a kayak tour that is not part of their program? My impression of organized general tourist packages is that you don’t have much freedom and activities are geared toward the lowest common denominator. In this case, that would be people who have never kayaked at all and quite likely include those who are not physically fit. Might be worth contacting them and asking outright what the rules are.

A good way to handle this might be to start with the cruise ship tour. If you like that and want more, take a dedicated kayak co. tour. Without knowing your experience level or YOU as a person, I can’t answer this question in any other way.

I do live in CO, about 35 miles from Denver. There are places to paddle within an hour’s drive. If you let me know your preferences, I can be more specific. For example, if you detest motorized crowds, a lot of places will not appeal to you. But those are the biggest bodies of water.

Depends what you want to see
June is one of the drier months. But if you want to see salmon spawning or bears fishing for them, that would be early. The rain is not that big a deal as long as you are not camping. You can paddle in it, and you will have hot showers and dry clothes every day on the cruise ship. If you want to see glaciers calving, that’s another schedule consideration. I don’t know how late in the season you can see that.

Have you looked at
the Alaska Home Shore type of cruise? My wife and I did a tour with them and cannot say enough good thing about this type of tour. Just a few couples and they make up the itenerary. She had also only paddled around Baltimore but felt completely safe in thier hands and the let me paddle a solo with her in a tanden with the captain. The smaller boat operators are very accomondating.


On the cruise that I took, if you didn’t sign up for one of the tours that was offered through the cruise line, the time (while docked) is yours to do what you want - as long as you are back on the ship at the time specified.

dryest months are may and june and you can book a trip with packer for a tour of the lake next to Frazier BC. The scenery is spectacular and you can ride the train up their. Theirs also tours around the Haines area with a ferry taking you over from Haines. You can also rent boats from the mountain shop and paddle the Lynn canal but the winds can get pretty bad and the waves are rough. I might be able to help you out when you come here depending on what day you come in as I live in skagway and have several boats.

In 1983
in February two of my buds and I crossed the Chilkoot via skis and ended up at the depot in Bennett. It was -43 when we skiid up to the depot (they were still running ore by train back then)and totally freaked the crew out. It took us 4 very cold days to get there. Colder than anything I experienced guiding on Denali. They took us in, fed us, and hooked up a passenger car the next morning and hauled us back to Skagway…sunny, gorgeous, never forget trip on that train. Back in town we were treated like heroes and could not pay for anything. Red Onion was open with the sawdust floor, dogs and all…Locals celebrated New Years in Feb, as everyone was in Hawaii during real New Years! Fun times, very cool town! To Jan and Kathy Cooney, wherever you are, I’ll not forget the kindness!