The Best Alaska Shore Excursions Off of Alaska Cruises

Published: July 19, 2021

Traveling to or from Alaska on a cruise ship comes with a very special set of unique experiences, personal perspectives and memories … but just some of those take place while you’re on the water. Venturing into Alaska by land while your cruise ship is docked at one of Southeast Alaska’s personality-packed ports including Ketchikan, Haines, Sitka, Skagway and Juneau – comes with its own variety of remarkable and rewarding Alaska adventures.

Tips for Choosing the Right Alaska Shore Excursion

Since every cruise ship journey has its own itinerary, schedule and route, if you want to spend part of your trip enjoying an Alaska shore excursion, be sure to book these in advance. Alaska guided adventures in particular book up quickly during the summer months so to get access to the exact location-based shore activities of your choosing, do your research and then reserve your spot!

White Pass & Yukon Route Summit Excursion from Skagway.

Here are just a few ideas for an Alaska shore day tour to consider during your Alaska cruise layovers while docked in port.

Go Wild Over Alaska’s Wildlife

Most port towns offer big-time opportunities to meet some of Alaska’s biggest stars: from breaching whales to meandering moose, not to mention some larger-than-life characters like bald eagles and colorful puffins, and many not-so-large-but-equally-interesting Alaska animals and marine life (otters are especially cute). Operators of wildlife viewing tours and expeditions based in port towns make it easy for their clients to get close to Alaska’s most popular animals who live on land, in the water and in the air.

Bald Eagle nesting in Alaska

While observing, learning about and photographing these amazing animals make for an unforgettable time, many of these Alaska wildlife shore excursions also include bonus educational, cultural and dining experiences. And there’s a variety of ways to see wildlife by foot, boat, plane, bus and four-wheeler.

Get Active on an Alaska Adventure Tour

The cruise ship lifestyle is often both tranquil and relaxing. But why not get the adrenaline pumping when you’re onshore with an active adventure tour? There are countless ways to have Alaska super-sized fun during cruise ship stops in various ports, ideal for those who want to stretch their legs, go exploring and discover all things Alaska by land.

Salmon fishing in Alaska

Among the most popular active shore excursions are fishing day trips, which make fish fanatics’ fantasies come true. Other ways to catch an Alaska thrill include forest and mountain ziplining and whitewater rafting, sea kayaking and glacier trekking. There are also plenty of adventures to be had on Alaska mountain biking and hiking trails.

Then there’s the top dog of ultimate Alaska adventures: dog sledding! Imagine the excitement of sitting in a sled being pulled by Alaska’s toughest, and oftentimes most adorable, dogs.

Iditarod kennel visit and sled dog ride in Seward.

You can also get a bird’s eye view of some of Southeast Alaska’s most incredible features – Glaciers! Mountains! Fjords! Wildlife! – from on high up the sky on a flightseeing or helicopter tour. Some of these shore excursions include landings on water or glaciers, where more adventures await. You might even see your massive cruise ship looking like a tiny little model boat on the waters below you.

Expert helicopter pilots take you to untrammeled places in Alaska (Temsco)

Hit the Town like a Local

Southeast Alaska’s port towns have many charming similarities, yet they also have their own distinct personalities, lifestyle paces, histories, industries and cultural roots. Exploring each community along the way is an amazing Alaska experience in its own right.

Each Alaska community is rich with Alaska Native culture, and some have a chapter or two worth of epic Gold Rush tales and relics. Visitor centers, museums, cultural centers and sightseeing tours help visitors soak up all of this history and culture.

Alaska Native Totem Pole

And don’t forget to save a little time for shopping. Each town provides treasure hunts to fill your shopping bag, ranging from tame and kitschy T-shirts and trinkets to exquisite Alaska Native art and jewelry to regional specialties handmade by Alaska artists and crafters.

Just for Foodies

If you really want to get the flavor of a town, take a bite out of its cuisine scene. These areas all have talented chefs and interesting restaurants that put their own flare on the freshest fish filets you can find, not to mention many other dishes that reflect the region.

All that tasty dining and Alaska adventures will certainly make you thirsty. Conveniently, most Alaska towns now have hot spots for the state’s newest dining and drinking trend: microbreweries. These brewers often add Alaska ingredients to their signature beers, along with taking their personal approaches to familiar favorites.

Whatever your pleasure, when it comes to shore excursions, we’ve cornered the market on your options with over 20 different itineraries from 2 hours to a full day of fun.

Check out our recommended shore trips off of an Alaska cruise…

or pick your Alaska cruise port and choose your activity…

We’re happy to help guide you to available fun wherever you land ashore. Just call us or email us anytime