A route well-traveled by cruise ships, Alaska's Inside Passage reveals lush forests, mountains, towns vibrant with history and personality, and Glacier Bay National Park, where relics of the Ice Age calve and crash continually.
Most ships follow a route along the Inside Passage, calling first at Ketchikan (search for lodging). It's Alaska's southernmost city and salmon capital of the world. Expect rain here, but don't let that deter you from admiring the collection of authentic totem poles at Totem Heritage Center.
Further north, Sitka (search for lodging), once the capital of Czarist Russia, holds fast to its Russian roots. The main attractions are an onion-domed cathedral, folk-dance performances, and native crafts on display.
Reachable only by sea or air, Juneau (search for lodging), Alaska's capital, is home to Mendenhall Glacier, the state's easiest to reach. For a panoramic view, take the Mt. Roberts tram up 2,000 feet to the observatory.
Skagway (search for lodging), preserved as an 1890s gold-rush town, still maintains its "bawdy" saloons and horse-drawn buggies. The town cemetery marks the graves where con men and thieves, prostitutes and prospectors came to rest a century ago.
Several cruise lines sail Alaska's Inside Passage in summer. A different kind of cruise experience, these ships bring passengers up close to glaciers, offer exciting excursions, and expose visitors to unique ports of call. Search for a Cruise.
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