One place that has consistently fascinated me, and has been at the top of my travel wishlist for the past few years, is Alaska. Although it has been a state for over 50 years, for many Americans, Alaska still represents the untamed wild frontier that we read about in the Jack London books from our middle school days.
Courtesy Lonely Planet
It now seems even more accessible since I’ve moved to Seattle, long known as the gateway to Alaska. One of the primary reasons for Seattle’s transformation from a small backwater town to thriving center of trade was due to the Alaska and Yukon gold rushes in the late 1800s, when Seattle merchants sold equipment to gullible miners headed north. Although the gold rush is over, in many respects Seattle still serves as the gateway to Alaska. It is the home of Alaskan Airlines, with direct flights to Anchorage several times per day. Further north, in Bellingham, Washington, you can catch one of the Alaska Marine Highway System’s ferries to Ketchikan, Alaska. If you don’t book early enough to reserve a cabin, however, you may find yourself pitching a tent on the ferry’s deck, which could be quite adventurous, albeit cold.
Another option is to take a cruise. Several cruise lines operate out of Seattle for their Alaska bound cruises, including Princess cruises, Carnival, Holland America, and Celebrity. Now, I am not your typical cruise ship aficionado. In fact, I’ve never been on a cruise ship as none of the typical Caribbean or Greek island hopping itineraries have appealed to me. However, I think I would quite enjoy an Alaskan cruise. Walking onto a ship that is departing from the Seattle waterfront just a few miles from my apartment, and (for once) not having to hassle with airports, the TSA, delayed flights, rental cars, etc sounds ideal. A typical cruise ship itinerary includes Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau (home to one of my favorite breweries – Alaskan Brewing Company), Skagway, and Victoria, British Columbia (a great little city that we previously visited this past New Year’s). The only downside of the cruise is that you wouldn’t see much of the Alaskan interior – I’d like to visit Denali, for instance. So if I could just find a cruise that would let me disembark and wander around Alaska for a few weeks then hitch a ride back to Seattle, then that would be perfect