Top tips for how to cruise through Alaska

Taking in the sights of Alaska aboard a luxury liner is the perfect way to see this wild and unspoiled part of the world.
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While cruises 
are all about seeing places with ease, there’s no doubt that the ships are a destination in themselves. Indeed, the first thing we notice when we step on board Holland America line’s Koningsdam in Vancouver is just how well-appointed it is.

The 2600-capacity cruise ship is spacious, easy to navigate and never feels crowded, while the staterooms are decked out with luxe bed linen and bath products, so we feel extra special from day one.

With the balcony a nice extra, our stateroom is not much smaller than our bedroom at home, and we settle in with ease. Once unpacked, it’s time to visit the bar for ‘sail away’ drinks as we hit the harbour on the way from Canada into Alaska.

Our stateroom came with all the luxuries, including heavenly bed linen and gorgeous bath products.

Our cruise takes us first along the Inside Passage – 
a route that takes the ship from Vancouver along the scenic coastline and up to Juneau. Here, we disembark and explore the Alaskan town, eating oysters at a food truck and shopping in the town’s many souvenir shops, before boarding a coach for our first excursion – whale watching! Our boat heads out to sea where 
we spot humpbacks as 
they dive under the water – an amazing sight!

Back on the ship, we explore the food options – settling for Lido, a food-court-style restaurant with an array of different cuisines available, before we head to the B13 Kings Blues club for some seriously good music.

Dining in style aboard the Koningsdam.

Next we get to scenic Skagway – a gold rush area filled with saloons and trading posts and a narrow-gauge railway which connected the 
town to the Yukon. There’s lots to see here and we spend much of the day wandering the streets. Back on board, we try out one of the five non-included restaurants on the ship – and for a small charge at the Pinnacle Grill, we eat some truly amazing steaks.

While at sea for the day, as we head towards the spectacular Glacier Bay, we have a chance to really explore the ship. We book into the Greenhouse spa for treatments and I get a luxurious facial. We also do a wine workshop called Blend, where we make our own bottles of wine!

The 2600-capacity cruise ship is spacious, easy to navigate and never feels crowded.

Glacier Bay National Park is a true highlight of the cruise. We sail into the scenic bay, surrounded by glaciers and mountains before the main attraction comes into view and the captain turns the ship around slowly so everyone can see the majestic Margerie Glacier. It’s awe-inspiring to see this huge ice flow and to watch seals swimming in the water alongside giant icebergs.

Another highlight? A scenic seaplane flight over the port of Ketchikan as we head to a salmon hatchery to try and spot bears. The flight takes us over beautiful bays and beaches where we watch eagles soar.

We find time to try the other special restaurants on board on our journey back to Vancouver. Rudi’s Sel de Mer is a seafood lover’s paradise; sushi at Nami is some of the best we’d ever eaten, while Canaletto serves tasty pasta. It’s said that everyone puts on kilos on a cruise, and we feel like our waistbands are tighter – but it’s worth it!

With its snow-topped mountains and breathtaking glaciers, Alaska is a most remarkable destination.

Another sea day at the end of the trip means we get to relax on our balcony – drinking a mimosa, 
reading then having one 
last dinner onboard.

As the scenery of the Inside Passage glides by once more, and we have to start thinking about repacking our bags, we vow we’ll do this again… Alaska and the Koningsdam have won our hearts!

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Five tips for cruising in style

Writer Claire Isaac shares her top tips for travelling to Alaska in style.

1. Do at least one of the organised excursions on offer – they’re worth it, even though they can seem pricey! You come away with knowledge you don’t get from simply getting off the ship for a look around.

2. Do get off the ship and look around, too. Each town you visit is bound to have something to interest you, from shopping to food to hidden treasures and experiences.

3. If you’re planning to have a few drinks, buy a drinks package or a preloaded beverage card – alcohol adds up and you will find this is the more economical option.

4. Opt in for unlimited laundry – it works out far cheaper than sending individual loads, and there is nothing nicer than coming back to your stateroom to a bunch of clean, pressed clothes! Take laundry sheets (we used Re.Stor, available at Woolworths) with you for handwashing delicates.

5. Go to a show or three! To be watching a blues band or a dance show on a ship makes the experience even more special.

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