Tag Archives: Adventure

An Alaskan Cruise Vacation – Beauty, Adventure, and a Shoppers Dream Come True

Maybe it’s seeing icebergs and glaciers. Perhaps it’s watching whales and polar bears. Whatever it is, if you’re going on an Alaskan cruise vacation, there’s a good chance that it’s one of the most anticipated events of your life.

The dream of being able to see things with your own eyes that you’ve only read about in travel magazines or seen on a television screen makes just being on an Alaskan cruise ship a joyous event.

You can stay on the boat and gaze at the majestic views and abundant wildlife or venture ashore and visit local villages. Whatever you choose, you’ll enjoy a much more fulfilled experience than people who go to the same touristy attraction year-after-year-after-year.

Rugged Beauty And Adventure

Since your ship can come across whales, bears, and sea lions at pretty much every port, you’ll experience a very real sense of adventure aboard any Alaskan cruise ship that you won’t find sunning yourself poolside at some resort in the Caribbean.

But if you do want to be pampered and have a bit more of an adventure you can disembark and take a bus or train to the luxurious accommodations that are owned and operated by the cruse company. From there you’ll get an even closer look at the Alaskan lifestyles.

And if you get aboard Alaskan cruise ship that goes to the state capital of Juneau you can either trek into the wilderness or stay put and enjoy some of the most unique shopping experiences anywhere.

Shopping Like Nowhere Else

Some people love Alaska for its beauty. Others dream about it for the shopping.

Whatever camp you fall into, I think you’ll agree that going shopping sure beats coming face-to-face with a wild grizzly bear.

When you shop, for one thing, you’ll appreciate how important salmon is to the state and to tourism.

  • Visit Taku Smokeries near the waterfront (just south of Mt. Roberts Tramway) and you can buy all types of smoked seafood like cooked King Crab legs and halibut, as well as salmon. And if you don’t like it smoked ask them to flash freeze it for you, put it in insulated containers and ship it to your home.
  • Some of your potentially more interesting purchases aren’t even made in Alaska.

  • It seems that there are more shops selling Russian lacquerware , Faberge jewelry, amber and religious icons in Juneau than anywhere outside of Russia and Europe.
  • If you’re thinking of making a major investment in these particulars, it would be a good idea to do some research before you go so you’ll be able to separate the quality items from what looks good on the surface but is considerably overpriced.

  • And if you want affordable, quality gifts and souvenirs that are actually made by Alaskans, head over to Local Craft on Franklin Street, across from the tram. There you’ll find breath-taking Alaskan art, photographs, hand-made Eskimo dolls, hand-made jewelry and more there.
  • Going North To The Arctic Circle

    Another alternative is to take a smaller ship on your Alaskan cruise vacation. Smaller vessels can take you on an inner passage cruise. You’ll be able to creep into the inland waterways and see majestic snow-capped mountain peaks and even glaciers in the middle of the summer.

    Far from shopping, in the northern part of the state, you can venture into the Arctic Circle and traverse Prudhoe Bay during some parts of the year. If you have the time (and the money) you can even enjoy a 16-day Alaskan cruise adventure that combines your cruise, motorized tours and aerial treks in an untamed world.

    Packing for Adventure Travel

    There’s a funny scene in Romancing the Stone when Michael Douglas’ character meets Kathleen Turner’s character and agrees to take her to a phone booth hundreds of miles away. He simply refuses to help her carry her completely impractical luggage and a few scenes later goes even further by chopping the heels off her shoes so she can actually walk in them. This little fiasco encompasses the essence of packing for adventure travel. Less is most definitely more!

    When in a foreign country it is usually pretty easy to spot the experienced traveler from the novice. The novice is usually dragging a giant suitcase or trying to lug a brightly coloured backpack that is even bigger than they are. They are dressed in the latest “must have” adventure gear from the most expensive adventure stores and have “trekking” shoes worth hundreds of dollars.

    This is not the way to do it for several reasons. The first is comfort. You will usually be doing a lot of walking whenever you go on a vacation and walking with 50 kg of luggage is both tiring and difficult. You will also, most likely, be getting extremely dirty and ruining whatever clothing you take (even if it’s expensive “adventure clothing”) and don’t forget that some of your gear may even be stolen (sometimes by other travelers). If you show up with all the best and most expensive gear you are also a walking target for hustlers and thieves. With all of this in mind here are a few tips:

    Luggage – If you are going to be doing anything even remotely physical and walking any further than a few hundred meters, then a backpack is definitely the way to go. But not all packs are created equal! Think small and inconspicuous. Dark colours like brown and black will attract less attention than a bright purple or red pack. Make sure it is the type of pack that has a flap on the top that closes over the pack’s opening to keep out water (the types that zip up WILL get your stuff wet). You will also want to put your clothing in waterproof stuff bags – I use standard plastic shopping bags, but there are tougher ones that you can buy from disposals and camping stores. You also want your pack to be as small as possible. Especially if you are only touring (mountaineers may need something bigger). I use a 30 liter pack but would say 45 liters is an absolute maximum for general purpose use. You will be carrying it around a lot and if you cannot fit something in then you probably don’t really need it.

    Clothing – Think light and breathable! Cotton is always good. Three shirts is usually enough because you can wear one, wash one and have a spare. Take ones with collars to keep the sun off your neck if you are going anywhere remotely sunny. For pants, I like cargoes that can zip off the legs and turn into shorts (which can also double as swimming trunks). Dark colours are always going to hide the dirt and grime so that’s also a good idea. Usually, other than underwear and socks, I don’t take much more than this. Remember that if you need something you can always buy it there and usually for a fraction of the price than at home! Don’t forget to take some type of hat as being sunburnt is a real drag when you are traveling.

    Shoes – Unless you are doing some serious mountaineering then you probably won’t need those $300 Scarpa trekking boots. In many poorer countries you can buy those $300 Scarpas at the local markets for $10 anyway, because some idiot tourist left them outside his door to dry and an enterprising local stole them to sell at the markets! Think comfort – I usually go for Converse All Stars, but any type of cheap canvas shoe will probably be ok. On a trek across England my Converse shoes allowed my feet to get wet about 10 minutes before my buddy’s feet got wet – he was wearing the $300 Scarpas! Once again, if you need something better, you can probably buy it at your destination for a cheaper price.

    Other stuff – There are a few things I will never travel without. Sunscreen is the main one because I REALLY hate getting sunburnt. A small multi-tool is often pretty handy too – don’t get a leatherman because you will lose it or get it stolen. You can often buy multi-tools for $5 anyway that work perfectly well. I also always take a lighter ($1 plastic kind) for anything from lighting people’s cigarettes to sealing the ends of ropes.

    The trick to packing for adventure travel is to pack light, inconspicuous and cheap. This avoids you becoming a human pack-mule or a target for thieves and hustlers. You will also find that you will enjoy your traveling more because you won’t be so tired now worrying about your gear so much.