Known as the Last Frontier because of its opportunities and many lightly settled regions, and the “Land of the Midnight Sun”, when the sun shines nearly around the clock during Alaskan summers, Alaska is one of the most magnificent states in the union. Ice bergs, snowcapped mountains; fjords and wild life define our 49th state. Cruise ships swarm into the region from May to September, filled to the brim with seafarers who want to explore and venture into the wilds. For years, though, mostly seniors who had been there done that, booked an Alaska cruise but lately younger travelers and more millennials are heading north by ship.
To capture (and captivate) the new audience , in 2016, Crystal Cruises is sending the Serenity off to make seven voyages of seven and 10 days that will allow intrepid luxury travelers literally hundreds of opportunities to immerse themselves in the countless facets of Alaska’s culture, outdoor adventures and resident wildlife, while enjoying the exclusivity and elegance for which Crystal is known. “With all of our Crystal Adventures, it is our goal to bring the destinations to life for our guests by offering authentic, memorable experiences,” says Crystal’s president and CEO, Edie Rodriguez. “The spirit of adventure permeates every part of life in Alaska, naturally, we strive to showcase this culture to travelers in every possible way.” Seeing Alaska by ship and particularly on the super deluxe Serenity is about as good as it gets. You can slip out onto your private balcony from your stateroom to witness nature in all its glory using the binoculars provided by the cruise line. Or head up on deck where blankets are provided for your comfort. While it can be warm and sunny by day, you should count on times when it will be chilly so be sure to pack a parka, gloves and hat. You can also be certain on any Crystal cruise that the food will be tops and hopefully fresh local fish will be served, the drinks are always free (from Champagne to booze, bottled waters and specialty coffees), and the service seamless (with no need to tip as gratuities are included in the fare, too).
Millennials, the young at heart, adventure seekers list of options:
Heli-Hike and White Pass Railway, takes you high above the Sawtooth Mountains, through the wilderness via train, and on a four- to five-mile hike along the Skagway River to the magnificent Laughton Glacier. Bears, moose and mountain goat sightings are an added perk (from Skagway, Alaska).
Glacier flightseeing and dog sledding, another combo adventure that highlights two of Alaska’s most popular sports, taking travelers via helicopter to the top of Denver Glacier, where they’ll marvel at the endless sea of peaks and glaciers beyond before entering the world of mushing, guided by the professionals of the Iditarod Dog Races (from Skagway). *A second “musher’s camp” dog sledding adventure is offered from Juneau.
Whale-watching eco-adventure, combines a favorite activity in Alaska’s waters with the Marine Conservation Alliance Foundation’s efforts to preserve the wilderness shorelines; affording views of orcas and humpback whales, as well as Stellar sea lions, harbor seals and more. All while educating participants about how the animals are identified and protected.
ATV adventure through the Tongass National Forest, allows you the opportunity to visit Alaskan Brown Bears and Sitka Black Tail Deer in their common habitat as they cruise along the rough terrain via 4×4, stopping for sea views of whale spouts and sea otters in the distance (from Sitka).
Fly fishing by float plane, this takes you into the Alaskan wilderness to a remote spot not accessible to road access, where the catch-and-release fishing expedition begins in pursuit of salmon, Dolly Varden, cutthroat trout or steelhead.
Other options include glacier treks (for a phenomenal experience), kayaking excursions, photography-focused expeditions, highlights of Alaska’s Russian and native heritage, zipline thrills, wildlife encounters and preservation education, and even crab feeds.
Crystal Serenity’s 2016 Alaska cruise season runs from June 19 through August 16, with a spring Asia voyage and a late-August Northwest Passage route also featuring Alaskan calls and adventures. For bookings by December 31, 2015, travelers can enjoy additional “Book Now” savings, with all-inclusive cruise fares starting at $2,915 per person.