Why You Should Take A Winter Cruise In Alaska

There is a reason Alaska is known as the Land of the Last Frontier. Being one of the largest, most remote and uninhabited states in the country, it is truly wild and offers one of the most iconic and historical pieces of nature - glaciers. Although there still might be hundreds left, they are quickly disappearing, making most of them inaccessible to anything other than a plane, boat or lengthy hike. Being able to feel the strength, fragility, power and serenity of these majestic creations is something that many people only dream to experience, and will eventually be a thing of the past. When you visit Alaska during the winter, not only will you fulfill this dream, but you will have a chance to experience some of the most unique and sought after experiences known to man. 

Overhead views of a coronal mass ejection as it reacts in Earth’s atmosphere

A top bucket list item for many people is not only coming to Alaska, but seeing the northern lights. It is a full-blown experience that you will cherish and remember forever. The moment the sky comes alive with color and formations will truly take your breath away and leave you speechless. With prime aurora viewing season being September - April, the best way to accomplish this is to come to The Alaska Frontier during the winter. Driving the roads during an Alaskan winter can be very stressful and treacherous at times, and many locations can become inaccessible via vehicle. With this, it is harder to plan out an itinerary or know what sort of things to do. As an alternative, UnCruise Adventures is offering a new “Winter Sports & Northern Lights Cruise,” that sails during the months of February & March. This ensures more daylight hours, warmer temperatures and great conditions for winter adventures. Take part in downhill skiing/snowboarding, snowshoeing or even ice skating ashore, all the while cruising in a winter wonderland.

Ice calves from Margerie Glacier - located in Glacier Bay National Park

Icy waters, snow-capped mountains and bright blue glaciers await you on this trip of a lifetime. You will journey through fjords and small channels in order to navigate as safely as possible to the awe-inspiring glaciers - something only small ships and seaplanes are capable of. During the right conditions you may also see the ice calve, which creates an exciting sensation as the dropping force into the water sends out an aftershock similar to that of a tsunami.

Be on the lookout for wildlife as well, both in the water and ashore. Many bald eagles, harbor seals and sea lions can be spotted cruising the icy waters and when ashore or cruising near land there is also a chance you could spot a moose, elk or bighorn sheep.

Now you may be wondering why anybody would want to subject themselves to the cold, harsh conditions of sailing Alaska during winter. Well, there is something very serene and tranquil about winter and when you are surrounded by untouched and expansive wilderness, time seems to stand still. The air is brisk, refreshing and so quiet you can hear yourself think. Moments are literally frozen in time and under the right conditions you will get a chance to experience one of the greatest shows on Earth - the Aurora Borealis. There will be few to no tourists ashore, and if you decide to venture into the back-country or mountains, odds are you will have the entire place to yourself! After all is said and done, you’ll be back on the ship with plenty of ways to warm up, either by filling your belly or soaking in a hot tub.

Personally working on cruise ships for 3 years, I spent two seasons cruising Alaska. It is a very powerful place that will speak to your soul and evoke emotions within you. Traveling via expedition ship is a great way to see many sights, all the while not worrying about accommodations or the logistics of traveling from location to location. You are essentially in a floating hotel, which allows you to enjoy every minute of the journey either from the comfort of your cabin or out on one of the decks, taking in all the incredible views and there sure are a lot of them! Cruising is also a great way to meet other travelers and make lifelong friends that share the same passions as you.

This journey starts and ends in Alaska’s capital of Juneau, which offers many recreational activities and tourist attractions to complete an itinerary before or after your trip. A popular destination is the Mendenhall Glacier, which feeds into Mendenhall Lake. During winter, this lake becomes frozen and allows you to navigate around a giant playground of icebergs. Of course, this will be weather dependent so it is always important to research and do your due diligence before heading out on your own. This glacier also offers different types of tours, such as guided treks, flight-seeing and dog-sledding.

Additionally, some other popular options in Juneau would be riding the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tram, which takes you 1,800 feet above the town as you gaze out at the Chilkat Mountains, the Gastineau Channel, downtown Juneau and Douglas Island. Once at the top, you may explore the park, trails, the Sky Bridge or the Mountain House complex. If you are looking to explore more of the local scene or stay indoors, the Red Dog Saloon is a popular go-to for a unique dining experience. Step back in time with this western-style pub, equipped with swing doors and a sawdust floor. If you are looking to learn more about Alaska’s indigenous culture, the Alaska State Museum offers many artifacts and exhibits. So now that you have imagined what it would be like to go cruising in a winter wonderland, why not experience it for yourself?


Author Bio: Michelle Hanson My name is Michelle Hanson and I am a nature & travel photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska. I’m also a writer for The Alaska Frontier, a website dedicated to helping others learn to explore our great state of Alaska. I first discovered this great land during my time working on cruise ships, and knew it was a place that I needed to return to. I have been in Alaska since July 2021 and have already spent countless days on the road, exploring as much as possible. It is a powerful place that will steal your heart and speak to your soul.


Photo Credit: All photo credit goes to Mhphotoco