Since 1961, the Port of Anchorage has serviced both passenger and cargo ships. Because the passenger cruising season is so short (May through September), the majority of the traffic handled at the port is cargo, including steel, petroleum, iron, and other freight items, but the facilities are currently undergoing renovations to upgrade and expand passenger capabilities due to the increased interest in Alaskan cruises.
Cruises from Anchorage
Far removed from the most popular cruise destinations, only a few lines offer service departing from this Alaskan port. They include:
- Holland America Cruise Line: The most prominent leader for Alaskan voyages, Holland America offers both stand-alone cruises as well as extensive package tours with additional land-based options.
- Princess Cruises: This upscale line is currently expanding its Alaskan offerings to bring passengers a decadent experience as they sail northern routes.
- Carnival Cruise Line: The largest and most popular cruise line in the world, Carnival offers a limited number of Alaskan sailings with service to Anchorage.
- Norwegian Cruise Line: Known also for its extensive Hawaiian cruises, Norwegian is a comfortable mainstream line for both novice and experienced cruisers.
- Cruisewest: This localized line offers the widest range of cruise vacation lengths serving Alaska, with some voyages as short at just three days.
- Royal Caribbean Cruises: Best know for its adventurous onboard activities, it is no surprise that Royal Caribbean also embraces the rugged outdoors adventures of Alaska.
Only a few itinerary options are offered involving Anchorage. The vast majority of voyages are 7-night, one-way passages either to or from the port, typically connecting to Seattle or Vancouver. Some 14-night, roundtrip options are available, and Carnival also offers a unique transpacific voyage leaving from Alaska and traveling to China.
The heart of Alaskan history and culture, this city offers a range of unique activities for interested passengers. While there are pre- and post-cruise excursions offered that take less than a day and can be coordinated around early or late flights, the best way to visit the city is to arrange a package that includes several nights on land in addition to the cruise. Popular attractions include:
- Portage Glacier: The most popular tourist glacier in the state, this attraction also features a visitor center with educational interactive exhibits explaining the region's unique climate.
- Prince William Sound: This scenic waterway is home to tremendous flocks of migrating birds and pods of whales, as well as outstanding natural beauty including glaciers, fjords, and waterfalls. Kayaking and chartered cruises are available for closer looks at this pristine wonderland.
- Dinner Cruises: Several companies offer dinner cruises along the coastline and other waterways with superb sunset vistas and dramatic glacier routes.
- Lake Hood: The busiest seaplane base in the world, this attraction is a great place to catch a flightseeing tour for stunning views of Alaska's natural wonders.
- Anchorage Museum of History & Art: With one of the largest collections of native Alaskan art and artifacts on display, visitors to this museum get a rare glimpse at the unique Inuit societies that still play an important role in the state's culture.
- Denali National Park: Though it is a lengthy plane ride away, visitors don't want to miss seeing this tremendous park with its legendary scenery and abundant wildlife.
- Outdoor Activities: Alaska is known for its magnificent outdoor adventures, and dozens of tour companies offer fishing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, mountain climbing, and other excursions near the city and the Kenai Peninsula.
Getting to the Port of Anchorage
The biggest problem with getting to this city's port is that it actually isn't anywhere near Anchorage. Cruise ships actually dock at both Seward and Whittier, coastal locations nearly an hour and a half bus ride away from the city's airport. Cruise ships offer bus transportation between the airport and the terminal which can be included in an airfare package or purchased separately by passengers who arrange their own flights. There is no overnight parking at the terminal, but cars can be hired from the city and will reach the port through the longest tunnel in North America, the 2.5 mile Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel.