Celebrating on an Alaskan cruise is an amazing way to spend your honeymoon. If you love adventure, exhilaratingly chilly weather and the beauty of the great outdoors, then Alaska will become your new favorite place to visit. Derek and I aren't huge fans of excursions offered by the cruise line, so we came up with nine different ways to experience Alaska, but planning them on your own terms. We found that booking activities not affiliated with the cruise line were more fun and WAY cheaper. The cruise lines like to scare you into booking with them because they guarantee to wait for you before leaving port, but after speaking with tour managers at the various locations we learned all of them have the cruise itineraries and make it priority to get you back on time. So booking and exploring on your own is totally the way to go!
Kayaking can be an excellent way to stay fit and find inner serenity, but there is something extra special about kayaking in Alaska. Southeast Sea Kayaks provides an amazing tour in Ketchikan through Orcas Cove, a magnificent body of water carved out by the massive glaciers that once resided there. Derek and I had a chance to take this beautiful journey and although we didn't have any run ins with orcas, we did see an extraordinary amount of bald eagles and one curious sea lion that adorably bobbed his head in and out of the water as we paddled by. What surprised me most was how deep the water was - over 300 feet! A little frightening at first at the thought what could be lurking beneath, but the awe and beauty of my surroundings quickly turned my fear into amazement. Tour groups are very small and intimate, consisting of a knowledgeable tour guide and around six guests. Definitely a unique way to explore Alaska!
Photo Credit | Southeast Sea Kayaks
Located on the Alaskan cruise docks of Juneau, Tracy's King Crab Shack is THE #1 destination to get your seafood grub on. They specialize in heavenly buckets of deliciously ginormous Bristol Bay Red King Crabs which as a side note would make you utterly terrified if you saw alive and fully assembled. Besides having the best legs in town, they also have an award winning bisque and amazing crab cakes. You do not want to miss this place!
Photo Credit | Lars Yeager
The Mendenhall Glacier Trekk by Above & Beyond Alaska is for true adventure seekers. It's an eight hour tour covering nine miles of strenuous terrain carrying a 10 lb. backpack, so you have to be pretty fit to make it through without your body hating you for the rest of your honeymoon. Sound extreme? It is, but the reward is an experience of a lifetime exploring the underground wonders beneath the famous Mendenhall Glacier. If this is high on your list of activities, plan your cruise itinerary far in advance, choosing a cruise line that ports in Juneau for longer than eight hours. Looking for a more intimate Alaskan cruise experience? You can book a private tour for just you and your partner, an awesomely romantic excursion for adventurous newlyweds!
Photo Credit | Andrew E. Russell
For those who want to experience the beauty of Alaska without the high physical activity, consider a breathtaking helicopter ride to the top of a glacier. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a Titanic moment and scream, 'I'm the king of the world!' while standing on a gigantic hunk of ice and listen to it echo off the surrounding mountain tops. Most of the ports offer this intimate excursion and it's not only a very romantic way to spend the day with your one true love, but also a destination to get married or renew your wedding vows.
Photo Credit | Chugach Peaks Photography
Located in downtown historic Skagway, there is an adorable little brewery named Skagway Brewing Co., whose signature drink is a spruce tip blonde ale. That's right, a little taste of Christmas in each and every glass. The bar, whose roots date back to the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898, attracts a lot of tourists, but we witnessed a ton of local patrons too, which is a good sign the bar is legit. This was far and away Derek's favorite stop on the Alaskan cruise and he said he could spend the entire day there, people watching and tasting the unique flavors on tap.
Photo Credit | Clever Wedding Ideas
Sometimes the amount of cruise excursions offered in each port can literally be overwhelming. If you are feeling adventurous and are fairly good at navigating, then renting a car and exploring on your own may be the best way to have a private experience with Alaskan nature. Skagway is probably the best port to do this because of it's close proximity to Canada and the Yukon wilderness. Travel Tip: Make sure you carry your passport with you while traveling because you will be crossing the Canadian border. Also grab a paper map in town, (I learned this one the hard way.) Roaming charges apply once you cross and Google Maps via a cellular phone will be of no use if you don't have an international plan.
Photo Credit | Clever Wedding Ideas
Like cheesesteaks are to Philadelphia, salmon is to Alaska. You would be doing yourself a huge disservice if you did not incorporate salmon into your Alaskan honeymoon. Since eating is high on my list of vacationing priorities, you can say I had my fair share of salmon, (okay I ate it every day!) So make sure you either go fishing, visit a hatchery or chow down on a delicious smoked variety - I assure you, it's delicious!
Photo Credit | Steven Depolo
Because of my irrational fear of orca whales (yeah, I know, weird), I did NOT go whale watching during my Alaskan cruise. However, every friend of mine that has visited believes hands down Alaska is the best place for whale watching, especially in Juneau. Juneau Whale Watch offers a smaller tour for a more intimate watching experience and their website makes booking super easy. They give you extremely concise instructions about where to meet, what to wear and what to expect the day of your experience. With the large amount of whales that populate the area, most tours guarantee at least one whale siting, so booking this excursion is a sure winner.
Photo Credit | Juneau Whale Watch
Booking Seanna O'Sullivan Photography for a romantic photo shoot was by far the best decision we made when planning our Alaskan cruise. Seanna brought us to two amazing locations, one of which was the back side of the Mendenhall Glacier (the front end is where all the tourists go, so we had the whole location to ourselves!) She also took us to the Shrine of St. Therese, an off the beaten path retreat featuring a chapel, tiny log cabins, a love labyrinth and beautiful landscapes. The experience was truly one of a kind and it was so amazing to be escorted around by someone from the area. We have stunning, professional photographs to show our families and remember the wonderful memories for years to come.
Photo Credit | Seanna O'Sullivan Photography