Why Take an Alaska Cruise ?Written by John Metcalfe
The Alaska cruise is a breathtaking adventure that you'll never forget. Giant snow-capped mountains, sparkling glaciers, thick pine forests rising up from shoreline and abundant wildlife vie for your attention in this dramatic landscape. Towns and villages brimming with history tell a story of Great Land that will endear Alaska to you forever.
An Alaska cruise typically departs from Seattle in Washington State or from Vancouver in British Columbia. Winters are very harsh in Alaska, so main cruising season is confined to summer months, typically between May and September.
The most popular Alaska cruise route takes passengers on a one week round-trip up Alaskan coastline and through Inside Passage. This route takes in ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka in extreme southeast of Alaska. Other cruise routes run to Prince William Sound near city of Anchorage, and also along Alaska Peninsula and into Bering Sea. These longer cruises are often one-way, requiring passengers to make their return journey by train or plane.
Ketchikan is well worth a visit alone for Tongass National Forest - most northerly rainforest on North American continent. It is more than eight times size of Yellowstone National Park, and offers ultimate in adventure tours where you'll find rich salmon runs and grizzly bears. Ketchikan is also home to world's largest collection of totem poles. These can be found at Totem Heritage Center Museum.
Caribbean Stopover at St. Thomas of the U.S. Virgin IslandsWritten by Clint Leung
One of most popular ports of call for Caribbean cruise ships is St. Thomas, one of U.S. Virgin Islands. On three Caribbean cruises that I took so far, two of them included a stopover in St. Thomas. On both occasions, there was a consensus among other passengers we met that St. Thomas was one of nicer islands visited. Although driving in St. Thomas is on left hand side, it is still U.S. territory so this Caribbean island features many other conveniences of being American soil. These included easy telephone connections for calls back to mainland, use of U.S. currency and English as main language. St. Thomas is also one of cleanest of Caribbean islands and locals do not aggressively hustle tourists like they do on other islands. Many passengers stated that St. Thomas is a place they would like to come back to in future.
During my first visit to St. Thomas, I took Atlantis submarine excursion which took tourists down to see an actual ocean reef. It was a bit pricey but that was expected. Seeing an ocean reef with marine life up close for first time during this submarine ride actually influenced me to take up scuba diving. During my second trip to island, we decided that we would spend some time snorkeling in local waters since at that time, my partner wasn't a certified scuba diver yet. My advance research suggested that Coki Bay on northeast side of St. Thomas was a nice place to snorkel. When our cruise ship docked at Charlotte Amalie, capital city of U.S. Virgin Islands, we hailed one of many taxi cabs at port. It was a $15 US fare to Coki Beach where Coki Bay is located. It took only about 15 minutes to get there. The scenery along way was magnificent as we went up a hill and saw our cruise ship in distant harbor below. The island itself is very lush with greenery everywhere.