There are certain images of Alaska
that are embedded deeply within the American consciousness—images of
sentinel pine trees frozen in time; of glaciers blanketing the
peripherals with giant walls of white; of huskies hopping through a
snow drift, the tips of their fur crystallized and glistening. But when
it comes to the authentic Alaska, these icons are merely the proverbial
tip of the iceberg.

Bald eagles don't just flirt with the
treetops—they swoop through the air on crisp cushions of frost, their
eyes afire with life. Glaciers don't just protect the shorelines—they
reach out and embrace the waters, merging with the sea in a million
different angles, each one ablaze with the sun's shimmering touch.
Around every bend, Alaska unleashes the kind of beauty that will remain
as vivid in your memories as your grandchild's first step.

in size and landscape, Alaska is best experienced from the calm waters
that hug its striking coastline. Cruise ships provide the vacation
essentials—luxurious rooms, scrumptious dining, relaxing spas,
first-class entertainment for adults and children alike—and Alaska
provides the scenery—picturesque villages bursting with culture,
humpback whales swimming alongside, dense forestland engulfing the

All you need to provide is the entire family.
Cruise lines host a bevy of entertaining activities to keep all
generations smiling wide and laughing loud during the voyage. And with
Alaska and its coastal towns as the backdrop, the trip will provide
ample time and opportunity to bring your children and grandchildren
closer to your heart.

From May to September, premier
cruise lines—such as Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian,
Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises—set sail from Seattle or Vancouver
with their Alaskacompasses
pinned on North. With each ship offering unique services while touching
base at numerous historic ports, your best bet is to contact your local
travel agent to find the right itinerary for you and your family.

ocean liners voyage along the great Alaskan shores by one of two
routes: the Inside Passage or the Glacier Route. Vessels traveling the Inside Passage
meander through the channels and fjords of Alaska's panhandle to hidden
villages only gold miners know. The Glacier Route bypasses the inner
channels and follows the coastline further north, visiting unsurpassed
glaciers and seaports en route to Seward, a stepping-stone to Anchorage
and the interior.

The ports of call along either route rival the majestic scenery, beginning with your ship's likely starting point—Vancouver—considered
by travel agents as one of the great cities of the western world.
Picturesque and multicultural, Vancouver is worth an extra day before
or after your cruise to explore a true Canadian gem.

Leaving Canadian waters, your first stop will be Ketchikan,
Alaska's southernmost port. Originally a rugged town for loggers and
fisherman to blow off steam, this Salmon Capital of Alaska has since
renovated its unique waterfront area to welcome its many visitors. Hop
off the boat and visit the Totem Heritage, which houses the world's
largest collection of totem poles.

Further north up Stephens Passage, your ship will port in Juneau,
Alaska's capital. Gold put this city on the map, but today Juneau
relishes its cosmopolitan feel while still embracing its wilderness
suburbs. While docked, strike it rich at the Gold Rush Historic
District or take a bus tour of the Mendenhall Glacier for a truly
eye-opening experience.

The next stop is Skagway,
a small town with major appeal. Skagway exploded overnight in 1898,
when the town absorbed 20,000 prospectors during the Klondike Gold
Rush. Today, Skagway is home to an old-fashioned Main Street with
shopping you just won't find in the lower 48, while enchanting visitors
with organized tours to the Trail of '98 Museum and the Gold Rush
Cemetery where fool's gold glimmers in the headstones.

Just a brown bear's jog from Skagway is Glacier Bay National Park,
where 13 glaciers combine to create a sight that will send your heart
soaring to heights only eagles dare venture. From the ship you may
witness the incredible sight of calving, when chunks of ice detach from
a glacier and plummet to the sea, creating a sound so unique you will
never forget it.

The last destination for many cruises is Seward,
perched at the head of Resurrection Bay on the Kenai Peninsula. One of
Alaska's oldest and most scenic communities, Seward provides an ideal
launching point to Anchorage,
where, on a clear day, you can peer past the moose traipsing through
the streets and see North America's tallest mountain, Mount McKinley
(20,320 ft.), 130 miles away in the heart of Denali National Park.

those who prefer a more intimate inspection of the natural wonders of
Alaska, then climb aboard a small ship. With cabins for around 100
guests, small ships, like those offered by Cruise West, can navigate
narrow channels to explore off-the-beaten track. With more time between
ports, boat captains often choose to linger while sea otters put on a
show or to search for a pod of humpbacks after a nearby fisherman
radios their location.

the Alaska of legend from the comfort of the waters. Cruise ships allow
you to relax in luxury and feast on the finest cuisine as your
grandchildren play under the supervision of a cruise counselor.
Cruising this wild coastline is a soothing vacation full of scenic
adventure for the entire family. Contact your local travel agent today
to uncover the Alaska within yourself.