Spring travel season is in full bloom for Alaskans looking to travel in state

Although the summertime cruise season officially started last week in Southeast Alaska, it’s a little early here on the Railbelt between Seward and Fairbanks. There’s still plenty of snow, and the tripod on the Nenana River is still standing tall.

Even so, spring specials are popping up all over for Alaskans who cannot wait to go exploring. Just be sure to bring your hat, some gloves and an extra jacket. Or two.

The sightseeing cruises in Seward started up last month. It’s always fun to sail in Resurrection Bay when the snow comes right down to the water. Watch for the critters on the shore and in the water, including the big gray whales and an occasional orca. Bring binoculars so you can see the otters and porpoises up close.

Kenai Fjords Tours offers cruises Thursday-Sunday, departing at noon. The four-hour Resurrection Bay cruises are available through May 16 for as little as $116 per adult. Kids under 12 years old sail free when accompanied by a paying adult (one free child per adult). Lunch is included (chicken burrito).

Major Marine Tours cruises seven days a week during the spring — and offers 25% off a hotel/cruise package through the end of April.

The cruise, which departs at 12:30 p.m. each day, costs $109 per adult. Hotel accommodations at the Harbor 360 are $169 per night, before the discount, port charges, fuel surcharge and local sales tax.

After everything is added on and the discount is applied, the cost for two adults to go on the cruise and stay overnight is $328.64, or $164.32 per person. I didn’t add up the cost for the kids, which is $54.50 per child (ages 2-11).


If you plan your cruise in May or early June (through June 15), Major Marine offers 20% off a hotel/cruise combo at the Gateway Hotel.

Overnight visitors have more time to see the Alaska SeaLife Center. Alaska residents typically can save about $5 off the cost of admission, from $25 to $30 per adult. Admission for kids who live here costs about $15. It’s important to book your tickets online, since the SeaLife Center offers staggered admission.

Alaska residents can trim 30% off the nightly rate at Alyeska Resort. Whether you’re going to ski or soak at the new Nordic Spa, the resort is well-situated. I plugged in some midweek dates to get the best rate: about $228 per room with the discount applied.

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Up in Talkeetna, the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge sits on a bluff overlooking the runway and downtown Talkeetna. It’s got the best view of Denali for miles around. For a couple of years now, the lodge started opening in March for springtime travelers.

Between now and May 5, the lodge offers a 30% discount. Use the promo code “SPRING” when making reservations online at

If you love the idea of cruising on the big ships, even when it’s a little chilly outside, there are some great spring rates departing Seward.

Nate Vallier with the Alaska Travel Desk in Juneau is a big cruise fan. He found some particularly good early-season specials, including:

1. Sail on the Norwegian Jewel on April 22 to Vancouver, B.C., in an inside cabin for $199 per person (based on double occupancy). In this case, the port taxes and fees cost more than the cruise: $301 per person. Still, $500 for a seven-day cruise through the Inside Passage is a good deal.

2. Get an outside cabin on the Jewel sailing on May 6 from Seward. The cost is a little more: $309 per person, plus $301 per person for taxes and fees, or $610 total per person, based on two people sharing a cabin.

3. If you want a balcony, Vallier recommends the Celebrity Summit, sailing from Seward on May 17. The cost is $399 per person, plus $383 in taxes and fees, or $782 per person, all in. Vallier picked this particular date because it’s much less than the other sailing dates on the Summit.

All of these cruises end in Vancouver, B.C. Travelers must have a passport. Travelers in May can fly back on Air Canada’s nonstop flight to Anchorage, starting on May 14. Early birds in April can fly via Seattle.

For a more intimate experience on a smaller ship, consider Alaskan Dream Cruises, which sails from Juneau and Sitka on seven- or eight-day itineraries through the Inside Passage.

Cruises between May 12 and June 14 are 49% off for Alaska residents, using the discount code “49FOR49″. You have to call for reservations, since the special prices are not listed on the website: 855-747-8100.

Still, you can check out the itineraries online at

Setting sail with between 40 and 80 passengers, these vessels go where the big ships can’t. One of the earliest cruises on the Alaskan Dream sails into Glacier Bay and calls in Kake, Wrangell, Petersburg and Pelican. With the discount applied, rates start at $2,497 per person, double.

The “Last Frontier Adventure” on either the Admiralty Dream or the Chichagof Dream is a seven-night itinerary that’s a little different, including a visit to the Fords Terror Wilderness area near Tracy Arm. There are four departures between May 18 and June 14, starting at $2,038 per person, double.


There are several itineraries from which to choose, but the Alaska resident pricing details are not available on the website.

Whether you want to hang out in a lodge or cruise on a boat, the spring travel season is in full bloom.

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Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based marketing consultant, serving clients in the transportation, hospitality, media and specialty destination sectors, among others. Contact him by email at Subscribe to his e-newsletter at For more information, visit