Alaska, the Last Frontier... a destination filled with history, culture, and unbelievable wildlife. This is a destination that is probably already on your bucket list, but if it isn't, this blog may change your mind.
Alaskan cruises are among the most popular in the world, tourists flocking to this snow-covered natural oasis to catch glimpses of towering glaciers, larger than life mountains, and wildlife you simply won't have the opportunity to see anywhere else. An extremely rich history and cultural background attract academics of all sorts, and students are certainly no exception.
Student cruises to Alaska are on the rise, with so many different cruise options available to suit student groups of all ages and interests. These cruises provide an opportunity for students to explore Geology, Biology, History, Geography, and Culture.
- Geology - From age-defying glaciers to unique oceanic narrows and fjords, Alaska is chock full of unique geological features.
- History - Alaska boasts a history unlike any other, with many native cultures to learn about, as well as rich Gold Rush and Last Frontier history.
- Culture - Indigenous peoples/native cultures galore, Alaska provides an opportunity to learn all about communities you may have never heard of, such as that of the Tlingit tribe.
- Biology/Geography - The flora and fauna of the Alaska area are absolutely worth the trip alone, the land providing access to beaches, rainforest, old-growth forest, wetlands, and alpines. The variety of plant and animal life within these various ecosystems is outstanding, providing an excellent educational opportunity.
There is an overwhelming amount of cruise options when it comes to Alaska, but we believe the biggest variable in making your choice breaks down to whether you want a large cruise experience or small, intimate cruise experience. There are several options for both, many of the large cruise experiences well-known already; Disney, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Royal Caribbean, Holland, Norwegian, etc. Some small cruise lines that are well-known in the Alaska area include Uncruise, Regent, Oceania, Seabourn, and Lindblad.
We have 3 top choices for the best student learning experiences on Alaskan cruises overall, both large and small.
Best Student Learning Cruises:
- Adventures by Disney - Disney is hands-down one of the most recognizable cruise line names, especially when considering a trip with kids, students, and families. Disney Wonder offers a cruise experience called Adventures by Disney in Alaska, offering an education-filled adventure from Vancouver to Skagway. On this 7-night cruise, your students will have access to 'Adventure Guides' and naturalists along the way as you make stops in Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, and Sitka. Your shoreside excursions are filled with education, the options including whale watching in Juneau, Rainforest Ziplining in the Tongass National Forest, a White Pass train ride filled with Gold Rush history, and a walk along the famous Yukon Suspension Bridge (plus more)!
- Lindblad Expedition - For a smaller, more intimate cruise experience that offers all the educational benefits you would get with a larger cruise we highly suggest a cruise with Lindblad Expedition. This company has earned the recognition of being a 'Top Small Ship Cruise Experience', offering Alaskan cruisers a very hands-on learning cruise adventure. The cruise is guided by a team of expert naturalists who will teach you all along the way as you partake in shoreside activities such as kayaking through glacial ice, hiking the Tongass National Forest, seeing the Misty Fjords National Monument and Alaska State Museum, and navigating the narrows of Wrangell, something you simply cannot do with larger cruises.
- Science at Sea - Perhaps our favorite option for students, but also the hardest to book simply due to limited availability, is Steve Spangler's Science at Sea with Holland America. This option offers a custom adventure that allows you to explore Alaska's Inside Passage with a team of naturalists, the journey taking you from Vancouver to Juneau, hitting Glacier Bay, Skagway, and Ketchikan along the way. You will be able to enjoy onboard lectures, museum access onshore, and customizable education excursions. Steve Spangler himself is known as America's Science Teacher and is today a leading Youtube Personality. This is truly a great education option for smaller student groups, one that is hard to pass up if you can catch it!
We also have shoreside excursion favorites we think are perfect for students of all ages, regardless of the cruise option.
Best Student Learning Shoreside Excursions:
- Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour
- Location - Ketchikan
- Education Points - History and Culture of the Alaskan Fishing Industry.
- Sled Dog Adventures and Musher's Camp
- Location - Skagway
- Education Points - Culture and Tradition of Unimog Dog Sled Rides
- Whale Watching Tour
- Location - Juneau
- Education Points - Stunning Biology of Whales
- Yukoner 1/2 Day Tour
- Location - Skagway
- Education Points - History and Geology of Yukon Territory and Historic White Pass Summitt.
- Rainforest Family Adventure - Old Growth Tongass Rainforest
- Location - Ketchikan
- Education Points - Geology and Biology of Flora and Fauna of Alaskan Forest.
- Saxman Totem Village with Lumberjack Tour
- Location - Saxman
- Education Points - Culture and History of Tlingit Peoples, Totems, and Logging Industry