Ask someone why they want to visit Alaska, and you’ll often hear “to see the animals!” Alaska is known for its abundance of wildlife, but especially the Big 5–grizzly bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep and gray wolves. Our travel advisors Mary Ann and Susie were thrilled to see four of the five on their Royal Caribbean Cruisetour adventure this May.
Spectactular doesn’t even begin to describe the mountains and vistas of Alaska, but seeing the wildlife up close and personal was definitely the most amazing part of our trip with Royal Caribbean. Driving along Turnagain Arm outside Anchorage, we saw 40-50 bald eagles in the mud flats on our way to Seward, Alaska. Absolutely majestic! Once we arrived in Seward, a small port that acts as the gateway to Kenai Fjords National Park, we boarded a wildlife day cruise to see the glaciers and fjords of southern coastal Alaska. Heading out to Resurrection Bay we spotted an otter playing with (…er, eating) a crab and a whale that kept playing hide and seek under the surface until it finally disappeared into the bay. The rocky inlets of the islands we passed were full of sea lions and nesting birds, and puffins floated by. If we looked up high in the rocky outcroppings we could see tiny little spots of white–Dall sheep.
Later in the week we visited Talkeetna on our way to Denali National Park. Denali, formerly know as Mt. McKinley, is the tallest peak in North America. We lucked out seeing it’s peak on a beautiful sunny morning, then took a glass-domed train ride about 4 hours from Talkeetna to Denali National Park on the Wilderness Express. Our train car had 2 black bear sightings, one of a single bear and one of a bear and her two cubs. It was fun to look for the bears as we rode along in our double-decker train car with full views of the mountains, rivers and woods along the route. The full-bar and lower-level dining car serving local favorite recipes just added to the magic of the day.
Once in Denali National Park, we took a short bus ride several miles into the park. We weren’t expecting to see much since we weren’t going that far into the park, but we ended up seeing a grizzly bear digging through some shrubs along the river, as well as moose and caribou right up next to us along the park road. It was absolutely thrilling to see these animals up close! It’s a great reminder of what a treasure our wildlife and National Parks are, and we are so thankful for opportunities like Royal Caribbean Cruisetours that allow everyone to experience them!