Alaska is the largest state in the United States in terms of area. It has the most glaciers in the nation, including the Hubbard glacier – the largest tidewater glacier in North America. If Manhattan had the same population density as Alaska, only 28 people would inhabit the island. But there would be a whole lot of bears!
Almost everywhere the backdrop is composed of spectacular mountains with waterfalls, creeks and rivers, and the occasional volcano. The coastline is scattered with charming villages, abandoned towns and even bustling harbour towns. Alaska also has a more concentrated indigenous population than any other state, at more than 14 percent.
Alaska is huge and wild, but surprisingly accessible. Especially when you visit by ship.
Cruising to Alaska with Hurtigruten
Alaska is a land framed by vast forestland and towering mountain ranges—a true place of breathtaking beauty. Keep an eye out for eagles and bears while exploring the varied landscape in a kayak or on a hike, and experience Alaska’s unique culture through town walks. Hurtigruten is the ideal choice to actively explore the wild frontier of Alaska. Our small expedition ships allow us to discover places off the beaten track, as well as the colorful historic towns and indigenous communities along this rugged and varied shoreline. Explore majestic fjords, bays, rainforests, and glaciers on our small boats (RIBs), accompanied by our Expedition Team, who will share their knowledge about the history and wildlife of the places you visit. Enjoy unforgettable experiences on included activities and optional shore excursions exploring Alaska’s diverse nature, cultures, history, and people.
Wildlife in Alaska
Alaska has wildlife in abundance and is a haven for birds, fish, bears, whales, caribou, moose, deer, wolves and many other species. Here are some of the animals we hope to see:
Alaska is bear country and all species of North American bears flourish here: grizzly, brown and black bears. In the north, the polar bears roam. It is not uncommon for visitors to see bears, usually from a safe distance. The brown bear is common in the coastal areas, and inland they are called grizzly bears. They are clearly identified by a muscular hump at their shoulders, giving them incredible strength. Grizzlies are very large and can weigh from 800 to 1,200 pounds.
On a Hurtigruten expedition cruise, guests may encounter whales while sitting on deck, or even from a kayak for a really close encounter. There are nine different species in Alaska but the most common you will likely see are Orca and humpback whales.
The Orca, or killer whale, is a skillful predator with a varied diet. Orcas live in units, or pods, and usually remain in this family for life and each pod has its own ‘language’ in the form of a specific Orca dialect.
The humpbacks come in great numbers to Alaska to feed on the riches of the sea. The waters are full of krill (tiny, tiny shrimp) which are the humpback’s favourite food. A full-grown humpback may consume a ton of these in a day. That’s quite a seafood buffet!
Alaska’s vast stretches of intact habitat attract birds from far away and provide important habitats to more than 500 birds, including four different types of eagles. Different species of geese, ducks, gulls and puffins are probably expected, as well as pigeons, doves and swifts. But even tiny hummingbirds have been seen here. On the larger end of the scale, there are albatrosses, pelicans, falcons and not to forget majestic eagles.
The male Alaskan moose is also called ‘giant moose’ for a reason. It can stand seven feet at the shoulder, weigh over 1,400 pounds and is the largest North American subspecies of moose. The moose is usually solitary and comes in contact with other moose for mating or competition for mates. A bull moose is normally not aggressive, but during mating season in autumn and winter, it may attack any creature it comes in contact with – including humans.
The Caribou is North America’s reindeer. It’s the only member of the deer family in which both sexes grow antlers. There are about 750,000 wild caribou on Alaska’s treeless tundra in 32 recognized herds. They migrate together and return to the same place each year to calve and search for food. The Alaskan native communities have had a close relationship to the Caribou for thousands of years as a source for protein, fur and antlers.
What to do
In Alaska, you have the opportunity to enjoy exciting shore excursions. With a smaller ship our expeditions get closer and deeper than the traditional cruises. You can seek out the less traveled spots along the coast, to enable a unique experience. Along the coast we also land in forests where you can look for wildlife, explore abandoned cities and visit small but bustling fishing villages.
Alaska is a land for wilderness lovers. Here, you can enjoy fauna and wildlife in its natural habitat. Kayaking surrounded by icebergs or maybe near a whale is a life-changing experience. And hiking in spectacular surroundings makes you feel like you really are a part of the big, the very big, nature.
To learn and understand more about the region, the wildlife and to get a deeper experience the science center and expedition team stand ready to take you on landings and excursion to experience the Alaskan nature, wildlife and culture first-hand. And the science center is the core of the ship where the team will hold lectures, teaching sessions and demonstrations to share their extensive knowledge.
Alaska is the place for getting out there and really feeling alive. So let’s go!