Last-Minute Alaska Cruise Excursions
For many, visiting Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! The various excursions that one can take make this state a premier destination. Tourism peaks from May-September with the cruise traffic and crowds will be present in this season. With this in mind, we always like to encourage our guests to book their excursions sooner rather than later, especially for high-demand tours like the Helicopter & Dogsled Excursion. Keep in mind that booking “last minute” does not mean that the excursion price is slashed or a “bargain” is possible. It is possible to snag seats at the last minute, so take a look at our recommendations below for tours that are likely to have seats available:
At the height of the Klondike Gold Rush, the port town of Skagway served as the gateway to the legendary goldfields and quickly grew into Alaska’s largest settlement. During its peak, Skagway was a boomtown packed with trading posts and saloons. Today, there are several Skagway excursions that showcase the town’s colorful past. We have a few sightseeing tours that have high availability and that parallel the Skagway train via the scenic Klondike Highway:
White Pass Summit & City Tour
Are you looking for a tour with a shorter duration so you can explore Skagway on foot to check out some of the local shops? Your guide will detail the gold rush history of this small town during the 19th century and stop at the Canadian border. Take a scenic drive through the town of Skagway and up to the famous White Pass summit. Your guide will stop every 20-25 minutes at scenic locations and historic landmarks such as Pitchfork Falls, Moore Creek Bridge, and Tormented Valley. Please note: passports are required for this tour. Although this tour does not enter Canada, guests will return through the U.S. Border.
Like the sound of the White Pass Summit & City Tour but want to venture a bit further into Canada? This Skagway excursion is an opportunity to take the road less traveled. On this scenic drive, you will follow the footsteps of Klondike stampeders and your guide will tell stories of the characters who made up Skagway’s colorful past (Soapy Smith and his rival, Frank Reid). This Skagway excursion features historic points of interest, such as the Yukon Suspension Bridge, Welcome to Alaska sign, and Yukon border sign. After passing the summit of the White Pass at 3,290 feet, you will continue onwards into Canada. There is no shortage of wildlife, either! Guests have seen mountain goats, marmots, moose, and even bears! Please note: passports are required for this tour.
And, for a fun tour that includes an extra-special souvenir, check out the Glassblowing Experience! This hands-on educational tour is fun for the whole family and is located close to downtown at the beautiful Jewell Gardens. Learn the art of glassblowing and design your own ornament that will be shipped back to your house!
What to do in Skagway after your tour is over?
When your Skagway excursion comes to an end, check out the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park to experience the local gold rush history. The National Historic District covers six blocks of downtown Skagway, with conserved buildings, museums, and ranger-led tours dedicated to preserving the legacy of stampeders. Learn more about the gold rush here.
Ready to grab a bite? Be sure to check out Skagway Brewing Company (or, as the locals call it, “Brew Co”). This sustainable restaurant reopened in a new location in 2019 and the third floor of the restaurant even has a year-round farm. There is also a 1500 square foot outdoor beer garden, where guests can sip on fresh microbrews.
As the only state capital in America inaccessible by road, Juneau is home to beautiful glacier and mountain views. Juneau is also the best port for whale watching. You might be thinking, “I’ll be on a cruise ship, I’m sure I’ll be seeing whales. Why should I get back on the water?” Well, we guarantee whale sightings on our tours – or your money back! It’s not uncommon to see sea lions, harbor seals, and bald eagles on these tours. Look out for a whale “breaching” – this is an incredible sight when a whale lifts most of its body out of the water. Take a look below for our suggestions for last minute excursions in Juneau – including whale watching tours:
There are tens of thousands of glaciers in the state of Alaska. The Mendenhall Glacier is part of the Tongass National Forest and is considered a “roadside glacier” that can be easily accessed. It is a very popular tourist destination, so popular in fact, that an entire Visitor’s Center was built for it. On this tour, guests are able to learn about the history of Juneau and how it became a historic mining town. This sightseeing tour is narrated by a local guide who will illustrate Tlingit tribe origins and bring you to the glacier’s visitor’s center. Conveniently located just 12 miles from downtown Juneau, the visitor’s center has informative displays and videos about the Juneau Icefield, large windows with binoculars to get a better look at the face of the glacier, and a gift shop. This tour includes 45 minutes at the visitor’s center itself. You can request extra time at the visitor’s center and hike the path to Nugget Falls for an even closer glacier view!
Interested in those whales? Our Whale Watching Tour takes place at Auke Bay Harbor where guests board either a 24-passenger jetboat or a 49-passenger catamaran before exploring the local waterways looking for wildlife. Don’t worry if the weather is cold and rainy – both of these boats have enclosed heated cabins with wide-viewing windows. Be sure to get your camera ready as over 150 humpback whales have been officially documented in the protected waters around Juneau. It is easy to spot the whales as they feed in these nutrient-rich waters no matter what time of day!
Combining the main attraction of whale watching and the local flavor of Alaska brews! After you check in with your guide, you will experience a narrated 25-minute drive to Auke Bay for whale watching. On the water, the naturalist will explain the feeding habits of the whales and identify the other wildlife that you will see. After the whale watch is over, you will be brought to the Alaskan Brewery, home to award-winning beers, a great menu, and a relaxed atmosphere. In the tasting room, you will sample a flight of four brews with the option to purchase food. Please note that this tour is only for 21+.
What to do in Juneau after your tour is over?
If you have time, check out the Alaska State Museum. At only $7 for an adult ticket, this state-of-the-art museum is a must-see and rotates through different exhibits throughout the seasons. The permanent collection is culturally educational and includes displays that detail the history of Alaska.
In addition, most cruise ships dock near Mt. Robert’s Tram. Before you get back on the ship, take a ride up on the tram – on a clear day, this experience can offer incredible views. At the top, there is a nature center as well as some hiking trails where wildlife viewing platforms are located.
Sprinkled with totem poles of Alaska’s native nations, Ketchikan has an active Native arts community and a rich culture. With a wide variety of tour types, Ketchikan has something for everyone. Ziplining through the rainforest, touring the Misty Fjords National Monument, and trying your hand at halibut fishing are all popular activities in this port town. For shore excursions that are likely to have last minute seats available, take a look at these:
This tour is extremely unique, in that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a similar experience. Upon boarding the Blackbird Hovercraft, your naturalist guide will educate you on the 20-inch “air-cushion” that makes this excursion eco-friendly while pointing out marine life. The area is rich with wildlife, allowing guests the opportunity to observe sea lions, bald eagles, and migrating birds. The captain will have you fly above the waves and along the shoreline of Ketchikan before stopping at a secluded beach, where you will learn about the species native to this region and have a chance to take photos. With a maximum of 12 guests on the hovercraft, this tour is an intimate experience that is both fun and educational.
You weren’t able to get on that helicopter tour in Juneau or Skagway? Take in all that Ketchikan has to offer from the air with your pilot as your guide. This narrated sightseeing tour will show you the landscape from a different perspective and you will see the Tongass Narrows, the Canadian Rockies, and the town of Ketchikan. This flightseeing tour highlights a landing on the tallest peak on Annette Island for stunning 360 views. If you want to see the area from a different angle, check out this excursion! Please note: there is a minimum of 2 passengers to book this tour.
What to do in Ketchikan after your tour is over?
This port town is known as “The Salmon Capital of the World” and starting in July, the salmon make their way back up the river that runs through Ketchikan in order to get back to the place they were born (known as the salmon run). The salmon’s last act of life will be to spawn. You can see this phenomenon on Creek Street – a boardwalk built over Ketchikan Creek where visitors can also shop for souvenirs and local art.
A good guideline that we have for booking last minute is to find tours that have frequent availability, regardless of how many ships are in port for that day. All of the tours mentioned above are easy to book at the last minute and promise a memorable experience! And remember – when you book with us, we donate 5% of our profits to the Alaska Conservation Foundation. If you are already on the ship, contact us by phone, email, or chat to inquire about tour availability.