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Located at the upper end of Cook Inlet in the Gulf of Alaska, Anchorage is Alaska's largest community. This popular tourist destination and crossroads for global air travel is only minutes away from the recreational areas bordering the Gulf of Alaska.
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12-night Denali Explorer – Pre-Cruise Cruisetour

Price: Please call for rates - # of Days: 12 days

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10-Nights Luxury Lodges of Alaska Adventure Package

Price: Please call for rates - # of Days: 10 days
Experience two of the top luxury lodges in Alaska – Stillpoint Lodge and Sheldon Chalet – on this 11 day circle tour from Anchorage. Discover diverse landscapes and stunning wildlife on a full day tour of Prince William Sound by seaplane, then arrive to Stillpoint Lodge and go bear viewi...

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11-night Premium Alaska Wildlife Encounter Cruisetour #3B

Price: Please call for rates - # of Days: 11 days

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11-night Majestic Tundra Explorer Cruisetour #4B

Price: Please call for rates - # of Days: 11 days

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Anchorage


Anchorage, Alaska, is big-city living. It is home to more than a quarter-million people—nearly half the state's population. The city has shopping malls, national discount stores, movie theaters, fast-food restaurants, fine dining, high-rise hotels and a busy international airport. That makes Anchorage an anomaly in a state where the featured attraction is wilderness—specifically Denali National Park, the Kenai Peninsula and Katmai National Park. Alaska's residents joke that visitors can't really claim to have seen the state until they leave Anchorage.

But, as with most places in Alaska, the wilderness is never far away. The snowcapped Chugach Mountains (home to more than 45 different mammal species) rise just behind the city, and some of the state's premier natural attractions are within a day's travel. If you visit in summer, you'll have extra time to see the sights—there are 17-21 hours of daylight per day then.

Must See or Do

Sights—Browsing at the Anchorage Market and Festival; views from the tram to the top of Mount Alyeska in Girdwood and from the Glen Alps Trailhead within Chugach State Park; beluga whales and Dall sheep along Turnagain Arm; watching floatplanes land and take off at Lake Hood; fishing for salmon in Ship Creek in the heart of downtown.

Museums—The Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, which houses art galleries, the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, the Imaginarium Discovery Center and the Thomas Planetarium; the vast collection of Alaska Native exhibits and arts demonstrations at the Alaska Native Heritage Center; Alaska's aviation legacy at the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum; moose and whale skeletons at the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature.

Memorable Meals—The Glacier Brewhouse for herb-encrusted halibut or Alaskan king crab legs; freshly caught Alaska wild salmon or Dungeness crab at Simon & Seafort's; pizza at Moose's Tooth Pub and Pizzeria; the filet mignon at Club Paris; the seafood fusilli or lamb osso buco at Orso; macadamia-nut halibut at Marx Brothers' Cafe; blueberry-patch truffle at Modern Dwellers Chocolate Lounge.

Late Night—A concert at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts; a nightcap at the Crow's Nest; live music at McGinley's Irish Pub; martinis at Bernie's Bungalow Lounge; partying in the maze of bars at Chilkoot Charlie's.

Walks—Strolling the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in the almost-midnight sun of midsummer; hiking Flattop Mountain or nature trails in Chugach State Park; the free 45-minute Alaska Public Lands Information Center walking tour in downtown Anchorage; searching for moose, beavers and birds at Kincaid Park or Potter Marsh; biking through the forests and along the salmon stream of the Chester Creek Trail.

Especially for Kids—Hands-on exhibits at the Imaginarium; the Alaska Zoo; splashing through the H2Oasis Waterpark; indoor ice skating at the Dimond Center Ice Chalet; the theater and park at Alaska Wild Berry Products; visiting wild things at Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.

Geography

The city occupies a wide and relatively flat point of land where Ship Creek flows into Cook Inlet in south-central Alaska. The southern edge of Anchorage borders on the waters of Turnagain Arm (a branch of Cook Inlet). The Chugach (pronounced CHEW-gatch) Mountains rise to the east, and the Anchorage Bowl—as the whole area is called—stretches approximately 15 mi/24 km north to south and 10 mi/16 km east to west at its widest point.

Within the Bowl are a number of distinct neighborhoods connected by large arterial roads. There are two major highways: the New Seward Highway, which heads south from downtown toward Seward and Homer on the Kenai (pronounced KEE-nye) Peninsula, and Glenn Highway, which heads northeast, eventually connecting with the Alaska Highway at Tok. The Parks Highway is the main road to Denali National Park and Fairbanks. It branches off the Glenn Highway 35 mi/56 km north of Anchorage.

Travelers are likely to visit downtown and midtown. The latter is a nondescript area marked by shopping malls, businesses and homes approximately 2 mi/3 km south of downtown.

History

Anchorage sits along upper Cook Inlet, named for English explorer James Cook, who sailed into those waters in 1778 in search of the fabled Northwest Passage across the North American continent. For centuries, the Tanaina natives inhabited the area. The first European settlers didn't arrive until the early 1900s.

In 1915, Anchorage became a primary staging area for workers building the federally financed Alaska Railroad, which connected coastal Seward with inland Fairbanks. A tent city quickly sprang up along Ship Creek (located on the north edge of downtown), and within a year the semblance of a permanent town appeared complete with electricity, phones, water lines and schools.

By the 1930s, more than 3,000 people lived in Anchorage, and its importance grew during World War II when both Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson Army Post were built to help defend Alaska from possible Japanese attack.

After Alaska gained statehood in 1959, Anchorage prospered until the massive Good Friday earthquake of 1964. The second-most-powerful earthquake in the world during the 20th century, it had a magnitude of 9.2, killed 115 Alaskans and caused billions of dollars in damage. Most of the structures in the city today were built after the quake.

Another significant event that has shaped Anchorage was the discovery of oil in Prudhoe Bay in 1968, and the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in the 1970s. The city quickly became a base for oil companies and other businesses, and its population more than tripled during the next decade. Its central location, relatively mild weather and excellent transportation facilities have made Anchorage the most economically important city in Alaska—by far. Today, it's a fairly cosmopolitan place and the commercial fulcrum of the state.

Visitors to Anchorage will also discover a surprisingly attractive downtown, especially in summer, with flowers overflowing their hanging baskets and a lovely small park in the center of town. In addition, the city has fine restaurants, a vibrant nightlife and ample recreational opportunities at any time of the year. Anchorage is a very livable city.

Potpourri

Alaska has 128 times more land covered by glaciers than all the remaining states, with a combined 100,000 glaciers. Glacial ice often appears blue because glaciers absorb all other colors and reflect blue. There are 60 glaciers within 50 mi/80 km of Anchorage.

Moose frequent yards and streets throughout Anchorage, and there are about 1,500 of the animals in residence within city limits, as well as about 250 black bears and 60 brown bears.

Anchorage is home to Lake Hood, the busiest seaplane base in the world, with an average of more than 100 takeoffs and landings daily. These small planes use skis and wheels on the frozen runway in the winter.

The annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has a ceremonial start in Anchorage and travels about 1,000 mi/1,610 km from Willow to Nome, although the exact route differs each year.

A life-sized statue of Capt. James Cook overlooks the Turnagain Arm at Resolution Park in downtown Anchorage. Reportedly, the statue frowns because of Cook's failure to find the fabled Northwest Passage. Cook's ship, The Resolution, was forced to turn back in Anchorage's shallow port waters.

Anchorage is Alaska's largest Alaska Native village, home to members of all 11 Alaska cultural groups.

On a clear day in Anchorage you can see 20,320-ft/6,194-m Mount McKinley, North America's tallest mountain, which is 130 mi/209 km north of downtown. You can also see six mountain ranges: the Alaska Range; the Chugach, Talkeetna, Tordrillo and Kenai mountains; and the Aleutian Range, as well as two volcanoes.

Anchorage, which stretches 1,705 sq mi/4,416 sq km from Portage Glacier to Eklutna, is about the size of the state of Delaware.

Location

Although it's a port city, few cruise ships actually dock in Anchorage because of the constantly changing shallow conditions of the inlet and tremendously powerful tides. Yet residents hope that will change as the city continues to upgrade and expand its decades-old port, adding two more berths, barge docks and acres of new space for ships. In the meantime, most cruise ships stop at one of two deepwater ports: Seward, 127 mi/204 km south on the Kenai Peninsula; or Whittier, 57 mi/92 km southeast, on the west side of Prince William Sound. Passengers are transported overland by bus or train to and from Anchorage.



Shore Excursions

Cruise tours include trips to Columbia Glacier, Prince William Sound, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Denali National Park and Preserve with towering Mount McKinley, Portage Glacier and Seward. Most provide opportunities for fishing, camping, hiking, boating, sightseeing, historic railroad trips, flightseeing or landing on a glacier by helicopter.

Some ship-sponsored tours may include bus or train transportation, overnight accommodations and food, but others may not. For a complete list of excursions and prices, contact the cruise line or your travel agent.




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