Sail Away to the Magical Land…!!!

A room with a beautiful view!! That’s what a holidaymaker looks for when checking into a hotel. What if you are told that you’ll be presented with a breathtaking view whichever room you check into? You don’t believe us? Then folks it’s time you visit Alaska. There are few places in the world with the grandeur and breathtaking beauty of Alaska. And no, it isn't just the mountains, sparkling lakes or glaciers that draw travellers to Alaska but the magic in the land, its mystical boreal pull. It's a place that ignites the imaginations of people who live in the city but long to wander in the woods.

The vast majority of visitors to Alaska, and almost all international flights, fly into Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau are the main airports in Alaska and they receive flights from many cities in the US as well as international cities like Frankfurt, Vancouver and Seoul. If you wish to travel by sea, there are two options: the southeast ferry is from Bellingham, Washington to Skagway, Alaska while the south-west ferry links the Aleutian Islands to the Kenai Peninsula. Many cruise liners ply to Alaska and generally start in Seattle or in Vancouver and touch the Alaskan ports of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.

Getting around is expensive in Alaska. Many areas are accessible only by air or sea routes, which are expensive options. It is possible to get about Alaska by air. Air Alaska is the regional carrier and its hub is Anchorage from where there are short flights to smaller cities in the state. For those dependent on public transport, getting around is time-consuming and difficult, as public transportation is not very well developed. Driving around Alaska is an option as long as you are well prepared with an emergency kit, and can tackle difficult road conditions such as gravel roads. One should check on road conditions before setting out and be careful of dangers such as avalanches, wild animals on the road, etc.

The other fabulous way of seeing Alaska is by cruise ship. You will never regret it! There are plenty of reasons to take an Alaskan cruise, namely the two ‘Cs’: comfort and convenience. Depending on the type of trip you choose, you can get a chance to disembark in port for anywhere from four to eight hours, where you can stroll around town, take in a hike or an excursion, or even a longer trip inland. You also get to sit on deck, take in the breathtaking vistas and spot bald eagles hunting, humpback whales breaching and glaciers calving: not a bad little bit of sight-seeing. On the smaller lines, you’ll get more wildlife excursions and more stops. And since the majority of the cruise liners leave from Vancouver, you get to see one more beautiful city on your way to Alaska. There aren't too many cities in the world that offer Vancouver's combination of big-city lifestyle and outdoor fun in such proximity. Ski in the morning, sail in the afternoon, and still make it back to town in time for a cocktail or two. Alaska is the largest state in the US and offers a range of things to do for the visitor, especially if one is an outdoorsy sort. Go hiking or mountain biking in the Denali National Park - you might spot a grizzly bear or two. The scenic beauty is unparalleled and you are bound to fall prey to Alaska's charms. The quaint little towns of Sitka and Juneau are interesting with touches of their Russian heritage that still lingers in the churches and cathedrals. The museums in the towns are interesting and the totem poles you see tell legends of the native people.

Take a trip on a ship to get sight of the glaciers and fjords. Hubbard Glacier is a sight to behold! The longest river of ice in North America, the Hubbard Glacier is also one of the most active glaciers of its kind in Alaska. The largest calving glacier on the North American continent, the Hubbard Glacier routinely calves off icebergs as high as 10-story buildings, sending massive blocks of ice into the sea every few minutes. And since most ships are designed to provide the tourists with the best viewing possible, you'll be able to see this massive natural wonder, with its 1,350 square miles of blue ice, from just about anywhere on the ship. A trip to the Inside Passage has to be taken and seen to be believed. Words are inadequate when it comes to describing to the raw, rugged appeal of the masses if ice. Go on a whale watching tour in the Glacier Bay National Park. It is home to the humpback whale, and many other species of whales. Other activities would be fishing or going kayaking and to top it all take the Yukon Rail and White Pass from Skagway - the awesome glaciers, gorges and mountain views are breathtaking indeed!

This is just the tip of the iceberg - there are very many more things to do for all who make the trip to Alaska! One is spoiled for choice as far as sightseeing is concerned in Alaska -- -- you can choose from magnificent glaciers, fjords, spectacular national parks, charming towns each with its own attraction. There is no better way of seeing Alaska than by taking a luxury cruise ship that takes you through all the major sights listed below.

Begin your trip at Anchorage, the state's only metropolis, home to two fifth of the population in Alaska. Travel south along the Kenai Peninsula, admiring the scenic coast line and stay over at Seward, a good base to explore the Kenai Fjords National Park. The town boasts of the interesting Alaska Sea Life Center and the Chugach Heritage Center devoted to native Alaskan culture and art. The ice fields of Kenai make a spectacular setting to indulge in some wildlife spotting on boat trips, fishing and glacier watching. Many of the tidewater glaciers 'calve' icebergs into the surrounding waters -- an awesome spectacle accompanied by much sound and splashing!

The Inside Passage or Panhandle as Southeast Alaska is often called consists of many forest covered islands where salmon flourish in the waters as do bears and deer in the wooded forests. Charming historic towns are located here, as is Juneau the capital city. Visit the charming fishing town of Ketchikan where cruise ships to Alaska make their first stop, boasting of the fascinating Totem Bight State Historical Park, Saxman Totem Park as well as the Totem Heritage Center. Little wonder then that Ketchikan has the world's largest totem collection! Also here, is the Deer Mountain Fish Hatchery and Raptor Center. Juneau is only second to Miami in terms of the number of cruise ships that dock here. Most visitors head for the Meden Hall Glacier, Glacier Bay and Tongas National Forest. Juneau City's attractions include the comprehensive Alaska State Museum and the St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church.

Sitka, the former capital of colonial Russian America, is but naturally full of reminders from its Russian past - the St. Michaels, Cathedral, the Russian Bishop's House, Castle Hill with its Russian canon are all worth a visit. Stop by the Sheldon Jackson Museum for a look at its excellent Native Alaskan artifacts and the Sitka National Historic Park for more on the history of Tlingit town.

Skagway, established as a trading post for prospectors during the Klondike Gold Rush has preserved its original looks in the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. The city is full of reminders of its past -the Arctic Brotherhood Hall with its Trail of 98 Museum and the Gold rush Cemetery are informative. Take in the surrounding scenery on the White Pass and Yukon Railway. If you are feeling adventurous, take off on the popular Chilkoot Trail, based on the path taken by Klondike prospectors! Native crafts such as jackets and moccasins, smoked and tinned sea-food, unusual T-shirts make good buys.

See the natural wonders of Alaska that are the scenic national parks: Incredible, larger-than-life, extra-ordinary, spectacular Wrangell-St Elias National Park on the eastern border with Canada is the largest National park in the country spread over 13.2 million acres. Boasting of four major mountain ranges containing within them 10 of the highest peaks in the country, the park is truly Alaska's Mountain Kingdom McCarthy and Kennicot are the major towns in the area and you can go for some great sightseeing trips by flight -- the aerial view of the glaciers, mountains, and waterfalls is exhilarating to say the least! Want to fly to the Arctic Circle? Keen to explore old gold mines and natural hot springs? Want to lose yourself in the magic of the aurora borealis? Well, what are you waiting for? Head for Fairbanks, the second-largest city in Alaska, which has greatly built on its position as the northernmost city and as a starting point for trips into total wilderness. The city also has some interesting diversions -check out the University of Alaska Museum, as well as the Large Animal Research Station on campus, the Alaskaland Park and the Geophysical Museum for more on the aurora borealis. Fairbanks plays host to the Ice Festival in mid-March with sled dog races and ice-sculpting competitions. The two hot springs near Fairbanks are Circle Hot Springs (130 miles northeast) and the Chena Hot Springs (60 miles east).

The peak tourist season or the best time to visit is mid-June to August. Winter is another good time to visit, especially if you want to see the Northern Lights or the aurora borealis. The best time to see this unique natural phenomenon is from December to March, when the nights are long. But if you want to experience Alaska in her lonely splendor, then April or October are better. It’s already May and would be better to get planning your Alaskan Cruise and sail away to the magical land!!!

Team Veena World