The majority of Alaska cruises depart from Seattle, or Vancouver, or from the two Anchorage ports, Whittier and Seward. While there are a occasional departures from California cities and smaller Alaskan ports, these are not regular and will not be included herein.
Seattle is the cosmopolitan crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest. The city sits on the slip of land between Puget Sound and Lake Washington, with the Olympic and Cascade Mountains serving as a spectacular backdrop. The Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Downtown Waterfront are just a few of the famous landmarks of Seattle.
Seattle is a young city. Settlers first landed at Alki Point in 1851 and named the area after Sealth, after the Suquamish Indian chief who befriended them. “The Emerald City” has a legacy of vision and strength and was rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1889. Seattle has hosted two World’s Fairs (1909 and 1962) and is the birthplace of two modern marvels, Boeing and Microsoft.
Cruise passengers with afternoon flights or an overnight stay in Seattle will enjoy the city’s variety of vacation sites. Travelers with disabilities will find Seattle to be among the country’s most accessible vacation destinations. The city offers wheelchair-friendly hotels and attractions that can be easily enjoyed with careful planning. Seattle is one of the two main embarkation ports for Alaska cruises, which are very wheelchair accessible, so it’s a common destination for wheelchair users. And there are a ton of wheelchair accessible things to do in Seattle, both for grown-ups and for families. Here are a few:
- The Space Needle
- Museum of Pop Culture
- Chihuly Glass and Gardens
- Seattle Center
- Pacific Science Center
- Pike Place Market
- Seattle Art Museum
- Seattle Aquarium
- Ferry to Bainbridge Island
- Boeing Everett Factory Tour
- Sky View Observatory
- Argosy Harbor Cruise
Positioned between the snow-dusted North Shore Mountains and the rich, blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver blends big-city sophistication with small-town charm. Don’t miss Queen Elizabeth Park – a 130-acre civic arboretum accented with sculptures by modern artist Henry Moore.
Famous for its mild climate, rich nature and vivid arts scene, Vancouver is known around the world as one of the best places to live. Environmental group Greenpeace was established in Vancouver.
It seems unlikely that a character named “Gassy Jack” Deighton would be responsible for one of the most beautiful cities on the continent. But that’s history for you.
During the gold rush, Gassy Jack saw a chance to make money from the hordes of miners on their way to the Yukon. The saloon he built became the focus of the shanty town known as Gastown. From that ragtag group of shacks, modern Vancouver was born. The provincial government persuaded settlers to change the name of the town to Vancouver, after Captain George Vancouver, who sailed the region’s waters in 1792.
Canada’s third-largest city, Vancouver is a cosmopolitan place with a European feel and a personality all its own. It’s a community with a rich ethnic mix – including the second-largest Chinatown in North America – and stunningly beautiful parks. Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada, the westernmost of Canada’s 10 provinces, has a reputation as being one of the most accessible cities in the world for travelers with disabilities. Whether using wheelchairs, white canes, seeing eye dogs or hearing aids, Vancouver leads the way in making the area a more livable place for people with disabilities.
Here are a few accessible activities in Vancouver:
Seawall Walkway at Harbour Green Park
Accessible Horse Drawn Carriage Ride
Whittier, approximately 65 miles southeast of Anchorage, lies nestled at the base of the Chugach Mountains bordering Passage Canal. Established as a World War II port for cargo and troops of the Alaska Command, Whittier remained activated until 1960. Today, Whittier’s economy and its 290 residents rely largely on the fishing industry, the port and, increasingly, on tourism.
Once accessible only by boat or via a war-era railway tunnel, The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel was recently enhanced to accommodate highway traffic as well, making it the longest highway/rail tunnel in North America at 2.5 miles.
Named for the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, the community is also the gateway to spectacular Prince William Sound, with its magnificent tidewater glaciers and abundant marine life.
Things to see:
Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel
Prince William Sound Museum
Seward is a primary end point for north-bound cruise ships. Cruise ship passengers disembark and often take the train or bus farther north to Anchorage, Denali, or other Alaskan attractions.
Best known for its beautiful parks and mountain scenery, there is nearly an endless variety of outdoor activities to enjoy in Seward. There’s no shortage of enjoyable pastimes in Alaska’s City of Seward with monster halibut weighing over 300 pounds caught each year in nearby waters.
A few things to do:
Explore Kenai Fjords
Alaska Sealife Center