Alaska – cruising America’s last frontier.

An ocean voyage to Alaska on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth is a timeless journey into a land of ice and fire.

Sculpted by glaciers and volcanoes, Alaska’s rugged beauty has enmeshed writers and photographers from Ansel Adams to Jon Krakauer. For millennia, people including the Tlingit and the Iñupiat flourished in this harsh landscape; after prospectors found gold in Bonanza Creek in 1896, miners rushed to join them. Today, old-growth forests, snow-capped peaks, eerie icebergs, and spectacular wildlife draw travellers from across the globe, particularly during the long, temperate summer days.

Even today, Alaska has little by way of highways or railroads, so there are few better ways to explore America’s largest state than cruising. Travel by ship opens vistas that can only be seen from the ocean and unlocks cities that are only accessible by air or water. Better still, cruise travellers can witness wonders such as calving glaciers or breaching humpback whales from their natural element – water.

Alaskan adventures – a world of possibilities.

An Alaska cruise is the voyage of a lifetime. In Glacier Bay National Park, waters as blue as they are cold extend to striated cliffs and corrugated ice fields shaped by the inexorable flow of long-frozen rivers. Around Hubbard Glacier, the groans and cracks of centuries-old ice threaten the ocean’s eerie stillness – if you’re lucky, you may even see a brand-new iceberg born.

As these grand landscapes glide past your balcony, wildlife is a constant. Killer whales frequent Alaska’s waters all year round; humpback whales feast on the rich nutrients summer brings; it’s not uncommon to see an eagle gliding overhead. Brown bears, grizzly bears, black bears, and Kodiak bears feed in the forests, while wolves still hunt moose, caribou, and bison.

Cunard’s Alaska ports of call offer bursts of life and colour amid the wilderness. Ketchikan houses over 80 beautifully crafted totem poles; in the Gold Rush port of Skagway, clapboard saloons hark back to bawdier times; in Juneau, thriving galleries and restaurants give way to pristine woodland trails and slabby peaks.

It’s tempting to watch forests, glaciers, and fjords slip by from the ocean. Yet there’s plenty to do on land, whether exploring independently or joining a shore excursion. Born from the chaos of the Klondike Gold Rush, the White Pass Scenic Railway hugs sheer cliffs and rugged ridges, and winds through pine forest and wildflower meadows, delivering one of the world’s great train rides.

In every port there’s a new adventure, and Cunard’s Shore Experiences put these instantly within reach. Kayak in search of seals and sea lions at Icy Strait Point; take to the waters of Sitka Sound for bears, whales, eagles, porpoises, and sea otters. Even in summer, you can channel your inner Jack London and board a dog sled for an exhilarating ride across a glacier.

A new era of timeless glamour.

Cunard’s Alaska cruises bring an iconic name in ocean cruising to America’s most consistently beautiful cruise destination. With a history dating back to 1840, Cunard was the line of choice for Hollywood stars including Cary Grant and Elizabeth Taylor. Today, its signature rhythms and rituals encapsulate a very modern form of luxury – the luxury of time, the freedom to travel slowly, and the leisure to embrace your personal passions and interests.

On board, cocktails and dining are experiences to be savoured, anticipated and celebrated. Afternoon tea becomes a feast for all the senses, with white-gloved servers bearing pastries on silver platters as live musicians play: baked Alaska dessert and chilled champagne add a note of Arctic style. In the Commodore Club, wraparound windows frame views of coastal ranges while bartenders shake up contemporary cocktails at your table. At dinner, menus span the gamut from filet and lobster through to Alaskan salmon and king crab.

Events are a highlight of the Cunard experience, from canapé receptions with the captain to gala evenings. On Alaska cruises, travellers dress to impress in formal wear and brilliant white dresses for an Ice White Ball, inspired by the breathtaking glacial backdrops.

Yet there’s more than food and drink to a Cunard journey. Learn from guest speakers in the Royal Court Theatre, which also hosts live performances, or hear about Alaska’s landscapes and wildlife in real time from the onboard naturalist. Enjoy a sauna, a massage, a facial, or aqua therapy at Mareel Wellness Spa, or witness ocean views from your treadmill. Choose from thousands of books in the onboard library, complete with a librarian, or take an art class, learn to fence, or try your hand at some deck games.

From the moment you enter the grand triple-height lobby to the strains of a string quartet to the moment the bellhop whisks your bags away, an Alaska cruise with Cunard is a journey like no other. And with a new view from your balcony every moment of the day, it’s the easiest form of travel – after all, you need only unpack once.

Alaska by the numbers.

  • Alaska has the longest coastline in the US: 66,000 miles (106,200 km).
  • There are about 90 active volcanoes in Alaska.
  • Alaska is home to over 600 named glaciers – and maybe 100,000 that are yet to be named.
  • Alaska is home to more than half of America’s national park lands by area.
  • America paid US$7.2 million to buy Alaska from Russia in 1867.
  • Alaska is four times as big as California, but home to less than 2% of its population.
  • Denali, North America’s tallest mountain, towers 20,310 feet (6,190 meters) over Alaska.
  • Alaska is home to members of 228 federally recognised tribes.

This article was produced for Cunard by BBC StoryWorks, the commercial content division of BBC Global News.

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