When you book an Alaskan cruise, you’re signing up for the experience of a lifetime. From viewing Alaska’s mountains from a plane to climbing into an ice cave to explore its chilly depths, the excursions available are quite memorable. But with so many adventures to choose from, how do you make the most out of your experience? These are the best Alaska shore excursions.

Seaplane Tour

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This shore excursion allows you to catch a seaplane from the port town of Ketchikan and fly to Misty Fjords National Monument. The aerial view of the glacier lakes, steep fjords and jagged sea cliffs are all the more stunning from up high. Kawanti Adventures offers a 2.25-hour trip which includes 60 minutes of flying time and a fjord water landing in the heart of the park. From there, you can take in Alaska’s splendor from the plane’s pontoons or a private dock, a scene you will never forget.

Whale Watching

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There are nine species of whales to be found in the Alaskan waters. Seeing these colossal giants break the water’s surface, be it a gentle humpback spouting or the spectacular crash of an orca, is a breathtaking experience. Whale watching tours are available throughout Alaska, so consider booking your excursion based on which whale you’d like to see. The Icy Strait in Hoonah is known to attract humpback whales and is a common stop for many cruise ships. And Resurrection Bay near Kenai Fjords National Park attracts orca pods during the warmer summer months.

Helicopter and Dog Sled Tour

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Taking a helicopter ride to go dog sledding is a truly Alaskan experience. You hop in a helicopter to fly over the snow-capped, craggy mountains of Alaska’s Chugach Mountains. After landing on an actual glacier, you’re surrounded by magnificent views. Best of all, there are beautiful huskies waiting to pull you in a sled.

Wilderness Safari

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If you’re ready to experience Alaska up close, book a wilderness safari. The Glacier Point Wilderness Safari out of Skagway offers a well-rounded land-and-sea adventure for all ages. The catamaran ride through the Lynn Canal allows opportunities to spy seals, whales and waterfalls in America’s longest and deepest fjord. Next, walk through the dense rainforest before witnessing the impressive Davidson Glacier via a voyageur canoe. This excursion is the perfect way to get up-close-and-personal with what makes Alaska so special.

Sea Kayaking

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Sea kayaking through unspoiled waters is the ultimate Alaskan moment. While smaller ship cruises from UnCruise Adventures and Discovery Voyages have kayaks available for passenger use, you will have to book a kayaking excursion if you are aboard a larger cruise ship. Luckily, there are many kayaking opportunities throughout Alaska’s waterways. From the Ketchikan Kayak Eco-Tour to circumnavigating a glacier in the Bear Glacier Kayaking Adventure, there’s plenty of sea kayaking excursions for all ages and abilities.

River Float

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Adrenaline junkies will love the Mendenhall River Rafting Trip, which takes you past the Mendenhall Glacier before traveling through Stage 2 and 3 rapids. If you prefer a calmer pace, check out the Chilkoot Bald Eagle Preserve Float in Haines. This peaceful river float gives you access to the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world. During the excursion, keep your eyes peeled for wolves, moose and bears, who are all drawn to the Chilkat River’s salmon spawn.

Glacier Trek

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For a full day of adventure, book a mountaineering excursion to Mendenhall Glacier. Be forewarned — this 8-hour glacier trek isn’t for the faint of heart and does require a certain level of physical fitness. You hike through the rainforest for 3.5 hours, a trek that ends in a rock scramble before revealing incredible views of the surrounding peaks. Next, your mountaineering class begins, as you don glacier gear and crampons to trek upon the ice for an hour. Along the way, you can explore deep blue ice caves, witness crevasses and peer into glacial pools.