May to September, the Alaskan cruise season offers pretty much all you’d want except high heat and sandy beaches. View endangered wildlife from a safe distance, and enjoy stunning but endangered natural wonders. Look for awesome deals on early-bird cruise specials or shoulder-season departures.

Reason 1: Larger Possibilities

Most major lines now cruise Alaska, so finding the right big-ship experience for you is easier than ever — from family excursions to late-night revelers to tea-and-ballroom travelers. Plus, more ships up north now mean more itinerary options.

Reason 2: Smaller Opportunities

Whether you want to travel first-class or back-to-nature, options abound. The recent influx of luxury ships means better discounts, generous onboard credits and free airfare. Smaller ships bring you up-close-and-personal to glaciers and scenic waterways. An expedition line can show you a side of Alaska that the big ships often miss.

Reason 3: All Ages Welcome

These days, Alaskan cruises cater to travelers of all ages. Major lines offer a host of onboard programs for kids and teens. All travelers can enjoy many attractive dining and nightlife options onboard, shore excursions such as kayaking and hiking, and week-long sails that suit hectic work schedules.

Reason 4: Go Wild Over Wildlife

Options to spot Alaska’s long-time residents abound. Spend scenic days cruising through famed nature spots, or take excursions to wildlife habitats. For free, just look over the side of the ship for a good view of these majestic creatures.

Reason 5: You can choose from a variety of unique-to-Alaska excursions

Who needs city tours or beach breaks? Alaska’s cruise tours put nature at your ready-to-explore fingertips. Whether you prefer outdoor activities, or just taking in the scenery and wildlife, a trip to the 50th state is off the well-trodden vacation path.

Reason 6: Do It Yourself

Want to forego the package tours, and explore each port on your own? From Juneau to Ketchikan to Skagway, The Last Frontier offers abundant options. Make sure to get some travel tips and brochures from local visitor centers or tourism bureaus ahead of your Big North adventure.

Reason 7: Pack a Pre- or Post-Cruise Stay into Your Trip

To get the most out of Alaska — and the pricey air fares — book a cruise tour or your own land vacation. Head out by car, train, coach or even plane. You’ll see an amazing variety of landscapes, visit prosperous cities like Anchorage and Fairbanks, and possibly glimpse the renowned pipeline. Explore as much of this great state while you’re here.

Reason 8: See Alaska’s Wonders – While They’re Still Here

The Alaskan travel experience is in transition. The mighty glaciers and endangered species now face global warming and other environmental changes. New laws protect animals from cruise ships and challenge the environmental footprint of cruise ships. So be sure to see Alaska’s wild side while you still can.