The waters between Alaska’s southeast panhandle and its close–knit islands offer superb views of orcas, bald eagles, bears, and glaciers. Frugal sightseers favor the Alaska Marine Highway System (800-642-0066), a fleet of sleep–aboard ferries linking 14 towns, from Metlakatla in the south to Haines and Skagway in the north; travelers from the lower 48 usually board in Bellingham, Wash. Large cruise lines with resortlike pampering include Holland America (800-426-0327), Princess (800-774-6237), and Royal Caribbean (866-562-7625). Cruise West (888-296-8993) runs more intimate trips.
This article was first published in July 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.