ALASKA TOURISM IS TIED to the cruise industry. In 2011, according to the AK Office of Tourism Development1, around a third of all visitors to the state were associated with cruises in some way.
This style of travel precipitates certain demographic trends: More than half of all 2011 visitors were 55 or older — 24% were over 65. Many are retirees, who now have the time and money to travel frequently, or for whom Alaska is the “dream trip” they’ve been saving for for decades.
The bottom line: A good chunk of Alaska’s tourist population has cash to spend, and local operators oblige by providing some pretty sweet opportunities to spend it.
But just because you’re splurging doesn’t mean you’ll be stuck with the cruiser herd. Here are a few recommendations of where/how to spend on activities and accommodations that cater to independent travelers.