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Alaska Cruise Dogsledding Excursions

Alaska cruise dogsledding
Cruise visitors with a tight budget can go "dogsledding" on carts. © 2018 Scott Bateman
Alaska is famous for dog sledding, and cruise visitors can try it themselves with the help of experienced dog sledders.

Yes, cruise visitors to Alaska can go dog sledding, but not necessarily on snow.

People of course think of dog sledding as something outdoor adventurers do on snow. But in reality snow is not common on the Alaska coast during the May to September cruise season. So excursion operators have come up with another option that still involves sled dogs but not necessarily the sleds.

Alaska cruise visitors have two choices for dog “sledding”:

1 - Spend big bucks to take a helicopter inland to glaciers to go dog sledding on real snow with real sleds.

2 - Spend a lot less money by driving to a facility near the cruise docks and go dog “carting” on what is often a trail without any snow. These dogs are trained to pull sleds on snow during dog sledding competitions. It’s just that they have a different job to do with summer tourists from cruise ships.

Big Budget Dog Sledding


Getting to snow in southeast Alaska during the summer usually requires air transportation. Passengers with big budgets can fly by helicopter into the interior for dog sledding on glaciers.

One excursion operator out of Juneau was charging $599 per person for the experience. The price included transportation to the heliport, the helicopter ride and of course the sledding.

Participants will learn how to manage the dogs and the sled. They can either ride on the sleds with guides leading the way or give it a try themselves.

The cruise port at Seward also has a dog sledding operator who takes visitors to an inland dog sledding camp. This one costs $519 per person. Seward is a good option for longer excursions because it usually is the port that begins or ends an Alaska cruise.

The Skagway port also has an inland tour requiring a helicopter trip at $539 per person.

Anyone who plans to sled on glaciers should bring extra warm clothing because temperatures are about 10 to 15 degrees cooler than on the coast.


Small Budget Dog Sledding


The small budget option usually costs around $100 to $150 per person and doesn’t require a helicopter. It doesn’t require snow, either. This option is available in Juneau, Seward and Skagway.

The Juneau excursion operator called it a “Musher's Camp & Sled Dog Discovery” and the Skagway operator calls it a “Sled Dog Tour”. Both are more accurate than calling it “dog sledding”.

This family-focused option is a shore excursion for passengers who go on wheeled carts pulled by dogs. It’s really more dog carting rather than dog sledding.

We chose this option at Seward for the sake of our limited excursion budget. The excursion overall was heavy on education and included a presentation about dog sledding, a visit to plenty of puppies and of course the dog carting.

The experience was entertaining enough to recommend it to families with small children but not to most adults without kids.

At least it didn’t cost $599 per person. Like all shore excursions, it often pays to shop for discounts such as two-for-one tickets.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

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February 25, 2019

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