Think about vacations. What images come to mind? Sipping a cocktail under the midday sun? Topping up the tan in shorts and a bikini top? Laying on the beach and having a dip in the warm sea? While hot summer vacations are still tops, and Florida remains number 1 on the leader boards in terms of popularity, cooler destinations, and winter vacations, are quickly catching up.
Why are ‘cold’ vacations becoming so popular? Well, there’s a number of reasons why travellers today are shunning the sandals and instead opting for hats and scarves. The most obvious reason is cost. The average American household has far less disposable income than in previous years, and travelling during off seasons, or to less popular destinations, is going to be a major money saver.
Secondly, winter holidays have evolved in recent years. They’re not just about skiing and snowboarding anymore, and there are a wide range of events and activities that simply aren’t available during the summer months. For this reason there has been a huge uptake in coach trips to the Christmas markets in Europe, and in the popularity of Alaska cruise liners which transport visitors to places to view the Northern Lights.
In the United States, Alaska is becoming one of the most popular destinations for winter vacations, and the Alaska cruise industry is soaring, having grown by almost 10% since 2004. In fact, if you wanted to take an Alaska cruise this year, you’d have a choice of well over 500 different sailings!
While the Fjords and glaciers are some of the highlights of an Alaska cruise, rivalling their European counterparts in Norway and the Baltics, the absolute top attraction is the Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights are a spectacular and colorful display which can be seen at their peak between December and March, although Alaska cruise ships sailing throughout the summer are able to get far enough away from the bright lights of the cities that the phenomenon can usually be seen all year round.
If you are considering an Alaska cruise, and specifically want to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, look for an itinerary that sails to the Fairbanks area, or either Anchorage or Ketchikan. The lights can usually be seen from these destinations quite well. Make sure you’ve got a lot of coffee to hand, though, because you’ll need to be up in the dead of night to see them at their best!
Of course, if you don’t manage to see the lights, Alaska has plenty more to offer. For nature lovers, there’s bear spotting to be done, and whale watching trips, and for thrill seekers there’s white water rafting and dog sledding. All things that really aren’t on offer at the beach! So the next time you’re planning your annual vacation, why not think outside the box and try something a little different? Consider a cool or winter getaway, you just might like it!
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