Each year thousands of visitors come to Alaska by cruise ship. And many of these visitors want to experience Alaska’s varied fishing opportunities. Due to the popularity of fishing in Alaska, fishing excursions are available through the cruise lines at several of the stops on Alaskan itineraries. Find out the benefits of taking a fishing trip through your cruise line and whether it’s the right option for you.

What do the cruise lines offer?

Packaged tours

When you book a fishing trip through the cruise line, nearly every aspect of the tour is arranged for you. Your transportation to the area in Alaska where you’ll be fishing, your fishing equipment (like bait, flies, rods and waders), the services of a fishing guide, fishing instruction and sometimes even a meal are all included as part of the fishing excursion. Having all of the elements of your fishing trip pre-arranged saves you a lot of time and effort.

3 to 6 hour tours

The cruise line fishing excursions are typically either 3 or 6 hours long. This time includes your transportation to the area where you’ll be fishing and any instruction given by the guide. Depending on the size of your group, you may have only about an hour of “real” fishing time. But, one of the best things about taking a cruise line excursion is that if your tour is late returning for whatever reason, the cruise ship will wait until you return before leaving the port.

Experienced guides

Because the cruise line has already selected and approved your fishing guide, you can be certain that your guide is well qualified to lead fishing trips in Alaska. Also, if the competition for cruise excursion operators is high, the fishing guides chosen will have a higher level of expertise.

What you should know

You can’t bring your fish onboard.

Though you may have dreams of eating the salmon you caught in the cruise ship dining room, you are not permitted to bring your fresh catch onboard the cruise ship. If you’re on a fishing excursion that is not “catch and release” oriented, you can ask your fishing guide about fish processing and shipping. After your fishing trip is over, you can have your fish processed and sent back home for a fee. Be aware of processing costs before you decide to keep your fish so you can release your catch if you can’t afford to send it back home.

Excursions can be expensive.

Depending on which fishing excursion you choose, you can end up spending over $250 for one day of fishing. Often if you book a fishing trip with a native Alaskan fishing guide, you can get a better price. For most trips, fishing licenses are not a part of the upfront cost and you’ll need to purchase a license separately.

You may be crowded.

Most Alaskan cruise excursions will continue filling up until there is no more space available for that particular trip. This means that you could feel a little crowded on your fishing trip and the crowds can sometimes derive from your enjoyment. Also with big fishing excursions, the passengers will probably have different levels of fishing knowledge. With varying levels of expertise, the fishing guide will need to go over introductory fishing techniques. If you are a seasoned angler, you may lose fishing time while novices get up to speed.

When you take a cruise to Alaska, it’s easy to fit fishing into your itinerary. Whether you take a cruise line fishing excursion or you reserve a day or half day of fishing with a local guide, you’ll enjoy the amazing experience that is Alaska fishing. Happy fishing!

E. Klages provides Alaska fishing information and advice online for anglers visiting the Frontier State. The website, “Alaska Fishing 411” covers a wide range of topics from Alaskan fish species and top fishing spots to Alaska fly fishing.