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Skagway Cruise Guide: 7 Essential Tips for Your Alaska Adventure!

Most Alaska cruises will include the port of Skagway. Here are 7 Essential Tips for things to do in and around Skagway when you visit based on my most recent trip there.

Emma cruises Alaska view from Norwegian Encore

Skagway, Alaska, offers wonderful natural beauty and plenty of history too. It’s one of Alaska’s most interesting destinations.

The sail in via the beautiful “Inside Passage” is a sight not to be missed.

When you are visiting Skagway by cruise ship, there are a few crucial things you should know to make the most of your trip.

Here are seven things you know about before visiting Skagway.

#1 Gold Rush History

Skagway served as a gateway for many prospectors in the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1890s.

To get a feel for the Gold Rush era, you can visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park.

You can explore restored 19th-century buildings and learn about the adventurers who travelled through this area.

Emma cruises Skagway Alaska visiting on Norwegian Encore

Walk along Broadway Street with its wooden sidewalks and historic false-front buildings. You might feel like you’ve stepped back in time!

The Skagway Museum is just a short walk up Broadway from where your ship docks.  It is full of interesting Gold Rush artefacts, historical records & photos.

At the time of writing, it costs Adults $2 Children $1 to visit.

When I was a child, I tried Gold panning when we visited Skagway. I don’t remember being very impressed, we didn’t find gold. I mostly remember my eight-year-old brother was desperate to get back on board the ship to feed his Tamagotchi!

Gold panning in Alaska
Gold panning – Image NCL

#2 The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway

The White Pass & Yukon Route Railway offers wonderful views as it travels up through mountains, gorges, and waterfalls.

This narrow-gauge railway was originally built to transport Gold Rush prospectors.

You need to buy a round-trip ticket which will bring you back to Skagway after a few hours. I took this trip on my trip to Alaska in 2024.

If you are keen to take a trip on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway it is advisable to book as far in advance as possible, particularly in peak season.

I had a friend who missed out on the opportunity because when he arrived at the station, the train was already fully booked by cruise ship passengers.

white pass railway skagway

The scenery was absolutely stunning. I am not normally a person that takes train trips, and this one wasn’t cheap – but It really was a “once in a lifetime” trip.

#3 Prepare for Variable Weather

Skagway’s weather can be quite unpredictable. Even if you visit in the summer, temperatures can range widely and rain is always possible.

Make sure to wear lots of layers – think waterproof jackets, trousers/pants and comfortable walking shoes. The weather can change quickly, so it’s better to be prepared for anything!

I took my trusty “Pac a Mac” along when I visited Alaska. This small, waterproof jacket that folds down into a bag or pouch. Whilst it might not protect you from the heaviest rain storms, It was everything I needed on my trip.

Emma cruises Alaska excursion with Huskies. Norwegian Encore
Wearing my Pac A Mac to keep me warm

Make sure you pack more than one pair of comfortable shoes, in case one pair gets wet.

#4 Explore Beyond the Port

While the town of Skagway is interesting and it’s like travelling back in time, it is also surrounded by beautiful, natural landscapes.

You can splash out and book an expensive excursion like a helicopter tour to Glacier Point or a try the cheaper option of a hike in the nearby Chilkoot Trail. You will get a taste of true untouched Alaskan wilderness.

Tours can be booked through your cruise line or local operators in town. 

A friend of mine lived in Skagway for a summer and after work she used to take a bike up to a fantastic vantage point and take a fabulous picture of the Skagway Valley. 

You can hire a cycle for your visit to Skagway. A local independent bike hire company is the Sockeye Cycle Co. They have locations in Haines and Skagway.

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#5 Try Some Local Delicacies

Alaska is famous for its seafood, and Skagway offers some of the freshest you will find. Local favourites are Alaskan salmon, halibut, and King Crab.

I was served some Alaskan delicacies on my Norwegian Cruise Line excursion.

alaskan food

Local produce – Salmon, salmon paste, crackers, pickles and dark chocolate – served on my NCL Excursion

The Skagway Brewing Company serves great food and a selection of craft beers. These are brewed using local ingredients – like spruce tips. 

You could visit Broadway Jewellery & Gifts where they sell some fantastic Alaskan rubs, marinates and delicious seasoning for dips. 

A friend of my @fraseratsea suggested I tried a local delicacy called a Klondike Doughboy.

Emma cruises Alaskan snacks a doughboy in Skagway
I found my favourite Alaskan snack – a Doughboy – which similar to a huge doughnut

#6 Respect the Skagway Culture and Environment

Skagway is a small town, but it has lots of culture and tradition.

Be respectful of local customs and mindful of the environment during your visit. You can take a cultural tour, or listen to talks about the Tlingit, the indigenous people of the region.

As when visiting any Alaskan town, stick to marked trails and dispose of rubbish/trash carefully when you visit.

There are two hiking trails. You can easily do Lower Dewey in half a day or Upper Dewey in a whole day if you leave the ship early. They are spectacular hikes – go with a group or even a guided tour.   

skagway alaska

#7 Plan and Book Tours Early

Skagway is a popular stop for cruise ships, especially during the peak season from May to September.

Popular excursions like the White Pass Railway can sell out quickly. It’s wise to book your tours and activities well in advance to ensure you don’t miss out on anything.

By booking early you may even be able to get a discount. If there is something you would particularly like to do or see – book it as soon as possible.

If there are several big ships in port it can get overwhelming with queues for the free shuttle bus, or to get a cup of coffee. 

If you go to the hotel Westmark Inn they have a cafe and bar downstairs no one really thinks to go in there. 

They have comfy seats and you can watch the world go by then get onboard the ship once the queue has gone down.

Westmark Hotel Skagway
Westmark Inn Skagway – Image Westmark Hotels

Bonus Tip: Stay Connected

If you are from the US no problem you can use your Mobile plan to stay connected but if you are from abroad then Wi-Fi in Skagway can be hit or miss. 

When the cruise ships dock, the small town’s infrastructure can be overwhelmed. If staying connected is important, consider purchasing an internet package on your cruise ship, or accept that you may be out of touch with the rest of the world for a day.

Some hotels and restaurants have free Wi-Fi that you can use as long as you buy a coffee or a snack.


This post was created in collaboration with Melissa from CruiseShopSave. She worked in Alaska for many years while working for cruise lines, and she’s taught me a LOT about Alaska.

Milano in Skagway, Alaska Family-owned and operated, Milano Diamond Gallery showcases an array of jewellery that reflects the beauty of Alaska.

Their collection features unique and unusual pieces, including a collection call ‘Glow of Alaska’ that glow in the dark, it was a surprise when we saw them illuminate in my cabin as we turned off the lights for bed.


Step into Del Sol for an experience where everyday items transform in the sunlight. Yes, Alaska does get sunny! From t-shirts to nail varnish, everything changes colour in the sun. Don’t forget to use the coupon on the back of the map above if you do stop by.

del sol

Cariloha offers a collection of ultra-soft apparel and home goods. From bedding and blankets to socks, shirts, workout clothes, and even underwear, every item is incredibly soft. Make sure to take advantage of the coupon on the back of the map.

Before You Go

Find out what else you should plan and pack for on your cruise below:

Planning And Packing For Your Cruise – Things To Do In Advance!

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.