Inside Passage Cruise (San Francisco Round Trip)

Last July, we took a 10-day cruise to Alaska and had an amazing time. It was a round-trip cruise, so we boarded the Ruby Princess in San Francisco, made a few stops in Alaska, and returned back to San Francisco. We took the inside passage cruise, which included a day of scenic cruising within the Endicott Arm 🤩. We had an amazing time exploring, learning, and relaxing.

Note: Trips are unique to each traveller depending on the length of stay, purpose of the trip, and travel style. Therefore, my intent for sharing about our trip is to give you an insight into the area, along with our experience and helpful tips. My goal is to help you simplify the planning of your trip, and your experience while you visit.

Where We Went

During this trip, we visited:

  • Sitka
  • Juneau
  • Endicott Arm (scenic cruising)
  • Ketchikan
  • Prince Rupert, British Columbia

We flew into San Francisco the day before the cruise, and stayed there a couple of days at the end of the cruise. To avoid making this post too long though, I’m leaving out our stay in San Francisco. When we planned our trip our goal was to relax, hike, and simply explore the cities on our own. Since we’d already visited Alaska in the past, we chose not purchase port excursions through the cruise line. Instead, we planned our own activies and purchased tickets directly from vendors. If you choose to do the same, do your research as you plan your itinerary of activities. Know in advance what you’ll need to purchase tickets for in advance, and your transportation options.



Sitka was the first city on the cruise itinerary. We arrived in the late morning and had to tender to shore. Unfortunately, the tender boats were running late, so we didn’t get to leave the ship until after lunch. Even so, it still turned out to be a nice day. Even though there wasn’t enough time to go to the places we’d planned to visit, we had enough time to walk to Sitka National Historical Park. The trails there were easy, and the rainforest was breathtaking. On our way back to the ship, we walked around town to get a feel for the area. A special treat was the many eagles we got to see during our visit.


The main activity on our itinerary was to visit Mendenhall Glacier Center. We knew there was a lot to see in Juneau, but our priority was to see the Mendenhall Glacier. So, as soon as we left the ship in the morning, we hired a taxi van to drive us to the glacier park. Once we arrived, we went to the visitor center and picked out some trail routes. We spent half the day hiking around and enjoying the views. By lunch time, we took a taxi van back to downtown Juneau. We enjoyed lunch at The Hangar on the Wharf, and then took a guided tour at the Alaska State Capitol building.

Endicott Arm (Scenic Cruising)

One of the highlights of our trip was cruising through the scenic Endicott Arm Fjord. We got up early, as the ship entered the fjord, and took in the dramatic views surrounding us. The main highlight of the day was seeing the Dawes Glacier, which is at the head of the journey.


Ketchikan was our last stop in Alaska, and we made the best out our rainy day visit. We went to see the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, visited Totem Bight State Historical Park, and went to Creek Street. The lumberjack show was an easy walk from the ship, and we’d already purchased tickets online in advance. We used public transportation to get to and from Totem Bight Park, and explored there for a couple of hours. Our lunch at The Alaska Fish House was delicious; I wish we could visit there more often!


Prince Rupert, British Columbia

This was the last stop of our cruise, and the most uneventful. We stopped there on a Sunday, so went to church and then visited the Museum of Northern British Columbia. We didn’t need any transportation, since it was all an easy walk from the ship. Unfortunately, most shops and restaurants were closed that day. Overall, it was a slow day and our stay there was fairly short.

How We Got Around The Cities

Since we didn’t purchase shore excursions through the cruise line; we planned our own and activities and transportation. This included walking, public bus transportation, and taxi service. I mentioned how we got around at each location, in the highlights of each city.

Where We Stayed

The only city we needed to book accommodations at was San Francisco. We chose to stay at a hotel in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. Not only was it convenient for walking to restaurants, but it was also near the cruise terminal.

As for the cruise ship accommodations, we were pleased with everything including dining. It wasn’t our first time traveling with Princess cruise line, so we knew what to expect. If you’re traveling with children, check the Kids’ Club activities beforehand. The activities and entertainment offered by Princess for children are fine, but not as engaging as those offered by other cruise lines. We knew that in advance.

Where We Ate

We relied on Yelp and locals’ recommendations when selecting restaurants. For the most part, though, we ate our meals on the cruise ship since the majority of our time was spent there. I mentioned any memorable restaurants in the highlights of each city.

How We Planned For Alaska’s Weather

Even though we visited Alaska during the summer, we knew it would be cold and rainy at times. The key was to plan to dress in layers, so we brought packable jackets and sweatshirts. Also, since we were planning to hike a lot, we brought hiking/waterproof shoes. That made it simple enough to travel around Alaska while being prepared for the changing temperatures and terrain. The day we visited Juneau was the warmest for us, and by mid afternoon we were able to go without sweaters. The rest of the time, we wore jackets at least for part of the day.

Overall, we had an amazing time exploring Alaska and making happy family memories. It was a great way to spend time together, while learning something new everywhere we went. This was our second time visiting Alaska, and we’d love to travel there again 🩵.

Have you visited Alaska?