Alaska cruises are a different experience than almost anywhere else in the world. Depending on your exact itinerary, your ship may be passing close enough to see wildlife and explore the coastline but probably not. While there are many excursion options, few offer the perfect blend of authenticity, affordability, and opportunity to explore something new. That's exactly what we found though, with Lighthouse Excursions and their Lighthouse, Totems, and Eagles excursion from Ward Cove in Ketchikan.

Catalina Island is one of the not so hidden secrets sitting just off the coast of Southern California. It also happens to be one of the most common ports that folks taking 4-day cruises from Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles will stop at, along with Ensenada, Mexico. While many people who have done this route a few times prefer to simply enjoy another day on the ship and avoid the ctrounds ... you're missing some great stuff if you do. On a recent cruise with Carnival, we were invited to take this tour and see what the island looks like ... outside of Avalon where the tenders drop you off.