Looking to get away this year? There are countless cruises available to make your dreams come true. Whether you’re in the mood for a tropical island getaway, a romantic journey along a beautiful stretch of coastline, or something even more adventurous like a trip to Alaska, cruises can meet all of your needs and provide some magical memories. In addition, they also happen to be highly accessible and flexible, with cruises of different lengths available to suit every budget.
There are plenty of affordable cruises in October, as well as more expensive options to suit those who have the extra cash to spend on a more lengthy or luxurious trip. Either way, you’ll find a lot of good cruise options available at this time of year, with various unique routes available, including repositioning cruises as the ships start to prepare for the winter season ahead. If you’re thinking of booking a cruise in October, read on to learn about a few of the best options available to you and start planning your dream getaway today. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Carnival - 8 Night Eastern Caribbean - Carnival Mardi Gras
2.Royal Caribbean - 3 Night Bahamas - Navigator of the Seas
3.Royal Caribbean - 5 Night Bermuda - Adventure of the Seas
3 Best October Cruises
- Carnival - 8 Night Eastern Caribbean - Carnival Mardi Gras, Photo: mikolajn/stock.adobe.com
- Royal Caribbean - 3 Night Bahamas - Navigator of the Seas, Photo: nlphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Royal Caribbean - 5 Night Bermuda - Adventure of the Seas, Photo: gladchenko/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Steve Woron/stock.adobe.com
Attraction Spotlight: Alaska Raptor Center
Located in Sitka, the Alaska Raptor Center is a 17-acre wildlife center dedicated to the rehabilitation of Alaskan and international birds of prey, including eagles, falcons, owls, and hawks that have been injured by gunshot wounds or in traffic incidents. The Alaska Raptor Center began as a private project of Sitka citizens concerned about the health of local birds of prey injured in traffic-related accidents or by gunshot wounds caused by hunters. A backyard recovery center opened in 1980 soon grew into a small volunteer network, treating injured animals in personal homes.
As the recovery network grew, efforts were organized into an official rehabilitation facility in 1983, housed in a shed area located on the Sheldon Jackson College campus. In 1991, the Alaska Raptor Center was established as a nonprofit corporation, moving its efforts to a 17-acre location along the Indian River, on the border of the Tongass National Forest near Sitka National Historical Park.
Operations and Exhibits
Today, the Alaska Raptor Center is the largest of its kind in the state and among the largest avian rehabilitation facilities in North America. More than 2,500 worldwide members are part of the organization, working to rescue injured birds of prey from the Alaska area and beyond. As a comprehensive rehabilitation, education, and conservation facility, the Center provides medical care for injured birds, conducts educational programming for area and national students, and works with national organizations to conduct research on birds of prey, particularly focusing on bald eagles.
Around 200 birds are hosted and rehabilitated at the facility every year, with many flown in from around the world via Alaskan Airlines. The Center works with its birds on raptor life skills, including flying skills, inside its Suzanne and Walter Scott Bald Eagle Flight Training Center, a 20,000-square-foot enclosed facility inside the park. Visitors to the park may view the birds’ training within the facility from a uniquely-designed viewing area, which prevents birds from seeing or hearing visitors during their training.
While the goal for all patients is re-entry into their natural habitats in the wild, some birds that cannot be rehabilitated to survive outside captivity are distributed to zoos throughout the country. Around two dozen birds have become permanent residents at the facility, including hawks, eagles, ravens, and owls. The Center’s most notable avian resident is Volta, a bald eagle who survived a power line collision in 1992 and now serves as an ambassador for educational programming, traveling to the contiguous 48 states regularly with Center handlers.
Regular guided tours of the facility are offered May through September, with tour guides introducing visitors to the Center’s resident birds and narrating the stories of how they came to live at the Center and their rehabilitation process. Organized tours are not offered October through April, but the Center’s grounds are open on weekdays for self-guided visits.
Ongoing Programs and Education
As a 501(C)3 non-profit organization, the Center’s main funding for operations comes from memberships, donations, and attendance to visitor programs, along with funding grants and contributions from private donors. Personal donations are accepted by mail, furthering rehabilitation, conservation, and education programs, and a matching donation program is provided to match donors with contributing corporations. The Center’s main fundraising campaign is its Adopt-A-Raptor program, which allows concerned donors from around the world to become adoptive “parents” for a current Center patient. Adoption donors receive a certificate of adoption with a biography and photograph of their chosen bird, along with a one-year membership to the Center and discounts on on-site purchases. All funds from adoption donations contribute toward daily care, feeding, and medical treatment for the chosen bird.
The Adopt-A-Raptor program is also offered to classrooms as educational programming. In exchange for a classroom participating in adoption donations, curriculum materials are offered to teachers, providing lesson plans on birds of prey, their natural habitats and ecosystems, and wildlife conservation efforts. The program aims to teach students about wild animal stewardship and instill an appreciation for nature conservation from a young age, inspiring future generations to help preserve and rehabilitate wildlife. Classroom presentations are also offered, touring with the Center’s resident birds to students around the country.
In addition to Center staff, a volunteer program offers concerned citizens an opportunity to work with programming, serving in capacities ranging from office management to feeding and mew cleaning. Internship positions with the Center are also offered on a periodic basis.
An annual solstice event, the Beaks and Buccaneers Festival, serves as the Center’s main yearly fundraising event, providing a night of food, drinks, and themed entertainment.
1000 Raptor Way, Sitka, AK 99835, Phone: 907-747-8662
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Attraction Spotlight: Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure
The Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure encompasses 50 acres in southeast Alaska. Located in the Tongass National Forest, the botanical gardens include unique flower towers, lush landscapes and panoramic views of Juneau and the surrounding area. The Upside Down Flower Towers were voted “America’s most interesting landmark” in a 2012 Reader’s Digest poll. Large Hemlock and Spruce trees are buried in the earth upside down, with their root systems pointing upward.
The tree roots are then covered with netting and soil, and planted with a wide variety of flowers, which cascade downwards from the root ball of the tree. Each tree holds 75-100 plants, creating a spectacularly colorful landscape against the background of the temperate rainforest. The surrounding 50 acres of Glacier Garden Rainforest are landscaped solely by nature and offer a contrast to the colorful Flower Towers and botanical gardens. The Tongass National Forest is the largest temporal rainforest in the world, spanning over 17 million acres in total. The forest is primarily a mix of old growth and new growth Hemlock and Spruce trees. Low shrubs, ferns, moss and lichen densely cover the forest floor. Tours pause at a viewpoint on the side of Thunder Mountain that offers a 200-degree view of the Mendenhall wetlands and valley, Douglas Island, the Gastineau Channel, and in the distance, the Chilkat Mountains. In 2004, a mated pair of Alaskan Bald Eagles made their home in Glacier Gardens. The pair returns each year to raise their young. Guests can get an up close look at the pair and their offspring through an Eagle Cam installed nearby the nest.
History: Glacier Gardens is privately owned by Steve and Cindy Bowhay. The Bowhays have owned a thriving nursery in Juneau for over 30 years. Yard Doctor Landscape, Steve’s nursery, began in 1984. In 1994, they purchased the surrounding 6.5 acres of property, which had been badly damaged in a 1984 storm. The storm had caused a massive landslide from the Hienzelman Ridge on Thunder Mountain, several trees were down and without growth to prevent erosion, there was high risk of further mudslide damage. To mitigate future damage and to protect their nursery, the Bowhays set out to control the nearby stream by creating several ponds and waterfalls for the safe runoff of water from future storms. In the process of clearing the damaged trees, Steve stumbled upon the idea for the flower towers when a large tree accidentally fell off his excavator and landed upside down. To this day, Steve Bowhay annually plants the Flower Towers himself. The Bowhays have since acquired an additional 44 acres of rainforest property, and it is through this acreage that the Glacier Adventures tour through a two-mile pathway offering beautiful views and a trip past the waterfalls and through the Upside Down Flower Towers. Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventures opened in 1998 and today employs up to 60 people during the peak summer season. Today, the tours consistently receive accolades and positive reviews from guests, and the Rainforest Adventure is known for their informative guides and unique gardens.
Ongoing Programs and Education: Visitors tour the rainforest and botanical gardens in a covered vehicle on a guided adventure. Tours begin at the Visitors Center and then enter the botanical gardens where guides educate guests on the history of the nursery, the Bowhays and the Glacier Gardens. Guests stroll past waterfalls, streams and botanical displays while learning about the challenges of gardening in Alaska. The tour then continues in a covered tram that follows a path from the lower gardens into the Tongass National Forest. The tram climbs uphill towards a lookout point where visitors pause to enjoy the view. Although tours last approximately two hours, guests may spend all day in the botanical gardens, and enjoy the café and gift shop as well. Glacier Gardens partners with all major Alaskan cruise lines for guests looking for an onshore adventure as part of their cruise. The Visitor’s Atrium is an event space suitable for weddings, meeting and lectures. The atrium is colorfully decorated with dense hanging gardens of Begonia, Petunia, and Fuchsia.
What’s Nearby: Tongass Adventure Tours is a partner of Glacier Gardens and offers their own shuttle which tours visitors through the gardens from a departure point in downtown Juneau. The two-hour tour combines the Glacier Gardens Rainforest Adventure with a history tour of Alaska’s capital city and the surrounding area.
7600 Glacier Highway, Juneau, Alaska USA 99801, Phone: 907-790-3377
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