American Cruise Lines Alaska
American Cruise Lines small ship sailings in Alaska include itineraries through the Inside Passage and Southeast Alaska. The line has traditionally drawn an older crowd more interested in ports than adventure, and its Alaska sailings are heavy on narrated boat, coach and walking tours.
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American Constellation, built in 2017, carries 175 passengers and most of its staterooms have private balconies. Rooms range from 226 to 450 square feet theyre billed as being among the largest in Alaska. Theres elevator service to all decks, which is a great feature for those with mobility issues.
Round trip sailings out of Juneau, or between Juneau and Seattle, generally include stops in Glacier Bay, Icy Strait Point, Petersburg, Sitka and Tracy Arm.
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Best Ship Renovation: Celebrity Cruises
The Celebrity Millennium, launched in 2000, has recently undergone complete modernization, which includes luxury staterooms, enhanced technology, and renovated restaurants and lounges.
Immersive dining at Le Petit Chef, where augmented reality intersects with luxury cuisine, private verandas, complimentary fitness classes, plus unlimited access to the Persian Garden and complimentary dining at Blu
Autism-friendly cruising, including sensory-friendly films and toys, and dietary options
Accessible staterooms with grab bars, roll-in showers, and wider doors
2,218 passengers put this squarely in the mid-size ship category
You wont find the over-the-top party-like activities of larger ships
If youre passionate about the finer things in life, Celebrity Cruises may very well speak to your soul. The Sky Suite in the Retreat, for instance, includes a long list of curated amenities , endless views, a Personal Retreat Host, private dining, and exclusive spaces, like the Retreat Lounge and Sundeck. And onboard experiences range from Macallan and Jack Daniels tastings to Riedel crystal workshops that show how different shapes and qualities of a Riedel glass change the taste of wine.
Small Ship Cruise + Land
The small ship cruise + land is a great alternative for those who still want a seamless experience, but also want to stop at less-visited ports where large ships can’t go as well as stay at wilderness lodges when on land. The downside is that many such itineraries do not include Denali. However, you will still see equally beautiful destinations. See small ship cruise + landitineraries below.
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Best Traditional Cruise: Holland America Line
Why We Chose It
Holland America Lines Koningsdam offers everything long-time cruisers appreciate, from a comfortable size and price point to onboard activities and numerous dining options.
Live cooking demonstrations and fine dining events, Rolling Stone Rock Room live music venue and B.B. Kings Blues Club
2,650 guests, which makes it a mid-size ship thats easier to navigate
Club HAL for kids ages 3 to 17 included
No live daytime music
Dont have a lot of time for your Alaskan vacation? This best of 7-night itinerary is focused on the regions iconic Inside Passage, which gives passengers an efficient taste of all the areas most photographed and talked about sights. Plus, Holland America offers more access to Glacier Bay National Park and has more departures featuring Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line.
The Koningsdam boasts 912 balconied accommodations, which means 69% of the ship has rooms with a private veranda view. Youll also find massage showerheads, magnifying mirrors, terry bathrobes, Egyptian cotton towels, Elemis luxury bath products, and fresh fruit in your stateroom. Anglers will enjoy the cruise lines Savor My Catch program, which brings ocean-to-table dining to a whole new level. Plus, guests can catch their own fish during shore excursions and have it prepared and served on board.
City Of Gold At The Edge Of The Arctic
Back in 1901, riverboat captain E.T. Barnette ran aground in the shallows of the Chena, so he set up a trading post. A year later, the nearby discovery of gold transformed the remote settlement into a boomtown, and Barnette the first mayor. Fairbanks today remains a destination for adventure seekers, as the gateway to Alaskas northern wilds and some its most isolated terrain. While home to just 32,000, Fairbanks is the big city of the interior and cultural hub for the sparsely populated region. You can still go for the gold in Fairbanks, panning just like the early prospectors did.
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Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Seven Seas Mariner returns to Alaska each summer, providing anexcellent combination of comfortable spacious suite living withexcellent dining choices and a whole selection of excursionsincluded in the fare, unusual for a classic cruise ship. This isone destination where youre going to want to take loads oforganised trips, so with up to 43 excursions on offer on a 7-dayitinerary, you can really get your moneys worth. There will alsobe guest lecturers and a great family programme.
Alaska Cruisetours Go Beyond Horizons
To fully experience Alaska, discover its interior, where communities remain intimately connected to the land, where wild animals roam as they have for millennia and where native nations thrive. On an Alaska cruise, youll journey along the southeast coastline of Alaska, experiencing its glaciers, natures ever-changing and fragile masterpieces. But with a Celebrity Cruisetour, youll uncover so much more.
On the Kenai Peninsula, glacier-covered mountains descend into bays abundant with sea life. Journey north, and youll travel among the vast tundra and taiga forests of Denali National Park. A single road crosses this untouched wilderness, home to North Americas tallest peak and a stunning array of wildlife. Connect with Alaskas Native Peoples and meet city dwellers who are as diverse as the landscapes they inhabit: from cosmopolitan espresso drinkers to anglers and mountaineers, all are part of the fascinating culture that is Alaska.
With a Celebrity Cruisetour, youll enjoy the best of Alaska, by combining a seven-night sailing along its southeastern coastline with a small-group tour into its magnificent inland destinations. Stay in the finest available lodges and embark on remote roads and railways in deluxe transportation. All with our local Alaskan Tour Directors, who are passionate about sharing their Alaska with you. Every aspect of your journey has been carefully curated for you to discover the Last Frontier on your terms
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Best For Megaresort Fans
Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean both sail some of their largest ships in Alaska. They are floating megaresorts, carrying thousands, and are big on amenities, glitz and a certain amount of glamor think flashy casinos, Broadway shows, lavish spas. Dining and drinking venues number in the dozens, while amusement park features thrill the kids and adrenaline-seekers.
You’ll Learn About Alaska Culture
A cruise tour offers myriad opportunities to learn about Alaskan culture, but know that presentations range from sophisticated, interactive exhibits to more touristy attractions.
The Anchorage Museum has an excellent exhibit on Alaska Native cultures, in partnership with the Smithsonian, with fascinating items like a jacket made of seal intestines and a helmet with a human face on it. There are also art galleries, where rotating modern art exhibits showcase a range of media. Kids will love the interactive Discovery Center where they can explore science, art and history.
The Alaska Native Heritage Center is a short drive from Downtown Anchorage, and fare is included in a culture pass, along with the Anchorage Museum. It’s an eye-opening look — complete with a walkable “village” — at all of the Last Frontier’s native cultures and how they balance tradition and modernity today.
A paddlewheel boat river tour in Fairbanks also offers a floatplane demonstration followed by a sled-dog demo at the home and training camp of an Iditarod champ. Debark in a mock Athabascan village, and receive a culinary demonstration , fashion show and open house .
You can also learn about the Gold Rush and mining with a visit to Gold Dredge No. 8. Your tour includes a ride on a replica of the narrow-gauge Tanana Valley Railroad and the opportunity to try panning for gold.
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Alaska Wilderness Spectacular 8a
7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier Cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 6-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali and Fairbanks .
Included Experiences Alaska Native Heritage Center, Tundra Wilderness Tour, Riverboat Discovery Cruise, and more.
2023 Departures May 19, June 2, 16 & 30, July 14 & 28, August 11 & 25, September 8
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Best Rated Alaska Small Ship Cruises
Alaskan adventures come in all shapes and sizes, so if youre planning a cruise to Alaska, there are countless options to select between. From massive ships nearly 1000 long to Alaska small ship cruises, the Last Frontier offers something for every type of traveler.
That said, there are distinct advantages to selecting small ship cruises to Alaska over larger boats. Smaller cruise boats are more intimate, helping you make friends and also connecting you with the water below on large ships, its easy to forget that youre even on the ocean not so with small ship Alaska cruises.
Another huge benefit of Alaska small ship cruises is that these boats are able to navigate tight waters that prevent large ships from entering. This gives you access to a more wild and untouched Alaskan experience.
Here, pristine waters reverberate with life, endemic animals migrate across the shores, and distant peaks are clad in dazzling glaciers the welcoming spirit of Alaska is palpable.
Ready to begin your journey? Continue reading to learn more about the best small ship Alaska cruises offered by AAA.
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Best Small Ship: Oceania Cruises
Oceania cruises introduce Alaska to guests by offering local experiences in partnership with native tribes for a more meaningful connection to the area beyond sightseeing.
Two specialty restaurants , WiFi, and free and unlimited soft drinks replenished daily in refrigerated mini bar
Onboard menus feature local Alaskan delicacies, such as Halibut, King Crab, and Alaskan blueberry pancakes
Impressive guest-to-staff ratio: maximum of 656 guests served by 400+ officers and crew
4 open-seating restaurants, 8 lounges and bars, and a casino
Not all staterooms feature private verandas
Built in 1998 but fully refurbished in 2019, Oceania Cruises Regatta dazzles guests with bejeweled chandeliers in the Grand Dining Room, fresh color palettes, and new furnishings in the public spaces, plus new everything in the suites and staterooms. Between the gentle rocking of the ship and the Ultra Tranquility Bed, youre sure to sleep like a baby.
When youre not off exploring Alaskas many wonders, keep busy at the casino, take in an after-dinner production of Tuxedo or Gatsbys or chill out and choose a book from the English-style library with 2,000 options. Book a spa treatment or work out in the Aquamar Spa + Vitality Center, play nine holes of golf on the putting greens, shop the three boutiques, and unwind, help yourself to afternoon tea with all the accouterments at 4 p.m. daily.
Two Weeks+ Alaska Cruise
Travelers who have two weeks can really do it right. You can combine itineraries, take longer small ship cruises to Alaska from Seattle or consider a cruise plus a land extension into Alaskas interior or other national parks. See our Alaska land tours for a full selection of trip extensions and land-based tours.
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Dining Is Uneven And Sometimes Additional
One of the biggest surprises about the cruise tour is that meals might not be included. Some cruise tour programs dont include meals in the price to give travelers the freedom to try local restaurants of their own choosing.
Yet, you might often be compelled to eat at certain times and in certain places. On the Alaska Railroad train rides, you might not be allowed to eat your own food up in the seating area, but since the ride typically takes place smack in the middle of a meal time , you are basically forced to eat in the dining car. And, because the dining car cant accommodate all the passengers at once, youll have to eat in shifts as dictated by the train host.
Eating dinner at the hotel each night will likely be the most convenient option, especially if youre in a more remote lodge. However, its likely to be more expensive with limited options.
On the other hand, shuttle service between out-of-the-way hotels and the restaurant area are not always reliable, especially if youre eating later at night due to your tour schedule. Be prepared: Getting back to the hotel is part of the adventure.
Grand Mountain Marvels 7a
7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier Cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 6-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Seward, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali and Fairbanks.
Included Experiences Resurrection Bay Wildlife Cruise with Fox Island Lunch, Anchorage City Tour, Anchorage Museum, and more.
2024 Departures May 17 & 31, June 14 & 28, July 12 & 26, August 9 & 23
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What’s Included In A Cruisetour
On your Alaska Cruisetour, youll stay in the finest lodgings available in the Alaskan interior. These boutique and local properties range from the luxurious Alyeska Resort, whose amenities include a heated pool with mountain views, to the charmingly rustic Denali Park Village, whose buildings are tucked into a forested 20-acre site along the Nenana River. All hotels and lodges on your Alaska Cruisetour will offer comfort, service, and authentic regional style for restful nights in the heart of every destination.
A highlight of every Cruisetour is a scenic ride on the Wilderness Express rail cars that travel on the Alaska railroad that extends from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Enjoy 360-degree views from dome windows, reclining leather seats, spacious interiors, fine cuisine prepared by the onboard chef in the dining section, along with full bar service at your seat. Celebrity also uses luxury motor coaches to travel along the miles of scenic highways, highlighting the sights along the way.
To Cruise Or Not To Cruise
If you truly only have a week for an Alaska vacation, consider forgoing the cruise and let us help you arrange a land tour from Anchorage. Not only can you explore spectacular land side destinations like Talkeetna and Denali National Park, we can get you out on the water as well with stunning day cruise options. You can take in both magnificent glaciers and abundant marine wildlife in destinations like College Fjord in Prince William Sound from Whittier, Kenai Fjords National Park from Seward, or even the massive Columbia Glacier from Valdez. These day cruises operate with smaller vessels, allowing you to get much closer to the wildlife, scenery, and glaciers.
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Morning Stretch And Yoga
Each morning, you can limber up with a stretch class led by our expedition leader Megan. She offered a couple of yoga classes throughout the trip as well. Its a great way to work out the muscles from a day of kayaking or hiking.
The seven days we had on UnCruise Adventures in Alaska zipped by. We had made incredible new friends who felt like family by the end of the trip. We all laughed a lot and bonded over shared experiences that can only be had in Alaska.
When I look back on our time on UncCuise, I will always think of the people we met from around the world and smile. It was the journey of a lifetime.
Our trip to Alaska was in partnership with UnCruise Adventures. Our Alaska Itinerary was the Alaska Glacier Country cruise. But they have many Alaskan cruise itineraries to choose from.
Travel Planning Resources
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New Small Ship Alaska Cruises 2023 & 2024
With increased demand for small ship Alaska cruises in 2023 comes more departures and more itineraries to choose from. The new options feature Prince William Sound, Alaskas outdoor-activity mecca of Haines, and wintertime departures. Heres our round-up of whats new to consider for small Alaska cruises in 2023. Watch this space or sign up to receive updates as more new itineraries are released.
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Wilderness Frontier Explorer 4a
7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 4-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Denali and Fairbanks .
Included Experiences Tundra Wilderness Tour, Fairbanks City Tour, Riverboat Discovery Cruise
2023 Departures May 19, June 2, 16 & 30, July 14 & 28, August 11 & 25, September 8
The Boat Company: A New Standard Of Sustainable Tourism The Alaskan Eco
Theres a new school of thought in the world of cruising. It goes by several names, including eco-cruise, sustainable tourism or green travel. Sustainable eco-tourism means traveling to a location usually to appreciate its natural beauty while striving to impact that environment as little as possible. Sustainable tourism also seeks to educate the traveler about the areas history and natural resources such as land, waterways and wildlife. Ideally, eco-tourism helps spread a message of responsible environmental stewardship and conservation.
One of the steps you can take to reduce your impact on the environment is to purchase NativeEnergy carbon offsets. Visit our NativeEnergy Carbon Offset Program page.
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