Luxury Cruises To Alaska
When it comes to a luxury Alaska cruise, youll find plenty of choices. Well known luxury lines like Crystal Cruises, Regent, Silversea, Seabourn, and Ponant cruise in Alaska. But youll also find more affordable boutique lines such as Viking and Oceania.
Alan and I appreciate the all-inclusiveness of small luxury cruise companies like Silversea or Seabourn. Since everything, except excursions and spa services, are included in the price, we know exactly how the cruise will fit into our budget. Slightly larger, but still all-inclusive, Regent and Crystal are also good choices.
Because the ships are smaller, lesser-known ports are sometimes included, not to mention exemplary personal service that leads to some unique shipboard and shore side experiences. To learn more about traveling on a luxury cruise, check out our Luxury Cruise Planner for Boomers.
Windstar Small Ship Cruises
Unable to accommodate children younger than 8, while passengers under 21 must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 25 years old, Windstar Cruises also essentially offers adult-only cruises in practice.
The intimate atmosphere and elegant designs of their small cruise ships are adult-oriented and not really suitable for children, especially younger ones. There are no childcare, entertainment or other kid-friendly services on board. Additionally, Windstar also doesnt offer a child rateeach minor occupying a stateroom as a third person will be charged the applicable third person rate.
Most Family Friendly: Disney Cruise Lines
Disney is often associated with amusement parks. Yet, Disney Cruise Line is renowned for entertaining cruises that offer fun for the entire family. Since launching in 1998, this cruise line has changed the way families do cruises.
Each cruise in its fleet delivers an ultimate family experience. Cruise ships set sail from Vancouver and involve a 5-9 night stay on board.
Disney Cruise Lines packs outdoor adventure with picturesque scenery to provide an enchanting experience. This cruise line caters more towards the diversity of family over most others.
Guests can choose between rough and rugged outdoor adventures like zip lining, adventure kart expeditions, rappelling adventures, Hummer excursions, or ATV expeditions.
There are various food excursions as well, ranging from fishing/wilderness dining, salmon bakes, and other fun activities. There are several science adventures, steam train adventures, horseback adventures and more. Their excursions encompass more family-friendly aspects than most others and offer a better diversity in activities.
Also, even while on board the entire atmosphere is completely kid-friendly.
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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.
The Best Alaska Cruise For Every Type Of Traveler
Even with a season that only runs from April through October, there are some 40 big ships and dozens of small ships cruising Alaska, making it one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world after the Caribbean and Europe.
Choices of type of ship abound from vessels carrying fewer than 100 passengers to megaships that hold thousands. Some ships stick to tried-and-true ports, following the Inside Passage in Southeast Alaska and into western Canada. Others wander deeper along the Alaska coastline to places such as the Kenai Peninsula, north to Nome and Barrow and even deep into the Bering Sea.
It can be hard to figure out which ship will deliver your idea of a bucket list experience in The Last Frontier. A lot comes down to your travel style, preferences and budget.
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Some travelers demand luxury, while others dont mind going less fancy if it means close encounters with, say, bears in the wilderness. Some look for romance, while others want to introduce the kids or grandkids to glaciers and eagles, gold panning and sled dogs. You may want to hit as many of the national parks as you can, or prefer to dive into Alaska culture, whether learning the stories told by totem poles or hearing about the big one from a fisherman at a dive bar.
The good news is there’s a ship in Alaska for you no matter your taste or style. Heres a beginners guide to help you narrow down your choices.
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How To Pick The Best Alaska Cruises
My journey to Alaska began in Vancouver British Columbia, where we boarded Holland America for a cruise through the inside passage. When choosing a cruise for your next trip, here are some things to consider. What is the budget? Where do you want to go? What kind of experience would be best? Do you have any favorite destinations? Or ports of call that should be included in your itinerary? And excursions on land, in addition to tours onboard, do they look interesting? Make sure theyre offered by the cruise line .
Alaskan sailing trips can vary greatly depending upon which route or region you choose. For example, a luxury yacht might give passengers access to more intimate views but wont often allow them onto land. . In contrast, smaller vessels may provide an even closer view of glaciers than their bigger counterparts but may have fewer onboard amenities like hot tubs.
Many cruise lines offer a wide range of itineraries in Alaska, so its important to do your homework before making any decisions. The most popular routes are from Vancouver up to Skagway and then back down again , with occasional sailings around the state. Though shorter versions are available, but these typically last seven nights.
Best Alaska Cruises For Kids And Alaska Family Cruises
There is something very special about taking your kids with you on an Alaska cruise. Watching a glacier with your children as it calves explosively into Glacier Bay, panning for gold, seeing their face as they spot a whale for the first time or to watch a totem pole being built are all memories that you, your children or your grandchildren will never forget.
Nature and kids go hand in hand. Everyone loves the great outdoors and the cruise lines have figured that out. The reason that families are flocking to Alaska is that the cruise lines are more welcoming and better equipped than ever to handle young children and teens.
Alaska Cruises provide a rare opportunity for kids to learn about and appreciate nature, wildlife and the environment, to share those experiences with their family and at the same time, have a blast!
Several cruise lines visiting Alaska cater to and provide facilities and services for families. If you have young children or teens, we recommend Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, or Carnival for their kid programs, teen programs and babysitting services.
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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 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.
On Norwegians Breakaway-Plus-class ships, you can race along a go-kart racetrack, complete in outdoor laser tag and zoom down slides at the water park. On Royal Caribbeans Quantum-class ships, you can order a drink from a robotic bartender, try simulated sky diving or surfing experiences and take a ride in a glass capsule that travels high above your ship on a mechanical arm a weird and wonderful way to see the Alaska scenery.
These supersized ships stick to tried-and-true weeklong itineraries, sailing round trip from Seattle to such ports as Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka, Icy Strait Point and Victoria, B.C. Many Norwegian sailings spend time in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Ships that don’t visit the national park, regardless of cruise line, will call at other exciting tidewater glaciers.
When Is The Season For Alaska Cruises
Cruise lines most consistently visit Alaska on their best Alaska cruises between the months of late April to mid-September. This means that it can be difficult to narrow down your choices as many cruise lines have dozens of itineraries operating a month in season.
With so many must-see spots in Alaska, the most popular months for cruises to Alaska are July and August. This is when the temperatures are the highest and most enjoyable with sunnier days.
If you were hoping to see the northern lights, try to book an Alaska cruise later in the season around late September. While this spectacle may be seen from multiple ports of call, watch out for deals through the cruise lines offering Aurora Borealis viewing experiences.
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How Much Do Alaska Cruises Cost
Alaska cruises can cost anywhere from $500 to $7,500 per person for a five-night sailing, but total costs will depend on the size of the ship, length of the trip, and other factors like whether onshore excursions and food and beverage are included in the base rate.
Generally speaking, the larger the ship, the cheaper the initial price tag. Mega-cruises can go for as little as $100 a night . These resorts at sea, however, are often not all-inclusive, so be sure to check the fine print before putting your credit card down. Passengers frequently have to pay extra for things like specialty dining, alcoholic beverages, and off-boat activities. Its also worth factoring in on-board activities that cost extra like the spa and gift shop.
While small-scale operators have fewer dining and entertainment options on board, they do have an edge over larger ships: better chances of seeing wildlife. The larger ships are often relegated to port towns due to their sheer size, but smaller ships can more easily navigate and visit remote areas for hiking and kayaking excursions. Because theyre not hurrying to get to a port on time, their schedules are looser than those of large-scale ships, so if a pod of orcas is spotted, they can idle and watch them a little longer. Some of the smallest boats hold between 12 and 100 passengers, and many of them are all-inclusive . That more intimate experience commands a higher nightly rateanywhere between $250 and $1,500 a night.
Ponants Alaska And Its Fur Traders
- Cost: From $12,340 per person
Another itinerary that focuses on lesser-visited ports is French line Ponants 15-day sailing starting in Nome, Alaskas erstwhile gold-rush outpost on the sparsely populated western coast. As the boat pulls out of the harbor, guests are invited to bring their binoculars to the deck to check the landscape for reindeer . After a day at sea, the first stop is St. Matthew Island, in the Bering Sea, almost equidistant from mainland Alaska and Russia. Next is St. Paul Island, where volcanoes and crater lakes are on the agenda, followed by Dutch Harbor, an Aleutian Islands community known for its prodigious number of bald eagles. Unga and Chankliut Islands wrap up the western islands. Next up will be Tsaa Fjord in the captivating Icy Bay for icebergs and glaciers. Then Sitka, a former Russian colony, and Kake, a little-visited Indigenous community known for having the tallest totem pole in the world. After a few more days in the Inside Passage, the sailing culminates in Vancouver.
These sailings take place on the 264-passenger LAustral, a high-end expedition-style ship that boasts a theater, gym, spa , panoramic lounge, and pool.
Its all about those top deck views.
Courtesy of Silversea
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Are Norwegian Cruise Line Good For Young Cruisers 7 Reasons You Need To Try Them
Norwegian Cruise Line are one of the biggest cruise lines in the world, they are American owned and focus on a freestyle approach to cruising. Ive been cruising since I was 11 years old and have cruised with Norwegian Cruise Line more than any other cruise line. They are without a doubt one of my favourite cruise lines and I consistently recommend them to friends.
Scenic Cruising Is Glacier Bay Better Than Other Scenic Glacier Cruising
Theres no question that Glacier Bay National Park is absolutely stunning. However, there are plenty of other glacier cruising areas that are every bit as beautiful, just different. Most Alaska cruises have a day of cruising near a glacier but its not always Glacier Bay. If youre looking at a cruise itinerary that does not include Glacier Bay, you can be confident that you will have an amazing experience! Dont let that on its own stop you from booking. Small ships sometimes dock at Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay , but big ships do not go ashore in the park. Park rangers usually come aboard to share about what youre seeing and experiencing. Other possible glacier cruising areas include:
- College Fjord Cross gulf cruises sometimes call at College Fjord, a spectacular collection of tidewater glaciers, narrow fjords and towering mountains.
- Hubbard Glacier located near Yakutat, this glacier is huge! In fact, this is the largest glacier that big cruise ships visit. It is not in a narrow fjord, but the glacier itself, the icebergs and massive mountains behind more than make up for this
- Tracy Arm located near Juneau, Tracy Arm is a local favorite and an impossibly long and gorgeous fjord. The glacier is not huge but the setting is stunning. Locals will tell you Tracy Arm is more beautiful than Glacier Bay!
No matter where your ship sails for glacier viewing, it is sure to be absolutely stunning.
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Best Alaska Cruise Lines
As one of the most popular cruise destinations in the USA, Alaska is served by several, if not most, major cruise lines. Whether youre looking for expedition cruises to Alaska or a high-end luxury cruise, youll find something that matches your interests and passions. In no particular order, these are cruise lines that offer Alaska cruises.
Best Large Ship Cruise: Royal Caribbean International
Dry docked in 2021 for a routine refurbishment, this Quantum Class ship holds 4,905 passengers and truly offers something for everyone.
Recreational activities like a flowrider surf simulator, iFly skydiving simulator, and rock climbing wall, high-tech virtual balcony views, and North Star, a glass observation capsule that rises 300 feet above sea level for birds eye views
Luxury shopping options, such as Cartier, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors
Adventure Ocean Kids Programs
A robot will code your favorite cocktails at the Bionic Bar
Formal nights with dress code
The best part about a mega-ship, like the Ovation of the Seas? Its literally impossible to be bored given the number of things there are to do, eat, and explore. For instance, there are 16 dining options , 10 bars and lounges, myriad activities and shows, a spa and fitness center, pool tables, and table tennis. Add to that guest lectures, outdoor movie nights, live music, an arcade and casino, theme nights, bumper cars, archery, and dance and sushi-making classes. Heck, you might just need a vacation after this vacation!
Interior staterooms are budget-friendly options with plenty of space and thoughtful touches, or you can upgrade to ocean view, balcony, or suite categories for some extra perks . And theres no better spot for taking in Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier than the North Star observation deck.
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Scenic Cruise Destinations In Alaska
Glaciers are a must-see in Alaska, and every cruise itinerary features at least one day of scenic cruising. Glacier Bay National Park is the top pick for glacier-viewing because of its multiple glaciers and generally passable channel. However, so many cruise lines wish to visit that the national park issues a limited-number of day-use spots each year.
Other scenic cruising sites along the Inside Passage include Tracy Arm with its Sawyer Glacier andEndicott Arm with Dawes Glacier. One-way Alaska cruises that travel to/from Seward and Whittier may also visit the spectacular Hubbard Glacier.
Typically, the big ships will open up all the outer decks for passengers to crowd the railings to watch the glaciers calve and scan the area for wildlife. If you want to get out on a kayak or small boat to get closer to the glacier or the marine life, youll need to book an expedition cruise.
Compare the options in our guide to scenic cruising in Alaska.
Best Time To Cruise To Alaska
The Alaska cruise season is short, running mainly from May to September, with a few lines offering sailings in April and October. The best time to cruise varies based on what you prioritize most.
The best Alaska cruise weather is typically found in June, when the summer rains havent ramped up, but the air temperatures are rising. This is the time when the sun barely sets and its light nearly all day long. July and August are the rainiest months in Alaska and see the most mosquitos September is starting to get chilly, with rougher waters and shorter days.
May is the best month to see waterfalls and wildflowers. June is when the salmon start to run, and the different species will appear and disappear throughout the cruise season. Denali lodges and the park road open in June, so your best bet for visiting the national park is in July and August for full accessibility and wildlife activity. However, if you want to see baby animals, plan your Alaska visit for May or June. Alaska’s peak whale season runs May through September.
The best prices are found in the shoulder seasons: April-May and September-October. The biggest crowds and highest cruise fares come mid-June through mid-August.
Travelers who want the best shot at viewing the Northern Lights should book a cruise at the very end of the season, and tack on a cruise tour up to Denali and Fairbanks for the greatest potential.
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