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How To Choose Alaska Cruise

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How To Choose An Alaska Cruise | Princess Cruises

Most important when choosing your Alaska cruise, speak with an experienced Alaska small ship expert. Our specialists are armed with the best Alaskan cruise tips from years of experience traveling and working in the region. Theyre also knowledgeable about whats new for Alaska small ship cruises, to get you the most up-to-date selection. You will not get the whole picture when booking direct, and a company with experience aboard;all;the ships can make;all the difference.

At AdventureSmith Explorations, we are award-winning;Alaska small ship cruise and Alaska travel specialists with a focus on guided small group nature tours and custom travel for individuals, couples, families and small groups. Our founder and president Todd Smith helped pioneer expedition cruising, and our staff has decades of experience guiding, arranging and selling wilderness adventures. We offer firsthand knowledge, personal service, key Alaska cruise tips, sustainable practices and unbeatable prices. Thanks for reading AdventureSmiths Alaska small ship cruise guide and comparison, and contact us with any further questions on how to choose your Alaska cruise.

Ride The Alaska Marine Highway

And if youre really looking for off-the-beaten-path Alaska cruisingand dont mind bare bones accommodationsthe Alaska Marine Highway;ferry offers a plethora of routes. We combined a 5-night cruise from Haines, Alaska, to Bellingham, Washington, with an Alaska Highway road trip. But you dont have to be driving to enjoy this journey.

Best Time Of Year To Take An Alaska Cruise

Alaska is one of the;top cruise destinations. While Alaska might not be what you first picture when you think of a cruise, a cruise is actually the easiest way to visit this region. Unlike;Caribbean cruises;though, Alaska is a seasonal cruise port.;This means that you will only be able to cruise to Alaska during select months of the year.

There are actually several factors to consider when determining the best time of year to take an Alaskan cruise including weather, price, and crowds. Thus, when to cruise to Alaska is not as clear cut as you might think.

The Alaskan cruise season generally runs from late April/early May through the end of September.;With that being said, many choose to visit Alaska in the middle of the season. July usually provides the best combination of average temperatures, rainfall amounts, and hours of daylight. Rain and temperature swings of 25 degrees or more are still common. However, you will have the most hours of daylight and the best chances at wildlife sightings.

However, with this optimal weather comes increased crowds and increased price.;If you take an Alaskan cruise during the shoulder seasons, you will save money. You will also avoid the crowds, especially families. While the weather and wildlife will be less predictable early and late in the season, we have cruised to Alaska in September twice now and had great weather.

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Best Cruise Itinerary To Alaska For Couples

Alaska might not be the first destination that comes to mind for couples looking to go on a romantic getaway, but a scenic cruise to Alaska, with its promise of adventure and dreamy landscapes, makes for the perfect couples trip.

Seward, Alaska

On a couples cruise to Alaska, strengthen your bond on a thrilling shore excursion, take a walk by the harbor, cuddle on your veranda with a cup of hot chocolate, and make memories that will last a lifetime in any of our ports of call.

Situated on the Sitka Sound and surrounded by the Tongass National Rainforest, Sitka is an incredible place for couples and other cruisers to go on nature-filled excursions. Take a kayaking trip around the sound, go on a hike through the rain forest, or explore the quaint seaside town of Sitka, where you can enjoy a salmon bake for lunch, which is a quintessential Alaska food experience.

Watch: Discover Icy Strait Point With Celebrity Cruises

Animal and adventure-loving couples will find their oasis in Icy Strait Point. This unique port of call was developed specifically for cruise ships and serves as a great starting point for shore excursions that show you the wild and rugged side of Alaska.

For thrill-seeking couples, Icy Strait Points shore excursions include glacier hikes, sea kayaking, crabbing expeditions, and more. Go on the ZipRider, the longest ZipRider in the world, where youll be able to see stunning views of the tall coniferous trees and the sparkling water of the bay below.

Panama Canal Cruise Options

How To Choose A Cabin For An Alaska Cruise

1.; PARTIAL TRANSIT FOR THOSE WITH LESS TIME OR BUDGET

On a partial transit of the Panama Canal, you cruise through the first set of locks followed by a day spent on Gatun Lake. You can purchase a ship shore excursion and there are always several options to choose. ;

If youre on a shore excursion from your partial transit, you might have to re-board your ship in Colon, Panama rather than be onboard for the 180 degree turnaround in Gatun Lake to exit the canal.

2.; FULL PANAMA CANAL TRANSIT

The second option is a full transit of the Panama Canal, from the Atlantic to the Pacific or vice versa. These cruises tend to be seasonal and are at least 14 days in length.; Generally, they will be even longer when the ship is continuing north along the California coast.

Arrival and departure ports on the west coast include either Seattle, Los Angeles or San Diego.; Departures on the east coast usually begin from Ft. Lauderdale or Miami in Florida, sometimes in New York City.

If you love sea days, this could be your dream cruise.; You can even include a cross-country Amtrak train from your cruise port after the cruise to return home.;

Ports you might visit on the Atlantic side include Key West, Cartagena, Colombia, Aruba or St. Thomas in the U.S.V.I.

3.; FULL TRANSIT BUT REQUIRES A FLIGHT OUT

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How To Choose An Alaska Cruise

So Alaska is on your list, and you’ve identified when you’regoing to go. You have heard about the amazing scenery, the glaciersand the rainforest, the wildlife, the gold rush history and thenative folklore.

Exploring South East Alaska’s panhandle by sea makes a lot ofsense: this is the way to travel at a leisurely pace, and enjoy thespectacular setting and wilderness wonderland. So do you choose astylish cruise ship, or a small ship expedition? We look at fourways to choose…

The Best Alaska Cruise Ports And Choosing The Right Itinerary For You

Thinking about setting sail for Alaska? Not sure which itinerary to choose? This article is all about the highlights and best Alaska cruise ports to help you !

This article doesnt include a review of different cruise ship companies, rather it is information about the ports you may visit and how to decide based on whats most important to you. Great news to get started you really cant go wrong here as all the Alaska ports of call are interesting and different in their own ways and all are surrounded by life affirming natural beauty!

Ill also talk about how to decide between a cross gulf cruise or inside passage only , a big ship or small ship and options for scenic cruising around glaciers. I spent seven seasons working in the Alaska cruise industry and have visited all of these ports multiple times and even lived in two of them, so Im excited to share my insider knowledge with you!

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Best Alaska Cruise Itineraries

The best Alaska cruise itineraries offer plenty of opportunities to sightsee magnificent glaciers, spot exotic wildlife, and engage in outdoor adventure. With stops in vibrant cities and former gold rush boomtowns, theres no shortage of exciting Alaska cruises to embark on.

If youre considering a vacation to the Last Frontier, here are some of the best itineraries tailored to the type of experience youre looking for.

Discover Denali Americas Safari

How to Choose the Best Alaska Cruise

In a Nutshell: Denali is not just North Americas highest point it is also one of the worlds great mountains, and one of the few where good viewpoints are relatively accessible.;;Throw in great opportunities for wildlife encounters and a visit to Denali National Park is an essential part of the Alaskan experience.

What Youll See: Once you disembark in Seward at the voyages end, youll join Silverseas land tour and venture deep into Alaskas Bush.;; Youll travel by train or coach for two hours to Girdwood, a mountain town dating to 1896, when a mini Gold Rush caught a few prospectors.; Today its home to the Alyeska Resort, and the short, mild summer is filled with wildflowers and vistas of snowy peaks.; The resort loans bikes for short rides around town, down to the Turnagain Arm or tackle one of the steeper trails, easily accessed via the resorts scenic tram ascending Mount Alyeska.

On the fourth day, head back to Anchorage on the Alaska Railroads Denali Star Train, traveling in style in an airy dome car.; Youll be aboard for the railways most remote section, following the snaking Indian River, passing the occasional wilderness cabin, and crossing Hurricane Gulch on a 296-foot-high bridge before landing at charming Talkeetna, the town said to have inspired Northern Exposure.;

Choose Your Cruise: Denali is a four day add-on to Silverseas Seward to Vancouver voyages on Silver Muse and Silver Shadow.

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How To Choose A Panama Canal Cruise

A Panama Canal cruise had been on my bucket list for a long time. Not only would it be transportation for me to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific and onto Alaska, the canal itself was a huge curiosity for me.;;

After 35 years of grueling construction in horrible conditions, the Panama Canal was completed in 1914.; All the canal-building stories I learned about in school stoked my imagination.; It was an adventure I had wanted to do for years.;

But when I started to look at possible cruise itineraries, it was a bit confusing.; While there arent a zillion cruise ships heading to the canal, the ones that offer a Panama Canal cruise have a variety of itineraries.;

There are basically three itinerary choices to decide on for a Panama Canal cruise.; It all depends on how much time you have for the trip and of course, how much you would like to spend.;;

What if you really want to see the Panama Canal but time and/or money are a concern? ;Here are the choices to help you decide which amazing experience to do along this 48-mile man-made wonder.;

When I found Crystal Serenityhad a less-expensive repositioning coast-to-coast Panama Canal cruise, the decision was easy.; Luckily, I had the time to spend 20 days from Ft. Lauderdale to Los Angeles.; But not everyone has the time or budget for 20 days.; Then, what are your choices?

Plan The Cruise As A Family

A trip to Alaska shouldnt be planned by just one person, it should involve the whole family. Take into consideration the age of your kids, it could be a great way to see Alaska in real life and not just in a textbook. Each family member will know their limitation and it will help you decide if mom would be better shopping in downtown Sitka, while dad and the kids go whale watching.

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How To Choose An Alaska Cruise Itinerary

When you tell a non-cruiser youre planning a cruise to Alaska, theres a good chance theyll say something like Oh, be sure to sail the Inside Passage. Ive heard its beautiful. Experienced cruisers, on the other hand, know that all Alaska cruises navigate at least a portion of the Inside Passage, the protected waters that stretch from the northern coast of Washington state into Alaskas panhandle.

Of course, just because you dont have to specifically choose an Inside Passage cruise doesnt mean that you wont have a choice to make – there are a number of different alaska cruise itineraries to choose from. To help simplify the choices, here are five of the most popular Alaska cruise routes, with some of the pros and cons of each choice.

How To Choose Cruise Ship Cabins

How To Choose A Cabin For An Alaska Cruise

The first thing to know is that when you strip it all down there are just four types of cabin:

Inside

Inside cabins are the cheapest cabins, inside the ship with no window or porthole.

Outside

Outside cabins have a window or porthole but they wonât open.

Balcony

Balcony cabins have their own private verandas.

Suite

Strictly speaking, a suite has separate sleeping and living areas , but some cruise lines use this moniker to mean a more spacious cabin.

Another area of confusion for cruising newcomers is the term âstateroomâ, which is simply a word cruise lines like to use because it sounds grander than ‘cabin’.

But at the end of the day, it is still a cabin. Staterooms come with a range of fixtures and fittings as standard including a TV, minibar and hairdryer, and most have private safes.

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All have ensuite bathrooms with tubs or showers ; the best cruise lines provide toiletries. In short, everything you would expect from a modern hotel room â and sometimes more.

Cabin prices are determined by grade and location. Rooms on the lowest decks are the cheapest and they get more expensive the higher up you go.

The most expensive suites are often at the very front and back of the ship, but you also pay a premium for a more central position.

Which cabin you choose obviously depends on how much you want to spend, but there are other things to consider.

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What Excursions Do You Want To Do

Each cruise port has a range of different excursions available at an extra cost. Some of the more common ones like floatplane sightseeing, bear-watching, whale-watching,;dog sledding and fishing you can do in multiple places, but others are only available in one location.

Its worth doing a bit of research in advance to work out what you want to do as some of the most popular excursions book up fast, especially in peak season. So if theres something you particularly want to do then its a good idea to reserve a spot when you book your cruise. The pros of official cruise line excursions is that youre usually allowed off the ship first and itll wait if there are delays, but they can be pricey and sometimes have big group sizes.

Float plane in Juneau

You can also book excursions independently, either through companies like Get Your Guide or Viator, or directly with local operators. There are usually tour desks lined up at cruise ports too where you can book something last-minute too if you dont want to book ahead we did a last-minute trip to the Mendenhall Glacier from Juneau when we knew itd be a sunny day. Make sure you allow plenty of time though as the ship wont wait if youre late back.

An excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier

Ships Sailing Alaska In 2020

This chart shows the major ships that are sailing Alaska in 2020. Itinerary types include IP , GA and L . RT indicates a round-trip sailing that originates and ends in the same port. Other itineraries begin in one city and end in another.

Also, remember that cruise fares fluctuate over time. The per person fares are whats currently listed on the cruise lines website, but you may be able to find a lower or higher price than whats published here.

Finally, cruises at the beginning and end of Alaskas cruise season are generally a bit cheaper than those in June, July and August.

Cruise Line/ Ship

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Other Alaska Cruise Ports And Embarkation/disembarkation Ports

If youre traveling on a small ship, your ship may call at Wrangell, Petersburg or go ashore at Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park. These are all wonderful and intimate ports with lots to see and do. Learn more here about Wrangell, here about Petersburg and here about Glacier Bay.

Even though it isnt in Alaska, many cruises which start or end in Seattle stop in Victoria. If your ship calls at Victoria, read all about my suggestions for what to do in Victoria here.

If youre embarking or disembarking in Whittier or Seward, youll be flying in or out of Anchorage. If youre looking to spend a few extra days exploring, read more about all the wonderful things to do in Anchorage here.

Spending a few days before or after your cruise in Seattle? As a born and raised Seattleite, here are my absolute must do things in Seattle, as well as a three day itinerary for this beautiful city.

Fun fact: my second favorite city in the world in Vancouver, BC! If youre adding some time before or after your cruise, check out my top recommendations for Vancouver here.

How Much Does An Alaska Cruise Cost

How to choose the right Alaska cruise

Alaska cruise vacations are known to be a bit on the pricey side when compared to Caribbean cruises. Cruise fares fluctuate considerably depending on a few factors.;The cruise line, ship, itinerary, and time of year will all weigh heavily on pricing.

If you have flexible vacation time, choosing the right time to take an Alaskan cruise can have a big impact on your budget. As mentioned above, the middle of the summer, which coincides with the best weather, most wildlife, and school break, will usually be the most expensive.

Further, the cruise line and cruise ship you choose will also dictate the cost of your Alaskan cruise. Most major cruise lines now sail to Alaska so you will have a wide selection from which to choose.

Generally speaking, the newer ships from each cruise line will be more expensive than some of the older ships in the fleet as there is more demand for these vessels. Premium and luxury cruise lines will also be more expensive than the more family-friendly cruise lines.

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Other factors to consider when determining pricing are the embarkation port, stateroom category, and shore excursions. Depending from where you are traveling, you will likely need at least one pre-cruise hotel day. Flights to Anchorage for one-way voyages will likely be more expensive than Seattle or Vancouver.

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