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How To Choose An Alaskan Cruise

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How To Pick The Best Alaska Cruise For You

How To Choose An Alaska Cruise | Princess Cruises

Youll see from our chart below that dozens of ships are sailing Alaska in 2020. And this just includes the mass-market and luxury ships. There are even more if you count all of the small ship and expedition vessels. Thats a lot of information to parse as you determine which ship is right for you, so consider a cruise line that caters to your specific needs or interests. Consult this list, and then check the chart to find a vessel that might fit your own preferences, from ships with the fewest passengers to those with the least expensive cruise fares to the ones offering exactly the itinerary you want.

Which Cruise Line And Route To Choose

I am lost. There are so many cruise lines and routes for Alaska to choose from and this will be our first cruise experience. We are a family of four with two teenager boys. How early should I book in order to get the best deal? I am planning for summer 2010. Thanks in advance for your help!

If you haven’t yet discovered I suggest you take a look at that website. They have an Alaska forum where you will get lots of information. Read back for several pages and then post any questions. There are also forums for each of the cruiselines so you can also read about specific ships. The search function within each forum is very valuable.

You will need to decide if you want a one-way or a round trip. Round trips are out of Seattle and Vancouver. One ways are out of Vancouver

The Seattle sailings are not as scenic as the Vancouver sailings. Seattle sailings also have the potential for rougher seas. You can have rough seas anywhere if the weather acts up, but playing the odds you are at greater risk with a Seattle sailing.

Also decide if itinerary is most important or if ship is most important. Your more seasoned Alaska travellers will tell you to pick your cruise by the itinerary and not by the ship. YOu will have to make that decision as a family.

Keep us posted with what you decide.

Consider flying out at least one day before your cruise. I have read many sad stories of flights cancelled or delayed and people missing their cruise.

Best Cruises For Extended Trips To Alaska

If you want to cruise Alaska but also see some of the interior and enjoy a stay in a lodge or hotel, go for a cruise-tour package from either Holland America or Princess Cruises. Both have fantastic itineraries that take passengers not only to the Inside Passage, but also Anchorage, Denali National Park, the Yukon, Kenai Peninsula, Talkeetna and Fairbanks. Princess even owns a handful of its own lodges.

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Here Are The Best Alaska Cruise Excursions In

Note: To the best of my knowledge, the cruise excursions listed in this post are accurate for the 2020 Alaska cruise season limited as it is by the impact of the novel coronavirus. There may be inaccuracies or schedule changes that I havent yet added. Also, if you see an excursion you love which isnt offered by your cruise company, be sure to check their website.

Ketchikan: Saxman Native Village & Lumberjack Show Combo

How To Choose An Alaska Cruise Itinerary

Ketchikan is often the first major port after departing northbound from Seattle or Vancouver . This makes it a refreshing change of pace after days at sea.

Ketchikan is one of the best places to learn about state history, like Skagway further up Alaskas Inside Passage. The best Alaska cruise excursion in town lets you experience two of the major chapters in Ketchikans history: Alaska Native heritage and the industrial history that built the modern town.

Look for excursions that offer these two in combination together rather than either of them separately with another experience.

Read Also: How Much Are 7 Day Cruises

When Is The Best Time To See Alaskas Glaciers

Alaskas glaciers are magnificent, and Celebritys Alaska cruise itineraries take in two of the most accessible glaciers in Southeast Alaska: Hubbard Glacier and Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier.

The height of the Alaska cruise season is the best time to cruise Alaska on these itineraries to ensure youll be able to see and enjoy the glaciers on each of the routes.

Cruising during peak season increases the probability that warmer temperatures have allowed more of the winter ice to melt, allowing for smooth sailing through the Inner Passage and the fjords, and the captains ability to get as close as possible to the glacier to give you the most spectacular experience possible.

When sailing the Hubbard Glacier itinerary, your ships captain will slowly turn the ship so that passengers on all sides will be able to enjoy the view and witness any calving that might occur while the ship is in the glaciers vicinity.

Sailing the Endicott Arm fjord toward Dawes Glacier is just as spectacular an itinerary, and this Alaskan glacier is just as magnificent.

For these peak season Alaska cruise routes, its advisable to book early so you get the best stateroom. Booking a veranda stateroom ensures that youll have your own private space to see glaciers during your cruise.

How To Pick An Alaskan Cruise

So you want to cruise to Alaska! What an incredible place. In 2019 there were a record 1.3 million cruise visitors. Having been to Alaska many times over the last ten years I have developed a love for Alaska. It feels a bit like going back to a summer camp that you once went to. You know where things are and the streets are lined with memories of years past? Whether this will be your first time to your Alaska or your hundredth, read on to find out how to pick an Alaskan cruise.

In Alaska you will find eagles and glaciers, whales and bears, as well as all of the jewelry shops and tourist shops you could ever hope for. Picking out which Alaskan cruise is for you is far more than simply picking out which cruise line to go on it is figuring out if you want to see the inside passage, if you want some small ports mixed in or if you want to see the tourist side of Alaska, brought about by the million plus cruise visitors.

** this post contains affiliate links. If you click on and/or make a purchase from one of the links in this post I may earn a small commission at no expense to you. Thank you for your support. **

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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.

Longer Than One Week Out Of California Ports

How to Choose the Best Alaska Cruise
  • Several cruise lines have expanded has expanded into offering Alaskan cruises from the Californian ports of Los Angeles and San Fransisco
  • 3 Alaskan Cruise Ports and one scenic cruising day at Tracy Arm
  • One day in Victoria, B.C.
  • Advantage: Roundtrip out of California! Much more convenient for a lot of people.
  • Great for someone looking for vacation more sea days!
  • Disadvantage: While these are longer cruises they dont offer more Alaska for the extra time.
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    Whens The Best Time To Take An Alaska Cruise

    The cruise season in Alaska runs from late April/early May until early September, and can be broadly split into three different seasons: spring, summer and autumn. Theres not really a best time to take an Alaska cruise as each season has different advantages and disadvantages which might relate to the weather, the wildlife, the prices or the size of the crowds.

    Its important to remember weather in Alaska is pretty unpredictable, so youre never going to be guaranteed blues skies and sunshine, even in the middle of summer. I travelled in late August and got lucky with some beautiful weather, but the same cruise a week earlier had thick fog and rain, so theres always a bit of luck involved and you need to be prepared for changing weather conditions pack wet weather gear and warm layers whenever youre travelling.

    Alaskan peaks

    Do You Want To Do A One

    There are two types of Alaskan cruise itineraries one-way or round trip. Each have their pros and cons, so the best choice will depend on whats most important to you. Round trip itineraries tend to be seven days long, starting in Seattle or Vancouver and focusing on Southern Alaska, normally sailing up the Inside Passage as far as Juneau before heading back down.

    The advantage of round trips is they make travel planning much easier. You can fly in and out of the same airport, with return flights usually cheaper than one-way or open jaw tickets. But having to loop around means you dont cover as much ground, and although the stops are different on the way up and down, youll be retracing your steps part of the way.


    One-way trips usually start in Anchorage and head south or start in Seattle/Vancouver and head north. They are often longer and sail across the Gulf of Alaska as well as through the Inside Passage. So you get to see more of the Alaskan coast, with more stops and more chances to see wildlife and glaciers a bonus if you get stung by Alaskas unpredictable weather.

    Either starting or finishing in Anchorage means its easy to add on a land-based tour so you can see more of Alaska too. But the disadvantages of a one-way cruise are that travel planning is more complicated and often more expensive. And if youre worried about seasickness, the Gulf of Alaska can be rough compared to the more sheltered waters of the Inside Passage.

    Glacier watching on deck

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    Best For Couples And Big Celebrations

    Look to the luxury cruise lines if youre a couple and enjoy spacious suites, gourmet food, pampering and the opportunity to meet other like-minded cruisers. The personalized service and all-inclusive nature of luxury voyages may also be attractive to anyone celebrating a milestone, such as an anniversary, big birthday or retirement. Look at Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Scenic, Seabourn, Silversea , Windstar Cruises and Viking Ocean.

    What Are The Best Ports And Excursions In Alaska And How Do I See Them All

    How To Choose A Cabin For An Alaska Cruise

    I want to see everything I can since I wont ever get back to Alaska again, I anxiously thought while planning our first Alaskan cruise. I felt overwhelmed with trying to figure out which excursions in Alaska to choose in each port:

    • Where should I go whale watching?
    • What are the best excursions for our budget?
    • Whats my splurge going to be?
    • Do I book excursions through the cruise line or independently?
    • Do I really need to go on an excursion in every port?
    • If not, what are the free activities in Alaskan ports?

    Weve since figured out how to do an Alaskan cruise in a way that works for us.

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    Do You Need A Balcony With Your Cruise Ship Room

    People who like to spend all their time in the public areas of cruise ships restaurants, lounges or on deck may be happy with standard-size cabins and no private outdoor space. Those who love their peace and quiet away from crowds would be better off with cruise ship rooms that come with a balcony.

    If you are travelling at a time of the year that will be very cold, for example, then you might not be spending too much time outside, so depending on how much space and light you need, a balcony might be the best option.

    Britni Vigil is the writer behind Play Party Plan and she highly recommends booking a cabin with a balcony. She said: For Alaskan cruises, I highly recommend a balcony so that you can enjoy the incredible scenery all around you as you float through fjords full of awe-inspiring glaciers. Watching them from the deck of the ship is fine but being able to enjoy your breakfast on your own balcony while enjoying the sites is even better. I always prefer balconies but for Alaskan cruises, theyre worth the upgrade.

    Travel blogger Cameron Wears runs the blog Traveling Canucks and after going on an Alaska cruise, he also would suggest booking a stateroom that has a balcony.

    READ MORE: A guide to Alaskas Glaciers

    These are just some of the things you should consider when booking an Alaska cruise ship room, but one thing is for certain and that is you will see some spectacular sights and incredible wildlife during your trip.

    Better Pricing And More Value

    Not only do you get a much better selection of staterooms and itineraries, but most cruise lines offer early booking discounts that are usually coupled with value-adds such as drink packages, onboard credits and free upgrades.Plus, with many cruise lines offering reduced deposits you can lock in the low cruise price and get the cabin that is right for you and a cruise experience you will never forget!

    Also Check: How Much Does An Alaskan Cruise Cost

    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

    How To Choose A Cruise

    How to choose the right Alaska cruise

    There is a cruise ship for almost any taste or desire.

    With 24 major cruise lines running over 160 ships on more than 7500 itineraries, choosing a cruise ship is no easy feat. Cruises vary in length from as little as three days to two weeks or longer, and they travel everywhere from tropical Caribbean islands to the frozen Alaskan wilderness to historic European cities. Ships may be small and intimate or nearly as large as a floating city, with amenities such as surfing, rock wall climbing, specialty dining options and full-scale production shows. You must consider many factors when selecting the right cruise for your personal needs and taste.

    Step 1

    Consider your previous cruise experience, if any, and your possible predisposition to sea sickness. Some people can cruise in rough waters with no ill effects, but others get queasy at the slightest motion. Consider choosing a shorter cruise if you have never cruised before or know you are prone to sea sickness. You will be in port most of the time on a short cruise. A larger, newer ship may also be better because of the advances made in stabilization.

    Step 2

    Determine what you want to get out of your cruise. Some people sail for relaxation, but others want adventure or to absorb foreign culture. Cruises to tropical destinations are great for relaxing, and places such as Alaska, Costa Rica and Cozumel offer adventure and European itineraries to immerse you in Old World ambiance.

    Step 3

    Step 4

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    Gulf Of Alaska Cruises

    Gulf of Alaska cruises usually run from Vancouver to Seward/Whittier or vice versa. Ports typically include Sitka, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan with a day in the Inside Passage. Youll either fly into or out of Anchorage depending on the itinerary. And youll have the opportunity for land adventures either pre or post cruise.

    Because the ship leaves the protection of the Inside Passage, you may experience rougher seasor not. If you do, heres my favorite sea sickness remedy.

    Alan and I give the nod to Alaskan cruises that include Sitkaeasy to explore on your ownand Kodiak Islandwe went hikingtwo of our favorite Alaska ports.

    Most of the small, luxury cruise lines offer Sitka as a port as well as Holland American and Celebrity. Cruises that stop at Kodiak Island are harder to find and are usually part of a trans-Pacific cruise.

    All Alaska cruises offer scenic cruising in addition to the Inside Passage. Look for itineraries that include a day in Glacier Bay National Park . Visiting Hubbard Glacier, College Fjord or Tracy Arm are other scenic cruise day options worth considering.

    Im seeing Victoria, Prince Rupert, and Icy Straight , appearing on some cruises to Alaska. Keep this in mind if youre looking for new-to-you experiences on a second, third or even fourth cruise in Alaska.

    Boomer Travel Tip

    Check for best Alaska cruise prices here.

    Tip #: Explore Two Cruiselines Offerings

    • Holland America

    • Princess

    Holland America deploys six or seven ships to Alaska each summer. We passed the Zaandam while on the Amsterdam.

    The Grand Princess is shown here departing from Seattle.

    • Which itineraries fit the number of vacation days you have available?

    • What cities will you be flying to/from to begin/end?

    • Which itineraries visit Glacier Bay National Park?

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