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How To Pick An Alaskan Cruise

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Best Cruise Itinerary To Alaska For Couples

How To Choose An Alaska Cruise | Princess Cruises

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.

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

Get The Best Views From The Ship

Hubbard Glacier

With a bit of planning, you can position yourself on the ship for the most beautiful views at the right time. For example, at sunset, when the ship sails the smooth waters of the forested, island-specked Inside Passage, youll want to be near a window.

If you like the idea of Italian classics in Tuscan Grille, a specialty dining restaurant that spans the aft end of Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Solstice or runs along the side of the ship on Millennium, book a window seat for dinner, timed for around sunset or earlier, and enjoy dreamy views of the ships wake and the pristine scenery.

Head for cocktails at the popular Sunset Bar, or take your morning coffee in the Sky Observation Lounge for uninterrupted forward views. Set up camp on the Lawn Club for the best views, while lounging on the grass with a steaming mug of hot chocolate. Fleece blankets are provided on deck for cooler days.

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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?

When Is The Best Time To Cruise To Alaska

Best Alaskan Cruise, Types Of Cruises, How To Pick The ...

Cruises to Alaska typically start in early May and will run through until September. When the best time to cruise in Alaska is dependent on each passengers needs and wants. The beginning and end of the season typically has more volatile weather , but also has less kids onboard and is a bit less crowded in port. These voyages are also usually less expensive as they are on the edge of the season. However, if you are traveling with a family it might make the most sense to go in the middle of the summer both because of the schedule but also because the weather is a bit better.

When picking an Alaskan cruise I have found that there are five main types of cruises offered by the major cruise lines to choose from.

Note: Sample itineraries are primarily for the 2022 cruise season. There is still uncertainty due to the global pandemic and CDC regulations about what the 2021 Alaskan cruise season will look like.

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Which Cabin Should You Book

Cruisers tend to be split into two camps the ones who dont spend any time in their cabins and are happy to go without a window to save money, and the ones wholl pay a bit extra to have a balcony to relax and soak up the views from. As Alaska is such a scenic area, with some great views along the Inside Passage, we decided it was worth the cost to have a balcony. Turns out we had fog on the way up and didnt see a lot, but it came into its own at the glacier.

It can help to be able to see the horizon and get some fresh air if youre worried about seasickness. You can also choose a cabin on as low a deck as possible, in the middle of the ship rather than the forward or aft as they move less. It can cost a bit more to reserve a specific cabin rather than a generic category but I like to know where Im going to be .

Misty balcony morning

So which is your ideal cruise? I was travelling with my parents at the end of August, wanted to do a round trip from Vancouver, didnt mind too much about what stops we made, and wanted a mid-size ship with a bit of luxury. So we ended up choosing a Celebrity Cruises seven-night Hubbard Glacier cruise and really enjoyed it, but there are tons of options to create your own perfect Alaska cruise.

How Much Does It Cost To Fly To My Alaska Cruise Homeport

If you live driving distance from the Seattle cruise port, you can pay $0 for airfare, and your transportation costs will mainly consist of gas and parking or taxi and Uber fares. If you live in New York and are taking a one-way cruise from Seward to Vancouver, you might pay $500 to $1,000 per person for one-way flights into Anchorage and out of Vancouver.

Cruises that sail roundtrip from Seattle or Vancouver will typically cost less in airfare than one-way cruises that travel between Alaska and Canada. If you want to save money on your total cruise booking, consider how your itinerary can impact your airfare.

Dont forget that you can use frequent flyer miles or credit card points to book your flights, saving you money on that total Alaska cruise cost.

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How To Choose The Right Alaska Cruise Itinerary

A cruise to Alaska is one of the most popular kind of cruises, but which itinerary should you pick?

If you have never cruised to Alaska before, you may find the decision of which ship, embarkation port, and itinerary a tough decision. There are many considerations when choosing an Alaska cruise, but ultimately the decision may come down to budget, convenience, and time.

Before booking a cruise to Alaska, here is what you need to know about picking the perfect Alaska cruise for your family.

Remotest Alaska: Venturing Beyond To The Russian Far East

How to Pick an Alaskan Cruise

In a Nutshell: This expedition voyage is meant for true explorers who want to touch on Alaskas most exotic places including the Bering Strait, where wildlife, landscapes, and Aleut culture that still bind the Russian Far East and Alaska.

What Youll See: One unusual option for an amazing Alaskan adventure straddles the shoulders of the Bering Strait, a region of the world thats visited by just a few hardy travelers and even fewer cruise ships. This one-off, 18-day itinerary is ideal for those wanting to go deeper, into the westernmost lands of America and to easternmost Russia, a coastline that since 2012 has been closed to visitors without permits by the Russian military. The Chukotka Peninsula is almost exclusively inhabited by the Chukchi and Eskimo peoples, with walrus rookeries and herds of reindeer leading the list of wildlife.

Silver Wind is designed for just such a journey. Refurbished in 2021, the ship has been strengthened with an ice-class hull for explorations of the polar regions, and with sea and land tours lead by the ships Expeditions Team aboard a fleet of sturdy Zodiac boats.

Unalaska is the hub of the Aleutian Islands, the string of remote outposts that, along with Pearl Harbor, was bombed during WWII. Silver Wind will call on Dutch Harbor, one of the worlds richest fishing ports, thanks to the huge haul of cod, pollock, and king crab the small town is the star of the TV show Deadliest Catch.

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How To Choose A 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

One Week Roundtrip Out Of Seattle

  • Will likely stop in Juneau, Ketchikan, and either Sitka or Skagway, some are also now stopping in Icy Strait Point
  • Will go to one of the three main glaciers: Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, or Tracy Arm
  • Will have a stop in Victoria, B.C.
  • Advantage:This is a great taste of Alaska. Its roundtrip out of Seattle so if you are from the U.S. you wont have to go through immigration at the airport and you are going from the same airport both times.
  • Not Great For:
  • People that want to explore less touristy parts of Alaska.
  • Disadvantage:The two most touristy ports Juneau and Ketchikan are some of the main ports of this itinerary. This is fine but budget to do shore excursions to really get your value out of these ports.

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Southcentral Alaska Prince William Sound & Katmai

Like the Southeast, Southcentral Alaska offers remote wilderness, but it is linked via roads and numerous communities that can serve as base camps for land adventures. In fact, this region is home to over half of Alaskas population, so cruises here embark from unique road-accessed port towns like Whittier and Homer, with the city of Anchorage being the hub for your travel. Numerous options to explore beyond your cruise on an Alaska land tour include world-class fishing on the Kenai Peninsula or further exploration inland to Denali National Park.

Southcentral Alaskas terrain ranges from volcanic landscapes in Katmai National Park, home to an impressive population of brown bears, to the windswept Aleutian Islands that make a 1,000-mile sweep toward Asia.

Our partner cruises in this region range from smaller vessels with local captains who intimately show you their home waters, to expedition ships that sail across the Aleutian Islands to Russia. Or go on a grizzly bear-focused cruise embarked only by floatplane. This is the region for the adventurous!

When Is The Best Time To Cruise To Alaska For Maximum Daylight

Alaska Cruise Lines

Imagine being able to enjoy Alaskas incredible natural beauty during days of near-continuous sunlight. With so much daylight, you can enjoy all the best Alaska shore excursions, from biking alongside the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau to hiking in the Tongass National Forest.

If you want to experience the phenomenon of sunlit nights for yourself, the best time to go to Alaska on a cruise is right around the Summer Solstice in the second half of June. This is the time when days are longest in the entire Northern Hemisphere.

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Best Luxury Alaska Cruises

When booking your luxury Alaskan cruise, here are some key things to consider. First, you review all fine print before signing any contracts because many companies use tricky marketing tactics. Things such as low-price promises to get ahead. Its also important to know exactly what kind of amenities each company offers. That way you can find the perfect one for your needs.

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.

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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When Should I Book My Alaska Cruise

We always recommend booking your cruise early, even nine to 12 months in advance, to get the lowest prices and best pick of cabins. You can probably wait until January or February, when cruise lines put out Wave Season sales and promotions, to see if you can get a deal on your Alaska sailing.

Once it gets to be March or April, your booking is considered last minute. You might find a low fare, especially on shoulder-season cruises, but you might also find that the room types you prefer are sold out or that fares have gone up on a nearly full ship.

How To Choose Your Cruise: Alaska

How to choose the right Alaska cruise

For anyone who loves wilderness at its most epic, Alaska is Americas fantasyland the place where dreams of a wild, limitless frontier thrive magnificently, even well into the 21st century.

When the Scottish naturalist John Muir first visited Alaska, in 1879, the land had been in American possession for barely a decade, having been purchased from Russia for $7.2 million. So vast was this forbidding possession, a nuisance to the Russians, really, that the sale worked out to a mere two cents an acre. But before gold was discovered, and long before Alaskas oil reserves were known, Muir saw something more in this prodigious, forbidding land.

To the lover of wilderness, Muir wrote, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.

Muir made seven trips to Alaska, venturing as far west as Unalaska, halfway across the Aleutian chain that reaches for Russias Far East, and to Barrow, the northernmost point of America today. Perhaps most importantly, he was a member of the first Euro-American expedition to visit Glacier Bay, where he studied how glaciers could carve the dramatic landscape that created his beloved Yosemite Valley. Muirs passionate writings led to the creation of the National Park Service, the grand vision writer and historian Wallace Stegner later called the best idea we ever had.

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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.

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