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 — they’re billed as being among the largest in Alaska. There’s 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.
Pro: Casual Ambiance On Board
As with many small cruise ships in Alaska, Ocean Victorys onboard experience was relaxed and casual. As one travel advisor noted, it was not for people who want to get dressed up and bring out the jewels.
While some cruisers love to get glammed up for formal nights on their big-ship sailings, Id bet the majority of travelers would rather leave the cocktail dresses and suits at home and stick to comfortable clothing for their vacation.
The Best Small Ship Cruises To Alaska
What is ‘small’ when it comes to cruise ships? It meansdifferent things to different people, but for us, small comes downto an attitude, a state of mind, and a way of behaving.
Our favourite ‘small’ ships in Alaska range from the tiny22-guest Safari Quest of UnCruise Adventures to the spaciousindulgence of Regent’s Seven Seas Mariner, carrying 700 luckyguests. Whichever you choose, it’s still a far cry from those giantvessels you may have seen plying the waters off Alaska, withpassenger capacities higher than the number of residents in some oftheir ports of call.
On board a small ship cruise you can expect charming andattentive service, great food, fellow passengers of a similarmindset, and comfortable accommodations. Ashore, what youexperience will definitely depend on the ship you choose.
Visiting Alaska by ship is an extraordinary experience, andwhilst certain ports might be very busy indeed – Juneau for example- it is comparatively easy to find yourself in a remote wildernesswhich feels as if it has never been visited before. So if you arechoosing a classic cruise ship, it’s all about the shore excursions.
But if you want to feel like an intrepid explorer, go insteadfor one of the expedition ships offered by our sister company MundyAdventures. On these cruises you will meet wildlife on desertedbeaches, watch glaciers calve in a timeless and ancient landscape,and hike through untouched rainforest in the footsteps of theTlingit people.
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Why Cruise Alaska In Small Ship Over Large Ship
The vast majority of visitors to Alaska arrive on large cruise ships that offer plenty of entertainment on-board, but don’t offer too much in the way of truly experiencing the beauty and wilderness of Alaska.
Google the phrase “Luxury Alaskan Cruises” and you will be bombarded with options. Be careful! Not all cruises are created equal. If you choose to go with one of the large ship cruise liners, you may be packed in with the masses, forced to eat the same meals as everyone else, and then gouged by extra fees and extravagant excursion costs.
Alaska small ship cruises are different. Our trips are all-inclusive and completely customizable everything from the menu to the day’s agenda is up to you. If you want to lounge in our cabin all morning and kayak all afternoon, you can. If you want to bird watch from 5 am until the last rays of light fade over the Inside Passage, you can. Whether you want to wear yourself out hiking or simply relax in the hot springs, it is entirely up to you. Aboard the Sikumi you can enjoy the luxuries of true spontaneity, an adventure that is all your own, and exceptional service that only the Alaskan spirit can give you.
There is a big difference between Alaska Small Ship cruises and Large Cruise liners.
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Reach Places Big Ships Cant
These nimble vessels carry fewer passengers than large ships, offer more frequent and more up-close glacier viewing, and make unplanned stops whenever wildlife appears. Itineraries call on less-visited ports where large ships can’t go. Youll likely explore wild, secluded coves where you can go ashore for nature hikes, custom excursions and intimate wildlife viewing. Ships carry 12-150 passengers.
Mixed: Limited Shopping Options In Small Towns
The flip side of getting off the beaten path is you wont find the same shopping options in small ports that you would in the major cruise ports of Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. This could be a plus or minus depending on your point of view.
Most cities on major cruise line routes are known for their endless rows of jewelry, souvenir and specialty shops many of which are not locally owned. If you love to spend hours looking for deals and gifts to bring home, youll find the most variety in the big-ship ports.
The smaller ports take a different approach to souvenirs. In Wrangell, there were only about a half dozen stores, including a grocery store, drug store and a few stores that offered essentials, like swimsuits, flip-flops, T-shirts and sweatshirts. One was more of a traditional store than souvenir shop, and the other, the Compass Line Gift Shop, offered high-quality T-shirts, hats hand-designed by the owner, candles and handmade soaps.
We purposely dont carry items that other shops may carry on the island, the shops website says. We like our neighbor shops, so why compete with them.
In Kake, population 500, I didnt come across any souvenir stores at all. Instead, a few locals sold handmade jewelry, postcards and other odds and ends in the community center before the towns children performed local dances for the cruise passengers.
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The Small Ship Advantage
A cruise on a small ship is not filled with elaborate distractions, sleek resorts and packaged tours. Rather, small ships are perfect for intimate exploration of off-the-beaten track waterways, narrow channels and tiny ports that passengers on large ships will never see. When Lindblad Expeditions guests visit a small port in Alaska’s Inside Passage they don’t overwhelm the local communities. Their largest vessel hosts just 62 guests.
Small ship guests would rather watch for whales in Frederick Sound than spend the afternoon in a casino. They linger outside on deck as the Captain noses under a waterfall, rather than watch a video. On a small ship, the focus is very often outside, on what Nature has provided for entertainment, rather than on amusements provided to occupy your attention on board.
Your time is spent wisely, too. Rather than making a beeline from port to port, small ship Captains have the flexibility – and the inclination – to linger when whales are putting on a show, a glacier is calving spectacularly, or to seek out sea otters when a nearby fisherman radios the word.
On a small ship cruise, you are not just a visitor. You are a participant. Whether kayaking next to a glacier, hiking in a rain forest in Alaska, or enjoying a spectacular spring garden in British Columbia, a small-ship cruise is an engaging experience for all the senses.
What Should I Pack For My Small Alaskan Cruise
While your packing list may vary depending on the season that you visit Alaska during, here are 10 general things that you should never embark on an Alaskan cruise without.
- Lightweight jacket
- Scenic railway excursions
If there are specific excursions that you hope to participate in, you should look at cruise itineraries to find one that includes the activities that you would like to do.
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What Sets Us Apart From Other Alaska Inside Passage Cruises
It is our experience that there are few small cruisers like ours available in Alaskas Inside Passage which can take small groups of 6 to 12 guests. We specialize in giving our guests personalized service while offering authentic and intimate experiences with the glaciers, wildlife, and more, which is something you wont find on a larger cruise ship.
Our team at Alaska Boat Cruises has led excursions throughout the Inside Passage of Alaska since 1990 and has the knowledge, experience, and accommodations to provide you with the finest in service and quality trips. We are committed to offering you the best travel and adventure opportunities, with luxurious, spacious accommodations and very personalized service aboard the M/V Alaskan Harvest. We have worked hard for many years to provide our guests with a rewarding and fulfilling, fully catered experience that gives insight into Alaskas many natural treasures as well as entertaining you, no matter what part of the world you are from or how many times you have been to Alaska. We are confident that an adventure with us will provide you with fond memories that will last a lifetime.
Small Ship Alaska Cruises For Families
Alaska is a land of vast expanses and dramatic scenery, and a small ship Alaska cruise is the perfect way to explore this amazing region. These cruises offer an intimate and personalized experience, with smaller ships carrying fewer passengers than the large cruise liners. This means that you can really get to know your fellow travelers and enjoy a more relaxed pace of travel. Alaska is a great destination for families, with plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained. From whale watching and hiking in the wilderness to visiting glaciers and taking in the stunning landscapes, there is something for everyone to enjoy. A small ship Alaska cruise is the perfect way to explore this amazing region with your family.
You can find the best Alaska family cruises for you by reviewing the trips below and contacting our experts. Exploring Alaskas Coastal Wilderness is one of the most thrilling expeditions in Alaska. Alaskan Fjords offers engaging, exciting, and educational cruises for families. Glacier Bay and Island Adventure Cruises are a vacation experience that is authentic Alaska through the eyes of local Alaskans. Sailing aboard the 40-guest Alaskan Dream takes a little longer during this 8-day itinerary. The children under the age of 18 can get a $500 discount if they stay at a double-cabin resort while traveling. The best Alaskan cruise for families is aboard a small ship.
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Golfo Dulce Costa Rica
As our Golfo Dulce exploration continues by Zodiac, paddleboard and kayak, we encounter Pacific Costa Ricas dazzling avifauna as we watch for golden-hooded and Cherries tanagers, yellow-throated toucans, fiery-billed aracaris and crimson-fronted and orange-chinned parakeets, constantly chattering in flight above the jungle treeline. The flora is a kaleidoscope of tropical color with bromeliads, heliconias and orchids set against the verdant green of the tropical forest. Later, jump into the cool, refreshing waters of the bay.
Con: Minimal Entertainment On Board
If you choose to sail a small cruise ship in Alaska, forget about nightlife. Intimate ships like Ocean Victory do not provide casinos, musical shows or specialty bars for your entertainment.
The extent of evening entertainment on my sailing was a few nighttime stories from expedition team naturalists over after-dinner cocktails and late-night tunes from the onboard pianist.
You can also forget about waterslides, expansive spas, kids clubs and the like. Ocean Victory did have a tiny spa and gym. But most of the small lines who sail Alaska are bare-bones, focused on adventure rather than amenities.
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Adventure Cruises In Alaska
Vast, untouched wilderness awaits. Alaska hosts magnificent wildlife encounters and spectacular glaciers.
From ice-filled fjords to stunning rainforests, southeast Alaska is an adventurer’s dream. Known as one of the most beautiful cruise areas in the world, exploring the panhandle of Alaska by small ship will deliver a holiday of a lifetime. Exploring Alaska by adventure cruise ship means you can get up close and personal with the wonders of this region.
Learn about the rich history of the area, visit Glacier Bay, the worlds largest biosphere to see whales, seals, eagles and bears and visit local tribes of the Inside Passage. The action and adventure of Alaska is never-ending, and the memories will also last a lifetime. There are many different Alaska cruise itineraries on offer, each one equally amazing.
Most Alaskan cruises will explore the panhandle or southeast tip of Alaska. Below are a few of the key highlight areas on an Alaskan small ship cruise.
Sailing the Inside Passage – shaped by huge glaciers millions of years ago, the Inside Passage stretches from Puget Sound, Washington, through British Columbia and into the Gulf of Alaska. The Inside Passage delivers stunning scenery which is ever changing. Home to whales, bald eagles, sea lions and porpoises, the Alaskan Inside passage covers more than 500 miles and encompasses over 1000 islands.
Us / Panama City / Coln / Embark
Upon arrival in Panama City this afternoon, transfer by land to Colón and embark the National Geographic Quest in the evening. Later, as the tropical night falls, our ship enters the Panama Canal at Gatun Locks. Our crossing to the Pacific through this colossal engineering feat, a tribute to sheer human determination, has begun and we make our way towards vast Gatun Lake.
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What Sets Us Apart
An All-American Experience
We build, flag, and crew our ships right here in the United States. Our pride in the All-American experience we provide is the backdrop and an ode to the incredible, breathtaking landscapes that this country has to offer. Our Alaskan cruises showcase the beauty of the United States in places like Mendenhall Glacier, Skagway, and Haines.
There is no other place for adventure quite like the Great Land. From Glacier Bay to Ketchikan to wildlife kayak excursions, guests will immerse themselves in Alaskan nature and beauty up-close. You can enjoy a private fishing charter or check out the local museums that showcase the history and culture of this incredible region.
World Class Cuisine
Our master chef source locally fresh ingredients that bring to life the Alaska region. Our menu includes scrumptious salmon pasta, shrimp bisque, crab cakes, fresh oysters, and so much more. Our complimentary meals come with beer and wine, and as always, exceptional personalized service.
Daily Onboard Entertainment
Enjoy traditional Alaskan song and dance as well as a narrated history of this incredible land. Our onboard experts and entertainers offer a fascinating look into the culture and tradition of the places we visit, including information on Alaska’s flora, fauna, geology, wildlife, and more about the native people.
Easier To Make Friends
The intimate nature of small ship cruises allows passengers to cross paths more easily and make connections more rapidly. So whether youre traveling solo or with a partner, you can be certain that at the end of your cruise you will leave with a group of enthusiastic adventure-loving friends.
Many passengers on small ship cruises are those who value good conversation and quality travel experiences. This makes it very easy to form effortless friendships with like-minded fellow passengers.
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What Amenities Are Provided On A Small Ship Cruise
Many small ship cruises to Alaska include food, lodging, and on-shore excursions in the booking cost. Other amenities such as WiFi, spa, and onboard entertainment may be included or may be purchased at an additional cost.
The amenities that are included with the purchase of your cruise ticket will depend on the specific cruise package that you buy.
If you have any questions about which amenities are included in AAAs small ship cruises to Alaska, get in touch with one of our seasoned travel agents today.
What Kinds of Wildlife Will I See During My Alaskan Cruise?
The Last Frontier boasts miles of untouched wilderness inhabited by rare arctic wildlife. Because small cruise ships have the ability to hug the coastline more closely, passengers aboard smaller cruises often see more wildlife than those aboard larger vessels.
Some of the animals that passengers aboard an Alaskan cruise may see include polar bears, whales, walrus, eagles, harbor seals, sea otters, Kodiak brown bears, and puffins.