Ultimate Glacier And Fjord Adventure
The best way to maximize time spent in Alaska is to fly into the state first and then make your way back home the long way around.
Such is the case withSebournes ultimate, 15-night fly-cruisepackage. Starting from Seward and ending in Seattle, the trip is as close to all-in as youre likely to find. A four-day cruise across some stunning coastline takes you to theInian Islands,Haines, Juneau, Sitka, and Ketchikan.
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What About The Ferry
You might have heard someone refer to the Alaska ferry as a locals cruise or a cheaper cruise and I want you to know that is not accurate! I cringe whenever I read or hear this. The Alaska ferry is absolutely wonderful, but its public transportation and that is how its used by Alaskans. Its also more expensive than people expect and there are lots of hidden costs, such as getting a small cabin and eating in the cafeteria. If youre interested in taking the ferry to or within Alaska, its an amazing experience, but its very different from a cruise! Learn more in my complete guide to riding the Alaska ferry here.
Six Popular Ports Of Call On Alaskan Family Cruises
Alaska is vast and is home to some of the most breathtaking and untouched natural wonders, including volcanoes, glaciers, shorelines, and wildlife. A cruise to Alaska should be considered incomplete if you fail to explore the interior and the ports of call along the route. That said, these are six of the most popular ports of call on Alaskan family cruises:
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Where Does The Ship Depart From
The three main departure points for Alaskan cruises are Seattle and Vancouver in the south and Anchorage in the north. Seattle is popular with cruisers from the US as they dont need to go through immigration and can often get cheap flights. But you end up travelling through a large section of open sea which can be rough, some short trips miss out the Inside Passage and ships have to make a compulsory stop in Canada so theres less time in Alaska.
Vancouvers Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal
Vancouver is the most popular departure point for Alaska cruises so youll have the biggest choice of cruise lines, itineraries and departures. If youre travelling internationally there are plenty of flights, and routes mostly travel through the Inside Passage with more to see.
Most departures from Anchorage actually leave from the ports of Seward or Whittier rather than Anchorage itself. So you need to allow time to get to the ship from the airport. Its 60 miles to Whittier and 125 miles to Seward so will take at least a couple of hours, but its probably safer to stay overnight, especially if youre flying internationally. Theres some beautiful scenery along the way though, and one bonus is you can get there via the Alaska Railroad.
Sailing out of Vancouver
Our Most Popular Luxury Cruise Lines For Alaska
While every cruise line is different and offers advantages for certain passenger types, there are some lines that are more popular for cruises in Alaska amongst our customers.
The first of these is Crystal Cruises. A classic luxury cruise line, its ships are elegant and chic, feeling exclusive and yet welcoming at the same time. With outstanding spa facilities, sumptuous dining and a vintage wine collection to choose from, you can be truly pampered as you sail through the majestic Alaskan landscapes. Crystals Alaska itineraries vary between seven- and 11-nights.
Silversea Cruises is another of our more popular cruise lines for our customers when choosing a cruise to Alaska.
Another of the finest cruise lines you can choose from, it offers smaller ships designed to get your closer to your destination, and ensure a more intimate atmosphere on board where every guest becomes a friend to share tales of your adventures with. Every suite enjoys butler service too, ensuring total comfort as you travel. Silverseas Alaska itineraries vary greatly, giving you plenty of choice, sometimes incorporating some of the states less-visited destinations, along with fascinating eastern Russia.
If you would like any further information about luxury cruises to Alaska, please call our Cruise Concierge team on 0808 202 6105 for expert advice and award-winning customer service with your booking.
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The Best Time To Cruise Alaska To See Wildlife
Alaska is one of the best places in the United States to see wildlife. The state is home to 15 national parks, and its federally-protected lands cover an area the size of California.
Its possible to see wildlife any time of the year, but the best time to see a wide variety is during the summer. During the summer, you may catch a glimpse of brown bears fishing for salmon along streams, deer and moose calves along the shore, and a wide variety of birds.
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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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.
If You Have A Tight Schedule
It can sometimes be stressful matching up a cruise lines schedule with your own vacation days. After all, many people are limited on exactly when and how many days they can take off. Luckily cruise lines sail constantly throughout the summer, but some lines do sail more regularly than others.
For the 2019 cruise season, we found 52 cruises each from both Princess Cruise Lines and Holland America departing for Alaska from West Coast ports . That represented the largest number of cruises by one cruise line and is more than Carnival or Royal Caribbean.
In other words, if you have specific dates when you can travel, its a good idea to start with Princess or Holland America. That said, Norwegian also sailed more than 40 cruises during the Alaskan season.
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How Old Should Kids Be For An Alaska Family Small Ship Cruise
When considering an Alaska family small ship cruise, we suggest age 6 and older. Some ships will allow children as young as 2 years old or even babies. Most small Alaskan cruise lines do not provide babysitting services, video games or kids clubs that separate families. Instead, they provide off-vessel activities and onboard programs designed to bring families together. If your child chooses not to participate in an activity, then an adult will need to stay on board with them, so it is important to choose an Alaska family cruise that is suitable to your interests and ability levels and appropriate to the age level of your children.
Savor Delicious Food & Rugged Alaskan Coastline On This 8
Carnival Cruise Line is all about making the cruise experience enjoyable for everyone. Onboard activities are diverse and numerous ensuring that no matter the age group of the people youre cruising with, theres an activity to be enjoyed.
If youre cruising with your family, enjoy the ships very own SkyRide, Sky Zone, or Water Works park. If youre cruising with only adults, take advantage of the ships many lounges, bars, and restaurants.
Onshore, excursions you can join include hiking, wildlife viewing, whale watching, glacier trekking, and more!
Ports of call on this Alaskan cruise include:
Stika. Photo by Holland America.
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What To Pack For An Alaska Cruise
Your packing list for an Alaska cruise will look very different from your Caribbean one. Youll want to include the following items, as well as all the typical cruise essentials:
- Rain jacket and other rain gear
- Warm layers, hats, and gloves for chilly days and glacier viewing
- Binoculars for wildlife spotting
- Bug spray for those pesky mosquitos
- Hiking boots if you plan on getting out into nature
- Swimsuit and sunscreen because sometimes its warm and sunny
- Camera with wide angle and telephoto lenses
- Day pack for carrying extra layers, souvenirs, etc.
- Waterproof bags for kayaking or rafting trips
If You Want Affordability
Is money the most important factor for your cruise to Alaska? First things first, be prepared to spend more than you would for a comparable Caribbean cruise. Its not unusual to find week-long Caribbean cruises for under $500. Similar length cruises to Alaska are often twice as much.
If you are interested in the cheapest Alaskan cruises, then your best option is to 1) sail during the shoulder season and 2) look for cruises aboard Holland America.
The Alaskan cruise season runs from May through September. For cheaper prices look for trips in either of those months. June, July, and August tend to be more expensive. As well, weve found that for the 2019 cruise season Holland America offers a number of cruises that are cheaper than their competitors. Specifically, the cruise line offers a number of trips in September for $799 per person a low rate by Alaskan cruise standards and the cheapest we found.
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Longer Sailings From The West Coast
Finally, youll find some San Francisco round-trip itineraries usually 10 nights long as well as longer sailings between San Francisco and Vancouver. These cruises are best suited to travelers who love days at sea. Youll have four sea days plus a day of scenic cruising at a spot like Tracy Arm , Endicott Arm, Hubbard Glacier or Glacier Bay National Park. The waters before you enter the Inside Passage can be calm, rough or anything in between, depending on when you go and luck of the draw.
Ports on these longer sailings may include Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point and Victoria, British Columbia.
When Is The Best Time To Cruise Alaska: Ultimate Guide
If you are thinking about taking an Alaska cruise vacation or have already booked your trip, youll be happy to know that a cruise ship is the best way to explore Americas Last Frontier. If you havent taken an Alaska trip before, you may be wondering when is the best time to cruise Alaska?
Alaska is a unique cruise destination, unlike the typical Caribbean or Mediterranean getaways you might have sailed in the past. The remote location, picturesque landscapes, and abundant wildlife provide memories unlike anywhere in the world.
The long, cold winters and short summers mean that cruise ships only have a short window to sail the Alaskan waterways safely.
Alaskas cruise season is five months long, from May to September. Youll find noticeable differences in wildlife, weather, pricing, and crowds from one week to the next.
Whether youre looking to spot wildlife, catch a king salmon, or hope to see the northern lights, well help you find the best time to book your cruise to Alaska.
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Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Seven Seas Mariner returns to Alaska each summer, providing anexcellent combination of comfortable spacious suite living withexcellent dining choices and a whole selection of excursionsincluded in the fare, unusual for a classic cruise ship. This isone destination where you’re going to want to take loads oforganised trips, so with up to 43 excursions on offer on a 7-dayitinerary, you can really get your money’s worth. There will alsobe guest lecturers and a great family programme.
Helpful Tips Before You Go
- Be aware of the unusual length of days and nights in these northern latitudes. In May or June, the sun doesnt set until after 11pm giving you more time to see more of Alaska.
- In Alaska, some of the best tasting water comes right out of the tap. Thats because its glacial watercrisp, clean and clear.
- Much of Alaska is covered by a rainforest, so pack water-resistant clothing.
- Temperatures can vary based on what you are doing . Wearing layers can help keep you comfortable throughout the day no matter what the activity.
- Book Flights by Celebrity® to be protected in case there is any cancellation.
- Research the shore excursions and book them in advance, pre-cruise. The popular shore excursions get sold out fast.
- All destinations in Alaska take U.S. dollars and most take credit cards but be sure to check before your purchase.
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Compare: 12 Cruise Ships In Alaska
A message from Cruise Critic: During this unprecedented time throughout the world and across the cruise industry, it is important to note that article information might be impacted by cruise line hiatuses and port closures due to COVID-19. For the latest information, please visit our regularly updated article on what cruisers need to know about coronavirus.
It’s hard not to revert to hyperbole with Alaska. Here lie more than enough towering snow-capped mountains, breathtaking calving glaciers, extraordinary wild animals and quirky frontier towns to wow hundreds of thousands of cruisers annually. With more than two dozen mainstream ships plying Alaska’s island-filled southeast region from May to September, passengers certainly have options.
This chart features a representative from every major line in the mainstream and luxury markets, from the intimate and upscale Silver Muse to mega-ships like Norwegian Bliss.
Each of the 12 ships, which were hand-picked based on their popularity among all cruise options in Alaska, caters to a different type of traveler. Families on a budget might find the most “bang for their buck” onboard Carnival Spirit, while couples looking to splurge can pamper themselves with Seven Seas Mariner’s lavish suites and all-inclusive fine dining.
Familiarize yourself with the biggest contenders’ itineraries, exclusive regional offerings and more to determine which is the best Alaska cruise option for you.
How To Choose A Cruise Line For A Luxury Alaska Cruise
So how do you go about choosing the cruise line thats best for you? For that you need to understand what to look for in an Alaska cruise, so that you pick the ship with the facilities which are most suited to your holiday.
On an Alaskan cruise, youll want to make the most of the awe-inspiring scenery as you sail. This means ensuring youve a balcony stateroom or suite. With many luxury cruise lines this will be standard but not for every one, so if youre booking a ship that has oceanview staterooms, ensure you upgrade to make the most of the views and the crisp air from the comfort of your own balcony.
One thing that is sure to happen is that, after a day spent exploring the amazing ports of Alaska, youre going to need somewhere where you can relax and unwind. And that can vary between different travellers. It may be that you prefer sharing stories with fellow passengers over cocktails in one of the many bars on board. Perhaps youre more interested in a massage or specialist treatment in the on-board spa? Or maybe your idea of a relaxing evening is one spent in the theatre, taking in a thrilling live performance? However you best choose to relax, your luxury cruise ship can help you recharge ready for another day of adventure.
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Whats The Best Time To See Whales On An Alaska Cruise
Gray whales, humpback whales, orca, beluga whales Alaska has them all. Here are some quick tips to help you increase the odds of seeing whales during your cruise.
- Humpback whales: June and July are the best months for seeing these giants of the deep. Over 500 humpback whales spend summer within the Inside Passage, so select a cruise that passes through this route and visits the Barren Islands.
- Beluga whales: You can spot belugas in Turnagain Arm from mid-July through August, just south of Anchorage. September is also a good month for belugas, as long as your cruise passes Nome.
- Gray Whales: April and May are ideal for gray whales, as they feed around Kodiak, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Seward.
- Orca : The ideal time for orca spotting is between early May and early June when you can find these colorful behemoths feeding in Resurrection Bay and along cruise routes going between Seattle and Alaska.