Scenic Cruise Destinations In Alaska
Glaciers are a must-see in Alaska, and every cruise itinerary features at least one day of scenic cruising. Glacier Bay National Park is the top pick for glacier-viewing because of its multiple glaciers and generally passable channel. However, so many cruise lines wish to visit that the national park issues a limited-number of day-use spots each year.
Other scenic cruising sites along the Inside Passage include Tracy Arm with its Sawyer Glacier andEndicott Arm with Dawes Glacier. One-way Alaska cruises that travel to/from Seward and Whittier may also visit the spectacular Hubbard Glacier.
Typically, the big ships will open up all the outer decks for passengers to crowd the railings to watch the glaciers calve and scan the area for wildlife. If you want to get out on a kayak or small boat to get closer to the glacier or the marine life, youll need to book an expedition cruise.
Compare the options in our guide to scenic cruising in Alaska.
How Do I Plan An Alaska Cruise
First, you will want to get an idea of what your must-see attractions are. Most Alaska cruises follow the popular itineraries of the Inside Passage, Gulf of Alaska, or even longer sailings from the west coast.
After you determine the itinerary you would like, then you need to focus on a specific cruise line for the best Alaska cruise ever. Each cruise line offers a unique experience for every type of cruiser. Then, you can select a date with that perfect cruise line and itinerary to book and mark in your calendar!
I highly recommend booking a balcony or higher stateroom with a trusted cruise travel agent as you will not regret waking up to the breathtaking Alaska cruise landscape from your own private balcony. Also, make sure to avoid the loudest staterooms onboard to completely relax on your Alaskan cruise.
Once booked, you will receive access to more booking options like onboard packages, shore excursions, and stateroom upgrades. I highly suggest taking advantage of these pre-travel opportunities to have your vacation planned out before you leave!
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.
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Most Read Business Stories
Bhupesh Singh, 44, who was boarding the Serenade of the Seas on Monday with his wife, Hansi, and their two unvaccinated children both are under 12 said he felt comfortable with Royal Caribbeans approach, even with the extra precautions hed have to take travelling with kids. He noted that he brought his family to cruise from Seattle, where Royal Caribbean at least requires all adults to be vaccinated. In Florida, where hes from, that isnt the case.
The reduced capacity on board the Serenade of the Seas was also encouraging for Singh. Royal Caribbean declined to say exactly how many passengers it will have on board, but said it would be much lower than full capacity, which is typically almost 2,500 people. Holland America and Princess Cruises said they will be starting their Alaskan cruises at approximately 60% capacity, moving up gradually over the course of the season.
Some cruise lines will also be using technology to trace passengers location. Royal Caribbean will be using tracelets, or wristbands that passengers must wear in order to be tracked on board. Princess Cruises will be using medallions, portable devices used for various functions on board the ship, which will keep a log of who passengers come in contact with.
Reasons To Cruise To Alaska This Summer
Cruising to Alaska with Norwegian Cruise Line is nothing short of spectacular. And, magnificent Alaska goes all out to showcase everything shes got including glaciers, wildlife and seemingly endless opportunities for adventure, along with history, arts & culture, and shopping. Here are 11 reasons to visit Alaska this summer.
Whatever your reasons are for visiting Alaska this summer, you can be sure that Norwegian Cruise Line has got you covered. Be sure to check out the full list of Norwegians Alaska cruises!
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Q: What Is The 2022 Alaska Cruise Season And When Is The Best Time To Cruise Alaska
A: Cruises will be available between May through September from a variety of cruise lines, with July 2022 being the most popular time to cruise Alaska and September 2022 being the least crowded time to go. When the best time to take an Alaskan cruise is all depends on what you are looking to see and what weather you are willing to endure July experiences some of the longest, warmest days of the region in the Arctic but going up to 70 degrees in Denali), giving you the opportunity to potentially experience the Midnight Sun and plenty of wildlife on the other hand, September is much colder but experiences significantly less crowds and is the best time to cruise Alaska to see the Northern Lights.
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Best Alaska Cruise Lines
As one of the most popular cruise destinations in the USA, Alaska is served by several, if not most, major cruise lines. Whether youre looking for expedition cruises to Alaska or a high-end luxury cruise, youll find something that matches your interests and passions. In no particular order, these are cruise lines that offer Alaska cruises.
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Best Alaska Cruise Itineraries
Big ships and smaller luxury cruise lines tend to follow similar cruise itineraries.
Alaska Inside Passage cruises sail roundtrip from Seattle or Vancouver, perhaps with a stop in Victoria, B.C., and explore Southeast Alaska, never reaching Anchorage. They call at the big, tourist-focused Inside Passage ports.
One-way cruises travel between Vancouver and Whittier or Seward in Alaska. These cruises typically visit several Inside Passage ports, but swap Victoria for a more northern Alaska stop, such as Sitka. They take cruisers through the Gulf of Alaska to Southcentral Alaska, close to Anchorage.
The best Alaska cruise itinerary for you depends on what you want to prioritize for your vacation. The benefit of a roundtrip cruise is easier and cheaper airlift to the departure ports. You wont have to bother with one-way flights and the longer transit time to/from Anchorage. A one-way sailing is best for cruisers who want to tack on extra vacation time on land to visit Denali National Park or the Kenai Peninsula.
To assist with the latter, most cruise lines offer cruise tours, which combine a three- to seven-night bus tour through Alaska with a weeklong cruise. These options are ideal for travelers who want their entire itinerary planned out for them, rather than booking their own lodging, transportation, and activities pre- or post-cruise.
New Rules Allow Cruises In Alaska Heres Why The Season Will Still Be Slow
As soon as Congress passed a bill Thursday to temporarily exempt Alaska-bound cruise ships from the Passenger Vessel Services Act, Holland America announced it would sail north on July 24. Norwegian Cruise Line is taking reservations for early August.
It takes time to prepare a ship and crew. And cruise line executives have complained rules the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention imposed on the industry arent workable. For instance, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Frank Del Rio said, consider the mask mandate for extended indoor dining.
In between bites or sips, youve got to put it back on and take it off and put it back on its absurd, he told CNBC in early May. I mean, we wouldnt put our customers through that.
The CDC hasnt issued looser standards since then. But others in the industry sound sure revisions are underway.
We think were very close, Holland America President Gustavo Antorcha said on Thursday.
Holland America and its sister lines, Carnival and Princess, intend to dedicate one ship each to Alaska this summer, he said. Its a fraction of their usual fleet, but it amounts to a total of about 30 week-long cruises.
As the national COVID-19 situation improves, he said, CDC seems willing to make changes to the rules.
Theres still some details to figure out specifically around physical distancing and mask-wearing, Antorcha said.
He checked on some of the ships that would normally be in Alaska now.
But I think its pretty sure, he said.
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Sitka Best Alaska Cruise Port To Explore On Your Own
If you like to explore on your own, Sitka is the port for you! Sitka has far fewer ships than many other ports so its fun for an independent minded traveler to explore. Most likely your ship will dock a few miles outside of town, but theres a free shuttle downtown that goes every 15 minutes while a ship is important and its easy to zip around. You can also link up with Sitkas bus system to get to trailheads and other areas.
Sitkas beautiful setting on Baranof Island combined with an intriguing history of Tlingit history and modern culture with Russian and American rule make it an interesting place to visit.
What Do I Need To Know Before Traveling To Alaska
33 Crucial Things to Know Before Visiting Alaska The northern lights are not visible year-round. Sometimes the northern lights show up only on camera. You can only drive up to a certain point into Denali. The largest national park in the United States is in Alaska. The rain is sporadic and unpredictable.
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Norwegian Cruise Line Resumes Selling Voyages To Alaska For This Summer
The move comes as the The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act has been introduced to allow cruise ships to head to the state.
Cruise passengers hoping to go to Alaska can now book their next trip on Norwegian Cruise Line as soon as August, sailing directly from Seattle to Ketchikan.
The company, which has listed several Alaskan cruises on its website for sale in August, September, and October, is making plans for journeys around The Last Frontier after the U.S. Senate passed a bill last week that could allow cruises to resume.
Cruises to Alaska were put on hold after Canada banned all large ships until at least next year, directly affecting Alaskas cruise industry due to a century-old law that requires large foreign-flagged ships to first stop in Canada. The Alaska Tourism Restoration Act, which was introduced by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and now needs to be passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Joe Biden, would allow ships to temporarily skip Canadian ports and travel directly between Washington and Alaska, The Associated Press reported.
Many large cruise ships that sail to Alaska are registered in foreign countries.
While this would represent a boost to the cruise industry, cruising in the U.S. still remains on hold with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hoping to resume by mid-summer.
Best Traditional Cruise: Princess Cruises
Courtesy of Princess Cruises
- Ship Name: Royal Princess
- Itinerary: Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Whittier
Royal Princess is a gorgeous ship that like all Princess cruises focuses on a more traditional experience . As passengers sail through Glacier Bay or the College Fjord they can stroll around the stunning skywalk a glass walkway that overhangs the vessel or relax next to a lovely water fountain in the pool area. In the evenings, passengers catch movies under the stars. The cruise concludes in Whittier, Alaska, where most cruise lines do not visit. Although Whittier is industrial, its ideal for those extending their stay in Alaska on land. The Alaska railroad connects Whittier to Anchorage so travelers can also enjoy a scenic ride to Anchorage and hop on a connecting flight.
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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.
Bill To Allow Cruise Ships To Sail To Alaska Without Stopping In Canada Passes Us Senate
A possible solution to Canadas cruise ship ban is one step closer.
The United States Senate unanimously passed a bill that allow foreign flagged cruise ships to sail to Alaska without having to stop in Canada.
The Alaska Tourism Recovery Act passed the Senate in a vote on Thursday, and will now to go to the U.S House of Representatives for a vote.
The bill was introduced by Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan in February 2021 as a way for cruise ships to be able to sail to Alaska in 2021.
The Alaska Tourism Recovery Act is meant to alleviate the Passenger Vessel Services Act restrictions for cruise ships transporting passengers between the State of Washington and the State of Alaska.
Canada has banned cruise ships for at least a year, which means it prohibits cruise ships from navigating, mooring, anchoring or berthing in Canadian waters until February 28, 2022 or until the Canadian Government lifts the prohibition.
Senator Murkowski celebrated the victory on Twitter, calling it a huge victory.
Huge victory today in my effort to provide an opportunity for economic recovery for Alaskan communities who rely on cruise ship passengers the Senate just passed my bill w/ , the Alaska Tourism Restoration Act.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski May 13, 2021
The Cruise Lines International Association also celebrated the important step, citing the important economic impact cruise ships have for Alaska.
If you think perhaps this bill may be all for naught, Royal Caribbean does not think so.
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Top Ports For Alaska Cruises
No matter which cruise line and itinerary you ultimately decide on, you will likely visit a mix of these popular ports. Many cruises to Alaska feature fabulous ports of call that are consistent with most itineraries. Like Caribbean cruise ports, these ports cater to the Alaskan cruise market. If you are looking for more than touristy attractions and activities, make sure to get out of the main port area and explore the most scenic Alaska cruises ports.
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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