Best Overall Cruise: Windstar Cruises
Because of their small, yacht-like size, Windstar Cruises ships grant unparalleled access to Alaskas glaciers and fjords other ships cant squeeze into some of these special places.
All-inclusive option includes WiFi, unlimited drinks, Signature Expeditions program offers expert guides who give lectures and take guests on intimate excursions
Only 312 passengers
Each cabin is a suite there are no interior cabins
Ship was reimagined in 2021, with additional dining experiences, a new World Spa, and infinity pool
Fewer entertainment options than on larger ships
When it comes to experiencing the splendor of Alaska, your cruise is only as good as the direct access it offers to this regions beautyand Windstar Cruises delivers access like no other. Because of its dainty size, guests are treated to unique experiences, like anchoring right in Misty Fjords and Kenai Fjords, which is something youd have to do on a shore excursion if you were on a larger ship with another cruise line. For an even closer look at Mother Natures impressive work, from icebergs to whales, book a kayak or Zodiac Signature Expedition with their incredibly knowledgeable guides.
Youll Guaranteed To See Some Of The Worlds Grandest Glaciers
Alaska’s glaciers are iconic – and theres over 100,000 of these giant bodies or ice and snow scattered throughout the state. Arguably the best of the bunch is Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve – the extraordinary destination in the Inside Passage that spans a whopping 3.3-millions-acres . The icy thrills here come fast and furious, with big-name tidewater superstars such as Margerie, Muir, Johns Hopkins, McBride, and Grand Pacific grabbing centre stage. As you might expect, the National Park Service take their role in managing this legacy very seriously – only a limited number of permits are issued each year for cruise ships who meet the strict criteria. Further geological marvels include Prince William Sound for its high concentration of sparkling glaciers and deeply-carved fjords, Worthington Glacier for its reputation as the snowiest place in the entire state, and Ruth Glacier for its wonderfully deep gorge . Equally visit-worthy is Exit Glacier – the Kenai Peninsula celebrity that has loomed large in the public consciousness ever since Barack Obama declared it as good of a signpost of what we’re dealing with when it comes to climate change as just about anything.
Top 7 Of The Best Alaskan Cruises For Families
Looking for the best Alaskan cruise for families? Finding one suitable for your needs isnt a difficult task. Plus, an Alaska cruise can be the opportunity of a lifetime.
Alaska from Glacier Bay National Park to the Icy Strait Point to the Hubbard Glacier radiates the serenity of nature thanks to its beautifully breathtaking scenery.
An Alaskan cruise is one the entire family will love, and there is something for everyone. If you are considering a leisurely Alaskan cruise, here are the best ones to consider for your family.
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The Best Alaska Itineraries
My first visit to Alaska started in Anchorage, where we took the Alaska Railroad to Whittier to board Regent Seven Seas Mariner to explore Prince William Sound, Kodiak and the remote Dutch Harbor before heading to Russias Kamchatka Peninsula and the northern islands of Japan.
What I saw in Alaska took my breath away, and weve returned several times since. While that particular cruise was aboard a pricey luxury line, there are ships in all price ranges sailing a variety of itineraries, so dont let budget stop you from visiting.
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Best For Megaresort Fans
Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean both sail some of their largest ships in Alaska. They are floating megaresorts, carrying thousands, and big on amenities, glitz and a certain amount of glamor think flashy casinos, Broadway shows, lavish spas. Dining and drinking venues number in the dozens, while amusement park features thrill the kids and adrenaline-seekers.
On Norwegians Breakaway-Plus-class ships, you can race along a go-kart racetrack, complete in outdoor laser tag and zoom down slides at the water park. On Royal Caribbeans Quantum-class ships, you can order a drink from a robotic bartender, try simulated sky diving or surfing experiences and take a ride in a glass capsule that travels high above your ship on a mechanical arm a weird and wonderful way to see the Alaska scenery.
These supersized ships stick to tried-and-true weeklong itineraries, sailing round trip from Seattle to such ports as Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, Sitka, Icy Strait Point and Victoria, B.C. Many Norwegian sailings spend time in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve. Ships that dont visit the national park, regardless of cruise line, will call at other exciting tidewater glaciers.
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Wilderness Frontier Explorer 4a
7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 4-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Denali and Fairbanks .
Included Experiences Tundra Wilderness Tour, Fairbanks City Tour, Riverboat Discovery Cruise
2023 Departures May 19, June 2, 16 & 30, July 14 & 28, August 11 & 25, September 8
Book A Longer Luxury Cruise That Travels To Alaska
Another option is to book a long cruise that crosses the Pacific beginning or ending in Vancouver and ending or beginning in Hong Kong, Singapore or other Asian ports. These itineraries offer the best of Alaska cruising combined with off-the-beaten-path ports like Dutch Harbor and beyond into Asia.
When Alan and I cruised from Vancouver to Singapore on a fall crossing aboard Regent Seven Seas Mariner, the itinerary included typical Alaskan ports combined with Kodiak Island, Sitka and Dutch Harbor. In spring 2018, we cruised on Seabourn Sojourn from Hong Kong to Alaska where we visited Kodiak Island again.
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Starboard Vs Port: Bottom Line
Ultimately, the most important cabin choices are which deck youre on, whether youre in the middle or toward one end of the ship , and which size and category of room you select. Choosing a starboard or port cabin will have little impact on your trip, especially when you can head up to a public deck to get a wider view.
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Most Family Friendly: Disney Cruise Lines
Disney is often associated with amusement parks. Yet, Disney Cruise Line is renowned for entertaining cruises that offer fun for the entire family. Since launching in 1998, this cruise line has changed the way families do cruises.
Each cruise in its fleet delivers an ultimate family experience. Cruise ships set sail from Vancouver and involve a 5-9 night stay on board.
Disney Cruise Lines packs outdoor adventure with picturesque scenery to provide an enchanting experience. This cruise line caters more towards the diversity of family over most others.
Guests can choose between rough and rugged outdoor adventures like zip lining, adventure kart expeditions, rappelling adventures, Hummer excursions, or ATV expeditions.
There are various food excursions as well, ranging from fishing/wilderness dining, salmon bakes, and other fun activities. There are several science adventures, steam train adventures, horseback adventures and more. Their excursions encompass more family-friendly aspects than most others and offer a better diversity in activities.
Also, even while on board the entire atmosphere is completely kid-friendly.
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The 10 Best Alaska Cruises Ranked
Alaska is one of the most beautiful states that you can ever explore. It is full of snow-capped mountains, lush rainforests, wildlife, glaciers, and fjords. If you want to see some of the features that Alaska has to offer, the best way would be to cruise to the state. You are probably wondering which cruises to take. Before we identify the cruises you can take, there are some things to keep in mind. Alaska cruises only sail from May to September.
That is because it is summer, which is the best time to see some marine life and birds. However, if you take a cruise in the shoulder season of early May or late September, you can get some discounts. Lastly, if you wish to see the midnight sun, book your cruise over June 21, which is the longest day of the year. Having known a bit about Alaska, we can now identify some of the best Alaska cruises that you can use. Here are the top 10 best Alaska cruises to consider below.
Glacier Bay National Park
Some Alaska cruises spend their entire itinerary at Glacier Bay National Park and understandably so. This UNESCO Biosphere Reserve is the largest in the world, home to dramatic glacier scenery and wildlife watching opportunities.
Cruise there and you can enjoy kayaking, visiting local villages or just admire the non-stop parade of glaciers passing by. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for calving glaciers and have your camera ready.
Summer is the best time to visit for warmth, with April to June being the driest months. That said, a visit in winter gives you the chance to capture fog-shrouded landscapes ideal for moody photography.
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Dining Is Uneven And Sometimes Additional
One of the biggest surprises about the cruise tour is that meals might not be included. Some cruise tour programs dont include meals in the price to give travelers the freedom to try local restaurants of their own choosing.
Yet, you might often be compelled to eat at certain times and in certain places. On the Alaska Railroad train rides, you might not be allowed to eat your own food up in the seating area, but since the ride typically takes place smack in the middle of a meal time , you are basically forced to eat in the dining car. And, because the dining car cant accommodate all the passengers at once, youll have to eat in shifts as dictated by the train host.
Eating dinner at the hotel each night will likely be the most convenient option, especially if youre in a more remote lodge. However, its likely to be more expensive with limited options.
On the other hand, shuttle service between out-of-the-way hotels and the restaurant area are not always reliable, especially if youre eating later at night due to your tour schedule. Be prepared: Getting back to the hotel is part of the adventure.
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You Can Cruise Alaska Anytime Between April And October
The weather in Alaska can be unpredictable and challenging , so youll always be at the mercy of Mother Nature. Winter is a strict no-go, so the cruise season typically runs from the end of April to the beginning of October . Not only is this six-month window the safest time for cruise ships to sail, but it also means avoiding the freezing months of January and February when the earth has tilted and theres hardly any sunlight. For those lucky enough not to be restricted by school term times, one of the best times to travel is in May and early June not least for the wildflowers blooming along the Inside Passage, the migrating wildlife, and the chance to see icebergs and snowdrifts just before the breakup turns it into a melting and slushy mess. Equally standout are the peak summer months for glorious light-filled days when the sun simply refuses to set, temperatures that range from 60°F to 80°F , and rainfall that wont ruin your sightseeing . This is also when cruise-goers make the most of ship facilities such as outdoor pools, sun decks, and swim-up bars.
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Top Alaska Cruises From Vancouver
There are a number of different Alaska itineraries that depart from Vancouver. If you dont have many vacation days to spare, you can choose a shorter itinerary that lasts five nights. If you have a little bit more time, pick a seven- to nine-night itinerary that visits a number of different ports including Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka, depending on your journey.
Most cruises from Vancouver to Alaska also sail to Hubbard Glacier, allowing you to witness its majestic beauty from up close. Nicknamed the galloping glacier, Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America and one of the few that is still actively thickening and not receding.
Hubbard Glacier, Alaska
On a cruise to Hubbard Glacier, youll witness one of its thunderous calving displays, which occurs when huge blocks of ice fall off from its exterior and crash into the water below.
What Is The Best Alaskan Cruise Line Overall
The Norwegian Cruise Line is often considered the best overall when it comes to Alaskan cruises. The company claims to have the youngest fleet sailing the waters of the Last Frontier, and their ships certainly do seem to be top of the line. You can expect extra fun amenities like laser tag and a race track on the top deck. Plus, you can get a round trip cruise from Seattle making it easier to book your airfare.
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Fjord & Tundra National Parks Explorer 6a
7-night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier Cruise onboard Radiance of the Seas followed by a 5-night, post-cruise, escorted land tour to Seward, Anchorage, Denali and Fairbanks .
Included Experiences Kenai Fjords National Park Cruise, Alaska Native Heritage Center, Tundra Wilderness Tour, and more.
2023 Departures May 19, June 2, 16 & 30, July 14 & 28, August 11 & 25, September 8
Best Alaska Cruise For Multi
With an Alaskan cruise sitting on so many peoples bucket lists, you might find that when you start planning a cruise vacation, the whole family wants to tag along! I love doing multi-generational trips on cruises. Everybody can do their own thing during the day, and then everyone can gather back at night for dinner.
If booking a cruise for the extended family grandparents, adult kids, grandkids, etc youll want to look for a cruise line that appeals to a range of customers. In Alaska, our top pick for a line that does just that would be Norwegian Cruise Lines or Celebrity Cruise Lines.
On Norwegian, we have already talked about what the kids will love. The adults will love the incredible shows on board, their comedy acts are some of our favorite. In addition, as we stated before the upgraded dining is one of our favorite promotions of any cruise line. It is so nice to gather as a family for an incredible meal and Norwegian has that.
Lastly, their spa is out of this world. It is not only massive but has some of the most unique experiences including a salt room, a snow room and some of the best views onboard the ship. Book the spa early as it is often booked once the cruise begins.
Celebrity Cruise lines
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So Which Glacier Is Best To Visit On An Alaska Cruise
The honest answer is that all of them are incredible. But they also all have their unique features. So its up to you to decide what is most interesting to you?
Hubbard is the largest Glacier you can see from a cruise ship, and that in itself is impressive. Its also rapidly advancing, so that means there is plenty of calving activity, which is a major attraction for many visitors. Seeing a massive, multi storey, chunk of ice break-off and come careening down into the ocean is definitely something youll remember from your Alaska vacation.
Hubbard Glacier has another impressive featureIts backdrop of the Wrangell St-Elias National Park & Kluane National Park in Canada. From the water you can see 5 of the 10 highest peaks in North America, including Mt. Logan .
Glacier Bays main advantage is that visitors will not just see one amazing glacier, but many. There are 8 major glaciers in Glacier Bay. Although many of them have receded into the mountains so there is less chance of seeing glacier calving activity, but its certainly still possible. Glacier Bay is also a great place to see marine wildlife and pass by floating icebergs.
Dawes Glacier is at the end Endicott Arm and is everything you think of when picturing a massive Alaskan glacier. Dawes Glacier is also famous for its very active calving, making it a very exciting glacier to visit.
Icy Strait Point/hoonah Most Unique Alaska Cruise Port
Icy Strait Point near the town of Hoonah is a unique port in Southeast Alaska. Icy Strait Point was converted from a cannery for cruise ships by the Huna Totem Corporation and is Huna Tlingit owned and operated. The vast majority of employees are Huna Tlingit who live in the town of Hoonah.
At Icy Strait Point you can explore the museum in a historic cannery, walk the nature trails, eat delicious seafood and book one of the many tours offered. Tours include whale watching, trips to look for bears around Chichagof Island, ziplining and off road adventures. If you have the chance to go, dont miss out on this truly unique Alaska cruise port, theres nothing like it anywhere else!
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Best Cruise Itinerary To Alaska For Couples
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.
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.
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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.