The North American state of Alaska is as exquisite in its beauty as in its area. With glorious glaciers, charming cities, striking wilderness, and remarkable national parks, Alaska is an experience rather than a destination.
The Alaska cruise is the most populated cruise after European and Caribbean cruises. About 50 massive & mini ships cruise the waters of Alaska every year.
These cruises offer a variety of expeditions according to the preferences of travelers. Some take the popular sure and tested routes, while others take off-beat courses with a sprinkle of adventure.
Alaska Cruise Options You Can Explore
Here are the 10 best Alaska Cruises you should hop on the next time you feel up for an exciting escapade.
1. Best Luxury Cruises
Luxury cruises are for travelers who fancy wine and champagne while sitting on open-view decks and enjoying the dramatic glaciers passing by.
These cruises provide exquisite gourmet cuisines, expert knowledge, and insider tips on Alaskan traditions and culture. The Alaskan cruise line heavily influenced by luxury includes the Silversea, also known as Regent Seven Seas Cruise and Seabourn.
These luxury cruises offer visits to port cities in Canada, such as Wrangell and Prince Rupert. They set sail along the Misty Fjords and Prince William Sound. These 1 to 2-week cruises start from Sitka, Vancouver, and Seward port cities.
1.1. Seabourn Odyssey
The Seabourn Odyssey carries 450 passengers, including tourists and expedition teams who carry out tasks using kayaks and Zodiacs. The tour is called Ventures by Seabourn.
The expedition team includes scientists from various fields, such as biologists, zoologists, naturalists, and more, studying towering glaciers and other features in Alaska.
Passengers are provided with caviar and champagne on board. They are also lucky to be provided with meals prepared by the esteemed chef, Thomas Keller, on this cruise.
1.2. Star Breeze
Windstar Cruises includes the Star Breeze ship with a capacity of about 300 passengers. This ship includes kayaks and Zodiacs too.
This cruise has packages ranging from seven days to an 11-night-long trip to better experience the waters of Alaska. The theme of this cruise is a laidback luxury.
There is no need for designer clothes or expensive jewelry here. James Beard Foundation chefs provide top-quality meals and friendly services to guests onboard.
1.3. Seven Seas Explorer
The Regent Seven Sea Explorer is a complete suite ship carrying 750 passengers simultaneously. The cruise offers guests free airfares, inclusive beverages, gourmet restaurants, spas, fitness centers, and other luxurious facilities.
Most tours at the shore are inclusive as well. You may wish to book the Regent Suite, the most royal suite you’ll find among all cruises.
2. Best Cruises for the Whole Family
Traveling with kids calls for exciting entertainment and event-packed cruises, including fun activities that are amusement park themed. The Norwegian cruise line, Royal Caribbean cruise line, Carnival cruise line, and Disney cruise line are the best in this game.
2.1. Disney Wonder
The Disney Wonder sailed first in 1999. The 2700-passenger ship was upgraded in 2019 with new amenities and entertainment for kids, including Tiana’s Place from the movie The Princess and the Frog.
The package includes live music and cuisines inspired by different Disney movies. The cruise has separate areas for children and adults. While the children enjoy all the Disney ship’s facilities, the adults can relax at the Quiet Cove Pool.
Disney Wonder embarks from popular ports in Vancouver and British Columbia in Canada and San Diego in the United States of America.
2.2. Carnival Spirit
Carnival Spirit is a fairly smaller ship, debuting in 2001. It is famous for WaterWorks, a water park on the ship with a spiral waterslide 214 feet in height.
Some other exclusive Carnival activities include Lip Sync Battle, Serenity Adult Only Retreat, and three areas exclusively for kids. The interiors of the rooms are quaint with average accommodations.
It has a historic charm. But what it lacks in decor, it makes up in eateries that include steak and sushi options and Guy’s Burger of the Guy Fieri eatery.
The Carnival Spirit sets sail from ports in Australia, such as Brisbane and Seattle, and Miami in the United States of America.
2.3. Discovery Princess
Discovery Princess is one of the latest additions to the Princess Cruise Lines, debuting in March 2022. The cruise has technologically advanced facilities such as Wi-Fi connectivity, contactless machinery for payments, and food and drinks deliveries all over the ship.
The modern ship carries capacities of 3660 passengers and about 1300 crew members. Sled dogs are allowed on the ship for dog sledding, a popular activity among kids.
Other activities include outdoor movie screenings, spas, art galleries, pools, a casino, Broadway-style shows, and jazz music concerts.
Discovery Princess starts its journey mainly from Mexico, Alaska, and California. It halts at ports in Juneau, Alaska, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
3. Best Topographic Cruises
An Alaska cruise cannot be complete without visiting popular Alaskan national parks like the Denali National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, and other famous tourist spots.
Denali is the highest peak in North America though it isn’t always visible due to the harsh weather conditions.
Princess Cruises and Holland America Cruise Line are the leading names in Alaska cruises. They have provided services for 55 and 75 years, respectively.
These cruises include cruise tours which include spending time sailing on the water, and a land tour and overnight stay on land. The cruises have facilities for touring the state. Most of these ships are allowed to pass on Glacier Bay.
3.1. Majestic Princess
The Majestic Princess tours Alaska’s four main national parks: Denali National Park, Glacier Bay National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Wrangell St. Elias, America’s biggest national park.
The trip is 15 nights long, with a week-long cruise from Vancouver to Whittier, Alaska. The next week is spent on land lasting till Fairbanks.
The ship has amazing dining experiences with menus created by Michelin-star chefs. Activities aboard include a casino, the Lotus Spa, a fitness area, sports and pool decks, and more.
The Majestic Princess features the SeaWalk, a walkway made of glass panels extending up to 28 feet outside the ship’s edge. One of the notable events on the ship is the Watercolor Fantasy Show. It is a water show played according to music.
The Majestic Princess reaches attractions in Australia, Alaska, Mexico, the South Pacific, California, and Hawaii.
Koningsdam was launched in 2016. It has a carrying capacity of 2650 passengers. It is a fairly new addition to the Holland America Cruise Line. The spots offered by this cruise include the Canadian Yukon, city views of Anchorage, and Denali National Park, among more.
Koningsdam can be included in the list of luxury cruises as it offers members of Club Orange facilities such as concierge hotlines, inclusive room upgrades, permission to skip long queues, pristine in-room breakfasts, and private dining areas with larger menus.
Passengers can spend their time in casinos and watch shows and musicals produced by Rolling Stone Magazine and Lincoln Center. The ship has youth clubs for children, but most activities are only available for adults onboard.
4. Best Off-Track Cruises
Off-track cruises are for tourists who want to delve deep into the Alaskan adventure. Casinos and choreographed stage shows are replaced on these cruises by impromptu singing and dancing events on the small ships.
Tour guides on the ship have extensive knowledge and funny anecdotes to share with passengers aboard. Lindblad Expeditions, Alaskan Dream Cruises, and UnCruise Adventures are perfect for off-beat cruises.
Most of these ships have a capacity of about 100 passengers, with Alaskan Dream going down to just 20. Small ships hold various advantages over bigger ships.
They can change routes flexibly and remain at a certain location for as long as needed. Naturalists have more time to spot Humpback Whales and other sea animals hopping in and out of the water and Grizzly Bears fishing in small rivers.
Small rivers can slip through places bigger ships cannot. This makes it easy for Alaska cruise itineraries to change according to personal plans.
These ships can reach remote and outlying places such as Petersburg and Wrangell. Petersburg is a fishing town influenced heavily by Norwegian culture, and Wrangell is known to be one of Alaska’s oldest communities. You may even find yourself in the middle of complete wilderness due to the unavailability of ports.
4.1. Lindblad Expeditions
Lindblad Expeditions takes its course through uncharted paths through Alaska and British Columbia. The tour lasts from 6 to 15 nights.
Adventures awaiting this tour include discovering native rock art, known as petroglyphs, on the beaches of Wrangell Island in Alaska, exploring the small fishing town of Petersburg, and looking for grizzly bears in the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada.
Lindblad Expeditions, unlike big ships, have exclusive permits to let their passengers explore Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve, its wilderness, and the Tongass National Forest.
4.2. UnCruise Adventures
UnCruise Adventures is fond of exploring the Southeast region of Alaska. The itineraries include packages ranging from 7 to 14 nights of tours.
A typical tour day on this cruise starts with bird watching, where you can spot bald eagles. It is followed by kayaking in the smooth waters of Alaska. The evening ends with a campfire singalong ashore.
The cruise also takes you to glaciers bigger ships cannot go, such as LeConte, Baird Glacier, Hubbard Glacier, Mendenhall Glacier, and tidewater glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park.
UnCruise, like Lindblad, has special permission to let their passengers go hiking and biking on Chichagof Island.
5. Best Cruises for Solo Trippers
There is no need for solo travelers to pay extra for double occupancy on these Alaska cruises if they’re planning on touring by themselves. Many ships have rooms designed for a single person and reasonably priced for a solo tourist.
Luxury cruise lines such as Seabourn and Silversea are not cheap but are great options for solo travelers. They provide single people with great services and help connect them with other solo trippers.
Solo travelers may opt for adventures on the sea involving visiting natural wonders and climbing snow-capped mountain peaks or more mellow activities such as whale watching and spotting harbor seals and grizzly bears.
These options are available on the mentioned cruise ships.
5.1. Quantum of the Seas
Quantum of the Seas, a Quantum-class cruise ship, is part of the Royal Caribbean cruise line with studio staterooms. These rooms are quite spacious, with adjoining balconies. This ship began sailing in 2014. Back then, it was the third-largest cruise ship in the world according to its carrying capacity.
Quantum of the Seas has various onboard activities, including a skydiving simulator, laser tag, and exciting escape rooms. The meals on this ship are sure to be loved by food lovers, with various cuisines prepared by renowned chefs.
Quantum of the Seas, along with Ovation of the Seas, is a weeklong cruise from Seattle and sails along Endicott Arm.
5.2. Norwegian Bliss
Norwegian Bliss is a part of the Norwegian cruise line. The Getaway and Breakaway classes have access to studio cabins on the ship that are exclusively designed for one person. Private lounges are attached to these rooms to encourage mingling with other solo travelers. There are a total of 82 rooms for solo tourists.
The observation Lounge allows tourists to experience great views from comfortable couches. There is a race track on the ship for all thrill lovers. The ship is also host to various musical talents such as The Four Seasons and the musical, Jersey Boys.
The Norwegian Bliss is a roundtrip cruise from Seattle. It visits destinations including Sitka, Icy Strait Point, and Dawes Glacier.
6. Best Resort Cruises
The Royal Caribbean cruise line and the Norwegian cruise line pride themselves on having some of the largest cruise ships in Alaska. These ships are known for having many amenities and a huge passenger carrying capacity.
They feature Broadway shows, relaxing spas, and glamorous casinos with many drinking and dining experiences. These cruises are also a wonder for children who love amusement parks.
6.1. Celebrity Eclipse
Celebrity Eclipse is part of Celebrity cruises. Most of the rooms on this ship have verandahs, and those who want to spend a little more can get special butler services and exclusive dining options. These rooms have flat-screen TVs, and room service is available 24 hours.
Activities on this ship include three pools, Lawn Club, hot glass classes, and various boutiques for shoppers. Evenings are lit up by comedy sketches, Broadway-style acts, and themed parties. Kids can enjoy a program called Camp at Sea.
The Celebrity Eclipse sails in Alaska, the Pacific, Australia, and Hawaii.
6.2. Norwegian Encore
The Norwegian Encore is the best-ranked ship among the Norwegian cruise line ships. It was inaugurated in November 2019. The ship has 3900 passengers with a crew of 1700.
The Norwegian Encore, similar to Norwegian Bliss, has a racetrack. It is the longest racetrack floating on water. Other activities include a laser tag arena approximately 10,000 square feet wide, virtual reality gaming, two water parks with huge waterslides, Galaxy Pavilion rides, a pool, a fitness center, and a spa.
Live shows are popular on this ship in the evening. Dining options include six inclusive restaurants and 12 venues for other cuisines, including American joints and Japanese specialties.
There are various bars on board, and the ship even has a Starbucks.
7. Best Limited Budget Cruises
The Norwegian cruise line, Royal Caribbean cruise line, and Celebrity cruises provide older ships with cheaper cruise deals than their newer ships. The older ships have lesser whistles and bells.
Princess cruises and Holland America cruise line also opportune travelers with sales on their older ships. These ships have fewer passengers making for a truly private vacation.
You may consider booking a cruise outside the peak Alaska cruise season to save a few bucks. April to June and September is the best time for this.
Balconies are popular among tourists for spotting humpback whales while cruising, watching the northern lights, or just passing by glaciers such as the Mendenhall Glacier and Hubbard Glacier. Make sure to book early to get these in-demand cabins.
7.1. Princess Cruise Line
Princess cruises have many ships with multiple good deals for budget travelers. Grand Princess and Majestic Princess are the two ships to look out for among these. These cruises are starting in May 2023, with prices for inside cabins starting from $498 per person.
The itinerary begins in Vancouver, visiting Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, College Fjord, Glacier Bay, and more along the way to Alaska cruise ports in Whittier.
Alaskan cruising is a business with many options to choose from. You may like watching glaciers as they tower over the ships while passing, you may be excited to watch marine life as it comes alive in the deep pacific waters, or you may want to visit Alaska and marvel at its natural beauty and see Dall sheep and Polar bears and more animals in their natural habitat.
Whatever the spark that inspired you to cruise to Alaska may be, it is a great decision. These cruises can bring back excitement and refreshment in your lives for sure. Do explore these Alaskan cruises.