Cruising To The Last Frontier: An Alaska Cruise Guide

— To learn more about cruising to Alaska, keep reading! 

There is no doubt that Alaska is a top bucket-list destination for any cruiser. From its stunning wildlife to the breathtaking views of the Mendenhall Glacier, this unique itinerary will be one you won’t ever forget. Opting for an Alaskan cruise is an amazing decision due to its convenience and all-inclusive perks. In this guide, we have included everything from must-do excursions to destinations to expect on your sailing. To learn more about cruising to Alaska, keep reading! 

Which Cruise Lines Sail To Alaska? 

Once you decide to go to Alaska, the next step is selecting your cruise line. Picking your cruise line is one of the most critical aspects of planning your vacation. Each cruise line and ship class offers guests something unique onboard. If you’re a first-time cruiser trying to decide which brand is right for you, begin planning with this article for our insider tips! With over 24 cruise lines sailing to Alaska, there are plenty to choose from. We will include the most popular cruise lines and their routes below: 

Brands that sail from Vancouver to Seward or Seward to Vancouver: 

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Holland America Line  
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Viking Ocean Cruises 

Brands that sail from Vancouver to Whittier or Whittier to Vancouver: 

  • Princess Cruises 

Brands that sail roundtrip from Seattle: 

  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Princess Cruises 
  • Holland America Line
  • Royal Caribbean

Brands that sail roundtrip from Vancouver include:

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Carnival Cruise Line 
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Holland America Line 
  • Disney Cruise Line 

Note: All Alaskan cruises are 7 nights long, with the exception of Viking Cruises, which offers 10-day sailings.

What Destinations Are Included In Itineraries? 

There are 2 major Alaskan regions that cruise lines will visit: the Inside Passage and the Gulf of Alaska. Each region has something distinct and unique to offer. 

Firstly, the Inside Passage includes popular ports of call such as Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, and Ketchikan. Some cruise lines also make stops in the Icy Strait, Haines, Wrangell, or Petersburg. This itinerary is highly favored due to its epic views, smooth waters, and convenient flight planning. Many cruisers prefer embarking and disembarking from Seattle or Vancouver to avoid expensive plane tickets to smaller airports or the need to purchase one-way tickets. 

Lastly, the Gulf of Alaska route sails through the Inside Passage and includes ports of call such as Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, the Icy Strait, and Haines. Nature-lovers often choose this itinerary because of its incredible excursion options, which include visiting the Hubbard Glacier, Denali National Park, sailing through the College Fjord, and more. 

When it comes to vacationing in Alaska, there is no shortage of lively excursions. From visiting a dog musher’s camp to exploring glaciers via helicopter, guests are guaranteed to have difficulty selecting just a few excursions. Below, we’ve listed a few of our favorite excursions that you can expect in Alaska: 

  • Sled Dog Experience and Musher’s Camp in Skagway: In the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, guests will meet a team of wide-eyed and bushy-tailed huskies for an exhilarating sledding race through the forest. After the adventure, you’ll be guided back to camp, to enjoy some playtime with husky puppies in training!
  • Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show: Voted “A Must See” by the Travel Channel, this one-hour show features real ESPN lumberjack athletes competing in a thrilling display of strength, skill, and agility. Located just one block from the cruise ship docks, this hilarious and rowdy show is easily accessible and within walking distance. 
  • Salmon and Halibut Fishing Trip: Experience a day of fishing in Sitka waters like a true local! Your captain will expertly guide you to the best fishing hot spots for salmon and halibut. If you’re lucky enough to catch a fish, you can have it packaged and sent home for an additional fee. Please note that you’ll need to purchase a one-day fishing license for $15 in cash, as required by state law. 
  • Wilderness River Adventure: During your stop in Haines, don’t miss this breathtaking excursion! Start with a tour bus ride along the Haines Scenic Byway, followed by a boat trip through the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, where many guests have spotted at least 10 or more bald eagles! The preserve is abundant with wildlife, so keep an eye out for bears, moose, and porcupines. 

When To Visit:

This destination has a shorter cruise season, typically running from May until September, depending on the cruise line and weather conditions. During this peak season, guests can expect daylight hours to be normal, with temperatures that range from 30°F to 80°F. July is the best month for seeing active wildlife and enjoying 18 hours of sunlight every day. Below are the temperatures by month, so you can know how to pack:     

  • May: temperatures range from the low 30s to the mid 50s. 
  • June: temperatures range from the upper 40s to the mid 60s. 
  • July: temperatures range from the low 40s to the mid 60s. 
  • August: temperatures range from the upper 40s to around 60°F.
  • September: temperatures range from around 40°F to the mid 50s. 

Whether guests decide to embark on the Inside Passage or Gulf of Alaska route, they are sure to be amazed by the beauty of the 49th state! When packing, guests should bring plenty of layers, a raincoat, and umbrellas, among other essentials. Regardless of the chosen cruise line, booking as many excursions as possible is highly recommended to fully immerse themselves in Alaska’s idyllic scenery and magnificent nature. 

Which cruise line will you choose for your Alaskan voyage? Let us know in the comments! 

By Danielle Morris 

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