Cruising In Glacier Bay

The 8 Best Alaska Cruises For Every Travel Style

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A trip to Alaska is at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists, and for good reason. From the oft-shrouded Denali, the tallest mountain in North America, to the aurora borealis, nature’s greatest light show, as well as opportunities to spot wildlife like moose, bear, wolves, whales, sea lions, sea otters and more, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in this state, which derives its name from the Aleut word “Alyeska,” meaning “great land.” To truly see it all, the best way to explore Alaska is by ship, and the best Alaska cruises have quickly made The Last Frontier one of the most in-demand cruise destinations in the world.

Alaska cruises first made their debut in 1881, when the Pacific Coast Steamship Company began cruising the Inside Passage aboard its two ships, the Ancon and the Idaho . Today, with over 20 cruise lines and small ships sailing Alaska’s waterways, there are plenty of options for travelers to choose from during the Alaska cruise season, which runs every year from April through October. If you’re planning a bucket list trip, we’ve selected the best Alaska cruises for every type of travel style in 2024, from the adventure-focused to the super luxurious.

Best Alaska Cruise Overall: Holland America Line, Nieuw Amsterdam

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  • Alaska Cruise With The Most Adventurous Excursions: UnCruise Adventures, Wilderness Legacy

Nieuw Amsterdam exterior.

Nieuw Amsterdam

Recommended Itinerary: Nieuw Amsterdam , 7-day Glacier Discovery
Departures: May-September 2024
All-Star Amenities: Wide range of balcony accommodations; signature Mariner's Dream beds with plush Euro-top mattresses; pickleball courts; five specialty dining restaurants; private balcony breakfast or dinner; couples’ packages

Coming off of its 150th anniversary year, Holland America Line has been sailing to and around Alaska for more than half that time—75 years. The cruise line’s Alaskan expertise is evident in many ways, including holding the most permits to visit Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line, as well as onboard wildlife experts on each ship who host daily programs to help passengers search for and find animals in their natural environments. Holland America Line’s “Alaska Up Close” deeply immerses guests in local cultures through onboard programs and activities, and shore excursions. On all of its Alaska cruises, a Huna Native Interpreter comes aboard Holland America Line ships to share the history of the Tlingit people.

In 2022, the cruise line was the first to receive Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification, meaning its Alaska-bound ships serve only fresh, certified sustainable and traceable wild Alaska seafood. The 7-Day Glacier Discovery itinerary is offered both northbound and southbound, both of which include cruising the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay, and calling upon Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway.

Cunard's Queen Elizabeth ship at Hubbard Glacier.

Queen Elizabeth

Recommended Itinerary: Queen Elizabeth , Alaska, 11 Nights
Departures: June-September 2024
All-Star Amenities: Art Deco elegance; complimentary in-cabin robes and slippers; tea and coffee service; breakfast in bed; traditional afternoon tea; gala evenings; specialty dining restaurants; garden-like games deck

The storied Cunard cruise line, with more than 180 years of seafaring history, returned to Alaska after nearly 30 years when it arrived back in the Great Land in 2019. In addition to the White Star service Cunard passengers have come to expect, the 2,081-passenger Queen Elizabeth’s itineraries sail to Alaska with style, calling upon Juneau, Kodiak, Skagway, Prince Rupert, Seward, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Haines along the way. In addition to more than 140 shore experiences that immerse guests into this magical destination, Cunard invites explorers, travel writers and locals onboard to share their passions and knowledge. The cruise line takes inspiration from Alaska with special local dishes served in its onboard restaurants, and the return of the Ice White Ball, a formal gala affair with a glacial twist.

Disney Cruise Line guests can set sail on the Disney Wonder to Alaska on variety of five-, seven- and nine-night itineraries departing from Vancouver, Canada, with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Sitka, Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier, Alaska, plus Victoria, Canada.

Disney Wonder

Recommended Itinerary: Disney Wonder , 7-Night Alaskan Cruise from Vancouver
All-Star Amenities: Wide range of balcony accommodations; Broadway-quality shows; specialty dining restaurants; adults-only pool and hot tub; spa and salon

Disney Cruise Line set sail in 1998 with its first three- and four-night trips to the Bahamas and made its way to Alaska in the spring of 2011. The cruise line, which is celebrating its Silver Anniversary at Sea, offers 23 five-, seven-, eight- and 9-night round-trip Alaskan itineraries aboard the Disney Wonder , all of which depart from Vancouver. As on all Disney Cruise Line sailings around the world, its Alaska cruises feature spacious cabins with split bathrooms; kids clubs for ages three to 17; all meals, including snacks and room service; Broadway-quality stage shows and more. Shore excursions range from adventures like zip lining, hiking and rafting to seaplane exploration, photo safaris and high teas. Adults can enjoy themselves on an Alaskan Disney Cruise, too, with adult-exclusive dining; an adult-only pool and hot tub; fitness center; and Senses Spa & Salon.

Royal Princess in Glacier Bay.

Royal Princess

Recommended Itinerary: Royal Princess , 7-day Voyage of the Glaciers
Departures: May-September 2024; May-September 2025
All-Star Amenities: Wide range of balcony accommodations; Reserve Collection mini-suites; The Sanctuary, an exclusive adults-only retreat; Princess Luxury Beds in every cabin; private balcony breakfast; a handful of speciality dining options; romance packages

Nicknamed “The Love Boat,” Princess Cruises has been sailing to Alaska for more than 50 years, and is a terrific choice for couples looking to get away from it all. While onboard, Princess immerses its guests into the sites, sounds, tastes and history of the 49th state through its award-winning North to Alaska programming. Life onboard is made easy, too, with the cruise line’s revolutionary Medallion technology that not only keeps people traveling together connected, but makes buying gifts in ports a snap by charging purchases back to your cabin. The cruise line’s Voyage of the Glaciers itinerary offers two glacier viewing experiences, as well as a voyage across the Gulf of Alaska to see Prince William Sound, known for its abundance of marine and coastal life. Guests can extend their Alaska cruise with three- to 10-day day pre- and post-cruise tours.

Radiance of the Seas, RD, Alaska, Radiance Class, ice, ketchikan, Aerial, aerial, RD aerial, exterior, ship exterior, RD class

Radiance Of The Seas

Recommended Itinerary: Radiance of the Seas , Northbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier
All-Star Amenities: Wide range of balcony accommodations; most glass of any Royal Caribbean ship; rock climbing wall; movies under the stars; Bottomless Galley Brunch with sparkling wine; specialty dining options; Solarium, and adults-on indoor/outdoor retreat with whirlpools; Vitality Spa & Fitness Center

Enjoy all Alaska has to offer without breaking the bank when you set sail with Royal Caribbean, which boasts a 28-ship fleet that sails to Alaska on 59 different itineraries, ranging from six to 13 nights, ensuring an itinerary that’s just right for you. Regardless of which you choose, you’ll be ready for an Alaskan adventure, whether that means flying through the tree tops on a zip line, keeping binoculars at-the-ready on a whale watching trip, or settling into your cabin to watch the rugged landscape pass by your window. Make the most of your cruise by keeping an eye out for pop-up sales that can save you even more money—you can even use those savings to indulge in a pre- or post-cruise tour.

Chicagof Dream exterior.

Chichagof Dream

Recommended Itinerary: Chichagof Dream, North to True Alaska Expedition
All-Star Amenities: Small-ship experience with just 76 passengers; 5-night itinerary; travel with like-minded adventurers and hands-on enthusiasts

Alaskan-owned and -operated Alaskan Dream Cruises dates back to 1970 when its parent company, Allen Marine, founded by Bob and Betty Allen, launched with the St. Michael . In those days, Bob ran the boat while Betty and her children served treats and tea to their guests. Today, Allen Marine operates 30 vessels, including the five ships that make up the Alaska Dream Cruises fleet, all of which accommodate between 12 and 76 cruise passengers. Each of its all-inclusive, small-ship itineraries is designed to immerse its guests into true Alaska through excursions and adventures in Southeast Alaska; because of their small sizes, they can call upon more remote destinations, leaving the crowds behind. Knowledgeable expedition leaders serve as personal guides on every voyage, sharing their expertise in biology, geography and ecology, as well as sharing about the lifestyles and legends of Southeast Alaska’s local cultures. Life aboard Alaskan Dream Cruises’ five ships is casual and relaxed, meals feature fresh Alaskan fare, and everyone strives to provide opportunities for guests to make personal connections to the region’s places and people.

Hurtigruten's MS Roald Amundsen in Misty Fjords, Alaska.

MS Roald Amundsen

Recommended Itinerary: MS Roald Amundsen , Inside Passage, Bears, and Aleutian Islands
Departures: July-September 2024
All-Star Amenities: Balcony accommodations; fine dining for suite guests; complimentary WiFi; onboard hot tub, infinity pool and sauna; onboard Citizen Science Program

With an expedition heritage that dates back to 1896, it’s no wonder Hurtigruten Expeditions found its way to Alaska. The cruise line with a keen focus on exploration, adventure and science has two of its hybrid technology ships— MS Roald Amundsen , built in 2019, and MS Fridtjof Nansen , built in 2020—sailing the waters that surround The Great Land. Each of the ships features an observation deck, library, science center, hot tub, pool and Explorer lounge, as well as a bar with floor-to-ceiling windows so you never miss a thing. An expedition team of Alaska experts join each voyage, hosting lectures about the areas the ships visit and guiding passengers on outings like nature walks through rainforests and kayaking trips around the foot of a glacier. Guests learn about the cultural heritage of remote communities and focus binoculars to spot bears, whales, caribou, moose, deer, wolves, birds and more. The MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen embark on 14- to 19-day Alaskan voyages between May and September.

Alaska Cruise With The Most Adventurous Excursions: UnCruise Adventures

UnCruise Wilderness Legacy in Glacier Bay.

UnCruise Adventures

Recommended Itinerary: Wilderness Legacy , Glaciers & Tranquility, Alaska’s Adult-Only Adventure
Departures: April-September 2024
All-Star Amenities: Beer and wine tastings; complimentary drinks; hot tub; onboard naturals and guides; onboard launch platform for kayaks and paddleboards

For nearly 30 years, UnCruise Adventures has embarked on voyages with a mission to provide its guests with an enriching adventure travel experience that inspires an appreciation of local cultures and the natural world. Founded in Alaska in 1996, the company has a strong pretense in The Great Land with seven-, 12- and 14-night itineraries that set sail April through September. This year, the cruise line added five new Alaskan itineraries, including the adults-only Glaciers & Tranquility and Winter Sports Alaska, with a focus on downhill and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, whale watching and spotting the Northern Lights. Whichever itinerary you choose, you can be sure to have a plethora of adventurous excursions at your fingertips, right from the ship. One day could find you paddleboarding in the morning and hiking in the afternoon, or maybe kayaking and taking a skiff out later in the day to try and spot wildlife. For the daring, there’s even a chance to go all-in with a polar plunge. All excursions are led by experienced expedition teams, who provide all the equipment needed to make the most of your time in Alaska.

About Susan B. Barnes, Your Alaska Cruise Guide

I’m a Florida-based freelance travel and lifestyle journalist who has embarked on more than a dozen cruises, including several to Alaska. As a traveler, I am just as comfortable bicycling through Italian olive groves and SCUBA diving the wall of sharks in French Polynesia as I am sipping bubbles in a Champagne house and dining at Michelin-starred restaurants. I enjoy diving into topics, interviewing expert sources and sharing stories in interesting and engaging ways for publications like Forbes Vetted, AARP, AFAR, Condé Nast Traveler, Forbes Travel Guide, Garden & Gun, Global Traveler, Southern Living and Wine Enthusiast.

Susan B. Barnes

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  • Alaskan Cruises

10 Best Alaska Cruises to Take This Summer, According to Experts

We spoke to cruise experts to find the best Alaska itineraries to book this year.

best cruise line to alaska

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

With its majestic wildlife, otherworldly glacial scenery, and endless outdoor adventure, a trip to Alaska is one for the books — and the best way to experience it, in our opinion, is by cruise. An Alaska sailing offers travelers the chance to get up close and personal to some of the destination’s most stunning natural wonders (think: Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, the Tracy Arm Fjord, and so much more). Fortunately, when it comes to the best Alaska cruises, options abound, from small-ship luxury sailings and expedition voyages to mega-ships that feel like a floating resort and theme park all in one. Ultimately, explains Travel + Leisure A-List travel advisor Eric Goldring , “The question of which are the ‘best’ cruise lines for Alaska really depends on the guest’s desires as there is a balance between how in-depth they wish to delve into Alaska’s nature and Indigenous culture, what type of onboard experience they desire, and, of course, whether the cruise is family-focused.” To determine which Alaska cruise is best for you, Goldring recommends using a travel advisor “who has actually been to Alaska more than once and on different ships” so that you have “access to important first-hand knowledge.” 

According to T+L A-List travel advisor Ashton Palmer , the Alaska cruise season is short (typically from May to September) and availability is limited, which is why travelers should plan their sailings six to eight months ahead of time. While the travel advisor notes that “most trips average a week in length,” he also recommends cruisers allow time to “visit the northern part of the state, including Denali National Park, the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage, and Fairbanks,” either before or after the cruise. Several cruise lines also offer land extensions (sometimes called “cruisetours”) to make the experience as seamless as possible. 

While the Alaska cruise season takes place in the warmer months, be sure to pack a few sweaters — and consider dressing in layers. When I cruised Alaska in summer 2022, the weather was (mostly) warm and sunny; however, when we sailed through Glacier Bay, it was chilly, and I was especially glad to have brought a scarf, hat, and light jacket to help brace the chill. Rob Clabbers , another T+L A-List travel advisor , agrees. What’s more, he says, “Weather can change quickly in Alaska, so one moment you may need a sweater, and the next you’re better off in shorts.” 

Meet the Expert

Eric Goldring is a T+L A-List travel advisor specializing in expedition, small-ship, and medium-ship cruises. 

Ashton Palmer is a Seattle-based T+L A-List travel advisor who specializes in expedition cruises.

Rob Clabbers is a T+L A-List travel advisor specializing in cruises, and he’s the founder of Q Cruise + Travel. 

Dawn Gabree is a travel advisor who specializes in Alaska cruises at Travels by Danielle.

Mary Curry is another T+L A-List advisor who specializes in small-ship cruises to Polar regions and the Galapagos. 

Now that we’ve covered the basics of all things Alaska cruising, keep reading to discover the best Alaska cruises for every type of traveler, featuring expert insight and award-winning picks.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruisees

Dawn Gabree, a travel advisor at Travels by Danielle who specializes in Alaska cruising, deems Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) "excellent for multigenerational families" thanks to the abundance of onboard activities. "Their larger vessels used in the Alaska market ( Encore and Bliss ) feature must-do activities like go-karting, laser tag, and water slides." On the contrary, "Their smaller vessels ( Jewel and Sun ) provide a more intimate atmosphere over the large ships." Regardless of which ship you choose, expect an array of entertainment options, including Broadway-caliber shows, which Gabree describes as "excellent." What's more, she says, "We saw their production of 'Six' on an Alaskan sailing, and it was phenomenal." The travel pro also loves the World's Best Award-winning mega-ship ocean line for its Freestyle Dining program (read: no assigned seating or fixed reservation times) and plentiful dining options to appease even the pickiest of eaters. Lastly, says Gabree, "A huge selling point for NCL is always their Free at Sea promotion, which includes perks like specialty dining, an unlimited open bar, Wi-Fi, and more. "It's a great value, in my honest opinion." 

Itinerary: The 7-day Alaska: Dawes Glacier, Juneau, and Ketchikan itinerary sails from Seattle on select dates between April and October. Ports of call include Sitka, Juneau, Ice Strait, and Ketchikan in Alaska, as well as Victoria in Canada. Scenic cruising through the Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier is also included.

Holland America Line

Tim Rue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Holland America Line (HAL) — which recently snapped up a 2023 World’s Best Award in the large-ship ocean cruise line category — has been cruising Alaska for over 75 years. HAL prides itself on having more permits for Glacier Bay National Park visits than any other cruise line. The cruise line also offers beloved live music programming, which I got to experience firsthand on a summer 2023 Alaska sailing. Most ships boast a “Music Walk,” a section home to venues like B.B. King's Blues Club, Billboard Onboard (a dueling piano bar), Lincoln Center Stage, and Rolling Stone Rock Room. After our shore excursions, we’d hop back on board the ship for drinks, dinner, and a nightcap at the dueling piano bar to jam out to hits from Billy Joel and Elton John. All of the above make HAL a popular pick among middle-aged and mature couples traveling without kids; however, onboard our summer sailing, I did notice quite a few small children traveling with their parents and grandparents. 

The onboard culinary offerings are especially noteworthy. While pulling into port one day, I remember digging into a hearty lunch of fish and chips featuring fresh-caught Alaskan halibut. (HAL is the first cruise line to serve fresh, certified-sustainable Alaskan seafood.) As of September, acclaimed chef Masaharu Morimoto is the Fresh Fish Ambassador as part of the line’s Global Fresh Fish Program . Cruisers can try his flavorful seafood dishes during their sailing. 

Itinerary: As a first-time Alaska cruiser, I thoroughly enjoyed the Alaska Explorer itinerary , which cruises round-trip from Seattle between June and September. Enjoy scenic cruising along the Puget Sound and Stephen’s Passage before calling on Juneau, followed by more scenic cruising in Glacier Bay. From there, it’s off to Icy Strait Point, Sitka, Ketchikan, Skagway, and Victoria.

Related: The Ultimate Alaska Cruise Packing List

Royal Caribbean International

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean International — or Royal Caribbean for short — offers great fun for families of all ages looking to experience Alaska. As such, it’s no wonder why the mega-ship ocean line is loved by T+L readers and travel advisors alike. What’s more, says Gabree, “Their larger ships (Quantum Class) have equally impressive amenities like skydiving simulators (RipCord by iFLY), the FlowRider surf simulator, and SeaPlex (an indoor recreation center with bumper cars),” says Gabree. The pro is also quick to highlight the North Star observation capsule, which is available on Ovation of the Seas , which cruises Alaska. The attraction whisks passengers over 300 feet above sea level, offering picture-perfect 360-degree views. Put simply, she says, “This is a one-of-a-kind experience when sailing scenic destinations like Alaska.”

The fun continues the minute cruisers disembark in each port, with excursions ranging from dogsledding to private helicopter tours. Back on board, Gabree recommends The Chef’s Table for a truly memorable meal — and I, too, can attest to this. While on board a Caribbean sailing with the cruise line, I had the chance to indulge in this chef- and sommelier-led multi-course food and wine pairing adventure. Four years later, I still find myself dreaming of the delicious circular-shaped dessert known as “The World” — the perfect combo of peanut butter ganache, chocolate mousse, and salted caramel gelato).

Itinerary: Set sail on the aforementioned Ovation of the Seas and embark on a journey through Alaska with Royal Caribbean’s 7-night Alaska Experience itinerary . Cruising round-trip from Seattle, the ship stops in Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka before heading onto Canada, where it calls on Victoria and Vancouver.

Princess Cruises

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Princess Cruises is among T+L readers’ top five favorite mega-ship ocean lines , and its Alaska sailings are not to be missed. Unlike other mega-ship lines, says Gabree, Princess is not at all flashy. That said, she recommends it for “more mature cruisers or those looking for a quieter atmosphere.” So, while you won’t find go-karts or race tracks aboard Princess ships, you can expect incredible educational programming. Don’t miss Puppies on the Piazza, which offers passengers the chance to interact with sled dogs brought on board by local mushers in Skagway. The line also partners with the Glacier Bay National Park rangers and the Discovery Channel to offer unique onboard exhibits and interactive activities like the Jr. Ranger Program. Similarly, says Gabree, “The naturalists that come aboard are extremely knowledgeable.” Last but not least, the service is top-notch. According to the pro, the staff is best described as “attentive and very pleasant.” 

Itinerary: Book the 14-day Voyage of the Glaciers Grand Adventure , which sets sail on select dates between May and September. Passengers will cruise round-trip from Vancouver and visit Juneau, Skagway, Anchorage, and Ketchikan. Bonus: Scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park, College Fjord, and Hubbard Glacier is also built into the itinerary.

Related: All 16 Princess Cruises Ships, From Newest to Oldest

Seabourn Cruise Line

Courtesy of Seabourn

This World’s Best Award-winning cruise line combines the best of expedition-style and luxury cruising, making it a popular pick amongst well-heeled, adventure-seeking travelers. Highlights include bespoke service, all-suite oceanfront accommodations (most with private balconies), world-class dining (the cruise line has a partnership with Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller), and, last but not least, a swanky country club-esque atmosphere. According to Goldring, both Seabourn Quest and Seabourn Odyssey offer similar Alaska itineraries in 2024; however, it will be the latter’s final sailing since it was sold. 

Alaska sailings feature a team of academics, scientists, and naturalists, all of whom are on hand to provide expert insight and lead excursions (think: kayaking and Zodiac tours, hiking, bear viewing, and so on). Also, according to Goldring, Seabourn ships “travel no further north than Juneau” and offer a “more intensive and nature-focused experience.” On a similar note, says Clabbers, thanks to the vessels’ small size, cruisers can “spend more time sailing through places like Misty Fjords, where most ships can’t go.” Back onboard, says Clabbers, “enjoy Champagne and caviar when you like, or relax in your suite, the spa, or elsewhere.” 

Itinerary: The 7-day Alaska Fjords and Canadian Inside Passage cruise sails from Juneau to Vancouver, calling on Tracy Arm or Endicott Arm, Wrangell, Rudyerd Bay (Misty Fjords), and, finally, Prince Rupert in British Columbia. Scenic cruising through Stephens Passage, Decision Passage, Stikine Strait, and the Behm Canal are also included in the itinerary.

Celebrity Cruises

jewhyte/Getty Images

Those who prefer a “younger atmosphere on a modern, larger ship with lots of bars and restaurants and entertainment” should consider cruising Alaska aboard the Celebrity Edge, explains Clabbers. (While Edge is the newest Celebrity ship to cruise Alaska, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Summit also sail here . ) Per the pro, the seven-night sailings on Edge “include key destinations like Ketchikan and Skagway,” along with a quick visit to Victoria in British Columbia and scenic cruising through the beautiful Endicott Arm Fjord. Additionally, the World’s Best Award-winning line offers round-trip sailings from both Vancouver and Seattle — as well as one-way itineraries between Vancouver and Seward, the latter of which offer more time to explore (read: fewer sea days).

Regardless of the ship, passengers can expect a wide range of entertainment offerings, an abundance of bars, restaurants, and lounges, and a handful of accommodation options. Speaking of the latter, wellness-seeking duos can reserve an AquaClass stateroom, which includes perks like complimentary dining at the exclusive Blu restaurant, their very own spa concierge, and unlimited access to the adults-only Sea Thermal Suite. Alternatively, for a worth-it splurge, opt for a suite in The Retreat, which includes a dedicated team of concierges and butlers, access to a private lounge and/or sundeck (note that the latter is not available on Celebrity Solstice ), premium drinks, Wi-Fi, and access to the private Luminae at The Retreat restaurant, helmed by chef Daniel Boulud. 

Itinerary : The aforementioned 7-night Alaska Dawes Glacier itinerary on Celebrity Edge cruises round-trip from Seattle and visits Ketchikan, Endicott Arm Fjord (scenic cruising), Juneau, Skagway, the Inside Passage (scenic cruising), and Victoria.

Related: What to Know About All 16 Ships in the Celebrity Cruises Fleet

Viking Ocean Cruises

Courtesy of Viking Cruises

Viking Ocean Cruises recently nabbed a 2023 World’s Best Award in the midsize-ship ocean cruise lines category, coming in at first place for the second year in a row. The line’s identical ocean ships offer a sleek Scandinavian design, which only enhances the tranquil atmosphere on board. The luxury adults-only line is also all-inclusive, covering meals, activities, most beverages, Wi-Fi, port taxes and fees, spa access, and one complimentary excursion in every port of call. Cruisers can bask in the mountain and glacier views from the comfort of their private balcony — and, if they’re lucky, they may even spot a whale or two. Finally, in addition to classic ports like Juneau and Ketchikan, Viking Ocean Cruises’ Alaska itinerary also calls on Valdez, which is chock-full of natural beauty and outdoor adventure. 

Itinerary : The 10-night Alaska and the Inside Passage itinerary , which sails between Vancouver and Seward, “is a great choice for curious travelers who have a bit more time and want to learn more about Alaska,” says Clabbers.

Courtesy of Silversea

Those craving a luxury Alaska cruise need not look further than Silversea, says Goldring. Additionally, “While primarily for adults ranging from contemplative to active, Silversea is also a good option for families with more mature children who are more engaged with the journey than onboard child-focused activities.” Silversea guests enjoy all-suite staterooms with butler service and an all-around tony atmosphere. The line’s Door-to-Door All-Inclusive fares cover private airport transfers, economy flights, business-class upgrades or air credits, and shore excursions. 

This luxury cruise line offers classic and expedition-style cruising, the latter of which takes aboard the 274-passenger Silver Wind . (Classic cruises, on the other hand, take place on board Silver Muse , Silver Nova , Silver Shadow , Silver Whisper , or Silver Moon ). Nova and Moon offer the Sea and Land Taste program (S.A.L.T), offering culinary connoisseurs the incredible opportunity to experience the local food scene and culture both on and off the ship. Last but not least, keep in mind that Silversea sails between Vancouver and Seward (with the exception of one September 2024 itinerary, which sails from Nome to Vancouver).

Itinerary : The 7-day Vancouver to Seward sailing on board Silver Nova features Inside Passage scenic cruising and stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka. Before disembarking in Seward, enjoy scenic cruising around Hubbard Glacier.

Related: This Is the Cheapest Time to Cruise to Alaska

UnCruise Adventures

Courtesy of UnCruise

“If you are looking for a more casual and laid-back experience, Seattle-based UnCruise Adventures offers down-to-earth trips with enthusiastic naturalist guides, simple accommodations, and hearty local cuisine,” says Palmer. Mary Curry , another T+L A-List travel advisor, echoes these sentiments, explaining that “small ships are the absolute best way to see Alaska if your goal is to immerse yourself in nature and wildlife.” While the cabins are no-frills, Curry stresses that the main focus of the cruise is “getting off the ship and exploring everything Alaska's Inside Passage has to offer.” With that said, when it comes to activities, options abound. Per the pro, travelers can “choose between a menu of included excursions such as kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, zodiac cruises, whale watching, and more.” All in all, UnCruise really does offer something for everyone. 

Itinerary : For a truly unique Alaska itinerary, consider the Aleutian Islands Adventure with Kodiak, Katmai, and Kenai Wilderness . Cruisers embark in Whittier before making their way to Kenai Fjords National Park, Kodiak Island and Foul Bay, Katmai National Park, Ugashik National Wildlife Refuge, Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, the Shumagin and Unga Islands, False Pass, and Unalaska (where they’ll dock overnight in Dutch Harbor before disembarking the next day).

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

Courtesy of Nation Geographic

For a true expedition-style experience, Lindblad Expeditions is your best bet. The cruise line offers itineraries in partnership with National Geographic, which have come highly recommended by almost every travel advisor we spoke to. Just take it from Curry, who tells T+L, “If you want to learn about Alaska from a team of exceptional experts, there's no better choice than a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic itinerary. “Every night before dinner,” she says, “We would hear about what we had seen on our excursions that day from the perspective of the experts — naturalists, geologists, marine mammal researchers, and even a diver who would share magical and colorful images from underwater of the area we had explored via Zodiac during the day.” According to the pro, the vessels are “some of the nicest and most modern small ships in the area,” some of which have private balconies along with “little extras” like water bottle filling stations, a mudroom to store gear, and multiple disembarkation platforms to get travelers on and off the ship quickly. Meanwhile, Goldring notes the line’s National Geographic Global Explorers family program, “which focus[es] on interactive and hands-on education with a true naturalist during outings.” As a result, cruisers can expect “a far more enriching experience [than those] offered by most other lines.” 

Itinerary : The weeklong Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness itinerary is “perfect for couples and multi-generational families interested in an engaging and authentic experience exploring the fjords, islands, and small coastal communities,” says Palmer. The itinerary sails between Juneau and Sitka throughout May and September. Along the way, cruisers will visit Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, the tiny fishing town of Petersburg, Glacier Bay National Park, and more.

Related : 21 Cruise Tips That Will Help Make Your Trip Even Better, According to Experts

The Best Alaska Cruises

Windstar Cruise ship is our pick for the best Alaskan cruise

best cruise line to alaska

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more .

One of the most magical ways to explore Alaska’s expansive coastline, stunning snow-capped mountains, mystic fjords, lush rainforests, awe-inspiring glaciers, and protected wildlife is by sea. And that’s precisely why so many people who visit Alaska do so via a cruise. Plus, it’s the best way to experience the iconic Inside Passage, the most popular route for cruise ships departing from Seattle and Vancouver from May through September. The key to planning the perfect adventure is finding the right cruise for your personality, budget, and preferences. 

We’ve gathered cruises in all size categories (from a couple of hundred passengers to nearly 5,000), as ship size is often one of the biggest factors when selecting a cruise. We’ve also called attention to cruise options that do an impressive job of showcasing nature, offering local experiences , providing endless onboard entertainment, or catering to foodies or luxury travelers. 

While Alaska is certainly the star of this show, the ship you experience it on will make all the difference to your vacation. (Spoiler: Always spring for the oceanview room with a balcony on Alaska cruises, because you’ll be treated to once-in-a-lifetime sights along your entire voyage!) 

Best Alaska Cruises of 2024

  • Best Overall Cruise: Windstar Cruises
  • Best Ship Renovation: Celebrity Cruises
  • Best Small Ship: Oceania Cruises
  • Best All-Inclusive Ship: American Queen Voyages
  • Best Ultra-Luxury: Seabourn Cruises
  • Best Traditional Cruise: Holland America Line
  • Best New Ship: Princess Cruises
  • Best Large Ship Cruise: Royal Caribbean International
  • Our Top Picks
  • Windstar Cruises
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Oceania Cruises
  • American Queen Voyages
  • Seabourn Cruises
  • Holland America Line
  • Princess Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • See More (5)

Final Verdict

Methodology, best overall cruise : windstar cruises.

Because of their small, yacht-like size, Windstar Cruises ships grant unparalleled access to Alaska’s glaciers and fjords; other ships can’t 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 region’s beauty—and 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 you’d 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 Nature’s impressive work, from icebergs to whales, book a kayak or Zodiac Signature Expedition with their incredibly knowledgeable guides.

In 2021, the Star Breeze went under renovation to provide guests with new features: additional dining options (such as a Spanish small plates restaurant from Anthony Sasso, one of the youngest chefs to be recognized by the Michelin Guide), a spa and fitness center, an infinity pool, and more outdoor deck areas. Chefs make a point of shopping locally in each port and bringing their bounty back to the ship to incorporate into the cuisine, such as reindeer and venison sausage, birch syrup, and, of course, King and Sockeye salmon. 

Best Ship Renovation : Celebrity Cruises

The Celebrity Millennium, launched in 2000, has recently undergone complete modernization, which includes luxury staterooms, enhanced technology, and renovated restaurants and lounges.

Immersive dining at Le Petit Chef, where augmented reality intersects with luxury cuisine, private verandas, complimentary fitness classes, plus unlimited access to the Persian Garden and complimentary dining at Blu

Autism-friendly cruising, including sensory-friendly films and toys, and dietary options

Accessible staterooms with grab bars, roll-in showers, and wider doors

2,218 passengers put this squarely in the mid-size ship category

You won’t find the over-the-top party-like activities of larger ships (which could also be a plus)

If you’re passionate about the finer things in life, Celebrity Cruises may very well speak to your soul. The Sky Suite in the Retreat, for instance, includes a long list of curated amenities (e.g., a shore excursion credit, premium drinks, wi-fi, tips, and onboard credit), endless views, a Personal Retreat Host, private dining, and exclusive spaces, like the Retreat Lounge and Sundeck. And onboard experiences range from Macallan and Jack Daniel’s tastings to Riedel crystal workshops that show how different shapes and qualities of a Riedel glass change the taste of wine. 

The Millennium offers Edge series staterooms with Infinite Veranda—at the touch of a button, your entire living space becomes the veranda, which means you can walk right out to the water’s edge. And 99% of the staterooms on Celebrity Edge have king-size beds, featuring Celebrity eXhale bedding and Cashmere mattresses. 

Best Small Ship : Oceania Cruises

Oceania cruises introduce Alaska to guests by offering local experiences in partnership with native tribes for a more meaningful connection to the area beyond sightseeing.

Two specialty restaurants (no extra charge),  WiFi, and free and unlimited soft drinks replenished daily in refrigerated mini bar

Onboard menus feature local Alaskan delicacies, such as Halibut, King Crab, and Alaskan blueberry pancakes

Impressive guest-to-staff ratio: maximum of 656 guests served by 400+ officers and crew

4 open-seating restaurants, 8 lounges and bars, and a casino

Not all staterooms feature private verandas

Built in 1998 but fully refurbished in 2019, Oceania Cruises’ Regatta dazzles guests with bejeweled chandeliers in the Grand Dining Room, fresh color palettes, and new furnishings in the public spaces, plus new everything in the suites and staterooms. Between the gentle rocking of the ship and the Ultra Tranquility Bed, you’re sure to sleep like a baby. 

When you’re not off exploring Alaska’s many wonders, keep busy at the casino, take in an after-dinner production of Tuxedo (a fresh take on the Rat Pack) or Gatsby’s (a 1920s-era musical romp) or chill out and choose a book from the English-style library with 2,000 options.  Book a spa treatment or work out in the Aquamar Spa + Vitality Center, play nine holes of golf on the putting greens, shop the three boutiques, and unwind, help yourself to afternoon tea with all the accouterments at 4 p.m. daily. 

Best All-Inclusive Ship : American Queen Voyages

You’ll never feel nickeled and dimed on American Queen Voyages because everything you want—from guided tours to drinks—is already included in the price.

All-inclusive sailing with no extra charge, infinity pool and multiple hot tubs

Menus crafted from local ingredients

Each room comes with binoculars for wildlife spotting

Ship just debuted in November 2021 and its first sailing with American Queen Voyages was May 2022

Hefty price tag

No musical or stage productions onboard

Say hello to our little friend, the 186-passenger Ocean Victory, from American Queen Voyages. While this vessel may be small in stature, she’s big on value. The all-inclusive sailing includes one pre-cruise hotel night, ground transfers, unlimited guided tours, and beverages, open bars and lounges, unlimited food, in-room dining, WiFi, bicycles, walking sticks, and daily live entertainment and enrichment. And speaking of unlimited food, you’ll be treated to five-course dinners along with 180-degree panoramic views. All 98 cabins face out (no inside cabins), and 68 of those feature step-out balconies. 

As part of the American Queen Voyages expedition experience, the line has partnered with Dr. Michelle Fournet, an acclaimed acoustic ecologist and leading expert in the communication of North Pacific humpback whales. As such, hydrophones are used onboard Zodiacs to listen to the voices of Alaska’s whales in real-time. Guests will also learn about and participate in whale tracking through fluke identification by uploading their own photos from the vessel to a scientific database following their seasonal movements.

Best Ultra-Luxury : Seabourn Cruises

With its intimate size and maneuverability, world-class dining, social atmosphere, and high-end amenities, Seabourn Cruises is a luxurious way to explore America’s Last Frontier.

Complimentary WiFi for all bookings, The Grill restaurant features a menu curated by famed chef Thomas Keller, complimentary fitness classes

Max guest capacity: 450

229 luxury suites, 90% have verandas and all are ocean front

In-suite amenities include a fruit basket replenished daily, a bar with complimentary wines or spirits, nightly turndown service, and Molton Brown bath products

Tipping is neither required nor expected

Ship was built in 2009 and has had no renovations 

Eleven days exploring the Inside Passage and Alaskan fjords with only 400-ish other passengers aboard a luxurious ship with plenty of onboard activities? That’s exactly what you’ll get on the Seabourn Odyssey. Enjoy the magical moments spent exploring the far end of the Misty Fjords on Zodiac, learn more about the local wildlife and geology during lectures with the Expedition Team, and kayak along Hubbard Glacier. 

There’s plenty to do on board, too, including making use of the two swimming pools, five whirlpools, and Dr. Andrew Weil's spa and wellness program. Not to mention a card room, casino, library, observation bar, and beauty salon. There are several options for onboard dining (aside from complimentary in-suite dining), including a fine dining option, The Grill by world-renowned chef Thomas Keller, and an open-kitchen style option for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Best Traditional Cruise : Holland America Line

Holland America Line’s Koningsdam offers everything long-time cruisers appreciate, from a comfortable size and price point to onboard activities and numerous dining options.

Live cooking demonstrations and fine dining events, Rolling Stone Rock Room live music venue and B.B. King’s Blues Club

Recently refurbished in 2018

2,650 guests, which makes it a mid-size ship that’s easier to navigate

Club HAL for kids ages 3 to 17 included

No live daytime music

Don’t have a lot of time for your Alaskan vacation? This “best of” 7-night itinerary is focused on the region’s iconic Inside Passage, which gives passengers an efficient taste of all the area’s most photographed and talked about sights. Plus, Holland America offers more access to Glacier Bay National Park and has more departures featuring Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line. 

The Koningsdam boasts 912 balconied accommodations, which means 69% of the ship has rooms with a private veranda view. You’ll also find massage showerheads, magnifying mirrors, terry bathrobes, Egyptian cotton towels, Elemis luxury bath products, and fresh fruit (upon request) in your stateroom. Anglers will enjoy the cruise line’s Savor My Catch program, which brings ocean-to-table dining to a whole new level. Plus, guests can catch their own fish during shore excursions and have it prepared and served on board.

Best New Ship : Princess Cruises

Princess has been sailing Alaska for over 50 years, and with six ships, five wilderness lodges, and its own domed rail car, this cruise line knows the region well. 

Cook My Catch dining program for guests on select fishing excursions, puppies in the Piazza brings sled dog puppies onboard for guests to cuddle, adults-only wellness and relaxation deck

Ship just launched in March 2022

Princess ships feature Ocean Medallion wearable technology for a seamless, contact-free cruise experience

One of the most affordable Alaskan cruise options

Gratuities and specialty restaurants not included

The Discovery Princess had her naming ceremony in April of 2022, so she’s a brand-new addition to the line’s fleet. As such, technology is a big part of the experience. Cruise guests will receive a free Medallion device with a complimentary lanyard, which allows you to do things like open your cabin door, track onboard purchases, find family and friends, locate venues, and check daily activities. 

You’ll find three main dining rooms, plus a pizzeria, gastropub, Italian restaurant, chop house, and Mediterranean bistro. Or, kick things up a notch with a Chef’s Table Lumiere experience of multiple courses with wine pairings. Spend your time listening to live music in the Crooners Bar, exploring cocktails from around the world at Good Spirits, and relaxing at the jazz club. Be sure to check out SeaWalk, a walkway that cantilevers off the side of the ship and has a glass bottom so guests can see below and above.

Best Large Ship Cruise : Royal Caribbean International

Dry docked in 2021 for a routine refurbishment, this Quantum Class ship holds 4,905 passengers and truly offers something for everyone.

Recreational activities like a flowrider surf simulator, iFly skydiving simulator, and rock climbing wall, high-tech virtual balcony views, and North Star, a glass observation capsule that rises 300 feet above sea level for bird’s eye views (additional cost)

Luxury shopping options, such as Cartier, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors

Adventure Ocean Kids Programs

A robot will code your favorite cocktails at the Bionic Bar

Formal nights with dress code (or you can choose to dine at a more casual venue those evenings)

The best part about a mega-ship, like the Ovation of the Seas? It’s literally impossible to be bored given the number of things there are to do, eat, and explore. For instance, there are 16 dining options (including Jamie’s Italian by chef Jamie Oliver), 10 bars and lounges, myriad activities and shows, a spa and fitness center, pool tables, and table tennis. Add to that guest lectures, outdoor movie nights, live music, an arcade and casino, theme nights, bumper cars, archery, and dance and sushi-making classes. Heck, you might just need a vacation after this vacation! 

Interior staterooms are budget-friendly options with plenty of space and thoughtful touches, or you can upgrade to ocean view, balcony, or suite categories for some extra perks (like marble bathrooms with a tub and two sinks). And there’s no better spot for taking in Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier than the North Star observation deck.

Your Alaskan cruise is ready to set sail, so which ship will you choose for your adventure through the Last Frontier? For a small ship experience with an all-inclusive mentality, we love Windstar Cruises—it’s your best bet for getting up-close and personal with nature and having access to expert guides. For sailing through Alaska in the lap of luxury, choose Seabourn Cruises, and surround yourself with naturalist experts and fine dining restaurants. And if mega-ships are intriguing, Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas has literally everything you could ever want in a floating hotel. (The only risk here is that you might enjoy the ship’s myriad amenities so much that you’ll forget to check out Alaska.)

We evaluated over a dozen Alaskan cruises before selecting the best in each category. We considered various elements like the cruise line’s reputation and quality of service, ship design and architecture, and notable ship amenities (e.g., swimming pools, entertainment, technology, access to nature experts, etc.). We also reviewed each ship’s cruise itinerary , dining and wellness options, and the types of experiences and excursions available to guests. In determining this list, we evaluated numerous customer reviews and considered whether the cruise line has collected any accolades in recent years.

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Ocean Waters and Snow Mountains Part of the Alaska Experience


Alaska cruises.

Adventure comes first on the last frontier.

No vacation in the world delivers once-in-a-lifetime adventure like Alaska. Mark this as your year to cross this bucket-busting destination off your list once and for all. Take off by dogsled across thousand-year-old ice as you soak in otherworldly sights. Trek across the majestic Mendenhall Glacier for breathtaking views of the wildest country. Get to know wildlife, big and small, that call this wilderness home, like otters, eagles, bears, and whales. And do it all from onboard one of four thrill-filled ships. This is Last Frontier pioneering with the cruise line voted Best Overall by Travel Weekly readers for 20 years running.

best cruise line to alaska

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Family watching out for whales on an Alaskan Cruise


Adventuring in Alaska is all about getting to know this state's stunning landscape. It might seem cold and unforgiving at first glance, but the best Alaska cruises allow you to explore the quiet lakes,  imposing glaciers  and breathtaking mountain views, you'll have only warm impressions of this wilderness. 

Seals in Alaska Inside Passage


Exploring the interior of Alaska will give you an entirely different perspective on this vast and rugged state. Take an Inside Passage cruise and gaze upward at the sky that is as blue as the lakes below. Hop on the Alaskan Railroad near Anchorage and see the spruce-lined, mountainous landscape whir by from a new perspective.

Majestic Glacier in Alaska


In Alaska, ancient rivers of ice wind between mountains and grind out of valleys. Towering walls of ice like the Hubbard Glacier, Endicott Arm Dawes and the twin Sawyer Glaciers thunder as they calve  massive icebergs . Some shore excursions allow up close interaction with these natural wonders.

Magnificent Denali National Park Alaska


In the center of the state,  Denali National Park  is blanketed in wildflowers punctuated with mountains, raging rivers and serene lakes. Denali, "The Great One," formerly known as Mt. McKinley, rises to the tallest peak in North America and can be seen from as far away as Anchorage on a clear day. An up-close view is more than worth the expedition during your vacation.

Beautiful Mountain View in the National Park, Icy Strait Point, Alaska


Alaska is tailor-made for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Whether you sail its icy bays trying to spot huge cold-water whales or fly high above this rough-and-tumble landscape from the vantage of a helicopter, you're sure to come away with memories you couldn't have made anywhere else during your cruise to Alaska. 

Alaska Dog Sledding Excursion


In some parts of the state, dog sledding is still the primary mode of transportation through the winter months. Visit Alaska and get the experience for yourself at the  Skagway Yukon Discovery and Dog Sled Tour . The Siberian Huskies are sweet and energetic, and the ride is a thrill.

Whale Watching Activity in Alaska


Head to Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward for a  whale watching tour . There's nothing like seeing these behemoths hurl themselves out of the water, to splash back into the sea. Don't pass up an opportunity to watch these giants feed and play in the water.

Alaska Charter Helicopter Tour

Planes are plentiful in Alaska, where they're a common form of transportation across the state. Charter a helicopter or fixed-wing flightseeing tour at Juneau and get an unforgettable perspective of the mountains and glaciers of this vast landscape.

Juneau, Alaska Blue Glacier Ice Cave


Embark on an unforgettable Alaska adventure cruise and experience the ultimate vacation. Immerse yourself in the thrilling destinations that Alaska has to offer, each brimming with its own unique style and vibe. Discover the wonders of Alaska with the Best Cruise Line for 20 years running.

iFly and Flowrider Sunset in Alaska


Quantum of the Seas® heads to the Last Frontier from Seattle . This adventure packed ship offers glacier gazing from the tallest viewing deck on a cruise ship and activities you can enjoy in any weather. Edge of your seat entertainment, all weather activities like the fan-favorite Flowrider®* and unparalleled views from every room.


Ovation of the Seas North Star Bar in Alaska


Pioneer America’s Last Frontier onboard Ovation of the Seas®, one of the world's most groundbreaking ships and among the boldest ships to ever sail Alaska. Gaze at giant glaciers from the pool deck while you sail through Endicott Arm . Scan the surrounding waters on your way to Juneau for glimpses of wildlife from the North Star®, the tallest viewing deck on a cruise ship. 

Brilliance of the Seas Hero


Brilliance of the Seas® gets you up close to the glacial giants of The Last Frontier — from the expansive Hubbard to the calving Dawes. You can add once-in-a-lifetime to the itinerary for your wildest week ever. Go wildlife spotting in Juneau, peak-seeking in Sitka , and take-on rugged adventure in Haines. Getting to your coolest getaway yet is easy for the whole family with sails roundtrip from Vancouver

Radiance at Hubbard Glacier - Alaska


Sail into the Last Frontier from Seward or Vancouver onboard Radiance of the Seas®. With over three acres of windows and glass exterior viewing elevators, you can watch for whales along Alaska’s Inside Passage when you aren’t wandering wilderness paths from Ketchikan to Juneau. And for the ultimate outdoor adventure, take a CruiseTour into Alaska’s interior where you can hang with huskies in Denali, and scale glaciers in Alyeska.

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO Alaska Cruises Insider

The sheer size of Alaska lends itself to a wide variety of terrain and travel experiences. This diversity means you need to be prepared for a lot of change while traveling.

The best time to travel to Alaska depends on your priorities. If you're interested in the Midnight Sun, the longest day of the year is June 21, when you can experience close to 20 or more hours of sunlight in some parts of the state. If you're more interested in the Alaska Northern Lights, the earlier sunset in later summer will allow more contrast and better views of this natural wonder.

No two days will be the same, and you'll need to pack your clothing to prepare for temperature changes throughout the day. Think layers: zip-up sweaters, boots, rain jackets.

 Brilliance of the Seas Pool Entrance Opacity

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Anchorage, Alaska Glaciers

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Mount Roberts Tramway above the forest, Juneau, Alaska

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Alaska, Juneau Mendenhall Glacier

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Woman looking at Exit Glacier, Harding Ice Field, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

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Cozy Cabins and Scenic Restaurants in the Alaskan Wilderness

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Couple Enjoying Glacier Tour, Juneau, Alaska

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Zip Lining in the Summer, Icy Strait Point, Alaska

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Alaska Yukon Skaqway White Pass

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Alaska is not a formal place; people even wear jeans to the opera. Focus more on comfort when deciding what clothing to pack.

Cameras, binoculars, rain ponchos and jackets are useful, but add these to the souvenirs you'll be picking up and soon your bag will be too heavy to tote around. Bring along a quality day pack to make it easier to hold your necessities.

Learn a few words in Alaska's local lingo: The "Alcan" is the Alaska-Canada Highway, for example, and "fish stories" are the local version of tall tales — unreliable yarns of mythological proportions, often told by fisherman.


Alaskan food focuses on locally sourced ingredients that reflect the state's rugged terrain and the vast oceans surrounding it. These nutrient-rich waters serve up some gorgeous fish and shellfish, from super-fresh salmon to huge Alaskan King Crabs that can feed a crowd, while game meats and berries from the wilderness form a perfect marriage of flavor.

Best Alaska Smoked Salmon


Fresh-caught wild salmon is served up at backyard BBQs and the finest restaurants. For something different, try the sweet and savory treat Indian Candy, salmon that is sweetened and smoked till hard.

Typical Alaskan Sourdough Bread


Sourdough is such an important part of Alaskan culture that long-time Alaskans are actually called sourdoughs in local parlance. Try a sourdough bread bowl filled with salmon chowder for a hearty lunch.

Alaskan Wild Berries Pie Dessert


Alaskan wild berries are sweet and pack a powerful punch of flavor. Whether served up in jams, candies, pies or cobblers, Alaskan blueberries, high-bush cranberries and other local wild berries are a staple when it comes to Alaskan summer eats.


Whether you're interested in hiking through a forest, trekking to glaciers or a shopping spree downtown, the towns along Alaska's inside passage provide a variety of adventurous activities. Alaska cruise ports such as Juneau and Ketchikan are small cities with their own personalities. Anchorage is the state's largest city and a gateway to the rest of the state. Denali National Park takes you out of the city altogether, into a wilderness full of spruce forests and snow-capped mountain peaks.

 National Park Mountains Snow, Icy Strait Point, Alaska

Icy Strait Point, Alaska

Flowers Nature Mountains , Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska

Misty Fjords National Monument, Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan, Alaska

Coastal Town Seascape Views, Sitka, Alaska

Sitka, Alaska

National Park Forest, Inside Passage, Alaska

Alaska Inside Passage, Alaska

Iceberg Snow Glacier, Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Vancouver Island Mountains, Inside Passage, British Columbia

Inside Passage, Canada

Seascape Mountain Side Ocean, Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

Tracy Arm Fjord, Alaska

Glacier Icy Snow, Endicott Arm & Glacier Dawes

Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier, Alaska

Chilkat Peninsula, Skagway, Alaska

Skagway, Alaska

Alaska Glacier Bay Mountains

Glacier Bay (Cruising), Alaska

Chilkoot Lake Haines Alaska

Haines, Alaska

Downtown Lodge Houses Stilts, Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan (Ward Cove), Alaska

Resurrection Bay Mountain Side Ocean Kayaking Nature, Seward, Alaska

Seward, Alaska

Related Destinations

Canadian Rockies Park in the West Coast

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The Best Alaska Cruises for Different Travel Styles

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Table of Contents

Best Alaskan cruise line for all-inclusive luxury seekers

Best cruise line for adventurers, best cruises to alaska for families, best alaska cruise for those on a budget, other top options, best travel cards for cruises, the best alaskan cruise line for every type of traveler recapped.

A cruise to Alaska, “America’s final frontier,” is a glorious way to explore this enormous state. In many cases, it is the only way. Certain cities, like Juneau, are only easily accessible by air or sea, which makes a cruise a reliable and convenient way to get there.

The best Alaska cruises are great for multigenerational trips with grandparents, their children and their grandchildren. 

Whether you visit the Inside Passage or venture inward to Denali National Park, there is a cruise for every price point, desire and type of traveler.

Here are some of the best Alaska cruises based on what interests you most.

Winner: Seabourn

Look to the traditional, all-inclusive luxury cruise lines that sail in Alaska during the summer months for these popular sailings. 

You’ll find stunning ships like Seabourn Odyssey with only 229 suite cabins, guaranteeing a small-ship experience with big-time amenities. Everyone can have the chance to get out and explore on Zodiac boats or other water sports equipment.

When you return to the Seabourn ship, everything is included, from onboard bubbles to all kinds of drinks. In addition, specialty restaurants, minibars and even gratuities are part of the package. That’s what makes Seabourn perhaps the best Alaskan cruise line for all-inclusive luxury seekers.

Other larger luxury ships with all-inclusive rates in Alaska include the 375-cabin Regent Seven Seas Explorer and Silversea’s 298-cabin Silver Muse.

» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now

Winner: Holland America

One of the best parts of an Alaska cruise is the outdoor adventure. Whether hiking a glacier, kayaking through the water, dog sledding, panning for gold or taking a panoramic helicopter ride, there is plenty to do.

Many cruisers tack on a land portion option, allowing travelers to head into Denali National Park or stay in local land resorts to learn more about the culture.

If you’re looking for the most adventure, these cruise lines take things up a notch as part of their excursion programs.

Holland America has quite a few ships sailing the Alaskan waters, making it one of the most experienced operators in the area, having operated there for almost eight decades. This spring and summer, you can sail on these Holland America vessels:


Nieuw Amsterdam.


Sailings include seven- to 14-day itineraries and a host of land tours that can be added to the experience. In addition to Denali National Park, this is the only cruise line to take passengers into Canada’s Yukon Territory.

While excursions from the ship are the best way to get out and explore (it’s not as easy to stroll on your own atop a glacier, after all), some cruise lines are more invested in the state.

Holland America owns some hotels that it uses for pre- or post-cruise excursions, such as the 60-acre McKinley Chalet Resort at Denali Square and Westmark Fairbanks Hotel & Conference Center.

» Learn more: Cruises where you don’t need a passport

Runner up: Princess Cruises

Princess also has six regional ships, including its newest — Discovery Princess. The cruise line, which has been sailing in Alaska for more than five decades, specializes in land-based tours that can be added to a cruise. In addition, the company has many local hotels, including:

Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge.

Denali Princess Wilderness Lodge.

Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. 

Princess offers a “direct-to-the-wilderness” rail service, which means passengers can step off the ship and onto the train to head to their next adventure.

Like Holland America and Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess is among the few companies with permission to sail in Glacier Bay.

Winner: Disney Wonder

When taking the kids to a destination with so much to explore out in nature, you’ll want to give as much consideration to the onboard experience as you do to what you’ll do on land. Depending on age, some kids may have a shorter attention span than others.

Disney Cruise Line sends its Disney Wonder to Alaska so families can take advantage of its kid-friendly onboard activities, excursions, and full children’s program. On board, you’ll find pirate-themed deck parties and "Star Wars" events, among other activities. Other exclusive-to-Disney events include:

Menus themed around the movie franchise "Frozen".

A tea party with Disney characters.

A Pixar Pals party.

Character-themed events.

Disney does not trade youthful events for local highlights, though. This sailing will also take travelers to the Hubbard Glacier or Stikine Icecap, among other places.

Most ships in the region have activities for kids, but Disney excels in this regard. Other fun activities include Carnival’s Seuss at Sea program with Dr. Seuss characters on the Carnival Miracle, the Carnival Legend and the Carnival Splendor. There is also Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas, with surf sessions using the FlowRider on the deck and a skydiving simulation.

Teenagers specifically may like The Beach House Teen Lounge aboard Royal Princess for ages 13-17.

» Learn more: How to earn and redeem points on cruises

Winner: Royal Caribbean

Consider sailing during the shoulder season if looking for the best deals. This can commonly be found at the beginning and end of the cruise season during April, May and September. The summer months make it more expensive due to higher demand since kids are out of school.

Another great option for finding a good cruise deal is to book an open-jaw cruise. These sailings start in one city but end in another and can lead to better deals, even during summer. You may also find better deals on older ships with fewer amenities.

Royal Caribbean says a roundtrip cruise for two people in an inside cabin (including taxes and fees) in June aboard the Quantum of the Seas would cost $1,956.

Alternatively, a one-way cruise in June for two people in an inside cabin (including taxes and fees) on the 22-year-old Radiance of the Seas would come to $1,126. That’s substantial savings for choosing a one-way cruise on an older ship over a roundtrip itinerary.

In the shoulder season, let’s look at another example from the cruise line. An April departure for two people in an inside cabin (including taxes and fees) on the Enchantment of the Seas would cost $1,215. The same cabin would go for $2,091 in July, a significant amount more.

This type of fare discount is not unique to Royal Caribbean, but on larger or older ships like Radiance of the Seas, you may find better luck scoring a deal. All-inclusive lines like Silversea or Seabourn are sure to price higher for the number of inclusions they offer.

For a solo trip: Norwegian Cruise Line

One of the most important things to consider when booking a solo trip is avoiding the surcharge for a solo cabin—most cruise lines price cabins as double occupancy. 

Norwegian Cruise Line pioneered the idea of a special area for solo travelers on its ships with pricing designed for one. Norwegian Bliss is one of their ships with these studio cabins meant for one person and a lounge where they can mingle with other single travelers.

There are also singles meetups and events. Norwegian also makes some cabins available for solo occupancy on select cruises if a single studio is unavailable.

On Holland America Koningsdam, which sails in Alaska, you will find a subset of solo cabins with pricing for one, too. There is no onboard lounge for solos, though. Also, this is the only cruise line to allow passengers to share a cabin with someone of the same sex they do not know and still pay the solo cabin rate.

For those seeking a unique experience: UnCruise Adventures

If you want to get out of your comfort zone and try something entirely new, several cruise lines will send you on the adventure of your dreams in Alaska.

A leader in this category is UnCruise, and just like its name says, it acts like the opposite of a traditional cruise. With boats mostly holding a capacity of 22 and 86 guests, UnCruise ships can go to places where the larger vessels cannot easily fit. You can even take smaller Zodiacs to venture into popular sites such as:

Endicott Arm.

Thomas Bay.

Blashkee Islands.

Behm Canal.

While these cruises lack the standard amenities such as restaurants, gift shops, entertainment shows and kids clubs, they make up for it in experiences you cannot match elsewhere and the lack of crowds found on larger vessels.

» Learn more: The best cruise lines

For gadget and entertainment fans: Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas

With so much competition in the region, it’s hard to wow travelers beyond the natural scenery they explore on land. Yet, some cruise lines send some of their swankiest amenities and ships to Alaska. And these go beyond onboard spas and exciting entertainment shows or live performers.

Aboard Royal Caribbean, take advantage of the line’s signature gadgets like a robotic bartender that makes drinks on request and a ride in the jewel-shaped capsule that extends via a robotic arm above the ship for 360-degree views from 300 feet above the vessel. You can also test your surfing skills aboard the FlowRider.

With so many unusual onboard amenities, you may find it hard to get off the ship. This is also one of the biggest cruise ships to sail in Alaska. The tradeoff between lots of fun activities is sharing them with nearly 5,000 other people.

Other cruise lines go above and beyond for onboard entertainment, and we aren’t talking about the range of shows and live entertainment they offer. Norwegian Encore has:

A race track that allows drivers to zoom around the ship.

An escape room.

Virtual reality skydiving.

Two water slides with sea-through sections along the edge of the ship.

These ships, too, are pretty large, however. Norwegian Encore has almost 4,000 passengers; Norwegian Bliss has just over 4,000.

Many of the most popular travel cards on the market come with benefits specifically geared toward cruise enthusiasts, others include general travel perks that make them a good option for booking cruises.

Here's a look at a few of them:

Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Bank of America's website

The Platinum Card® from American Express

on American Express' website

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

Get 25% more value out of your points when you book cruises through Chase.

Book with your card to get automatic travel protections for your cruise.

Redeem miles as a statement credit to cover spending on cruises.

Book with your card to get automatic travel insurance coverage for your cruise.

Earn 2x points on travel spending, including cruises and some ship excursions.

Book with your card to get trip delay reimbursement, trip cancellation coverage and other travel assistance services.

Get American Express Cruise Privileges Program benefits when you book at least five nights with eligible cruise lines. Terms apply.

Cruise program benefits include $300 credit redeemable toward dining and spa services plus amenities like wine, chocolates and champagne. Terms apply.

Terms apply.

» Learn more: The best credit cards for cruises

No matter your budget, age or travel interest, plenty of cruise options ply the waters around Alaska. The one you choose will likely depend on your schedule.

By understanding what different types of cruises are available, you can more easily discover the best Alaskan cruise line to fit your needs.

How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024 , including those best for:

Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card

Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express

Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card

1x-5x 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

1.5x-2x Earn unlimited 2 points for every $1 spent on travel and dining purchases and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.

60,000 Receive 60,000 online bonus points - a $600 value - after you make at least $4,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

best cruise line to alaska

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Alaska Cruises

The great land awaits – set sail with princess, the #1 alaska cruise line.

#1 Cruise Line In Alaska *

Our Alaska cruises are your ticket to adventure amidst the Great Land’s glaciers, wildlife and national parks. Voyage through the untamed beauty from the comfort of our world-class ships, exclusive rail service and Princess Wilderness Lodges near national parks. Choose from a variety of Alaska cruise and cruisetour itineraries and connect with loved ones, locals and Alaska's wilderness with Princess ® .

* More guests choose Princess in Alaska than any other cruise line

Up to 35% off + 3rd & 4th Guests Sail Free †

Alaska Cruises & Cruisetours

Alaska cruisetours, see denali on an alaska cruisetour.

Alaska cruisetours combine our top-rated Voyage of the Glaciers cruise with three to ten nights on land exploring Denali National Park. Travel aboard our exclusive Direct-to-the-Wilderness® train and unwind at Princess Wilderness Lodges®. Every year Princess introduces more people to Denali National Park than any other cruise line.

Voyage of the Glaciers

Twice the glaciers.

Sail 500 miles deeper into the Gulf of Alaska and Prince William Sound on our top-rated Voyage of the Glaciers Alaska cruise. Spend seven days traveling from Anchorage (Whittier) to Vancouver, B.C., stopping in historic port cities like Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Enjoy two glacier-viewing experiences on every itinerary — including Glacier Bay National Park, and Hubbard Glacier or College Fjord.

Inside Passage Roundtrip Seattle

7-day Alaska cruises

Sail the Inside Passage, a series of channels and waterways formed by the march of glaciers, on your 7-day roundtrip Alaska cruise from Seattle. With an abundance of landmarks and wildlife, take in the sights and sounds of the Inside Passage from the comfort of your ship or on a thrilling excursion ashore. Explore fjords, glaciers and Gold Rush-era towns on weekend voyages out of Seattle.

Inside Passage Roundtrip San Francisco

10 or 11-day Alaska cruises

Travel the Inside Passage on 10 or 11-day Alaska cruises from San Francisco and allow the natural landscapes to inspire your day’s adventures. Begin by sailing beneath the Golden Gate Bridge and along the Pacific Coast. As you voyage into the Inside Passage, enjoy one of the best ways to explore the fjords, small towns and natural landmarks with your favorite people.

Inside Passage Roundtrip Vancouver

Alaska cruises that inspire

Feed your hunger for adventure on a roundtrip Alaska cruise from Vancouver, B.C. Wind your way through fjords, by bright-green forests and through quaint Gold Rush-era towns on your way to the wonders of Glacier Bay National Park. Then experience age-old traditions with the locals.

Voyage of the Glaciers Grand Adventure

14-day Alaska cruises

Sail 500 miles deeper into the Gulf of Alaska and Prince William Sound on our back-to-back Voyage of the Glaciers Alaska cruise. Spend 14 days roundtrip from Vancouver, B.C., stopping in historic port cities like Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. Enjoy three glacier-viewing experiences on every itinerary — including Glacier Bay National Park, Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord.

NEW Alaska long voyages

New for 2025, we have crafted longer adventures at sea with a 22-day roundtrip voyage sailing from San Francisco that coincides with Summer Solstice and a 17-day roundtrip cruise from Seattle, featuring three days of scenic glacier viewing as well as charming ports like Wrangell and Valdez. For those voyagers seeking to sail from Southern California all the way up the Pacific coast to Alaska, try a new 16-day roundtrip Inside Passage voyage from Los Angeles.

2025 Alaska New Cruise & Cruisetour Itineraries.  Learn more

With its roaring glaciers, rugged mountains and deep fjords, Glacier Bay National Park feels like a dream. With 3.3 million acres to explore, cruise to this world-renowned landmark — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — and let the landscapes inspire your next adventure. Princess Cruises is an authorized concessioner of Glacier Bay National Park.

Alaska Cruise Ports of Call

  • College Fjord
  • Endicott Arm
  • Glacier Bay National Park
  • Hubbard Glacier
  • Icy Strait Point
  • Victoria, B.C.

The Harriman Expedition discovered College Fjord in 1899 and named the towering glaciers after the great East Coast universities of the United States, like the Harvard Glacier. With the largest collection of tidewater glaciers in the world, your scenic Alaska cruise through the fjord will make a lasting memory.

Endicott Arm is a jewel in Alaska’s crown. This 30-mile waterway is surrounded by cliffs, valleys and dozens of waterfalls. Icebergs and harbor seals decorate the water below while Dawes Glacier soars into the sky above. Revel in the beauty of Mother Nature’s masterpiece and listen closely as the scenery whispers secrets of times long ago during your cruise to Alaska.

When you cruise to Alaska with Princess, sail through one of the most iconic locations in the Great Land — Glacier Bay National Park. Listen to Margerie Glacier’s signature crack and boom rumble across the waves. Bring binoculars and scan both the shore and the waves for wildlife like brown bears and migrating whales while Park Rangers teach you the history and geology of the park.

The largest tidewater glacier in North America, Hubbard Glacier has been moving its mass towards the ocean at a rate faster than most of its kind. Towering above the water over 30 stories, the glacier often calves 100-foot chunks of ice into the ocean. What lies beneath the waves is almost as impressive, where ice plunges 1,200 feet beneath the surface. See it for yourself on an Alaska cruise with Princess.

Icy Strait Point is home to the remote Tlingit village of Hoonah, home to fewer than 800 people and a deep Native history. The nearby Spasski River Valley holds one of the world’s largest populations of brown bears, who are often found hunting for salmon in the rivers. Zipline over the wilderness, watch a tribal dance or kayak in coastal waters to see the wildlife up close during your Alaska cruise vacation.

Juneau is unlike any other city in the United States. With no roads connecting it to the rest of Alaska or North America, it is truly a protected destination. Founded as a gold mining town and now the state’s capital, Juneau has one foot in history and one in the future. Embark on a whale watching tour, or sail past Mendenhall Glacier on an Alaska cruise.

Known for its timber, Ketchikan hosts the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, where athletes throw, race and chop their way to victory. Explore one of the world’s oldest collection of totem poles at the Totem Pole Heritage Center, or stroll along Creek Street. As the salmon capital of the world, Ketchikan’s waters make for incredible fishing. Cast your rod into a sea of opportunity on a cruise to Alaska.

On an Alaska cruise, take your pick of attractions in the port of Sitka. See how bald eagles and local bird populations receive first-class treatment at the Alaska Raptor Center. Encounter wildlife in their natural habitat at the Fortress of the Bear. Or experience the culture of Russian Alaska on a visit to St. Michael’s Russian Orthodox Church, and relive Native history at the Sheldon Jackson Museum.

Once the gateway to Alaska's Gold Rush, Skagway strikes a dramatic image nestled between the water's edge and mountains. Follow in the footsteps of miners with a ride on a scenic train along the famous White Pass route through coastal mountains. During your Alaska cruise, explore the Yukon's pristine wilderness, pan for gold with professionals or meet sled dog puppies in training.

Valdez is situated in Prince William Sound and serves as the gateway to the interior of Alaska. Often referred to as the "Little Switzerland", Valdez is known for its breathtaking panorama of snow-capped mountains and glaciers. It is also well-known for its role in the transportation of crude oil from the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, which ends in Valdez. Explore the charming waterfront area and take in the flavors of Valdez through culinary experiences at restaurants such as the Valdez Brewery and the Fat Mermaid.

At first glance many mistake Victoria for an English coastal city or northern European town. Full of greenery, pubs and Victorian architecture, it's difficult to believe that this was a tent city full of rough and tumble miners just 150 years ago. On a cruise to Alaska, explore the Butchart Gardens, tour the pub scene and taste some of the local brews or sail the bay for a whale-watching adventure.

Wrangell is a charming and scenic harbor known for its local fishing industry. It is not as bustling as larger ports in Alaska and maintains its historic charm and offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Explore its historic downtown and learn about the local culture and Native heritage while in Wrangell.

Alaska Cruise Experience

We have a 50-year legacy of sharing the best places and experiences with our guests. On an Alaska cruise, unpack once and explore glaciers, wildlife and national parks.

Alaska Glaciers

One of the biggest reasons people visit

Glaciers feel alive. They groan, creak and shudder on their march to the sea, punctuated by the booms and crashes of "white thunder" — a sound that echoes across the water when ice calves into the ocean below. On an Alaska cruise, let us show you Glacier Bay National Park — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier, College Fjord or Hubbard Glacier.

Alaska Wildlife

Untamed, just like Alaska

Alaska is home to a rich array of wildlife, from the famous Big Five animals that live in Denali National Park — grizzly bears, wolves, moose, Dall sheep and caribou — to bald eagles and humpback whales that migrate through the Inside Passage. On a cruise to Alaska, live a nature lover's dream in the land where guests can catch postcard-worthy sights.

Alaska Mountains & National Parks

National treasures

With national parks and four of North America’s tallest mountains, Alaska’s wilderness has been preserved for generations. Denali National Park is larger than Vermont and home to the highest peak on the continent. Meanwhile, Glacier Bay National Park has over 2,000 square miles of glacial coverage. Along with Wrangell-St. Elias and Kenai Fjords, a world of natural wonders awaits on an Alaska cruise or cruisetour.

Alaska excursions

Don't just visit this famous land, live it on Alaska excursions. Rush across the snow on a dog sled with a professional musher, fly fish for salmon in fresh rivers and soar over miles of glacial tundra in a helicopter. Watch migrating humpback whales from the deck of a catamaran or Native craftsman carve a traditional totem pole, and expand your Alaska cruise experience.

Alaska Cruise Onboard Experience

Our award-winning North to Alaska program brings local personalities, culture and cuisine on board and ashore to immerse you in all things Alaska during your cruise to the Great Land.

Alaska Seafood

Fresh and bountiful, like Alaska itself

Alaska's seafood is famous, and we bring the best to you with locally inspired dishes from the state’s best eateries. With Cook My Catch excursions, catch your own salmon or halibut with the help of a local expert, and in the evening our talented chefs will prepare your haul for your dinner — a Princess exclusive. From ship to shore, the best is at your fingertips on our Alaska cruises.

Meet Local Alaskans

Real Alaska from local Alaskans

Alaskans are inviting people who love to share what makes their state unique. Watch lumberjacks in action, learn from Glacier Bay National Park rangers and craft with a Native totem pole carver. Or listen to harrowing Tales from the Deadliest Catch fishermen and climbers who have summited Denali during your Alaska cruise.

Unique Alaska Cruise Experiences

Great experiences from the great land

Travel back in time and pan for gold like a prospector during the Gold Rush. Snuggle sled dog puppies in the ship's Piazza, or see the Northern Lights in the planetarium. At the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, explore our treehouse and enjoy unmatched views of Denali. Or savor tree-inspired bites at our very own Sappy Hour. Dive deeper into what makes the Great Land special on your cruise to Alaska.

Alaska Cruise Articles and Videos

Read about Alaska’s must-see attractions, signature cuisine, and how to prepare for a wild adventure into the heart of The Great Land.

Discover Alaska with Princess in 2024-2025

The best cruise line in Alaska just keeps getting better! From top-rated cruises that visit Glacier Bay National Park to scenic rail travel and exclusive Princess lodges, you will find a seamless Alaska experience with Princess.

Best Dishes to Try on Your Alaska Cruise

No one does seafood quite like Alaska—which is why we brought the best of the Great Land on board, so you can experience it all with Princess.

Top Alaska Cruise Destinations

From exploring Denali National Park to fishing for salmon in Anchorage, discover the top Alaska destinations on a Princess cruise.

Inside Passage Alaska Cruise

From exploring historic gold mines to venturing in the footsteps of early explorers, learn about Alaska’s Inside Passage and discover the wonders awaiting you.

Alaska Ports of Call

From the sweeping mountains of Juneau to the fish-bearing seas of Ketchikan, discover our Alaska cruise ports and set sail into the adventures that await you.

What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise

Check out our helpful checklist so that you know exactly what to pack for an Alaska cruise with Princess.

Travel, Airfare, & Hotels: Let Princess Get You There

Princess EZair® Flights

Stress-free airfare

Remove the hassle from air travel and give yourself the gift of flexibility, time and a thicker wallet with Princess EZair flights. We negotiate lower rates with the airlines, allow you to modify your flight up to 45 days prior with no penalty and protect you if your flight is late or canceled.

EZair flight quotes are available on our cruise search result details pages.

Airplane to Ship Transfer

We get you where you need to go

Let Princess pick you up from the airport and take you directly to your ship or hotel when you arrive, even if you didn't book your airfare through us. A uniformed Princess representative meets you at the airport after you've retrieved your luggage and transports you directly to your ship or hotel without you having to worry about the logistics of navigating a new city.

Cruise Plus Hotel Packages

Stay longer and relax

Extend your cruise vacation, and simplify your travel plans with a hotel stay at the beginning or end of your cruise. With a Cruise Plus Hotel Package, a Princess representative meets you at the airport and pier, transporting you to and from your hotel. The package includes the cost of your hotel stay, transportation, luggage handling and the services of the representative.

Need help planning?

Princess Cruise Vacation Planners are a dedicated resource to help you every step of the way through the planning process of your cruise vacation. And the best part is, they are absolutely FREE!

Cruise deals & promotions

Find our top sales, deals, partnerships and promotions for our destinations all in one place. We run promotions throughout the year and sometimes run sweepstakes where you could win prizes!

#PrincessCruises Alaska Connection

See Alaska through our guests' eyes.

You May Also Like

Combine a cruise + train + lodge + Denali for an in-depth Alaska experience.

Enjoy two glacier-viewing experiences on our top-rated 7-day cruise.

North to Alaska

Immerse yourself in all things Alaska with our onboard program.

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the most sailings to glacier bay. authorized concessioner glacier bay national park.

Alaska Cruises

Embark On The Ultimate Alaskan Cruise

Find the Best Alaska Cruise for You

Explore the dynamic glaciers, soaring peaks and captivating history of the 49th state on our award-winning itineraries. Sail Alaska’s serene seas to Glacier Bay National Park or Hubbard Glacier for a chance to witness ice calving, known as “white thunder.” Extend your Alaska vacation with a cruisetour, a combination of ocean cruise and land tour deep into Alaska’s rugged interior.

View of an Alaska glacier

Cross Alaska’s massive ice shelves, crystal fjords, and fascinating marine wildlife off your bucket list with itineraries that conveniently depart from Seattle and Vancouver. Enjoy perks such as privileged access to Glacier Bay National Park and prime docking locations that give you a head start on sightseeing.

View of Alaska mountain range

Our cruisetours combine an ocean cruise with a land tour into Alaska’s interior. Watch northern wilderness views unfold from aboard our glass-domed train, the McKinley Explorer®. Stay up to 3 nights at the McKinley Chalet Resort near Denali National Park. Go into the Yukon with a guide.

Find Your Perfect Cruisetour

Find Your Perfect Cruisetour

On this page, why cruise alaska with holland america.

With us, Alaska travel is personal. We’ve been sharing the wonders of Alaska longer than any other cruise line. See the best of the Great Land’s glaciers, coastal towns and wildlife on board perfectly sized ships offering superior service and exclusive programming.

Alaska Wildlife

Few places can compete with Alaska’s wildlife diversity. With more than 20 animal sanctuaries and sightseeing excursions, we bring you closer to creatures great and small. Learn about the Big Five and other amazing animals you might spot.

White Pass & Yukon Railroad

Hop a train back in time to the Klondike Gold Rush. Built during peak gold fever, this 120-year-old iron trail traverses tunnels, trestles and misty valleys to the White Pass Summit at 2,865 feet.

Alaska National Parks

Like everything else in Alaska, the Great Land’s national parks far exceed expectations. Read about Glacier Bay’s seven tidewater glaciers, Denali’s 6-million acres of undisturbed wilderness, Kenai Fjords' astonishing Exit Glacier and other national parks.

Alaska's Glaciers

Glaciers are more than breathtaking rivers of ice. They are living laboratories that show what the Earth was like thousands of years ago and how it is changing today. Get ready for the ultimate glacier experience.

Northern Lights

Many flock to Alaska every year for a chance to witness the aurora borealis. Did you know they are more likely to display during high solar activity cycles? Find out how to pick the best time to see the northern lights in Alaska.

Alaska Cruise Sneak Preview

Video about cruising Alaska on Holland America Line

Meet Alaska's Giants, Face-To-Face

With 75 years in Alaska, we know every nook, cranny and crevasse. We have more Alaska cruise port departures featuring Glacier Bay National Park than any other cruise line. All Alaska cruises include one or more glacier-viewing days, and you’ll get closer to ‘the giants’ on ships perfectly sized for the Great Land.

View of Glacier Bay across the inlet.  Logo of the national Park Service identifies Holland America Line as an authorized concessioner

Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier in Hubbard, Canada.

Cruise To Hubbard Glacier

Seals resting on and ice flow near College Fjord, Alaska, seen on a Holland America Line cruise

Read More About College Fjord

A view of Port Tracy Arm Inlet

Cruises To Tracy Arm, Alaska

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Glacier Bay Experts

Alaska cruise itineraries, weekly alaska cruises may to september.

Stretch out your Alaska cruise vacation with convenient weekend departures. Enjoy a roundtrip Alaska cruise from Seattle on Alaskan Explorer itineraries or from Vancouver on Alaskan Inside Passage itineraries.

Alaskan Explorer

Alaskan inside passage, featured alaska cruise itineraries.

Roundtrip Alaska Cruise from Seattle

A 7-day roundtrip Alaska cruise from Seattle.

Roundtrip Alaska Cruise from Vancouver

A 7-day roundtrip Alaska cruise from Vancouver.

Alaska Cruisetours

Cruise to Alaska, explore Denali or Denali and the Yukon.

We Bring Alaska On Board

Experts on board your cruise to alaska, an unrivaled culinary journey, alaska immersion with explorations central™.

Mother and Daughter looking at an Alaska glacier from the deck of a Holland America ship

Alaska Up Close

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Our Alaska Seafood Is Certified Sustainable

Why cruise our mid-sized ships.

Choose from seven refreshingly uncrowded ships for a front-row seat to Alaska's splendor.

Fluid lines, light-filled spaces and a blend of modern elegance and nautical tradition make Koningsdam a sublime ship for Alaska cruises.

Eurodam was named “Best for Great Dining & Diverse Destinations” and features a vast selection of entertainment venues and restaurants.

Nieuw Amsterdam

Cruise to Alaska in high style. Nieuw Amsterdam's exceptional onboard experience earned "Best Cruise Ship Overall" at the Travvy Awards.

Named for the Northern compass point, Noordam is fitting for a cruise to Alaska. Museum-quality art outfits this ship, from oils to photographs of music legends. 

An elegant and spacious Alaska cruise ship with fresh floral arrangements and garden-inspired décor. Master frontier flavor with regional cooking demonstrations on board.

Sink into refreshed suites and a new lounge, plus dining and entertainment venues. Take in Alaska’s evergreen fjords and thunderous glaciers on this Vista-class Alaska cruise ship.

Classic nautical finishes and a spectacular art collection make the Zuiderdam the ideal sanctuary for your cruise to Alaska.

Best Shore Excursions On An Alaska Cruise

Top 10 alaska shore excursions, great for families, ideal for adventurers, iconic alaska cruise ports & destinations.

Totem art in Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan, Alaska is one of the best spots along Alaska's Inside Passage to explore the rich cultural sights of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian. Amble historic Creek Street, a boardwalk over a wide creek that fills with salmon during certain times of year.

Skagway, Alaska

Go back in time to the Klondike Gold Rush on cruises to Skagway, Alaska , once the primary gateway to the goldfields. Take a trip on the scenic railroad and still have time to dine and shop.

Convenient Alaska Cruise Departure Ports

Our Alaska cruise departure ports have big personalities and loads of attractions.

Best Alaska Cruises from Seattle

Set out on your Alaska cruise from Seattle’s serene waterfront. Visit its most popular attractions, such as the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. Do as locals do and fuel up at one of the numerous cafes.

Alaska Cruises from Vancouver

Sightsee in this bustling metropolis before gliding the Inside Passage en route to Alaska. Historic neighborhoods and a thriving food scene await.

Alaska Cruises from Whittier

Conveniently located an hour and a half from Anchorage, Whittier is a small town on the shore of the glacier-filled Prince William Sound.

Cruise To Alaska Travel Tips & Articles

  • What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise
  • Planning an Alaska Cruise Itinerary with Kids

Alaska wilderness seen on a Holland America Line Land and Sea cruisetour

  • How to Pick the Best Month For Your Alaska Cruise
  • The Complete Guide to Alaska Glacier Viewing
  • Top Things to Do in Alaska
  • Best Places to Visit in Alaska
  • Whale Watching on Alaska Cruises

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Best cruise in alaska, recommended for you.

7 Best Cruises to Alaska, According to Travel Experts

Book a once-in-a-lifetime trip to see glaciers, national parks and wildlife!

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While some travelers dream of lounging on a beach in the Caribbean, others might be itching to put on hiking shoes and explore the great outdoors. If glaciers, wildlife and picturesque coastline have long been on your bucket list, consider booking a cruise to Alaska. The northernmost American state offers an activity for everyone's interest and level of adventure. You can take a thrilling helicopter flight to explore a glacier on foot or observe miles of Alaska’s lush scenery and spy whales from a comfortable seat on a boat.

Princess Cruises

majestic princess in glacier bay alaska

A top choice for multi-generational families and larger groups seeking on-board experiences for a wide age range, Princess will sail seven ships to Alaska in 2024 — more than any other line. Princess also offers the most departure cities , potentially saving you money on airfare. Alaska sailings range from 4 to 22 days, though a week is the sweet spot. The line is also only one of seven permitted to enter the magnificent Glacier Bay National Park (shown); check out the tips at the end of the story for details.

Good Housekeeping Contributing Travel Editor Karen Cicero and her daughter recently sailed on Majestic Princess, a Family Travel Awards Winner , and raved about the ship's amenities, especially the Hollywood Pool Club. She described it as “an indoor space with a heated pool, plush loungers, and cabana-like spots that are free for all guests to use.” Cicero was also impressed with the entertainment and activities suitable for all ages, the excellent dining options and a supervised kids’ club for ages 3 to 12. "We saw grandparents and grandkids on the dance floor, at the shows, on the excursions — bonding moments were everywhere," Cicero said.

In 2024, Majestic Princess and Discovery Princess, the line's newest Alaska ship, will both sail roundtrip from Seattle. "You can't beat Princess if you're looking for an experience that will please all ages," said Cicero.

Departure Cities: Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle; Vancouver; Whittier, Alaska Cruise Ships: Crown Princess (2024 only); Grand Princess, Caribbean Princess (2025 only), Royal Princess, Sapphire Princess, Discovery Princess, Majestic Princess (2024 only), Crown Princess, Coral Princess (2025 only)

Norwegian Cruise Line

norwegian cruise line encore in alaska

Passengers are loyal to Norwegian for its beautiful ships, top-notch service and innovative amenities. The cruise line pioneered the concept of “freestyle cruising," which includes a flexible dining time. Flexible cruising continues to be a major selling point , according to our testers who recently sailed roundtrip from Seattle to Alaska on the Norwegian Encore (pictured). "We enjoyed not having to rush back to the ship after an excursion because we had a dinner reservation," said our tester who sailed with her spouse.

They also frequented the Encore’s Observation Lounge, where they were able to cozy up and spend hours searching for marine life from floor-to-ceiling windows. Activities and entertainment, like go-karting, slides and laser tag, are abundant. For a premium experience, consider booking a stateroom in The Haven. The Encore's most luxurious accommodations feature spacious rooms — the bathrooms are nearly double the size of those in standard staterooms — a private sundeck and a concierge.

The variety of sailings to Alaska is also another reason to choose Norwegian. "If Hawaii is also on your bucket list, Norwegian is one of the only cruise lines to offer a 16-day cruise departing from Honolulu that sails through both Hawaii and Alaska so you explore two dreamy destinations on one vacation," said Cicero. She added that Norwegian sails to Alaska until late October — about a month longer than most cruise lines.

Departure Cities: Honolulu; Seattle; Seward, Alaska; Vancouver; Whittier, Alaska (2025) Cruise Ships: Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Jewel (only in 2024), Norwegian Spirit (only in May 2024), Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Jade (only in 2025), Norwegian Joy (only in 2025)


Disney Cruise Line

disney cruise ship docked in ketchikan, alaska

Disney lovers will have the time of their lives sailing roundtrip from Vancouver to Alaska aboard the Disney Wonder. "It was the best experience ever," said a mom of two young adults who sailed on the ship in May 2023. "We felt like it was a great combination of Disney and Alaska."

On-board experiences brilliantly align with the destination. For instance, Disney characters are dressed in special outfits for Alaska and are on deck during the days at sea. "We were able to get incredible photos with the glaciers behind the characters," said the mom, who also noted that you can order Mickey Mouse ice cream bars from room service. Cicero added, "Disney has the best kids' and teen clubs of any cruise line. They're enormous, filled with epic activities like superhero training and are a great place for kids and teens to make friends."

If you want an equal dose of Disney and Alaska, this is the cruise for your crew. Sailings range from five to nine nights. All routes head to Stikine Icecap so guests can observe stunning glaciers, cliffs, waterfalls and wildlife.

Departure City: Vancouver Cruise Ship: Disney Wonder

Royal Caribbean International

juneau, alaska, usa

Royal Caribbean doesn’t only sail to the Caribbean. This global cruise line whisks passengers to Alaska from popular ports such as Seattle and Vancouver. You can choose a classic seven-night itinerary or a 13-night land-and-sea getaway.

Cruise enthusiasts at the Good Housekeeping Institute are fans of Royal Caribbean for its state-of-the-art ships, exceptional service and high-quality entertainment. "Royal Caribbean had the first rock-climbing wall and ice-skating rink on a cruise ship," said Cicero. "Since then, they've brought so many other epic activities to sea." For instance, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class, which includes Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, offers skydiving, a surf simulator and a robot bar. "This line is an especially good fit for families with tweens, teens and young adults ," said Cicero, who sailed on Royal Caribbean with her teen daughter.

Departure Cities: Seattle; Seward, Alaska; Vancouver Cruise Ships: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas (only in 2024), Ovation of the Seas (only in 2024), Serenade of the Seas (only in 2025)

National Geographic Lindblad Expeditions

lindblad expeditions ship national geographic sea lion

For an incredible small-ship experience, look no further than the Lindblad Expeditions–National Geographic team-up. The largest of its ships that sail to Alaska can accommodate no more than 138 passengers — just a sliver of the 4,900 or so that Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas can hold. " Being on a smaller vessel means that you’ll be able to sail right up to less frequented glaciers, waterfalls and fjords, " said Cicero.

Of course, an intimate experience comes at a higher price tag — its eight-day Alaskan adventure starts at about $6,200 per person, though you won't need to pay extra for excursions. "Voyages tend to be themed and stress the educational component," said Cicero. For instance, one focuses on coastal wildlife while another explores native cultures. A Good Housekeeping staff member who sailed the line to the Galápagos Islands (a providence of Ecuador) raved, "The ship was beautiful! I was super impressed with the staff and the service felt above and beyond.”

Departure Cities: Juneau, Alaska; Ketchikan, Alaska; Seattle; Sitka, Alaska Cruise Ships: National Geographic Quest, National Geographic Venture, National Geographic Sea Bird, National Geographic Sea Lion, National Geographic Resolution

Holland America Line

holland america line cruise to alaska

Holland America has a well-earned reputation for bringing guests to new destinations for more than 150 years. Its ships tend to be mid-sized — larger than Lindblad's offerings but smaller than the Quantum ships from Royal Caribbean. While Holland attracts an older demographic, its Alaskan cruises are often filled with multi-generational families.

One of the cruise line’s most popular itineraries is the Seven-Day Inside Passage, which takes you through Glacier Bay National Park, the Inside Passage, Tracy Arm Inlet and several must-visit port towns. But for adventure seekers curious to see as much of Alaska as possible, you’ll find tons of extended itineraries including a robust 28-day voyage that crosses the Arctic Circle.

Holland America is the only cruise line permitted to serve glacier ice, using it for cocktails like the Blue Iceberg and Juneau Gin & Tonic. The line also launched a new Alaskan-themed brunch menu offered once per cruise.

Departure Cities: Anchorage, Alaska (for land-sea tours only); Fairbanks, Alaska; Seattle; Vancouver, Whittier, Alaska Cruise Ships: Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Zuiderdam, Zaandam

Celebrity Cruises

topshot france transport sea tourism

Celebrity is popular with adults and couples looking for a premium onboard experience, including delicious cuisine, luxurious staterooms and a high-end spa . We can’t imagine a better way to rest and relax after spending a day exploring the Alaskan wilderness. Our travel experts suggest choosing one of Celebrity's many Alaska itineraries that sail through the Inside Passage and up to Dawes Glacier or Hubbard Glacier, two of the state’s gems.

Of the three Celebrity ships that sail to Alaska, we recommend the Celebrity Edge for those new to cruising or seeking a more contemporary experience. Launched in 2018, the ship features standout innovations like Eden, a multi-level bar with panoramic views, and the Magic Carpet, a multi-purpose floating space suspended directly above the sea.

Departure Cities: Seattle; Seward, Alaska; Vancouver Cruise Ships: Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Edge

Tips for booking your cruise to Alaska

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✔️ Check your itinerary. The itinerary you choose is key on an Alaskan cruise. If you have your heart set on visiting Glacier Bay National Park, make sure that your cruise line has it listed on the schedule. "Only seven lines were awarded the Glacier Bay contract by the National Park Service ," Cicero said. If you're not sure whether the cruise you have in mind will go through Glacier Bay, double-check with the cruise line or your travel agent.

✔️ Book shore excursions well in advance. Alaskan cruises generally sail from April to October. Because of the shorter season, your ship will likely be close to capacity and several ships may overlap in ports. Excursions will book up quickly. To secure your spot, book excursions well in advance or as soon as they're available.

✔️ Focus on family. Alaskan cruises are best for kids who are at least 5 years old. "Keep in mind that cruise lines don't allow kids who aren't potty-trained to be in pools, even if they're wearing a swim diaper," Cicero said. It's also worth noting that most cruise lines don't permit babies under 6 months or pregnant passengers who are 24 or more weeks along. Cicero advises families with school-age children to look for on-ship amenities, such as an indoor heated pool, a supervised kids' club and a variety of family-friendly nighttime entertainment. "Before you sail, you should also find out which non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary," Cicero said. "Many cruise lines charge extra for soft drinks, but milk and juice are usually included." Free room service is another big perk for families, she notes, so see if that's offered on the line you're considering.

✔️ Check your passport. Even if your cruise starts and stops in a U.S. port like Seattle, there's a high chance your ship will dock in Canada at some point throughout your trip. Also, " some of the excursions in Alaskan ports venture into Canada and will require a passport," explained Cicero. For instance, you may take the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway from Skagway into Yukon, a Canadian territory. Your passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months following the cruise.

✔️ Pack layers. This is especially crucial if you're traveling in Alaska's shoulder season — May and September. While May tends to be drier, temperatures remain relatively chilly. Likewise, September marks the end of the summer season and welcomes cooler temperatures and more rainfall. Because you'll be spending a lot of time outdoors, it's important to prepare for all weather scenarios, including windy conditions common to sailing cruise ships.

✔️ Book next summer's cruise soon. To get the best staterooms and excursions, start looking for a 2025 cruise in 2024, Cicero said, noting that many ships start to fill up at least 6 months in advance. And don't forget about major sale days. "Last year, cruise lines had fantastic Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals," she said.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?

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Good Housekeeping Institute Writer and Product Analyst Olivia Lipski covers everything from tech to travel, fitness, outdoor, home and more. Not only does she have years of product review experience under her belt, but she’s also a travel enthusiast who has been on more than 20 cruises (and counting)!

The former travel editor at Parents magazine, Karen Cicero specializes in travel, children's book, lifestyle and food coverage. She manages the experience portion of the Good Housekeeping Family Travel Awards. She has sailed on four cruise lines with her family and toured several others. She recently was a featured speaker at several travel industry conferences, including PRSA, Mid-Atlantic Tourism Alliance and the Family Travel Association.

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An Expert's Guide to Booking the Perfect Alaska Cruise in 2023

By Scott Laird

Alaska Cruise 2023 An Expert's Guide to Booking the Perfect Voyage to Suit Your Travel Style

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Alaska has been a popular cruise destination for decades, and the industry has continued a trajectory of growth. Each summer season there seems to be another cruise line sailing Alaskan waters, while the longtime incumbents are relentless in their addition of new itineraries, amenities, and excursions. 

What looks like an endless buffet of choice can lead to analysis paralysis for many first-time Alaska visitors—even if they’re veteran cruisers who have already figured out big questions like their preferred cruise line or favorite ship class. 

Here are five questions to consider in order to find the best Alaska cruise for you.

When is The Best Time to Book?

Alaska is a popular destination for multi-generational groups . Any large group booking multiple cabins or needing more than a pair of spots on shore excursions should start thinking about booking Alaska cruises about a year in advance to secure the best availability for their group size. So too should travelers who have specific non-negotiables on things like stateroom category, ship, or itinerary. 

However, that doesn’t mean that last-minute bookers are out of luck. While popular itineraries and cabin categories have a tendency to sell out early (balcony accommodations are particularly sought after for scenic Inside Passage cruising), there’s still often enough inventory left for cruise lines to offer enticing deals for the summer during the “wave” booking season from January through March. They’ll even offer last-minute specials right up until the time of sailing, but selection will be limited and the most popular shore excursions will have long wait lists. 

Cruise lines offer enticing deals for the summer during “wavequot season from January through March.

Cruise lines offer enticing deals for the summer during “wave" season from January through March. 

Is it better to cruise one-way or roundtrip? 

Like almost any choice one makes when booking a cruise, it all comes down to personal taste. Roundtrip cruises offer the convenience of embarking and disembarking at the same port (typically Seattle, Vancouver, or San Francisco), but itineraries are generally limited to Southeast Alaska and the Inside Passage. 

Visitors wanting to see Alaska’s Interior, Fairbanks, and Denali National Park , should book a one-way cruise to or from Anchorage (which is served by the cruise ports at Whittier and Seward) for land-based touring either before or after their Inside Passage cruise. Many cruise lines, including Holland America Line , Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity offer fully packaged “Cruisetours” that combine a one-way Inside Passage cruise with a rail or motor coach itinerary mainly focused on Denali, but also offering journeys to other parts of Southcentral Alaska.

Is Seward or Whittier a better port for Anchorage? 

Each cruise line has their preferred port—Holland America Line and Princess Cruises berth at Whittier. Norwegian, Oceania, and Regent Seven Seas—currently berthing at Seward—will move operations to Whittier upon completion of berths currently under construction. Most other one-way cruises berth in Seward.

Whittier is closer to Anchorage, and some itineraries even take disembarking passengers directly to Denali or Talkeetna the same day. Whittier is also a convenient port for cruising College Fjord, which most northbound sailings do on the final day before arriving in Whittier. Whittier is, however, a tiny community that is little more than a deep-water port, while Seward is a larger community and regional base for a more diverse collection of tours and activities.

Seward is farther from Anchorage, but the train or coach ride is roughly an extra hour of travel through a spectacular mountain pass on the Kenai Peninsula, then the lines merge near Whittier and the last hour of the journey is the same, hugging the Chugach Mountains alongside Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage. 

It’s worth noting that shoreside transportation outside of cruise line-operated transfers can be more limited in Whittier, so passengers embarking there may wish to ensure they include transfers from Anchorage in their cruise package. From Seward, travelers wanting to spend a few days exploring Kenai Fjords National Park or one of the wilderness lodges can book Alaska Railroad transfers on their regular scheduled service.

I've been to Alaska before—how can I cruise differently? 

Cruisers who are veterans at Inside Passage itineraries on the big ships have really only seen a preview of the nooks and crannies of the region. Indigenous-owned Alaskan Dream Cruises operates small-ship sailings from Sitka, getting into the straits and narrows that the big ships won’t fit, and oftentimes determining itineraries by reports of sea life migrations and weather conditions.

Return visitors who still want that big ship experience might try a different category of cruise line. The major operators—Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, are all premium-tier cruise lines, but the luxury cruise lines have also deployed ships to Alaskan waters. 

Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth is operating roundtrip Vancouver sailings, bringing onboard topflight lecturers ranging from adventure traveler Bear Grylls to undersea archaeologist Mensun Bound on select voyages. On every voyage, guests will find guides from Alaska Native Voices, sharing the cultural history and lore of the local Huna people to  Sit’ Eeti Gheeyi  (Glacier Bay National Park), and guest speakers from the Royal Canadian Geographical Society.

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Silversea has “Door-to-Door” pricing on many of its Alaska cruises , meaning the cruise fare includes airfare, hotels, and all transfers—including transfers from home to the departure airport. Onboard the all-suite ships, there’s butler service in every suite, fine dining, and select shore excursions included. The largest Silversea ship sailing to Alaska also carries just under 600 guests, allowing for port calls at lesser-visited stops like Wrangell, Haines, and Valdez.

Are there less-crowded alternatives?

Hurtigruten, the Norwegian expedition cruise line, offers sailings between Vancouver and Nome , hitting not only the lesser-visited spots on the Inside Passage, but also the virtually untouristed and volcano-dotted Alaska Peninsula, where guests can spot Brown Bears in Katmai National Park, go bird-watching in St. Paul Island and uninhabited St. Matthew Island in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and explore the eerie ghost town of Unga.

Closer afield, but no less secluded is the Prince William Sound Explorer from Uncruise, where guests will depart Whittier and wake up among the glaciers of little-visited Icy Bay on the Kenai Peninsula. Much of the itinerary is “Captain’s choice” based on conditions and sealife movements, but the massive Columbia and Meares glaciers and the Sound communities of Cordova and Valdez—also off the big ship routes—hold prized spots on the itinerary. 


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9 Best Alaska Cruise Lines

best cruise line to alaska

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best cruise line to alaska

Whether you want to witness epic wildlife, see calving glaciers in person, or check the so-called Last Frontier off your bucket list, an Alaska cruise deserves your consideration. I was born and spent my young childhood in Alaska, and the natural beauty of the state is unparalleled. A cruise along the coast anywhere in the state — especially in summer, the season of the Midnight Sun — is an excellent way to experience it.

Let these reader picks for the best Alaska cruise lines inform your itinerary, Alaska shore excursions, and beyond.

Holland America cruise ship in Glacier Bay, Alaska

1. Holland America Line (Winner)

Holland America is celebrating 150 years of cruising this year and Alaska is one of its most popular destinations. The cruise line has an 11-ship fleet that takes cruisers all around the world, but in Alaska, where it’s operated cruises for more than 75 years, it doesn’t stop with sailing the seas and stopping in ports of call: Holland America offers both Alaska cruises and Alaska Cruisetours that invite travelers to go inland aboard the McKinley Explorer, its exclusive glass-domed train, for a McKinley Chalet Resort stay that gets them up close and personal with Denali National Park.

Between its straight-up Alaska cruises and Alaska Cruisetours, you have over 100 Holland America itineraries and seven ships to choose from. The cruise line’s ships exude classic elegance. You’ll get to marvel at the Inside Passage, an Artic Circle Summer Solstice, or the Aleutian Islands; taste the culinary creations of celebrity chefs; enjoy a diverse onboard music and entertainment lineup; and, once you’ve had your fill, sink into your stateroom’s Mariner’s Dream Bed — a plush “Euro-Top” mattress made exclusively for Holland America’s ships.

Norwegian Joy in Ketchikan, Alaska

2. Norwegian Cruise Line

When it comes to its Alaska cruises , Norwegian’s goal is for cruisers to realize what it feels like “when you let the outside in,” and it boasts the best glacier-sighting experiences in the state. This pairs perfectly with Norwegian’s signature offering: Freestyle Cruising. Think an Alaska cruise with no set schedule and plenty of accessible onboard options.

Norwegian’s big, bold ships offer amenities like The Waterfront, a dedicated promenade that lets you walk a quarter-mile of the waterfront while sailing the seas (available on three of its Alaska ships: Bliss , Encore , and Joy ).

The cruise line’s seven Alaska ships depart from six ports. In addition to shore excursions, Norwegian also offers 10 Alaska Cruisetour options that take cruisers inland to Denali National Park & Preserve and as far north as Fairbanks. In many cases, cruisers are transported via a domed railcar on the famed Alaska Railroad, which promises to take anyone’s Alaska experience to the next level.

Ruby Princess cruise ship in Glacier Bay, Alaska

3. Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises’ six Alaska cruise and cruisetour itineraries prioritize travelers’ glacier, wildlife, and national park experiences. The cruise line boasts a “50-year legacy of sharing the best places and experiences.” In Alaska, it delivers on that commitment by serving up fresh Alaska seafood on board; introducing guests to local Alaska craftspeople, rangers, and guides; and making space for Alaska-only experiences — think on-deck sled dog puppy meet and greets and northern lights viewings from the ships’ planetariums.

Princess also boasts exclusive service on Alaska railways and five Princess Wilderness Lodges that put cruisetour travelers close to Alaska’s national parks in Kenai, Denali, Fairbanks, and the Copper River Valley. 

4. Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean currently offers a whopping 75 Alaska cruise options with round-trip and one-way cruises departing from Seattle, Washington; Seward, Alaska (a 2-hour drive from Anchorage); and Vancouver, British Columbia. Cruisers can choose from four ships, including Quantum of the Seas , the largest and potentially most decked-out ship (on-board sky-diving simulator, surfing, and rock climbing) to cruise the region.

Pro Tip: Quantum of the Seas sailings are exclusive to Alaska and Australia, so unless you’re planning to cruise “Down Under,” an Alaska cruise is your chance to experience this first-of-its-class vessel perfect for family groups and thrill-seekers of all ages.

Regardless of which ship you choose, Royal Caribbean’s Alaska expeditions promise “warm impressions of the wilderness,” meaning shore excursions and glacier viewings that prioritize comfort. Royal Caribbean also puts an emphasis on hearty, locally sourced food like wild-caught salmon, satisfying sourdough, and fresh-picked Alaska berries galore.

Celebrity Millenium in Skagway, Alaska

5. Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity’s 14 Alaska cruise itineraries and 42 cruisetour options center the state’s natural beauty, wildlife, and history. The cruise line boasts five elegant ships including the recently renovated Millenium , a Forbes Four-Star-Rated “resort at sea.”

All of Celebrity’s Alaska ships feature luxurious cashmere bedding (perfect for chilly Alaska nights!), adult-only solariums, and the opportunity to upgrade to The Retreat — an exclusive all-suite, all-inclusive vacation experience that includes access to a private restaurant and private resort-style lounge.

6. Viking Cruises

Unlike other cruise lines on this list, Viking centers its Alaska & the Inside Passage itinerary around native Tlingit culture and the “region where a Wild West spirit still feels very much alive,” rather than Alaska per se. Ports of call during the 11-day cruise (Viking’s sole Alaska offering) include Vancouver, British Columbia, and Ketchikan, Sitka, Juneau, Skagway, Valdez, and Seward in Alaska.

The itinerary’s Scenic Sailings include the 500-mile Inside Passage on Day 2 and glacier-ensconced Yakutat Bay on Day 8. Cruisers will be accompanied by a Viking Resident Historian who will deliver lectures on Pacific Northwest expansion and development, indigenous people, and glaciers.

While this singular offering makes choosing your Viking Alaska blissfully straightforward, you can opt for pre- and/or post-cruise extensions in Vancouver, Anchorage, Denali, and beyond.

7. Alaskan Dream Cruises

Alaskan Dream Cruises is unique in that it offers small-vessel expeditions — no more than 76 passengers per sailing, compared to the thousands who could be aboard giant Alaska cruise liners. Itineraries combine excursions in Alaska towns and native villages with glacial bay and fjord sailings.

On board, cruisers enjoy what the cruise line calls a “relaxed ambiance” that is less about frills and more about experiencing “True Alaska with True Alaskans.” Get ready for ocean views from whichever cabin you choose, the freshest Alaskan cuisine, and opportunities to taste local craft beers and Pacific Northwest wines daily.

Pro Tip: If you want to charter your very own Alaska cruise, Alaskan Dream Cruises offers excellent options. Cruisers can charter the Misty Fjord or the Kruzof Explorer and customize an itinerary for up to 12 guests.

Alaskan Dream Cruises also boasts two exclusive island lodges — Fin Island and Orca Point — both constructed of beautiful local timber. Guests on every Alaskan Dream Cruise get a night at one of these two remote lodges, where they’ll enjoy a special seafood dinner, a campfire, cultural presentations, and, at Orca Point, an opportunity to peruse the exclusive gift shop.

Fun Fact: Alaskan Dream Cruises’ history is intimately intertwined with the U.S. Airways Flight 1549 rescue efforts, also known as Miracle on the Hudson, where half the vessels that responded to the downed flight were “highly maneuverable” ferries built by its parent company in Sitka, Alaska.

Oceania Regatta cruise ship in Juneau, Alaska

8. Oceania Cruises

Oceania currently offers 30+ Alaska cruise options , plus Pre- and Post-Cruise Land Programs that let cruisers explore places like Anchorage and Denali in Alaska and Calgary in Canada. For cruisers 5–12 years old, it also offers the Alaska Youth Explorer Program, which is staffed by camp counselors and centers around Alaska-inspired activities and programming.

All of Oceania’s cruises emphasize the locals and cuisine is a highlight. It boasts “the finest cuisine at sea,” so if you’re a foodie in search of Alaskan flavors, an Oceania cruise could be the ideal fit for you. Of its 275+ Alaska itinerary shore excursions (some of which are in the Pacific Northwest and Canada), over 50 feature drinking and dining experiences — think tea service, winery visits, cooking classes, “seafood feasts,” and beyond.

9. UnCruise Adventures

UnCruise Adventures is a favorite among TravelAwaits readers and writers alike. Recently, writers have raved about their UnCruise experiences in Mexico and the Pacific Northwest (and shared photos you have to see to believe!). Like Alaskan Dream Cruises, this is a small-ship cruise line — vessels accommodate a maximum of 86 cruisers, meaning a truly intimate experience.

UnCruise’s seven-, 12-, and 14-night Alaska itineraries are all about exploration. Their mantra: “Get ready to put boots on the ground.” Yes, there’s time to get cozy on the ship, but expect days filled with water activities like kayaking, paddle boarding, and whale watching, plus hiking and northern lights spotting. Feeling brave? You could even say “yes” to an UnCruise polar plunge!

Still considering your Alaska cruise options? Don’t miss TravelAwaits writer Parm Parmar’s UnCruise tell-all, Alaska By Small Ship Cruise: Wilderness, Solitude, And Wildlife Sightings .

Read more from our  2023 Best Of Travel Awards .

Image of Linsey Stevens

Linsey Stevens is a University of Chicago-trained editor who joined the TravelAwaits team in early 2019 and served as the site’s Managing Editor from January 2021 to April 2023. She’s also edited lifestyle and wellness content for other sites and print publications, plus the Nautilus award-winning 2017 book Iphelia: Awakening the Gift of Feeling from Tyrian Press. In addition to her writing and editing, Linsey has interests in travel, depth psychology, collaging, and magical realism. She calls the Midwest home but was born (and spent her young childhood in) Alaska and has spent time in Mexico, Australia, India, and the Caribbean. She serves on the board of the C.G. Jung Society of St. Louis and is passionate about eating well and the em dash.

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The 8 best alaska cruises for families.

Plan your next family vacation to explore the boundless beauty of the 49th state.

The Best Alaska Cruises for Families

A family looking out at an Alaskan glacier while standing on the deck of a Princess Cruises ship.

Courtesy of Princess Cruises

A cruise to Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime family or multigenerational vacation. With unique opportunities for wildlife viewing and outdoor adventures that you won't find anywhere else in the world – not to mention scenic cruising days on the ship to spend time together – this special experience will stay with you forever.

For an extended vacation in the 49th state, consider booking a cruisetour. This combined cruise and pre- or post-cruise land tour option is offered by many of the larger cruise lines. The tours visit some of the top attractions in the state , such as Denali National Park and Preserve, and often include picturesque rides into Alaska's remote wilderness aboard the Alaska Railroad. Some tours also head north to Fairbanks and visit Kenai Fjords National Park or Wrangell-St. Elias National Park (or both, in some cases). You can choose between fully escorted adventures or laid-back options to explore on your own, depending on what works best for your family.

Ready to book your Alaska adventure? These eight cruise lines offer excellent family-friendly excursions ashore , plus plenty of onboard activities to keep both kids and parents entertained during days at sea.

Find your perfect cruise

Princess Cruises: 7-Day Voyage of the Glaciers with Glacier Bay

Family standing on deck of a Princess Cruises ship, pointing out at the sea on an Alaska cruise.

Departure city: Vancouver, British Columbia

The 2024 cruise season brings Princess' 55th-anniversary sailing to The Great Land, and the line is offering more than 150 Alaska voyages between April and September. The popular Voyage of the Glaciers with Glacier Bay itinerary northbound from Vancouver to Anchorage (Whittier), Alaska , is available on dozens of dates this season on Grand Princess , Royal Princess or Sapphire Princess . The sailing includes stops in the ports of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, as well as scenic cruising in beautiful Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve and College Fjord in Alaska. If you prefer a smaller ship, choose Grand Princess or Sapphire Princess, which hold 2,610 and 2,680 passengers (double occupancy), respectively. Meanwhile, Royal Princess accommodates 3,560 guests at double occupancy.

The Princess Cruises North to Alaska program features immersive, family-friendly opportunities to learn about the history and traditions of the 49th state. Guests can sample fresh local seafood and meet famous Alaskans such as Libby Riddles, the first woman to win the 1,100-mile Iditarod dog race. In Skagway, families can meet some of the newest sled dogs and their handlers during Puppies in the Piazza on the ship. Younger cruisers and teens can participate in the Alaska Explorers Youth Program in partnership with Glacier Bay National Park and the Discovery Channel, which includes activities like the "Deadliest Catch" Crab Sort Challenge.

The North to Alaska program also partners with Discovery and Animal Planet to feature onboard exhibits about Alaska, as well as curated excursions like the White Pass Rail Bennett Lake & Yukon Adventure in Skagway, which was created by a train historian. Back on the ship, kids and teens can hang out with other young cruisers their age at Camp Discovery's Treehouse (ages 3 to 7), Lodge (8 to 12) or Beach House (13 to 17). In addition, be sure to keep an eye out for Princess Cruises' Alaska mascot: Stanley the Bear. You might even find him during story time at the kids clubs wearing a captain's uniform or destination-themed costumes, such as lumberjack gear in Ketchikan.

Norwegian Cruise Line: Alaska – Dawes Glacier, Juneau & Ketchikan

Family kayaking in Tatoosh, Alaska, on a Norwegian Cruise Line Alaska cruise shore excursion.

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Departure city: Seattle, Washington

This seven-day round-trip voyage from Seattle is available on Norwegian Bliss from April to September during the line's 2024 Alaska season. The sailing includes the ports of Sitka, Juneau , Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan (Ward Cove), plus scenic cruising in Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier in Alaska. There's also an evening stop in Victoria, British Columbia , before disembarking in Seattle. Norwegian Bliss can carry 4,004 passengers at double occupancy and 4,266 passengers at maximum capacity.

The entire family will enjoy excursions like the Whale Watching & Bear Search tour in Icy Strait Point, while thrill-seekers of all ages will want to book an adrenaline-pumping ride down the mountain on the massive ZipRider zip line. In Ketchikan, take a hike through Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the U.S., where you might catch glimpses of wildlife like black bears or bald eagles. You can also head offshore from Ketchikan aboard the Aleutian Ballad, the famed ship from Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch," to pick up the day's bounty of king crab and search for marine wildlife along Alaska's Inside Passage.

Plenty of family activities and entertainment options are offered on this Norwegian Cruise Line ship, including the Bliss Speedway, a two-level racetrack at sea; laser tag; mini-golf; an interactive aqua park with waterslides that zip above the side of the ship; a video arcade; and live entertainment. You'll also find kids clubs designed for younger children and teens , as well as adults-only escapes like Vibe Beach Club and Spice H2O. When it comes to dining, there's no shortage of casual fare for hungry kids at venues like the Garden Café buffet, American Diner and The Local Bar & Grill.

Disney Cruise Line: 7-Night Alaskan Cruise from Vancouver

Mickey and Minnie Mouse standing on a deck of a Disney Cruise Line ship by Alaska fjords.

Matt Stroshane | Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

This seven-night itinerary aboard Disney Wonder departs round-trip from Vancouver on several voyages throughout the 2024 Alaska season, which runs from May to September. The weeklong Disney Cruise Line sailing includes glacier viewing along the Stikine Icecap and stops in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan. Plus, you'll enjoy plenty of Disney fun on board, with character meet-and-greets, Broadway-quality shows, and entertaining activities and venues for kids and adults alike.

Many of the ship's nautical-themed staterooms are designed with families in mind and feature a "split bath" concept and extra under-bed storage for suitcases. Disney Wonder can hold 1,750 passengers at double occupancy and 2,700 passengers at maximum capacity. The ship's unique rotational dining venues include an "under the sea" adventure at Triton's, a dinner show with Disney characters at Animator's Palate and Southern specialties with jazz music at Tiana's Place. For a night out sans kids, adults can savor a quiet evening with northern Italian cuisine at Palo or nosh on casual pub fare at Crown & Fin Pub. Younger sailors will find age-appropriate spaces at Disney's Oceaneer Club and Lab, tween venue Edge, and teen club Vibe.

Disney's excursions also offer family fun ashore – especially in Skagway. Try panning for gold with Disney characters like Donald Duck, then feast on baked Alaska salmon at Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp. You can also take an extended six-hour tour by boat into Alaska's deepest fjord, Lynn Canal, then hike through the rainforest to reach your canoe for a wilderness safari at Glacier Point. For a bucket list splurge, reserve a spot on the helicopter flightseeing tour that includes dog mushing on the Denver Glacier with a team of Alaska sled dogs.

Holland America Line: 7-Day Alaska Inside Passage

Holland America Line's Konsingdam ship at port in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Courtesy of Holland America Line

Holland America's Koningsdam will sail the line's seven-day Inside Passage itinerary more than 20 times between April and September in 2024. This round-trip voyage embarks in Vancouver and includes multiple days of scenic cruising. You'll sail through the Inside Passage for two days; through Tracy Arm Inlet, where you can disembark for a shore excursion; and through Glacier Bay, where the Junior Ranger Program is a highlight for kids. The ports of call on this itinerary are Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan in Alaska.

Koningsdam features dedicated family staterooms with beds for up to five guests, two bathrooms and extra closet space. The ship carries 2,650 guests at double occupancy and 3,194 passengers at maximum capacity. A wildlife expert on the ship helps guests spot Alaska's incredible marine and land animals through announcements and during daily programs. Keep an eye out for humpback whales, orcas, sea otters, moose, brown bears and other wildlife. While in the Tracy Arm Wilderness Area, you'll want to take the Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer excursion to explore glacier-covered mountains, jagged cliffs and the largest temperate rainforest in the U.S. surrounding the fjord. On a high-speed catamaran, you'll get up-close views of the Sawyer Glaciers and have potential sightings of harbor seals, bears, mountain goats and more.

Back on board, Holland America Line 's kids club offers supervised, age-appropriate activities for young cruisers ages 3 to 17 – including children who may need certain accommodations. You'll also find plenty of family-friendly options for dining on Koningsdam, including Lido Market, New York Pizza and the poolside Dive In grill. During the cruise, look for themed evenings in the Lido Market like salmon bakes or seafood boil pop-up dinners, which are in line with Holland America's commitment to serving certified sustainable and traceable Alaska seafood. An Alaska brunch is also offered once during the voyage in the main dining room; you'll enjoy dishes highlighting ingredients from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

best cruise line to alaska

Tips on Trips and Expert Picks

Travel tips, vacation ideas and more to make your next vacation stellar.

Royal Caribbean International: 7 Night Alaska Adventure Cruise

Children's play area on Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Hop aboard Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas for the seven-night Alaska Adventure Cruise, sailing round-trip from Seattle . This itinerary is available on several dates between May and August 2024 and features stops in the towns of Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau, plus scenic cruising in Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier in Alaska. There's also an afternoon call in the Canadian city of Victoria. While there, book an off-roading excursion through the coastal rainforest that includes a zip line adventure. Or, take a self-guided tour through Victoria's famed Butchart Gardens and the tropical Butterfly Gardens filled with wildlife.

Quantum of the Seas – which holds 4,180 passengers at double occupancy and 4,905 passengers at maximum capacity – is one of the two larger Royal Caribbean ships sailing in Alaska in 2024 (Ovation of the Seas is the other). As such, it offers abundant activities and entertainment for families at sea. On board, guests can experience Ripcord by iFly (the only skydiving simulator at sea) and take in snow-capped mountain views from the FlowRider surf simulator or atop the ship's rock climbing wall. Other onboard activities include bumper cars, an escape room, an arcade, pickleball and The Silent Party (a dance party where everyone wears headphones).

At mealtime, kids will have plenty of choices for casual and quick bites, from carefully crafted hot dogs at the Dog House and specialty pies at Sorrento's Pizza to around-the-clock snacks at Café Promenade and grab-and-go fare at The Café@Two70. When the little ones want to play or chill out with kids their age, Adventure Ocean offers activities for children 3 to 12 years old. Meanwhile, teens can meet other 13- to 17-year-olds at the Hideout Hangout.

Carnival Cruise Line: 7-Day Alaska from Seattle, WA

The Carnival Miracle in Alaska.

Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

Departure city: Juneau, Alaska

Carnival's 2024 Alaska season runs from May to September, with the 7-Day Alaska from Seattle itinerary available every month during that time. The round-trip sailing aboard Carnival Luminosa stops in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia. You'll enjoy scenic cruising in Victoria and through Tracy Arm Fjord. You'll also have one "fun day at sea" to check out the activities and entertainment on the ship, which offers a double occupancy capacity of 2,260 passengers and a maximum capacity of 2,826 passengers.

Younger sailors ages 2 to 11 can join in on ocean-themed games, songs and programming at Camp Ocean, while tweens and teens (ages 12 to 17) can participate in destination-focused activities at See the World. Club 02 is a designated space for guests ages 15 to 17 to watch movies, play sports and video games, and more. Families can enjoy Dive-In Movies together at Carnival Seaside Theater and watch live musical productions at Playlist Productions. When it comes to dining on Carnival , families will have a choice of several casual restaurants to satisfy finicky eaters, including Pizzeria del Capitano, The Carnival Deli, Lido Marketplace and Swirls for soft serve ice cream. For a special night out, make reservations at the Steakhouse, which costs extra but offers reduced prices for children 11 and younger.

When going ashore, Juneau offers many family-friendly excursions – some of which you may not have the chance to experience anywhere else in the world. The Taku Lodge Feast & 5-Glacier Seaplane Discovery takes guests airborne by bush plane over the five glaciers in the Juneau Icefield. After the ride, you'll land in the Taku River at the historic Taku Lodge, which sits across from Juneau's largest glacier, the Taku Glacier. At the lodge, you'll feast on a bountiful meal featuring homemade side dishes and one of the best-known local seafood specialties, Alaska king salmon.

Celebrity Cruises: 7 Nights Alaska Hubbard Glacier

Celebrity Cruises' Camp at Sea program and play area on the Celebrity Edge.

Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity's seven-night Alaska Hubbard Glacier itinerary is available on nine voyages between May and September 2024. The Celebrity Solstice (which holds 2,852 guests at double occupancy) sails round-trip from Vancouver and stops in the ports of Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Ketchikan in Alaska. You'll have two days of scenic cruising in the Inside Passage and around Hubbard Glacier. While in Icy Strait Point, book a guided nature walk excursion along the "Trail of the Bears" in the bush country of the Spasski River Valley. During your search for Alaska's coastal brown bears, you'll also learn about the Tlingit culture and community in Hoonah, and perhaps even see Sitka black-tailed deer and bald eagles.

Back on the ship, Celebrity's Camp at Sea program entertains children, tweens and teens ages 3 to 17 with four different age-appropriate programs: Shipmates (ages 3 to 5), Cadets (ages 6 to 9), Captains (ages 10 to 12) and Teens (ages 13 to 17). The customizable activities change every cruise and are based on the interests of the participants. Celebrity also offers autism-friendly activities and services for families on board.

When it comes to dining options on the ship, families will find kid-friendly selections on the in-room dining menu and at the main restaurant. For quick casual fare, head to the buffet-style Oceanview Café or to the Mast Grill for burgers and other grab-and-go bites. If you want healthier dishes, the Spa Café offers homemade energy bars, acai bowls, turkey wraps and other light choices.

UnCruise Adventures: Glacier Bay Adventure Cruise

Kids enjoying a skiff ride in Alaska.

Courtesy of UnCruise Adventures

If you prefer a small-ship cruise experience without the bells and whistles of some larger vessels, UnCruise offers adventure-style cruises to Alaska on its fleet of safari- and expedition-style ships. With these intimate cruises, you and the kids (ages 8 and older) can get up close to glaciers, wildlife and Alaska's vast wilderness directly from the ship via Zodiacs and kayaks. You may even see wildlife from a short distance away along the shoreline, as UnCruise vessels are able to sail into smaller waterways that are inaccessible to larger ships.

The line's Glacier Bay Adventure Cruise features two full days in pristine Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve aboard the Wilderness Discoverer, which holds a maximum of 76 passengers. Here, guests can hike along remote coastlines amid old-growth forests, view sea life up close and go birding at South Marble Island. You'll also have the opportunity to see several tidewater glaciers, go kayaking in the Keku Islands and explore Neka Bay on Chichagof Island. Another highlight is a visit to Glacier Bay Lodge at Bartlett Cove, the only hotel accommodations in the 3.3 million-acre national park. The seven-night itinerary departs round-trip from Juneau and is offered between April and September 2024.

The full itinerary includes stops in Icy Strait and Neka Bay; Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve; Chichagof Island (which boasts the world's largest population of brown bears per square mile); Frederick Sound; and Tracy Arm and the Sawyer Glaciers. During the weeklong cruise, you'll have narration by expert onboard guides and embark on some of the most memorable adventures your kids will ever have in Alaska's remote wilderness.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed on nearly every type of cruise ship, including the newest megaships, traditional masted sailing ships, river ships in Europe and a small luxury expedition vessel in Antarctica. She has cruised to Alaska and visited The Great Land in the summer, fall and winter, and journeyed to remote areas by bush plane above the Arctic Circle. She used her knowledge of Alaska cruises and extensive research to write this article. Pratesi covers the travel and culinary industries for major publications, including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

  • Alaska Cruise Packing List: Must-Have Items
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' class=

I dint want to go when it’s cold outside on deck of ship. I dint mind “sweater “ weather.

I would be interested is seeing whales if this makes a difference in what months are best.

Any advice would be appreciated

' class=

Yes, mid-August is a good time.

If you mean humpbacks, the best places for whale-watching tours are Juneau and Icy Strait Point . You might also see some from your cruise ship if you spend a lot of time out on deck or in a forward lounge watching for them--but those will be just short glimpses as your ship passes by.

Are you taking a round trip cruise , or a one-way from Vancouver to Seward or Whittier to include a few days landtour?

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best cruise line to alaska

15 Alaska cruise mistakes you never want to make

Melinda Crow

For many, an Alaska cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You don't want to screw it up because you might not get the chance for a do-over. Unfortunately, it's easier than you think to make Alaska cruise mistakes that can ruin a trip or prevent you from experiencing Alaska to the fullest.

While cruises to the Last Frontier are not polar-cruise-level adventures, they require more careful planning than for a Mexico or Caribbean sailing. You need to get all the details right, from booking the cruise and packing your bags to what to do and see during your cruise.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Here's a list of things you should never do on an Alaska cruise. Avoid these Alaska cruise mistakes, and you'll be on your way to a smooth sailing.

Alaska cruise planning mistakes to avoid

No matter how many times you've cruised before, you might be shocked at how much planning you need to do for an Alaska sailing. Get these things wrong, and you might miss out on your big Alaska cruise experience.

Assume all Alaska cruises are the same

best cruise line to alaska

This is an easy mistake to make on your first Alaska cruise. However, matching your ship and itinerary to your expectations and travel style is crucial for a successful trip.

Are you looking for a full day of glacier time? Try a midseason sailing that visits Glacier Bay National Park . Early and late-season cruises might be unable to access the glaciers on their itineraries due to ice floes.

Want to see whales? A round-trip Alaska cruise in June is ideal. Do you want to fish for salmon? You'll want to book at the peak of the salmon fishing season, from mid-June to mid-August. Ketchikan is the salmon capital of the world, and while most cruises stop there, a few don't, so make sure it's on the itinerary if you wish to fish.

Are you taking kids on your Alaska cruise? Big ships often have more for kids to do on board, which might be more important than where the ship goes. Expedition-style cruises may have less for youngsters but appeal to independent teens. These voyages offer a more intimate and close-up Alaska experience, with outings on kayaks and Zodiac boats that launch directly from the ship.

Wait to book excursions

You don't have to worry about booking tours in advance in some cruise destinations. Alaska cruises are not like that.

Alaska shore excursions fill up fast. It's worse in midsummer, but even on shoulder season sailings, you may not find space on the excursions you hoped to do if you wait until you're on the ship to book. The only solution is to sign up for tours as early as possible.

Does this mean you shouldn't take advantage of last-minute Alaska cruise deals if you find them? Of course not. Snap those babies up — just come prepared with a list of second and third choices of excursions, just in case.

Related: Tips for booking the best cruise shore excursion for your money

Overlook independent excursions

You don't have to stick with ship-sponsored shore excursions in every port in Alaska. On my last Alaska cruise, we booked kayaking independently for our stop in Ketchikan. It was one of the best experiences of the entire cruise. The company picked us up and dropped us off at the cruise ship. We were guaranteed an on-time return to the ship and paid far less than for the ship's kayaking excursions.

If you want to check out independent tours , you can find several Alaska excursion aggregators online or deal directly with independent businesses. Make sure you inquire about tour timing and leave a buffer so you won't miss your ship even if there's traffic or a delay.

Book same-day flights on embarkation day or early flights home

You don't want to find yourself stuck in an airport because of a flight delay when you should be boarding your cruise. To avoid this problem, book your flights to arrive the day before your cruise departs rather than the same day.

If you think it can't happen to you, listen to my most recent flight horror story. I was on not one but two flights on the same day, where minor mechanical problems caused deplaning and two-hour delays. I should have landed at my destination at 11:30 a.m. but didn't arrive until after 5 p.m. Had that been embarkation day, my ship would have sailed without me.

Similarly, it's always best to book departing flights home for the afternoon in case the ship is delayed returning to port or is not cleared by authorities on time. If you're flying in or out of Anchorage, know that all transportation options include several hours of travel from the ports of Seward and Whittier; you might consider overnighting in Anchorage either pre- or post-cruise to play it safe.

Skip the travel insurance

Airline issues aside, Alaska can be a wee bit hazardous. You will encounter slippery slopes and rocky roads — and that's just walking through Alaska port towns. You might be participating in more daring activities than normal, such as flying in helicopters, hiking across glaciers, kayaking icy waters or zip lining through forests. It's easy for something to go wrong.

On my last Alaska cruise, I heard about two passenger emergencies. A kid broke an arm on the ship and needed surgery, so a family of five disembarked in Ketchikan — not exactly a cheap end to their vacation, I'm guessing. Later in the sailing, a sick passenger was airlifted directly off the ship by the Canadian Coast Guard before we made it to Victoria.

If you live in the U.S., your health insurance is most likely valid in Alaska. You'll be covered for medical expenses but not the other expenses associated with any injury that interrupts your cruise. Travel insurance is the way to go unless you want to pay for flight changes and medical evacuation out of pocket.

Related: The best cruise travel insurance plans

Alaska cruise packing mistakes to avoid

best cruise line to alaska

Packing for an Alaska cruise can be tricky. The region's unpredictable weather means it can be rainy and 50 degrees one day, then sunny and 85 degrees the next. Mix in boat rides and glacier watching from the ship at 6 a.m., and you have a complicated packing job ahead of you. Don't make these Alaska cruise packing mistakes.

Forget your rain gear

Rule No. 1 on Alaska cruises: Pack rain gear. It might not rain one drop on your cruise, but chances are good that the weather will be wet at some point on your trip. When it does, you'll want the right gear to stay dry and not be drippy and miserable.

Waterproof shoes or boots are a must. For extra protection, spray them with a water-repellant sealer before you pack. You can stow lightweight raincoats or ponchos and pull-on rain pants in your backpack during excursions when you don't need them.

Skimp on layers

Layers are the only way to dress on an Alaska cruise. Start with thin, base-layer undergarments that won't bulk up your clothes and are comfortable even if the day turns out warmer than expected. The final layers of outerwear should be lightweight because you may need to stuff them in your backpack for half the day as the temperature rises.

I especially like puffy vests and jackets for Alaska. You can shed the jacket as temperatures allow, then lose the vest if it gets even warmer. Top everything with caps, knit hats, earmuffs and gloves. Those things might be excessive for a stroll through town but important in the wind on a whale watching boat.

Related: Cruise packing list: The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise

Overpack on eveningwear

The dress code on most Alaska cruises is more relaxed than in other cruise destinations. Days are long and outdoorsy, leaving people less enthusiastic about rushing back to the ship to put on fancy clothes and dress shoes.

Trade out your hiking shoes for comfy flats or dress sneakers. Jazz up casual, neutral-colored slacks (even jeans) or skirts with jackets or scarves. You can leave the formalwear and high heels at home.

Cheap out on insect repellant

Mosquitoes in Alaska aren't always a nuisance, but they can be horrendous. Pack insect repellant and full-coverage clothing as though you were planning to visit a rainforest ... because you are.

If you don't plan on checking a bag, pick up bug spray in your departure city or first port of call.

Leave the binoculars and cameras at home

One question I get asked often is whether you can see whales and other wildlife from the ship. The answer is a resounding yes. Unfortunately, much of what you will see is from a distance.

You can solve that problem with a pair of lightweight binoculars. They're also useful for getting a close-up view of glaciers or spotting eagles in port. Consider bringing a pair for everyone in your group because you don't want to fight over one pair when a pod of whales comes into view.

As for cameras, I recommend that everyone in your travel group has a water-resistant camera or a waterproof smartphone case or pouch. I lean toward cameras rather than phones for two reasons. One, most cameras dropped into the depths of an Alaskan bay pose a less traumatic loss than most smartphones. My second reason is in the next section.

Related: Can you use your cellphone on a cruise?

Mistakes to avoid during your Alaska cruise

best cruise line to alaska

Once you're on board your ship, it's time to put all the stress of planning and packing behind you. You've made it, and you don't want to let anything get in the way of enjoying your cruise.

Stare at your phone too much

An Alaska cruise is the ideal time to hit pause on your digital life. Sure, you want to capture the amazing scenery, but you know what? Few of the pictures you take will accurately portray the scale of the beauty of Alaska.

The photos you'll enjoy most when you look back next year are the ones of your travel partners enjoying the trip. Take those, then spend your time soaking up the enchantment of this place. The news, the email correspondence and your Instagram followers can take a back seat until you're back home.

Assume the seas will be smooth

Don't be surprised if you feel seasick in Alaska's waters, even if no other cruise has made you feel that way. Cruising through the Inside Passage is generally calm, but the open waters of the Pacific Ocean can be choppy. Even the bays can churn up quickly during summer storms.

Ships also do a lot of maneuvering, including turning complete circles designed to give everyone on board access to the amazing views. Unfortunately, those tight turns can contribute to nausea for some people.

Prepare by packing motion sickness relief bands you place on pressure points on your wrists, prescription scopolamine transdermal patches, ginger candies, over-the-counter seasickness medications and herbal motion sickness patches. I've used these for years, with only one failure on a rather small ship.

You can also treat the woozies with seasickness tablets, which are often available free at the medical center or guest services, green apples from the buffet and ginger ale from your ship's friendly bartenders. Related: How to avoid seasickness on your next cruise

Spend all your time indoors

You packed all those clothing layers — now's the time to use them. The coldest part of your Alaska cruise will likely be while the ship cruises through can't-miss scenery. Don't wimp out in an observation lounge. Bundle up and head outside to fully take in the view. Your balcony may give you an edge over the folks in interior rooms, but you won't get a 360-degree vista unless you're out on the top deck.

The best souvenir advice I've received is to buy a cozy throw or blanket at your first port stop. It won't cost a fortune and will serve a purpose for the rest of the cruise. Picture yourself cozy and warm in your fuzzy Alaska souvenir blanket, sipping hot chocolate while watching glaciers calving. Once home, you'll remember your epic vacation every time you snuggle up on the couch.

Sleep through your vacation

This is not a cruise you want to sleep through — and even if that's your plan, you may have difficulty accomplishing it. Long hours of daylight, excursions and glacier viewings that start early and even your own fear of missing out can have you out of bed early and staying up later than you might on any other cruise.

Sleep apps and eye masks may help with the daylight situation. I also find that Alaska cruises are ideal for ordering room service meals. It definitely saves time before morning excursions and can provide a bit of downtime in your cabin for lunch or dinner on occasion.

Fail to try something new

Your Alaska cruise offers many opportunities to try things you might never have the chance to do again. You could walk on glaciers, snorkel in a dry suit in the frigid Alaska waters or play with sled dog puppies. Or, how about riding in a sled pulled by sled dogs? We already mentioned salmon fishing, which is surprisingly fun, even if you'd never go fishing at home.

The array of things to try in Alaska can be as tame or as adventurous as you want — it's the joy of discovery that's key. I once kayaked in Ketchikan with a woman on her first solo cruise in Alaska. She'd never kayaked before. When our marine biologist guide pulled a sea cucumber from the crystal-clear waters to show us, she squealed with delight when he offered to let her hold it. That's the kind of joy you cruise to Alaska to experience.

Bottom line

You can avoid the most common Alaska cruise mistakes with a little extra planning.

The goal is to have the Alaska cruise experience you and your travel companions long for. Achieve that by choosing an itinerary that gets you to the things you want to see and do, shopping early for excursions (especially the ones you have your heart set on) and packing gear and clothes that will keep you comfy during your Alaska adventure.

Everything else is about stepping outside, breathing in the shockingly clean air and enjoying the cruise.

Planning an Alaska cruise? Start with these stories:

  • Everything you need to know about booking a trip to Alaska with points and miles
  • The 9 best Alaska cruises for every type of traveler in 2024
  • 6 best Alaska cruises for families
  • 20 must-have cruise items — including a roll of duct tape

best cruise line to alaska

The best time to cruise Alaska

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Alaska is a cruise destination with a limited season. Cruise ships arrive in southeast Alaska in spring, stay the summer and linger only into early fall. The 49th state’s snowy, cold and dark winters are not conducive to cruising.

Most cruise passengers will head to Alaska between Memorial Day in late May and Labor Day in early September when temperatures range from slightly chilly to warm during the long daylight hours. Tourist attractions are in full swing, salmon swim upriver and bears (and humans) have access to fishing.

Some adventurous cruisers will board ships when they arrive in Alaska in April to see the remnants of winter. A few big ships cruise into mid-October for those who want a peek at what life is like in Alaska towns when all the other tourists have returned home.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter .

Each month has its advantages, not the least of which is discounted pricing in the spring and fall shoulder seasons. Here is a guide to help you decide when to cruise in Alaska.

After a long winter, Alaska begins to wake up in April, and that includes the wildlife. Small-ship cruise lines such as Lindblad Expeditions and UnCruise Adventures have sailings into the wilderness, where you might spot bears emerging from their slumber and admire huge waterfalls fueled by the snowmelt. A few big ships, such as the 4,000-passenger Norwegian Bliss out of Seattle, begin their season this month with discounted early season pricing.

You may encounter freezing rain or even snow on your April cruise and should expect to tread through mud. Some tourist facilities — including those at national parks — may still be shuttered for the winter.

On the other hand, you will have the opportunity to observe the change of seasons. Expect crisp mornings with temperatures in the 30s, though by the end of the month, you may find dry weather and temperatures in the 60s. As an added bonus: The skies will be dark at night; if clear, you might spot the northern lights.

Related: The best Alaska cruise for every type of traveler

As someone who has cruised Alaska many times, I love cruising in May when the weather is dry and locals are emerging from their winter cocoons, embracing the sunshine. The wildlife is doing the same, and you might spot bears with their cubs, moose with their calves and humpback whales returning from their winter home in Hawaii.

Big-ship cruise lines such as Holland America Line , Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean ramp up their operations in May, as do Disney Cruise Line and small-ship and luxury lines. Early season deals might be available.

Attractions and shops will switch to peak-season hours at the end of the month; Denali National Park & Preserve switches into summer mode in May. You’ll find those who work in tourism excited to be back in business, considering that many people in southeast Alaska earn their income from out-of-state visitors. Cruise lines will offer the opportunity to extend your cruise with land tours, which include accommodations, transportation and some meals.

While early May often carries a chill in the air, by the end of the month, you might encounter temperatures in the 60s. The warmer weather means glaciers begin shedding ice more frequently, so you have a better chance of experiencing the sight and sound of a house-size chunk of ice calving into the sea. There’s also the bonus that Alaska’s large mosquito population has yet to emerge.

Related: Alaska cruise guide: Best itineraries, planning tips and things to do

The cruise season beefs up in June, with the number of ships growing and the season in full swing by the end of the month. The midnight sun means many hours of daylight, especially on June 20, the longest day of the year — when you’ll have to stay up late to see any darkness at all.

Early in June, the ships are still mostly carrying adults, with the family crowd — including multigenerational groups — arriving later in the month.

Shore excursion experiences abound. Temperatures are pleasant — in the 60s and sometimes higher, with wildflowers in bloom and glaciers calving. Anglers will find opportunities to reel in halibut along with king and sockeye salmon and rainbow trout. In addition to humpbacks, you might also spot belugas and seals with their pups as you sail.

At the beginning of the month, you might still be able to find some early season pricing; the peak season for Alaska cruising begins in late June.

Related: Alaska cruise packing list: What to pack for a sailing up north

July and August

Summer is the height of the Alaska cruise season, which means crowds in port towns, especially when several ships are in port at the same time. You might have to wait hours for a table at Tracy’s King Crab Shack in Juneau.

It might surprise many, but July and especially August are rainy, so don’t expect endless sunshine. That said, you are in Alaska at a time for festivals and other special events, and frontier towns really come alive.

Temperatures will be in the 60s, sometimes higher — you might even see 80s in Juneau in July. During long days of light, you’ll find hearty Alaskans swimming in the sea and enjoying water sports. Shore excursion options will be in full swing.

During both months, you will encounter peak-season pricing. Unless you booked early, cabin choice could be limited — especially if you are looking for a fancy suite or cheap inside cabin, which tend to be the first categories to sell out. Balcony cabins are particularly popular in Alaska.

Mosquitos enjoy the summer, too, so pack bug spray. July and August are also spawning season for salmon, so you might spot grizzlies and brown bears near rivers and streams.

Keep an eye out for seabirds and songbirds, seals, Steller sea lions and humpback whales. Marine life is so prolific that some small-boat shore excursions guarantee you will see animals. Bears will be fishing; in late August, they will be looking for blueberries, which also become a featured item on restaurant menus. Toward the end of August, you’ll see leaves changing to fall colors.

Related: Best Alaska cruise shore excursions — from heli-hiking to whale watching

The beginning of September is much like August, but after the kids go back to school and the family crowd departs, it’s shoulder season for cruising and pricing drops. Most cruise ships will have repositioned out of the state by the end of the month. You will experience a change of season, with cooler temperatures (in the 50s or lower) and some rain.

Mid-to-late September is one of the best times to spot wildlife in Alaska. I have had extraordinary experiences, such as watching a pod of humpback whales gather together in bubble-net feeding (corralling fish in a “net” of bubbles) to fill their bellies in preparation for their annual journey to warmer waters. Bears will be hunting for the last of the berries and salmon, and caribou, deer and moose will be mating.

You’ll see colorful fall foliage but not mosquitos. National park facilities and some tourist businesses will switch to winter hours. September is also a great time to get deals on souvenirs, as merchants sell off this year’s goods at the end of Alaska’s tourist season.

On clear nights, you could have a chance to spot the northern lights — though they won’t shine as brightly as they do in winter. Rather than stay up all night, see if your ship or pre- or post-cruise hotel has a sign-up sheet for people who want a wake-up call should the lights appear.

Related: From Alaska to the Panama Canal: Here are 9 of TPG’s favorite fall cruise itineraries

A limited number of cruises in October (predominantly on Norwegian Cruise Line ) make it possible for cruisers to experience a taste of Alaska in winter without sub-zero temperatures. You will want to bundle up; the average temperature in Juneau in October is 39 degrees. Days will be short — there are only about 10 hours of daylight. You are likely to experience rain and maybe snow.

Some attractions and shops will be closed for winter, though your cruise line will still operate a full roster of shore excursions. On the plus side, you will experience southeast Alaska towns as they are most of the year, sans tourist crowds. Sit in a bar and talk to the locals as they prepare for the long winter ahead. Cruise fares will be discounted.

Related: Caribbean vs. Alaska cruises: Which itinerary will I like more?

Bottom line

Alaska is a thrilling cruise destination no matter which month you sail. Look to the early and late sailings of the season if you are a bargain seeker. Choose a May or June sailing for drier weather and fewer mosquitos; summer is the best time to cruise to see abundant marine life and birds. September can be a great month to see wildlife.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • The best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • What to pack for your cruise

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These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The best time to cruise Alaska

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Why This Cruise Is the Best Way to See the Northern Lights in Alaska

As the sun’s cycle reaches solar maximum, the aurora borealis will be brighter than ever in 2024 and the “land of the midnight sun” is among the top places to see it. join the alaska experts at uncruise adventures for a dream trip in the state filled with natural wonders and adventure..

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Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Courtesy of UnCruise Adventures

Alaska’s magnetic pull is undeniable, drawing adventurous travelers eager to explore its vast wilderness and rugged landscapes. More than 25 years ago, it was also the launching pad for UnCruise Adventures , which started with a single yacht in Alaska. Today, UnCruise’s Alaska expeditions are renowned for non-stop action, adventure, and exploration.

Even after all that time, perhaps nobody does Alaska better than UnCruise. Yet, the core mission remains unchanged—to provide transformative experiences and memorable adventures for guests. And this year is a peak chance to embark on an extraordinary journey with UnCruise with the Northern Lights promising to be more impressive than ever.

See the Northern Lights

For many travelers, catching a glimpse of the spectacular aurora borealis is the dream of a lifetime. Don’t miss out on the chance to see them this year as the sun’s cycle reaches solar maximum, ensuring the best viewing opportunities for the next 11 years, especially during the spring and fall. Plus, there’s no place better than Alaska for stargazing, where vast skies and minimal light pollution create the perfect setting for nature’s light show.

Whether you’re traveling from Alaska’s capital of Juneau to Ketchikan (known as the “Salmon Capital of the World”) or through the Inside Passage while heading from Seattle to Glacier Bay National Park , UnCruise offers excellent itineraries for experiencing the Northern Lights in 2024. Following a day packed with adventure, guests can relax with hot toddies on deck or join nighttime expeditions to remote vantage points, ensuring the best chances of witnessing the astonishing aurora.

Hike Glacier Bay National Park and more

Hiking in Glacier Bay

Hiking in Glacier Bay

Traveling with UnCruise also grants exclusive access to remote areas, as their ships , with capacities ranging from 22 to 86 guests, navigate areas where larger vessels can’t. UnCruise guests visiting Glacier Bay National Park get a rare opportunity to set foot on land and explore the “outback,” a privilege granted to less than one percent of total park visitors. From navigating the isolated LeConte Glacier Wilderness Area to discovering hidden waterfalls, UnCruise’s small vessels sail through narrow channels and secluded coves to reveal hidden natural treasures and provide insights into Alaska’s fascinating ecosystems.

Bear in Alaska

Bear in Alaska

Alaska also boasts a stunning variety of wildlife—think seals, sea otters, eagles, mink, porpoises, and mountain goats, to name a few. Search for brown bears in Red Bluff Bay against a backdrop of towering red mountains and waterfalls or along the shores of Chichagof Island. Observe a sea lion haulout (when they gather on the banks to rest) and puffin rookery in the Marble Islands, or go whale watching in Fredericks Sound, Stephens Passage, or Chatham. No matter your itinerary, UnCruise helps guests witness incredible creatures in their natural habitats, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Enjoy an all-inclusive experience and unlimited adventures

Kayaking in Misty Fjords

Kayaking in Misty Fjords

Unlike traditional cruises that often charge extra for excursions, UnCruise offers an all-inclusive experience designed to provide a seamless, hassle-free adventure, allowing guests to immerse themselves fully in the trip without worrying about extra costs.

Onboard dining is a highlight, with meals crafted from locally sourced, sustainable ingredients. Guests enjoy unlimited access to a variety of meals throughout the day, including early-riser breakfasts, lunches, dinners with multiple entrée options, and snacks in between. The beverage selection is also unlimited, featuring fine wines, craft beers, and signature cocktails, ensuring guests can savor their favorite drinks or try something new without any additional charges.

Endicott Arm

Endicott Arm

UnCruise also provides all the gear and instruction you need for exploring Alaska with ease, whether you’re snorkeling, scuba diving in chilly waters, kayaking or paddleboarding through the Tongass backcountry, or mountain biking in Hobart Bay. Expert guides double as concierges, tailoring a plan the day before based on your interests and preferences—and you’re free to join in on as many or as few activities as you please.

A commitment to personalized service is an integral part of UnCruise’s all-inclusive experience. Whether accommodating dietary restrictions, celebrating special occasions, or providing additional support during activities, the crew is dedicated to each adventurer’s needs. Add to that a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring Northern Lights in their full glory, and the adventure possibilities are as varied as Alaska’s magnificent landscapes.

Le Louis XV


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    Discover Alaska with Princess in 2024-2025. The best cruise line in Alaska just keeps getting better! From top-rated cruises that visit Glacier Bay National Park to scenic rail travel and exclusive Princess lodges, you will find a seamless Alaska experience with Princess. Learn More.

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    Crystal Alaskan Cruises. Pros. Cons. Luxury feel leaves guests feeling pampered and relaxed. Limited Alaska cruise option. On-board activities include gold clinics, music lessons, yoga. Can be pricey--from $6,300 to $34,000 per person.

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    Princess Cruises®, the #1 cruise line in Alaska*, is here to sweep you off your feet. Picture this: A top-rated cruise, plus a deeper exploration of Alaska's enchanting scenery that combines the best of cruising, visiting national parks, traveling by train, and venturing into the heart of Alaska from the comforts of wilderness lodges.

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