What Is The Best Alaska Cruise

If you’ve ever daydreamed about cruising through the stunning landscapes of Alaska, you’re not alone. With its breathtaking glaciers, majestic mountains, and abundant wildlife, Alaska is a dream destination for many. But with so many cruise options available, how do you choose the best one for you? In this article, we’ll explore the different factors to consider when selecting an Alaska cruise, from itinerary choices to onboard amenities, helping you make an informed decision that guarantees a truly memorable adventure.

Choosing the Right Alaska Cruise

When it comes to choosing the right Alaska cruise, several factors need to be considered to ensure you have the best experience possible. From the length of the cruise to the cruise line and cabin type, each decision plays a crucial role in determining your overall satisfaction with the trip. So, let’s explore each aspect in detail to help you make an informed decision.

Length of Cruise

The length of your Alaska cruise is an important consideration as it determines how much time you’ll spend exploring the majestic landscapes and enjoying the onboard amenities. Typically, Alaska cruises range from 7 to 14 nights. If you prefer a more leisurely pace with ample time to explore each destination, a longer cruise might be the best option for you. However, if you have limited time or prefer a shorter getaway, a 7-night cruise can still offer a fantastic Alaskan experience.


The itinerary of an Alaska cruise is another crucial factor to consider. The different routes offer unique experiences by visiting various ports and attractions. The most popular routes include the Inside Passage, Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Glacier Bay National Park, and Denali National Park. Each itinerary offers distinct opportunities to witness the breathtaking natural beauty of Alaska, with highlights such as close encounters with glaciers, wildlife spotting, and visits to charming coastal towns.

Cruise Line

Choosing the right cruise line can greatly enhance your Alaska cruise experience. Every cruise line has its own unique personality and onboard amenities. Some of the top Alaska cruise lines include Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Celebrity Cruises. Consider factors such as the size of the ship, the types of onboard activities and entertainment they offer, and the level of service to ensure the cruise line matches your preferences.

Cabin Type

Selecting the right cabin type is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable voyage. The most common cabin types on Alaska cruises include Inside Cabins, Oceanview Cabins, Balcony Cabins, and Suites. Inside Cabins are the most affordable option, often lacking windows but providing a cozy retreat for resting after a day of exploration. Oceanview Cabins offer stunning views of the surrounding landscapes, while Balcony Cabins provide a private outdoor space to enjoy the crisp Alaska air. If you desire a more luxurious experience, Suites offer spacious accommodations and additional amenities.


Setting a budget for your Alaska cruise is crucial to help narrow down your choices and ensure you don’t overspend. Consider the overall cost, including the cruise fare, airfare, excursions, onboard expenses, and any additional charges. Opting for an off-peak season or looking out for last-minute deals and special offers can help save money. Additionally, choosing an Inside Cabin or booking through a travel agent are other budget-friendly options to explore without compromising on the overall experience.

Best Time to Take an Alaska Cruise

Determining the best time to take an Alaska cruise is vital to make the most of your journey and witness the natural wonders in all their glory. Alaska experiences different seasons, each offering unique experiences and opportunities to explore.

Summer Months (June-August)

The summer months of June to August are the most popular time to take an Alaska cruise. During this period, the weather is relatively mild, with average temperatures ranging from 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C). The long daylight hours allow for extended exploration and incredible wildlife sightings. However, it is important to keep in mind that this is also the peak tourist season, resulting in higher prices and larger crowds.

Shoulder Seasons (May, September)

The shoulder seasons of May and September offer a more affordable and less crowded alternative to the peak summer months. The weather can be slightly cooler, with average temperatures ranging from 40°F to 60°F (4°C to 15°C). However, these months still provide ample opportunities to witness stunning natural beauty, spot wildlife, and enjoy various shore excursions.

Winter Months (October-April)

The winter months in Alaska, from October to April, are a unique and less explored time to take an Alaska cruise. These months offer the chance to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights, which are most visible during the winter. However, it’s important to note that Alaska experiences colder temperatures during this period, with average temperatures ranging from 20°F to 30°F (-7°C to -1°C). Additionally, some ports may have limited accessibility or closures due to the winter season.

Popular Alaska Cruise Routes

Alaska offers several breathtaking cruise routes, each providing a distinct experience and showcasing the natural wonders of the region. Here are some of the most popular Alaska cruise routes to consider:

Inside Passage

The Inside Passage is the most common route for Alaska cruises, offering a scenic journey along the coast with stunning views of fjords, glaciers, and lush forests. This route typically includes stops at ports such as Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway, providing opportunities for wildlife spotting, glacier exploration, and cultural experiences.

Gulf of Alaska

The Gulf of Alaska route takes you further into the heart of Alaska, offering awe-inspiring scenery and a chance to witness massive glaciers up close. This route often includes stops at ports like Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, and Glacier Bay National Park, allowing for unparalleled glacier viewing and exploring the vast wilderness of Alaska.

Bering Sea

The Bering Sea route is an adventurous option that takes you to remote and lesser-explored parts of Alaska. This route often includes stops at ports such as Nome and Dutch Harbor, offering unique experiences like visiting historic landmarks, remote wildlife spotting, and learning about the fascinating culture of the indigenous people.

Glacier Bay National Park

A cruise that includes Glacier Bay National Park is a must for nature enthusiasts. This route provides an up-close encounter with the massive glaciers and breathtaking landscapes of the national park. The onboard naturalists offer insightful commentary, enhancing your understanding and appreciation of this unique ecosystem.

Denali National Park

For those seeking the perfect blend of land and sea adventures, a cruise that includes a visit to Denali National Park is a great choice. After enjoying a scenic coastal cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the wonders of Denali from the comfort of a luxury railcar or embark on thrilling wildlife tours and scenic hikes.

Top Alaska Cruise Lines

Choosing the right cruise line is crucial for a memorable Alaska cruise experience. Here are some of the top Alaska cruise lines known for their exceptional service and onboard amenities:

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises is renowned for its extensive experience in Alaskan cruises, offering a variety of itineraries and ships to choose from. They provide in-depth Alaska-themed onboard and shore activities, including naturalist talks, local cuisine, and exclusive immersive experiences.

Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International offers an impressive selection of Alaska cruises, providing a mix of adventure, relaxation, and entertainment. With their innovative ships and thrilling onboard activities like rock climbing walls and Broadway-style shows, they cater to families and adventure seekers alike.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line combines luxury, comfort, and exceptional service to offer a remarkable Alaska cruise experience. Their spacious cabins, culinary excellence, and enrichment programs set the stage for a delightful journey through the icy wonders and picturesque landscapes of Alaska.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line offers a laid-back and freestyle cruising experience perfect for those seeking a more relaxed and flexible approach to their Alaska adventure. With their wide range of dining options, onboard entertainment, and family-friendly amenities, Norwegian Cruise Line caters to a diverse range of travelers.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises is known for its modern luxury and impeccable service. Their Alaska cruises provide an elegant and sophisticated experience, with innovative dining options, world-class entertainment, and luxurious accommodations. Celebrity Cruises offers a great balance of relaxation and exploration.

Choosing the Right Cabin

Choosing the right cabin is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable Alaska cruise experience. Various types of cabins are available, each offering unique features and amenities suited to different preferences and budgets. Consider the following cabin options:

Inside Cabin

Inside Cabins are the most affordable option. Though they lack windows, they provide a cozy, budget-friendly retreat for rest and relaxation after a day of exploration. These cabins are perfect for those who prioritize cost savings and plan to spend most of their time on deck or in public areas.

Oceanview Cabin

Oceanview Cabins offer panoramic views of the breathtaking Alaskan scenery, allowing you to wake up to the wonders of nature. These cabins provide abundant natural light and a sense of connection to the outside world. They are an excellent choice for those who appreciate stunning vistas and prefer natural lighting.

Balcony Cabin

Balcony Cabins provide a private outdoor space where you can enjoy the crisp Alaska air and witness the stunning scenery at your leisure. Whether you’re sipping a cup of coffee in the morning or stargazing at night, the balcony adds an extra level of comfort and luxury to your cruise experience.


Suites are the epitome of luxury and indulgence. These spacious accommodations offer separate living areas, expansive balconies, and exclusive amenities like personalized service, priority embarkation, and access to private lounges. Suites are perfect for those seeking a lavish and pampered experience while cruising Alaska.

Cruise Packages and Excursions

Alaska offers a multitude of exciting cruise packages and shore excursions that allow you to fully immerse yourself in the unique beauty and adventures available. Here are some popular options:

Wildlife Viewing

Alaska is abundant with diverse wildlife, and wildlife viewing excursions provide the perfect opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats. From whale watching to bear viewing, these experiences allow you to get up close and personal with Alaska’s most iconic animals.

Glacier Walks

Walking on a glacier is an unforgettable experience that allows you to appreciate the enormity and beauty of these icy marvels. Guided glacier walks give you the chance to learn about glaciology, explore ice caves, and witness the awe-inspiring blue hues unique to glaciers.

Helicopter Tours

Helicopter tours offer a bird’s-eye view of Alaska’s stunning landscapes, including glaciers, mountains, and fjords. Enjoy breathtaking panoramic views and soar over iconic landmarks, gaining a whole new perspective of the rugged wilderness.

Whale Watching

Whale watching excursions are a highlight of any Alaska cruise. These awe-inspiring trips take you to prime whale feeding grounds, where you can witness majestic humpback whales breaching and feeding. Expert naturalists provide educational commentary, enhancing your understanding of these remarkable creatures.

Dog Sledding

Immerse yourself in the Alaskan culture and experience the thrill of dog sledding. These excursions give you the opportunity to learn about the mushing tradition, meet the friendly sled dogs, and take a ride on a sled across pristine winter landscapes.

Onboard Activities and Entertainment

Alaska cruises offer a wide range of onboard activities and entertainment to ensure a fun-filled and memorable journey. Here are some highlights:

Dining Options

Indulge in a wide array of dining options, ranging from casual to fine dining, showcasing diverse cuisines and Alaska-inspired dishes. Many Alaska cruises emphasize locally sourced ingredients, giving you the chance to savor the flavors of the region.

Live Shows and Performances

Enjoy live shows and performances featuring talented entertainers, musicians, and dancers. Experience Broadway-style productions, comedy shows, live music, and cultural performances that reflect the rich history and diverse culture of Alaska.

Casinos and Nightclubs

For those seeking evening entertainment, many Alaska cruises offer onboard casinos and nightclubs. Test your luck at the slots or join in the excitement of blackjack or poker. Dance the night away to live music or get your groove on at themed parties in the nightclubs.

Spa and Wellness Facilities

Indulge in relaxation and rejuvenation at the onboard spa and wellness facilities. Experience soothing massages, invigorating facials, and various wellness treatments tailored to your needs. Take advantage of the state-of-the-art fitness centers and participate in yoga or fitness classes.

Alaska Cruise Tips and Tricks

To make the most of your Alaska cruise, here are some useful tips and tricks:

Pack Layers and Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Alaskan weather can be unpredictable, so packing layers is essential. Bring a combination of lightweight, breathable clothes, warm layers, and waterproof outerwear. Don’t forget to pack sturdy walking shoes and comfortable attire for excursions.

Don’t Forget Binoculars and a Camera

Binoculars are a must-have for closer wildlife sightings and glacier viewing. A camera with a zoom lens or a smartphone with a high-resolution camera will help capture the stunning landscapes and wildlife encounters.

Book Excursions in Advance

Popular shore excursions can fill up quickly, so it’s wise to book them in advance to secure your spot. Research the available options and prioritize the activities that interest you the most.

Bring Motion Sickness Remedies

Alaska cruises often involve sailing through open waters, which can lead to motion sickness for some individuals. Bring motion sickness remedies such as ginger candies, acupressure bands, or over-the-counter medications to alleviate any discomfort.

Stay Hydrated and Use Sunscreen

Alaska’s cool temperatures can be deceiving, and it’s easy to forget to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and don’t forget to protect your skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy days.

Keep Important Documents and Valuables Safe

Ensure that your important documents, such as passports and IDs, are kept secure. Consider bringing a waterproof pouch or using the onboard safe for valuable items like jewelry or electronic devices.

Budget-Friendly Alaska Cruises

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly Alaska cruise, consider the following tips:

Off-Peak Season Rates

Opting for an Alaska cruise during the shoulder seasons or winter months can often result in lower cruise fares. Take advantage of these off-peak rates to save money while still enjoying a remarkable Alaskan experience.

Last-Minute Deals and Special Offers

Keep an eye out for last-minute deals and special offers from cruise lines. They often provide significant discounts on select itineraries to fill remaining cabins close to the departure date.

Opting for Inside Cabins

Choosing an Inside Cabin instead of a higher-tier cabin can save you money without sacrificing the overall cruise experience. Remember, most of your time will be spent exploring Alaska’s breathtaking scenery, and the cabin is primarily for resting and relaxing.

Booking Through Travel Agents

Consider booking your Alaska cruise through a travel agent. They often have access to exclusive deals and packages, and their expertise can help you find the best value for your money.

Choosing Shorter Cruise Options

If you have limited time or want to save on expenses, opting for a shorter Alaska cruise can be a cost-effective solution. A 7-night cruise still allows for ample exploration and an unforgettable Alaskan experience.

Family-Friendly Alaska Cruises

Alaska cruises offer a wealth of family-friendly activities and experiences suitable for travelers of all ages. Here are some features to consider when planning a family-friendly Alaska cruise:

Kids and Teens Programs and Activities

Look for cruise lines that offer comprehensive kids and teens programs with age-appropriate activities, such as arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, and sports tournaments. These programs provide entertainment and educational opportunities that ensure younger passengers have an enjoyable time.

Family Suites and Connecting Cabins

Booking family suites or connecting cabins allows for a more spacious and convenient experience, ensuring everyone has their own space while still staying connected. These accommodations often come with additional amenities and perks tailored to families.

Adventurous Excursions for All Ages

Alaska offers adventure-filled excursions suitable for travelers of all ages. From wildlife tours to dog sledding, there is something to suit every family member’s interests and preferences. These excursions create lasting memories and allow families to bond over unique experiences.

In conclusion, choosing the right Alaska cruise requires careful consideration of various factors, including the length of the cruise, itinerary, cruise line, cabin type, and budget. By understanding the best time to take an Alaska cruise and exploring the popular cruise routes, you can plan a trip that satisfies your desire for adventure and natural beauty. It’s essential to select a cruise line that matches your preferences and offers the desired level of luxury and onboard amenities. Additionally, choosing the right cabin type can greatly enhance your overall cruising experience. Don’t forget to consider the available cruise packages, excursions, and onboard activities to maximize your enjoyment. Finally, by following some valuable tips and tricks and considering budget-friendly options, families can embark on a memorable and budget-friendly Alaskan adventure. So, get ready to set sail and explore the wonders of Alaska on a cruise tailored to your preferences and desires.

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