Which Alaska Cruise Is The Best

If you’re dreaming of embarking on an Alaskan adventure, you may be wondering, “Which Alaska cruise is the best?” With so many incredible options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to make a decision. Whether you’re seeking awe-inspiring glaciers, fascinating wildlife encounters, or cultural immersions in charming coastal towns, this article will guide you in discovering the Alaska cruise that is perfect for you. So, sit back and prepare to be inspired as we navigate through the breathtaking landscapes and countless possibilities of Alaska’s most unforgettable cruises.

Factors to Consider

Duration of the Cruise

When deciding on the best Alaska cruise for you, one of the first factors to consider is the duration of the cruise. There are three main options to choose from:

Short Cruises (5-7 days)

Shorter cruises of 5-7 days are a great option if you have limited time or if this is your first cruise experience. These cruises typically focus on the Inside Passage, offering a taste of Alaska’s stunning scenery and wildlife. While shorter in duration, these cruises still provide a memorable experience filled with breathtaking views and opportunities for adventure.

Medium Cruises (8-10 days)

Medium-length cruises of 8-10 days provide a more comprehensive Alaska experience. These itineraries often include additional destinations such as Glacier Bay National Park or Denali National Park, allowing you to explore further and dive deeper into the wonders of the region. With more time on board the ship, you’ll have the chance to fully immerse yourself in the onboard amenities and activities offered by the cruise line.

Extended Cruises (12+ days)

For those seeking the ultimate Alaska adventure, extended cruises of 12+ days offer an in-depth exploration of the region. These cruises often include less-frequented ports of call, allowing you to discover hidden gems along the way. With more time at your disposal, you can fully embrace the serene beauty of Alaska and take part in a wide range of shore excursions and onboard activities.

Cruise Line Reputation

The reputation of the cruise line is another crucial element to consider when choosing an Alaska cruise. Here are some reputable cruise lines known for their excellent service and offerings:

Disney Cruise Line

Disney Cruise Line provides a family-friendly experience with their signature touch of magic. With spacious cabins, engaging entertainment, and attentive staff, Disney ensures a memorable vacation for both kids and adults alike.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises offers a diverse range of itineraries, catering to different interests and preferences. Known for their exceptional customer service, Princess Cruises delivers a sophisticated and luxurious experience, with gourmet dining options and an array of onboard activities.

Holland America Line

Holland America Line is renowned for its refined elegance and attention to detail. With spacious staterooms, world-class dining, and enriching onboard programs, Holland America Line provides a sophisticated and immersive journey to Alaska.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line prides itself on its Freestyle Cruising concept, offering flexible dining options and a laid-back atmosphere. With a wide range of activities and entertainment, Norwegian Cruise Line caters to those seeking a more relaxed and casual Alaska cruise experience.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises is synonymous with modern luxury. From its stylish accommodations to its culinary excellence, Celebrity Cruises provides a sophisticated Alaska cruise experience for discerning travelers.

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean is known for its innovative onboard amenities and exciting entertainment options. With thrilling activities such as rock climbing, surfing simulators, and Broadway-style shows, Royal Caribbean offers an Alaska cruise filled with adventure and excitement.

Itinerary Options

The itinerary is an essential aspect of any Alaska cruise, as it determines the ports of call and landmarks you’ll have the opportunity to visit. Here are some popular itinerary options to consider:

Inside Passage

The Inside Passage is a scenic route that winds through fjords and islands, showcasing Alaska’s stunning coastal landscapes. Cruises along this route often include stops in ports such as Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, allowing you to explore charming towns and partake in various activities, such as whale watching and salmon fishing.

Gulf of Alaska

The Gulf of Alaska itinerary takes you further into Alaska’s wilderness, offering the chance to witness incredible glacier formations and breathtaking natural scenery. This itinerary typically includes ports of call such as Sitka, Hubbard Glacier, and Icy Strait Point, allowing you to get up close and personal with Alaska’s stunning coastline.

Glacier Bay National Park

A cruise to Glacier Bay National Park is a must for nature enthusiasts. This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers awe-inspiring views of tidewater glaciers and abundant wildlife, including sea lions, bears, and whales. Many cruise lines include Glacier Bay National Park as part of their itinerary, allowing you to experience the wonder of this natural paradise.

Denali National Park

For those looking to combine their Alaska cruise with an inland adventure, an itinerary that includes Denali National Park is a perfect choice. This iconic park is home to North America’s tallest peak, Denali (formerly known as Mount McKinley), and offers incredible opportunities for hiking, wildlife spotting, and scenic views.

Vancouver to Anchorage

If you prefer to start or end your cruise in a vibrant city, an itinerary that spans from Vancouver to Anchorage allows you to explore two incredible destinations. Begin your journey in the cosmopolitan city of Vancouver before embarking on your cruise through Alaska’s pristine wilderness. The route often includes visits to ports like Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, showcasing the best of both city and nature.

Seattle to Anchorage

Another popular option is a cruise from Seattle to Anchorage. This route offers a mix of coastal and inland experiences, providing the opportunity to explore not only Alaska’s stunning coastline but also the breathtaking landscapes of British Columbia and the Inside Passage.

Scenic Highlights

Alaska is renowned for its breathtaking scenic highlights, and choosing a cruise that showcases these wonders is essential. Here are some of the iconic landmarks and natural marvels you can expect to encounter:

Hubbard Glacier

Hubbard Glacier is a massive tidewater glacier known for its dramatic calving events. Witnessing towering chunks of ice breaking off and crashing into the water is a truly awe-inspiring experience. Many cruise lines include visits to Hubbard Glacier, providing a chance to get up close and personal with this incredible natural wonder.

Tracy Arm Fjord

Tracy Arm Fjord is a narrow, deep fjord with towering cliffs and dense, lush forests. As you cruise through this picturesque fjord, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls, towering glaciers, and abundant wildlife. Keep an eye out for seals, eagles, and possibly even whales as you immerse yourself in the serenity of Tracy Arm Fjord.

Mendenhall Glacier

Mendenhall Glacier, located near Juneau, is a popular attraction for Alaska cruise passengers. This magnificent glacier is easily accessible, allowing visitors to witness its grandeur up close. Take a guided tour or venture out on a kayak to fully appreciate the sheer beauty and magnitude of Mendenhall Glacier.

Sawyer Glacier

Sawyer Glacier is another impressive tidewater glacier in Alaska that is often included in cruise itineraries. The icy blue hues and towering walls of ice create a breathtaking backdrop for your Alaska adventure. As your ship navigates through the icy waters, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the breathtaking calving events that occur as Sawyer Glacier slowly makes its way to the sea.

Kenai Fjords National Park

Kenai Fjords National Park, located near Seward, showcases the stunning beauty of Alaska’s coastal landscapes. Experience the rugged beauty of the Harding Icefield, which feeds numerous glaciers throughout the park. Wildlife enthusiasts will be delighted by the abundance of marine life, including orcas, sea otters, and puffins that call this area home.

Icy Strait Point

Icy Strait Point is a unique destination in Alaska that combines nature and cultural experiences. This former cannery site has been transformed into a vibrant hub for visitors, offering opportunities for whale watching, zip-lining, and immersing yourself in the rich Native Alaskan heritage. Take a stroll through the forested pathways, enjoy local cuisine, and shop for unique crafts at this one-of-a-kind destination.

Onboard Amenities

The onboard amenities offered by the cruise line can greatly enhance your Alaska cruise experience. Here are some common amenities to look out for:

Dining Options

A wide variety of dining options is crucial on any cruise, and Alaska cruises are no exception. Whether you prefer a formal dining experience, casual buffet-style meals, or specialty restaurants, it’s important to choose a cruise line that offers a range of culinary options to cater to your preferences.


Entertainment options play a significant role in keeping guests entertained during their cruise. From Broadway-style shows and live music performances to comedy clubs and themed parties, a diverse entertainment lineup ensures there’s never a dull moment on your Alaska cruise.

Spa and Wellness Facilities

Relaxation and pampering are essential components of any vacation, and cruise ships often offer spa and wellness facilities to help you unwind. Indulge in rejuvenating treatments, visit the fitness center for a workout, or simply lounge by the pool and soak up the sun to enhance your overall cruising experience.

Recreational Activities

To keep guests entertained, many cruise lines offer a variety of recreational activities onboard. From sports courts and mini-golf to rock climbing walls and virtual reality experiences, there’s no shortage of fun and thrilling activities to enjoy during your journey to Alaska.

Pools and Water Parks

Cruising through Alaska doesn’t mean you have to forego the joys of swimming and water activities. Many modern cruise ships feature pools, water parks, and even waterslides, allowing guests to cool off and have some aquatic fun while sailing through the stunning Alaskan waters.

Bars and Lounges

Relaxing with a drink in hand while taking in the surrounding beauty is a quintessential part of an Alaska cruise experience. Cruise ships typically offer a wide range of bars and lounges, providing guests with the perfect setting to socialize, unwind, and enjoy breathtaking views from the comfort of the ship.

Excursion Opportunities

Shore excursions are a highlight of any Alaska cruise, offering the chance to explore the region’s unique attractions and engage in thrilling activities. Here are some popular excursion options to consider:

Whale Watching

Alaska is known for its abundant marine life, and a whale-watching excursion is an incredible way to witness these majestic creatures up close. Whether you’re in Juneau, Sitka, or Icy Strait Point, cruise lines often offer guided tours that bring you to prime whale-watching locations, allowing you to witness humpback whales or even orcas in their natural habitats.

Helicopter Tours

For a breathtaking aerial view of Alaska’s stunning landscapes, consider taking a helicopter tour. Fly over towering glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and picturesque valleys, soaking up the beauty of the region from a unique perspective. Helicopter tours often include landing on a glacier or remote area, allowing you to step foot on these icy wonders.

Dog Sledding

Alaska is synonymous with dog sledding, and experiencing this iconic activity firsthand is a must for many visitors. Take a dog sledding excursion and learn about the history and traditions of mushing while enjoying the thrill of being pulled by a team of energetic and friendly sled dogs.

Salmon Fishing

Alaska is famous for its pristine waters and abundant salmon population, making it a haven for fishing enthusiasts. Embark on a salmon fishing excursion and try your hand at catching the region’s prized fish. Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, the experienced guides will ensure you have an unforgettable fishing experience in Alaska’s pristine wilderness.

Glacier Trekking

For the more adventurous travelers, glacier trekking offers an opportunity to explore Alaska’s icy wonders on foot. Strap on crampons and follow experienced guides as you traverse the rugged terrain of a glacier, marveling at the bright blue crevasses and frozen formations beneath your feet. Glacier trekking is both a thrilling and educational experience that allows you to fully appreciate the beauty and power of Alaska’s glaciers.

Zipline Adventures

If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, take part in a ziplining adventure during your Alaska cruise. Soar through the treetops, gliding from platform to platform, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding wilderness. Zipline tours often offer stunning views of Alaska’s lush forests and pristine landscapes, providing a unique perspective on the region’s natural beauty.

Cruise Season

The cruise season you choose can greatly impact your Alaska cruise experience, as each season offers different advantages and considerations. Here are the main cruise seasons to consider:

Summer Season

The summer season, typically from May to September, is the most popular time for Alaska cruises. During this period, you can expect milder temperatures and longer daylight hours, providing ample opportunities for outdoor activities and wildlife sightings. However, it’s important to note that this is also the peak season for tourism, so the ports of call and popular attractions may be more crowded.

Shoulder Season

The shoulder season, which includes the months of May and September, offers a balance between favorable weather conditions and fewer crowds. While the temperatures may be slightly cooler, the landscapes are still beautiful, and wildlife sightings are abundant. Additionally, the shoulder season often provides more affordable cruise rates, making it an appealing option for budget-conscious travelers.

Budget Considerations

Setting a budget for your Alaska cruise is essential, as it determines the type of experience you can afford. Here are some budget considerations to keep in mind:

All-Inclusive Luxury Cruises

If you’re looking for a luxurious and hassle-free experience, all-inclusive luxury cruises may be the perfect fit. These cruises typically include premium dining, beverages, gratuities, and a wide range of onboard amenities in the upfront price. While they may come at a higher cost, they provide a seamless and indulgent Alaska cruise experience.

Mid-Range Cruise Options

Mid-range cruises offer a balance between affordability and quality. These cruises often provide comfortable accommodations, a variety of dining options, and basic onboard amenities. While they may not offer the same level of luxury as high-end cruise lines, mid-range options still offer an enjoyable and memorable Alaska vacation.

Budget-Friendly Cruises

For those on a tighter budget, budget-friendly cruises offer an opportunity to experience Alaska’s beauty without breaking the bank. These cruises often provide no-frills accommodations, standard dining options, and basic onboard amenities. While they may lack some of the bells and whistles of higher-priced cruises, budget-friendly options still allow you to embark on an Alaska adventure and enjoy the stunning scenery and wildlife.

Wildlife Viewing Opportunities

Alaska is renowned for its diverse wildlife, and an Alaska cruise offers numerous opportunities to spot these magnificent creatures in their natural habitats. Here are some of the wildlife viewing opportunities you can look forward to:


From humpback whales to orcas, Alaskan waters are teeming with these majestic creatures. Keep a lookout for telltale signs such as spouts or breaches, and you may be rewarded with the breathtaking sight of a whale gracefully swimming through the water.


Alaska is home to both brown bears and black bears, and spotting these iconic animals is a thrilling experience. Whether you’re on a shore excursion in search of bears or cruising along the coastline, keep an eye out for these magnificent creatures fishing for salmon or foraging along the shore.

Bald Eagles

Alaska is also known as the “Land of the Midnight Sun” for its abundance of bald eagles. These majestic birds can often be spotted perched in treetops or soaring through the sky. Keep your camera ready, as capturing a close-up photo of a bald eagle is a true Alaska highlight.

Sea Lions and Seals

Sea lions and seals are a common sight in Alaska’s coastal waters. These playful creatures can be seen sunbathing on rocks or swimming alongside the ship. Their curious nature and adorable antics make for great photo opportunities and unforgettable memories.


Known for their colorful beaks and unique appearance, puffins are a favorite among bird enthusiasts. These charismatic seabirds can often be spotted during an Alaska cruise, either perched on a rocky outcrop or bobbing in the water.

Cabin Selection

Choosing the right cabin for your Alaska cruise is essential, as it will be your home away from home throughout your journey. Here are some cabin options to consider:

Inside Cabins

Inside cabins are typically the most affordable option, offering comfortable accommodations for those on a budget. While they may lack windows or balconies, inside cabins provide a cozy space to relax and recharge between your Alaska adventures.

Ocean View Cabins

Ocean view cabins allow you to enjoy stunning views of Alaska’s landscapes from the comfort of your own cabin. These cabins feature a window or porthole, providing a glimpse of the passing scenery as you cruise through the breathtaking waters of Alaska.

Balcony Cabins

For those who wish to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Alaska, balcony cabins offer a private outdoor space to take in the sights and sounds of the region. Imagine sipping a cup of coffee as you watch a stunning sunrise over a glacier or enjoying a glass of wine while witnessing a pod of whales pass by. Balcony cabins offer the ultimate Alaska cruise experience.

Suite Cabins

For the ultimate indulgence, suite cabins provide spacious and luxurious accommodations. These cabins often include separate living areas, private balconies, and additional amenities such as butler service. Suite cabins offer a premium experience, allowing you to unwind and pamper yourself in style.

In conclusion, choosing the best Alaska cruise involves considering various factors such as the duration of the cruise, the reputation of the cruise line, the itinerary options, the scenic highlights, the onboard amenities, the excursion opportunities, the cruise season, budget considerations, wildlife viewing opportunities, and cabin selection. By carefully considering each of these factors and finding the right balance for your preferences and budget, you can ensure a memorable and enjoyable Alaska cruise experience. So pack your bags, get ready to explore the wonders of Alaska, and embark on an adventure of a lifetime.

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