Are you dreaming of embarking on an unforgettable adventure through the breathtaking landscapes of Alaska? Look no further, because in this article, we will explore the question that every adventure-seeker is asking: Which Norwegian Alaska cruise is the best? Whether you are in pursuit of majestic glaciers, spectacular wildlife, or thrilling outdoor activities, we will guide you through the options available, helping you make an informed decision and ensuring that your journey through the wilds of Alaska is nothing short of extraordinary. So, get ready to set sail and discover the wonders that await you in the Last Frontier!
Choosing the Right Norwegian Alaska Cruise
Are you considering a Norwegian Alaska cruise but aren’t sure which one is the best for you? With so many options and factors to consider, it can be overwhelming to make a decision. In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the key factors you should consider when choosing a Norwegian Alaska cruise. From itinerary options to budget considerations, adventure and wildlife experiences to cultural immersion, outdoor activities to onboard amenities, and even specialty cruises, we will help you navigate through all the options to find the perfect fit for your Alaskan adventure.
Factors to Consider
Before diving into the specific criteria for choosing a Norwegian Alaska cruise, it’s essential to determine the factors that are important to you. Consider what aspects of the cruise experience matter most to you, whether it’s adventure and wildlife, cultural experiences, outdoor activities, onboard amenities, or specialty cruises. By identifying your priorities, you can narrow down your options and focus on finding a cruise that matches your interests and preferences.
When it comes to Norwegian Alaska cruises, one of the key factors to consider is the itinerary. The itinerary determines the ports of call and the destinations you will visit during your cruise. Depending on your interests, you may prefer a cruise that takes you to the picturesque Glacier Bay National Park, the wildlife-rich Inside Passage, or the charming towns of Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. Research the itineraries offered by different cruise lines and choose one that aligns with your desired destinations and activities.
Cruise Lines and Ships
The next factor to consider is the choice of cruise lines and ships. Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is a popular choice for Alaska cruises, known for its vibrant atmosphere, onboard amenities, and wide range of activities. Within NCL’s fleet, there are several ships that sail to Alaska, each offering a unique experience. The Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy, Norwegian Jewel, and Norwegian Sun are among the top choices for Norwegian Alaska cruises. Research the features and amenities of each ship to find the one that suits your preferences.
Budget is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a Norwegian Alaska cruise. Determine your budget range and look for cruises that fit within that range. Keep in mind that the price of a cruise varies based on factors such as the length of the itinerary, the time of year, the cabin category, and any additional excursions or activities. Consider whether you prefer an all-inclusive cruise option or if you’re comfortable with a base fare that allows you to customize your cruise experience with additional purchases. Comparing costs and inclusions will help you find a cruise that offers the best value for your budget.
Adventure and Wildlife
One of the main draws of an Alaska cruise is the opportunity to immerse yourself in the region’s stunning natural beauty and encounter its abundant wildlife. Norwegian Alaska cruises offer a range of adventure and wildlife experiences that will leave you in awe of the breathtaking landscapes and the incredible animal encounters.
Exploring the Glaciers
A highlight of any Norwegian Alaska cruise is the chance to witness majestic glaciers up close. Glacier Bay National Park and Hubbard Glacier are popular destinations for glacier viewing. Marvel at the towering ice walls, listen to the thunderous cracks and booms as the ice calving occurs, and witness the mesmerizing blue hues of the glaciers. Some cruises also offer the opportunity to take a helicopter tour or a flightseeing excursion for a more immersive glacier experience.
Alaska is renowned for its whale watching opportunities, and a Norwegian Alaska cruise offers front-row seats to this incredible spectacle. Keep your eyes peeled for humpback whales, orcas, gray whales, and other marine mammals as they breach, spout, and play in the waters. The Inside Passage is a particularly popular area for whale sightings, and many cruises offer onboard naturalist talks or dedicated whale watching excursions to enhance your wildlife experience.
If you have ever dreamed of observing grizzly bears in their natural habitat, an Alaska cruise can make that dream a reality. During certain times of the year, Norwegian Alaska cruises offer shore excursions to bear viewing locations, such as the Alaska Peninsula or Admiralty Island. Board a small plane or a boat and venture into the wilderness to witness these magnificent creatures in their native environment. Remember to follow the guidance of experienced guides to ensure the safety of both you and the bears.
For a truly unique Alaskan adventure, consider a dog sledding excursion. Experience the thrill of mushing your own team of sled dogs across snow-covered landscapes. Norwegian Alaska cruises offer opportunities to visit dog sledding camps, where you can meet the energetic sled dogs, learn about the fascinating history of dog sledding in Alaska, and take a ride on a sled. This exhilarating experience will give you a taste of the traditional Alaskan way of life and the deep bond between mushers and their trusted canine companions.
Norwegian Alaska cruises not only offer incredible natural beauty and wildlife encounters but also provide opportunities for cultural immersion and learning about the rich heritage of Alaska’s indigenous communities. Expand your horizons and gain a deeper appreciation for the region’s history and traditions through these cultural experiences.
Visiting Native Villages
A Norwegian Alaska cruise gives you the chance to visit authentic native villages and gain insights into the customs, traditions, and way of life of Alaska’s indigenous people. Ketchikan, Juneau, and Sitka are some of the ports of call where you can explore native villages and interact with the locals. Embark on guided tours that take you to totem parks, native heritage centers, and traditional villages, where you can learn about the diverse indigenous cultures and their connection to the land.
Learning about Native Culture
Immerse yourself in Alaska’s native culture by participating in educational programs and workshops offered during your cruise. Many Norwegian Alaska cruises feature onboard presentations and workshops led by experts on Alaskan native culture. Learn about traditional arts and crafts, storytelling, and the spiritual significance of totem poles. These cultural enrichment activities will deepen your understanding of Alaska’s indigenous heritage and foster a greater appreciation for the region’s history.
Attending Cultural Performances
Don’t miss the opportunity to witness vibrant cultural performances showcasing traditional dances, music, and storytelling. Norwegian Alaska cruises often feature onboard performances by indigenous dance troupes or bring local performers aboard during port stops. Be captivated by the rhythmic beats of the drums, the intricate movements of the dancers, and the powerful narratives that bring the native culture to life. These performances create lasting memories and provide a valuable connection to Alaska’s rich cultural heritage.
Alaska is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, offering a wide range of activities that allow you to immerse yourself in the region’s stunning landscapes and experience thrilling adventures. Norwegian Alaska cruises provide ample opportunities for outdoor exploration and adrenaline-pumping activities.
Hiking and Trekking
Step off the ship and into the wild as you embark on hiking and trekking adventures in Alaska’s pristine wilderness. Lace up your hiking boots and explore scenic trails that wind through old-growth forests, picturesque valleys, and alpine meadows. Some popular hiking destinations include Tongass National Forest near Ketchikan, Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, and Chilkoot Trail in Skagway. Whether you opt for a guided hike or choose to venture out on your own, the breathtaking vistas and fresh mountain air are sure to leave you rejuvenated.
Kayaking and Canoeing
Get up close and personal with Alaska’s stunning coastline and tranquil waterways through kayaking and canoeing excursions. Paddle through calm fjords, navigate among icebergs, and glide past rugged cliffs teeming with wildlife. Kayaking and canoeing offer a unique perspective on Alaska’s natural beauty, allowing you to explore hidden coves, observe marine life, and feel the serenity of the surroundings. Many Norwegian Alaska cruises offer guided kayaking tours, suitable for both beginners and experienced paddlers.
Alaska is a paradise for fishing enthusiasts, with its abundance of salmon, halibut, and other sought-after species. Cast your line into the pristine waters of Alaska’s rivers, lakes, and fjords and try your luck at reeling in a trophy catch. Norwegian Alaska cruises often offer fishing excursions, providing you with the opportunity to experience the thrill of angling in some of the world’s most productive fishing grounds. From fly fishing to deep-sea fishing, there are options for all skill levels and interests.
If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, consider ziplining through Alaska’s lush forests and breathtaking canopies. Fly through the air as you zip from one platform to another, taking in the panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes. Ziplining is a thrilling way to experience the region’s natural beauty while enjoying an exhilarating adventure. Some Norwegian Alaska cruises offer ziplining excursions as part of their shore activities, allowing you to combine the excitement of ziplining with the convenience of a cruise vacation.
While the breathtaking landscapes and exciting shore excursions are the main attractions of a Norwegian Alaska cruise, the onboard amenities also play a significant role in enhancing your overall experience. Norwegian Cruise Line offers a variety of amenities and services to ensure your comfort and enjoyment throughout your journey.
Spa and Wellness Facilities
Indulge in relaxation and pampering at the cruise ship’s spa and wellness facilities. Treat yourself to rejuvenating massages, facials, and body treatments, or unwind in the saunas, steam rooms, and hot tubs. Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships feature state-of-the-art spas that offer a range of wellness services and facilities tailored to your needs. Whether you prefer a tranquil oasis for quiet relaxation or a fully equipped fitness center for an invigorating workout, there are options to suit your preferences.
Norwegian Alaska cruises are known for their vibrant entertainment offerings, ensuring that there’s never a dull moment onboard. From Broadway-style shows and live music performances to comedy clubs and themed parties, the entertainment options are diverse and engaging. Sit back and enjoy a dazzling theatrical production, dance the night away at a lively nightclub, or test your luck at the onboard casino. With a variety of entertainment venues and activities, there’s always something to keep you entertained and in high spirits.
Experience a culinary journey as you savor delectable dishes inspired by Alaska’s regional flavors and international cuisines. Norwegian Cruise Line offers a range of dining options to cater to diverse tastes and preferences. Enjoy gourmet meals at the main dining rooms, indulge in specialty restaurants offering a variety of cuisines, or opt for casual dining venues for a more laid-back experience. Many Norwegian Alaska cruises also feature unique dining experiences, such as outdoor barbecue parties, seafood feasts, and cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs.
If you’re looking to indulge in some retail therapy or find the perfect souvenir to commemorate your Alaskan adventure, Norwegian Alaska cruises offer ample shopping opportunities onboard. Explore the ship’s duty-free shops, where you’ll find a wide selection of jewelry, fashion, cosmetics, and Alaskan souvenirs. From luxurious brands to local artworks, there’s something to suit every taste and budget. Take advantage of the tax-free shopping and find the perfect memento to remind you of your unforgettable Norwegian Alaska cruise.
In addition to the standard Norwegian Alaska cruises, there are several specialty cruises that offer unique experiences and cater to specific interests. Whether you’re an avid photographer, a nature lover, or seeking a particular theme, these specialty cruises provide a more focused exploration of Alaska’s wonders.
Northern Lights Cruises
Embark on a voyage of a lifetime and witness the mesmerizing dance of the Northern Lights. Northern Lights cruises are designed to maximize your chances of experiencing this celestial phenomenon. Norwegian Alaska cruises during the fall and winter months often offer dedicated Northern Lights itineraries, taking you to prime viewing locations where you can marvel at the shimmering auroras. Professional photographers and experts on board provide guidance and insights into capturing the best Northern Lights moments.
Alaska’s stunning landscapes offer endless opportunities for photography enthusiasts. Photography expeditions allow you to hone your skills and capture breathtaking images under the guidance of professional photographers. Norwegian Alaska cruises with photography-focused itineraries take you to scenic locations and provide workshops and seminars to enhance your photography techniques. From glacier photography to wildlife photography, you’ll have the chance to immortalize Alaska’s beauty through your lens.
Bird Watching Cruises
Alaska is a birdwatcher’s paradise, with its diverse bird species and rich habitats. Bird watching cruises offer the perfect platform to observe and identify the region’s avian residents. Norwegian Alaska cruises with bird watching activities provide experienced guides who will help you spot and appreciate the incredible variety of birdlife. From bald eagles and puffins to horned puffins and arctic terns, you’ll have the opportunity to tick off numerous bird species from your ornithological checklist.
Fishing and Wildlife Cruises
For those seeking a combination of sportfishing and wildlife encounters, fishing and wildlife cruises are an ideal choice. Norwegian Alaska cruises that focus on fishing take you to prime angling spots, while also providing opportunities for wildlife viewing. Cast your line and test your fishing skills while keeping an eye out for breathtaking wildlife sightings. These cruises offer a perfect blend of adventure, relaxation, and wildlife encounters for nature enthusiasts and avid anglers alike.
Top Norwegian Alaska Cruise Options
Now that we have explored the various factors and experiences to consider when choosing a Norwegian Alaska cruise, let’s take a closer look at some of the top options within Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet.
As its name suggests, the Norwegian Bliss offers an incredible cruising experience that leaves passengers in a state of pure bliss. This modern and luxurious ship features spacious staterooms, exceptional dining options, and a range of onboard activities and entertainment. The Bliss’s Alaska itineraries include visits to Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, allowing guests to experience the best of Alaska’s natural wonders and cultural highlights.
The Norwegian Joy combines elegance, comfort, and thrilling entertainment to create an unforgettable cruise experience. This ship features well-appointed staterooms, numerous dining options, and an array of recreational activities, including a waterslide park and a race track. With itineraries that take you to Glacier Bay National Park, Icy Strait Point, and other Alaskan destinations, the Norwegian Joy offers a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation.
Offering a more intimate experience, the Norwegian Jewel is a mid-sized ship with a warm and inviting atmosphere. This ship features spacious cabins, specialty dining options, and a range of entertainment venues, including a theater, a casino, and numerous bars and lounges. Norwegian Jewel cruises take you to Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, and ports such as Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, offering a well-rounded Alaskan experience.
For a classic cruising experience with a touch of elegance, consider sailing on the Norwegian Sun. This ship features comfortable cabins, diverse dining options, and an abundance of entertainment options, including live music performances and Broadway-style shows. Norwegian Sun’s Alaska itineraries include destinations such as Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Glacier Bay National Park, providing a perfect mix of natural beauty and cultural immersion.
Unforgettable Port Stops
A Norwegian Alaska cruise is not only about the ship and its onboard amenities; it’s also about the incredible ports of call you’ll visit along the way. These ports offer unique experiences and opportunities to explore charming towns, learn about local cultures, and witness natural wonders.
Known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” Ketchikan is a quaint fishing town with a rich native heritage. Stroll along Creek Street, visit the Totem Heritage Center, and immerse yourself in the town’s vibrant arts scene. Ketchikan also serves as a gateway to Misty Fjords National Monument, a pristine wilderness of towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and serene fjords.
As Alaska’s capital city, Juneau offers a blend of urban amenities and awe-inspiring natural beauty. Explore the Mendenhall Glacier, visit the Alaska State Capitol Building, and take a ride on the Mount Roberts Tramway for panoramic views of the city and surrounding landscapes. Juneau is also a popular departure point for whale watching excursions and outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking.
Step back in time in the historic town of Skagway, known for its connection to the Klondike Gold Rush. Explore the charming streets lined with colorful buildings, visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, and take a scenic train ride along the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. Skagway is also the starting point for adventurous hiking trails, such as the famous Chilkoot Trail.
Sitka is a picturesque coastal town surrounded by mountains and pristine forests. Visit the historic Russian Bishop’s House, explore the Sitka National Historical Park, and keep an eye out for sea otters and bald eagles along the coastline. Sitka is also known for its vibrant arts scene, with numerous galleries showcasing local artists’ works.
Best Time to Cruise Alaska
The timing of your Norwegian Alaska cruise plays a significant role in the overall experience. Each season offers its own unique advantages and considerations, allowing you to tailor your cruise to your preferences and interests.
The peak season for Norwegian Alaska cruises is typically from late May to early September when the weather is milder, and most activities and attractions are available. During this time, the days are longer, giving you more daylight hours to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and engage in outdoor activities. However, peak season also means larger crowds and higher prices, so booking in advance is advisable.
The shoulder seasons, consisting of the months of May and September, offer a balance between favorable weather conditions and relatively fewer tourists. The landscapes are still stunning, and wildlife sightings are common, but prices tend to be lower compared to the peak season. Keep in mind that certain activities or attractions may have limited availability during the shoulder season, so it’s worth checking in advance.
The off-peak season for Norwegian Alaska cruises typically runs from October to April when most cruise ships cease operations in the region. However, some cruise lines offer special itineraries during this time, such as Northern Lights cruises. While the weather conditions can be colder and less predictable, the lack of crowds and the unique experiences make the off-peak season an appealing option for those seeking solitude and adventure.
Comparing Costs and Inclusions
When planning your Norwegian Alaska cruise, it’s essential to consider the costs and inclusions to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your money. Understanding the different pricing structures and additional expenses will help you make an informed decision.
Base Fare vs. All-Inclusive
Cruise fares can be structured as base fares or all-inclusive fares, each with its own advantages and considerations. Base fares typically cover the cost of accommodations, meals in the main dining venues, and onboard activities and entertainment. Additional expenses, such as specialty dining, alcoholic beverages, shore excursions, and gratuities, are not included in the base fare and will need to be budgeted separately.
All-inclusive fares, on the other hand, often include a wider range of services and amenities. These fares may include unlimited beverage packages, specialty dining, Wi-Fi access, and even shore excursions. While all-inclusive fares may have higher upfront costs, they can provide convenience and potential savings, particularly if you plan on taking advantage of the included offerings extensively.
Additional Excursions and Activities
One of the factors to consider when comparing costs is the availability and cost of additional excursions and activities offered during your Norwegian Alaska cruise. These can range from wildlife tours and glacier hikes to cultural village visits and flightseeing tours. Research the available excursions beforehand, check their prices, and determine which activities align with your interests and budget.
Gratuities and Service Charges
Gratuities and service charges are an additional expense to consider when planning your Norwegian Alaska cruise. These charges cover the service provided by the ship’s crew, including dining room staff, stateroom attendants, and other behind-the-scenes personnel. The gratuity charges are typically added to your onboard account, with the amounts varying depending on the cruise line’s policies. Be sure to factor in these charges when considering the overall cost of your cruise.
In conclusion, choosing the right Norwegian Alaska cruise requires careful consideration of several factors, including itinerary options, cruise lines and ships, budget considerations, and the desired experiences and activities. By exploring the adventure and wildlife opportunities, cultural experiences, outdoor activities, onboard amenities, and specialty cruises available, you can make an informed decision to ensure a truly unforgettable Alaskan adventure. Whether you’re captivated by the glaciers, fascinated by native cultures, craving outdoor adventures, or seeking relaxation and entertainment onboard, there’s a Norwegian Alaska cruise that’s perfect for you. So get ready to embark on a journey of a lifetime, exploring the wonders of Alaska and creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Hi, I'm Mike, the author of Ocean Bliss Journeys. As the captain of this incredible website, my mission is to provide you with the ultimate sailing experience. Set sail on a journey of discovery with us and indulge in the perfect mix of adventure and relaxation. Our handpicked cruises offer unparalleled luxury and unforgettable destinations. From romantic getaways to family vacations and hidden gem exploration, I've carefully curated tailored packages to ensure every moment is cherished. So, join me and embark on your dream cruise today. Let's create memories that will last a lifetime.