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Wonder Lake in Denali National Park lives up to its name.

Courtesty of Aramark Leisure

Wonder Lake in Denali National Park lives up to its name.

Top cruises to Alaska in 2017-2018

Mass market, luxury and expedition ships offer different experiences

Thinking about a cruise to Alaska? This article lays out all you need to know to find the right cruise line, ship and itinerary.

There are countless reasons why Alaska is one of the world’s most popular cruise destinations. For starters, few places can boast such a stunning combination of natural splendor, rich history and vibrant culture. On a single trip, you can watch bears snatch salmon out of a river, see glaciers calving huge icebergs into the water, try your hand at dog mushing, kayak a pristine fjord or take a flightseeing tour above snow-capped mountains.

Most ships depart from Vancouver, with others from Seattle or San Francisco. A few itineraries require you to fly out to a destination like Anchorage to meet your ship — especially if you plan a pre- or post-cruise land tour.


Resources to help you decide where to go & what to see:


When to go: The Alaska cruise season begins in May and ends in September. Generally speaking, the height of the season is late June through July. The shoulder seasons tend to be colder and wetter (and sometimes less expensive), though you might encounter rain or snow in the summer months, too.

Tip: You'll want to book a balcony stateroom on the starboard side of your northbound ship so you can spend a good amount of time outside at the passing landscape of the Inside Passage. Just be aware that the starboard side can sell out 15 to 18 months before the port side. 

Set your Bliss Filters to Alaska

See the Bliss Filters over there to the right (assuming you're on the Web)? They're set to Alaska. Now all you have to do is use the sliders to find the cruises that match your personal preferences. Compare two or three of them side by side by clicking the small blue Compare button.

Then contact a Cruiseable travel advocate by email or phone 1-877-322-3773 and we'll begin working for you — for free — to make your Alaska vacation a reality.

Cruise ships calling on Alaska in 2017-2018

You can find a cruise to match just about any interest or activity on your Alaska voyage, from large ships ferrying the masses to small ship expedition ships poking around coves and inlets.

If you're interested in a summer 2017 cruise to Alaska, now is the time to book. There are still good staterooms available for the 2017, though they're filling up fast. And smart travelers are already booking their 2018 trips (you might be surprised at how many primo cabins get snapped up more than a year out).

Check out Cruiseable's travel guides for a taste of what kind of experience you'll have in Alaska's ports, including Anchorage, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Glacier Bay, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, SewardHaines and Valdez.

Here's our roundup of all the major cruise lines' Alaska itineraries for 2017-2018:

 

During a stay at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, you can take in beautiful views of the Alaska Range. Book it as part of a pre- or post-cruise with Princess.
Patrick Bennett / Courtesy of Princess CruisesDuring a stay at Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, you can take in beautiful views of the Alaska Range and Denali National Park. Book it as part of a pre- or post-cruise with Princess.

Princess Cruises 

$$-$$$

 

Princess Cruises has won numerous independent surveys as the cruise line with the top passenger experiences in Alaska, and its reputation is well earned. The line's North to Alaska! onboard immersion program offers locally caught seafood and a chance to meet the crabbers who appear on the reality TV show "Deadliest Catch" as well as spend time with Libby Riddles, the Iditarod sled-dog race winner.

From your Princess ship you can take in the grandeur of Glacier Bay, 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords.
Courtesy of Princess CruisesFrom your Princess ship you can take in the grandeur of Glacier Bay, 3.3 million acres of rugged mountains, dynamic glaciers, temperate rainforest, wild coastlines and deep sheltered fjords.

To see more of Alaska, consider a Land & Sea Vacation, which combines a "Voyage of the Glaciers" cruise with 3 to 8 nights on land at some of Alaska’s best wilderness destinations. You can select from more than 20 different packages. Take in spectacular Glacier Bay on the cruise portion of your vacation and Denali National Park during your time on land. Princess runs the exclusive Direct-to-the-Wilderness rail service to take you between your ship and a lodge in the Denali area on the same day .

Princess ships sailing to Alaska in 2017 (with nearly identical sailings in 2018) include:

  • Ruby Princess (3,082 passengers) offers 7-night round-trip Alaska itineraries from Seattle that include Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Victoria.
  • Grand Princess (2,590 passengers) offers a 10-night Inside Passage round trip from San Francisco to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria.
  • Star Princess (2,590 passengers) offers a 7-night "Voyage of the Glaciers" from either Vancouver or Whittier to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, College Fjord, Whittier and Anchorage.
  • Coral Princess (1,974 passengers) offers two "7 Night Inside Passage With Glacier Bay" sailings from Skagway to Ketchikan, Vancouver, Juneau and Glacier Bay and 18 "7 Night Voyage Of The Glaciers" sailings starting in Glacier Bay with stops in Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver, Anchorage
  • Island Princess (1,974 passengers) offers "7-night Voyage Of The Glaciers" sailings starting in Vancouver or Skagway with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, College Fjord, Whittier and Anchorage.
  • Emerald Princess (3,082 passengers) offers "7 Night Inside Passage with Tracy Arm Fjord" sailings starting in Seattle with stops in Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord, Skagway and Victoria

Check out all Princess cruises to Alaska by using Cruiseable's Bliss Filters. Fares start at $699 per person (based on double occupancy). 2017 cruises — which fill up fast — are now available for booking. 

 

Celebrity Infinity docked in Juneau, Alaska.
Tom Mascardo / Creative Commons BY-NDCelebrity Infinity docked in Juneau, Alaska.

Celebrity Cruises

$-$$

 

Celebrity Cruises, which also has a very positive reputation for its cruises to Alaska, continues this season with a three-ship deployment to Alaska:

  • Celebrity Infinity (2,170 passengers) offers "7 Night Hubbard Glacier" sailings starting in Vancouver with stops in Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka.
  • Celebrity Solstice (2,850 passengers) offers 7-night sailings along the Inside Passage from Seattle with stops in Ketchikan, Skagway and Vancouver or Victoria and seeing Tracy Arm Fjord along the way. 
  • Celebrity Millennium (2,158 passengers) offers "7 Night Alaska Northern Glacier" sailings starting in Seward with stops in Vancouver, Juneau, Anchorage, Icy Strait Point, Skagway and Ketchikan as well as a "7 Night Alaska Southern Glacier" starting in Vancouver with stops in Seward, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan.

Check out all Celebrity sailings to Alaska using Cruiseable's Bliss Filters. Fares start at $879 per person (based on double occupancy). 2018 cruises are now available for booking, too.

 

Radiance of the Seas sails through a strait hugged by glaciers in Alaska, giving passengers astonishing views of the snow-topped mountains along the coast.
Michel Verdure / Courtesy of Royal Caribbean InternationalRadiance of the Seas sails through a strait hugged by glaciers in Alaska, giving passengers astonishing views of the snow-topped mountains along the coast.

Royal Caribbean

$-$$

 

Last season Royal Caribbean brought the largest ship ever to sail in Alaska: Explorer of the Seas (3,114 passengers). Explorer joins sister ship Radiance of the Seas for the 28th straight year Royal ships have sailed in Alaska. 

  • Explorer of the Seas will sail on seven-day round-trip itineraries from Seattle with stops along Alaska's Inside Passage, Skagway, Tracy Arm Fjord and Victoria. 
  • Radiance of the Seas offers "7 Night Southbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier Royal" sailings from Seward to Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, the Inside Passage and Vancouver and also "7 Night Northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier" sailings to Alaska's Inside Passage, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Seward and Anchorage. 

Check out all Royal Caribbean cruises to Alaska using Cruiseable's Bliss Filters. Fares start at $735 per person. 2018 itineraries are now on sale. 

 

Enjoy the view of Alaska's magnificent coastline aboard Norwegian Pearl.
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise LineEnjoy the view of Alaska's magnificent coastline aboard Norwegian Pearl.

Norwegian Cruise Line

$-$$

 

Norwegian Cruise Line offers its traditional staple of seven-night sailings along with a few longer 10-day cruises. 

  • Norwegian Pearl (2,394 passengers) offers a "7 Night Glacier Bay" cruise starting in Seattle with stops in Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan and Victoria. 
  • Norwegian Jewel (2,376 passengers) offers a round-trip "7 Night Sawyer Glacier" cruise starting in Seattle with stops in 
  • Norwegian Sun (1,936 passengers) offers a "7 Night Glacier Bay From Vancouver" sailing starting in Vancouver with stops in Skagway, Juneau, Anchorage, Seward, Ketchikan and Glacier Bay as well as a "7 Night Sawyer Glacier (Southbound)" from Seward with stops in Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Skagway, Juneau and Vancouver.

Check out all Norwegian cruises to Alaska using Cruiseable's Bliss Filters. Fares start at $689 per person. 2017 itineraries are now on sail. 

 

Holland America's Oosterdam sails by the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska.
Courtesy of Holland America Cruise LineA Holland America ship sails past the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska.

Holland America Line

$-$$-$$$

 

Holland America Line sends seven ships to Alaska for the 2017 season. In addition, for its Alaska Land + Sea Journeys, Holland America has just completed a new complex, Base Camp, at Denali National Park. The complex is part of improvements at the 60-acre McKinley Chalet Resort and will offer dining and shopping and other activities for resort guests. Here are the ships sailing to Alaska this year.

  • Nieuw Amsterdam (2,106 passengers) offers a "7 Night Roundtrip Vancouver" sailing starting in Vancouver with stops in Tracy Arm Fjord, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan and the Inside Passage. 
  • Eurodam offers a 7-night round-trip from Seattle to Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria. 
  • Oosterdam also offers a 7-night round-trip from Seattle to Stephens Passage, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria. 
  • Noordam (1,924 passengers) offers a "7 Night Roundtrip Vancouver" starting in Vancouver with stops in Glacier Bay, Ketchikan, Skagway, Tracy Arm Fjord and the Inside Passage as well as a "7 Night Glacier Discovery," both northbound and southbound, starting in Seward or Vancouver with stops at Glacier Bay, Haines, Juneau, Ketchikan and the Inside Passage. 
  • Volendam (1,432 passengers)  offers a "7 Night Roundtrip Vancouver" sailing starting in Vancouver with stops at Tracy Arm Fjord, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan.
  • Zaandam (1,432 passengers) offers a "7 Night Glacier Discovery Northbound" itinerary starting in Vancouver with stops in Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Anchorage and Seward  as well as "7 Night Glacier Discovery Southbound" voyages starting in Seward with stops in Glacier Bay, Juneau, Ketchikan and Vancouver.
  • Amsterdam (1,380 passengers) sails a "14 Night Great Land Explorer" itinerary starting in Seattle with stops at Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Anchorage, Homer, Kodiak, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka and Victoria. 

Check out all Holland America cruises to Alaska using Cruiseable's Bliss Filters. (Some other Holland America ships stop at ports in Alaska as part of a longer sailing.) Fares start at $799 per person. 2017 itineraries are now on sail. 

Disney Cruise Line

$$-$$$

 

Disney has one ship sailing in Alaska. Disney Wonder sails round trip from Vancouver on 7-night itineraries to Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway and Tracy Arm Fjord or Icy Strait Point. See Disney Wonder's sailings to Alaska with our Bliss Filters. Fares start at $1,375 per person. 

Carnival Cruise Line

$-$$

 

Carnival has one ship sailing in Alaska. Carnival Legend sails on 7-night and 8-night itineraries out of Vancouver and Seattle. See all Carnival Legend voyages to Alaska using Cruiseable's Bliss Filters. Fares start at $779 per person. 

 

A recent multimillion-dollar transformation of Oceania Regatta has resulted in a contemporary, elegant ship with multifaceted itineraries in Alaska.
Courtesy of Oceania CruisesA recent multimillion-dollar transformation of Oceania Regatta has resulted in a contemporary, elegant ship with multifaceted itineraries in Alaska.

Luxury & premium cruise lines   

A number of luxury cruise lines feature high-end sailings to Alaska with great cuisine, smart service, interesting itineraries and all-inclusive pricing. 

 

Designed to cruise Alaska's waterways, American Spirit spends summer months in Alaska and winter months cruising the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington.
Courtesy of American Cruise LinesDesigned to cruise Alaska's waterways, American Spirit spends summer months in Alaska and winter months cruising the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington.

Expedition & small cruise lines   

A number of smaller cruise lines also offer a great way to explore Alaska, sometimes with itineraries that call on intimate ports. Smaller ships are able to maneuver into shallow waters and often take guests to places like Alaska’s largest islands, Admiralty, Baranof and Chichagof, while also visiting Juneau, Petersburg, Hobart Bay, Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay.

  • Lindblad Expeditions ($$$$$) and National Geographic have two ships in Alaska: Sea Bird and Sea Lion. Fares start at about $6,400 per person. 
  • American Cruise Lines ($$$$-$$$$$) offers 7-night Inside Passage cruises that sail round trip from Juneau and 11-night repositioning cruises between Juneau and Seattle. Its American Spirit (100 passengers) was recently awarded extra prime-use days in Glacier Bay by the National Park Service.  See her sailings to Alaska. Fares start at $5,140 per person. 
  • UnCruise Adventures ($$$-$$$$) has six ships sailing in Alaska, carrying from 22 to 88 passengers through the Inside Passage and to Glacier Bay. The small-ships cruise line is offering the option of a pre-cruise Denali National Park and Knik River Adventure or a train journey aboard the Rocky Mountaineer through Canada and the Pacific Northwest. Fares start at about $2,295 per person. 

Booking

Wanna see Alaska? In almost every case, we can get  you a better price than the prices listed above. Call us at 1-877-322-3773 to speak to a travel advocate, or send us a query.

By booking with Cruiseable, we'll make sure you get the lowest price and best value. Contact us for full details about any of these itineraries. 

 

Cruiseable team
The Cruiseable editorial team consists of award-winning travel writers, cruise bloggers and journalists.

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