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Alaska Cruises

The hidden jewel of the northern hemisphere and perfect getaway cruise to discover another world, ideal for adventure seekers and nature lovers alike, Alaska has plenty to offer. From stunning scenery to incredible wildlife, action-packed outings to tranquil waters, there’s something for everyone in America’s largest state. Whether you’re looking to discover hidden wonders like the intrepid prospectors of old, or go hunting for whales (with a camera!) like the indigenous population, everyone leaves modern day Alaska with a bountiful catch of tales and a horde of memories. With such possibilities available, it’s no surprise that expeditions to Alaska have become so popular.

In Alaska you can experience:

   Whale watching
   The Northern Lights
   11 National Parks and Nature Preserves
   Native American culture and heritage
   Dog sledging across frozen tundra
   Climbing the Rocky Mountains 

Alaska Cruises

What kind of Alaskan cruises and itineraries are there?


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Big Alaska Map

When cruising Alaska, there are three general kinds of cruise you can choose from.

  • Interior Cruises are usually on smaller ship and take you further inland to see the fjords, glaciers and National Parks.
  • Coastal Cruises hug the coastline and stop off at the more easily accessible ports and the Inside Passage.
  • Greater Cruises feature Alaska as part of a wider cruise, stopping off briefly at the main ports of call and mostly the rest of the Western Seaboard of North America.

What cruise ships go to Alaska?

Take a foray inland on an Interior Cruise to discover even more of what this unique destination has to offer. With the majority of land unspoiled by man, and boasting eleven national parks, Alaska is just begging to be explored. As well as CelebrityNorwegian and Holland and America having a range of sailings, a popular ship for cruising where the larger ships can’t go is Regent of the Seven Seas’ Mariner. Or there's Scenic Cruises' Scenic Eclipse, which completely changes the game in terms of accessibility to the wonders of Alaska. This ice-breaking luxury cruise yacht has a submarine, helicopters, and various boats to get you right in amongst the action where other expedition cruisers can only dream of going.

With endless stretches of coastline to explore (more than all other US states combined) a Coastal Cruise is a great way to see Alaska’s top destinations, and jump into activities such as whale watching and tours of cultural sites. Princess Cruises pride themselves on their expertise in Alaska and, as well as Interior Cruise options onboard the Star Princess, they have a staple of Coastal Cruises. With this option, you’ll have the chance to see the glaciers and main ports of call that are popular with those looking for a well-rounded Alaskan experience.

If you’re looking to just stop off in Alaska as part of a Greater Cruise, Cunard often sail on to Japan, Carnival to Hawaii, and many others, such as Oceania, enable you to explore San Francisco and the rest of the western coast of America. Meanwhile, many other cruise lines stop off in Alaska, such as Ponant, Royal Caribbean, Azamara and Silversea, - sometimes even as part of a world cruise.

Alaska Cruises

When is the best time to go to Alaska?

Inland tours are available year round, and don't forget that with changing seasons come changing scenery and experiences. Naturally, for specific itineraries - wildlife and other ticks on your bucket list - it really depends on the weather and, therefore, the seasons.

Spring brings new life to the wilderness with trees coming into bloom, rivers filling with fish as their banks rise, and new-born wildlife starting to emerge.

Summer is peak season in terms of nature and wildlife watching, as the new-borns start to roam further and the landscapes fill with colour. The considerably warmer weather means that more places are accessible on your trip, and a near-guarantee that seasonal attractions will be running. Whale watching is best during the warmer summer months too, as humpback whales migrate from the Southern Pacific and bring with them marauding families of orcas. Meanwhile, whales and other ocean life that stays in the Arctic year-round are more able to roam as the ice recedes.

Autumn sees the stream of tourists shrink to a trickle as the salmon migrate to their breeding grounds. With this, however, comes great value for money for those who forage in the right places like the animals preparing for hibernation.

Winter gives you the best time to see the Northern Lights. The famed Aurora Borealis is mostly seen from September to April, with the peak season through the coldest months. It’s best to look out for this ethereal phenomenon on clear, moonless nights, around midnight from an inland location as far north as you can get. Therefore, Alaska is among the top spots in terms of glimpsing the legendary and mysterious Aurora Borealis, due to its clear skies, northern latitude, and minimal light pollution.

What kind of Alaskan excursions are there?

On a cruise of the Interior, see the Totem Heritage Center in Ketchikan which boasts the world’s largest collection of traditional Native American totem poles, with thirty three unique and original totems on display at the exhibit. Here, you can take a guided tour around the fascinating exhibitions to learn the story of the local people’s history and culture through their most famous art creations.

A few days sailing from Vancouver lies Alaska’s capital city, the awe inspiring port of Juneau. Here you can hike, take a cable car ride over the stunning landscape, and marvel at the mighty Mendenhall Glacier set against the imposing backdrop of Mt. Juneau. Competing with the capital for the title of best scenery is Glacier Bay, which boasts the most breath-taking views of the local wildlife. This is where you can frequently spot humpback whales blowing spray and slapping the surface with their giant tails.

Sitka gives you a real taste of Alaska’s history and scenery. The town’s orthodox cathedral sports a Russian onion dome, and the nearby battle ground - marked by a path of totem poles - was the scene of Alaska’s first colonial rulers’ victory over the native tribes. Meanwhile, the backdrop of the Sitka National Park boasts some of the most iconic views in all the Inland Passage.

On a Coastal Cruise, Anchorage serves as a fantastic gateway to the surrounding wilderness of mountains, fjords, forests, and tundra that make up Alaska’s nature reserves. Having said this, the fascinating city has many sights to see on your way through. Whizz on a ride on the world’s longest zip wire from Icy Point for amazing views over the bay, and learn about the local history and culture at the Native Heritage Centre.

Meanwhile, just over the border from US territory in Canada, you can make a trip ashore to discover the big city attractions and brilliant outdoor pursuits of Vancouver - such as the glittering views of the Puget Sound and the magnificent Cascade Mountains. Explore the Capilano Suspension Bridge and the cobbled streets of Gastown, Vancouver's historical district, that features restored heritage buildings, with many antique shops, boutiques, and restaurants.

If you’re just skimming the icy surface on a Greater Cruise in terms of what Alaska has to offer, you’ll often have the chance to explore the cosmopolitan fusion of American, Asian, and Native American cultures that is Seattle. Renowned for its sumptuous sea food, coffee shops, Microsoft, Grunge music, and the iconic Space Needle which dominates the skyline, Seattle is a must-see. In addition, why not fly to and then enjoy some of the delights of San Francisco? Here you can literally shop till you drop into your luxurious floating home away from home. There’s no shortage of renowned sights in San Francisco too as you head up the city’s iconic slopes in a retro tram from the movies. To cap it all off, the infamous island prison of Alcatraz will captivate you while the awe-inspiring Golden Gate Bridge gives the perfect photo opportunity to show your loved ones back home that you’re truly living your American dream.

What add-ons are available on my trip to Alaska?

Denali National Park and Preserve is a must for anyone wanting to see the wonders of inland Alaska. The landscape offers a breath-taking panorama from the various peeks of the hills onto the tundra below. Whether you strap on your hiking boots or take a tour bus, you’re sure to see a host of critters on your way, from grizzly bears and caribou, to bison, and wolves.

Glacier Bay is a vast and impressive sight to take in from your ship. As you journey up the fjords and stare up at the sheer glacial cliffs you’ll feel like your ship is really no bigger than a canoe. For the more intrepid travellers, other smaller watercraft are also available to get up close and maybe even spot a whale or two.

If you’re in Alaska in July, a taste of frontier rodeo action is a must at the annual Calgary Stampede. Hailed as the greatest rodeo event on earth, here you’ll be able to see a host of cultural events and entertaining acts that’ll keep you entertained for hours.

There couldn’t be a more romantic way to conquer the frontier than by train. With the Rocky Mountaineer you’ll see all the extremes of North America’s vast nature and the iconic Rocky Mountains from the comfortable luxury of these charming train carriages. As you gaze out of the dome roofed window, you’ll be waited on by fantastic staff, who are as informative as they are attentive, to ensure you have a smooth ride and can take in all the dramatic beauty of the Rocky Mountains forests, lakes, rivers, and ravines, in supreme comfort.

For more information, read our blogs on all things Alaska and take a look at our deals for 2018/2019/2020. Alternatively, find out more about cruising in this spectacular destination, by signing up for our new Alaska brochure today.

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Latest News

Princess Cruises Announce 2017 Alaska programme
For those of you looking for an unforgettable Alaskan experience, you will be thrilled to hear that Princess Cruises have put together an amazing programme for 2017. Princess Cruises will be sailing six of its ships on a total of 113 voyages across the breath-taking region of Alaska. Princess Cruises are offering seven or ten night... Read full story
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