Adventure Awaits On a Cruise to Alaska

Dazzling snow capped mountains and Ice blue landscape that can be seen on a cruise to Alaska
Going against the norm makes for a great adventure on a cruise to Alaska | Author: Rod Long

Breathtaking natural splendor, incredible encounters with wildlife, and the indomitable spirit of adventure await you on a cruise to Alaska. The 49th state has a well-earned reputation for its pristine natural beauty and stunning excursions, including tours of Denali, Fairbanks, and the Canadian Yukon. As you trawl along North America’s Pacific coast, you’ll be able to see ports like Ketchikan, Skagway, and Juneau, along with impressive natural ice formations like Glacier Bay and Icy Strait. From whale watching to taking in the awe-inspiring Northern Lights, Alaska cruises are experiences you won’t want to miss!

Here you can find our top recommendations for your next Alaskan cruise, from which cruise lines to take to when and where to go. Adventure awaits!

Best Cruise Lines for Alaska

Cruisers consistently rave about Alaskan cruises, saying the natural beauty, wildlife, and adventurous excursions are treasured memories. That’s why it’s so important to pick the right cruise line for your vacation - you’ll look back fondly on these experiences for years to come!

Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Sun at port in Skagway, Alaska, beneath dramatic cloudy skies

NCL’s oversized ships and extensive entertainment lineup mean it’s a great option for family cruises, as there’s plenty to keep kids excited and having a great time. With itineraries to particularly photogenic ports of call like the Sawyer Glacier, you’ll be just as glad for the expansive observation lounge as for the largest at-sea go-kart racetrack.

Princess Cruises

Diamond Princess in front of rocky coast with overcast skies and tugboat in the background

Princess Cruises packs a punch with value-laden Alaskan itineraries that also include culturally-immersive excursions. Fishing trips and lumberjack competitions are just some of the quirky and unconventional onshore options for cruisers opting for this midsize cruise line and its often outstanding deals.

Royal Caribbean

A humpback whale breaches in front of a cruise ship with majestic snowy mountains in the background

Don’t let the name fool you - Royal Caribbean is an excellent cruise line for Alaska cruises. Itineraries on Royal Caribbean ships also tend to pass through the Inside Passage, making them ideal for wildlife watching - from whales and sea lions to majestic sea birds like eagles.

Celebrity Cruises

Top of a Celebrity cruise ship set against a stunning landscape of snow capped mountain peaks and forest

Cruises to Alaska on Celebrity are all about authentic experiences - from itineraries calling at Icy Strait Point, owned by the Tlingit people, to shore excursions focused on cultural immersion and ethical exploration, to locavore cuisine crafted by world class chefs.

Carnival Cruise Line

A Carnival cruise ship on a royal blue sea pulling into a lush green island

Carnival's fun ships offer plenty of family fun on Alaska cruises. Carnival Legend, Carnival Miracle, and Carnival Spirit all sail the coastal panhandle region, from the Inside Passage to Ketchikan, from Juneau to Skagway. With nonstop action onboard, a cruise to Alaska on Carnival is perfect for active explorers looking to get out and discover.

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Best Month for Alaska Cruises

Unlike many other cruise regions, which offer varying deals all year round, cruises to Alaska must adhere to a fairly strict schedule. Because the winters are extremely cold and harsh, the cruise season is limited to the summer and early fall, specifically from May to September. Here’s what you need to know about cruising in those 5 months.

May Alaska Cruises

  • Pros: Lower prices, superb weather late in the month, less rainfall, fewer crowds

  • Cons: Some excursions may be unavailable due to lingering snow, temperatures still on the chilly side

  • Best Things to Do: Go on a wildlife-focused excursion to view migratory birds, sheep, mountain goats, and black bears, and try a fishing trip for king salmon and Arctic char

June Alaska Cruises

  • Pros: Relatively warm weather (highs in the low-60s), gorgeous blooming flowers, local delicacies like boysenberries, low rainfall, great wildlife-viewing opportunities

  • Cons: Growing crowds, higher prices, mosquitoes

  • Best Things to Do: Catch a glimpse of newborn bear cubs and moose calves - from a safe distance!

July Alaska Cruises

  • Pros: Better bear-viewing opportunities, warm weather, plenty of festivals and events for Fourth of July, excellent local produce

  • Cons: Sky high prices, higher chance of rain, unpredictable temperatures, packed crowds

  • Best Things to Do: Check out the annual Girdwood Forest Fair outside Anchorage for local music and crafts

August Alaska Cruises

  • Pros: Some lower fares at the end of the month, warm temperatures, great wildlife-viewing opportunities, blueberry season

  • Cons: Higher rainfall, mostly peak-season fares, crowds

  • Best Things to Do: Festivals! The Alaska State Fair takes place late in the month in the Mat-Su Valley, the Alyeska Resort offers a blueberry festival, and the Talkeetna Bluegrass Festival boasts camping, crafts, and 20 hours of music a day.

September Alaska Cruises

  • Pros: Lower fares, fewer crowds, whale sightings increase due to migration, possible to see Northern Lights in some areas

  • Cons: Temperatures drop, heavier rainfall, sellouts still possible in September

  • Best Things to Do: Head to Fairbanks to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights or head seaward for a whale watching tour of gray whales, bowhead whales, and beluga.

Best Departure Ports for Alaska Cruises

The tradition of setting off into the Last Frontier from these Pacific Northwest port cities is as iconic as their landmarks. Follow in the footsteps of great pioneers, gold prospectors, and explorers seeking greatness -- and take advantage of the unique cultures, restaurants, nightlife, and atmosphere of these three perfect departure ports for your Alaska cruise.

Seattle, Washington

A nighttime image of the Seattle skyline with Space Needle and city lights

Washington's largest city is not only a historic pioneer destination, it's also a modern hub for technological pioneers like Microsoft and Amazon. Explore the city's eclectic downtown, bustling with markets and museums, and keep your bearings with the city's most iconic landmark: the Space Needle, a 1962 World's Fair installment, boasting unparalleled panoramic views and a restaurant at the top.

San Francisco, California

A moody image of the Golden Gate Bridge from the beach at sunset

Depart for Alaska from northern California's cultural capital and you may just leave your heart in San Francisco. The city's rich cultural heritage includes everything from the ever-photogenic Golden Gate Bridge to the mysterious and myth-shrouded Alcatraz Island, to the Castro District, the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ+ movement on the west coast. 

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1 Night Pacific Coastal
Details

Cruise line and ship

Amsterdam

Port

Seattle

Date

Sep 23, 2019

Interior

$68

Oceanview

$98

Balcony

$167

Suite

$177

Rating

4.0

7 Night Alaska Cruise
Details

Cruise line and ship

Celebrity Millennium

Port

Seward - Alaska

Date

Jul 26, 2019

Interior

$837

Oceanview

$649

Balcony

$899

Suite

$4749

Rating

3.8

14 Night Alaska Cruise Tour
Details

Cruise line and ship

Royal Princess

Port

Vancouver

Date

Aug 17, 2019

Interior

$899

Oceanview

-

Balcony

$1731

Suite

$2299

Rating

3.8

14 Night Alaska Cruise Tour
Details

Cruise line and ship

Royal Princess

Port

Vancouver

Date

Aug 03, 2019

Interior

$3679

Oceanview

-

Balcony

$4554

Suite

$4909

Rating

3.8

14 Night Alaska Cruise Tour
Details

Cruise line and ship

Royal Princess

Port

Vancouver

Date

Aug 31, 2019

Interior

$3279

Oceanview

-

Balcony

$4058

Suite

$4408

Rating

3.8

7 Night Alaska Cruise
Details

Cruise line and ship

Norwegian Jewel

Port

Vancouver

Date

Jul 29, 2019

Interior

$349

Oceanview

$649

Balcony

$1149

Suite

$7399

Rating

3.7

7 Night Alaska Cruise
Details

Cruise line and ship

Noordam

Port

Seward (Anchorage), Alaska

Date

Jul 28, 2019

Interior

$313

Oceanview

$375

Balcony

$914

Suite

$989

Rating

3.9

7 Night Alaska Cruise
Details

Cruise line and ship

Westerdam

Port

Vancouver

Date

Sep 08, 2019

Interior

$691

Oceanview

$799

Balcony

$1262

Suite

$1399

Rating

3.9

7 Night Alaska Cruise
Details

Cruise line and ship

Westerdam

Port

Vancouver

Date

Jul 28, 2019

Interior

$416

Oceanview

$414

Balcony

$692

Suite

$1088

Rating

3.9

7 Night Alaska Cruise
Details

Cruise line and ship

Norwegian Jewel

Port

Seward (Anchorage), Alaska

Date

Sep 02, 2019

Interior

$349

Oceanview

$549

Balcony

$899

Suite

$1249

Rating

3.7


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