Hey there, adventure buddies and nature junkies! Ever find yourself daydreaming about standing face-to-face with gigantic glaciers or being on a first-name basis with some Alaskan wildlife? Well, fasten your seatbelts—or should we say, life jackets—as we set sail through this guide to finding the absolute best Alaska cruise itinerary for you!

Think of Alaska cruises as your all-access pass to a winter wonderland, packed with icy spectacles and jaw-dropping moments with Mother Nature. Choosing the right cruise is like finding that perfect playlist for a road trip—it sets the mood and pace for your whole journey. So, are you ready to dive into the coolest scenes and hang out with Alaska’s most famous locals? Let’s do this and discover why Alaska is the ultimate bucket-list destination!

Port of Alaska by a village

Why Pick Alaska Cruises?

Imagine yourself surrounded by glaciers as big as skyscrapers and wildlife that’ll make your Instagram feed the envy of all your friends.

From the ship’s deck, you’re not just watching nature—you’re in the front row of the most epic live show ever! Picture sea lions doing their adorable water ballet and bald eagles soaring overhead like they’re the stars of their own airshow. It’s like living inside a nature documentary, except there are no commercial breaks!

But hold up, the real VIP experiences are the shore excursions. Think of these as your golden ticket to Alaska’s wild backstage. Here, you get to rub elbows with the local celebs—bears, moose, you name it—in their own natural hangout spots. These land adventures turn your trip from cool to legendary, adding an extra scoop of awesome to your Alaskan escapade!

Crystal Serenity cruise ship docked

These excursions are crucial, they provide a deeper connection with the land and its inhabitants, offering insights and experiences that are impossible to gain from the ship. It’s this symbiosis of sea and land experiences that defines the essence of Alaska Cruises, making them the epitome of natural exploration and a must for every adventurous spirit.

So, are you ready to dive deeper into what makes an Alaska cruise the journey of a lifetime? Keep reading as we navigate through the essence of the best Alaska cruise itinerary!

Best Alaska Cruise Itineraries

Absolutely! Ready to dive into the world of Alaska cruises, but feeling a bit lost in the sea of choices? We’ve got you covered! Let’s unravel the beauty and adventure that await you, whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned cruiser.

Inside Passage Itinerary

First off, let’s talk about the iconic Inside Passage Itinerary. This is your go-to for a cozy and scenic journey. With stops in quaint coastal towns like Ketchikan and Juneau, you’ll get that warm, small-town vibe all while cruising through calm, picturesque waterways.

Gulf of Alaska Itinerary

Switching gears, the Gulf of Alaska Itinerary offers a little bit of everything. Starting or ending in places like Seward or Whittier, it brings a blend of stunning landscapes and extensive scenic beauty. Imagine an ever-changing backdrop of mountains, forests, and perhaps even a glacier or two!

Glacier Bay National Park

And who can forget Glacier Bay National Park? This is your prime spot for jaw-dropping views of glaciers and a chance to see all sorts of marine life. Imagine snapping that perfect photo as a chunk of ice breaks away from a glacier and splashes into the ocean below!

Land Tours

Feeling adventurous? Why not add a land tour to your cruise? Walk among the giants in Alaska’s grand wilderness and discover landscapes that photos just can’t do justice. It’s like getting a behind-the-scenes look at all Alaska has to offer.

River in alaska between mountains

The cruise itinerary from Vancouver to Seward is a masterpiece, offering an in-depth look into Alaska’s heart with stops in locations like Icy Strait Point, famed for unique activities like Zip Rider, and offering opportunities to add a weeklong land tour, allowing a more personal exploration of Alaska’s wilderness, majestic peaks, and vibrant forests.

Cultural Experience

In terms of culture, you’ll get a taste of Alaska’s rich history and traditions. Whether it’s learning about the native heritage in Sitka or admiring intricate totem poles in Ketchikan, there’s a wealth of cultural experiences waiting for you.

Boat floating on Alaskan waters

Big shoutout to the cruise lines that make all this happen! Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Disney Cruise Line are the all-stars here, offering a range of experiences to make sure you get the most out of your Alaskan adventure. From whale watching to exploring cultural sites, they’ve got the fun and learning covered.

Key Glaciers on Alaska Cruises

While cruising through Alaska, experiencing the colossal glaciers is like witnessing nature’s symphony of ice, where each glacier plays a unique note in the harmonic melody of the landscape. Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, and Dawes Glacier are the sonorous maestros in this glacial concert, each narrating a timeless tale of nature’s grandiosity.

View of a glacier at night

Hubbard Glacier, the largest tidewater glacier in North America, is like the bass notes, powerful and resonant, a giant wall of ice creeping slowly into the sea. Contrastingly, Glacier Bay National Park is a symphonic masterpiece, home to multiple glaciers, each one unique, offering a panoramic chorus of cracking ice and calving icebergs. Dawes Glacier is akin to the high, sweet notes, a beautiful and active tidewater glacier, serenading visitors with its stunning ice formations.

The scenic cruising through these glaciers is like a crescendo in the symphony, the landscapes unfolding in mesmerizing sequences, each view more breathtaking than the last.

Ideal Time to Cruise in Alaska

When contemplating an Alaskan cruise, timing is paramount. As the Last Frontier awakens from its winter slumber, it unfurls a tapestry of natural wonders, beckoning travelers from across the globe. The ideal window for this maritime adventure is from April to October. These months strike a harmonious balance between the frosty winter and the more intense summer heat.

During this period, Alaska radiates in a comfortable temperate climate, making it perfect for explorations, whether you’re meandering through quaint coastal towns, witnessing calving glaciers, or capturing the majestic wildlife in action. This timeframe also presents the most vibrant flora and fauna, adding to the overall enriching experience.

Top Alaska Cruise Ports

The ports you visit on an Alaskan cruise add rich layers to your overall experience. Each one has its own character and flavor, making your trip a multi-faceted journey. Take Juneau, for example. It’s a great place for folks who love to mix outdoor excitement with a dash of culture. You get the best of both worlds, from glacier hiking to exploring local art galleries.

Skagway, on the other hand, is like stepping back in time. This place is drenched in history, especially from the gold rush days. From old saloons to scenic railways, it offers a unique glimpse into a fascinating era.

And then there’s Ketchikan, where you can immerse yourself in native Alaskan culture. Between the totem poles and the rich indigenous history, it’s like a living museum but set against the backdrop of stunning natural beauty.

People on a cruise ship looking at the mountain

Popular Shore Excursions

The shore excursions really are the highlights that amplify the entire Alaskan cruise experience. They’re your ticket to deep-diving into all the unique aspects of each port. For instance, Ketchikan offers excursions that take you ziplining through a lush rainforest canopy, where you can feel the adrenaline while being surrounded by nature’s finest.

In Juneau, you’ve got a whole range of options, from the historical to the awe-inspiring. You can take a helicopter ride to land on a glacier and maybe even go dog sledding. Or perhaps you’d prefer to learn about the local culture and history, maybe even visit a salmon hatchery.

Glacier on the gulf of Alaska

Other great stops like Haines, Seward, and Sitka also add to the Alaska cruise experience. Each port has its own special attractions and activities, so you’ll always have something new and exciting to explore.

Encounter with Wildlife

Seeing animals like sea lions, harbor seals, and bald eagles in their natural settings really highlights Alaska’s incredible wildlife diversity. If you’re a bird enthusiast, the Alaska Raptor Center in Sitka is a must-visit. It’s home to eagles, owls, and hawks, giving you an up-close look at these amazing birds.

When it comes to ocean life, don’t miss out on whale-watching. Whether it’s humpback or orca whales, there’s something magical about seeing these massive creatures breach the water and splash around. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that truly uplifts the spirit.

Tail of a whale seen

Cruise Line Options & Cruise Ships

Each cruise line offers something different, and the one you choose really sets the tone for your trip. Royal Caribbean is great for those who want lots of activities and modern amenities. Holland America Line leans more towards a sophisticated experience, often preferred by travelers looking for a quiet, refined journey. Princess Cruises offers a balanced experience, so it’s excellent if you want a little bit of everything.

And don’t forget, the size of the ship matters too. Small ships offer a more intimate experience with the Alaskan landscape, perfect if you’re all about those close-up views. On the other hand, large ships come with a range of activities and amenities, so you won’t run out of things to do. Whatever you’re into, there’s an Alaskan cruise that’s perfect for you!

Best Cruise for Couples

Royal Carribean’s Princess, a 7-day Voyage of the Glaciers is one of the best cruises for couples. When packing for this 7-day adventure, don’t forget to include both casual and formal attire, as well as layers for the fluctuating temperatures you’ll encounter while cruising through the glaciers. This cruise boasts a range of balcony accommodations, The Sanctuary—an exclusive adults-only retreat, and Princess Luxury Beds in every cabin.

Woman sitting and a man standing on a ship

Notably nicknamed “The Love Boat,” Princess Cruises offers an award-winning North to Alaska program that immerses guests in the history and beauty of the 49th state. Enhance the Alaska cruise with extended pre- and post-cruise tours.

Best Cruise for Families With Kids

The Disney Wonder offers a myriad of amenities from Broadway-quality shows to exclusive adult dining experiences. While Disney provides a fantastic option if you’re considering a switch, Royal Caribbean ships like Symphony of the Seas and Adventure of the Seas also offer extensive kids’ programs and amenities that make them strong contenders for family-friendly cruising. The cruise line also boasts adventurous shore excursions like zip-lining, rafting, and seaplane tours. The best part? An all-inclusive package catering to both kids and adults, ensuring a fulfilling Alaska cruise experience.

Family of three on a boat

Disney Wonder sets sails from Vancouver, with stops at picturesque destinations like Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Sitka, Icy Strait Point, and Hubbard Glacier.

Best Cruise for Seniors

  • Princess Cruise: With the Grand Princess, experience scenic views of massive glaciers and wildlife. This cruise offers accessibility features and multiple recreational activities, including a 14-day journey across beautiful Alaskan ports.
  • Norwegian Cruise: On board the Norwegian Bliss, seniors can enjoy luxurious arts, fine dining, and customized cruise options. Depart from Seattle and embrace a 7-day tour of stunning destinations.
  • Celebrity Cruise: The Celebrity Solstice is renowned for exceptional guest service and accessibility. Experience the beauty of Alaskan ports like Ketchikan and Skagway on a 7-night journey departing from Seattle.

Old couple waving to a cruise ship

Explore Alaska like never before by choosing the perfect cruise itinerary tailored to your desires. For travelers over 50 seeking a more relaxed pace with ample amenities, companies like Holland America and Celebrity Cruises offer luxurious options that prioritize comfort and enrichment. Remember, every cruise offers a unique melody. So, which symphony resonates with you? Let this Alaska cruise guide help you make an informed decision! Safe travels and enjoy the harmonic beauty of Alaska.

Enhance Your Alaskan Adventure

Want to make your Alaska trip even more amazing? Don’t just stick to the cruise; get out and explore the land too! There’s so much to see and do, like checking out incredible spots like Denali National Park. It’s home to North America’s tallest mountain and tons of cool animals. Trust us, you don’t want to miss out on the extra fun!

View of the mountains in Alaska

Then you’ve got the Kenai Peninsula, which is basically Alaska’s chill-out zone. Imagine clear waters, green forests, and tons of animals like moose and eagles. It’s the perfect place to go fishing for salmon or take a relaxing hike.

If you really want to get the full Alaska experience, you’ve gotta take some land tours or try out other adventures. Each one shows you a different side of Alaska, making your trip even more memorable.

So, don’t let your Alaska trip end with the cruise. Get out there and let Alaska’s amazing scenery and wildlife make your vacation one for the books!

Best Time to Book for Alaska Cruise

If you’re looking to plunge into the splendors of the Alaskan cruise season, a bit of early planning can save you from potential disappointments and get you some sweet deals. While the peak season for Alaska cruises is from April to October, the golden rule for booking is 6-12 months in advance. As part of your early preparations, it’s worth noting that a valid passport may be required, especially for cruises that have ports of call in Canada.

This early bird strategy not only secures your preferred itinerary and cabin choice but often snags some early booking discounts. So, before the last snowflake melts and the first wildflower blooms, get your tickets ready to embark on this wild Alaskan adventure!

What to Bring in Alaska Cruise

The Alaskan climate is as whimsical as its landscapes, oscillating between brisk mornings and sunny afternoons, which brings us to the question — what should you pack for an Alaska Cruise? For such variances, blending your clothing options is key. Think of donning short and long-sleeved T-shirts for fluctuating temperatures. Slide into water-resistant pants for those misty morning excursions. An insulated jacket can be your best friend during chilly evenings but always keep a waterproof rain jacket at hand, given Alaska’s surprise drizzles.

Friends looking at a map while packing a suitcase

Now, while most days might be about adventuring, your evenings onboard are reserved for elegance. Prepare to dance the night away in your evening chic clothes or dine in style adhering to the cruise line’s dress code. And don’t forget that swimsuit for a leisurely dip in the onboard heated pools.

Beyond attire, arm yourself with a camera, because every turn in Alaska is a photo op. Binoculars bring distant wildlife up close and personal. Essentials like sunscreen, insect repellant, and a handy backpack for daily carry items can’t be forgotten. And for those tech-savvy travelers, ensuring you have your chargers and perhaps a portable battery pack will ensure you remain connected, even while you’re basking in the remoteness of the Alaskan wilderness. Remember, your Alaskan cruise is as much about the untamed landscapes as it is about onboard luxuries. Packing smart ensures you enjoy both with equal gusto!


Embarking on the journey to select the best Alaska Cruise Itinerary is like piecing together a melody of adventures, a symphony of experiences waiting to be explored. The essence of glaciers, the whisper of wildlife, and the rhythm of shore excursions play crucial roles in composing your Alaskan opus. The raw, untapped beauty of Alaska invites you to drift through scenic cruises, to let your soul dance to the silent songs of the mesmerizing Northern Lights, and to immerse in the silent symphonies of its pristine landscapes.

So, let the land of the midnight sun orchestrate your journey, let each glacier, each creature, and each excursion compose notes of unforgettable memories. In Alaska, the world sings in silent harmonies, inviting you to listen, to explore, and to be.


How many days is best for an Alaskan cruise?

The ideal duration for an Alaskan cruise is one to two weeks. This time frame allows for diverse experiences, exposure to stunning landscapes, and ample opportunities to explore the unique Alaskan culture and wildlife, making it the perfect escape to the last frontier. It’s a harmonious balance between exploration and relaxation in the pristine Alaskan wilderness.

What is the best part of Alaska to see on a cruise?

The crown jewel of any Alaskan cruise is undoubtedly the Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. This miraculous location offers an unmatched view of glaciers, a glimpse of diverse marine life, and the serene ambiance of untamed waters and towering icy peaks, presenting a breathtaking tableau of Alaskan wilderness at its finest.

What is the best month to go to Alaska on a cruise?

The prime time to embark on an Alaska cruise is from April through October. During these months, Alaska blooms in full splendor, the weather is favorable, and the days are longer, allowing more time to explore and witness the natural beauty and the flourishing wildlife, offering an enriched cruising experience.

Where is the best place to start an Alaskan cruise?

Embarking on an Alaskan cruise from Seattle or Vancouver is considered optimal. These vibrant cities offer more than just embarkation points; they are gateways to diverse cultural experiences and scenic beauties. Seattle and Vancouver both provide travelers with a taste of cosmopolitan life mixed with natural elegance, laying down a picturesque prelude to the enthralling Alaskan landscapes and adventures that await on the journey ahead.

Which passage is the best on Alaskan Cruise?

The Inside Passage stands out as the crown jewel of Alaskan cruises. This coastal route, weaving through a labyrinth of islands and fjords, offers travelers unparalleled views of pristine forests, imposing glaciers, and a rich tapestry of marine life. The sheltered waters make for smooth sailing, and the close proximity to the coastline ensures breathtaking vistas at every turn.

Are Alaska cruises expensive?

Yes, Alaska cruises are relatively more expensive than other options, price ranges between $600 USD to $5,000 USD per person depending on various factors like cabin, and amenities. If you’re considering a Celebrity Cruise, their all-inclusive drink package can also add to the overall cost, but provides the convenience of not having to worry about racking up a hefty bar tab. However, it’s crucial to account for shore activities and other extras, which might add up to $1,000–$1,500 USD extra. While it may seem pricey, the unparalleled experiences and the majestic allure of Alaska justify the expense, promising an unforgettable journey.