You just can’t go wrong with an Alaska cruise. So no matter where you travel in Alaska, excitement and adventure are always on the menu. Exactly where you stop in Alaska, however, will depend on the cruise line, the time of year, and the type of cruise (luxury, budget, small ship, expedition, etc.). While a few of the smaller ships begin the Alaska cruise season around April, the official Alaska cruise vacation season runs from May-September. Because the sun doesn’t set in the summertime and temperatures are mild, June, July, and August are the most popular (and most expensive) months to take an Alaska cruise.
Thanks to smaller crowds and rock bottom prices, May and September are quickly becoming the most popular months to book. The weather can be tricky during the month of May as it is Alaska’s “transitional period” weather wise. Temperatures dip fairly rapidly during the month of September, so keep an eye on the weather forecast before you go so you’ll know exactly what to pack.
Alaska cruise vacations typically cover Far North Alaska (Barrow, Nome and Prudhoe Bay), Interior Alaska (Denali National Park), Southcentral Alaska (Anchorage, Kenai and Seward) and Southeast Alaska (Juneau, Skagway). Juneau, Nome, Anchorage, Fairbanks, Ketchikan, and Nome are popular ports of call and the Gulf of Alaska Cruise is the most popular cruise itinerary among the most popular Alaska cruise lines. Other Alaska ports of call include College Fjord, Glacier Bay, Haines, Icy Straight Point, Hubbard Glacier, Inside Passage, Misty Fjord, San Francisco, Seattle, Seward, Sitka, Prince Rupert, Skagway, Tracy Arm, Valdez, Vancouver, Victoria, and Whittier.
The Gulf of Alaska Cruise, offered by Carnival Cruises, as well as Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Holland America Line, are week-long cruises sailing between Anchorage and Vancouver, B.C. Visitors will tour the glaciers of College Fjord, the mountains of Juneau and the coastal islands of Glacier Bay. Land excursions will cover the endless amounts of shops and restaurants available at every stop and the many architectural sights of Vancouver. Top land tours include Denali Park, Fairbanks, Kotzebue, Prudhoe Bay, and Talkeetna.
Most Alaska cruises vacations offer excursions that feature activities such as bear watching, fishing, hiking, kayaking, rafting, and visits to Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. There are also a variety of wildlife tours featuring opportunities to watch everything from sheep, moose and grizzlies to polar bears, bald eagles and caribou interacting in their natural habitat.
Base prices for most Alaska cruise vacations include: accommodations, onboard entertainment, activities, meals and standard facilities. Expect to pay for alcohol, gambling, tips and extras such as spa treatments as well as port fees and taxes. Unless you book an “air and sea” package, you will also pay for airfare from your town/city to the port of embarkation, which is typically Anchorage or Vancouver. If you want to save money, best bet is to book online. Most cruise lines offer amazing Internet deals and discounts as well as specials for purchasing excursions in advance.
To book an Alaska cruise vacation, contact your favorite Alaska cruise line directly or visit the cruise lines’ official website. Please visit one of the top cruise line directories at www.shipsandcruises.com for a directory of all cruise line websites. You can also contact your local cruise travel agent for discounts and deals or visit any of the discount cruise websites or booking search engines listed below. For detailed information about the best Alaska cruise lines, please continue reading below.