Cruises to Alaska are among the most popular cruise vacations. Alaskan cruises allow passengers to see the pristine beauty of the largest state in the United States, and, as is the case with a cruise to any other part of the world, the experience of cruising to Alaska is itself enjoyable (although for different reasons than, say, a trip to the Caribbean – there isn’t much pool-side lounging on a trip to Alaska). We have previously written about Alaskan cruises and why people take them, and we have also covered some of the many different cruise lines that offer trips to Alaska. What we haven’t covered is how you go about taking a cruise to Alaska; in other words, we haven’t explained the actual mechanics of booking a cruise to Alaska, which is the subject of this article.
Not surprisingly, you book an Alaskan cruise in essentially the same way you book any other cruise. However, since cruises to Alaska tend to center on viewing nature – glaciers, mountains, wildlife, and so on – you want to pay special attention to the planned route of your cruise. If you want to see glaciers and moose, for example, make sure that the cruise you book follows a course that will enable this to happen (or likely happen, in the case of seeing moose). The route of a voyage is always relevant, but our point is that it is particularly important when booking an Alaskan cruise. Often, people take cruises largely for the on-board entertainment and activities – the shows, casinos, pools, and so on – and if this is the goal of your vacation, the course of your cruise isn’t very significant. Things are different (or should be different) with an Alaskan cruise; you’ll miss half the experience of a cruise to Alaska if you fail to enjoy the sights of nature, and in order to enjoy the sights, you need to make sure your cruise travels to the areas you want to see.
With this in mind, we’ll run through booking a specific Alaskan cruise through Holland America Line (one of many cruise lines that offer trips to Alaska) to give you an idea of how it works. When booking with a major cruise line, you’ll always have the option to call a toll-free number to set up your vacation with a representative, but it’s so easy to book online these days that it is hardly worth the time. If you do book online, this is what you should do: first, go to either the cruise line’s site or a cruise-deal aggregator site, like Cruises Only. In either case, there will be a tool that allows you to enter the desired criteria of your vacation. Using these tools is always extremely straightforward. You’ll be asked where you want to sail to, when you want to leave, how long you want to be gone for, and so on. Using Holland America’s “cruisefinder,” we indicated that we wanted to go on the “Glacier Discovery” cruise that departs in May from Anchorage, Alaska. We also stipulated that we wanted the cruise to last 6-8 days, and that we wanted to sail on the ms Zaandam. Given how specific our criteria were, this only brought up one possible cruise, but in many cases you might be more open about what you want for your vacation (e.g., you may not care which cruise ship you’ll be traveling on), and this will increase the number of possible cruises you can take. We followed a very a similar procedure on Cruises Only and, not surprisingly, we were given similar results.
No matter which cruise line or cruise-deal site you book through, you’ll use this same method to line up your vacation to Alaska (or elsewhere). It’s quick and easy, so there is nothing to be intimidated about when it comes to booking a cruise.