Why You Should Take an Alaskan Cruise

August 7, 2019

cruise ship in Ketchikan, Alaska

Last Updated on August 14, 2020 by Candy Wafford

Alaska is a place of stunning beauty and a visit there should be on every traveler’s list. The things that make Alaska such a special destination also make it a challenging place to see for many travelers. Trying to see if planning a trip to Alaska is right for you there are many factors to consider. An Alaskan cruise is a great way for most travelers to visit The Last Frontier. Read on to see why you should take an Alaskan cruise.

Easiest Way to See Alaska

Ketchikan, Alaska

Alaska is a big state and attempting to see several destinations in a short amount of time is difficult. Unless you take a cruise! On a cruise, you can count on visiting 3-4 ports in a week. While you won’t be spending much time in one area, it does give you the opportunity to visit multiple places and then you can come back to one place later.

Also, much of Alaska is remote and even if it is served by highways or airports, it still may be a trek to get from one spot to the next. For example, Juneau is a popular stop on Alaskan cruises but you can’t drive there without taking a ferry. An Alaskan cruise is a great, and easy way to see Alaska.

Great Vacation for Kids

The Alaskan cruise season runs from May – September when most kids are out of school. Many of the popular cruise lines, including Carnival, NCL, Royal Caribbean, and even Disney offer great kids programs on their ships.

Icy Strait Point, Alaska

We cruised 1-2 times a year when my daughter was young and I always tell people cruises are a great family vacation. You get to do activities as a family, kids can do kid-friendly activities in the kids’ programs, and couples can take advantage of the stellar evening programs to have a date night (or two) while on the cruise.

kids playing on the beach in Icy Strait Point, Alaska

And what kid doesn’t want to see eagles, bears, and whales?

Affordable Way to Visit Alaska

While taking an Alaskan cruise is more expensive than those to the Caribbean and Mediterranean, it is still a bargain. Alaska is an expensive destination and the cruise includes your lodging and meals freeing up vacation dollars for some of the amazing excursions in Alaska.

view from a helicopter over Juneau, Alaska on an Alaskan cruise

If your schedule is flexible look at booking a cruise at the beginning of the cruise season in May or near the end in September to take advantage of better rates.

Chance to Float Through a Glacier

view of a glacier from the NCL Joy on a cruise to Alaska

How many opportunities do you get to float through a glacier? Most Alaskan cruise itineraries will include a visit to a glacier. Popular glaciers include Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, Prince William Sound, and Tracy Arm. As your ship gently floats toward the glacier you will see soaring mountains on either side and chunks of ice floating in still, blue-green waters. It’s a bit of an otherworldly experience. It’s worth getting a balcony so you can enjoy this special experience from your cabin.

Amazing Scenery

Unspoiled. Pure. Majestic. These are just a few of the words to describe the scenery in Alaska. Alaska is remote and even the cities have an untouched by time feel about them.

scenery in Ketchikan Alaska on an Alaskan cruise

And on a cruise, not only do you visit multiple places in Alaska, but you sail past it as you move from port to port. You never have to leave the ship to see some beautiful landscapes. Our cruise on the Norwegian Joy included a viewing area with floor to ceiling windows on the front of the ship. The views from here as we sailed into Ketchikan were stunning.

Departure Cities are Great Destinations

Most cruises to Alaska will depart from either Seattle or Vancouver. Others leave from Los Angeles or San Francisco giving passengers different options to start and end their cruise in cities that are destinations themselves.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle is an incredible city with many things to see and do. There are two ports in Seattle and we were lucky enough to be departing from the one located smack in the middle of many of the attractions Seattle has to offer. Both ports are fairly easy and inexpensive to get to from the airport and there are hotels, restaurants, and attractions nearly making this a great port to spend time before or after your cruise.

The Port of Seattle offers the Port Valet service to cruise ship passengers. Simply sign up on the cruise ship, leave your luggage out the night before your arrival back into Seattle and it will be picked up and sent to the airport and waiting for you when you get home. We took advantage of this FREE program which made a day of sightseeing in Seattle much easier.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Many Alaskan cruises leave from Vancouver, Canada. I haven’t been to Vancouver but our cruise stopped in Victoria which is located in the same province, and it was lovely. Departing from Vancouver allows you to move a little further north in Alaska.

View of mountain in Alaska from the NCL Joy

Any Downsides to a Cruise to Alaska?

As much as I enjoyed our Alaskan cruise, there were some negatives. I would have liked to have had more time in most of the ports. Many stops on our itinerary were only a half-day which meant we could only do one activity. There is so much to see and do and it doesn’t get dark until around 10 PM!

Icy Strait Point, Alaska

Cruises often have a non-stop party feel but that’s not the case in Alaska. These cruises tend to appeal to an older crowd and if you like to go clubbing you’re probably going to be disappointed. But there are still lots of shows and activities and we always found something to do.

As I mentioned before, Alaska is expensive and that includes any tours or excursions you book. But it’s well worth it to take a helicopter to a glacier or eat as many crab legs as you want.

Final Thoughts

My husband and I loved our cruise to Alaska and would take another in a heartbeat! An Alaskan cruise allows you to see more of this gorgeous place than you probably would on your own. You definitely should take an Alaskan cruise.

Cruise Lines Offering Alaskan Itinieries

Norwegian Cruise Line

Holland America Line

Carnival Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean

Princess Cruise Line

Celebrity Cruises

Disney Cruise Line

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More about Candy Wafford

Candy Wafford is a US-based travel blogger and while she travels frequently for her job, she is happiest when traveling for pleasure. Preferably strolling along a cobblestoned street with an ice cream cone in her hand.

    1. We did an Alaska cruise when our kids were high school age. It worked out perfectly. We felt that they were safe wandering the ship, so they had some independence, the food and sites were amazing! I agree on not enough time in the ports. I’d love to go back to a few of the stops on our own. Thanks for sharing.

      1. Cruises are such a great vacation for families! Definitely, need more time in ports but that’s the tradeoff for the convenience of cruising.

      1. I’m glad you found it helpful! I think you will love seeing Alaska from a cruise ship!

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