Alaska is one of the most beautiful states that you can ever explore. It is full of snow-capped mountains, lush rainforests, wildlife, glaciers, and fjords. If you want to see some of the features that Alaska has to offer, the best way would be to cruise to the state. You are probably wondering which cruises to take. Before we identify the cruises you can take, there are some things to keep in mind. Alaska cruises only sail from May to September.
That is because it is summer, which is the best time to see some marine life and birds. However, if you take a cruise in the shoulder season of early May or late September, you can get some discounts. Lastly, if you wish to see the midnight sun, book your cruise over June 21, which is the longest day of the year. Having known a bit about Alaska, we can now identify some of the best Alaska cruises that you can use. Here are the top 10 best Alaska cruises to consider below.
10. Seabourn Cruises
Seabourn is a luxury cruise line that is rather expensive. According to Shermans Travel, each person is charged $550 per night. Despite the high amount, you will get value for your money. For instance, there is an extensive collection of alcoholic drinks to choose from. Additionally, there are foods like steak or seafood. All the foods and drinks are free, so you can consume as much as you want. As you enjoy your drink or food, you will be taken to Alaskan cities like Juneau, Haines, Seward, and Wrangell. Also, you will get a chance to see ports like Prince Rupert, Klemtu, and Rudyerd Bay. Since Seabourn uses small luxury ships, you will be able to get close to the spectacular Alaskan glaciers in the Icy Strait, Tracy Arm Fjord, and Kenai Fjords. The glaciers make for a beautiful backdrop, so remember to take as many photos as possible.
9. Holland America Cruises
Holland America uses midsize ships that can carry between 1,432 and 2,668 guests. Each passenger gets assigned 2 or 3 crew members. This cruise line mostly appeals to adults since there are no activities that children would enjoy during the cruise. Some activities you may do include playing casino games, listening to live music performances, and doing karaoke. This cruise line will take you to Sitka Port. In this port, you will see marine creatures like whales, sea otters, porpoises, harbor seals, and Steller sea lions. As for the land mammals, you will encounter brown bears and black-tail deer. Still in the port, you will visit a bird treatment center called the Alaska Raptor Center. The center’s aim is to rehabilitate injured birds and send them back into the wild. Some injured birds you may spot include falcons, eagles, owls, and hawks.
8. Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises allows you to sail on a small ship like Celebrity Xpedition or a huge one like Celebrity Edge. The former transport 48 passengers, while the latter carry 2,918 passengers. Regardless of the ship you choose, a crew member will be assigned for every two passengers. The main activities on the cruise include glassblowing classes and wine workshops. If you need to relax, you can opt for spa treatments. During your cruise with this cruise line, you will see the Hubbard Glacier, North America’s largest tidewater glacier. According to Traveling Canucks, it is over 75 miles long and 7 miles wide. It is at the tip of Disenchantment Bay and feeds into the North Pacific Ocean. If you are lucky, you may see huge chunks of ice breaking off from the glacier. Once they fall into the sea, they form icebergs. The process of the formation of the icebergs makes for a spectacular sight.
7. Windstar Cruises
Windstar’s ships provide a variety of onboard activities. Its ships are equipped with a stern-mounted technology called Watersports Platform, which serves as a launching point for water activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, windsurfing, and waterskiing. Fortunately, the cruise line provides you with the necessary watersports tools. Also, you could shop in the ship for items like perfumes, clothes, or jewelry. If you board with this company, expect to stop by the St. Michael’s Cathedral in Sitka.
St. Michael’s Cathedral was the first Orthodox Cathedral to be established in North America in 1848. It was built at a time when Alaska was under the control of Russia. That explains why the church uses Russian architecture. Also, you will get a chance to walk along Ketchikan’s Waterfront Promenade. As you walk, you should see totem poles in Saxman Village. The totem poles are carved by the Tlingit. Besides admiring the attractive totem poles, you will learn about them and other aspects of the Tlingit culture.
This cruise line has some of the biggest vessels ever. According to The Points Guy, the company has ships that weigh anywhere from 145,000 to 170,000 tons. These ships can carry 4,000 passengers at double occupancy. Due to their enormous size, there are plenty of activities for adults and children. There are casinos and bars for the adults and pools and waterslides for the children. In Alaska, you will stop by Skagway Sled Dog and Musher’s Camp. In this center, you will interact closely with some Alaskan huskies. You can either pet them or use them for sled rides. If you do not want to interact with the dogs, there are mushing competitions that you could watch. Still at Skagway, you should see a historical railway called White Pass Scenic Railway. You can go for a train ride, which will take nearly 3 hours. This railway station is an opportunity to board vintage trains as you pass through the Dead Horse Gulch, Bridal Veil Falls, and Inspiration Point.
5. Oceania Cruises
If you desire a small ship, this is the cruise line to consider. Some people choose small ships because they are cheaper than gigantic ships. Since the company’s ships are small, there are no exclusive enclaves for the affluent cruisers and floating amusement park malls. Oceania has R-class ships that only carry 684 passengers. Such a ship would be ideal for people that detest huge crowds. One of the places you can visit with this company is Homer. Homer is a small city on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula. This city is magnificent during the summer because that is when wildflowers grow and the hills become lush green. Still in the city, you will visit the Pratt Museum.
The museum has indoor exhibits that show Native Alaskan traditions, early homesteading, and local contemporary art. Another place you could visit is Kodiak Island. The area is full of all various types of flora life, such as Pacific red elder, wildflowers, blueberries, and moss-laden spruce. If you go where the blueberries are, you may occasionally spot brown bears since they feast on them. Since brown bears are lethal, you will not be allowed to approach them.
4. Princess Cruises
Princess cruises offers limitless ways of entertaining yourself before you reach Alaska. For instance, you can listen to live jazz performances every evening, watch performances by magicians and illusionists, play Deal or No Deal, and the list goes on. While you entertain yourself, you can enjoy a variety of dishes at no extra cost. Some of the dishes you could try include grilled burgers, a Neapolitan-Style Pizza, a traditional New York cheesecake, etc. Through this company, you will get a chance to see College Fjord. The fjord cuts 24 miles into the heart of the rugged Chugach Mountains.
This fjord contains five large valley glaciers, five tidewater glaciers, and dozens of minute glaciers. Generally, the glaciers appear bright blue. If you think the color of the glaciers is attractive, you will be more impressed with the red land surfaces around the fjord. The land appears red due to its vegetation. Next, you could come across Tern Lake, which is at the intersection of the Seward and Sterling highways at Milepost 37. The area hosts many animals such as muskrats, beavers, river otters, mountain goats, and many more. Tern Lake contains beautiful flora life such as cotton-grass, insect-eating sundews, and bog rosemary.
3. Disney Cruise Line
This company offers one of the best family-friendly accommodations in its ships. For example, the cabins come equipped for families with two bathrooms, have extra berths, and have room-dividing blackout curtains. For the children, the beds are donned with cartoon murals, e.g., Peter Pan. The aim of the murals is for the children to look at as they drift to sleep. Disney Cruise Line’s ships have spacious cabins. For instance, the space ranges from 169 to 214 square feet. If you choose to go on a seven-night cruise with this cruise line, you will make stops at these port towns: Ketchikan, Skagway, and Juneau.
You will be allowed to explore the port towns for as long as possible. Meanwhile, there will be plenty of port adventures for you to participate in in Alaska, e.g., horseback riding, dog sledding, zip lining, float-plane rides, train rides, and so on. Besides having fun, Disney Cruise Line also ensures that you have an educational experience. The company normally invites a local naturist to host educational seminars on the different Alaskan ports. Usually, the naturist sits on the pool deck. These seminars help provide some context to the ports you intend to visit and widen your knowledge.
2. Silversea Cruises
Every passenger who travels with this cruise line gets a butler. The butlers are as likable as the ones you have seen in films. Butlers from this cruise line are known for their politeness and professionalism. Some services they offer include shining your shoes, unpacking your suitcase, providing white tablecloth in-suite service, organizing cocktail parties, and any other task you may request from them. One of the places you will visit is Happy Trails Kennels, where you will be treated to several sled dogs. Marin Buser runs the center.
According to Alaska Sports Hall, he has won prestigious dog mushing events four times. Since his dogs are friendly, you will be allowed to pet them. After petting them, the center will explain how it cares for the dogs and prepares them for sledding. Finally, you will get to witness actual dog sledding. One other activity you could do is taking a tour of the Denali Tundra Wilderness. During your tour, you will see the East Fork River, Cathedral Mountain and some bears and wolves in the Sable Pass region.
1. Viking Cruises
Viking’s ships are beautiful with a simple Scandinavian design. Besides being attractive to look at, the ships excel in practicality. First, the ships offer comfortable spots for passengers who want to read, snooze or play games. Next, the cabins have multiple points for USB ports and huge showers. Lastly, the ships have contour chairs, one of the best for relaxing. This company will take you to Icy Strait Point, where you will be taught how to make Alaskan cuisines. Some of the cuisines you may make and eat include elk, moose, salmon, and Alaskan king crab. A chef will be there to guide you on how to make the various dishes.
By the time your cruise is over, you will be able to make cuisines that you used to find challenging. Additionally, you will get a chance to go on a Jeep expedition into the forests of Chicagof Island. As you travel through the forests, you will meet the Tlingit community. Besides having fun driving the jeep, you will also learn about the community’s culture and history. During your expedition, you may encounter wildlife like Sitka black-tailed deer, bald eagles, and coastal brown bears.
The beauty of these Alaska cruises is that you get plenty of time to explore the state. As you explore the state, you get to learn about its wildlife, culture, and history. Exploring Alaska is important since it may change any preconceived notions you have of it. So, if you have been longing to go to Alaska but did not know which cruises to take, you are lucky to have these ten to get you started.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn