Best Alaska Cruises for Glaciers, Fjords, and Wildlife

The largest state in the U.S., Alaska is huge in size but also in cruise opportunities. If you’d like to venture beyond the “cruise classics” like the Caribbean, Hawaii or Mediterranean, why not head up north and explore coastal Alaska on one of this year’s best Alaska cruises.

Best Alaska Cruises Available This Year

A cruise to Alaska is all about epic coastal landscapes and bustling fishing ports, iconic wildlife and perhaps a taste of life at America’s last frontier. You’ll sail to places such as the Inside Passage and see monumental Glacier Bay, visit harbor towns like Skagway and Juneau, and head to Anchorage, the perfect base for excursions to some of the U.S.’ most magnificent national parks.

If this all sounds like fun to you, go ahead and check out the following best Alaska cruises on offer right now. Note, however, that the Alaska cruise season is shorter than other destinations’. It runs roughly from May through September. Check out our blog post elaborating on the best time to cruise to Alaska.

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska - Best Alaska Cruises

Alaska Hubbard Glacier Cruise ─ Celebrity Eclipse

This marvelous 8-day cruise starts in Vancouver and takes you through the iconic Inside Passage to Ketchikan and Juneau. You’ll explore basically the entire Alaska panhandle, which is home to some of North America’s most breathtaking coastline, including deep fjords, calving glaciers, and coastal mountains and forests. The final destination on this epic Alaska cruise is the massive Hubbard Glacier.

This is one of the best Alaska cruises if you have a week’s time. In 2019, there are twelve sailing dates, running from late-May through mid-September.

  • From/to: roundtrip from Vancouver
  • Duration: 8 days, 7 nights
  • Ports of call: Icy Strait Point, Juneau and Ketchikan
  • Highlights: Inside Passage, whale watching excursions, wilderness hikes, historic gold mining experiences, Hubbard Glacier, and salmon fishing
  • Price: from $864 per person

Skagway, Alaska - Best Alaska Cruises

Alaska Highlights Cruise ─ Norwegian Bliss

While this itinerary is similar to many other week-long Alaska cruises, what sets this Alaska Highlights Cruise apart is the ship itself. Norwegian Bliss is the youngest addition to the Norwegian fleet, an enormous ship—the largest one to sail to Alaska—and custom built specially to offer the best Alaska cruises.

Because of its sheer size, it offers all possible entertainment types and amenities you can expect on a cruise ship. No other ship in the region comes close. There is an on-board racetrack, laser tag, Starbucks, superb restaurants and Broadway-quality theater.

  • From/to: roundtrip from Seattle
  • Duration: 7 nights
  • Ports of call: Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria
  • Highlights: Native American culture, seafood, historic Juneau, Glacier Bay National Park and gold rush history in Skagway
  • Price: from $699

Juneau, Alaska - Best Alaska Cruises destinations

Northbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier Cruise ─ Radiance of the Seas

The northbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier Cruise goes beyond most Alaska cruises’ itineraries. Instead of turning back to its port of departure, it continues north. You’ll travel from Vancouver in British Columbia to Seward, Alaska, along a long stretch of stunning subarctic coastline. As such, you’ll see twice as much in the same time as 7-night return cruises to Alaska!

This seven-night cruise takes in most of the iconic highlights in coastal Alaska. From Ketchikan’s totem poles and salmon fishing to the Klondike Gold Rush days in Skagway, the massive Hubbard Glacier and the wildlife of the Katmai peninsula, you’ll find it all (and more) on this awesome Alaska cruise.

Note: you can also do this cruise in a southbound direction.

  • From/to: Vancouver to Seward
  • Duration: 8 days, 7 nights
  • Ports of call: Inside Passage, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier
  • Highlights: Totem poles collections, Klondike Gold Rush history, enormous glaciers, seafood and lots of wildlife
  • Price: from $699

Whale in Alaska - Best Alaska Cruises

Ultimate Glacier & Fjord Adventure Cruise ─ Seabourn Sojourn

If you’re looking to get pampered and spoiled during your cruise to Alaska, there’s arguably no better cruise line than Seabourn, one of the world’s top luxury cruise lines. Combining expedition-style travel with extreme luxury, their Alaska cruises offer a more in-depth, intimate and immersive experience than many other cruises.

This 14-day Ultimate Glacier & Fjord Adventure takes in all major highlights from Seward to Vancouver. And there are plenty of those, from Kenai Fjords National Park to Icy Strait Point and Tracy Arm, from Juneau and Sitka to Ketchikan. In terms of destinations, this is one of the absolute best Alaska cruises you can do this season.

  • From/to: Seward to Vancouver
  • Duration: 14 days, 13 nights
  • Ports of call: Icy Strait Point, Haines, Juneau, Sitka, Wrangell, Ketchikan, Rudyerd Bay, Prince Ruper, Klemtu and Alert Bay
  • Highlights: numerous glaciers, national parks, pioneering history, fantastically fresh seafood, straits and channels, historic towns
  • Price: from $3,999

We’ve chosen these as the best Alaska cruises to do this year, but note that there are many more. Use these suggestions as a starting point—they all truly are among the very best you’ll find—but we also encourage you to browse the respective cruise line websites for more options and comparisons.

Alaska Cruises FAQs

When thinking about going on an Alaska cruise, you might have some questions. Below are a few of the most common questions and their respective answers. If you’d like to know something else, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

What Is the Best Month to Cruise to Alaska?

The Alaska cruise season typically kicks off around mid-May, running to mid-September. This coincides with spring, summer and fall in Alaska. Summer really doesn’t last much longer than July through August. Spring and fall are very short, yet offer an abundance of natural sights.

June and July are the warmest, busiest and most comfortable months for cruises to Alaska. However, this comes with much higher prices as well. Each month from May through September has its pros and cons. You can see a break-down of the individual months in our best time to cruise to Alaska post.

All factors considered, early-September might be the greatest time for Alaska cruises. This time is caribou and moose mating season, salmon runs are at their peak, fall foliage is glorious, and there are no more bugs.

What Side of the Ship Is Best for an Alaska Cruise?

Since Alaska cruises are basically coastal cruises, the route paralleling the Alaskan coastline, you might think that the coast side of the ship is best. While there’s certainly plenty of scenery to enjoy, the open sea-facing side can offer spectacular marine life watching. Therefore, there’s really no “best” side to stay on a cruise to Alaska.

Moreover, many Alaska cruises are return trips. After reaching its furthest destination, the ship turns back and you’ll have the chance to face the other way.

What Is the Average Cost of an Alaskan Cruise?

There are several different factors that determine the cost of cruises to Alaska. From the time of year to natural circumstances, the location of your stateroom, and the cruise line you choose, the price range is quite wide.

That said, however, the average starting price of the best Alaska cruises discussed in this post is $1,565 per person. Note that this is the average cost of the cheapest time of each cruise. As mentioned, the range is wide, from $699 to $3,999, depending on how luxurious you want to go.

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