Alaska cruises have become one of the most popular ways visit Alaska. Cruises feature glaciers, wildlife, great food, entertainment, interesting port of calls and fascinating tours along way, all with only unpacking your suitcase once. The major cruise lines offer two main Alaska cruise options. Gulf of Alaska cruises travel between Vancouver BC and Seward, while Inside Passage cruises travel roundtrip from Vancouver. Both cruises are a week long, and visit three or four ports along the way. Gulf of Alaska and Inside Passage cruises are available from top cruise lines like Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruises. Ships range from 1200 to over 2000 passengers and are often called "cities on the water", with features like numerous restaurants, lounges, Broadway style entertainment, casinos, health clubs, movie theaters, libraries, and more. In addition to the to the traditional cruises available from the major cruise lines, there are several options available with small ship cruise operators. Whether you choose a big or small ship, all cruises have shore excursions available in each port, from historic railroad trips to landing on a glacier by helicopter. After a great Alaska cruise, most passengers continue on to see Alaska by land with Denali National Park on the top of the list. The Alaska cruise season runs from approximately the second week of May through the third week of September. Each of these topics is explored in more detail below, links to cruise line home pages are also included.
Alaska inside passage cruises
Inside passage cruises travel roundtrip from Vancouver north along the west coast of Canada to southeast Alaska. The term "inside passage" is used as much of the cruise travels protected waterways between mainland Alaska or Canada and off shore islands. Usually three or four ports of call are included at Alaska communities such as Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Haines or Sitka. Most cruises also visit Glacier Bay National Park or Hubbard Glacier. Inside Passage cruises really just visit a small slice of Alaska, and since most of these cruises end up back in Vancouver they make exploring the rest of Alaska by land more difficult. While an inside passage cruise is a good starter trip to see Alaska for those with limited time, we recommend a Gulf of Alaska cruise with a pre or post cruise Alaska land tour to really see the state.
Gulf of Alaska cruises
Gulf of Alaska cruises travel one way between Seward and Vancouver so travelers can choose a northbound departure from Vancouver or a southbound departure from Seward. Cruise passengers generally travel by motorcoach between Seward and Anchorage, the closest major Alaska city. This motorcoach service is usually available from the cruise lines and other bus companies. The term "gulf of Alaska" is used as these cruises travel further north than the inside passage cruises and cruise across the gulf of Alaska. Gulf cruises are also commonly referred to as glacier route or voyage of the glacier cruises due to the almost uncountable number of glaciers seen on the trip in places like college fjords, glacier bay national park, hubbard glacier and prince william sound. Usually three or four ports of call are included at Alaska communities such as Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Valdez, Haines or Sitka. As we mentioned above, to truly see Alaska, we highly recommend a Gulf of Alaska cruise with a pre or post cruise Alaska land tour.
Specialty small ship cruises
Cruising Alaska on a big cruise ship is not for every one. If you would rather travel with a 100 passengers rather than 2000, or you would like to leave your dressy evening wear at home, you should consider a small ship alaska cruise operator like Cruise West or Glacier Bay Cruises and Tours. While you may find amenities on the ships more limited, the friendly individualized attention you receive from the staff may be worth it. Small ships will often allow you to get closer to Alaska's spectacular scenery as well. Small ship cruises generally focus on a smaller regional area of Alaska such as Prince William Sound, or Glacier Bay National Park and Southeast Alaska. Check out the cruise line home page links for more details.
Pre and post cruise land tours
Don't go home from your Alaska cruise without seeing the land side of our great state. After your week on an Alaska cruise, we recommend spending another five to seven days exploring Alaska by land. Alaska land tours can be arranged that start in Anchorage or Fairbanks and end in Seward for a southbound gulf of alaska cruise, or the reverse for a northbound cruise. Be sure to check out the selection of pre or post cruise tours available from Alaska Tour and Travel. Because Alaska Tour and Travel has a "zero mark up" policy you are sure to get the best available price and will likely see a big savings over most packages available from the cruise lines.
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