Cruises to Alaska are the third most popular domestic destination for U.S. travelers this year – just a smidge behind Orlando and Maui – according to Travel Leaders Group’s 2016 Travel Trends Survey. And, there’s a surprising variety of choices for cruising the state’s rugged coastline. Two big choices for you to make are the size of your ship and the route you will take.
Ship size has a lot to do with how you will experience Alaska, with smaller (1,000 passengers or less) and larger ships to choose from.
Small ships generally belong to premium or luxury cruise lines, so the passengers tend to be older than on larger ships, which more often cater to families. Smaller ships can visit smaller ports and can more easily maneuver toward shore for spontaneous wildlife viewing. Small ship cruise fares tend to be higher, but offer good value: for example, shore excursions and other extras are often included. Staterooms are very comfortable, although balconies may be in short supply. And, onboard entertainment and dining options, while top-quality, may be limited.
Large ships have the space to offer more onboard activities, so there will be lots to do both on and off the ship: a great thing for families with children and other groups sailing together. Staterooms are larger than on small ships, and more will offer balconies. Larger ships also offer exceptional value, with lower per-day costs than smaller ships; however, shore excursions are likely to be an extra expense.
In addition, you should consider which of two basic Alaska cruise routes to take: roundtrip or one-way?
Roundtrip cruises, usually departing from Seattle or Vancouver, typically sail up the Inside Passage and call on three or four ports, such as Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan or Sitka. The scenery is spectacular, and the ports are unique and interesting.
One-way cruises will take you through the Inside Passage and beyond. They cruise either southbound or northbound between Seattle or Vancouver and Whittier or Seward, the ports for Anchorage. These itineraries take you to the wonders of Hubbard Glacier, College Fjord and perhaps another port or two. You could also combine your cruise with a land tour from Anchorage.
There’s a lot more to know about cruising to Alaska; ask your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert to help you with these and other decisions for your ultimate Alaskan cruise adventure.