Alaskan cruises are all the same, right? You get on the ship, see some glaciers, bundle up for rain and cold, then head home. How hard is it to choose a cruise?
Well, there are more than 15 cruise lines to choose from, each with different types and sizes of ships, offering dozens of itineraries and varied inclusions. Add to that the option of a cruisetour, or land portion of your vacation, and the options just multiply.
What differs between cruise lines?
There are many things that distinguish cruise lines from each other but three primary factors are:
- The first thing is the size of the ships. They range from the mega-ships holding upwards of 5,000 guests, to small-ship experiences holding less than 100. Your ship could hold a host of activities to lose yourself in or be more intimate, focused on the connections on board and with the destination.
- The types and availability of staterooms on the larger ships will be more varied than on the smaller ships. The chances of the ship filling up sooner will be greater on the smaller lines, so it will be important to book earlier.
- The level of service and included amenities will be different with each line. While the fare on some cruise lines cover the room, your meal and snacks and on board entertainment, other lines also include alcoholic/non-alcoholic beverages, WiFi, and even excursions with their cruise fare.
Aren't all the itineraries pretty much the same?
Alaska cruises start at several West Coast ports, including: Vancouver, B.C.; Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seward, Sitka, Juneau and Anchorage. They range from 7-nights, to around two weeks. Some of the cruises are round trip, while others are one way. The longer voyages from Los Angeles and San Francisco don't necessarily consist of more ports but will have added sea days, for those who enjoy them.
One of the more popular itineraries is the Inside Passage that takes you to through Southeastern Alaska. The typical Inside Passage cruise itinerary will generally include port stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria B.C., and either the Tracy Arm Fjord or Endicott Arm. Other possible stops include: Haines and Sitka.
Another option is to take a one-way (or round trip, if you really enjoy the experience) from Vancouver B.C. to either Anchorage or Seward, Alaska. The one-way itineraries provide a broader view of coastal Alaska and may have stops in Homer, Wrangell and Valdez.
Whether you're going on the one-way or round trip, each itinerary includes at least one glacier viewing. On the inside passage you may see Sawyer Glacier or Dawes Glacier and the one-way you may see Glacier Bay National Park or Hubbard Glacier.
The options for an Alaskan Cruise are seemingly endless but they are all going to showcase the wild and beautiful Alaska landscapes. If you're interested in a cruise, we will first determine what kind of experience you want to have and then pair you with the best options to choose from, that fit the budget you set. And... despite what you may think, you can encounter some gorgeous sunny days in Alaska.
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