Best Alaskan cruises for summer, according to travel experts (2024)

If you love to travel then visiting Alaska is likely on your bucket list.

While there are plenty of ways to explore “The Last Frontier,” any experienced traveler will gladly agree that visiting Alaska by cruise is surely the way to go and in some cases, the only way to go. Certain cities, like Sitka, are only accessible by air or sea, which makes a cruise the easiest and most convenient way to travel there.

“Cruising is really the best way to see much of what Alaska has to offer – and you only have to unpack once!” said Kevin M. Grubb, cruise travel specialist of 15-years at Q Cruise + Travel, Virtuoso member agency in Chicago and has also lived in Alaska.

“Alaska is a fantastic destination featuring gorgeous scenery, all types of wildlife, and the chance to view glaciers and fjords,” Grubb told The Post. “Plus, Alaska has the added advantage of being close to home, [with the] same currency, language, etc.”

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to spend a fortune to experience the natural wonders of Alaska. While you certainly can go the luxury route, there are plenty of budget-friendly options available as well. Traveling with a family? Well, pack your bags because there’s kid-friendly cruises available, too.

“There’s literally something for everyone — from the adventurous, to multi-generation families, to solo travelers, on small adventure vessels to mega ships, there is a cruise line to meet the expectations of any traveler,” Grubb said.

Whether you just have time to explore the Inside Passage or want a combination land and sea adventure to explore the Denali National Park, there is an option for all budgets, types of travelers and interests.

In an effort to help you find the perfect Alaskan cruise for you and your family, the New York Post spoke with two travel cruise experts to carefully select the following options. Grubb and Terrie M. Cassidy, owner of Gifted Travel Network, a Virtuoso Agency, who has been in the industry for nearly 50 years.

Ahead find our top selections for Alaskan cruises in 2023 and beyond. Check out our FAQ section at the bottom of the article to get more information on when, what and why to book.

Best for land and sea adventures: Celebrity Cruises Homer Discovery And Heartland Wildlife 13-day Cruise Tour

  • Cost: From $3,439 per person
  • Days: 13 days (7 days at sea, 6 on land)
  • Departure port: Anchorage, Alaska, United States
  • End port: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

For the best of both worlds, you’ll want to do a cruise tour which includes both land and sea sites in Alaska. Celebrity Cruises’ Homer Discovery and Heartland Wildlife tour is a great option, that expert Grubb has personally been on.

You’ll arrive in Anchorage on day one and in the morning you’ll enjoy a scenic journey to Talkeetna and make your way to Denali National Park in the afternoon. The next day, enjoy the immersion of Alaska’s natural beauty as you head deeper into the national park on your Tundra Wilderness Tour and keep an eye out for the “Big Five” (caribou, moose, bear, gray wolves and dall sheep). On day four you’ll take a deluxe motor coach to Alyeska (Girdwood), stop at the quiet farm town of Palmer situated in view of the breathtaking Chugach and Talkeetna Mountain ranges. The next day you’ll experience Homer and Kenai River where some of the largest salmon in the world live and stay the night.

After a week of exploring Alaska by land, you’ll go on a scenic drive to Seward where you’ll join the ship. Experience Seward, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, the Inside Passage and then end your journey in Vancouver the following morning.

Best for budget-travelers:

  • Cost: From $349 per person
  • Days: 7 days
  • Departure port: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • End port: Seward, Alaska, United States

Despite what most may think, you don’t need to spend a fortune to experience the beauty of Alaska. Norwegian Cruise Line, for example has many affordable options, starting as low as $349 a night depending on what time of year you decide to book your trip.

On the company’s Hubbard Glacier & Skagway 7-day cruise you’ll depart Seward for some of Alaska’s most scenic destinations. Watch for humpback whales, porpoise and sea lions in the waters surrounding Icy Strait Point. Enjoy a traditional salmon bake in Juneau. Experience the thrill of dog sledding in Skagway. Learn about Alaska’s rich logging history by watching a lumberjack show. Then cruise the Inside Passage to arrive in Vancouver.


Best for off-the-beaten-path travelers: Princess Cruises 13-day Off-The-Beaten-Path Cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage

  • Cost: From $2,118+ per person
  • Days: 13 days (7 days at sea, 6 on land)
  • Departure port: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • End port: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

If you’re looking for something a little different on your next trip to Alaska, Grubb recommends this Princess Cruises option.

You’ll experience Ketchikan — Alaska’s “First City” because it’s the first major community travelers come to as they journey north, Juneau where you’ll likely see whales, a glacier garden, the option to dog sled and more. Visit Skagway to immerse yourself in Gold Rush history, cruise through Glacier Bay National Park (Princess is one of the select cruise lines permitted to enter these pristine waters) and experience College Fjord. You’ll visit Whittier, a World War II port for cargo and troops of the Alaska Command before starting the land portion of your trip.

Step off the ship and board a motorcoach for a scenic journey to Copper River, the next day you’ll head toward Denali National Park. Later on, you’ll experience Mt. McKinley and on your last day you’ll spend your evening in a majestic treehouse — designed and built by Pete Nelson of Animal Planet’s Treehouse Masters.


Best for families: Disney Cruise 7-day Alaskan Cruise from Vancouver

  • Cost: From $1,647+ per person
  • Days: 7 days
  • Departure port: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • End port: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

For those looking to take the whole family on a journey to Alaska and love Disney, you can’t go wrong with this ultra-convenient, all sailing, Disney Cruise that takes you from Stikine Icecap, Ice Strait Point, Juneau and Ketchikan on a 7-day cruise.

This Disney cruise includes broadway-quality shows, fireworks at sea, character experiences, movie screenings, luxury pools, waterslides, kids clubs, incredible restaurants and even babysitters on staff.


Best for luxury travelers: Regent Seven Seas Explorer Seward to Vancouver 7-day Cruise

  • Cost: From $4,880 per person
  • Days: 7 days
  • Departure port: Seward, Alaska, United States
  • End port: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

If you envision yourself sipping on the finest champagne as you cruise by stunning glaciers, consider booking an all-inclusive luxury option like this Regent Seven Seas Cruise. The 750-passenger ship features many gourmet restaurants, all-inclusive beverages, complimentary valet laundry services, free airfare and even included gratuities. Other luxuries include a thermal suite in the five-star spa and fitness center, a luxe casino, afternoon tea and much more. To top it off, if you book a penthouse suite or higher you’ll have your own personal butler, too!

If you can force yourself to get off the boat, you’ll experience Hubbard glacier, Sitka, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, the Inside Passage and Vancouver.


Best for adventurers: Holland America Line 14-Day Great Alaskan Explorer Cruise

  • Cost: From $2,099 per person
  • Days: 14 days
  • Departure port: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • End port: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Since spending time outdoors is of course, one of the main draws to Alaska, it’s no surprise that there will be adventure seeking travelers looking for a specific type of trip. In that case, if you’re looking to bear-watch on Kodiak Island, hike a glacier, kayak through the frigid water, go dog sledding, go panning for gold or want to take a once-in-a-lifetime panoramic helicopter ride, the opportunities are endless — and Holland American Cruise Line is the place to do it.

Standout destinations on this 14-day cruise include Kodiak, Anchorage, Homer, Valdez, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Sitka and more.


What type of Alaskan cruise do you recommend?

“Most [people] don’t have the time to spend one to two months traveling throughout Alaska (it would take at least that long if not longer to even touch on the highlights) So, a cruise along the Inside Passage, as well as the glaciers, is a must,” Cassidy said. “But they’ll miss out on Alaska’s inland treasures, such as Denali National Park, the opportunity to take a glass-domed train with 360° views, and the chance to see more wildlife.”

A big draw to Alaskan wildlife is The Big Five which is grizzy beasrs, moose, caribou, dall skeep and the grey timbler wolf.

“If time and budget allow, my recommendation is always to do a combined sea and land vacation, also known as a cruise tour.”


“A cruise tour is a traveler’s best option when visiting, ” Cassidy said. “Not only do you get to enjoy the gorgeous ports, such as Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and Sitka, but when you travel the land portion, you get to enjoy the wildlife and gorgeous scenery that the state has to offer like Denali, Fairbanks, Homer, Artic Circle, Yukon Territory, and more.”

What is the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise?

“The Alaska cruising season is fairly short — basically May through September,” Grubb said. “July and August tend to be the peak season, to accommodate school vacation schedules and also the best weather. Early or late season travelers may have the opportunity to save a bit on cruise fares.”

It really depends on your preferences and budget.

“I personally like early in the season because you may get the opportunity to see the vegetation bloom and new life emerge,” Cassidy said.“I have been in April (brrr!) and July and loved them both.”

What is the best time to book an Alaskan cruise?

“As a rule, I recommend booking about one year out to get the itinerary you want. You can book closer in, but you may not get the itinerary and tour you want,” Grubb said. “I always tell my clients that the earlier the better.”

The best cruise lines for Alaska (at a glance)

“Each cruise line has a different personality and offers its own unique experience. A qualified travel advisor will help clients select the right itinerary, line, and ship,” Grubb explained.

  • Holland America Line and Princess Cruises have sailed longer than any other cruise line in Alaska. They have extensive access to Glacier Bay National Park, operate their own lodges and bring part of the Alaska experience onboard. Holland America offers mid-sized ships and many education and cultural elements, while Princess tends to appeal to a slightly younger demographic and active families. Celebrity Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line are also other contenders in this category.
  • UnCruise Adventures is very much not a typical cruise line, with ships as small as 22 guests, and activities and itineraries that take you to ports and places where large ships can’t go.
  • “Ultra-luxury” lines like Regents Seven Seas Cruise Line, Cunard Cruises, Seabourn Cruises, Viking River Cruises and Silversea Cruises are for travelers who like a glass of champagne and some caviar after exploring. Most lines offer a variety of 7-to-14-day itineraries on ships that range from 300 to 600 guests.

What is one thing you think an Alaskan cruise first-timer should know?

“Don’t try to do everything in one trip – there is never enough time. But if you want to get the most out of your vacation, do the combination of land and sea.Allow at least 10 to 14 days to get the overall vacation,” Cassidy said.

“At minimum, book a room with a balcony.The scenery of Alaska is one of the top reasons people cruise Alaska.Your balcony offers fresh air, floor to ceiling windows, and the opportunity to see more,” Grubb said. “A whale doesn’t wait until you get to the top deck until it breaches! Sitting in the comfort and privacy of your own balcony is the best way to experience it. Better yet, book a suite for more space!”

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Best Alaskan cruises for summer, according to travel experts (2024)
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