You really can't praise Alaskan cruises enough. The amazing scenery, coupled with incredible wildlife and shore excursions make the region one of the greatest cruising destinations on earth. But with so many companies to choose from, how do you choose the best Alaska cruise line?
We've written this article to answer just that. First off, we've listed all the major lines that sail in Alaska and given you overview on the pros and cons of each.
Just remember, there is no 'best Alaska cruise line' - there is just the best Alaska cruise line to suit you. Each company tends to focus on different things and age groups which can really make or break your Alaska journey. Your budget will also be a major factor to consider.
Remember also that certain cruise companies will visit different port and areas. Some will visit Glacier Bay, whilst others will visit another region of the Inside Passage. Some may stop at Seward, others may stop in Sitka. You may also be cornered depending on when in the season you wish to travel
So, to get you the perfect Alaska cruise line and ship, please read all the information below to help you decide! We're totally unbiased and do not take commissions from any of these cruise lines. They appear in no particular order.
We have separated the page into two sections; standard cruise lines and luxury cruise lines.
Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.
Known as "The Love Boat" line, Princess is a fairly traditional cruise line that is always well thought of. Although there is occasional talk of overcrowded areas, generally Princess cruises get very good reviews.
Princess operate 1 ship in Alaska called the Ruby Princess. Carrying just over 3,000 passengers, she's one of the bigger ships in the region boasting 4 pools and 7 spa jacuzzis. You'll also get pool side cinema and plenty of restaurant options including a new gastro pub. Princess have also partnered with the Discovery Channel to bring loads of activities on board for kids and adults alike.
Disney cruises are typically aimed at families with small children. Like all things Disney, their focus on kids activities and amenities are fairly spot on and young families will love the options available. Although they tend to be slightly pricier than other options (especially the shore excursions), the facilities onboard are always excellent and well tailored to kids.
Disney operate 1 ship in Alaska called the Disney Wonder. The ship carries just over 1,500 passengers and looks very stylish with it's traditional ocean-liner cladding. Fear not though, the interior is sleek and modern. The ship screams elegance which is tough to do considering how many child friendly areas there are.
Known for it "freestyle cruising" concept that sees no dress code, no fixed dining times, and a laid back attitude, Norwegian cruises are becoming more and more popular in recent years. This freestyle concept allows for a lot of freedom and passengers can go about their day at their own rhythm and pace.
Norwegian currently operate three ships within Alaska; the Norwegian Jewel, the Norwegian Joy, and their latest ship the Norwegian Bliss. The latter is the largest ship in a Alaska cable to carry 4,000 passengers. The Norwegian Bliss also boasts a 20,000 square-foot observation lounge for passengers to watch the scenery and wildlife go by and an Alaska-themed hull design. The interior is clean and modern, giving the ship a spacious feel that is difficult to achieve with 4,000 passengers.
Holland America has always been the older refined brother of the cruise lines. You won't find go-kart tracks or rock climbing walls, but you will find refined elegance and a traditional cruising experience. Generally Holland America have catered towards an older clientele, but you will find families and young couples on their Alaska voyages.
Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, and Westerdam ships operate the most Alaska cruises, but there are a number of other ships in their Alaskan fleet also. Nieuw Amsterdam is their latest and greatest, offering beautiful food, great service and a main pool with retractable roof for poor-weather days - so pack your swim gear!
Celebrity cruises are the sister line of Royal Caribbean. Whilst Royal Caribbean are famous for onboard entertainment and activities, Celebrity offer a more upmarket approach with more wine bars, and formal dining experiences. Although their passenger to space ratio is fairly standard, Celebrity cruises rarely feel cramped due to their excellent layout.
In Alaska Celebrity offer three ships; the Celebrity Millennium, the Celebrity Eclipse, and the Celebrity Solstice. All three are excellent ships, but the latter two offer the cruise line's most famous feature - the half acre of real lawn on the top deck. This is a great space to play traditional games like bocce and croquet and relax in the sun.
One of the most well-known cruise companies, Royal Caribbean have always been about entertainment and sport facilities. This is perfect for active people and kids who want to go go karting, rock climbing, surfing, ice skating, zip lining etc. Because the focus is very much on activities, Royal Caribbean is perhaps not as sophisticated as other companies (including their sister company Celebrity cruises). Despite the lack of refinement, Royal Caribbean still feels quite classy and offers a vey fun experience that is perfect for families.
The two main ships that Royal Caribbean sail in Alaska are Ovation Of The Seas and Radiance Of The Seas. Both are state of the art ships, but the former is almost twice as big, carrying just over 4,000 passengers. The ship includes the first ever sky diving experience at sea, surf pools, glass view elevators, Jamie dining restaurant and much more. There are literally countless activities that will keep all the family occupied. RC also offer ana excelent cruise tour package.
Carnival are known as the 'fun line' thanks to their participation activities and kids shows. Carnival are one of the most budget friendly cruise lines available which is perfect for families trying to save some cash. However, the lower ticket price does come at a price. The space to passenger ratio is very low and they tend to squeeze a lot of passengers onboard. This creates a crowded feeling and queues are inevitable. But for people on a tight budget, the cruises are still very fun and great value for money!
Carnival operate two ships in Alaska; Carnival Spirit and Carnival Legend. Both ships have the famous Thunder water slide and celebrity chef Guy Fieri's famous burgers! Kids will love the Camp Ocean kids club and parents will love the local food served onboard.
Silversea cruises, like most luxury cruise lines, offer a refined and elegant experience that is hard to beat. Their passenger to space ratio is near the top of the market and their suites are some of the biggest you'll find. Silversea are known for sailing almost anywhere including West Africa, Far East Russia, and Bangladesh.
Silversea sail both the Silver Explorer and the Silver Muse in Alaska. Of the two, Silver Muse is used far more frequently. Hailed as the 'best place between sea and sky', Silver Muse was only delivered in early 2017 and carries just under 600 passengers. She offers state of the art refinement and dining. Onboard you'll find boutique shops, spas, bars and reading rooms, not to mention a lovely top deck pool.
Like Silversea cruises, Seabourn offer exceptional comfort, refined detail, and great guest to space ratio. Their staff to guest ratio is almost one-to-one, so expect unbeatable service. Seabourn's ultra-luxury fleet all have ocean-facing suites with more space than you would expect on smaller, luxury ships.
Although their Alaska itineraries are limited, they still offer excellent options which are all at least 2 weeks long in duration. The Seabourn Sojourn is the ship of choice and boasts 229 suites, a card room, spa, al fresco dining, observation deck and much more. En-suite dining course by course is also a nice touch.
Regent Seven Seas are famously the 'all-inclusive luxury cruise line'. When they say all inclusive, they seriously mean it. Your return flights are included, along with a luxury hotel stay, all dining and drinking onboard, all shore excursions, most activities onboard, and even gratuities. Whilst this gives a you a care-free holiday, you do need to pay up front for it all which does mean the ticket price is expensive.
The major ship used in Alaska by Regent is the Seven Seas Mariner. This beautiful ship boasts cabins that are all 252 square feet in size minimum and come with balconies as standard. The ship comes with a lovely pool, along with pool bar, library, card room, gym, spa, boutique shops, and many other nice touches.
Crystal Cruises are hugely popular as they combine top-notch luxury with a wide variety of onboard amenities and entertainment. Although their ships are not huge, they are bigger than most luxury ships and therefore have one of the best guest to space ratios in the industry. Its no coincidence that Crystal have been named the best cruise company more often than any other operator.
The Crystal Symphony is the leader in Alaska and offers a wide variety of itineraries. The 848-passenger ship offer a large variety of restaurants such as celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa's sushi bar and the Prego Italian restaurant. Entertainment such as a the theatre and nightly nightclub also makes the ship stand out. Alcohol and gratuities are included and you'll find a host of creative classes onboard such as filmmaking and art history!
If you have any queries or questions regarding Alaska cruise lines, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. For some great Alaska cruise tips, please click here.
Thank you and happy travels!
Expedition Cruise Team
Burnham started his career as a professional tennis player before retiring due to injury. Since then Burnham has thrown himself into adventure travel. He has cruised to some of the most iconic and obscure parts of the planet.