Best Alaska Cruise: Finding The Perfect Itinerary

best Alaska cruise

Alaska is an extraordinarily diverse and beautiful region. Because of this, cruises along Alaska's stunning coastline are more popular than ever. But how to choose the best Alaska cruise? 

Because of the region's popularity, there are a whole host of Alaska cruise itineraries to choose from. Although it's great to have variety, it can make the decision process a little more difficult with so many options.

With epic fjords, stunning inlets, diverse wildlife, and enormous glaciers, it's easy to see why Alaska is one of the top cruise destinations on earth. If you're getting bored with white-sand beaches and packed-out cities, Alaska may just be the epic alternative you're searching for!  

Luckily, we're here to help. This article has been split into sections so you can focus on exactly what you're looking for. Are you a couple looking for an Alaskan cruise getaway? Or adventure lovers? Or are you traveling with the family? Perhaps this is your first time and you want to know the best starting point.

We cover it all below. Please just use the quicklinks provided, or read on to find the best Alaska cruise to suit you. 

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Best Alaska Cruise For Families

best alaska cruise for families

In terms of the best family holidays, cruising has got to be near the top of the list. Back in the day cruising had a reputation as an old-people's holiday, nowadays though, all ages are catered for. From pools and shows, to cinema's and shopping, the larger cruise ships cater to the whole family. 

Luckily, there are no ship size restrictions along Alaska's coastline, including the Inside Passage. This means that the large main line operators like Carnival, Disney, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity etc. offer Alaska cruise itineraries. 

The smaller expedition-style ships are more naturalist focused and don't suit kids as much - especially young kids. If you have teenagers that love watching wildlife, then any expedition cruise will be suitable. 

For families with young kids though, main line operators are the best option. Whilst all of the main line operators offer kid's programs and babysitting, certain lines are more child friendly. Below are our top 3.  


Disney, as their reputation suggests, are very good when it comes to catering for kids. Onboard you'll find guided activities that are all age related from 3 - 17. There are special family and kids pools and children aged 3 - 12 can use the play centres any time they wish for free. 

Activities on offer include video games, arts and crafts, pool parties and a very cool ship simulator! There are a number of family-orientated shore excursions on offer and the baby sitting facilities are excellent (although not offered in-cabin).

Disney offer 5, 7, and 9 day round trips from Vancouver starting from $6,000 for a family of 4. 


Norwegian offer one of the best Alaska cruises for families. Norwegian have a 'freestyle' policy meaning that you can eat whenever you want. As most parents will know, this can come in super handy at times! 

Norwegian also offer great supervised activities like treasure hunting, pj parties, bowling, and arts and crafts for all ages. For the older children they also have movie and disco parties. Keep in mind though that babies under the age of 6 month are not allowed onboard. 

Norwegian offer 7 day round trips from Seattle starting at around $1,000 per person. 

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean are known for having excellent family facilities and their Alaska ship does not disappoint. Rock climbing, wave surfing, mini golf, cinema, and ice skating are just the beginning. You also get some kid-friendly eateries such as Ben and Jerry's. 

Although the facilities are more than enough, there is also a supervised kids program with plenty of activities and in-cabin babysitting which is a bonus! like Norwegian, babies under the age of 6 months are not allowed on board. 

Royal Caribbean have the most itinerary options from 4 day getaways, to 11 day glacier cruises. Departure points include Seattle, Vancouver and Seward. Prices start from $900 per person. 

Best Alaska Cruise For Active Adults 

best alaska cruise for active adults

If you're an active adult with a love of the outdoors, Alaska will not disappoint! If pools and cinemas are not your thing, then expedition-style cruising just may be. 

Expedition cruises are a different type of sailing. You get lectures from naturalists and photographers, take zodiac trips to get closer to the wildlife, and make daily shore excursions where you can explore the landscape in more detail. 

These cruises are fantastic for wildlife lovers and by far the best way to get up close and personal with nature. Some of the wildlife you're likely to see include orca, humpbacks, puffins, Bald Eagles, brown bears, and salmon. 

For the real active types, expedition cruise to Alaska offer optional extras like kayaking, fishing, dog sledding, and even snorkelling! These activities cost extra, but are definitely worth it. 

So, if you want to experience Alaska at her most raw, you'll want an expedition cruise. Keep in mind though that these ships are smaller, feel the motion more, and have less facilities. Below are our top 3 expedition options.  

Inside Passage Cruise

Without doubt the best Alaska cruise for active adults. This expedition itinerary in Alaska focuses on the stunning Inside Passage. Although this is the same area that the major cruise lines operate in, smaller expedition ships can reach the shallower ports of the region cut off to larger ships. 

There is a huge range of itineraries, even within the Inside Passage. You can choose to explore the northern or southern areas, or do both on a longer cruise. There are also expedition cruises that focus on the magnificent Glacier Bay. No matter what itinerary you choose, you're bound to see a diverse range of wildlife and have some great encounters. 

Prices start from $3,000 per person and go upwards of $12,000 depending on the ship, itinerary and duration. 

Alaska And The Russian Far East

If you have the adventure spirit and want to experience something truly unique and unforgettable, a cruise from Alaska to Russia's Far East may just be the ticket! 

Starting at around $13,000, this cruise does not come cheap. However, what you get is one of the most epic expedition cruises on earth. You'll see the brown bears of Katmai and Kamchatka, before heading on to Wrangel Island where you'll witness polar bears, musk ox, foxes and walrus.

Best Alaska Cruise For First-Timers

best alaska cruise for first timers

The last frontier in America, Alaska is the perfect place for first time cruise passengers to explore! Because the larger ships can sail here, you have plenty of options to choose from which is great for first-timers. 

One thing we always suggest for first timers in Alaska is not to spend too much money on a long cruise. It's better to test the water with a shorter, cheaper cruise. If you love it (which you probably will), then you could do a longer one the next year. You could even book a cruise tour package

If you're a first timer with a thirst for wildlife, then you may want to choose an expedition cruise as mentioned in the section above. These have a very different feel to main line cruises. They're much smaller, have much less facilities, but come with daily zodiac trips, shore excursions, and lectures from naturalists. 

Royal Caribbean 

Royal Caribbean offer short 4-day itineraries. We believe this is one of the best Alaska cruises for first-timers as it docent take too much time, doesn't cost too much, but still gives you a great experience. 

The cruise costs around $900 per person and is a round-trip from Vancouver. You visit the beautiful port of Kechikan and witness some beautiful fjords. 

Royal Caribbean actually offer a cheaper 7-night cruise, but this one departs from Seward which is more expensive to get to. This itinerary visits the magnificent Hubbard Glacier though, which is definitely worth seeing! 

Wilderness Adventurer

Both the Wilderness Adventurer ship and the Wilderness Explorer ship offer excellent first time expedition itineraries.

The itineraries takes in the remote areas of Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage over 8 days. The ships are fairly small, carrying no more than 75 people. Along the way you'll get the chance to see some incredible wildlife and explore the landscape in detail! 

Prices start from $2,900 and most trips begin from Juuneau. 

Best Alaska Cruise For Couples

best alaska cruise for couples

Although there are no white-sand beaches and summer tans, the stunning glaciers, breathtaking forests, and idyllic solitude of Alaska, make it an ideal cruise destination for couples. 

Getting off the grid and away from the hassles and strains of modern life is a sure way to become closer to the person you love. Melt into the relaxed surroundings and enjoy each other company as you sail past through one of the prettiest landscapes you'll ever witness.

Although most cruises to Alaska cater for all sorts of travellers, very few actually focus specifically on couples. This does not mean to say couples won't have a great time, it just means they cater to all.

Below are the two we recommend highly. For couples with a real sense of adventure, you should consider a small-ship expedition cruise such as the Misty Fjord or the Alaska Dream ships. Both are very small and offer an intimate experience because of this. 

M/V Sikumi Honeymoon Cruise

Don't be put off by the name, couples who aren't married or on their honeymoon are perfectly suited to this cruise. The M/V Sikumi ship is geared towards couples. The luxurious wooden interior and on-hand chef is just one of the reasons why this is the best Alaska cruise for couples. 

The staterooms are built with private spaces and there is the option to take private excursions such as hiking, kayaking, fishing, and wildlife watching. Because of its focus on couples and luxury, the cruise does not come cheap. Expect to pat at least $6,500 per person.  

Norwegian Cruises

Norwegian have a excellent reputation when it comes to couples. They even offer a couples package on most Alaska cruises which includes breakfast in bed, couples massage and private dining experiences. 

If you like a bit of competition, there is the option for coulee to play basketball, rock climb and table tennis. 7-day Alaska highlight cruises begin from just $900 per person.  

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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.

Best Alaska Cruise - Editors Pick

best Alaska cruise - editors pick

With so many wonderful cruises on offer, this is a very difficult choice. There is no single Alaska cruise to suit every type of person. Each cruise offer something unique and different. What you see will also depend on when you cruise.  

The best cruise to suit you can also be based upon mundane elements such as budget, departure city, time constraints. However, there is no doubting that the longer Alaska cruises explore more areas and ports, and give passengers a better shot at spotting more wildlife.

Below are our two favourite cruise itineraries on the market today. One is a main line cruise and one is an expedition cruise. Which one you prefer really depends on the type of cruise you prefer.  

14-Day Alaska's Inside Passage And Katmai

This 2-week expedition itinerary is only offered on select ships. It's the ultimate Alaska cruise in our opinion.

Not only do you explore the Inside Passage, visiting sites such as Glacier Bay and Hubbard Glacier, you explore the brown bear region of Katmai. 2 weeks provides ample time to see plenty of wildlife, whilst also giving you some down time to relax and explore the beautiful ports.

Both the Silver Explorer and the National Geographic Orion offer this itinerary. If you're lucky, you might even visit Kodiak Island. Prices start from $11,000. The Ursus offer a shorter 8-day option that explores Katmai. 

7-Day Southbound Norwegian Cruise

Norwegian are definitely one of the best main line operators in Alaska. Their rooms are spacious and clean, and the facilities are excellent for both families, couples, and singles.

Their 7-day southbound itinerary gives you the most time in Alaska. Starting at Seward, you'll visit both Hubbard and Sawyer Glacier, not to mention Juneau and Skagway on your way to Vancouver. 

This is a great low-budget option with cruises starting from less than a $1,000 per person. 

Get a Cruise Quote!

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.


If you have any queries or questions regarding the best Alaska cruise, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. If you would like more Alaska cruise tips, please click here

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Expedition Cruise is the web’s most authoritative information portal on adventure and expedition cruising. Our mission is to provide up to date and comprehensive information on traveling to the Arctic, Antarctica and further afield, so that your experience is as fulfilling and safe as possible.

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