Your Ultimate Cruise Guide

Compare: 11 Cruise Ships in Alaska

It's hard not to revert to hyperbole with Alaska. Here lie more than enough towering snow-capped mountains, breathtaking calving glaciers, extraordinary wildlife spottings and quirky (if over-trafficked) frontier towns to wow hundreds of thousands of cruisers annually. And with more than two dozen mainstream ships plying Alaska's island-filled southeast region from May to September, passengers certainly have options. This chart features a representative from every major line, including Princess (the biggest player in Alaska), Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Disney and Regent Seven Seas. (Looking to really get your feet wet? For more rugged Alaska options, see if an expedition cruise is right for you.)

For basic info on the weather (highly variable), the two key Alaska itineraries ("Inside Passage" and "Gulf"), Alaska cruise deals, and pre- and post-cruise add-ons, see our Ultimate Guide to Alaska Cruising.
Note: Click on a ship name to get more info and read hundreds of cruise reviews.

Cruise Ship Basics Itineraries Alaska Exclusives Ship Wows Deck Plan

The 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl offers a range of cabin options -- from 145-square-foot insides to cruising's premier "gated community" (the Haven complex)-- and 10 free and for-fee eateries. Pearl also has more modern flair than its regional competitors (e.g., the Miami Beach-esque Bliss Ultra Lounge and the big-screen Wii battles), so it's a decent pick for younger couples.

See other NCL Alaska options.
Homeport(s): Seattle, roundtrip weeklong; some shoulder season Seattle-to-Vancouver (and reverse)

Ports: Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Glacier Bay (scenic), Alaska; Victoria, BC
  • Special menu: Blackened Alaska Salmon, Crab and Cod Cake
  • Park ranger-led narration in Glacier Bay
  • Folklorist spins Klondike yarns when ship's in Skagway
  • Alaska beers, Washington State wines
  • 4,100-square-foot, three-bed, three-bath Garden Villas
  • Has one of industry's only bowling alleys
  • Play Nintendo Wii on massive LED screen
  • Cabin Reviews

The 1,754-passenger Disney Wonder is the pinnacle of family-friendly Alaska cruising. Disney, which made its first foray into the 49th state in '11, has tailored the experience onboard (kids' programming, dining) and off (unique if pricey shore tours). The ship, with its ocean-liner-style exterior and art nouveau interior, makes a statement: "elegance" and "family friendly" don't have to be mutually exclusive.
Homeport(s): Seattle (Vancouver in '13), roundtrip weeklong; shoulder season Seattle-to-Vancouver (and reverse)

Ports: Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Tracy Arm Fjord (scenic), Alaska; Victoria, BC
  • "Base Camp" kids program during Tracy Arm visit
  • Unique-to-Disney shore-ex (fishing derby, teen glacier trek)
  • Park Service-sponsored Junior Rangers program
  • Adults can enjoy special themed lunch
  • Most cabins feature bath-and-a-half
  • Unique dining scheme: Rotate among three venues with same waiters
  • Grownups get lounge-filled District for after-hours fun
  • Cabin Reviews

The 2,670-passenger Sapphire is one of many Princess ships stationed seasonally in Alaska. A 2012 dry dock gave Sapphire every Princess signature, including a poolside jumbotron, adult-only sun deck and the Piazza, with its wine-and-tapas bar, pizzeria and show space. Guests tend to be 50-plus pairs, but extended fams -- kids, parents, grandparents -- are common, too.

See other Princess Alaska options.
Homeport(s): Sapphire sails north and southbound cruises, Vancouver to Whittier and vice versa.

Ports: Glacier Bay National Park (scenic cruising), Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan
  • Dedicated naturalist, special guests (e.g., Iditarod Champions)
  • Alaska buffet -- salmon, crab salad -- in Glacier Bay
  • Local Alaskan beers served onboard
  • Chef cook-off: Reindeer Chili and Rockfish Chowder
  • Pair of alternative restaurants: Italian, steakhouse
  • Hidden gem: Churchill's cigar and sports bar
  • Many affordable mini-suites
  • Cabin Reviews

The 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle is likely Alaska's boldest cruiser. The ship pays homage to fictional characters, so everyone from Robinson Crusoe to detective Hercule Poirot makes an appearance. Miracle has many casual dining options and tons of bars, so its social passengers can have a great time. Still, despite the high energy onboard, Alaska's spectacular scenery is never an afterthought.
Homeport(s): Seattle, roundtrip weeklong; shoulder season Seattle-to-Vancouver (and reverse)

Ports: Tracy Arm Fjord (scenic), Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Alaska; Victoria, BC
  • Dedicated onboard naturalist
  • Just for Alaska menu: local fish and game
  • Alaska-themed kids activities: build your own totem poll, pap-er-mache glacier
  • Green Thunder waterslide features near-vertical drop
  • Gym tiered like a Roman amphitheater -- oceanviews from every angle
  • Highly touted for-fee steakhouse($30)
  • Cabin Reviews

Every cabin on the 490-passenger Navigator is a suite with at least 301 square feet of space, and 90 percent have private balconies. The upshot: This is an all-inclusive luxury ship attracting an affluent set of 55-plus couples. Fares often include airfare, adult beverages, some shore tours, gratuities and a pre-cruise hotel stay. Passengers shell out up front, but then aged beef in Prime 7 and a Tom Collins in the Connoisseur Club are part of the Alaska bargain.
Homeport(s): Seward and Vancouver, weeklong north- and southbound voyages; longer (9-, 11- and 12-night) shoulder season cruises starting or ending in San Fran

Ports: Ketchikan, Icy Strait, Juneau, Tracy Arm (scenic), Skagway and Sitka, Alaska; Astoria, Portland; Victoria and Prince Rupert, BC
  • Fellow pax include Alaska experts, authors
  • Tribal leaders, local officials may board for ad hoc Q&A's
  • Custom menu: halibut veloute, Alaskan venison, berry pie
  • Club Mariner Program for 5- to 17-year-olds
  • 345 crew for 490 passengers
  • Prime 7, contemporary steakhouse
  • All cabins: marble-appointed bathrooms, full-sized tubs
  • Cabin Reviews

The 2,112-passenger Radiance offers the best of Royal Caribbean -- dining variety, great kids programs, active pursuits -- in a more modest size. During a $20 million makeover in spring 2011, Radiance gained eight new dining options (including a Japanese venue and a churrascaria), as well as cabin upgrades, ship-wide Wi-Fi, a poolside cinema and a nursery for babies and toddlers.

See other Royal Caribbean Alaska options.
Homeport(s): Vancouver and Seward, north- and southbound voyages

Ports: Ketchikan, Icy Strait, Juneau, Hubbard Glacier (scenic), Skagway
  • Special menus
  • Alaskan beers served
  • Naturalist offers commentary
  • African-themed Solarium has pool, hot tubs, relaxation spots
  • Private lounge for suite pax
  • Touch-screen "wayfinders" make navigation easy
  • Cabin Reviews

Before its '12 Alaska season, the 1,950-passenger Millennium went under the knife, emerging with 100 spa cabins (massage showers, thermal suite passes), an ice-topped martini bar with juggling bartenders and three new restaurants pulled from Celebrity's newer Solstice-class ships. None of that should take away from Millie's core quirkiness, i.e., its whimsical art (Rubenesque nudes!) and lovely glass-covered spaces.

See other Celebrity Alaska options.
Homeport(s): Vancouver and Seward, weeklong north- and southbound voyages

Ports: Ketchikan, Icy Strait, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier (scenic)
  • Cheers: biking-and-beer shore excursion
  • Onboard naturalist offers insight into landscape
  • Crew doles out flannel blankets, hot cocoa on deck
  • Special culinary theme cruise offered once a season
  • All-weather indoor solarium with pool
  • Ocean liner-themed French restaurant ($40)
  • Exterior glass elevators (what a view!)
  • Cabin Reviews

Holland America's 1,848-passenger Westerdam aims to do what HAL does best: blend cruise traditions with contemporary flourishes. Formal nights are still celebrated, though the tuxedoed pax have the choice of traditional set seating or modern flex-dining. The ship also has a Food Network-styled show kitchen for cooking demos. HAL caters mostly to the 55-plus set, though special family programming will make grandparent-grandchild pairings feel at home, too.

See other HAL Alaska options.
Homeport(s): Seattle, weeklong roundtrip sailings

Ports: Juneau, Glacier Bay (scenic), Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska; Victoria, BC
  • Salmon dish every night for dinner
  • Huna native interpreter gives talks in Glacier Bay
  • For ex-Seattle cruises, park ranger gives talk on gold rush history
  • Junior Rangers kids program for Club HAL in Glacier Bay
  • Pacific Northwest fare at Pinnacle Grill
  • Smallest balcony cabin is a sizable 200 square feet
  • Main pool housed under sliding glass "magrodome"
  • Cabin Reviews

The 684-passenger Oceania Regatta was originally built as one of a series of eight ships for Renaissance Cruises -- which ceased operations in late 2001. Oceania's management has always had clear objectives: offer luxurious service without becoming a luxury cruise line. Priced in the premium or deluxe range, the ship offers an experience that's close to luxury without being all-inclusive.

Homeport(s): Seattle and Vancouver, 7- to 10-day northbound and southbound voyages

Ports: Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, Tracy Arm (scenic), Inside Passage (scenic), Hubbard Glacier (scenic), Anchorage, Skagway and Sitka, Alaska; Victoria and Prince Rupert, BC
  • Suites range from 300 to 1,000 square feet
  • Speakers on selected sailings and in port
  • Toscana serves regional Italian delicacies, seats 100
  • Handful of cruises make visit to Wrangell
  • Polo Grill for steak, roasted meats, seats 100
  • 92% of cabins are outside
  • Cabin Reviews

The 382-passenger Silver Shadow is an intimate, all-suite, all-inclusive luxury vessel with one of the most generous space-to-passenger ratios in the industry. There's also a crewmember for every 1.3 of the typically 60-plus passengers, who are accommodated in cabins ranging from 287 to 1,435 square feet. The ship, which benefited from a spring 2011 freshening, also routinely gets high marks for its art collection.

Homeport(s): Seward and Vancouver, weeklong north- and southbound voyages; Longer (10- and 11-night) shoulder season cruises roundtrip Vancouver

Ports: Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau, Tracy Arm (scenic), Skagway and Sitka, Alaska; Victoria and Prince Rupert, BC
  • Crab and salmon bake on the pool deck
  • Speakers include noted historians, conservationists
  • Local Alaskan seafood is incorporated into evening menus
  • Handful of cruises make visit to Wrangell
  • Le Champagne, "Wine Restaurant" by Relais & Chateaux
  • Almost every cabin has a balcony
  • Cabin Reviews

Solstice has one of the best interior architecture designs at sea, and passenger flow is excellent. While the ship's passenger-to-space ratio is standard for the industry, the ship never feels crowded. And perhaps the most unique feature of this, or any other, ship is the full half-acre of lush living grass on the top deck. Called the Lawn Club, this area features bocce courts, a putting course and more.

Homeport(s): Seattle and Vancouver, 7-, 8- and 11-day northbound and southbound voyages

Ports: Ketchikan, Juneau, Tracy Arm (scenic), Inside Passage (scenic), Hubbard Glacier (scenic) and Skagway, Alaska; Victoria and Prince Rupert, BC
  • Naturalists onboard for high interest areas
  • Cruise-tour options include extended trips
  • Possibility to add luxury hotel stays
  • Blankets and hot chocolate for nature viewing
  • Innovative Features: Lawn Club, Glass-Blowing Show
  • Boutique dining options, from crepes to spa cuisine
  • Spa-loving passengers can stay in Aqua Class cabins
  • Cabin Reviews

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