I bet you are thinking, with so many cruise options traveling in Alaska, how do I pick the right one?
The options are wide open for Alaskan cruises! There are many different choices, so how do you know if you are picking the right one?
The best advice is to make sure you are using a qualified travel agent that knows Alaska and knows what you are wanting.
The great thing with having so many different options is there is something for everyone. Whether you are looking for the biggest ship with all the bells and whistles, to a laid back older crowd cruise, to a small ship adventure cruise, they are all available!
Let’s dive in a little deeper and compare size categories:
Larger Ships: Most of the larger ships are going to have more activities onboard which naturally attract a bit of a younger crowd at times. Some of the brands that are known for larger ships are Norwegian Cruises with the Norwegian Bliss and the Norwegian Joy, Royal Caribbean with Ovation of the Seas and Princess with the Royal Princess.
If you like to always have something to do and the latest and greatest in ship amenities, these larger ships might be just right for you!
These are great options for multi-generation families, such as family reunions or large families traveling together.
Mid-size Ships: These ships have plenty to do onboard and attract a range of ages. Mid-size ships offer kids areas, adult areas, shows, and multiple restaurants, normally. Because of the slightly smaller size, most have around 1500 to 2500 guests, which can be nice in the smaller Alaska ports.
Small Size Ship: In Alaska, the interior passage is a must and some of the passage is small. With a small size ship, they are able to visit some of the ports that the large and midsize ships just can not go to.
In this category, you normally find longer itineraries as well as more wildlife and wilderness driven cruises. The age range is normally a bit higher on these cruises, but there are options for families that are looking for an incredible adventure!
Let’s chat about the different cruise companies:
Each company has its loyal followers and has lots of pros. Here’s a quick summary to highlight each:
Norwegian Cruises: On a Norwegian ship, you are free to have fun! Norwegian offers Free Style Cruising, meaning, no specific time to be at dinner and no formal nights. On a Norwegian Ship, there are so many options for restaurants and bars to enjoy, just like going out to dinner at home!
Also, on the Norwegian Bliss and The Joy, they offer the Race Track at Sea, as well as, Laser Tag, which I personally can say are AWESOME! The kid’s area is incredible! Trust me, your kids will never want to leave!
Royal Caribbean Cruises: Royal Caribbean is a great option for families, couples, or older clients as well. The Ovation of The Seas that travels round trip Seattle sailings has so much to offer. One of the coolest things on board is their North Star. (The North Star Alaskan Experience lasts approximately 15 to 20 minutes and begins by rising to a height of approximately 250 feet above sea level where the North Star turns and extends over the side of the ship. This position is held for a few minutes giving participants an incredible view of the ship and surroundings before the North Star climbs to a height of approximately 300 feet above sea level.)
Royal Caribbean also offers amazing cruise tours (land + cruise) and every cruise tour has a dedicated guide that is with you the entire time! Royal Caribbean offers great cruises for families and older passengers.
Princess Cruises: Princess is a favorite of older crowds, but has plenty of families during June and July that love it! They offer a great North to Alaska program to bring the history, nature, and culture onboard their ships. Princess also offers great kids programming that brings Alaska onboard through games, crafts, and fun.
Holland America Cruises: With Holland America you know you are in good Alaska hands. Holland has been sailing Alaska for over 70 years and with 8 ships in Alaska, they are very well versed. Holland is known for an older age group, but you do have family activities with kids’ areas onboard. Holland’s food is very highly regarded and a favorite among many. Like most other brands, Holland offers great cruise tours to experience the interior of Alaska. If you are looking for a slower pace, relaxing cruise, then Holland might be just right for you!
Celebrity Cruises: When sailing on a Celebrity cruise you have the perfect blend of elegant, classic cruising mixed with all the modern amenities and technology you could want. They have top-notch service and strive for excellence.
Celebrity is a great option for multi-generation families that are looking for a notch above in service and surroundings. It is also a great option for a honeymoon, anniversary, or couples traveling together. Also, with Celebrity Cruise Tours, every land tour has its own tour guide the entire time, which is great!
Disney Cruise Lines: For families and couples, Disney Cruise Lines is top-notch! Many think that Disney is only for kids but many adults find it spectacular! They offer incredible onboard activities, shows, and dining options mixed with Disney magic. The service level on a Disney Cruise is extraordinary and the ship is amazing! Disney does a great job of mixing Disney Magic and Alaska in one.
Cunard: Reminiscent of the old ocean liners of the past, Cunard offers stated luxury and a look to the past onboard The Queen Elizabeth. Cunard prides itself on service. With their White Star Service, Cunard believes each quest is special and also that great service is warm and sincere.
Onboard you’ll meet expert speakers who speak on culture, wildlife, and history. You will also enjoy delectable locally inspired dishes throughout your journey.
UnCruise Adventures: Nothing says Alaska adventure and wilderness quite like an UnCruise Adventure Cruise! All cruises with UnCruise are on smaller ships (only 90 guest tops) that focus on wildlife, wilderness and adventure. Imagine launching kayaks from the back of the small ship, watching whales breach at the side, hiking with your own tour guide, or taking a polar plunge in Alaska, and it’s all included!
Along with all of the above, you have relaxation, comfort, and service on board. If you are interested in Alaska but want something a step above, then UnCruise is definitely for you!
Windstar Cruises: With Windstar you’ll leave crowds and commonplaces behind. With only a max of 350 guests, Windstar’s ships are large enough to pamper, yet small enough to explore. On all of Windstar’s Alaska itineraries, they feature six onboard expedition experts that spend one-on-one time with guests providing insight on glaciers, culture, and wildlife and lead optional signature expedition tours on Zodiacs and kayaks. If understated elegance and uncommon beauty are something that intrigues you, then Windstar is for you!
Regent Cruises: Regent Cruises are smaller vessels (700 passengers) that pride itself on service with a staff to guest ratio of 1 to 1.5. With Regent, everything is included. (Shore Excursions, Airfare, Unlimited Beverages, Gratuities, Specialty Restaurants, Ground Transportation, Unlimited WiFi, and Taxes and fees, all included!) Regent tends to attract an older age-range of passengers but families and millennial’s also find Regent to be an exceptional option.
With so many options you are bound to find one that is perfect for you and your family!
The best advice is to make sure you are working with a travel planner that knows Alaska and can help you find the perfect match for what you are wanting.
At Embrace the Journey Travel we have a huge heart for Alaska and have personally trained and traveled extensively in Alaska. Our desire is to share this wonderful place with you and help you create memories that will last a lifetime!
For more information or to get started planning your Alaska adventure, click here.
A little about myself, the guest blog writer… Danielle Hupp
Travel is not just something I enjoy, but a passion! My husband, daughter and I travel as much as possible! We have had many great adventures, but our favorite place to visit is Alaska! We love the wildlife, nature, and incredible people that surround us when we are there! My favorite place in Alaska to visit is Denali! I wish everyone could go and experience the vast wilderness that Denali holds. It is an incredible place!