Alaska Cruise Itin/Line Recommendations

Hi all -

I know lots of you have been to Alaska many times, and I'm looking for recommendations for my parents. They are thinking about doing an Alaska cruise this year for their anniversary. I have a good idea of what to recommend them but thought I'd ask people that have actually sailed there.

They both went on a Celebrity cruise to Bermuda in 2000, which is my dad's only cruise so far. My mom also joined me last year on a Viking ocean cruise in Europe, which she absolutely loved. I think it was her favorite vacation she's ever taken. As much as they'd love to sail luxury, it's too expensive and they're looking for a regular mainstream line to Alaska.

I know that Princess and Holland America tend to be the best in that region, and right now I'm leaning towards HAL for them for many reasons. They're in their early 50's but my mom enjoys the slower pace like we experienced on Viking, where she and I were both among the youngest passengers lol!

Who recommends HAL and why, or what other line do you have a good argument for? And also, what are the best week-long itineraries for people who have never been to Alaska or even the northwest before? They're thinking Seattle looks like a good port to sail from to explore a bit beforehand but Canada would work, too.

Tags: princess alaska Alaska Juneau alaska cruise juneau seattle holland america

2 Answers

We have been on 3 Alaskan cruises, 2 with Holland America and 1 with Princess. Itinerary isn't going to change very much regardless of ship, but since it is their Anniversary, they might want to consider a 14 day cruise and see more ports. We did that on HAL last May and I think the average age was 65. The end of May is an excellent time to cruise as wild life abounds.

I would look close at HAL and Princess. Since your folks only have a week you will be pretty much relegated to Southeast Alaska only. Pay attention to the routing of each cruise for each line. Try to do a cruise that spends as much time east of Vancouver Island as possible, I posted this before regarding similar questions raised in this forum:

"The best dates to travel to and in Alaska really depends upon which part of Alaska you will be visiting and what you are most interested in. For instance, bear viewing is really popular, however most brown bear viewing is on the coast when the salmon are peaking out in the spawning streams, which occurs mid-summer on.

If you are doing a cruise tour or visiting interior Alaska as an independent with a lot of outdoor activity, you might want to come before the peak mosquito season begins, (which is shortly after mid-June and ends around early August).

About 65% of cruisers to Alaska only do the Southeast (Panhandle) portion of the State. Not much of a mosquito problem in Southeast since they don't breed in brackish or salt water. Assuming you are on a typical 7 day (round robin) cruise you probably won't be crossing the Gulf of Alaska and traveling further north to South Central Alaska or going on into the interior on a land tour, but most likely doing a cruise of Southeast Alaska, originating and ending in either Vancouver or Seattle. Almost all of these cruises do the "Alaska Inside Passage".

For Southeast you might want to wait until later June through mid-September. Sometimes, close to the equinox, the Pacific storms start setting in, however, that also can be the best of the travel season too. Luck of the draw.

My personal preference for these round robins is to get on a cruise that cruises through the "Canadian Inside Passage" as well as the "Alaska Inside Passage". Meaning, they travel to the east of Vancouver Island as opposed to the west of the island, west of the island places the vessel out into the North Pacific where scenic voyaging is limited to non-existent, rougher water there too, particularly in the Fall. Vancouver is the most likely port for Canadian Inside Passage voyaging.

Beware when the line or your agent simply says you are going to be in the "Inside Passage". We are lifelong Alaskans so have taken only one cruise to Alaska, which was on Regent, a two weeker, originating in San Francisco and ending in Vancouver, around the end of May and first of June. Hot weather even, 72 F, for Alaska that is. We sailed as far north as Valdez in Prince William Sound and hit every obligatory port in Southeast. Excellent cruise; the only downer was, both north and south, we skipped the Canadian Inside Passage and traveled to the west of Vancouver Island. Some Canadians on board weren't very happy in that they had been led to believe they would be cruising on the east side of Vancouver Island.

The two cruise lines with the longest history in Alaska are HAL and Princess. Both have made considerable investments up here in the way of excursion transportation (buses and dome railroad coaches) and hotel chains (Westmark Hotels for HAL and 5 wilderness lodges for Princess). Both lines now operate under the Holland America Group of Carnival Corp which includes the combined land holdings of both. Most major cruise lines offer excellent cruises to Alaska, NCL also being one of the largest players although none have the land based holdings that the HAG has."

https://cruiseline.com/forum/post/those-of-you-that-have-taken-a-cruise-to-alaska-where-did-you-leave-from-on-the-ship?page=2#answers

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