Never taken a cruise? You're going to have fun experiencing the carefree convenience and flexibility of this kind of travel.

Your first choice is between a big-ship or small-ship cruise— which is just a matter of taste. Big cruise ships are floating resorts designed to entertain, educate and illuminate the wonders of Alaska at an affordable price. Small ships, on the other hand, provide an intimate atmosphere with opportunities to get super-close to wildlife.

But both styles of cruising still offer the basic appeal of cruising:

Your itinerary is completely handled for you

You're cruising to the next destination while you sleep. You generally get a half- or full-day at various ports of call, which is more than enough time to really experience the town and feel its pulse. Then, it's back to the ship for the next discovery.

The basics are all included

Food, dancing, shows, music, exercise classes, lectures, and movies are all included in the price of your cruise, meaning you can take advantage of a lot without any extra cost. To see which extras do carry a fee, see How to Budget for a Cruise .

You'll visit hard-to-reach places

Some of Alaska is not easy to get to by car, and planes can be expensive. Cruises let you hit coastal towns and (with smaller ships) narrow channels you wouldn't otherwise see.

You'll have time to kick back

A cruise is ultimately about relaxation and enjoying yourself.

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