Even if you already know the ins and outs of cruising, your first cruise to Alaska will still be a unique adventure. Here are the main factors to consider before your first cruise to The Great Land.
Rethink your weather expectations
Forget about lounging on deck in your swimsuit. This is the Arctic, so temps are colder than you may expect. Cruisers tend to spend less time on deck or in the pools. Even if you come in the height of the summer season, with the warmest weather, it still may be rainy.
Decide between a Gulf of Alaska or Inside Passage cruise
Each has their strengths: A one-way Gulf of Alaska tour gives you the flexibility to see the famed Inside Passage, additional coastline, and Alaska’s inland regions, because you can add a land tour once you reach port in Seward or Anchorage. (You will have to make your own way home afterward.) Inside Passage cruises, on the other hand, combine the convenience of round-trip travel with some classic glacier stops and quick excursions at a few points along the way. But you won’t have the flexibility to get to Denali or interact as much with locals.
Decide between major lines vs. smaller cruise operators
Princess and Holland America have their own buses, so your cruise and land tour can be seamless. They even have their own hotels. That way, you can expect the same type of service from ship to bus to hotel. This is appealing to some cruisers, but too generic for others. If you’re interested in experiencing local Alaska flavor, consider other cruise lines; they contract with Alaskan companies for on-land transport and accommodation. This can up the “Alaska Adventure” aspect of your trip.