Alaska Cruise : Large Ship Classic Itineraries

Alaska cruises are one of the most famous—and popular—ways to see our great state. Cruises are just easy: You only have to unpack once. Meals and entertainment are taken care of. Your only job is to relax while sailing through some of the world’s most magnificent coastal scenery.You’ll call on 2-3 small coastal towns in Alaska’s Inside Passage, have 1-2 glacier experiences, enjoy 24-hour dining, and have at your disposal all the amenities of a floating resort: casinos, gyms, lavish shows, spas, huge restaurants. Big ships are ideal for families and grandparents-and-grandkids trips.If you’re interested in taking a conventional cruise, here are some things you should think about:

Two Little-Known Limitations

You Miss Alaska’s Heartland

Look at a map, and you’ll see cruises don’t come near Alaska’s great interior regions. Adding an overland package is the only way to see Alaska’s unique land treasures: Denali (Mt. McKinley) and the "Rooftop of North America," the "Big Five" in Denali National Park (moose, caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep and wolves), mighty glacial rivers thundering out of the mountains, and tundra stretching as far as the eye can see.

Time Onshore Is Limited

You’re only in port for the day. That leaves plenty of time to take advantage of the literally hundreds of shore excursions at larger ports (e.g. Juneau, Ketchikan) but not enough time to meet Alaskans and learn about our lifestyles.

Two Itinerary Choices

Inside Passage

This is the classic Alaska cruise itinerary. Sailing round-trip from Seattle or Vancouver, you'll typically stop at three or four port towns, such as Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and either Sitka, Haines, or Victoria, B.C. These cruises usually spend a day in Glacier Bay or another glacier area and two days at sea.

  • Potential downside: It’s round trip, you won’t cover as much ground.
  • It’s for you if: You just want to sit back and take in the scenery, or if you want to take advantage of round-trip airfare from your home to Seattle or Vancouver.

Gulf Of Alaska

These cruises usually sail northbound or southbound between Vancouver and Anchorage (via the port towns of either Whittier or Seward). You'll likely hit many of the same stops that an Inside Passage cruise does, but because it's one-way, you may also get to go to Valdez, Hubbard Glacier, College Fjord or another town in the gulf.

  • Potential downside: You might spend more on airfare, since it’s one way, and you’ll have to fly home out of a different city.
  • It's for you if: You want to add a land tour.

Large Ship Classic Itineraries

Inside Passage

Good value • Lots of activities • Larger cabins
Season: May - September
Average $1,499
10 Days
Ports of Call: San Francisco, Reedsport, Strathcona A, Juneau, Skagway, Gustavus, Ketchikan, Mount Waddington, Victoria, North Bend
Cruise Ship Type: Large Ship Cruises
Ship Name: Grande Princess

For those look­ing for a cruise-only expe­ri­ence, this is a great option. It is a round-trip cruise from San Fran­cis­co (mean­ing you will not have to by one-way tick­ets like you will for a cross-gulf cruise), and you still hit the high­lights of the Inside Pas­sage; Juneau, Ketchikan, Skag­way & Glac­i­er Bay Nation­al Park. While you will not be able to add a land tour, it offers a great sam­pling of Alaska.

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