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  • Writer's pictureColeen Bolton

Join the Adventure: Find the Best Alaska Cruise Ship

Find the Best Alaska Cruise Ship!

Hello and welcome to this Thursday's Travel Talk!  I have now been on 6 different Alaska cruises in 8 years. I can say from experience that no 2 Alaska cruises are the same. Choosing the right Alaska cruise for you is a lot about the experience you are wanting while exploring our 49th state. Cruising Alaska is more about the stops than it is about the ship but you need to pick the right ship to get what you really wanting out of your visit to Alaska.

When you picture going to Alaska what is the first thing you think you think of? If you have already been to Alaska what is the one thing you wish was different when you went? If you picture Alaska being cold and snowy I will tell you right now that isn't what you are going to find when cruising Alaska since cruises are offered mostly in the summer. The cruises also mainly visit the Rainforest area of Alaska - yes I said Rainforest. That does mean you can pretty much expect rain at some point during your vacation. If you envision getting up close views of animals like whales, bears, moose, and otters that is definitely possible but also more likely if you pick the right cruise for that.

If you are looking for a basic introduction to Alaska an Inside Passage cruise is going to be your best bet. These are offered by just about every cruise line. If you have enough vacation time to add a few more days I recommend adding a land package to get to go a bit deeper into Alaska and get to see Denali.

Choosing the right ship will come down to what is important for you on this vacation.

  • Big Ships

    • Are you looking for a variety of things to do on the ship?

    • Is having entertainment and lots of amenities onboard important?

    • Are you looking for just the basic introduction to Alaska?

    • Do you want to visit the towns that offer the most things for tourists?

If you said yes to all of this then you will want to go with one of the big ships. Holland America and Princess have been cruising Alaska the longest so they do offer the best itineraries, docking locations, and access to places that not all the big ships will get.

  • Luxury

    • Do you want things to do onboard but don't want to be on a ship with a few thousand people?

    • Do you like having everything included up front?

    • Do you want to visit the popular ports and maybe some smaller ones?

    • Do you have a bigger budget?

If you said yes to these questions than a Luxury Cruise line might be what you are looking for. My most recent Alaska cruise was on Regent which is Luxury and they did a great job of offering a balance between big ship experiences and more intimate smaller ship feel.

  • Expedition / Small Ship

    • Are you looking for Adventure?

    • Are you more focused on nature and exploring off the ship than you are about what is on the ship?

    • Are you up for visiting remote areas where there might not be any shopping or even anyone living there?

    • Do you want a hands on experience?

    • Are you interested in learning new things and hearing from experts in their field?

    • Are you OK with going with the flow if the itinerary or daily schedule changes because of something like spotting a pod of whales?

If you said yes to all of these than an Expedition is the way go for Alaska. On an expedition ship you will mostly be on a ship with just a couple hundred people. You will be out in nature and getting up close with things like whales, seals, otters, and all kinds of birds along with checking out the local flora. Your daily adventures off the ship are generally all included in your cruise fare so you are free to sign up to do everything that sounds exciting and not worry about an added expense. UnCruise is my recommendation for an Expedition in Alaska.

I have enjoyed every cruise I have taken in Alaska but by far my favorites were the expedition ones. I like the more in depth exploring and the smaller number of people on an expedition. Alaska is one of those places where excursions are a big part of the experience no matter which cruise you choose. I will do a blog on Alaska excursions next week. What I love about cruising is that there is something for everyone and every level of mobility so don't let that deter you from visiting Alaska!

Get out there and explore!


Cruise With Me

Join me on one of my next cruise adventures! The more the merrier! I will be leading groups on these sailings so there will be some "extras" included and other fun things planned.

  • November 6, 2004 - 3 night Disney Dream - Round trip Fort Lauderdale visiting BOTH Lighthouse Point and Castaway Cay

  • January 11, 2025 - 7 night Disney Treasure - Round trip Port Canaveral visiting Western Caribbean

  • July 27, 2025 - 14 night Wild British Isles - Round trip Rotterdam onboard Holland America

  • ALMOST SOLD OUT - October 4, 2025 - 11 night Portugal River Cruise on the Douro with 3 nights in Lisbon on Avalon Waterways (very limited rooms available)

I also have some destinations on my wish list like - Greenland, Iceland, and South America. If you want to join me on any of those let me know and I will keep you updated on when I add those to my schedule. If you have a small group and like the idea having me come along with you to help add some adventure I would be happy to set that up as well.

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