Seattle Vs Vancouver: Where Should You Start Your Alaska Cruise
Seattle and Vancouver are two of the most popular embarkation ports for Alaska cruises. Both are incredible cities with major airports and plenty to explore on pre- or post-cruise stays. So how do you decide which port is better for starting out on your Alaska cruise? Take a look at whatâs offered from each homeport to help you decide.
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Hurtigruten Expeditions Inside Passage Bears And Aleutian Islands
- Cost: From $10,420 per person
- Days: 18 days
- Book now
For its inaugural season in Alaska, Hurtigruten Expeditions is not holding back. In 2022, the company is offering an 18-day sailing that starts in Vancouver, Canada, before working its way past the fjords, glacier-filled straits, and Indigenous villages of the Inside Passage. Unlike most other sailings that stay within the southeast, from here, the ship hangs a hard left and chugs along to Kodiak, an island community known for humongous brown bears and prolific crab fishing. Though its the second-largest island in the entire United States, its rare that cruise ships visit, mainly because it lacks the infrustructure for big ships.
Then its onward to the even less visited Aleutian Islands , where guests visit the uninhabited St. Paul and St. Matthew islands and Unga Village , before crossing the International Dateline, sailing through the Bering Strait , and eventually docking in Nome, the far-flung city best known as the finishing point for the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Perhaps even more interesting than the itinerary is the fact that the vessel, the 528-passenger MS Roald Amundsen, is battery hybrid-powered. In addition to being a model for cruising sustainably, the MS Roald Amundsen features an observation deck, science center, three Nordic-style restaurants, an infinity pool, and hot tubs. In other words, its definitely a place you wouldnt mind spending 18 days.
Courtesy of Lindblad
Alaska Dream Cruises Remote Alaska Adventure
- Cost: From $8,600 per person
- Days: 10 days
- Book now
What makes Alaska Dream Cruises so special is the fact that its the only Indigenous-owned cruise company in the United Statesand that heritage presents itself in an authentic way throughout the sailings. One subtle example of this: At the top of daily dining menus are Tlingit phrases, like Xáanaa atxá gaawúáyá, meaning its dinner time. On a larger scale, the sailings are usually the only ones to visit and get a lesson on the Glacier Bay National Park Huna Tribal House . And because the ships are Alaska Nativeowned, theyre able to go to remote, tribally owned corners of the Inside Passage that non-Indigenous companies simply arent allowed to, like Hobart Bay. Other items on the agenda include exploring the pristine west coast of Chichagof Island, seeing the summer fishing camp of the Tlingit people at Klawock , and walking a rain forest path to the natural hot spring pools of Baranof Warm Springs.
If youre looking to eschew the cruise ship behemoths for something more intimate, this is itAlaska Dream Cruises Kruzof Explorer holds only 12 passengers. And because its so small, passengers can weigh in on the daily itinerary, perhaps opting to skip a hike in favor of more time photographing the face of a glacier or watching juvenile humpback whales learn to breach. The vessel was once a Bering Sea crab fishing boat, but its since been turned into a comfortable expedition vessel. Meals and activities are included.
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Best Time To Cruise To Alaska
The Alaska cruise season is short, running mainly from May to September, with a few lines offering sailings in April and October. The best time to cruise varies based on what you prioritize most.
The best Alaska cruise weather is typically found in June, when the summer rains havent ramped up, but the air temperatures are rising. This is the time when the sun barely sets and its light nearly all day long. July and August are the rainiest months in Alaska and see the most mosquitos September is starting to get chilly, with rougher waters and shorter days.
May is the best month to see waterfalls and wildflowers. June is when the salmon start to run, and the different species will appear and disappear throughout the cruise season. Denali lodges and the park road open in June, so your best bet for visiting the national park is in July and August for full accessibility and wildlife activity. However, if you want to see baby animals, plan your Alaska visit for May or June.
The best prices are found in the shoulder seasons: April-May and September-October. The biggest crowds and highest cruise fares come mid-June through mid-August.
Travelers who want the best shot at viewing the Northern Lights should book a cruise at the very end of the season, and tack on a cruise tour up to Denali and Fairbanks for the greatest potential.
Best Alaska Cruises From Seattle Prices Ratings Reviews
From coastal forests to towering fjords, from white glaciers to the deep blue sea, Alaska is a destination for every travelers bucket list.
There are many cruises to Alaska from all major ports in the USA. However, the best of the Alaskan cruises depart from Seattle 14 in all.
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Emerald City Highlights & Tillicum Village Excursion
As you know if youve reviewed any of my other Alaska cruise port guides, I recommend booking at least one Native Alaskan/American excursion on your cruise to educate yourself about the people who lived here long before big boats cames sailing through.
Theres even an option in Seattle to begin/end your cruise with this essential experience, thanks to the excursion offered by Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Over the course of the 6.5-hour tour, youll see some of Seattles top sights, make a stop at Pike Place Market, and board a boat to Blake Island where youll visit the Tillicum Village and enjoy dinner there. This tourist attraction isnt strictly traditional, but gives you a chance to experience the cultures of the Pacific Northwest Native peoples.
Savor Delicious Food & Rugged Alaskan Coastline On This 8
Carnival Cruise Line is all about making the cruise experience enjoyable for everyone. Onboard activities are diverse and numerous ensuring that no matter the age group of the people youre cruising with, theres an activity to be enjoyed.
If youre cruising with your family, enjoy the ships very own SkyRide, Sky Zone, or Water Works park. If youre cruising with only adults, take advantage of the ships many lounges, bars, and restaurants.
Onshore, excursions you can join include hiking, wildlife viewing, whale watching, glacier trekking, and more!
Ports of call on this Alaskan cruise include:
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Best Overall: Norwegian Cruise Line
Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
- Ship Name: Norwegian Bliss
- Itinerary: Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Victoria
Norwegian boasts that it has the youngest fleet cruising to Alaska, and the Norwegian Bliss is NCLs newest ship . Bliss has buzzworthy features like laser tag, a race track on the top deck, and thrilling waterslides that overhang the sides of the ship. The ship has accommodations for every type of cruiser, including solo staterooms and elegant suites in the Haven, a luxurious enclave. Another perk of this cruise is that is sails round-trip from Seattle, so guests can drive or fly into the same port for departure and arrival . Bliss also has a beautiful observation lounge ideal when sailing the Inside Passage.
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The Return Of Cruising
I wasnt at all surprised to see Harry Sommer enjoying the cruise with his family, as I knew he was aboard the Encore to celebrate the comeback cruise. I even had a chance to sit down with him for a few minutes where he shared his excitement about returning to cruising. Sommer had already sailed with the Greek cruise comeback, but his wife insisted they enjoy the Alaska cruise, too.
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Best For Travelers On A Budget
Older ships in Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian and Royal Caribbeans fleets tend to offer more reduced prices than youll find on the lines larger and newer ships, based on the fact the older ships dont have as many bells and whistles. Since they have so many ships in the market, Holland America Line and Princess cruises also tend to offer frequent sales especially on their older tonnage.
These ships have a loyal following, and tend to have fewer families onboard, which some couples find particularly appealing.
Itineraries for older ships range from five to 14 nights, with a lot of the sailings from Seattle. You can also find itineraries from San Francisco, Vancouver and Whittier, Alaska.
If you want to save on one of the newer and larger ships that does standard seven-night itineraries, youre better off booking early, even in the fall for the following summer, especially if youre looking for the cheapest cabins onboard. The least and most expensive cabins tend to sell out first on any ship.
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If you booked an inside cabin on the sparkling new 3,560-passenger Discovery Princess back in December 2021 , the starting price for an inside cabin was $629. By April, interior cabins for July cruises were starting at twice that amount.
Another surefire way to save is to look at sailings beyond the height of the season. Youll find better deals April to early June and in September than you will in the height of summer.
Can You Feel The Ship Move On A Cruise
You may feel the ship move when on a cruise. Most passengers describe the feeling as a vibration instead of defined movements. The degree of movement felt does increase if the cruise ship is traveling through bad weather and you may be able to feel when the cruise ship is docking or pulling away from the port.
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Why Do Ships Use Port And Starboard And Not Left Or Right
As port and starboard never change, they are unambiguous references that are independent of a mariners orientation, and, as a result, mariners use these nautical terms instead of left and right to avoid confusion.
Have you ever wondered why sailors use the terms port and starboard, instead of left and right side on ships?
In the past, ships used to have rudders on their centre line and they were controlled using a steering oar. As it is the case today, back then as well the majority of the people were right handed.
Thus, as most of the sailors were right handed, the steering oar used to control the ship was located over or through the right side of the stern.
For this reason, most of the seafarers were calling the right side as the steering side, which later was known as starboard.
The word starboard is the combination of two old words: stéor and bord .
The left side is called port because ships with steerboards or star boards would dock at ports on the opposite side of the steerboard or star.
As the right side was the steerboard side or star board side, the left side was the port side. This was decide so that the dock would not interfere with operating the steerboard or star.
Another reason why the left side is port is because it sounds different from starboard. Originally, sailors were calling the left side larboard, which was easily confused with starboard,
This is why ships are using the terms port and starboard,
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Alaska Land Tours Pre & Post Cruise
AdventureSmith Explorations also offers a full selection of land- and lodge-based tours that are perfect as small ship cruise extensions or standalone trips. Independent tours can be scheduled at any time based on availability to explore Glacier Bay, visit Denali National Park or view brown bears at Katmai National Park, for example. Guided small group tours, designed with the same focus on intimate exploration as our small ship cruises, explore the Kenai Peninsula and Denali with activity options such as hiking, kayaking, rafting, flightseeing and more. For a full selection view our Alaska land tours.
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Royal Caribbean And Celebrity Cruises To Sail In July With Covid Vaccine Requirement
Royal Caribbean Group announced Friday that its cruise lines Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises will plan to sail from Seattle to Alaska on round-trip itineraries starting in July. Celebrity set a date of July 23, but other restart dates were not specified.
All passengers over 16 will be required to have been vaccinated to board the sailings. Starting Aug. 1, every passenger over age 12 will be required to be fully vaccinated to board.
We are so pleased that Congress unanimously voted to pass legislation enabling cruise ships to sail to Alaska this season, Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO, said in the announcement.
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Port Vs Starboard: Whats The Difference
As youre facing forward on a ship, toward the bow, the port side of the ship will be on your left and starboard will be on your right.
The term starboard comes from the Old English steorbord, meaning the side on which the ship is steered. Before ships had central rudders, a steering oar was mounted on the right side of the stern because most people are right-handed.
With the steering oar on the right side of the ship, it made more sense to tie up at the port on the left side. So the left side of the ship became known as the port side.
But with todays modern ships, why do we still use these old terms? Why cant we just use left and right to refer to the sides of a ship?
When we think of left and right, its usually from our own perspective. If you turn around 180°, suddenly what was on your right is now on your left!
When navigating a ship, its important that all of the crew are on the same page with which side of the ship is which. Port and starboard never change, regardless of which direction youre facing.
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Windstar Cruises Islands & Inlets Of The Inside Passage
- Cost: From $4,999 per person
- Days: 11 days
- Book now
The Inside Passage is popular for a reason. Here youll find remote islands dappled with stately spruce trees, dreamy fields of pink fireweed, and long stretches of undisturbed, rocky beaches. But, if you motor a bit further, theres a good chance youll be greeted by electric-blue icebergs, dizzying fjords, and dramatic, millennia-old glaciers. And, sooner or later, youll also be met with communities of hardy locals. Whats appealing about this Windstar Cruises itinerary is that its a good mix of Alaskas natural landscapes and coastal cityscapes. Visits to bustling port towns like Juneau and Ketchikan are balanced with days spent entirely in the wilderness of Endicott Arm and Misty fjords.
The ship is also on the smaller size , holding just over 300 guests, so its able to tuck into areas the mega-ships cant. And its a luxurious way to spend 11 daysall of the rooms aboard the Star Breeze are suites.
Silverseas Vancouver To Seward
- Cost: From $5,650 per person
- Days: 7 days
- Book now
What Silversea does well is creating an onboard experience that is luxurious and one-of-a-kind but doesnt distract from the real star of the show: Alaska.
By day, the Silver Shadow visits buzzing, historical port towns including Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka, where guests are invited to disembark and participate in an activity of their choosing, like leisurely bopping around the downtown area or getting spine-tinglingly close to brown bears on a flightseeing tour. Back on the vessel, after a gourmet meal and drinks, evening entertainment is viewing the deep fjords, glaciers, and abundant whales that make Alaska so magical. Spacious suites accommodate 388 guests. Theres also complimentary pilates and yoga, a gym, jogging track, spa, observation library, and a slew of bars and restaurants, including the fabulous La Dame, which features fine wine and French cuisine.
Whats particularly convenient about this sailing is that it ends in Seward, making it easy to continue your Alaska vacation by road or rail.
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Alaska Cruises From Seattle Alaskan Cruises From Seattle
There are five major cruise lines that offer cruises from Seattle. Cruises from Seattle are typically roundtrip, 7 night Alaska itineraries and usually include a glacier experience. In late September, at the end of the Alaska season, most cruises from Seattle are repositioning cruises to Hawaii, Asia, the Panama Canal and Caribbean.
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