Alaska Cruise Information
Cruises to Alaska start either from Vancouver in Canada or from Seattle, superbly located in Puget Sound. Since Alaska is in the USA, overseas cruise visitors need an ESTA visa for entry to the USA. The normal cruise length is 8 days – either ‘out and back’ or one-way to or from the cruise ports of Whittier or Seward near Anchorage. Cruise and land tours are usually longer, and will include sections in the Alaska national parks or the Rockies as well as hotel stays and coach or train journeys - click the Alaska Land Tours button above for more details.
All cruises follow the Inside Passage, the coastal waterway extending 1000 miles from Canada. Cruise through a maze of bays, fjords and islands on your way to Alaska’s highlights.
Major Alaska ports - Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway
Ketchikan (‘where eagles meet’ – many Bald Eagles are found around here) is noted for its historic Creek Street and large collection of totem poles. From Ketchikan take a floatplane trip to Misty Fjords national monument, perhaps landing on a lake to better experience this wilderness. From Ketchikan your cruise follows the Lynn Canal to Alaska’s state capital Juneau. This scenic old gold rush town still boasts its historic and famous saloon bar. From Juneau there are whale watching excursions around the offshore islands, the feeding location of humpback whales, orcas and porpoise. Nearby Mendenhall Glacier gives a first taste of splendours to come. Further along the Lynn Canal is Skagway, with its wooden boardwalks and painted fronted buildings reflecting its gold rush heritage. You can follow the route of the gold rush prospectors into the Yukon on the White Horse and Yukon railway.
The less-visited ports of Sitka, Petersburg and Haines are more suited to the smaller ships and feature on fewer cruise itineraries.
Many cruises visit the spectacular twin Sawyer Glaciers at the head of the 30-mile long Tracy Arm between Juneau and Ketchikan. The fjord is surrounded by mountains very reminiscent of Norway.
From Skagway a restricted number of cruises are permitted to visit the long and narrow Glacier Bay, home to 16 tidewater glaciers. Usually with commentary by a Park Ranger, the cruise into Glacier Bay culminates in the Margerie Glacier, over two miles wide and continuously moving – with regular huge cracking and splashing sounds as the glacier ‘calves’ into the sea.
Leaving the Inside Passage for the Gulf of Alaska some cruises visit the Hubbard Glacier on the coast at Yakutat Bay. The longest glacier in Alaska – flowing 76 miles from the Yukon – it is 6 miles wide, and one of the few Alaska glaciers which is expanding.
Some cruises continue across the sea to Prince William Sound and cruise past the many glaciers of College Fjord. Look out for bald eagles or sea lions relaxing on ice floes broken from the glaciers. These cruises then terminate in either Whittier or Seward, both with connections to Anchorage, Alaska’s largest town.
From Anchorage the Alaska Railroad makes a scenic journey to Denali National Park and on to Fairbanks in Northern Alaska. Special dome cars gives superb views, and excursions from the lodges at Denali can take you deep into the Park where you may spot grizzly bears, moose, caribou and maybe see Mt McKinley, the USA’s highest peak. Denali can also be reached by road. Click the Alaska Land Tours button above for more details.
Leaving Anchorage or Fairbanks it is usually more convenient to fly to Seattle and then by surface transport to Vancouver. More direct options to the UK are becoming available. Perhaps have a break in Seattle – see Pike Place Market or enjoy its famed coffee, or maybe take the catamaran ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island. Victoria is ‘more British than Britain’ with English style pubs, a famous Hotel where afternoon tea is served to music, and the renowned Buschart Gardens. From Victoria a bus/ferry journey links to Vancouver, or take a float plane taxi.
Alaska Cruise Ships
Small ships are informal in style and more flexible in their exact itinerary. These ships can visit smaller ports and offer a more intimate style with fewer passengers.
Our luxury ships have fewer passengers on board than larger ships but have the facilities and service of a top quality hotel, with dining arrangements to match. Typical of luxury lines visiting Alaska are Silversea, Regent Seven Seas, and Ponant.
Larger ships can only visit the major ports, and get as close as possible to the glaciers and natural attractions. These ships offer more amenities, a choice of restaurants, and provide a wide range of entertainment. Optional excursions at ports cover Alaska's many sightseeing opportunities.
Click on the Cruise Collection button for details of the cruises offered and their ships.