“Did you take a cruise?”
That is the question I most often get when I tell people I’ve been to Alaska.
There are two types of people–those who love cruises and those who don’t. I’m not sure which side I belong on because I’ve never taken one. All of our trips so far have been self-planned including our trip to Southeast Alaska.
In my experience, people book Alaskan cruises because it is easy. But you may be doing yourself a disservice. Don’t do a cruise because it’s easy–do it because you want to take a cruise! If you are a cruise person and enjoy the experience, then by all means book a cruise. It is a great way to see the Southeast. Logistically it is so much simpler than coordinating ferries and flights between communities.
Almost all cruises concentrate on the Southeast of Alaska. Depending on the itinerary this may include the ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka. Glacier Bay National Park, Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait, and Endicott Arm are on some itineraries. Some cruises are round-trip from either Seattle or Vancouver. Some are one-way between Vancouver or Seattle and Whittier or Seward. Cruise itineraries can last from 5 days to over 2 weeks.
Small ship cruises in Alaska offer even more options. These ships carry fewer passengers and get into ports the big boys can’t.
Cruise Critic is a great place to get more information. You can compare cruise ships, itineraries, and read reviews. There is also a forum to ask questions and read trip reports.
The pandemic has certainly affected the cruise industry all over the world. Alaskan cruises were nonexistent in 2020 and the 2021 season was abbreviated to three months. As of this writing, the 2022 season looks to be open for business.
Most cruise companies offer the option of land portion add-ons at the beginning or end of the cruise. This usually includes the Interior and Southcentral Alaska (Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Talkeetna, Anchorage, Seward, and Kenai Fjords National Park). These cruise tours typically include transportation by bus or train and lodging in hotels owned by the cruise companies that were built especially for the cruise crowd.
If you decide to book a cruise, before adding a land-based cruise tour I encourage you to consider planning this part yourself. It will be less expensive and you can tailor your vacation to the things you want to do and see with the people you want to see it with (and not hundreds of your new best friends).
Are you planning an Alaskan cruise this year?