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The 8 Top Alaska Cruise Lines of 2024

A cruise vacation to Alaska is a profound adventure. The spectacular natural beauty, rugged wilderness, massive glaciers and endless opportunities for wildlife viewing make a trip to the 49th state a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many travelers. As an added bonus, cruise ships can reach remote parts of the state, including Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve: one of the most significant (and picturesque) marine and wildlife sanctuaries in the world.

With the ever-growing popularity of the destination and an extended cruising season (some lines now travel to Alaska between April and October), more ships are heading north to the shores of The Last Frontier. With these expanded itineraries, there’s more than ever to think about when booking your Alaska cruise.

To assist in your decision-making process, U.S. News listed the top cruise lines to consider across five categories, including the best options for families, luxury-seekers and adventurers. U.S. News consulted data provided by Cruiseline.com and the results of our 2024 Best Cruise Lines rankings to help develop this list of the top cruise lines sailing to Alaska.

Holland America Line

Courtesy of Holland America Line

Alaska cruise ships: Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Westerdam, Zaandam
Departure cities (cruises and cruisetours): Anchorage, Fairbanks and Whittier, Alaska; Seattle; Vancouver, British Columbia
Starting from: $379 per person for seven-night Alaska Inside Passage cruise on May 1, 2024, or Sept. 22, 2024. Round-trip from Vancouver.

Holland America Line has been cruising Alaska’s pristine glacial waters for more than 75 years – longer than any other cruise line. On top of that, the line features more voyages to Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve than its competitors. Seven-night round-trip sailings depart from either Seattle or Vancouver, while cruisetours – Holland America Line’s sea- and land-based packages – leave from several cities and extend each trip to nine to 18 days.

If this will be your first visit to Alaska, consider booking the comprehensive 14-day Yukon + Denali cruisetour. This Alaska adventure includes a voyage aboard Koningsdam, plus a three-night stay at Holland America’s exclusive lodge in Denali National Park, where you’ll have the opportunity to see Alaska’s big five: moose, caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep and wolves – and book bucket list activities like flightseeing over Denali. If it’s a picture-perfect day, your pilot might even be able to land on the tallest mountain in North America, also known as “The Great One.” Other excursions include meeting dog mushers from the Iditarod, landing on the Yanert Glacier, heli-hiking or embarking on a covered wagon adventure on the Alaska tundra. The Yukon Territory portion of this trip is exclusive to Holland America; while there, visit the mining town of Dawson City and learn about Northern Canada’s Klondike Gold Rush of August 1896.

Another highlight of sailing Alaska with Holland America is the Alaska Up Close program, which immerses guests in an array of expert-led lectures and excursions on board and shore. When it comes to dining, Holland America is the only cruise line to achieve the Responsible Fisheries Management (RFM) certification, which means cruisers will enjoy certified sustainable wild Alaska seafood on board (think: Alaskan king crab legs and fresh salmon). You may also have access to culinary excursions in partnership with Food & Wine magazine, as well as special offerings like Alaska salmon bakes.

Cruisers should also consider one of the Holland America’s new itineraries for 2024: the 28-night Alaska Arctic Circle Solstice voyage aboard Westerdam, round-trip from Seattle. This sailing, which departs on June 9, 2024, features highlights like crossing the Arctic Circle; celebrating the summer solstice in Nome, Alaska; and watching Kodiak bears – the largest bears in the world – on Kodiak Island.

Insider tip: Sample Holland America Line’s famous Dutch pea soup while glacier viewing on the outside decks. The crew passes around mugs of the warm soup in this Holland America tradition that gives a nod to the line’s heritage – and keeps guests warm on chilly summer days in Alaska.

Princess Cruises

Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Alaska cruise ships: Grand Princess, Sapphire Princess, Royal Princess, Ruby Princess, Majestic Princess, Discovery Princess, Crown Princess
Departure cities (cruises and cruisetours): Seattle; Anchorage, Alaska; Vancouver, British Columbia; San Francisco; Fairbanks, Alaska
Starting from: $398 per person for seven-night cruise from Anchorage (Whittier, Alaska) to Vancouver on May 18, 2024

Princess Cruises has a long history in Alaska, boasting more than 50 years of sailing to the Great Land. Cruise itineraries last between seven and 14 nights, and many visit the Inside Passage. Princess Cruises also owns and operates five wilderness lodges for guests of its cruisetours, plus exclusive “Direct to the Wilderness” rail service to those properties. The line’s wide selection of cruisetours includes independent adventures and off-the-beaten-path destinations, like Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve, the largest national park in the U.S. For travelers seeking the highest level of service and the most time on land, the Connoisseur cruisetour is a good option, including up to 10 nights ashore following the seven-day Voyage of the Glaciers cruise. The Connoisseur trip is hosted by a tour director and includes select sightseeing outings and most meals in the fare.

Princess’ special programming, North to Alaska, offers guests unique insights into the history and culture of the region with visits from local Alaskans, photography sessions, demonstrations on lumberjacking and excursions like Cook My Catch, where guests will go fishing (with a guide), then bring their fish back for chefs to prepare for dinner at one of the designated Princess lodges.

There are two new Princess cruisetours to consider for 2024. The 15-night National Parks Tour includes a seven-day cruise, visits to five national parks, scenic rail travel and a total of eight evenings across four Princess wilderness lodges. Meanwhile, the Katmai National Park Tour is a nine-day adventure that takes guests to the famed Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park & Preserve to see bears feasting on wild salmon in Alaska’s wilderness.

Insider tip: While visiting Denali National Park, be sure to check out the Princess Treehouse at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge. Built by Pete Nelson of Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters,” the treehouse offers a different perspective of Denali and features “Sappy Hour” and other fun activities.  

Norwegian Cruise Line

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Alaska cruise ships: Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Jewel, Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Spirit
Departure cities (cruises and cruisetours): Seattle; Vancouver, British Columbia; Seward, Alaska
Starting from: $349 per person for seven-night sailing between Seward and Vancouver (itineraries visit Hubbard Glacier and Skagway, or Glacier Bay, Skagway and Juneau). Available on Norwegian Jewel in April, May and June 2024.

Norwegian Cruise Line has one of the longest seasons in Alaska, extending from April through October. The line operates two of its larger ships in Alaska: Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore. These ships feature a plethora of onboard activities to keep kids and adults entertained, like racetracks, laser tag, mini-golf, complimentary kids and teen clubs, video arcades, themed parties, live performances and more. Families will also enjoy entertainment by Nickelodeon, character breakfasts, salmon bakes and sessions with a park ranger who comes on board to narrate the Glacier Bay passage. You’ll find many spacious room options on board perfectly suited to larger families – especially in The Haven, the line’s exclusive ship-within-a-ship concept. In addition, Norwegian Cruise Line offers select cruise deals where third and fourth guests sail free.

There are two new Alaska shore excursions for 2024: the Mendenhall Glacier Canoe Paddle & Trek and the Fly-In Norris Glacier Hike and Packraft. The first outing takes place in Juneau, where you’ll paddle a 12-person canoe across Mendenhall Lake to reach the towering glacier. Prepare to be surrounded by the spectacular setting of Tongass National Park, a 400-foot waterfall and an Arctic tern nesting ground. The second excursion, also in Juneau, takes participants on a flight into the Alaska wilderness via floatplane; you’ll then paddle across a pristine glacial lake and hike the surface of Norris Glacier. Unforgettable sights along the way include densely forested mountains; the mouth of the Taku Inlet, a waterway that offers access to Juneau Icefield; and plenty of wildlife, including sea lions and bald eagles.

Also new for 2024 is the option to take the Denali Talkeetna Explorer tour after your cruise. (This cruisetour previously only took place prior to the voyage.) The 13-day sea and land package, Denali Talkeetna Explorer – Northbound Cruisetour, is available on three dates in 2024 in combination with a Norwegian Jewel sailing. The package includes a seven-night cruise; a total of six nights in Fairbanks, Denali and Talkeetna; a stop at the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline; a riverboat cruise in Fairbanks; a visit to an Iditarod dog musher’s kennel; a deluxe glass-domed Alaska Railroad journey between Fairbanks and Denali; and more. You’ll also have free time to book optional shore excursions like whitewater rafting, park tours, helicopter flightseeing and other outdoor adventures.

Insider tip: If you’re sailing on Norwegian Bliss or Norwegian Encore, be sure to grab a front-row seat in the Observation Lounge when sailing in Glacier Bay Park & Preserve. This expansive space on Deck 15 at the bow of the ship offers breathtaking panoramic views from the comfort of inside the ship. 

Royal Caribbean International

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean International offers seven-night cruise-only Alaska options (some featuring the Inside Passage) and extended cruisetours (lasting nine to 13 days) with land portions before or after the voyage. Cruisetours may visit Denali National Park & Preserve, among other highlights. The line also offers select “kids sail free” itineraries, which will appeal to families.

If you want nonstop entertainment while on board, choose one of Royal Caribbean International’s two larger Quantum Class vessels: Quantum of the Seas or Ovation of the Seas. Both megaships accommodate approximately 4,900 passengers. If you prefer a smaller ship, consider booking one of the Radiance Class vessels, which hold a maximum of around 2,500 guests.

Quantum Class ships have multiple outdoor attractions that provide panoramic views of the scenery. For example, the surf simulator, FlowRider, affords views of magnificent snow-capped mountains and glaciers all around the ship. If you’re adept at rock climbing, this is another chance for optimal scenic viewing – at 40 feet above the deck. Additional entertainment includes free-fall skydiving at RipCord by iFly, outdoor movie nights, live performances and musical entertainment, bumper cars, an escape room, a sports court and indoor pools for those cool Alaska summer days.

Insider tip: For more awe-inspiring vistas, take a ride on North Star. Exclusive to Royal Caribbean (on Quantum and Ovation of the Seas), the glass-enclosed capsule rises 300 feet above sea level while suspended over the ocean.

Celebrity Cruises

Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Alaska cruise ships: Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Edge, Celebrity Solstice
Departure cities (cruises and cruisetours): Seward, Alaska; Vancouver, British Columbia; Seattle
Starting from: $397 per person for seven-night voyage on Celebrity Summit, Seward to Vancouver on May 17, 2024

Adventure-seeking couples will have many options to choose from during Celebrity Cruises’ 2024 Alaska season. The line’s six- and seven-night cruise-only itineraries include up-close views of the Dawes Glacier in the Endicott Arm Fjord and the Hubbard Glacier, the world’s longest tidewater glacier at 76 miles long. For an in-depth exploration of Alaska’s interior, Celebrity’s cruisetours extend the trip to a maximum of 13 nights and feature small-town destinations like Talkeetna, Alaska – the quirky village that inspired the 1990s television show “Northern Exposure.” There are also themed tours centered on wildlife viewing and national parks, as well as culinary tours highlighting the flavors of Alaska.

Couples will also find plenty of adult-focused activities and entertainment on board, no matter which vessel they choose. Each ship offers a spa, multiple bars and lounges, and an excellent selection of complimentary and specialty restaurants. Celebrity’s three Alaska-bound ships carry between 2,158 guests (Celebrity Summit) and 2,908 passengers (Celebrity Edge). Celebrity Edge, the newest of the ships, offers immersive entertainment and especially beautiful public spaces – like Grand Plaza, a three-story venue at the heart of the vessel.

For extra privacy during your couples’ vacation, consider splurging on a suite or villa in The Retreat. This all-inclusive space features luxurious accommodations; a private lounge; a sundeck (unavailable on Celebrity Solstice); and a private restaurant, Luminae at The Retreat. The swanky culinary venue serves dishes curated by renowned French chef Daniel Boulud. In addition, you’ll have a team of attendants, butlers and concierges to indulge every whim.

Insider tip: Book your Alaska cruise on Celebrity Edge. The outward-facing design of the ship and expansive outdoor spaces, including the Magic Carpet, offer guests excellent viewing opportunities of Alaska’s vast landscapes, calving glaciers and wildlife, including humpback whales in the Inside Passage and around Juneau and Sitka.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Alaska cruise ships: Seven Seas Explorer
Departure cities: Vancouver, British Columbia; Seward, Alaska
Starting from: $4,699 per person (all-inclusive) for seven-night cruise, Vancouver to Seward on May 1, 2024

Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer will spend the 2024 season in Alaska, with the first sailing embarking from Vancouver, British Columbia, on May 1, 2024. The line offers 20 seven-night voyages and two 14-night sailings between May and September. The 746-passenger ship provides an in-depth exploration of Alaska’s wilderness, thanks to the vessel’s smaller size and all-balcony suites. Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ all-inclusive fares include free unlimited shore excursions (though select tours come with a fee); complimentary fine wines and spirits; dining at specialty restaurants; 24-hour room service; unlimited Wi-Fi access; prepaid gratuities; free valet laundry service; and more. Depending on the suite category, guests may also receive a pre- and post-cruise hotel stay with their voyage.

Complimentary shore excursions are available in a number of Alaska ports. In Ketchikan, sign up for the Tongass Rainforest Expedition, the Great Alaska Lumberjack Show or the Alaskan Lodge Adventure & Seafest. (Note: Some excursions in Ketchikan, such as the Alaska Fishing & Wilderness Dining option, come with an additional fee.) In Juneau, guests can take the complimentary hiking adventure through the Mendenhall Glacier National Recreation Area, home to black bears, mountain goats and other wildlife. Cruisers can also dine on wild Alaska salmon grilled over a fire at the Gold Creek Salmon Bake.

Insider tip: Take advantage of the complimentary shore excursions during your cruise. These are tours you’d normally have to pay for on a ship that’s not all-inclusive – and that can add up quickly.

Silversea Cruises

Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Alaska cruise ships: Silver Nova, Silver Muse, Silver Shadow
Departure cities: Seward, Alaska; Vancouver, British Columbia
Starting from: $3,450 per person for seven-night cruise, Vancouver to Seward on Silver Muse on Aug. 1, 2024

Debuted in August 2023, Silversea’s latest addition, Silver Nova, is the newest luxury vessel sailing Alaska for the 2024 season. Silver Nova features an asymmetrical design and advanced technologies that make it Silversea Cruises’ most environmentally friendly vessel yet. With just 728 guests, spacious suites (some affording 270-degree views) and outdoor spaces showcasing The Last Frontier’s pristine wilderness, Silver Nova is an excellent luxury option for an Alaska adventure. Silversea offers seven-night itineraries on its three Alaska ships, plus longer voyages on Silver Muse and Silver Shadow.

Silversea’s all-inclusive fares include pre- and post-cruise hotel stays; complimentary nonalcoholic and alcoholic beverages; in-room minibars; gourmet dining; all gratuities; at least one excursion per port; butler service in every suite; and other upscale amenities. Complimentary Alaska excursions include a scenic railway tour aboard the White Pass and Yukon Railway in Skagway, the Sea Otter & Wildlife Quest in Sitka Sound and more. You can also visit the Iditarod dogs’ summer camp in Juneau. For an additional cost, Silversea offers more exclusive experiences, like a helicopter ride to Mendenhall Glacier followed by a dogsledding adventure with a team of Alaskan huskies in Juneau, or a remote fly-fishing trip in Sitka.

Insider tip: Spend some time on Deck 10; you’ll enjoy unobstructed views of the spectacular scenery from the comfort of the heated pool, thanks to the asymmetrical design of the pool deck.

UnCruise Adventures

Alaska cruise ships: Wilderness Discoverer, Wilderness Legacy, Safari Endeavor, Safari Explorer, Safari Quest
Departure cities: Ketchikan, Juneau, Whittier, Dutch Harbor and Sitka, Alaska; Seattle
Starting from: $3,600 per person for seven-night cruise, Juneau to Ketchikan (or reverse itinerary) on Wilderness Discoverer; various dates between April and September 2024

UnCruise’s expedition-style small ships call on ports and remote areas in Alaska that larger ships can’t access, taking guests to locales that the line coins, “UnAlaska.” The five ships operating in The Great Land accommodate between 22 passengers (Safari Quest) and 86 guests (Wilderness Legacy), and there are seven-, 12- and 14-night itineraries to choose from. You can also book optional land tours, including a Denali & Talkeetna Wilderness Rail Adventure. Expedition teams take guests on kayaking, skiffing, paddleboarding, bushwhacking, waterfall walks and hiking excursions close to the glaciers and visit secluded areas and waterway passages known for optimal wildlife viewing.

Cruise fares include group transfers to and from the ship; all meals; premium wine, beer and liquor; all nonalcoholic beverages; daily activities; wellness amenities; onboard heritage and expedition guides; and access to guest experts. You’ll need to disconnect from your devices in remote areas, as there is no Wi-Fi access on UnCruise vessels.

For a once-in-a-lifetime trip, book the 14-night Alaska’s Fjords & Glaciers Bay Adventure Cruise on Wilderness Discoverer, a 76-passenger ship. This voyage includes birding in the South Marble Islands, where you’ll see puffins, cormorants, oystercatchers and other bird species. You can also search for brown bears in Corner Bay, bushwhack in old-growth forests, visit the town of Haines to sample local brews and spirits, and more.

UnCruise has introduced a few new cruises for 2024 with a renewed focus on The Great Land. One of these is the Kids in Nature, Wild Woolly & Wow with Glacier Bay cruise. The seven-night, family-focused voyage departs round-trip from Juneau aboard Wilderness Legacy and is available on three dates between June and July. One highlight of the voyage is exploring off-the-grid in Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve’s “Outback.”

A second new option is the seven-night Prince William Sound Explorer with Cordova cruise. This adventure visits dozens of glaciers; the small fishing village of Cordova; the Harriman and College glacial fjords; the islands of Knight and Montague; and multiple places where you can see orcas, humpback whales, sea otters, seals, sea lions, puffins and other wildlife. The itinerary is offered round-trip from Whittier, Alaska, on Safari Explorer throughout the summer.

Insider tip: Depending on your itinerary, you may be able to hop in a skiff directly off the ship to watch bears along the shore hunt for salmon just 100 feet away. This is an Alaska experience you can only have when sailing on a small ship.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed on nearly every type of cruise ship built, including the newest megaships, traditional masted sailing ships, river ships in Europe and a small luxury expedition vessel in Antarctica. She has cruised to Alaska and visited The Great Land in the summer, fall and winter, and journeyed to remote areas by bush plane above the Arctic Circle. Pratesi covers the travel and culinary industries for major publications, including U.S. News & World Report.

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Bernard Greenhall
Bernard Greenhall

Bernard is a sports and physical education expert with years of experience. He's passionate about promoting health and wellness through physical activity, and he's worked with athletes and non-athletes alike to help them achieve their fitness goals. Bernard holds a degree in Physical Education and is dedicated to staying up-to-date with the latest trends and research in his field.

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