The best Alaska cruises from Seattle may vary from family to family, depending on their preferences. One group may want something budget-friendly, while another may lean towards a Glacier Bay National Park itinerary.
So, if you’re planning a cruise to Alaska, this article breaks down the different cruise ships, ports of call, and itineraries so that you can select your top pick.
Remember, your decision and vessel choice may differ from someone else, and that’s ok. You’ll have hundreds of itineraries to choose from, but deciding on a priority will make your decision easier.
Looking for the best Alaska cruise from Seattle? Find it on Cruise Critic. It features thousands of cruise reviews, great information and money-saving tips from those who have already been to Alaska.
If you’re susceptible to motion sickness, you’ll want to select a cruise that sails the inside passage. Alternatively, you could cruise out of Vancouver, which offers calmer seas.
These factors may influence your choice of cruise from Seattle:
- Do you want an intimate experience?
- Are you traveling solo?
- Do you want a ship with fewer children?
- Are you on a strict budget?
- Do you need lots of kid-friendly activities onboard?
- Is there a priority for glacier viewing?
- Do you want more ports and longer port times?
Cruises That Visit Glacier Bay National Park
If you want to cruise through Glacier Bay National Park, you need to choose a cruise line that goes there. Only two large cruise ships a day may enter the national park and must be accompanied by a park ranger.
For the 2024 and 2025 Alaska cruise seasons, you can choose from Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, America Cruise Line, and Holland America Line, which have sailings from Seattle.
These are the vessels that include Glacier Bay on their itinerary:
- Holland America Eurodam
- Holland America Westerdam
- Royal Princess
- Discovery Princess
- Norwegian Encore
- Norwegian Bliss
- Norwegian Sun
- American Constellation
- Norwegian Joy (2025)
- Cunard Queen Elizabeth (2025)
The larger Norwegian vessels (Encore and Bliss) have an indoor Observation Lounge, perfect for glacier viewing day. While it may get crowded, you’ll want to watch from here if it’s raining or bitterly cold outside.
Be aware that the Norwegian ships dock in Ward Cove in Ketchikan. Since cruise passengers require a shuttle to reach downtown, it’s a deterrent for some travelers.
Budget-Friendly Alaska Cruises From Seattle
If budget is your number one priority, avoid peak season, which commands the highest prices. A cruise to Alaska in May will score you a better price, although you’ll experience cooler but drier weather.
Alternatively, taking a September Alaska cruise saves money, and you could witness the northern lights. Again, expect cooler temperatures on a shoulder season cruise, and September departures experience much more rain.
Booking an inside cabin is a great money-saving tip, and selecting a mid-ship stateroom helps prevent seasickness.
By choosing an older vessel, you can stay within budget, although they lack the latest features on the newer ships. Smaller ships may provide relief on pricing, as they have fewer amenities.
So, if you don’t need racing cars, climbing walls, laser tag, or bumper cars, look at these vessels for budget-conscious pricing:
- HAL Eurodam
- Norwegian Sun
- Norwegian Jewel
At the beginning and end of the season, some vessels depart from Seattle and end in Vancouver, British Columbia. Cruise lines often offer these one-way cruises at bargain prices. Taking one of these itineraries allows you to sail on newer ships at cheap prices.
So, check out the September departures on the Ovation of the Seas, Discovery Princess, and Quantum of the Seas. Also, the May departures on HAL’s Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, and Koningsdam.
Best Alaska Cruises From Seattle For Solo Travelers
Cruising solo can often be expensive due to the single supplement. Since cruise lines price their cabins on double occupancy, you pay for two people when sailing alone.
However, some vessels have studio cabins, allowing you to forego paying for the second person. You’ll need to book early to secure one of these rooms, as ships have limited quantities.
Select from the following vessels with studio cabins:
- Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas – has 28 studios, 12 in the balcony category, and the rest interiors.
- Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas – has 28 studios, 16 are interiors, and 12 with balconies.
- Norwegian Encore – 82 studios, all in the inside category.
- Norwegian Bliss – 82, all interiors.
- Cunard Queen Elizabeth – 1 inside and 8 oceanview solo cabins.
While major cruise lines tend to have interior studio cabins, the two larger ships owned by Royal Caribbean International have some balcony studios. At 119 square feet, these are relatively small, with a double bed and no room for a couch.
However, you’ll enjoy the same-sized bathroom as the regular balcony staterooms and a 55 sq. foot roomy balcony.
If the studios are fully booked, the Quantum-class ships have virtual balconies (inside rooms) that are pretty nice. However, you’ll pay the single supplement, although one port fees, taxes, and gratuities.
While you can’t book a balcony studio with Norwegian, solo travelers in their studio stateroom have access to an exclusive lounge. This added feature allows you to meet other solo travelers.
Some studio cabins are adjoining rooms, giving two friends separate spaces but with connecting doors.
Best Alaska Cruise And Land Tours
Traditionally, Alaskan cruise tours were only offered from and to Vancouver. Alaska cruises from Seattle are favored by many US residents because they don’t need a passport to travel.
Recently, Holland America started offering cruise and land tours from Seattle, Washington.
While these itineraries start and end in Seattle, you actually embark in Vancouver. These 10 to 13-day cruise packages begin with a coach ride to Vancouver and end with a flight back to Seattle.
All Alaska cruise options have a 7-day cruise with a land portion to visit Denali National Park. If you’re concerned about needing a passport, don’t worry. US citizens only need an enhanced driver’s license to cross the border.
If you select the reverse itinerary, you’ll fly to Anchorage, complete the land tour first, and cruise back afterward. However, these reverse cruises end in Vancouver. If you plan to fly home from Seattle, you need to arrange transportation back to Washington State.
The best itineraries are generally longer as you’ll explore more of interior Alaska. A 13-day cruise and land tour spends three days in Denali. It’s a chance to see the towering mountain, grizzly bears, moose, caribou, and other Alaskan wildlife.
These longer itineraries include the 5 to 6-hour incredible Tundra Wilderness Tour and the Riverboat Discovery excursion. While these cruises are pretty pricey, they include your coach transfers, train journey, and one-way flight between Seattle and Anchorage or Fairbanks.
Alaska cruises are lovely, but the land portion allows you to see the Last Frontier with different eyes.
Best Alaska Cruises From Seattle For Families
If you’re traveling to Alaska with family and seeking the best cruise line, you’ll want a ship with plenty of onboard activities. Newer and larger vessels have laser tag, racing cars, bumper cars, indoor sky diving, and water slides.
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships have the North Star, Flow Rider, and Sea Plex, which are great to utilize on sea days. The North Star offers a unique viewing experience of Endicott Arm and snow-capped mountains 300 feet above sea level.
While some activities incur an extra cost, your kids will never be bored on the largest ships.
So, book with:
- Norwegian Encore or Bliss for the Aqua Racer, Speedway Racing Cars, and laser tag.
- Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas or Ovation of the Seas for the FlowRider, Ripcord by iFly, bumper cars, North Star, and Sea Plex.
Alternatively, those on a budget might prefer cruising on the Carnival Spirit or Luminosa. Both offer great kids’ clubs, Suess at Sea, and the Spirit has Carnival Waterworks.
Best Extended Itineraries From Seattle
While most cruises to Alaska are typically seven days, there are options to sail longer. If you want to add a few more days, the Norwegian Joy offers a fantastic itinerary of 10 days in 2025.
Some cruises visit Glacier Bay National Park, while others go to Hubbard Glacier. However, you’ll enjoy long port times in Skagway, Sitka, and Ketchikan.
Plus, instead of the four-hour stop in Victoria (typical of 7-day cruises), you enjoy 10 hours in British Columbia’s capital.
Carnival Cruise Line offers two 14-day itineraries in 2024 on the Carnival Spirit, and both are budget-friendly. Obviously, longer cruises mean more ports of call.
However, the prize for the best-extended cruise from Seattle goes to Holland America’s Westerdam. It offers only one sailing in June 2024 and one the following year, and it’s a colossal 28 days!!
This itinerary has many unique ports and even cruises the Arctic Circle around the summer solstice. Imagine almost full daylight the whole day!
You’ll visit Dutch Harbor, Valdez, Nome, Kodiak Island, Homer, Wrangell, and Prince Rupert. So, if you’ll looking for the ultimate Alaska bucket list trip, this is it.
On sea days, this itinerary cruises to Tracy Arm Fjord, Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, College Fjord, Prince William Sound, and Little Diomede Island.
With so many stops, you can enjoy unique shore excursions, such as whale watching, seeing Kodiak bears, riding the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, and much more.
Best Suites For Large Families
The Norwegian Encore and Bliss offer the best spaces for large families who want to stay in the same cabin. The Haven, their ship-within-a-ship experience, has incredible amenities, including a premium viewing area.
Their 2-bedroom family villas and deluxe owner’s suites can sleep up to six comfortably. Furthermore, you’ll have access to The Haven, an exclusive area for suite guests. These suites measure 495 to 971 sq. feet with large balconies.
The Haven includes a private swimming pool, hot tubs, lounge, bar, and Haven restaurant. The Horizon Lounge, positioned at the bow, provides unobstructed views on glacier viewing day.
Suites guests also enjoy bonus perks, such as a bottle of champagne, a Nespresso Coffeemaker, breakfast and lunch in a specialty restaurant, and daily soda and spring water.
A personal butler will be on hand 24/7 to cater to your needs while staying in your luxury accommodation. Plus, you’ll have access to a concierge.
Best Cruises For Multi-Generational Families
If you’re cruising with a group of varying ages, it can sometimes be hard to find a ship to appeal to seniors but have activities for children. While lines like Holland America appeal to older passengers, they don’t have amenities for youngsters.
Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises are great options for families aged 7 to 70. Princess Cruises mini-suites have bathtubs to bathe toddlers and roomy enough to sleep up to four. In 2024, Celebrity Edge starts offering itineraries to Alaska.
The Ocean Medallion lets you keep track of family members on board with an innovation person locator. Camp Discovery provides educational programs for kids aged 3 to 17.
Late-night babysitting services allow you to have a night out at a specialty restaurant without the kiddos. Princess’ signature event, ‘Movies under the stars,’ is suitable for all ages and comes complete with cozy blankets and popcorn.
So, for the Alaska 2024 and 2025 season, you can select from Seattle departures on the Royal, Majestic, and Discovery Princess. However, if you love to use the pool, it’s important to note the Discovery Princess doesn’t have an indoor or covered pool (a must in Alaska).
If you’re a fan of the upscale experience on Celebrity, the Edge offers sailings in 2024. It’s the first time an Edge-class ship has done an Alaska itinerary.
Its Magic Carpet, Eden, Rooftop Garden, and Camp at Sea make it a vessel suitable for all ages.
Best Intimate Alaska Cruises From Seattle
Oceania Cruises offers a somewhat all-inclusive Alaska itinerary from Seattle. They’re suited for travelers who want the best and are willing to pay more for the premium experience.
You can select from 7 to 12-day itineraries for the 2024 season. Oceania Regatta has a capacity of 684 cruise passengers, providing a more intimate experience.
Amenities include free daily soft drinks, unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi, sparkling and still water, robes and slippers, movies on demand, and specialty dining.
While the Regatta is much smaller than vessels owned by mainstream cruise lines, its itineraries are not unique. So, expect stops at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Icy Strait Point, Victoria, and Prince Rupert, depending on the cruise length.
As you can see, finding the best Alaska cruise from Seattle for your family depends on many factors. While some may be open to cruising at any time, you might only be able to sail when the children are out of school.
If you plan to cruise this itinerary once, finding the perfect cruise may involve many factors. You may want to see bears, witness a salmon run, travel during the warmest weeks, or have a chance to see the northern lights.
You may be loyal to one cruise line and must select from their vessels that depart from Seattle, Washington.
Different cruise lines have different marketing strategies. Some provide onboard naturalists who give lectures on the Alaska flora, fauna, and history. These naturalists are a wealth of information, and having such a person on board appeals to first-time Alaska cruisers.
Be aware that when cruising from Seattle, most vessels sail along the west side of Vancouver Island, where the seas may be rough. Packing a motion sickness patch is advisable.
Also, plan to arrive a few days before your embarkation day. Seattle is a fantastic city, and you’ll want to explore Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, the Museum of Pop Culture, and Chihuly Garden and Glass.
Depending on who you book with, Seattle has two cruise terminals, Smith Cove (Pier 91) and Pier 66 (close to downtown), used by Norwegian Cruise Line.