Three Basic Itineraries to Alaska-- When planning your Alaska cruise, you will have three basic itineraries to choose from:
- Inside Passage. Ships sail roundtrip from Vancouver or Seattle to the southeast panhandle of Alaska, which is often called the Inside Passage. Cruises usually include stopovers in Juneau, Ketchikan, Skagway, and the famous Glacier Bay National Park, home of 16 magnificent glaciers. Sailing roundtrip often makes your airfare cheaper since you embark and disembark in the same port.
Small cruise ships are primarily based in the Inside Passage of Alaska because the waters are much calmer and the distances are not as far. The small ships like those of American Safari Cruises, InnerSea Discoveries, The Boat Company, and Lindblad Expeditions usually sail from Juneau or Ketchikan.
- Gulf of Alaska. Working north from Vancouver, the south central coast of Alaska is added to the Inside Passage. Ships sail one-way between Vancouver or Seattle and Seward, the closest port to Anchorage. Your embarkation and disembarkation points are different, but you have the opportunity to see much more of Alaska's spectacular scenery, including the glacier-clad Gulf of Alaska and the Hubbard Glacier. Large and mid-sized ships often cruise this itinerary.
- Bering Sea Cruises. Expedition ships sail this historic sea between North America and Asia. Most of the larger, mainstream cruise lines do not venture this far north.
Many cruise lines offer cruisetour packages to "add-on" to your cruise. These packages can last anywhere from a couple of days to over a week, and include visits to inland Alaska, such as Denali National Park, home of Mt. McKinley. When planning your cruise, you might want to think about staying a few extra days to experience more of this magnificent part of North America. Whichever Alaska cruisetour or cruise itinerary you choose will be sure to be a memorable one!