December 11, 2018

The Perennial Allure of Alaska

Seabourn Sojourn offers a luxury cruise experience in Alaska.

Everyone, it seems, wants to see Alaska. And many of us prefer to view the region’s magnificent coastal scenery from the decks of a cruise ship. The appeal of this vast northern state of glacier-clad mountains and majestic fjords is as strong as ever and the selection of cruise lines and itineraries servicing Alaska continues to grow.

The city of Vancouver has long been the main turnaround port for cruises to Alaska and it now shares that status with Seattle. Most cruises out of Seattle are one-week round-trip itineraries while those from Vancouver cover a wider range of choices. These include round-trip cruises of the Inside Passage and one-way cruises to the Alaska ports of Seward or Whittier (both near Anchorage) where land tours to Denali are popular. Several cruise lines also offer round-trip cruises to Alaska from the California ports of San Francisco and Los Angeles. For cruise enthusiasts, Alaska has never been easier to visit.

The cruise lines servicing Alaska cover all categories, from contemporary to luxury to expedition. Some lines, such as Princess Cruises and Holland America Line, have been cruising to Alaska for decades and position a fleet of ships on the west coast throughout the May-to-October season. Other lines offering cruises to Alaska include Disney, NCL, Oceania and Royal Caribbean. In the luxury market, Crystal, Silversea and Regent Seven Seas have been joined by Seabourn, which returned to the region in 2017 after a 15-year hiatus. Cunard will be back in Alaska for the summer of 2019.

Expedition cruising is also thriving in Alaska, where wilderness and natural beauty are the star attractions. Alaskan Dream Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions, Ponant, Un-Cruise Adventures and Windstar all offer off-the-beaten track voyages with a close-up look at the scenery. But even if you’re booked on a large ship, the shore excursions offered include wilderness adventures such as kayaking, hiking, whale watching and rock climbing, not to mention helicopter rides to sled dog camps where you can take a turn at mushing across a glacier.

Expedition cruising includes sea adventures in Zodiac inflatables.


For the best of both worlds, a luxury cruise on Seabourn’s 450-passenger Sojourn provides not only spacious accommodations and impeccable service but an expedition-style itinerary that follows narrow, twisting channels and stops at unspoiled hideaways, such as the Inian Islands, where the ship’s expert expedition team leads shore excursions in Zodiacs and sea kayaks. Sea otters are abundant in the waters off this cluster of small islands in Icy Strait, as are Pacific white-sided dolphins, orcas and humpback whales.

No matter which cruise line you choose, Alaska’s wilderness will be sure to steal the show.

Anne Vipond About Anne Vipond

Anne Vipond is the author of several guidebooks to cruising destinations around the world. She draws on an extensive sailing background to impart her enthusiasm for cruise travel. From her home port of Vancouver, she travels by cruise ship to a wide range of destinations to keep her books current and useful for her cruise readers. Her cruising articles have been published in magazines and newspapers throughout North America and over seas.