Alaska Cruises: Everything You Need to Know

(Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International)

An Alaska cruise offers stunning views of glaciers, incredible wildlife and a rich culture. But preparing for one of these breathtaking cruises can be tricky.

There are a number of factors to keep in mind, but if you follow these tips, you’ll experience the same journey that has inspired artists such as Autumn de Forest, Alexander Chen, Duaiv, Tim Yanke and Marko Mavrovich to create beautiful art.


Book in Advance

“Alaska Seascape” (2014), Autumn de Forest

The good news: Many cruise lines take reservations far ahead of the actual cruise. The bad news: Cabins on Alaska cruises can sell out up to 18 months in advance.

Booking a cruise to Alaska well in advance is the best course of action. Early reservations give you access to a variety of itineraries, dates and cabins before they’re all taken. As an added bonus, cruise lines often give extra perks to those who book early, such as free airfare or onboard credits.


When to Go

“Lone Elk” (2016), Tim Yanke

Ships don’t sail in the wintertime in Alaska, so the cruising season only lasts from May through September.

The peak season for Alaska cruising is mid-June through late August. Those who wish to avoid crowded ports or a cruise with children and teenagers should book their trip for May or September.

There are seasonal aspects to consider as well. Spring and early summer provide more opportunities to witness animals as they migrate, while mid-June to August offer the best daylight for excursions. To view the mysterious aurora borealis lights, September is your best bet, though late spring may work as well.


What to Pack

“Alaska Harbor” (2017), Duaiv

Despite the cruise season taking place during the summer, pack for colder weather. Windbreakers, sweaters and other clothing that can be layered are recommended.

Depending on the itinerary you choose, pack clothing for the outdoors. Excursions may involve hiking or canoeing, so bring clothes you don’t mind getting wet or dirty.


Where to Go

“Beauty of Alaska” (2016), Marko Mavrovich

Popular ports of call for Alaska include:

  • Anchorage – Alaska’s biggest city, featuring multiple museums, snowcapped mountains and tours of massive glaciers.
  • Ketchikan – The “Salmon Capital of the World” offers rainforests, nature hikes and canoeing to explore.
  • Icy Strait – This new port gives cruisers a chance to experience Alaska’s wilderness like none other.
  • Juneau – The capital city is perfect for people hoping to observe sea life such as whales and seals.
  • Skagway – A city known for its ties to the Gold Rush, Skagway is flush with history and adventure.


Which Cruise Lines

(Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)

Park West Gallery sails on over 100 of cruise ships around the world, including those in Alaska. Join Park West aboard the following cruise lines for Alaska itineraries:

While experiencing the majesty of Alaska, be sure to visit our onboard art galleries to enjoy beautiful artwork.

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