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Alaska Small Ship Cruises & Tours

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Embark on an unforgettable adventure through one of the following Alaska Small Ship Cruises and Tours for 2024 and 2025, designed to explore the rugged terrain and stunning scenery of America's last frontier. This region is home to a variety of natural wonders, including glaciers, icebergs, fjords, and abundant wildlife. From whale watching to kayaking, hiking to exploring remote villages, there are endless opportunities to immerse yourself in the wild beauty of Alaska. Witness majestic humpback whales breaching, grizzly bears foraging for salmon, and bald eagles soaring overhead. Explore locations such as Anchorage, Denali National Park, Nome, Sitka, and the Bering Sea. These Alaska small ship cruises and land tours allow you to experience the state up close and personal, while also offering the comforts and amenities of cruises and wilderness lodgesContact our Adventure Life Alaska Experts for more information.
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10 Best Alaska Small Ship Cruises for 2024-2025

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8 Alaska Travel Deals in 2025

Trip NameSaveFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Alaska Fjords & Glaciers$500$36008Jun 30, 2024Begin your 8-day Alaskan journey in the state's capital, Juneau. This cruise takes you through some of Alaska's most dramatic landscapes with …
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Inside Passage & Glacier Bay$500$630013Sep 21, 2024This 13-day adventure on a small ship cruise takes you through the Inside Passage and to Glacier Bay. Seeing whales and other wildlife while paddling …
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Alaska's Glacier Country$500$61008Jun 28, 2024Make the most out of this 8-day cruise aboard Safari Quest as you explore the wilderness and encounter marine animals by kayaking, paddle boarding …
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Cruise To Alaska : Inside Passage with Glacier Bay & Olympic National Park$500$760013Sep 6, 2024Cruise Alaska’s and Canada’s Inside Passages and visit Glacier Bay National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site during this 13-day adventure …
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Northern Passages & Glacier Bay$500$49008Jun 29, 2024Set sail aboard the SafarI Endeavour from Juneau to Sitka, Alaska, on an 8-day voyage to the Glacier Bay National Park, Chichagof Island, and Peril …
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Glaciers & Tranquility, Alaska's Adult-Only Adventure$500$53008Sep 7, 2024Set sail on an 8-day Glaciers & Tranquility, Alaska's Adult-Only Adventure cruise Juneau roundtrip aboard Wilderness Legacy. Explore parts of Glacier …
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Glacier Bay National Park Adventure$500$44008Jul 14, 2024Join the Wilderness Discoverer on this exceptional 8-day Alaskan Cruise where you'll discover Glacier Bay National Park, a 3,223,384 acre park …
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Inside Passage & Glacier Bay Wilderness Cruise$500$610013Sep 28, 2024On this 13-day small ship tour onboard Safari Endeavour, explore the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay. Whales and wildlife, kayaking, and hiking are …
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Top 6 Alaska Luxury Experiences 2025

Trip NameFromDaysNext DepartureSummary
Remote Alaska Adventure$125005Jun 30, 2024Experience a 5-day luxury Alaska lodge adventure and backcountry flight safaris at Ultima Thule Lodge. View the landscape and wildlife from a bush …
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Seward to Vancouver$60008Aug 8, 2024Join the Silver Muse and cruise the Inside Passage from Seward to Vancouver to see the region's vibrant culture and natural beauty. As you sail along …
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Vancouver to Seward$54008Jun 27, 2024Join an 8-day cruise aboard the Silver Muse from Vancouver to Seward, exploring Alaska's outdoor wonders. Encounter massive glaciers and snow-capped …
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Vancouver to Seward$640011Jul 15, 2024Join this 11-day cruise aboard the Silver Muse from Vancouver to Seward to explore Alaska's outdoor wonders. Encounter massive glaciers and …
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Alaska: Nature On A Grand Scale$774013Aug 17, 2024Join Le Soleal on a 13-day journey to discover the various facets of Alaska. This cruise will take you through breathtaking scenery, including …
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Alaska: Nature On A Grand Scale - Vancouver to Seward$718012Aug 7, 2024Embark on a 12-day Alaska adventure with Le Soleal to uncover the diverse aspects of this magnificent region. This cruise will take you through …
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Exploring Alaska: What to Expect on Your Alaskan Tour

Alaska trips offer an extraordinary range of experiences, granting you the freedom to craft your own Alaskan adventure. From small ship cruises to immersive land tours and cozy wilderness lodges, or even a combination of all three, Alaska caters to all types of explorers. Whether you're venturing into the awe-inspiring Misty Fjords, the towering Denali National Park, the captivating Glacier Bay, or the enchanting Inside Passage, each destination guarantees an unforgettable journey.

One of the paramount highlights of these Alaska tours is the extraordinary wildlife encounters. Keep your camera ready for grizzly bears, majestic moose, graceful caribou, and the iconic bald eagles, among other captivating creatures, as you immerse yourself in the natural allure of Alaska's rugged terrain. Thrilling outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, exhilarating whitewater rafting, exciting fishing trips, and captivating whale watching excursions put you in close proximity to the untamed wilderness.

Flying to Alaska

For international travelers, especially those coming from the contiguous United States and Canada, both Seattle and Vancouver serve as major departure points to access Alaska. While not in Alaska itself, these cities offer a convenient starting point for your Alaskan journey.
  • Seattle: From Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), you can find numerous flights connecting to major Alaskan cities like Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau. Additionally, Seattle is also a popular embarkation point for Alaska cruises.
  • Vancouver: Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Canada is another excellent option for international travelers. Vancouver offers direct flights to Alaska, particularly to cities like Anchorage and Juneau. It's also a significant departure point for Alaskan cruises.
Alaska Airports
  • Juneau (JNU): Juneau, Alaska's capital, features the Juneau International Airport (JNU). This airport primarily handles domestic flights but serves as a key entry and departure point for travelers exploring the southeastern part of the state on a small ship cruise.
  • Sitka (SIT): The Rocky Gutierrez Airport is just outside of Sitka, a major embarkation and disembarkation point for small ship cruises has daily departures to/from Seattle and Anchorage.
  • Ketchikan (KTN): Ketchikan is situated in the scenic Inside Passage region and is home to the Ketchikan International Airport (KTN). This airport primarily serves travelers arriving by air to explore the southeastern coastal areas of Alaska.
  • Anchorage (ANC): Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska, boasts the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC). This major transportation hub welcomes travelers from around the world. Anchorage serves as a primary gateway to the state, offering a variety of flights, including international connections.
  • Fairbanks (FAI): Fairbanks is another Alaskan city with an international airport, the Fairbanks International Airport (FAI). Located in the interior of the state, Fairbanks is a popular starting point for those exploring Alaska's interior and northern regions.

Best Time to Visit Alaska

The best time to visit Alaska is during the summer months, for those who prefer milder temperatures and extended daylight. However, with its diverse geography, Alaska offers something special during each season. 
  • Summer (June to August): During the summer months, the Far North, Interior, Southwest, and South Central regions bask in warm temperatures, with average highs reaching 72°F in July. This season provides the ideal backdrop for outdoor adventures, including hiking, fishing, and embracing up to 20 hours of daylight in June. The Inside Passage also offers a delightful summer escape, with mild temperatures and an average high of 65°F in July. It's the perfect time to explore fjords and witness abundant wildlife during up to 18 hours of daylight.
  • Winter (December to February): In the Far North and Interior regions, you'll experience frigid temperatures, often plummeting to an average low of -22°F in February. However, it's also the prime time to witness the enchanting Northern Lights dancing across the Arctic sky. The Southwest and South Central regions offer a winter wonderland with temperatures ranging from 0-21°F, inviting outdoor enthusiasts to partake in activities like snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Meanwhile, the Southeast & Inside Passage offers mild winters with an average low of 22°F in January, making it an ideal time to witness breathtaking glacier formations and explore charming coastal towns.
  • Spring (March to May): As winter transitions to spring, Alaska undergoes a fascinating transformation. The Far North and Interior regions see the gradual thawing of landscapes, offering a unique opportunity to witness the rebirth of Arctic ecosystems and observe migratory birds returning to their nesting grounds. In the Southwest and South Central regions, spring brings a balanced mix of thawing landscapes and still-chilly waters, creating a perfect setting for spotting sea lions, puffins, and other coastal wildlife during cruises. The Southeast & Inside Passage welcomes budding trees and a sense of renewal in its coastal rainforests.
  • Autumn (September to November): Autumn in Alaska ushers in cooler temperatures and a riot of vibrant fall foliage. In the Far North and Interior regions, this season provides the final opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts to observe Arctic animals before the onset of winter. The Southwest and South Central regions offer crisp air and stunning coastal views during the salmon spawning season, with the chance to witness bears feasting on this natural spectacle. Meanwhile, the Southeast & Inside Passage delights in a mosaic of fall colors in its rainforests, making it an ideal time for hiking and exploring coastal communities.

Leading Alaska Small Ship Cruise Lines for 2024-2025

Alaska Cruises from Seattle

Embarking on an Alaska cruise from Seattle, Washington promises a journey of breathtaking beauty and adventure. These routes, often referred to as 'repositioning cruises,' offer travelers a unique opportunity to experience the stunning landscapes and wildlife of the Pacific Northwest while making their way to or from Alaska.

Seattle, Washington's largest city, serves as a captivating starting or ending point for your cruise. Nestled on the shores of Puget Sound and surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle welcomes you with its vibrant culture, iconic landmarks, and natural splendor.
  • Friday Harbor: Your cruise may lead you to Friday Harbor, a serene seaside town known for its captivating Whale Museum. Here, you can delve into the world of marine life and gain insights into the majestic creatures that inhabit these waters.
  • San Juan Islands: Explore the enchanting San Juan Islands, a renowned haven for spotting orcas. These pristine waters offer you a chance to witness these magnificent marine mammals in their natural habitat.

Alaska Cruises from Vancouver

Embark in Vancouver, and journey along the Inside Passage of British Columbia, you'll become immersed in the unspoiled Canadian wilderness. Expect encounters with whales, dolphins, and bears, as well as thrilling explorations and excursions.
  • Vancouver: British Columbia's largest city and a major Canadian port on the Pacific, beckons you with its cosmopolitan charm and natural beauty. Explore its lively neighborhoods, dine on world-class cuisine, and soak in the stunning views.
  • Prince Rupert: Home to North America's deepest natural harbor, this city serves as the perfect gateway to further adventures in the north.
  • Johnstone Strait, Alert Bay, & Seymour Narrows: These destinations offer exceptional opportunities to spot orcas and also provide a rich tapestry of indigenous culture, with well-preserved traditions waiting to be explored.
  • Gulf Islands: Nestled in the Strait of Georgia, the Gulf Islands are a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Immerse yourself in the wonders of this pristine paradise, where nature's beauty knows no bounds.
  • Princess Royal Island: The largest island in British Columbia, captivates with its fjords and inlets. Witness the untamed wilderness of the Pacific Northwest in all its glory.

Top Alaska Natural Sites to Explore During Your Alaska Cruise or Tour

  • Glacier Bay National Park: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Glacier Bay offers a mesmerizing landscape featuring towering glaciers, pristine fjords, and abundant wildlife. Immerse yourself in the park's beauty through hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing.
  • Inside Passage: A breathtaking network of islands and waterways, the Inside Passage showcases Alaska's stunning scenery and diverse wildlife. Take a scenic cruise or ferry ride to experience the unparalleled beauty and adventure of this iconic route.
  • Denali National Park: Located in the heart of Alaska, Denali National Park boasts the continent's tallest mountain peak, Denali itself. It's a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, where grizzly bears, moose, and caribou roam freely. Explore the park's scenic hiking trails!
  • Endicott Arm: This narrow fjord in Southeast Alaska is a well-kept secret, adorned with awe-inspiring glaciers, towering waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, including humpback whales and harbor seals. Explore its wonders on a boat tour or kayak adventure.
  • Frederick Sound: Renowned as a premier destination for humpback whale watching, Frederick Sound offers captivating encounters with these majestic creatures. Join tours or kayak expeditions to witness humpback whales, sea lions, porpoises, and eagles.
  • Kenai Fjords National Park: A coastal gem celebrated for its awe-inspiring glaciers, marine wildlife, and fjords. Engage in kayaking, hiking, or wildlife viewing to soak in its beauty.
  • Lake Clark National Park and Katmai National Park: These parks in southwestern Alaska showcase pristine wilderness, abundant wildlife, and unique geological features.
  • Misty Fjords: A wilderness paradise that showcases Southeast Alaska's dramatic landscapes of towering granite cliffs, pristine lakes, and cascading waterfalls.
  • Matanuska Glacier: Located in the Matanuska Valley, this glacier is a natural wonder. Visitors can take guided tours to explore its icy expanse.
  • Turnagain Arm: A picturesque inlet along the southern edge of the Anchorage area, Turnagain Arm offers stunning views, including the famous bore tide phenomenon.
  • Resurrection Bay: Located near Seward, Resurrection Bay is known for its scenic beauty, wildlife, and outdoor activities such as kayaking and wildlife cruises.

Alaska's Departure Ports and Port Towns

  • Juneau: Alaska's capital city offers the best of both worlds as an airport city and a cruise departure port. Visitors have the opportunity to explore Alaska's rich history, culture, and outdoor wonders before or after their cruise adventure. Juneau's Auke Bay is a major cruise ship dock.
  • Ketchikan: Often referred to as the "Salmon Capital of the World," Ketchikan is a vibrant cruise departure port nestled in the southeastern part of Alaska. Cruise ships dock at the Ketchikan Cruise Ship Berths, allowing passengers to immerse themselves in the town's charming atmosphere and explore its rich native culture.
  • Sitka: Sitka, a town steeped in Russian and Tlingit heritage, is a popular cruise destination and departure port. Cruise ships dock at the Sitka Cruise Terminal, granting easy access to the town's historical sites and natural beauty along the Pacific Ocean.
  • Skagway: Nestled in the renowned Inside Passage, this historic gold rush town is also a significant port town for day visits.
  • Seward: Located on the picturesque Kenai Peninsula, Seward is a popular cruise port town. 
Other relevant Alaskan port towns:
  • Anchorage: This bustling metropolis seamlessly blends urban amenities with natural beauty. The city is home to Alaska's busiest airport, ideal for travelers with daily flights from global destinations. It also provides access to Denali National Park and Fairbanks.
  • Kodiak Island: This rugged and picturesque island promises a remarkable wilderness experience. Hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing unveil the island's stunning natural beauty.
  • Nome: Once a historic gold-rush town, Nome has transformed into a thriving hub of Inupiat culture. Visitors can delve into its unique history, and soak in the natural beauty of the tundra and beaches.

Top 7 Reasons to Stay in an Alaskan Wilderness Lodge

By staying at an Alaska Wilderness Lodge, you can strike the ideal balance between luxury, intimacy, and adventure. Enjoy comfortable accommodations, gourmet cuisine, and access to some of the state’s favorite outdoor activities, all while being surrounded by the remote and stunning Alaskan wilderness. With locations in Interior Alaska, Southwest, South Central, and Inside Passage regions, you can choose the perfect spot to suit your interests. From witnessing the northern lights on an adventure cruise on a combined trip with your wilderness lodge to exploring Denali National Park, there's something for everyone. 

Here are the top 7 reasons why you should consider staying in an Alaska Wilderness Lodge:
  1. Authentic Alaska experience: Wilderness lodges provide an authentic Alaskan experience with breathtaking views and a chance to get away from it all.
  2. Various activities: Most wilderness lodges and itineraries will make sure to include fascinating activities such as guided hikes, fishing, wildlife viewing, whale watching, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and more.
  3. Off the beaten path: Wilderness lodges are remote and exclusive, with neighbors being as far away as 40 miles. Sometimes, the only way to get there is by small boat or air taxi, providing an opportunity to truly be on your own.
  4. Lavish amenities: Wilderness lodges offer high-end accommodations, personalized hospitality, and a menu of activities to choose from during your adventure. Some amenities to look forward to in most wilderness lodges include spas, hot tubs, gyms, and high-end toiletries. 
  5. Personalized service: Hosts at wilderness lodges are friendly and passionate about Alaska. Specific needs and interests can usually be catered to. 
  6. Luxurious accommodations: Some wilderness lodges offer the most luxurious accommodations in Alaska, complete with gourmet cuisine, wine tastings, high-thread-count linens, and expert guides.
  7. In-depth exploration: Wilderness lodges can be added to any land tour or cruise or can be your entire Alaska vacation, making for a deeper exploration of the State.
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Alaska Cruise Travel FAQs

How much does an Alaska cruise cost?
Alaska cruises range between $4000-$12000/person depending on the class and size of the ship, the ratio of guides to passengers,  and the length of the cruise are major factors. 
Do I need a visa to travel to Alaska?
US residents do not need a visa; travelers from Europe, Britain, Canada, or Australia only need a passport. If you are traveling from a different part of the world, you should check the travel requirements with your country's state department.
Do I need a power adapter/ converter?
Alaska has the same power outlets as the rest of North America - three-prong grounded 110V outlets. If you have devices that are 220-240V or that are not compatible with North American plugs, you will need an adapter and/or converter that is Type B.
 
Can I use my cell phone while in Alaska? What about internet access?
Contrary to popular belief, Alaska's cell coverage is improving significantly in recent years. Major US carriers from the continental states like Verizon and AT&T are gaining ground and establishing strong networks. Of course, in the backcountry, where many of our tours are based, you will encounter huge mountains and stretches of vast wilderness where you will not have a signal.

In major port towns, you will be able to get strong, fast internet access and find accessible WiFi hotspots. Most ships do have internet access (check with your Adventure Life trip planner), though our expeditions explore the national parks and the more remote wildernesses that characterize a great majority of Alaska, so you might go for several days or even most of your trip without internet access.
How far in advance should I reserve an Alaska cruise?
Most of the top-tier small cruise ships fill up many months in advance, so in order to have the best selection, and even access to early bird deals we recommend reserving 6-9 months in advance. 
How long should I spend in Alaska
For many, an Alaska cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and the more time you spend exploring Alaska, the better chance you have of seeing more wildlife. That said, you'll need a minimum of 6 days for a cruise through a trip of two weeks is recommended that combines an expedition cruise with a trip to the wild Alaskan interior, such as Denali National Park.
Will there be Internet access on my Alaska cruise?
In major port towns, you will be able to get strong, fast internet access and find accessible WiFi hotspots. Most ships do have internet access (check with your Adventure Life trip planner), though our expeditions explore the national parks and the more remote wildernessethat characterize a great majority of Alaska, so you might go for several days or even most of your trip without internet access.
How far in advance should I reserve an Alaska cruise?
Most of the top-tier small cruise ships fill up many months in advance, so in order to have the best selection, and even access to early bird deals we recommend reserving 6-9 months in advance. 
How long should I spend in Alaska?
For many, an Alaska cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and the more time you spend exploring Alaska, the better chance you have of seeing more wildlife. That said, you'll need a minimum of 6 days for a cruise through a trip of two weeks is recommended that combines an expedition cruise with a trip to the wild Alaskan interior, such as Denali National Park.
What is the most common way of paying for things in Alaska?
Alaska uses the US Dollar and paying with credit cards is pretty commonly accepted. It is possible that some smaller stores and businesses only accept cash, so you should have some on hand just in case. 
Should I purchase travel insurance for my trip?
We recommend you check out our Once You're Booked page for more information on buying travel insurance - it's always nice to know that you have it just in case.
Do I need a power adapter/ converter?
Alaska has the same sockets as the rest of North America - three-prong grounded 110V outlets. If you have devices that are 220-240V or that are not compatible with North American plugs, you will need an adapter and/or converter that is Type B.
Is tipping customary in Alaska?
Since Alaska is a US state, tipping is considered customary in the service industry (like restaurants), but if you tip and how much is always an individual decision. It is recommended that you do leave a gratuity for the ship, captain, and guide if you are on a cruise.

 

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