People walking on glacier in Alaska.
Being on-board a smaller cruise ship provides far more time for adventuring. You'll even be able to get up close and personal with glaciers.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

From Family-Friendly to Adventure Soaked: 5 of the Best Alaskan Cruises

Witness True Wilderness

The land of the midnight sun offers rugged mountain ranges and wildlife most of us have only seen on television. Relatively undeveloped, Alaska is the ultimate outdoor adventure with shore excursions ranging from walking atop glaciers to sea kayaking. One of the best ways to visit Alaska is by taking a cruise that will ferry you past and allow you to experience some of the state’s most astonishing locales.

Active travelers of all ages will love to jump ship and explore the untamed beauty of the North, possible thanks to some of the best Alaska cruise offerings on the market.

UnCruise Adventures

If you’re the type of traveler who doesn’t relish hopping aboard a massive cruise ship filled with thousands of other passengers, UnCruise Adventures may be the ideal choice. With UnCruise, you’ll experience the region on a smaller cruise ship rather than a huge floating hotel.

The smaller vessels offer a more cozy, intimate experience, and everyone in your group will be able to enjoy the large windows with unobstructed views of the spectacular scenery and wildlife outside. There are no interior cabins here— every room enjoys a jaw-dropping view of the world passing by.

A smaller ship has the ability to get into spots those large liners just can’t, allowing for close encounters with Alaska’s glaciers, fjord arms and hidden coves. You’ll also have a better chance of actually getting to know the staff, who greet you personally by name, making it easier to learn more about your breathtaking surroundings, thanks to their wealth of knowledge.

Forget about those boring buffets, too. With UnCruise, your meals include a variety of options for every meal. The majority of tasty offerings incorporate local ingredients, so you’ll be getting a taste of the region you’re visiting as well, including delectable dishes like Alaskan salmon and Dungeness crab.

While UnCruise has a wide range of cruise options, one of the favorites is the Inside Passage & San Juans Cruise that departs from Seattle. The 14 night cruise begins with visits to some of Washington State’s most stunning places, including Olympic National Park and the San Juan Islands.

The ship then ventures into Canada’s Salish Sea and the Inside Passage — with stops in Ketchikan, Misty Fjords National Monument, Petersburg, Glacier Bay National Park and more — before culminating in Alaska’s capital city of Juneau.

Juneau along the coast.If luxury is what you're after, step aboard the Silversea. You'll make a stop in Juneau along the way.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Luxury on the Silversea

Silversea defines true luxury in the Alaskan cruise experience, so if you’re hoping to be treated like a king or queen, it make be your top pick. Silversea’s Silver Shadow cruise ship targets honeymooners and romance-seekers of all types. It provides exceptional service in an Italian-influenced, somewhat formal, setting, with all the perks and then some.

Stretch out in the large suite cabins and dine on an array of upscale dining options that include fine wine and alcoholic beverages. The Silver Shadow is an intimate, all-inclusive luxury ship, catering to fewer than 400 guests, with every suite getting its own dedicated butler.

It cruises between Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska, stopping at some of the region’s most popular destinations, including Ketchikan, Tracy Arm, Sawyer Glacier, Juneau and Sitka.

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Cruise ship along coast of Alaska.The Holland America cruise from Seattle to Alaska caters to more mature travelers who want to spend a relaxing time gazing out at nature.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Holland America for Retirees

Holland America is often named among the best for Alaskan cruises that are geared for retirees. It hosts round trip cruises journeying from Seattle to southeast Alaska, with stops in Tracy Arm, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan and Victoria, British Columbia.

Its focus is on fine dining, with a Culinary Arts Center presented by Food & Wine magazine, along with easily accessible shore excursions and plenty on-board activities aimed for more mature adults. The service is exceptional.

OrcasNational Geographic provides a cruise experience that's fun for the whole family. You'll even catch glimpses of incredible wildlife, such as orcas.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Family Fun with National Geographic

If you’re searching for a cruise that’s lots of fun for the entire family and educational too, National Geographic offers some outstanding options, including the small National Geographic Sea Lion. The 15 day journey allows passengers to explore the jaw-dropping coastal wilderness of Alaska in a more intimate setting.

One of the finest small ship expedition cruises in this region, passengers embark on an adventure that begins in Seattle, traveling through the Gulf Islands of British Columbia and on to Alaska’s Inside Passage. The ship passes through the dramatic fjords and inland waterways where sea lions, humpback whales and orcas are often spotted.

Kids programs are offered on National Geographic cruises that include activities like scavenger hunts, hands-on nature experiences, photo workshops, zodiac-driving lessons and more.

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Tourists stand on deck of cruise ship to look at passing glacier.The 10 day cruise from San Francisco will take you up the stunning west coast and into glacier country.Photo Credit: Getty Images

Adventure Aboard Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises hosts a 10 day round-trip journey from San Francisco aboard the Grand Princess. It includes sailing under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge before venturing north to the Inside Passage of Alaska.

You’ll visit charming port towns such as Ketchikan and Skagway, getting face-to-face with glistening glaciers and cascading falls, as well as a wide range of wildlife such as whales, dolphins, puffins and bald eagles.

Lots of excursions are included on this cruise, making it another top pick for the adventurous, though it’s also fun for couples and families. You’ll have the opportunity to try your hand at dog sledding, go glacier flight-seeing, delve into gold rush history and experience some incredible cultural attractions too.

Also on the itinerary is the beautiful city of Victoria in British Columbia, where you can check out magnificent places such as Butchart Gardens, one of the world’s most impressive display gardens.

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