Here's Alaska Cruising – 2013!
The Oosterdam in front of the Hubbard Glacier. Photo courtesy of Holland America Line.
24 Cruiselines Schedule 50 Vessels To Alaska for 2013Alaska-bound cruisers, as usual, have an awesome range of vessels to consider this season. No fewer than 24 different big and little cruiselines are sending a whopping 50 big and little vessels to ply the waters of Alaska's Inside Passage and beyond. And that doesn't include additional world cruises that originate in Asia and elseswhere and which feature Alaska segments in their itineraries. Travelers can choose among hundreds of cruises which break down to basically four patterns.
First there's the traditional seven-night/eight-day Roundtrip Inside Passage voyage from Seattle or Vancouver (British Columbia) to Southeast Alaska and return. A smaller number of roundtrips or open-jaw variations are likewise available from San Francisco, Los Angeles and other west coast ports.
Popular as well are one-way Gulf and Glaciers Cruises between Vancouver and Southcentral Alaska ports Seward or Whittier.
Other lines (primarily small-ship companies) offer Cruises Within Alaska – sailing within Southeast or Southcentral waters. Many of them will visit Glacier Bay National Park, Prince William Sound or Tracy Arm Fiord with its twin Sawyer glaciers. Other lines visit awesome Misty Fjords National Monument.
Finally there is the Extended Voyage that may, for instance, explore the Aleutian Islands chain or even call at ports of the Russian far-east. Or perhaps originate as a world cruise, making stops in Alaska as a segment of an Asia-boarding voyage that spans several continents.
Here's the Alaska Armada for 2013, a cruising roster of companies and ships in the upcoming Alaska trade:
Large to "Mega" Cruiseships
One vessel: Carnival Miracle (2124 guests)
In 2013 Carnival again continues its Seattle-based seven-night/eight-day Tuesday-Tuesday Alaska cruise pattern – this season aboard the recently renovated and refurbished Carnival Miracle. The line has scheduled all but two of its Alaska voyages as round trips from Seattle.
Exceptions to the Seattle-Seattle round trip sailings are two open-jaw positioning voyages: First is the cruiseline's eight-night season opener departing from Vancouver B.C. on April 29 with disembarkation in Seattle on May 7. Port calls include Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan plus cruising the wilderness waters of Glacier Bay National Park. The line's Alaska fall closer will depart Seattle September 10 and and disembark in Vancouver September 17. This sailing also will include Glacier Bay where the sighting of brown bears, mountain goats, deer, and moose are common. Sea mammals in and close by the area include humpback whales, orca (killer) whales, sea lions, seals, and sea otters.
The line's 2013 core season will feature seven-night/eight-day round-trip voyages starting May 14 from and to Seattle throughout the spring-summer-fall cruising season. Viewing areas and ports of call will feature Tracy Arm Fiord and glaciers, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Victoria, B.C. Tracy Arm is also federally protected (under jurisdiction of the U.S. Forest Service) with wildlife species similar to Glacier Bay. More information at the company's website listed above.
Three vessels: Celebrity Century (1,750 guests), Celebrity Infinity (1,950 guests), Celebrity Millennium (1,950 guests)
Celebrity Cruises will begin the line's Alaska 2013 season with a May 5 departure from Vancouver on a seven-night/eight-day "Alaska Hubbard Glacier Cruise" aboard the Celebrity Century. The itinerary extends through summer and early fall and the ship will visit port and cruising areas which include Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, and return to Vancouver.
The vessel's final cruise for the 2013 season (and the cruiseline’s last Alaska trip of the year as well) is an 11-night journey called Ultimate Alaska Cruise. It will embark from Vancouver September 15, visiting Sitka, Icy Strait Point, Skagway, Juneau, Tracy Arm Fjord, Ketchikan, Prince Rupert, B.C., Victoria, and return to Vancouver. (Icy Strait Point is both an Alaska Native-owned Tlingit Native cultural center and a base for soft-adventure nature and wildlife-viewing excursions. It is also home of the fastest zipline adventure in the world. Riders attain speeds of 60 miles an hour as they zoom from their mountainside launching ramp down to a saltwater beach platform below.)
Celebrity Millennium has scheduled a single “Southbound Alaska Cruise” May 10 from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, B.C., taking in Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point and Ketchikan.
The vessel will then sail a seven-night/eight-day “Alaska Roundtrip Cruise” journey commencing May 17 from Vancouver and visiting Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier, Ketchikan and return to Vancouver.
A seven-night “Northbound Alaska Cruise” departing August 30 from Vancouver will visit Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Skagway, and Hubbard Glacier with journey’s end in Seward.
Last Millennium journey for the season will be a seven-night Seward-embarking “Southbound Alaska Cruise” that leaves September 6 and takes in Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, and Ketchikan with disembarkation in Vancouver.
The first 2013 Alaska sailing for Celebrity Solstice will depart from Seattle May 17 for a season-long schedule of seven-night round trips visiting Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fiord and glaciers, Juneau, Skagway, Victoria, B.C. and return to Seattle. Last trip of the year for the vessel will embark September 6.
One vessel: Crystal Symphony (960 guests)
For 2013, the company plans an 18-day international cruise aboard the Crystal Symphony. The ship will depart April 12, 2013 from Kobe, Japan to Petropavlovsk, Russia then sail on to Alaska ports Dutch Harbor, Kodiak, Seward, Glacier Bay and Ketchikan with Alaska journey's end April 29 in Vancouver.
Disney Cruise Line
One vessel: Disney Wonder (2,700 guests)
Mickey's back again – for his third season of sailing the wondrous world of Alaska!
Travelers anticipating an Alaska cruise in summer 2013, however, should be aware that the Disney Cruise Line will return to Vancouver as its hub for Alaska cruises in 2013.The line announced that the Disney Wonder will sail to Alaska out of the British Columbia city starting on May 27, 2013, offering seven-night trips to the Alaska towns of gold-rush Skagway, Alaska capital city Juneau, and "First City" Ketchikan as well as day-cruising awesome glacier-carved Tracy Arm – notable for its towering sheer cliffs and its alpine and sea-level glaciers.
These cruises, say company officials, will combine the natural wonder and adventurous spirit of Alaska with the unparalleled, family-friendly experience found on a Disney Cruise Line ship. Disney Cruise Line worked closely with Alaskan tour operators to create exclusive-to-Disney family-friendly Port Adventures that allow guests to best experience Alaska’s natural beauty and rich history.
Although singles and adults without children are hardly a threatened species aboard Disney vessels, the line is probably most recognized as a family-friendly fleet that offers a wide variety of events and activities catering to the entire family, including: Broadway-style Disney shows performed nightly, an outdoor 24-by-14-foot LED sceen showing movies, major sports and broadcast events, and a "Pirates IN the Caribbean" deck party.
Special venues for young people include: Flounders Reef Nursery for the youngest set; Disney's Oceaneer Club, an activity center where children can dress up as their favorite princess or hero, play computer games, and take in age-appropriate activities; Disney's Oceaneer Lab, an ideal locale for children to play and learn, thanks to the plethera of themed activities and games; Edge, a tween-exclusive space where youngsters aged 11 through 13 can watch television, listen to music, play videogames, participate in various activities, and make new friends; and Vibe Lounge, a hip hangout where teens 14 to 17 can watch TV, play videogames, listen to music and participate in social activities.
Holland America Line
Seven Vessels: Amsterdam (1,380 guests), Oosterdam (1,918 guests), Statendam (1.260 guests), Volendam (1,432 guests), Westerdam (1,916 guests), Zaandam (1,432 guests), Zuiderdam (1,916 guests)
For spring, summer and fall, 2013, Holland America Line is increasing its presence in the Alaska cruising region with more departures and more guests than ever before.
Although the number of Holland America ships deployed in Alaska will remain at seven — the same as 2012 — the Amsterdam will double its departures on new seven-day roundtrip sailings from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. As a result, Alaska-season departures will increase 8.5 percent and guest capacity will increase 6 percent over 2012.
When the Amsterdam begins its Alaska season May 24, the ship will sail a series of 17 seven-day Inside Passage voyages. The Vancouver sailings feature port calls at Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan, Alaska, as well as scenic cruising throughout Glacier Bay National Park or Tracy Arm Fjord/Twin Sawyer glaciers.
For the 2013 Alaska cruise season, Holland America Line also will feature cruiseliners Zaandam and Statendam each sailing on 18 Gulf of Alaska departures from Vancouver. Statendam and Zaandam also will sail four total Inside Passage routes, along with Amsterdam (17), Volendam (21) and Zuiderdam (20). In addition, Oosterdam and Westerdam are slated to sail 21 and 20, respectively, seven-night voyages from Seattle, Wash.
Additional cruises include Seven-day Alaskan Explorer Voyages Roundtrip from Seattle:
Starting May 5 and 11, respectively, the Oosterdam (Sunday departures) and Westerdam (Saturday departures) will sail 21 and 20 seven-day Alaskan Explorer voyages departing roundtrip from Seattle. The itinerary features port calls at Juneau, Sitka and Ketchikan, Alaska; Victoria, British Columbia; and a scenic cruising experience at Tracy Arm Fjord/Twin Sawyer glaciers or Glacier Bay National Park.
Seven-day Inside Passage Voyages also sail roundtrip from Vancouver:
Five Holland America Line ships – Amsterdam, Statendam, Volendam, Zaandam and Zuiderdam – will sail roundtrip from Vancouver on a series of seven-day Inside Passage voyages. The Volendam (Wednesday departures) and Zuiderdam (Saturday departures) sail a total of 41 voyages from May 1 to September 21. During those voyages guests will visit Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay National Park and make a shore excursion call at Tracy Arm Fjord.
During embarkation for the Seattle voyages, a ranger from the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park will be available to talk to guests about the Klondike parks and other national parks located throughout the Inside Passage. On all Glacier Bay sailings, a park ranger and native interpreters from the Huna people board the ships to explain the origins of their tribe and cultural traditions.
Seven-Day Glacier Discovery Voyages Sail from Vancouver to Seward (or reverse)
The Statendam and Zaandam once again will provide the only mid-sized cruise ship experience available in the Gulf of Alaska. Glacier Discovery cruises sail between Vancouver and Seward (for Anchorage) with Sunday departures May 13 through September 16. The itinerary features port calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, a day at sea in the Gulf of Alaska and scenic cruising through the Inside Passage. Each ship will sail 18 voyages and include a visit to Glacier Bay.
For Ferry Cruisers...
New Site Lists 300+ Bed and Breakfasts Plus Hotels and Other AccommodationsHere’s news of a new region-wide Southeast Alaska accommodations website – created by the publishers of www.AlaskaCruisingReport.com for independent Alaska ferry cruisers who prefer to choose their own port calls and their own length-of-stays along Alaska’s Inside Passage.
The site lists more than 300 Bed and Breakfasts, Inns, Vacation Homes, Hotels, Motels, Overnight Lodges and Hostels in communities from southernmost Hyder to northernmost Yakutat. You can visit the site at www.SoutheastAlaskaBnBs.com.
The ABC's of Alaska Cruising
Three vessel sizes; four "flavors" of Alaska cruising;
When to visit Alaska; and, oh yeah, Alaska's weather
No doubt about it, Alaska's 2013 cruise season promises to be a another banner year for seaborne travel in this land of brown bears, mountain goats, humpback whales, sprawling glaciers, ice-capped mountains, steep-walled fjords, lunker king salmon and lush towering forests.
Here are the ABCs of comfortable cruising in these wondrous wilderness waters from spring and summer through early fall. More...
Port of the Month - Alaskan Port City VignettesSeveral years ago AlaskaCruisingReport.com introduced a series of monthly reports about Alaska's fascinating port cities. First in the series came Ketchikan. Next we introduced Sitka. Then came Seward followed by Juneau. (The list goes on...)
To view the series, visit our Ports of Call page.
Think Alaska Cruising Is Just for Grownups?Bring the kids! Alaska cruiseship travel can be a fabulous, fun, family vacation!
See our family cruising page for details.
Concerned About How Much to Tip on an Alaska Cruise?See our FAQ page for guidance, and to see Theron P. Keller's incredibly easy-to-use calculator that instantly tells you just the right amount to budget for gratuities – even, if you wish – before you leave home!
Alaska Cruise Tours – The Way to Cruise
Alaska's Hiways, Flyways & Railways
First time cruisers sometimes wonder what a “cruise tour” might be. A “tour” of the cruiseship perhaps?
Well, no... When you buy an Alaska cruise tour (also called a "cruisetour" or a "cruise- tour") you purchase a package that includes a basic cruise plus additional tours, travel, and destinations ashore either before or after the cruise. Your pre-cruise and post-cruise choices range from wilderness lodges and national parks to scenic rail and motorcoach excursions, riverboat journeys, travel to Canada’s Yukon Territory, and any number of other pleasurable things-to-do and places-to-see.
All necessary transportation, hotels, tours, and transfers – including, of course, your basic cruise – are usually covered in a single purchase. Exceptions: Some meals ashore may or may not be included; gratuities seldom are.
The cruise tour offered most by cruiselines is a one- or multiple-night option featuring luxury rail or motorcoach from Anchorage or Whittier to Denali National Park. The package may or may not include a sightseeing bus ride deep into the park’s interior in search of grizzly bears, moose, caribou, Dall mountain sheep, foxes, and - if you’re incredibly lucky - wolves or wolverines. Some Denali tours extend north to (or from) Fairbanks. More...
Alaska's "Other" Ferry SystemYou've heard about cruising via Alaska's excellent state ferries. And about BC Ferries' fine service just south of the Alaska panhandle. But have you heard about Alaska's "other" ferries? Click here to read about this "Off the Beaten Path" travel opportunity.
And Speaking of Ports...
The port cities, towns, and villages you can visit on an
or ferry ride are a diverse and exciting lot. Some communities, like
Anchorage, are big and busy and business-oriented, yet Alaskan to the
core; the Anchorage Museum of History and Art and the Alaska
Native Heritage Center are both "must see." Skagway is an authentic
19th century goldrush boom town. Sitka relishes the memory of its
Tlingit Indian heritage and its Russian colonial past.
They don't call Petersburg "Little Norway" for nothing, and if you don't believe it drop by toward the end of May and help the locals celebrate Norwegian Independence Day. Juneau's three "G's" (Glaciers, Gold, and Government) make it a favorite stop among both cruiseship and ferry patrons.
Ketchikan's world class collection of totem poles is much treasured by residents and visitors alike - as are the magnificent cedar monuments on Chief Shakes Island within the harbor at Wrangell. At Haines, residents likewise embrace historic and contemporary Tlingit Indian art, as well as the world's largest gathering of American bald eagles. Tiny Baranof Warm Springs, as the name implies, boasts natural outdoor warm springs pools in the woods - sites much appreciated both by locals, itinerant commercial fishermen and smallboat cruise passengers. Tenakee's natural springs have similar appeal.
Icy Strait Point, adjacent to Hoonah, is Alaska's first planned cultural and activity port, reserved for passengers from no more than one cruiseship a day. Cordova and Valdez, both located on the shores of glacier-rich Prince William Sound, offer unexcelled waterborne sightseeing and angling. Goldrush Nome, the Eskimo village of Gambell on St. Lawrence Island, and Little Diomede Island can only be described as "way far out," in more ways than one. More...
BC Ferries' Vessel Northern Expedition Sails
To Prince Rupert For Connections With Alaska Ferries
Our ferry page has complete details about this British Columbia highway-accessible ferry route to Alaska !
Our Site Map links you to the many-splendored facets of Alaska Cruising.