It’s June, and you’re still thinking about booking a cruise to Alaska this summer. No problem—there are cabins available. Your dilemma? You can’t decide which ship is right for your family, your cruise style, or your budget.
The good news is there are terrific ships sailing the Inside Passage and beyond through September—including a brand-new megaship with cool onboard activities, several recently refurbished ships that offer good value, and a few small- and mid-size options that provide a more luxurious experience. Here are the best ships cruising to Alaska this summer.
It doesn’t get any buzzier than Norwegian Bliss, the 4,004-passenger ship launched specifically with seven-night Alaska cruises in mind. A key design change from Norwegian’s previous Breakaway and Breakaway Plus-class ships is the removal of cabins to add a massive Observation Lounge on Deck 15 forward. Featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and comfy sofas and loungers, it provides a cozy vantage point for scenic cruising when Alaska’s weather doesn’t cooperate. When it does, the top three decks offer lots of family-friendly thrills: a two-level NCL Racetrack (ride for 10 adrenaline-fueled laps), two scream-inducing water slides (Aqua Racer and Ocean Loops), and laser tag. Cruises depart from Seattle and start at $734 per person.
The 2,850-passenger Celebrity Solstice provides a sophisticated ambience designed with couples in mind (although kids who won’t get cranky without water slides are welcome). A 2016 refurbishment freshened up the public spaces, which include the cabana-lined Lawn Club (featuring real grass) and the adults-only Solarium pool. There are 11 restaurants (six of them complimentary), the Canyon Ranch Spa Club, and 85 percent of the staterooms have verandas, making scenic cruising from the privacy of your cabin more accessible. From $799 per person, with cruises departing from Vancouver.
Princess has a long history in Alaska, rotating a variety of ships into its Inside Passage itineraries each summer. The 3,080-passenger Ruby Princess is a top option, especially for foodies. While not new (it debuted in 2008), the ship underwent a refurbishment in December 2015 that added several specialty restaurants along with the expansion of their signature Chocolate Journeys program by master chocolatier chef Norman Love (a must if you're a foodie with a sweet tooth). Plus, if you love pizza, Princess’s is among the best at sea. From $899 per person, cruising from San Francisco.
If your kids are crazy about Disney princesses and Marvel super heroes, but you’d rather have them breathe in fresh mountain air than theme-park fried food, Disney Cruise Line has a solution. Instead, cruise Alaska onboard the 2,713-passenger Disney Wonder. Onboard entertainment includes live music (like Frozen, A Musical Spectacular);themed parties and events; the latest Disney movies; and character meet and greets. And, of course, there’s the frozen wonderland of Alaska’s glaciers and national parks to explore while ashore. Disney Wonder sails from Vancouver; prices start at $3,806 per person.
This 2,160-passenger Holland America Line ship is a perfect choice for traditionalists looking for a mix of the great outdoors and indoor entertainment — from culinary activities to world-renowned music. Onboard amenities and activities include offers cooking classes, live music, a $3 million art collection, and more. The ship departs from Vancouver, and sailings start at $799 per person.
Regent Seven Seas Mariner
Fresh from a refurbishment, the 700-passenger Regent Seven Seas Mariner offers a luxurious (and all-inclusive) base from which to experience the Alaskan wilderness. The ship has a clubby elegance with updated traditional decor in neutral beiges and soothing blues along with seven restaurants (from the casual Coffee Connection to Prime 7 steakhouse and Chartreuse for modern French fine dining) and evening entertainment that includes five lounges, a theater, and a casino. From $6,399 per person for seven-night itineraries from Vancouver and Anchorage.
If you’re looking for a boutique cruise experience geared toward adults that won’t break the bank, the 684-passenger Oceania Regatta is the perfect ship for you. This vessel -- which features neo-classical architecture and design -- offers traditional touches such as afternoon tea, a coffee bar, and a martini bar, while six restaurants (including the Polo Grill steakhouse, Toscana for Italian, and The Bistro) provide plenty of dining options. From $2,299 per person; ship departs from Vancouver.