When is the best time to cruise to Alaska?
The Alaska cruise season begins in May and ends in September. Any earlier or any later and you'll experience shorter, colder and wetter conditions. Anytime between May and September is a good time to go to Alaska, but there are better times in the season to travel if you have a specific interest or motivation. For example, if you're interested in saving money, then the shoulder seasons of May and September are the best times to go. If you are traveling with children, you may be limited to mid-June through mid-August. Spring is a great time to see the wildflowers in full bloom and Alaska's Fall foliage is a sight to see as well. Your warmest and longest days will be in June and July and will offer you plenty of opportunities to enjoy active, calving glaciers. Each month has its benefits. You should plan to travel when it best meets your schedule and budget.
Do I need a passport to go to Alaska?
Although Alaska is part of the United States, there are portions of your cruise that will include a stop in either Vancouver or Victoria, Canada. As a result, you will be required to provide proper proof of US citizenship before you are allowed to board the ship. For US and Canadian Citizens, this can be a passport or a notarized copy of your birth certificate and picture id. While a passport is not required for US and Canadian citizens, we recommend all passengers have a passport as immigration and security measures will only become more stringent with time.
Please note that it is the passenger's responsibility to provide acceptable proof of citizenship. There are no refunds to passengers denied boarding due to the lack of proper documents.
Will I get cold in Alaska?
Alaska is USA northern most state. It's above Canada and close to the North Pole. The cruise ships visit places with lots of ice and you can take tours which give you the opportunity to go dog-sledding or trek across a glacier. With this said, you would expect it to be very cold in Alaska. It can be, but not really in the May - September Alaska Cruise Season.
Temperatures in Alaska vary based on the time of year and the port or city you are visiting. The weather off the ship is unpredictable but here are the average daily high temperature in Alaska major ports and cities:
Most days are very comfortable, but it's important to be prepared for both cold and warm weather. Pack wisely and dress in layers and you should be able to enjoy Alaska whatever the weather conditions may be.
Can you provide driving directions to the cruise terminals?
Please click here to see the Map and driving directions.
Can I store my luggage at the cruise terminals?
Short-term luggage storage is available at Canada Place terminal. CDS Baggage provides storage services. Tel: 604-303-4500. (Hours of operation - 8:00am - 4:00pm on cruise ship days)
Is a stateroom with a balcony really worth it?
A cruise to Alaska is about enjoying the unspoiled natural wonders of America's last, great frontier. What a better way of enjoying it than from the privacy of your own private balcony stateroom.
There is nothing like having a balcony on a cruise to Alaska. Unlike cruises to the Caribbean or Bahamas, the view on an Alaska cruise is always changing. It's not just water, ocean, water, ocean. When you're sailing along the Inside Passage or College Fjord, you have an almost constant view of mountains, wilderness, glaciers, or quaint waterfront communities. You never know when you may see humpback whale or a pod of Orca whales. And with the longer, daylight hours in Alaska, you may see wildlife at almost any time of day.
Private balconies are also a great way to escape the crowds. When sailing in Glacier Bay or College Fjord, the decks are packed with hundreds upon hundreds of passengers crowding the ship's railing to snap a picture of a seal resting on a piece of floating ice or video tape a calving glacier. You can enjoy the same view from your own deck chair while having a cup of coffee - but without the crowds.
Balcony cabins seem bigger as well. With a balcony, it's almost as though you have floor to ceiling window to the most magnificent views in the world. If you're already spending the money and taking time to go to Alaska, treat yourself to a balcony as well. So the answer is "yes." A balcony stateroom is worth it.
What will I see on my Alaska cruise?
An Alaska Cruise not only gives you the opportunity to see Wildlife, Wilderness, Mountains and Glaciers, Alaska's natural beauty, but it also gives you a chance to enjoy attractions and museums that pertain to the Native American Culture and Gold Rush History that is unique to the area.
All Alaska Cruises and Cruise Tours will give you varying tastes of each of these depending upon the cruise vacation you choose. On an Alaska cruise you may see:
You'll see many of these right from your cruise ship or on your own. Or, you can enhance your trip by taking an optional Shore Excursion in the different ports of call.
Wildlife - moose, caribou, dall sheep, grizzly bears, puffin, seals, humpback and killer whale, eagles and more.
Mountains - 7 of the tallest mountains in North America are located in Alaska and the Yukon, some of which are visible from your cruise ship. To see Mt. McKinley, North America's largest mountain, you'll need to take a cruise tour into Denali National Park.
Wilderness - rafting trips, salmon bakes, horse backing trips, fishing tours and hikes can take you into some of the most beautiful wooded areas you'll ever see.
Glaciers - Depending on your itinerary you will see one or more of these glacier areas: Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord, Mendenhall Glacier, or the glaciers College Fjord.
History - All of Alaska is rich with Native American and Gold Rush history. Totem Bight Park, the White Pass Railroad are just a few of the many attractions you can see.
When’s the best time to see whales?
Whales begin their Northbound migration Alaska in February with the the cows and calves beginning around April and continue their trek through May. If you visit Alaska between June and early September, you may see Humpback and Minke Whales, Orcas, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Dall's and Harbour Porpoises. Between June and July, you have your best chance of seeing bubble-netting Humpbacks.
When you're cruising in Alaska, it's not uncommon to see whales right from the deck of the ship or your private balcony. To increase your chances of seeing whales, you may want to take an optional whale watching tour that will take you and group of other passengers on a small boat in search of whale pods. This a very exciting especially when the captain of your boat starts following a pod and getting close to a whale as it makes a terminal dive or comes up for air.
Whales will begin their Southbound trek in late October and continue through December.
What should I wear on an Alaska cruise?
The key word for dressing for an Alaska Cruise is "Layering." Casual sportswear including windbreakers, pants and jogging suits are well suited at both sea and ashore in Alaska. Remember to bring a sweater or jacket for cool evenings. The weather is unpredictable and you should plan on bringing a rain resistant jacket for shore side activities. Light gloves, a hat or visor and sunglasses are also recommended. You’ll also want comfortable walking shoes and sandals with a rubber sole as you explore the shores of Alaska.
Alaska Cruise tend to be more casual than other destination. However, many of the contemporary cruise lines still observe formal nights and resort-casual nights Alaska cruises. Smart Casual is similar to what you would wear at home going out to dine at nice restaurant and can include skirts/dresses, slacks, sweaters and blouses for ladies and pants and open neck shirts for men. A jacket and tie are optional. In the dining area, items such as cutoff t-shirts, halter tops and torn jeans are not permitted.
In the evening, ships vary as to dress. As on shore, attire is dictated by occasion. For the Captain's Gala, for example, you'll probably want to wear something more formal, such as a dark suit, or cocktail dress; perhaps even a dinner jacket or gown.
Should I bring my kids?
Absolutely! Alaska is not only a fabulous, unforgettable vacation destination full of cool, high adventure activities, it's also an unbelievable educational opportunity for the kids. If your children are active and love adventure, they will enjoy an Alaskan cruise.
Several of our cruise line partners who sail Alaska cater to and provide facilities and services for families with children of all ages including toddlers, youth, tweens and teens. This includes expansive kids programming, kids facilities, kids menus and even special Alaska Shore Excursions and activities for the kids.
Most cruise lines have cabins that can accommodate three, four of five passengers in one cabin. This means that children can often travel at substantially reduced rates when they share a cabin with their parents, making it more affordable to take the whole family to Alaska.
Which side of the ship is best for viewing glaciers?
This is one of the most common questions. While we can understand that one may think that the right side of the ship (starboard side) is better for scenery on a Northbound cruise and the left side (port side) better on a Southbound cruise but this isn't true. When cruising the Inside Passage, there is scenery on both sides of the ship and when you are entering the fjords in Alaska, the viewing will be equally good from both sides of the ship over the duration of your cruise vacation. In other words, during your cruise, you'll see scenery from both sides of the ship.
Can I bring my wheelchair to Alaska?
Most cruise lines will do their best to accommodate wheelchair passengers wherever possible. Many of today's modern cruise ships are built with numerous wheelchair-accessible staterooms that include wide doors and large bathrooms with roll-in showers with handrails, hand-held shower heads, and fold-down seas and stools.
They will also do their best to accommodate wheelchairs on the Cruise Tours as well. Many of the rail cars used by Holland America, Princess and Royal Celebrity Tours are accessible to the lower levels including the dining, restroom facilities and viewing platforms. Whenever possible, they will use motor coaches or vans equipped with lift-platforms to assist passengers in boarding and departing the coaches.
All cruise lines require advance notice of wheelchair passengers for all travel in order to ensure appropriate accommodation. Note that while all guests are provided assistance in boarding and departing the cruise ship, motor coaches and rail segments on the land tours, passengers with disabilities must be able to travel independent of assistance in other situations or travel with a companion who is capable of providing assistance.
Is Alaska affordable and a good vacation option?
Yes! There are cruise vacations to suit every budget, from the cost-conscious to the most luxurious. Even more important, a cruise offers the best travel value for your money. Your fare includes all meals, your cabin, onboard daytime activities, nighttime parties and entertainment. You'll know what your vacation will end up costing you before you go. Your only extra expenses will be drinks, gratuities, optional shore excursions, and personal services such as massage or hairstyling.
When’s the most affordable time to go to Alaska?
There are two seasons for Alaska - Shoulder Season and Peak Season. Shoulder Season includes cruises in May, the first week of June, the last week of August and all of September. Peak Season is most of June, July and August.
Peak Season tends to cost more because the weather is better and that is when more people can travel. The kids are out of school and that's when folks take their family vacation. Since demand higher, so are the prices. However, if you can travel in Shoulder Season, when demand is lower, you can take advantage of special promotions and pricing.
While pricing may May and September but Alaska is certainly no less spectacular. Whether you cruise when the Inside Passage is blanketed with spring wildflowers or ablaze with fall foliage you'll be awed at Alaska's natural wonders.
Cruise Lines will also offer early booking discounts if you book your cruise by their Early Booking deadlines.
Is the casino open during an Alaska cruise?
Gambling is not legal in the state of Alaska. However, the cruise lines will open the casino during the period when you are sailing in the international waters around Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. At all other times, the casino will be closed.
Will I get seasick in Alaska?
Cruising the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay or through College Fjord is like sailing on glass. Not only are the waters in these areas smooth, today's modern cruise ships are quite large and contain hi-tech stabilizing devices. In the unlikely event you experience motion discomfort, there are a number of over-the-counter solutions to ease your concerns. These include Bonine, Mecklizine, Dramamine, Transderm Scope Patches, and Seabands. Please consult with your physician or pharmacists before taking any medication.
When should I book my Alaska Cruise Vacation?
The number of cruise ships sailing to Alaska is restricted to minimize the impact on Alaska's natural environment and tend to fill quickly especially in July and August. Even so, “early bird” discounts can be found and we recommend taking advantage of these by booking as early as possible. Balcony cabins are very popular on an Alaska cruise and tend to sell out before inside state rooms. Families wanting cabins close together or “quad” cabins (able to sleep 4) should also book as early as possible.
Should I purchase travel insurance?
We highly recommend purchasing trip cancellation coverage. In the event that your trip is cancelled due to a medical emergency in your immediate family, you will recover the non-refundable portion of the cruise price. This coverage includes any pre-existing medical conditions as long as its purchased within 14 Days of placing your initial deposit. Additional coverage is also available for baggage protection, emergency evacuation and medical.
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES
Carnival's modern SuperLiners are fabulous "floating resorts", where guests can enjoy all the great facilities, dazzling entertainment and carefree lifestyle of a top Florida resort while island-hopping in the sun-drenched Caribbean - or now even further afield! Carnival is ideal for everyone - couples, families or groups of friends - and there are excellent "summer camp" activities for children aged 2-15.
At Celebrity Cruises we provide a world of exotic destinations, combined with an extraordinary shipboard experience, creating a holiday that exceeds your expectations. Celebrity Cruises has the youngest fleet of any major cruise line and is recognised as the highest rated premium cruise line in the industry with standards of ship design, cuisine, service and entertainment of the highest level. With one staff member for every two guests service is attentive and personal. A Celebrity cruise holiday has so much to offer with impeccable service and luxurious amenities, including a fully equipped Spa, spacious accommodations and superb cuisine with menus designed by consultant Master Chef Michel Roux.
As well as a "Tradition of Excellence" that stretches back more than 125 years, Holland America Line's fleet of premium class ships blend elegant surroundings with modern, spacious staterooms and award winning service. Special touches include complimentary hot and cold hors d'oeuvres served at cocktail hour, while lounges are adorned with priceless antiques and fresh flowers.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
NCL's Freestyle Cruising offers passengers the opportunity to enjoy cruising without boundaries. Ideal for families and first-time cruisers as well as cruise veterans, NCL operates the youngest fleet in North America and the Caribbean. Flexibility and choice are fundamentals of NCL cruises, providing passengers with the opportunity to make their own cruise experience; dress up or dress down; eat whenever, wherever and with whomever they chose; aboard facilities ensure that a great holiday is had by one and all.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL
With one of the largest and most modern fleets in the industry, Royal Caribbean has a ship to suit almost everyone, from the smaller super yachts of the Vision Class and Radiance Class to the 142,000 tonne Voyager Class. These are the largest cruise ships in the world that offer the most up-to-date, innovative facilities from interior cabins with a view to an ice rink. Cruising with Royal Caribbean is also ideal for families thanks to the complimentary Adventure Ocean Youth Activities Programme. With more than two hundred itineraries calling at over 200 destinations spanning five continents, Royal Caribbean International offers a relaxed, sporting, pampering cruise holidays.
A cruise with Windstar combines the romance of a private yacht with the comfort and convenience of a five star cruise ship, whilst visiting the world's most desirable destinations. A guest list limited to just 148 or 308 ensures gracious, yet unobtrusive service, with no rules, routines or schedules. Passengers can dine when and with whom they wish, while the dress code is simply elegant.
Costa Cruises is ideal for first-timers with its unsurpassed range of fly-cruises from three to 19 nights, including the Mediterranean - the UK's favourite cruise destination. There's an informal, cosmopolitan atmosphere onboard with an unmistakable Italian style, which appeals to all travellers
Crystal Cruises' two ships, the six star deluxe 940-passenger Harmony and Symphony, with their worldwide itineraries make an ideal choice for the first time cruiser. All the staterooms are spacious, the range of leisure activities and programmes extensive, as are the various dining options aboard; all complemented by the highest standards of hospitality, with staff and crew renowned for their efficient and helpful attitude.
Festival Cruises has six ships offering cruising in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and Norway and the Baltic. Festival offers two styles of cruising: Discovery cruises place the emphasis on interesting itineraries with small, friendly ships. Premium cruising on Festival's larger four star ships emphasises style and comfort with superb facilities aboard.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines offers 'Signature Cruises' designed specifically for newcomers. These are available on all three ships -Braemar, Black Watch and Black Prince to destinations including the Mediterranean, Canaries, Norway and the Caribbean. First timers receive pre-cruise information packs, extra support from aboard staff and exclusive get-togethers. On all 'Signature Cruises', apart from Mini Cruises, there is a full day at sea after embarkation giving time for a guided tour and special welcome from the ship's officers.
Mediterranean Shipping Cruises boasts three classic and traditional
liners - MSC Melody, MSC Rhapsody and MSC Monterey, in Spring 2003. First time cruisers will welcome the MSC experience as the ambience aboard is a great combination of cosmopolitan, friendly, informal and relaxed.
The majority of the affordable cruises are short seven-night holiday. The itineraries are varied and the ports of call will appeal to the young such as Barcelona and Marseille, those looking for a touch of culture such as Volos and Kusadasi and those looking for variety - Italian, Greek, Turkish, North African and Spanish port of call!
Mediterranean Shipping Cruises are Italy's largest privately owned cruise line. Fine food, attentive service, stylish accommodation, are but some of the standard features on the fleet's traditional liners.
Dinner offers mouth watering courses that change every evening, washed down with fine wines. And if you've still got plenty of energy you can dance the night away before the midnight feast!
Facilities include gyms and fitness centres, cinema, casino, library, card room, paddle tennis, table tennis, volleyball shuffleboard. MSC also offers theme cruises such as aerobics, bridge, classical music, rock 'n roll, cooking and cocktail demonstrations as well as Italian lessons!
NORWEGIAN COASTAL VOYAGE
Providing coastal cruising up and down the west coast of Norway, the Norwegian Coastal Voyage is ideal for first time cruisers who want to enjoy the beautiful scenery and way of life in this stunning region. The ship hugs the coastline as it travels, calling at over 34 ports of call between Bergen in the south and Kirkenes in the north. For those who have not experienced a cruise before, the operator provides a five-day mini-voyage, which offers the chance to sample the coastal voyage before trying the sought-after 12-night Classic Round Voyage.
Orient Lines offers a classic cruise experience in medium-size ships styled in the grand tradition of an ocean liner. With 850 to 1,000 passengers on the Marco Polo and Crown Odyssey, there is a special camaraderie that is just not possible on larger liners.
It's easy to make new friends on a ship where the Captain personally greets all passengers at his Welcome Aboard party and an ever-smiling crew quickly puts first-time cruisers at their ease.
Singles-friendly Orient Lines also welcomes the solo traveller, with a trio
of gentlemen hosts to act as dance/bridge partners for single lady guests, and a special singles cocktail party. The ships of destination specialist Orient Lines are built for worldwide cruising and can take passengers in comfort to grand cities like Venice and St Petersburg as well as places with intimate harbours, like Portofino, Mykonos and Santorini, that larger ships must pass by.
These cruises also offer excellent value for the first-time cruiser, who may not wish to invest too much time or money until they have tested the water! Popular itineraries for first-time cruisers include five-night Mediterranean fly-drive cruises. With a repeat business factor of over 30 per cent and a thriving loyalty club, it isn't long before a first-time cruiser returns to Orient Lines
P&O Cruises, the UK market leader, offers a selection of itineraries designed especially for the first-time cruiser. A special escort is available for these passengers and £25 on-board credit offered to spend on drinks, tours or the beauty salon. There will be an exclusive newcomers cocktail party and a bottle of champagne and travel bag will be in each cabin to greet them on departure. Oriana's attractions include the Oasis Spa, three swimming pools, waterfalls, children's facilities, cyber@study internet room, first class entertainment, superb food and classic style.
Star Cruises offer adventurous destinations in the Asia Pacific region. Visit fabulous cities and exotic beaches without having to unpack in between and indulge in the widest choice of dining afloat by choosing the time you wish to eat. The resort style ships sail every week of the year and present old world elegance with warm Asian hospitality.
Swan Hellenic leads the discovery cruising market, giving the chance to experience and explore a wide variety of destinations and with Guest Speakers aboard the country house styled ship Minerva to bring each place to life.
First time cruisers are eligible for a five per cent saving on their first cruise, in addition to early booking discounts available (up to 30 per cent), a special 'Spa Package' for treatments in the Health and Beauty Spa, and a bottle of champagne in the cabin upon arrival.