When planning an Alaska cruise, you will have many decisions to make. For starters, you will need to choose a point of embarkation for your cruise. With nearly a million passengers cruising from a Seattle pier, Seattle is now the most popular departure point and the busiest northwest port for cruises to Alaska.
When cruising to Alaska from Seattle, there are many options to consider. Cruises can last anywhere from 7 to 14 days, they can be either one way or round trip cruises, and they are offered on large ships or small ships. Running from spring through fall, cruises to Alaska from Seattle will provide you with views of glaciers, wildlife, and more. This article will tell you everything you need to know to plan your epic Alaska cruise from Seattle.
Deciding where start your cruise
Seattle and Vancouver are two of the most popular embarkation ports for cruises to Alaska and both have a lot to offer. Both of these cities are fun places to visit and have plenty of things to do and see. There are many cruises departing from each one. Both have major airports nearby. However, Seattle can be easier to get to because more flights are available. Seattle is a good choice if you want to explore Victoria’s waterfront, visit the Butchart Gardens, or spend time in Washington State.
If you decide to depart from Seattle, there are many major cruise lines that operate, and you can choose from a range of itineraries. Most are 7-night round trips, but Holland America offers a 14-night cruise from Seattle and Oceania offers 7, 10, and 11 nighters and some one-way cruises.
Cruises from Seattle to Alaska depart all summer long, from the spring through the fall, so you can go any time during cruise season. The summer is a great time to cruise from Seattle to Alaska because you can take advantage of the long days, and the weather in the state of Washington is the most pleasant during the summer months.
If you take a cruise from Seattle to Alaska, you should be sure to spend a few days exploring “the Emerald City.” Seattle is not only rich in culture, but also a great destination for natural beauty and great food, wine, and beer. Places to visit and see during your stay in Seattle include the Seattle Space Needle, the Pike Place Market, the Museum of Popular Culture, the Seattle waterfront, the colorful garden of glass at Chihuly, and the Museum of Flight at Boeing. You might want to take the ferry to Puget Sound or take a walking tour or underground tour of this fascinating city while you are there.
Where do Alaskan cruises depart from in Seattle?
There are two cruise piers in Seattle from which Alaskan cruises depart, the Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal (Pier 66) and Terminal 91. Both ports offer parking for cruise passengers, luggage storage, and a service that checks you into your flight and delivers your luggage to the airport at the end of the cruise.
Located 14 miles from the Seattle Tacoma International Airport, the Ball Street Pier Cruise Terminal is used by just two cruise lines, Norwegian and Oceania. Ball Street is right in the center of downtown Seattle, just a short walk from Pike Place Market, the aquarium, hotels, shops, and restaurants.
Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Princess and Royal Caribbean use Terminal 91, or the Smith Cove Terminal, which is a 10-minute drive north of downtown in the Magnolia neighborhood. Terminal 91 is 17 miles from the airport, and there are no attractions nearby.
Do you need a passport?
If you are a US citizen and your cruise begins and ends in Seattle, you are not currently required to travel with a passport, but it is highly recommended. All Alaska cruises are required to make a stop in Canada, either in Vancouver or in Victoria British Columbia.
When is the best time for deals?
The cost of cruises from Seattle to Alaska varies according to the date, the cruise line, and the choice of cabin, but whenever you decide to go, choosing Seattle as your point of departure can save you money. Airfares tend to be less expensive, you won’t need a passport, and you will have more lines to choose from.
What to expect on a cruise to Alaska from Seattle
Most cruises to Alaska from Seattle last for 7 nights and sail round trip. On the way, they usually include visits to ports such as Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. Many include a glacier experience.
On departure day, you should plan to arrive at the pier early. Once you arrive, the embarkation process can take up to 2 hours for a large cruise. You will check in your luggage, give your credit card information for expenses on the ship, receive your room keys, and be provided with security information. Be sure to have your travel documents and visas ready as you board the ship. Once you board, you will enjoy relaxing with a welcome drink.
Choosing a cruise
Once you decide to depart from Seattle, you will have to choose a specific line, ship, and itinerary. Fortunately, there is something for everyone. If you are looking for an upscale experience, Celebrity’s personalized service might be best for you. For affordable cruises focusing on younger passengers, Carnival Cruise Lines might be the way to go.
Ports of call on a Cruise from Seattle
Most cruises from Seattle are 7-day round trip cruises. This means that they only reach southern ports, stopping in Victoria or Vancouver, cruising the Inside Passage, and stopping in Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. Longer cruises include additional stops and attractions such as Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Anchorage, Homer, and Kodiak. Each of these ports of call has something unique to offer. Here are some highlights.
Ketchikan, a fascinating town with a gold mining history on the southern border, is included in all itineraries. While there, check out the House of Ill Repute museum and look for salmon spawning, bears, or other wildlife.
Skagway, the northernmost point of most cruises from Seattle, is a town rich in history. At the heart of Gold Rush country, this is the place to visit local shops or take a ride on the historical White Pass and Yukon route train into the hills outside of town for incredible views.
On most cruises from Seattle, you will spend a day at sea passing through the Inside Passage. If you enjoy scenic cruising, views of glaciers, and whale sightings, this most definitely will be a highlight of your trip.
Victoria is a charming city with beautiful gardens throughout its center. Also known for its historical buildings and bars serving craft beers, it is usually the last stop on your cruise before you return to Seattle. It is a great way to end your cruise experience.
Excursions on a Cruise from Seattle
Ziplining in Juneau, salmon fishing in Sitka, and horseback riding or dog sledding in Skagway are just a few of the many excursions that can be included in your trip. If you are looking for more low key adventures, you might enjoy forest or meadow hikes, helicopter or float plane tours in Juneau or in Ketchikan, riding on the White Pass Scenic Railway in Skagway, or visiting museums.
What cruise ships leave from Seattle?
Many lines offer cruises that leave from Seattle. Here are some of the most popular choices.
Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Cruise Lines offer cruises on the Carnival Legend or the Carnival Spirit. The itinerary includes Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Icy Strait Point, Ketchikan, Victoria, and ends in Seattle. With fun activities, free food, a thrilling water slide, and an adults-only deck, this cruise ship is great for families. The Alaska tour is round trip and lasts for 7 days. It is available throughout cruise season.
On Celebrity Cruises, you will travel on the Solstice, one of the newest ships. It has 19 decks, nice cabins, includes full board, and offers many eateries. Breakfast and lunch buffets are casual, while dinners are more organized. You will also find shows, casinos, and bars for your entertainment. The cruise itinerary includes visits to Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, the Inside Passage, Victoria, Tracy Arm Fjord, Icy Strait Point, before returning to Seattle.
Holland America Line
With a choice of ships and cruise itineraries, Holland has a lot to offer. The 7-day Alaskan Explorer leaves from Seattle and visits Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria. The Eurodam itinerary includes cruising Puget Sound, Stephens Passage, Juneau, and Glacier Bay, and visits to Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria Canada, and returns to Seattle. The ship offers great dining, entertainment, enrichment, modern amenities, and a helpful staff. The Amsterdam itinerary lasts 14 days and visits Vancouver, Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Anchorage, Homer, Kodiak, Sitka, Victoria.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Offering 3 options on the Norwegian Bliss or the Norwegian Joy, this line is known for discounts, kids’ fares, onboard credit, fly and cruise options, transfers, and hotel stays. One option from Seattle visits Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria. Another cruise visits Ketchikan, Juneau, Icy Strait Point, and Victoria. The third option stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria.
If you are looking for a smaller ship, consider the Regatta of Oceania. The 7-night cruise on the Regatta travels to Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan, and Victoria. It is availale in June, July, and August. The 10-night cruise includes visits to Wrangell, Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Victoria, and Vancouver and runs in July, August, and September. The 11-day cruise travels from Seattle to Vancouver and runs in late July. It stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait, Skagway, Sitka, Prince Rupert, and Victoria. With under 700 passengers aboard, 5-star dining options, and a luxurious spa, you will be sure to have a great experience.
Princess offers three 7-Day Alaska cruises. Two of them are round trip from Seattle, while the third one begins in Seattle and ends in Vancouver. The 7-day Inside Passage (with Glacier Bay National Park) cruise on the Ruby Princess includes Glacier Bay, Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria. A 7-Day Inside Passage cruise on the Star Princess visits Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria. Princess cruises are known for their excellent service and offer an array of dining and entertainment options. The ships are large with over 3000 passengers.
Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean offers one of the largest fleets with a variety of activities and dining options. Three Alaska cruises are available. Beginning in Seattle, visiting glaciers, and making stops in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, this mega-liner offers high-tech entertainment and many drinking and dining options.
Cruising on a small ship
A cruise on a small ship offers a more intimate experience and more educational options. It also allows you to get to places that larger cruise ships cannot access. National Geographic has joined with Lindblad to offer two week adventure cruises aboard expedition ships. With just 100 guests, you will benefit from more access to staff, naturalists, and crew. The Empress of the North Cruise Line is another small ship that accommodates 235 passengers. The small size provides unmatched opportunities to get close to nature and wildlife.
A few tips to keep in mind
Here are a few suggestions to consider as you plan your cruise to Alaska from Seattle. First of all, book your hotel in Seattle early. Hotels tend to fill up quickly and can be expensive, so if you book early you will be sure to get a room and find the best deals. Look at the cruise line hotel options and boutique hotels to see how they compare.
Be sure to get to Seattle the day before your cruise especially if you are traveling from the East Coast. If you travel the same day and your flight is delayed, there is a good chance that the cruise will leave you behind. Consider getting travel insurance to protect yourself in case something unexpected occurs.
As you can see, there are many reasons for cruising to Alaska from Seattle. Getting to Seattle will take you less time, and Seattle is a great city with a lot to see and do. Domestic flights are easier to book and less expensive, and you won’t have to deal with customs. If you are looking for the adventure of a lifetime, you will not be disappointed by the itineraries offered on these amazing cruises.