See Alaska 3 Different Ways
Round-Trip Inside Passage
This is a classic route, which sails from Seattle or Vancouver up through the Inside Passage. These seven-night voyages sail round-trip which makes air travel arrangements easier and usually less expensive than they are for one-way cruises. One-way cruises require you to fly into Vancouver/Seattle and return from Anchorage/Fairbanks or vice versa depending on whether it is a northbound or southbound cruise.
The Inside Passage is a sheltered waterway between Pacific Coast islands that lends itself to calm, scenic cruising.
Most cruises will stop in Ketchikan which has the world's largest collection of standing totem poles and is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest. They also visit Juneau, the state capital, home to the Juneau Icefield, a large ice mass from which about 30 glaciers flow including Mendenhall Glacier and the Lemon Creek Glacier. Most also include Skagway, a gold-rush port with nice hiking not far out of town; and the granddaddy attraction of Alaska cruises, Glacier Bay, where you’ll see 11 tidewater glaciers which spill their icy calves into the sea. A few cruises include Icy Strait and may add or substitute Haines for Skagway.
Sailings from a US port, i.e. Seattle, are required to call on a Canadian port (typically Victoria or Vancouver).
SEE MORE ALASKA
The gulf itinerary is often called "Voyage of the Glaciers" and is typically a seven-night one-way
voyage north or southbound between Vancouver/Seattle and Seward/Whittier (the gateway ports for Anchorage).
Some misunderstand the terminology and believe that a Gulf of Alaska itinerary does not offer passengers the opportunity to sail the Inside Passage and visit its ports.
You must pass along the Inside Passage coastal strip to get to either of the gateway ports to Alaska, located on the stretch of water north of Glacier Bay and the south side of the Kenai Peninsula.
A typical Gulf of Alaska cruise will normally include Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway and sometimes Sitka as well for ports but may add scenic cruising to Hubbard Glacier, College Fjord and Glacier Bay National Park as well as the Inside Passage.
REALLY SEE ALASKA
Cruise & Land Tours
While every Alaska cruise will give you a wonderful sampling of the reasons people go to Alaska: Wilderness, Wildlife, Glaciers, Mountains, History and Culture, adding a tour gives you so much more.
An Alaskan Cruise Tour takes you into the interior regions of Alaska and lets you truly experience a different side of Alaska and many unique locations and opportunities.
The highlights for most is a visit to Denali National Park and Mt. McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. Other popular and noteworthy
additions are Fairbanks, Kenai,
Talkeetna and other interior regions.
A cruise tour combines an Alaskan cruise with extended nights of stay on land - anywhere from 3-8 days with some offering a Canadian Rockies option in addition to or instead of the interior of Alaska.
The tour can be taken before or after your cruise and normally includes travel by deluxe motor coach and domed rail train with 360-degree views, accommodations and select scenic tours.
NORTHBOUND OR SOUTHBOUND CRUISE?
The most demanding part of your travel will be the flight into Anchorage or Fairbanks; having the cruise at the end of the tour allows you to be totally relaxed by the end of your trip and have an easier trip home from Seattle. Kim recommends touring first and then taking a relaxing southbound cruise.