Cruise lines sail the waters of the 49th state with more adventure and comfort than ever.
Courtesy Norwegian Cruises
A cruise isn’t the best way to experience Alaska’s dramatically rugged landscape; it’s practically the only way. The state has twice as much shoreline as roadway, offering a chance to dive as deep into nature as any cruise can plunge you—from hearing the roar of the Hubbard Glacier calving to spying mama grizzlies fishing for salmon with their cubs. But there are choices to be made, because different cruise lines cruise differently: Some leave from Seattle; others, Vancouver (sailing the Inside Passage). Some run one-way, allowing for extended stays up north and visits to Denali National Park, while others hustle up and back, making for tidier air travel. Some visit the majestic, restricted-access Glacier Bay; others, the awesome Hubbard Glacier. And beyond these itinerary variations, travelers must also choose a vessel: large (better for kids or extended families) or small (best for getting close to nature). Whatever your style—intimate, luxurious, or family friendly—here are our top eight routes to choose from.