Luxury Alaska cruises have a different vibe than lavish sailing in balmy climates. Lounging poolside plays second fiddle to shore excursions showcasing the state’s spectacular natural wonders. The onboard experience is uniquely Alaskan; Viewing glaciers and wildlife from your ship’s spacious deck and listening to engaging lectures from enthusiastic expert guests trumps trivia games and wine tastings.
The best Alaska luxury cruises also cater to luxe-lovers’ desires. Smiling servers hand you mugs of hot chocolate as you sip on icy slopes. Cashmere blankets await you in your suite, so you can stay warm and cozy on your private balcony while photographing tail-flipping whales.
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In luxury lines, many trips are complimentary. These riveting outings take you from crowded harbors and tourist shops to pristine forests and lakes or bucket-list adventures like dog-mushing, glacier-tracking and bear-watching. Such outings will cost big bucks on premium or contemporary ships. Of course, the cost is folded into the high price of a luxury cruise, but you’ll likely see and experience a lot more when activities are included in your fare.
If you’re looking for unbridled luxury and thrills, try one of these five best luxury Alaska cruises for 2024.
Silversea Cruises’ newest ship, the 728-passenger Silver Nova, features plenty of floor-to-ceiling windows, making the ship an ideal ride for inside passage cruising.
Its seven-night Vancouver-to-Seward voyage visits every must-see port — including Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway — and cruises to the stunning Hubbard Glacier. Most shore excursions are included in Silversea charters, so you don’t have to pay extra to immerse yourself in the best Alaska has to offer.
In Ketchikan, for example, Silver Nova offers 12 complimentary shore excursions, such as a hovercraft cruise with possible wildlife glimpses of eagles and whales, followed by a beach landing in the Tongass National Forest, or a fully enclosed adventure boat ride. Visit a marine park for a scrumptious seafood meal with crab, prawns, mussels and oysters at Silverking Lodge. In Sitka, 11 excursions range from hikes to three-hour kayak paddles from an alpine lake to a floating base camp with a champagne toast.
On board, enjoy all-suite accommodation, butler service, complimentary sustainable caviar and alcohol. Seven of the 10 notable dining opportunities are complimentary. All donations are included. Best of all, the ship’s asymmetric design — new to Silveria — offers incredible views from almost everywhere — even in the glass elevator.
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Silver Nova is offering weeklong cruises between Vancouver and Seward from May through mid-September 2024.
Related: The Best Luxury Cruise Lines for Elegance and Exclusivity
Regent Seven Seas Cruise
One of the best luxury Alaska cruise ships is the 746-passenger all-suite Seven Seas Explorer. It’s one of the most glam ships on Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and you can pamper yourself for a week on board as you sail from Seward, Alaska to Vancouver, British Columbia. If you like opulence — think exquisite marble and crystal spread throughout — and a magnificent multimillion-dollar art collection, look no further than the Seven Seas Explorer for your vacation home-suite.
Your cruise fare includes many perks, such as round-trip air, most shore excursions, all specialty dining (don’t miss the Chartreuse and Pacific Rim), 24-hour in-suite dining, alcohol, airport transfers, gratuities, and, my personal favorite. , valet laundry service. The largest suites come with more perks, such as one night’s pre-cruise hotel and butler service.
Related: 2 Types of Regent Seven Seas Cruise Ships, Explained
In Alaska, count on notable included excursions like driving the uber-scenic Klondike Highway, eating freshly caught salmon at Learsville Gold Rush Camp, or visiting sled dog camp (pets allowed). In Juneau, search for humpbacks and orcas on sea wildlife quests or photograph the mighty Mendenhall Glacier from a vantage point.
Ketchikan is totem territory; Here, you can meet a Native American artist who demonstrates not only how carvings are made, but also the significance of their culture. Or visit a raptor rehabilitation center where you can gaze into the eyes of a bald eagle.
Seven Seas Explorer is offering seven-night cruises between Vancouver and Seward from May to mid-September 2024.
Is a week not enough time in Alaska? For an even more enjoyable vacation and more time spent exploring the 49th state, choose the yacht-like, 458-passenger all-suite Seabourn Odyssey and its 11-night round-trip Vancouver voyage for your Alaska luxury cruise.
Although this is the last summer to sail with Seabourn (Seabourn Quest anticipates this route in 2025), no shortcuts are taken for the final season fling. Service consistently excels. Count alcohol, Regis ova caviar (a company co-founded by superstar chef Thomas Keller) and gratuity into inclusions. The crew pulls out all the stops for Seabourn’s Caviar on the Ice, with a complimentary deck party with — you guessed it — plenty of caviar to eat and bubbly to sip. It’s a take on Seabourn’s iconic caviar at surf parties served in tropical climes and is just as delicious.
Seabourn Odyssey’s timeless design fits the country-club-ish atmosphere and makes for a fun onboard experience. All suites but the entry level provide private balconies. The ship offers eight complimentary dining venues and 24-hour in-suite dining. If you wish, enjoy the following for dinner after a day of adventure travel; Dishes will be served course by course. Travelers love the clubs, afternoon teas and nightly dance parties. Its outdoor terrace is enticing with two whirlpools and a plunge pool.
While not an expedition ship, the Seaborne Odyssey Alaska hosts about 14 experts on board, including educators, scientists and other wildlife experts. They also offer optional (extra fee) Seabourn excursions, such as zodiac, kayaking, hiking and catamaran tours. Highlights include a four- to six-mile hike through a rainforest to Mendenhall Valley, a glacial lake, and kayaking to the Hubbard Glacier. A professional photographer gives lectures and offers small-group workshops on how to capture the perfect wildlife photo.
Related: Alaska Cruise Guide: Best Itineraries, Planning Tips, and Things to Do
Note that this itinerary is longer than most (and Seabourn also offers weeklong sailings), providing a deeper immersion in the state’s pristine and less-visited allure. For example, visiting the Inner Islands, Endicott or Tracy Arm and Rangel is unbeatable. The same goes for scenic trips to the Misty Fjords of almost incomparable beauty.
Seabourn Odyssey is offering seven, 10, 11 and 14-night cruises from May to August 2024. Fares for this June 17, 2024, Vancouver “Inside Passage and Alaska Fjords” cruise start at $7,799 per person.
Although considered a high-premium line, Oceania Cruises recently unveiled a novel program only Also, many inclusions are added to the standard fare, such as round-trip airfare, airport transfers, most alcohol and a $600 shore excursion credit per passenger. This program takes the cruise up to luxury-level standards.
Not to mention, Oceania Cruises’ ships are stunning, even one as old as the 670-passenger Regatta. Built in 1999, it underwent a major renovation in 2019. Expect public spaces in the colors of sky and sea and plenty of timeless teak, stone and custom tile work.
RELATED: 5 Best Destinations You Can See on an Oceania Cruise Ship
Head of dining on board; All five restaurants are excellent and include fare (even fancy dishes, like prime dry-aged Angus steak and Maine lobster). A complimentary afternoon tea is served daily, featuring a four-tiered pastry cart, artisan brews and a live string quartet.
To complete the luxury experience, book at least one door-level balcony (to add free laundry service, cashmere lap blankets, priority boarding and more to your list of amenities). Book a suite for 24-hour butler service.
This 10-night round-trip Seattle voyage isn’t just the usual stops in Sitka, Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. You’ll also visit Victoria, British Columbia, for whale watching, a city walking tour or excursions to cider farms and wineries. Stroll through the iconic Butchert Gardens, its winding paths ablaze with colorful flowers.
Explore beyond the ice strait point, where wildlife outnumbers the primarily Indian population. Look for grizzlies and bald eagles, learn about Tlingit culture or combine a chance to see grizzly bears with a humpback whale cruise.
If your questions about Alaska aren’t answered ashore, the ship’s guest speakers, such as naturalists, passionately share knowledge about the region’s history, culture and environment.
Regatta is offering six-, nine-, 10- and 11-night cruises from May to September 2024. Fares for this July 9, 2024, round-trip Seattle 10-night “Radiant Alaska” cruise start at $3,399 per person.
Although Viking falls into the (self-proclaimed) high premium category, most cruise line ships are viewed as luxury. Sailing in Alaska, the 930-passenger adult-only Viking Orion offers an elegant and spacious modern Nordic design.
Entry-level cabins offer a minimum of 270 square feet with a private balcony These sleek digs include a king bed, spacious bath with heated floors and anti-fog mirrors, plus robes, turndown service and complimentary soft drinks, water and snack minibars. Larger, more expensive accommodations come with complimentary welcome champagne, a coffee maker, and priority booking for shore excursions and restaurants.
The spa offers complimentary access to its Thermal Suite, where guests can rejuvenate alternating between a steamy sauna and a frozen snow grotto. Afternoon tea is a treat every day in the gorgeous Wintergarden. It’s complimentary, as is the ship’s primo specialty restaurant.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Viking Cruise Ships and Itineraries
Viking Orion’s 10-night cruise between Vancouver and Seward includes scenic cruises of the Inside Passage and Yakutat Bay, and a stop in rarely visited Valdez. There, enticing shore excursions include kayaking the Valdez Glacier; Flying over glaciers, spotting wildlife in helicopters; and a UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle, larger than ATV) adventure through the Chugach Mountains to Mineral Creek Canyon. One shore excursion at each port is complimentary.
Viking Orion is offering 10-night 2024 Alaskan sailings between Vancouver and Seward from May to early September 2024. Fares for this July 3, 2024, Vancouver to Seward 10-night cruise start at $6,999 per person.
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