Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time to cruise to Alaska?
Alaska cruises are offered continuously from May through September, and in general, anytime during these months is a good time to go. To save money, consider traveling early in the season in May or at the end of the season in September. Spring is an excellent time to see wildflowers in bloom and the fall is known for its colorful fall foliage. The warmest and longest days of the year are in June and July -- a trip during this time is perfect for watching glacier calving.
Which cruise lines sail to Alaska?
A number of major cruise lines sail to Alaska, including Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Silversea.
How long are Alaska Cruises?
Most Alaska cruises are 7-days, sailing roundtrip from Seattle or Vancouver through the Inside Passage, or southbound from Anchorage or northbound from Vancouver on an Alaska Glacier Cruise. Of course, there are longer sailings available, depending on how much time you have and how much you want to spend.
If you're looking to extend your stay and explore Alaska's unique interior, consider adding a land tour to the beginning or end of your cruise. Known as cruise tours, these tours allow travelers to visit Alaska's interior cities and to explore the incredible flora and fauna of its National Parks. The most popular stops include Mt. McKinley, Denali National Park and Fairbanks.
Will Alaska be too cold?
Alaska is a cold place -- north of Canada and close to the North Pole -- and you may encounter cold conditions on certain tours like dog-sledding or glacier trekking. However, temperatures are mild during the summer months, when most tourists visit, and vary by port and city. Cool mornings can quickly warm up to very pleasant afternoons. We recommend dressing in layers so you are comfortable all day, regardless of the activity. For weather information on specific cities or ports, click here.
Is it true it doesn't get dark in Alaska?
Known as the Land of the Midnight Sun, Alaska experiences longer periods of daylight in April through September. Of course, this depends on where you are and when you are traveling, but at times you can step out on deck at 11 o'clock at night and have splendid views of Alaska's pristine scenery and abundant wildlife.
Is a stateroom with a balcony really worth it?
Absolutely! Much of your trip will be spent cruising magnificent glaciers and trying to catch a glimpse of Alaska's amazing wildlife. A stateroom with a balcony is a wonderful way to enjoy all that Alaska has to offer in the privacy of your own stateroom, 24 hours a day. Sip coffee while spotting a Humpback whale, videotape a calving glacier without crowds or enjoy incredible views of the Alaskan landscape as you unwind from an unforgettable day.
What will I see on my Alaska Cruise?
"The Last Frontier" is well-known for its abundant wildlife, unspoiled wilderness and glistening glaciers, but a trip to Alaska will also introduce you to Native American culture and Gold Rush history. Go in search of moose, caribou, Dall sheep, grizzly bears, puffin, seals, Humpback and Killer whales, eagles and more. Explore seven of the tallest mountains in North America. Keep in mind that Alaska's most famous mountain, Mt. McKinley, can only be viewed while on a cruise tour to Denali National Park. Outdoor activities are plentiful and often include rafting trips, fishing tours, hikes and horseback riding trips. Depending on your itinerary, you'll see Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, Sawyer Glacier in Tracy Arm Fjord, Mendenhall Glacier, or the glacier College Fjord. Immerse yourself in Alaska's heritage, rich in history and tradition.
What is an Alaska cruise tour?
Alaska cruise tours offer an in-depth look at America's last unspoiled frontier. They combine a cruise of the spectacular Inside Passage or Gulf of Alaska with a land tour that typically includes travel by motor coach, a train excursion in domed rail cars, and stays in wilderness lodges. Denali National Park, the Yukon gold rush country and the Canadian Rockies are among options for the land portion of an Alaskan cruise tour. Cruise tours last from nine to 21 nights.
Will I get to see Mt. McKinley?
I'm afraid this is a matter of luck, and weather conditions. Towering 20,360 feet high, Mt. McKinley is North America's highest peak, located in Denali National Park between Alaska and Fairbanks. Due to its gigantic size, Mt. McKinley creates its own weather and cloud coverage can be rather unpredictable. A full view is never guaranteed; however, it is an awe-inspiring site if you're lucky enough to see Mt. McKinley's peaks on a clear day.
When's the best time to see whales?
Whales make their northbound migration to Alaska beginning in February, so the Alaska cruise season is the perfect time to see these wondrous creatures. Humpback and Minke Whales, Orcas, Pacific White-Sided Dolphins, Dall's and Harbor Porpoises can all be seen in Alaska's waters generally between June and early September.
Although it's not unusual to spot whales from on deck or from the privacy of your cabin balcony, to increase your odds of an encounter, you may want to take a whale-watching excursion that will get you up close and personal to these intriguing mammals.
What should I wear on an Alaska cruise?
On an Alaska cruise you'll encounter a range of temperatures. From the frigid temperatures on a glacier tour to warm afternoons in quaint fishing villages along the coast, you'll definitely want to layer your clothing for comfort. During the day, you'll want to bring casual sportswear, such as windbreakers, pants and jogging suits, as well as comfortable walking shoes with rubber soles or hiking boots. At night, you'll appreciate having a sweater or light jacket to keep you warm. Remember that the weather can be unpredictable, so don't forget your ponchos or rain gear and fleece jackets. We always recommend that you carry a light pair of gloves, a hat, and sunglasses, and don't forget your camera and binoculars!
Although the days are casual in Alaska, most cruise lines observe at least two formal nights during a 7-night cruise. To participate in these special evenings, you'll want to bring formal attire with you. The rest of the evenings will be designated as resort casual or smart casual dress. For more information on dress codes, click here.
Should I bring my kids?
Alaska cruises can certainly be a family affair. Kids will enjoy the adventurous activities and parents will love the educational aspect of the trip. In addition, many cruise lines cater to kids of all ages onboard with special programming, entertainment, kids facilities and menus, and sometimes arrange special activities and excursions onshore.
Already considered a popular family vacation, cruises often feature family staterooms and suites that will hold up to 8 guests -- be sure to book these early -- and some inside, oceanview and balcony staterooms will hold up to 5 passengers, which can help families save money. Connecting staterooms may also be available. Your Vacations To Go cruise counselor can discuss your cabin options with you.
Which side of the ship is best for seeing glaciers?
Contrary to popular belief, it really doesn't matter which side of the ship you choose. When cruising the inside passage, you'll see scenery on both the left side (port side) and the right side (starboard side), going northbound and southbound. And when entering fjords, the view will be amazing, regardless of your location on the ship.
Can I bring my wheelchair to Alaska?
Cruise lines do their best to accommodate guests with special needs. Wheelchair accessible staterooms offer enhancements such as wider doorways and larger bathrooms, which feature roll-in showers with handrails, hand-held shower heads and fold-down seats and stools.
The same is true for cruise tours. Guests with special needs will find that many cruise lines strive to accommodate guests traveling with them on land, as well as at sea. Rail cars used by Holland America, Princess, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity offer accessible lower levels, which include dining areas, restroom facilities and viewing platforms. In addition, these cruise lines will use motor coaches or vans equipped with lift-platforms to assist guests with entering and exiting the coaches.
Note that although guests are provided assistance in boarding and departing the cruise ship, motor coaches and rail segments on the land tours, passengers with special needs must be able to travel unassisted in other situations or travel with a companion who is capable of providing assistance. The most important part of planning your cruise is to communicate all of your specific needs to your Vacations To Go cruise counselor. Contact the Travelers with Special Needs department by calling (800-998-6902) prior to booking. Click here for more information. Please note that each cruise line requires passengers with special needs to submit a Special Needs Form (supplied by Vacations To Go) prior to sailing.
Can I go fishing?
Fishing is an important part of Alaska's culture and economy, so it's not surprising that many cruise guests want to enjoy the destination's favorite pastime when visiting. Depending on the city, you might fish for King Salmon, Pink & Silver Salmon, Sockeye, Halibut, Rainbow Trout, Char and Steelhead. And not only will you delight in the beautiful scenery, you may also enjoy glacier viewing or whale-watching, depending on your tour.
Full and half-day excursions are typically available and can be booked directly with the cruise line. These tours are fully guided and licenses are included. What you catch can be packed and shipped home (at an additional cost), or if you prefer, you can have the chef prepare it to your liking onboard. The approximate cost for a half-day fishing excursion is $180 per person, although cost will vary by cruise line.
Is Alaska affordable and a good vacation option?
Yes! Alaska appeals to a wide variety of travelers and options abound. From budget-friendly to ultra-luxurious, an Alaska cruise vacation is a great value. Your cruise price includes your cabin, all meals (including the midnight buffet!), entertainment and, of course, all transportation between all the ports on your itinerary. However, on most ships, alcoholic beverages, spa and salon services, gratuities and optional shore excursions are not included in the basic price.
Is the casino open on an Alaska Cruise?
Gambling is not legal in Alaska, so the casino will remain closed for most of your cruise. The only exception is when sailing in the international waters around Vancouver, Canada.
Will I get seasick in Alaska?
Very unlikely! The water in the Inside Passage, Glacier Bay and through College Fjord is calm and today's ships are equipped with state-of-the-art stabilizers designed to minimize movement. There are several over-the-counter and prescription treatments for seasickness on the market now, so if you are prone to motion sickness, we recommend that you discuss preventative measures with your doctor or local pharmacist.
When's the most affordable time to go to Alaska?
The months of June, July and August are considered peak season, welcoming thousands of visitors with beautiful weather and plenty of outdoor recreation. Of course, this is also the timeframe when most people can travel with the kids and plan family vacations, so due to Alaska's vacation appeal and its limited cruise season, prices are generally higher in the summer.
If you are flexible with your travel dates, consider cruising Alaska in May or the first week of June when the wildflowers are in bloom, or enjoy Alaska's fall foliage when sailing the last week of August and through September. Many cruise lines will also offer special incentives to travel earlier or later in the season. Also, keep in mind that many lines will offer early booking specials for those early birds!
How do I arrange my airfare to Alaska?
You can book airfare on your own, which also allows you to use air miles and coordinate your own schedule, or you can book flights through the cruise line's AIR/SEA department with the help of a Vacations To Go cruise counselor.
The main reasons to let us book your air at the same time you reserve your cruise -- through the cruise line's AIR/SEA department -- are convenience, better access to flights that make easy connections to your ship, and added protection in the event of a flight or sailing delay or cancellation. For more information on booking airfare and the cruise line's AIR/SEA program, click here.
Can I extend my Alaska Cruise Vacation?
In addition to cruise tours, which combine a cruise with a land tour, you may also have the option of booking a pre- or post-hotel package in Vancouver or Anchorage. Stay an additional one to three nights, allowing you extra time to explore local sights and relax before or after your cruise.
Do I need a passport to go to Alaska?
US citizens cruising to Alaska on a ship that departs from or ends in Canada (e.g. Vancouver) will require a valid passport card or passport if they enter Canada by land or sea. US citizens cruising to Alaska that enter or depart Canada by air need a valid passport. Important Note: Canada has issued the following advisory for all U.S. citizens entering Canada. "Anyone with a criminal record (including a DWI charge) should contact the Canadian Embassy or nearest Consulate General before travel." Click here for more information.
U.S. citizens on cruises that begin and end in the same U.S. port (e.g. Alaska cruises sailing roundtrip from Seattle, WA) and travel to Canada are able to re-enter the U.S. with proof of citizenship other than a passport or passport card. Acceptable proof of citizenship includes an original or certified copy of your birth certificate and a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license). Passports are required for cruises that begin in one U.S. port and end in another.