The Seattle to Alaska cruise totally changed my mind about cruises.
I used to hate the idea of them. Being boated around with everything taken care of you on a culture-less fake city did not seem fun. Is the food even good? I’d rather be in nature. Plus, they’re bad for the environment!
But, since it was an easier type of traveling, it was easy to share and bond with older family. Since it was from Seattle to Alaska, we were always next to beautiful scenery. Since the ship had a ton of activities, we always had something to keep us busy. It was way cheaper than living and paying rent in Seattle since boarding, food, and activities are already included in the price. And it was so nice not having to pack/unpack every time we traveled to a new city, and the food was amazing! Yes, cruises are still bad for the environment, but so are cars, planes, and humans*!
Here’s my Alaska cruise review, but mostly pictures to help inspire you to go!
In This Post
Getting tickets for the cruise
We won tickets from my mom’s casino! Since I know not everyone can do this, cruises have a lot of deals and specials if you book early. One of our friends on the cruise paid just $400 for their room just because she booked way in advance! If you book in advance, there are also usually package deals that give you things like onboarding credit (aka spending money on the boat) or free alcohol or drink passes, in addition to your room and buffet. If you’ve done cruises with that line before, they also offer deals. Here are more cool ideas of how to get cheap cruise tickets from a different site.
Arriving to the port city
This cruise started in Seattle. I live here, so I was already in the right area! If I didn’t though, my first instinct would be to just arrive very early on the day of the cruise to save on money (hotels can be pricey) and time (it’s hard getting time off, and who wants to waste their vacation days not on the cruise?!).
But, I heard so many horror stories from people on the boat who had done this in the past and missed previous cruises because there was an unexpected flight delay OR they missed their flight altogether because of traffic and bad timing!! Way more expensive than getting a hotel for a day and way more depressing than going to work.
So I would highly recommend arriving to your port city a day or two before your cruise so that this won’t happen. In Seattle, downtown or around downtown is probably where you want to stay before the cruise, because you’ll be close to all the main sites- including the cruise port. PS: I have a post about which hotels and downtown areas are best when you’re in Seattle here.
Review of our days at sea
We were on the Norwegian Jewel, which was the classiest, most beautiful ship ever. I thought I would go stir-crazy when we were at sea, but like I said earlier, they have a ton of (free!!) activities to keep you busy- shows every night, circus acts, dance parties, board game showdowns, bingo.
Plus, most of this cruise is along Pacific Northwest mountains, so you don’t feel like you’re in the middle of the ocean. This picture also shows a melted glacier. Tell me that climate change isn’t real again? #MAGA
The food was actually really good. Obviously there’s generic US staples like meats and Americanized pastas, but they also had a lot of unique local dishes from around the world – especially India. Also, most dining rooms are all-you-can-eat (and you can easily avoid the paid dining if you’re on a budget).
Last, this cruise is mostly full of older, retired people. I thought cruises were all party kids, but this one was much more laid back. The clubs were dead at 10, and everyone was up at 6, which I loved.
Also, a special shout out to the cruise’s crew people, because they’re all awesome, friendly, and fun. And these animal towels they made every morning were so cute!
Review of Seattle
If you’re interested in some unique things to do in Seattle besides the regular things like the Space Needle and Pike’s Place (which are cool!), here are a few ideas:
- Be hipster and see alternatives to the main sights with this non-touristy guide to Seattle.
- Go on an easy hike close-ish to Seattle.
- Eat out – Seattle has an amazing food scene. Check out my post for some of the 100 best restaurants in Seattle.
- Just get desserts! Depending on when you arrive, you might not have time to do the above. So just focus on the important things, and try some of the best desserts in Seattle.
Let me know in the comments what you’re into if you want more ideas, and I can send you some more advice on what to see/do in a day!
I took this picture because the day the cruise left was a very rare sunny May day.
Review of Alaska: Juneau, Skagway, and Ketchikan
Where the cruise drops you off in these towns is a bit touristy to be honest. My mom loves shopping though, so we spent a lot of time in the souvenir and fine jewelry shops by the cruise ports.
But, if you get a little outside of ports, you can see more of each town’s history. For example, Ketchikan has a strong native history still around, and both Juneau and Skagway have a big gold mining history (note: those two have native history as well, but the gold mining stuff is better preserved). If you want to learn more, there are (free) museums and (paid) excursions that help teach you.
And of course, since it’s Alaska, from all three towns there are A LOT of gorgeous natural areas to visit- ice caves, forests, glaciers, waterways- if you can fit them in the time you have on land. To make it easier, the cruise offers a ton of exciting excursions to explore these and get back to the boat on time, as well sled dogging (is that a word?), gold panning, railway tours, and helicopter tours excursions!
Since we’re US poor, we only did one excursion, in Skagway. It was a bus tour with a local company to the Yukon, which was amazing! We saw some beautiful lakes and mountains, a couple of bears, and got more background than if we were by ourselves.
This was also very slightly cheaper than doing the cruise ship’s excursion, and we didn’t book in advance- tour companies sell outside of the ports.
Review of Victoria
Victoria is the absolute cutest. It feels like you’re in Europe with the older style buildings, yet you’re still technically in the Pacific Northwest on Vancouver Island, so there’s a ton of natural beauty too!
Our cousins picked us up and showed us to the top tourists sites, like British Columbia’s Parliament Building, Craigdarroch Castle, and the Butchart Gadens (click the link for some grogeous pictures).
Review of the Alaska cruise overall
I absolutely loved doing this Alaska cruise. If you’re thinking about doing a cruise and want more of a laid back, nature vibe, you should check it out too. If you think you won’t like cruises because you like adventure, check out this cruise and do the excursions!
The only thing is the excursions are expensive if you’re on a recent college graduate budget. If you’re also on a budget but have the ability to do them yourself, I would recommend spending more time researching what you want to do beforehand. The time you have in the cities isn’t really enough to plan on the spot, and the cruise wifi is kind of bad.
What do you think about doing an Alaska cruise?
*PS: If you’re really worried about your travel carbon footprint impacting the environment, consider purchasing carbon offsets to offset your travels. And if you live in the US, do NOT forget to vote for politicians who recognize climate change as a reality and prioritize solutions- we need change at the government/corporate level!