Nearly every cruise line includes an Alaska cruise in their sailing schedule and most offer similar itineraries--such as one way from Anchorage to Vancouver, British Columbia, or roundtrip from Juneau through Alaska's Inside Passage. How do you choose the cruise line that will offer the best experience? Look for the lines that offer something unique. Cruise lines that specialize in Alaska cruises will be the best options, offering specialized tours at the ports of call. This can give you the best chance to see a variety of animals and wilderness on sightseeing tours and experience the locals foods and history.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line, founded in 1873 as a Dutch, trans-Atlantic cargo and passenger carrier, was one of the pioneers in Alaska cruising. The line, now a wholly owned subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, operates a full complement of three-, four-, and seven-night cruises to and within Alaska as well as an array of cruise excursions. Holland America controls many components of its Alaska packages. In addition to the ships, the line owns Westmark Hotels, Gray Line Tours of Seattle and Gray Line Tours of Alaska.
Princess Cruises was another early entrant into Alaska cruising. The line, founded in 1965, is best known for being featured on the hit 1970s television show, "Love Boat." Today, the line operates huge, modern liners with the latest technology. Like Holland America, Princess Cruises owns an Alaska tour company--Princess Tours--as well as several wilderness lodges and deluxe, domed rail cars.
Unlike the previous two large cruise lines, Cruise West operates small--very small--ships. In fact, the largest of their nine Alaska vessels accommodates just 138 passengers. The smaller ship size also allows the line to call at ports that are too shallow for the mega-liners. Like Holland America and Princess Cruises, Cruise West has years of experience in Alaska cruising--more than 60 years.