• Skip to main content
  • Skip to primary sidebar

Additional menu

The Family Vacation Guide

The Family Vacation Guide

Alaska Cruises

13 of the Best Alaska Cruises for Families

posted by James Brockbank on October 25, 2021 // last updated on October 25, 2021

Nothing is as easy as finding cruise vacations that suit the needs of your family. Even so, you can never go wrong with an Alaskan cruise. Taking a family cruise to the state is something that you’ve undoubtedly considered. 

Alaska is breathtakingly beautiful but also radiates the calmness of nature, which your whole family will love.

If you’re planning a leisurely cruise to Alaska, here are 13 of the best cruises to consider.

Disney Cruise Line

Princess cruises, holland america line, norwegian cruise line, celebrity cruises, royal caribbean international, lindblad expeditions, carnival cruise line, windstar cruises, regent seven seas, oceania cruises, uncruise adventures, icy strait point.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Many people associate Disney with amusement parks, but the company is also known for its luxurious cruises to different parts of the world. Since it launched in 1998, the Disney Cruise Line has been a game-changer as far as family cruises are concerned. It’s no exaggeration to state that each cruise liner in Disney’s Alaska fleet delivers the ultimate family cruise. 

A Disney Cruise Line Alaska itinerary allows your family to relax and savor the ship. For instance, a typical seven-day cruise gives you two days at sea, three full port days, and a final day at sea. Hence, your family will have ample time to familiarize themselves with the ship, participate in onboard activities, and explore the various ports of call without feeling overwhelmed. 

While on the cruise, your kids will have plenty of opportunities to meet lifelike Disney characters, which is perhaps even better than visiting Disneyland. Also, expect lots of themed parties and events that keep the young ones occupied throughout the cruise. 

The kids-friendly staff and amenities such as pools and kids’ clubs guarantee a fun-filled cruise for the entire family. The large staterooms on Disney’s Alaska fleet are also convenient for families. 

Carnival Corporation-owned Princess Cruises also offers some of the best Alaska cruises for families. The cruise line offers a 10-night round trip cruise from Sam Fransisco, a seven-night roundtrip cruise from Vancouver and Seattle, and a 14-night round trip cruise from Los Angeles. 

Princess uses some of its largest ships for the Alaskan cruises, including the Golden Princess, the Emerald Princess, the Ruby Princess, and the Grand Princess. 

The Princess cruise ships are ideal for family vacations, thanks to their large staterooms, kids’ clubs, lots of dining options, spas, pools, and themed events that will fill your days. 

Most itineraries also include excursions to Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, and the widely popular Glacier Bay National Park. So, if you’re looking for a family cruise that takes you through Alaska’s untamed beauty, book a vacation with Princess Cruises. 

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Holland America is one of the Alaskan cruise lines allowed to sail through the Glacier Bay National Park. Its ships sail from Vancouver, Seattle, Whittier, and Seward and offer 7-night one-way and round-trip cruises. 

Whichever ship your family hops onto, you’ll find lots of activities and day-long entertainment for all ages. So, whether you love golf challenges, lounging by the pool, or even karaoke, you’ll find it all on a Holland America Alaska cruise.

Each ship has friendly employees who are out to make your experience special and memorable. The employees’ extensive knowledge of Alaska and each port of call is also fantastic. Amenities include the main dining room, casualty dining rooms, specialty restaurants, lounges, and casinos. The ships also feature a kids’ club, two pools, spas, and fitness centers. 

Most Holland America Line itineraries include cruise calls to Skagway, Glacier Bay National Park, Ketchikan, and Juneau. If you’re lucky, your ship may stop at Icy Strait Point and Victoria. Wherever your Holland America cruise takes you, the whole family will have a truly fantastic experience. 

Norwegian Cruise Line is renowned for its freestyle cruising experience with fun activities for all ages. It uses four ships for its Alaska cruises, with plans to add an even larger one in 2022.

 The cruise line has a dedicated 4,000-passenger ship for Alaskan cruises (the Norwegian Bliss), which offers thrilling amenities including a go-kart track, a water park, water slides, and an open-air tag course. 

Besides the larger ships, Norwegian’s Alaska fleet includes a smaller ship, the Norwegian Sun, which has fewer than 1,000 staterooms. You can hop onto the ship if you’re looking for a leisurely and quiet family cruise. Regardless of the ship you find yourself on, you’re guaranteed large rooms and amenities that suit your family’s needs. 

With Norwegian, you can choose anything from a five to twelve-day one-way or round-trip cruise from Seattle. Besides, your family will experience memorable shore excursions that allow you to learn more about Alaska’s wildlife, people, and wildlife. 

Itineraries include a trip to the ZipRider zipline, fishing excursions, and whale watching. Family-friendly tours into Alaska’s interior can also be organized as part of your itinerary. 

best alaskan cruise lines for families

If you’re planning a multigenerational cruising trip to Alaska, Celebrity Cruises will deliver the experience of your lifetime. With three ships dedicated to its Alaskan cruises, Celebrity offers more choices than you’ll get anywhere. Whether you prefer round trip or one-way itineraries, you can choose a Vancouver, Seattle, or Seward departure. 

Celebrity is renowned for its premium cruising adventures. Its Alaskan fleet visits 12 US and Canadian destinations. Thus, you get the opportunity to spend more time in port than other Alaska liners. Ports of calls include Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, and Endicott Arms & Dawes Glacier. 

There are plenty of fun activities for all ages on each ship, including pools, water slides, themed events, and spas. Celebrity Cruises also offers land packages at its ports of call. So, if your family loves the outdoors, you may want to include a trip to the Banff National Park or Lake Louise in your Celebrity Cruises itinerary. 

If you’ve ever wanted to go on an Alaska cruise that your whole family will enjoy, Royal Caribbean International’s Alaskan cruises are the perfect fit. With departures from Vancouver, Seward, and Seattle, Royal Caribbean offers one-way, round-trip, and seven-night cruises with many family-friendly activities and excursions. 

Onboard, you’ll find everything your family needs to have a fun-filled cruise, from rock climbing and mini golf to wave surfing and ice skating. You’ll also come across familiar restaurants such as Johnny Rocket’s and Ben and Jerry’s. 

Royal Caribbean has spacious staterooms designed with family accommodation in mind. These rooms come equipped with large bathrooms, fun bunk beds, and everything else needed to ensure a fun-filled cruise. 

A well-attended and equipped kids club with activities for kids as young as six months is available onboard, so you can lounge by the pool without worrying about what the young ones are up to. Furthermore, there’s a tween hangout and teen disco for the older kids and a bar for the parents. 

best alaskan cruise lines for families

If a cruise line partners with the National Geographic Society, you undoubtedly expect adventure when you get onto one of their ships, right? Well, Lindblad Expeditions delivers that and so much more. The cruise line is renowned for its culture and nature-focused Alaskan cruises that are not only memorable but also educational. 

When you get aboard with your family, you’ll love the host of activities and amenities on offer. For starters, the onboard specialists give lectures and tours to ensure you don’t miss out on anything. All ships come equipped with kayaks, so you get to explore places you never imagined. 

Inland excursions in your ports of call are included in the cruise fare. Hence, you can spend your days hiking, taking in Alaskan cultures, or even shopping. Unlike the other cruise lines on this list, Lindblad has smaller ships, so no worries about overcrowding. What’s more, the environment on the ship is so laid back that you can walk around barefoot. 

Carnival is one of the largest cruise lines in the world, and it offers some of the best Alaskan cruises for families. The mega cruise line’s Alaskan fleet boasts giant waterslides, dedicated entertainment zones for kids, teens, and adults, and poolside movie screens that will make your family cruise one to remember. 

Carnival has a dedicated kids program, Camp Carnival, divided into five age groups (2-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, & 15-17). There are also supervised playrooms with plenty of age-appropriate fun activities such as gaming consoles, candy-making machines, and arts and crafts. If you have kids below two years old, Carnival offers reasonably priced day and evening babysitting. 

Most Carnival Cruise Line Alaska itineraries include Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Seward, Ketchikan, and Juneau. You can also choose to visit historical ports such as Victoria, BC. Wherever your cruise docks or sails to, you’re in for a full-filled adventure for the entire traveling group. 

best alaskan cruise lines for families

If you’ve always wanted to go on an intimate Alaskan cruise with your family, there’s no better cruise line to choose than Windstar Cruises. Windstar sails the Star Breeze for its Alaska cruises, a family-friendly ship that combines coastal cruises with memorable overland explorations that will leave your family wanting more. 

During a typical Alaska cruising season, Windstar offers nine journeys from June to September on four family-centered itineraries. Recently, it has introduced the Scenic Alaska itinerary that takes passengers through the Canadian Inside Passage. 

Thanks to Windstar’s Signature Expeditions program, your kids get to learn about Alaska’s geography, history, and culture from a team of six local experts with insider knowledge. 

All meals and non-alcoholic beverages are included in the fare on Windstar Cruises. Itineraries include an 11-night Vancouver to Seward trip with stops at Misty Fjords, Juneau, Sitka, Kenai Fjords National Park, and Wrangell. So, if you enjoy canoeing, catamaran cruising, or even wilderness safaris, book your upcoming Alaskan vacation with Windstar Cruises. 

If you want to experience Alaska in style, there’s no better cruise line for you than Regent Seven Seas. Booking your cruise vacation with Regent allows you to sample Alaska’s exciting wildlife, majestic glaciers, and charming frontier towns in the utmost luxury. There are plenty of sports and activities to keep the whole family entertained and relaxed during your cruise. 

Right from the moment you get on board, you’ll love the decently-sized staterooms with spacious bathrooms and closets. If you’re traveling in a group, you may want to book a suite so that you have a perfect gathering space for the group. Even so, you’re still guaranteed privacy because Regent’s Alaska cruiser, the Mariner, only carries 700 passengers. 

Tracy Arm Fjord is Regent’s Alaska destination. Here, your family will enjoy taking in the majestic glacier-carved cliffs, breathtaking waterfalls, and enchanting views of the Sawyer Glaciers. 

You can also book a helicopter trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. Although Regent doesn’t offer the amusement park-like amenities you’ll find on Disney and other better-known Alaska cruise liners; you’re still in for a memorable cruise vacation.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Norwegian Cruise Line owns Oceania Cruises, and therefore, its ships have the same look and feel as NCL’s cruisers. However, one thing that sets Oceania apart is the high-end cruise ship experience and gourmet dining on the high seas. 

On every Oceania Cruises itinerary, you get the opportunity to embrace your passion for travel while enjoying the ultimate cruise on a small luxurious ship. 

Oceania Cruises sails to Alaska during the summer months and takes you on seven to 11-day itineraries through the breathtaking Northwest Passage. The refined yet casually elegant cruises on the Regatta start at Seward or Vancouver and include stops at enchanting towns along the route you’ll take. 

Regarded as one of the best Alaska cruises for families, Oceania offers a kids-oriented Alaska Explorer Youth Program. The young ones can also choose the Regents Club Mariner Youth Program to learn more about Alaska. The Regatta features four dining venues, a coffee shop, five lounges, a spa, and an outdoor pool where the entire family can unwind during your cruise. 

The name “UnCruise” is undoubtedly the antithesis of the conventional cruise experience. Nonetheless, UnCruise Adventures offers some of the most memorable Alaska expeditions you’ll find anywhere. 

The cruise line’s expeditions are designed to help you experience Alaska’s wilderness. The small ships on its fleet take you to places where larger cruisers on this list won’t dare to venture. 

Whether you board the 84-passenger Safari Endeavour or the 22-passenger Safari Quest, each voyage with UnCruise Adventures is full of surprises for the entire family. The onboard expedition team is always at hand to exp[lain the family-friendly entertainment and adventure options on offer. 

Although most ships on the fleet only offer basic staterooms without balconies, your kids won’t mind it because there’s a lot for them to see and do. The cruise line offers dozens of itineraries in 14-day or seven-day formats, with stopovers in Sitka, Juneau, and the Glacier Bay National Park. 

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Cunard is one of the oldest cruise liners, and it’s easy to see why it offers some of the best Alaska cruises for families. With Cunard, you get the opportunity to sail to Alaska and savor its sights and sounds with a tinge of British style. 

The refined experience aboard the cruise line’s Alaska fleet is something your whole family will love. Most cruises originate from Vancouver, and you can choose anything from a 10-night to a 19-night cruise.

Cunard mainly uses the 2,000-passenger Queen Elizabeth for its Alaskan cruises. The ship comes with three restaurants, a pool, a spa, and a disco for your nightly entertainment. 

On their part, your kids will love the dedicated play area that’s fully equipped and staffed. Since Cunard is a British cruise line, a formal night is a norm, so expect to have one during your Alaskan cruise.

To guarantee your family’s comfort, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth comes with plenty of accommodation options, including spacious ocean view staterooms, inside staterooms, and even suites. The cruise line’s Alaska itinerary includes Prince Rupert, Skagway, Sitka, and the Glacier Bay National Park. 

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Six Popular Ports of Call on Alaskan Family Cruises

Alaska is vast and is home to some of the most breathtaking and untouched natural wonders, including volcanoes, glaciers, shorelines, and wildlife. A cruise to Alaska should be considered incomplete if you fail to explore the interior and the ports of call along the route. That said, these are six of the most popular ports of call on Alaskan family cruises: 

Home to less than 1,000 residents, Skagway is one of the most important ports of call on Alaskan cruises. Despite its small-town charm, it boasts a big-city culture. Skagway is known for its rustic Victorian architecture, violet-spotted fields, and winding wooden railways, snow-capped mountains, and steep hiking trails that you’ll love exploring. 

During your stopover, you’ll enjoy sampling the dense rainforests and reliving the iconic Klondike Gold Rush. The best part of it is that most of these attractions are located close to the cruise ship port. Besides, there are lots of restaurants where you can sample Alaskan cuisines as you wait to hop onto your cruiser to the next port of call. 

Here, rolling mountains overlook quaint waters below, and it’s no surprise that Juneau is one of the most popular ports of call for Alaskan cruises. Most itineraries include this small town, thanks to its proximity to the picturesque Mendenhall Glacier. The majestic Orcas at Juneau are also a sight to behold and make the town a must-visit. 

If you love inland adventures, make it a point to sample the trails and mountains around Juneau. The panoramic view atop Mount Roberts, in particular, isn’t something to miss if you venture inland. You may also want to visit some of the biggest gold mines in the world during your stopover in Juneau. 

If you’re a history and culture enthusiast, there’s no better way to enjoy your Alaska voyage than booking a cruise that stops at Icy Strait Point. The small charming town is regarded as the home of the rich Alaskan culture. 

Here, you can attend a tribal dance or even venture out to the surrounding parks to check out the wildlife. In Icy Strait Point, you’ll also find ZipRider, the world’s longest zip line. 

Visiting this small Alaskan town, you’ll first see the small white boats floating together along the shoreline. Meanwhile, grizzly bears battle the fishermen in search of their next catch of salmon. Dubbed the Salmon Capital of the World, Ketchikan is a favorite port of call for seafood lovers. 

Beyond the colorful shoreline, the town invites you to experience Alaska’s rich past and present. Also, don’t let the opportunity to visit the Misty Fjords National Monument and the Tongass National Forest pass you when visiting Ketchikan. 

No port of call along Alaska’s heralded shoreline radiates Alaskan history better than Sitka. There’s so much to do and see in this small seaport. Whether you want to join the New Archangel Dancers in their patterned aprons and crimson skirts in a jingle, or prefer fishing, you’ll have it all in Sitka. 

At Sitka National Historical Park, you’ll have the opportunity to watch seasoned artisans as they weave, bead, carve, and metal-work to create amazing pieces of art that reflect Alaska’s culture and history. You can also pay a visit to the famed St. Michael Russian Orthodox Cathedral to marvel at the hand-painted Biblical scenes, glass-stained windows, and captivating interior. 

Arguably, Haines is one of the lesser-known ports of call on Alaskan family cruises, but it isn’t any less impressive. Staggering mountains and open roads surround this tranquil town. If you love clicking away, there’s no better place to capture lifelong memories of your Alaskan trip than Haines, thanks to the numerous photo-worthy opportunities that abound. 

Outside the cruise ship port, you’ll get the opportunity to feel the soft, soothing tickle of fur as you get up-close with Alaska’s legendary wolves. If you’ve always wanted to have an encounter with Alaska’s furry residents, such as the reindeer, moose, and bears, the Kroschel Wildlife Center is a walking distance from Haines. 

If your itinerary allows, don’t forget to visit the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve to see these majestic birds soaring through the air or resting amidst the bare trees.

More about our TFVG Author

best alaskan cruise lines for families

James Brockbank

A seasoned traveller, Dad, and avid sports tourist, James foundered The Family Vacation Guide to share his expert vacation experiences- especially when it comes to being a travelling family man.

Featured in Travel articles such as Travel + Leisure, TripSavvy and SFGate, you know you're reading some of the best vacation tips online.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

15 Best Alaska Cruises for Families with Kids and/or Teens

Photo of author

September 9, 2022

A cruise to Alaska with children and teens is a once-in-a-lifetime family experience. The Alaskan views are breathtaking, with vast swathes of wilderness, towering snow-capped mountains, and crystalline glaciers thunderously pouring ice into the sea. All of the new experiences create an excellent opportunity for family bonding.

Even the most hard-to-please teen will be charmed by shore excursions such as dog sledding or sea kayaking! The Last Frontier is bound to be a vacation your family will never forget!

So without further ado, here are the 15 best Alaska cruises for families that you can find!

Let’s get started

Best Alaska Cruises for Families

1. Disney Wonder

2. discovery princess, 4. norwegian bliss, 5. celebrity eclipse, 6. serenade of the seas, 7. ng venture, 8. carnival splendor, 9. star breeze, 10. seven seas mariner, 11. regatta, 12. wilderness legacy, 13. queen elizabeth, 14. majestic princess, 15. seabourn odyssey, all aboard, best alaska cruises for families.

The Disney Cruise Line has been a stand-out in family vacations since its inception in 1998, and it’s no stretch to say that each cruise ship in Disney’s Alaska fleet is designed to provide the ultimate family vacation.

Your family can relax and enjoy the Disney Wonder on an Alaska trip. The seven-night cruise balances days at sea with three full port days. As a result, your family will have plenty of time to get to know the ship, participate in onboard activities, and enjoy shore excursions without feeling rushed.

Your children will have numerous opportunities to encounter lifelike Disney characters while sailing. Plus, they can enjoy themed parties and events to keep them entertained throughout the vacation.

The kid-friendly personnel and amenities like pools and kids’ clubs ensure that the entire family has a great time on the voyage. Families also like the spacious staterooms which Disney’s Alaskan fleet is known for.

  • Sails from : Vancouver
  • Duration : 7 nights
  • Cruise line : Disney Cruise Line
  • Itinerary : Vancouver, Dawes Glacier, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver

When it comes to family-friendly cruises, you can’t go wrong with the Princess cruise line. The Discovery Princess boasts large staterooms, plenty of dining options, a kids’ club, teen lounge, and themed events to make your family vacation a stand-out time.

Opting for the shorter 4-day itinerary can be a great way to introduce your kids to cruising life. It is long enough to get a feel for life at sea, but not so long that you will be miserable if they can’t quite find their sea legs.

This cruise only has one stop in the Last Frontier — Ketchikan. However, you and your family can still get a solid Alaska experience with shore excursions like watching the lumberjack show, going sea kayaking, or wandering through the rainforest sanctuary.

  • Duration : 4 days
  • Cruise line : Princess
  • Itinerary : Vancouver, Ketchikan, Seattle

There are numerous activities and all-day-long entertainment on Holland’s Eurodam which houses 2104 cruisers. Whether you prefer golf challenges, poolside relaxation, or karaoke, a Holland America Alaska cruise has it all. The main dining room, casual dining rooms, speciality restaurants, lounges, and casinos are just a few of the amenities.

The crew of the ship is pleasant and eager to make your visit unique and memorable, and the staff’s great knowledge of Alaska at por of call is equally impressive. This Signature-class ship makes stops in the popular ports on the 7-day cruise. You can head to shore in Sitka to visit the Alaska Raptor Center and play with bald eagles. Then, when you dock in Ketchikan, you can choose from even more activities like a visit to Totem Bight State Park.

  • Sails from : Seattle
  • Duration : 7 days
  • Cruise line : Holland America Line
  • Itinerary : Seattle, Juneau, Glacier Bay, Icy Strait Point, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle

Norwegian Cruise Line is renowned for its freestyle cruising experience, which includes various engaging activities for passengers of all ages. The Norwegian Bliss is a 4,000-passenger ship explicitly designed for Alaskan trips, with thrilling features such as a go-kart track, a water park, water slides, and an open-air tag course.

Icy Strait Point and its wilderness experiences are included in the 7-day program. The state’s largest Native Tlingit community is located at Icy Strait Point, and surrounding waterways are abundant with wildlife, including orcas and humpback whales. You’ll also enjoy the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier, located just outside Juneau. Explore the Visitor Center, which has a view of the Juneau Ice Field, and walk the nature trails.

  • Cruise line : Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Itinerary : Seattle, Sitka, Juneau, Dawes Glacier, Icy Point Strait, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle

Celebrity Cruises will provide you with the trip of a lifetime if you’re planning a family cruise to Alaska. The ship has a variety of exciting activities for all ages, such as pools, water slides, themed events, and spas. Celebrity Cruises also offers land packages. If your family enjoys the outdoors, tack on an excursion to Banff National Park or Lake Louise.

If you decide to disembark in Sitka, you can spend the day exploring the seas in a Zodiac, visiting the rescued bears, or biking through the rainforest. You can paddle a canoe up to the glacier in Juneau, indulge yourself with a salmon feast, or go panning for gold.

The Celebrity Eclipse is the pinnacle of modern vacations. Take your taste buds on a culinary journey with various dining options. You can also enjoy one of the numerous entertainment venues, or work up a sweat in the Fitness Center.

  • Cruise line : Celebrity Cruises
  • Itinerary : Vancouver, Sitka, Hubbard Glacier, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver

Royal Caribbean International’s Alaskan cruise is the perfect fit for the whole family. The Serenade of the Seas departs from Vancouver and gives you 7 nights of family-friendly activities and excursions. The ship has everything your family needs for a fun-filled cruise from rock climbing to ice skating.

The staterooms are large and decked out with families in mind. The rooms have huge bathrooms, comfortable bunk beds, and everything else you’ll need for a fantastic voyage.

Onboard, there is a well-equipped kids club with activities for children as young as six months, so the grown-ups can enjoy a little bit of vacation time on their own! For the slightly older kiddos, there’s a tween hangout and teen disco.

  • Cruise line : Royal Caribbean International
  • Itinerary : Vancouver, Icy Straight Point, Juneau, Skagway, Haines, Tracy Arm Fjord, Vancouver

Lindblad Expeditions, National Geographic Society partner, delivers adventure and so much more. The cruise line is renowned for its educational, culture-focused Alaskan cruises where nature is, of course, the shining star of the vacation. The smaller ship offers casual environment that is nevery overcrowded.

Life aboard is full of funv activities and high-quality amenities. The NG Venture onboard specialists offer educational lectures to help your family make the most of thier time in the Last Frontier.

On your shore excursions (included in your ticket!), you’ll hike through lush Alaskan rainforests, paddle your kayak into secluded inlets, and marvel at crystalline icebergs from a Zodiac. You’ll even got to spend a full day basking in the wonder of Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve.

  • Sails from : Juneau
  • Duration : 8 days
  • Cruise line : Lindblad Expeditions
  • Itinerary : Juneau, Tracy Arm, Frederick Sound, Petersburg, Glacier Bay, Icy Straits, Sitka

One of the most extensive lines in the world, Carnival offers great Alaskan cruises geared towards families. 3,012 guests can set sail from Seattle on the Carnival Splendor to enjoy the 7-day Alaskan adventure. Families particularly love the Carnival line because of the vast array of amenities to be found onboard.

Camp Carnival, the ship’s children’s program, is separated into five age categories (2-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, & 15-17). Parents can feel good knowing their little ones are enjoying the supervised playrooms and age-appropriate games. Plus, there is babysitting available for kids under two.

Head ashore to explore the quaint seaside town of Ketchikan and the state’s capital, Juneau. Make sure you bring your camera to capture the stunning vistas surrounding you. Carnival gives you opportunities to enjoy the fjords, glaciers, mountains, and Alaskan wildlife.

  • Cruise line : Carnival
  • Itinerary : Seattle, Tracy Arm Fjord, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria, Seattle

For a more intimate cruise experience, book your family vacation aboard Windstar’s Star Breeze, where the staff-to-guest ratio is 1:1.5. A family-friendly ship, Star Breeze combines coastal cruising with overland explorations that your family is sure to adore.

The all-suite yacht has two dining options, an infinity pool, and a spa. Kids will love Windstar’s Signature Expeditions program, which will allow them to learn about Alaskan history and culture from local experts.

With only 312 guests on board, Star Breeze can tuck into the smaller ports like Wrangell or cruise through narrow waterways, giving you a more intimate Alaskan experience.

  • Duration : 11 days
  • Cruise line : Windstar Cruises
  • Itinerary : Vancouver, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Juneau,Tracy Arm, Inian Island, Icy Strait Pointe, Misty Fjords, Prince Rupert, Vancouver

For families with slightly older children, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is a good choice (kids must be over one-years-old to sail.) Kids 5-17 can make sue of the free Club Mariner Youth Program which includes all sorts of interactive activiites like scavenger hunts and dance parties.

The staterooms are a great size with closet-space and ample bathroom amenities. Suites are available for larger families, but you will never feel overcrowded on board because the ship only holds 700 passengers.

Your cruise fare includes shore excursions, free onboard WiFi, ande even concierge services.

  • Cruise line : Regent Seven Seas Cruises
  • Itinerary : Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Hubbard Glacier, Seward

Another good option for those families with older children is Oceania’s Regatta, which allows kids older than 6-months to sail. There are no babysitting or nanny services available for children under five. However, those aged 5-12 can enjoy the Alaska Explorer Youth Program, which provides games and special events.

The elegant Regatta is “the flagship” of the Oceania fleet. Cruisers will adore the teak decks, resplendent tile work, and the custom stone touches. All of the spaces — public and private — are luxuriously furnished, and there are four restaurants to meet all of your dining needs. You’ll also find a spa, lounges, and a casino to keep the adults on the trip entertained.

On the stopover in Ketchikan, Oceania offers excursions like a rainforest hike, zipline adventure, and the Lumberjack show. You can find additional exciting activities at each of the stops! Note: sailers under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult on all shore excursions.

  • Cruise line : Oceania Cruises
  • Itinerary : Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Victoria, Seattle

UnCruise Adventures provides some of the most unforgettable Alaska adventures available. Expeditions offered by the cruise line are aimed to give you a taste of Alaska’s natural beauty. Its compact ships take you to places where the larger cruise ships on this list can’t go. The expedition staff onboard is always available to explain the various family-friendly entertainment and adventure opportunities.

The 86-passenger Wilderness Legacy allows you to get an up-close Alaskan experience that everyone is sure to enjoy. Visit Glacier Bay National Park regions that are rarely visited by tourists, and hike and cycle around Chichagof Island, where UnCruise is the only line to hold the permits. You’ll find many more intimate Alaskan adventures on an UnCruise cruise!

  • Cruise line : Uncruise Adventures
  • Itinerary : Juneau, Glacier Bay, Chichagof Island, Baranof Island, Baird Glacier, Ideal Cove, Juneau

Cunard is one of the world’s oldest cruise lines, so it offers some of the most fabulous Alaskan cruises for families. Cunard gives you the chance to cruise the waters of the Last Frontier and take in the wonderous — all with a British flair.

Your entire family will enjoy the polished experience aboard the Queen Elizabeth who can accommodate 2,000 cruisers on the 7-night cruise which departs from Vancouver. The ship has three restaurants, a pool, a spa, and a disco for your nightly amusement. Plus, the specialized play area, which is fully equipped and staffed, will be a hit with the kids.

  • Cruise line : Cunard
  • Itinerary : Vancouver, Glacier Bay, Icy Strait Point, Sitka, Ketchikan, Vancouver

Majestic Princess is one of the newest ships in the fleet and offers a signature experience with a touch of Chinese flair. Foodie families will love the dining options available every hour of the day. Endless buffets, frozen treats, and all the made-from-scratch entrees your hearts’ desire.

The 7-day Alaskan tour leaves from Vancouver and includes three desirable ports: Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway. The cruise culminates in Anchorage, where you could extend your vacation or fly back home.

There are so many excursions to enjoy, and there are often special pricing deals for children under 12 available. You and your family can hike, kayak, canoe, and watch performances like the Lumberjack show.

  • Itinerary : Vancouver, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, College Fjord, Anchorage

While Seabourn does not have an organized kids’ program, children and teens are welcome. Babies younger than 6-months are not permitted to sail, however.

Families love that the shore trips are complimentary for children, and the line offers such up-close adventures. The expedition team is full of scientists, naturalists, and scholars to help you learn all about the Alaskan way of life.

Glide through the waterways on sturdy Zodiacs or sea kayaks for a more intimate experience in the Alaskan fjords. You’ll find the wildlife viewing opportunities are plenty, and the curious child will adore catching glimpses of seals, whales, and sea birds.

  • Duration : 14 days
  • Cruise line : Seabourn
  • Itinerary : Vancouver, Ketchikan, Sitka, Glacier Bay, Inian Islands, Icy Strait Point, Haines, Juneau, Tracy Arm, Wrangell, Misty Fjords, Prince Rupert, Alert Bay, Vancouver

When it comes to family cruising in Alaska, the options are nearly endless! You can find all the adventure your little ones desire without giving up an ounce of comfort.

If you are able to splurge on your vacation, booking one of the smaller ships is definitely a great way to experience the Last Frontier!

If you’re searching for cruises to take with your better half, then head over to my guide of the best Alaska cruises for couples .

About the author

Photo of author

Travel Reporter - Alaska Expert

Dara is a travel writer, political news junkie, and part-time actress. Born in south, she spent her childhood hopping around the U.S., even venturing as far away as Kodiak, Alaska. When not bent over her laptop or prancing around on stage, Dara can be found binge-watching Netflix, making endless to-do lists, or reading a sci-fi book.

Latest Posts

Juneau, Alaska

Where to eat in Juneau: 17 Best Restaurants in the City

Read more →

Best Day Trips from Anchorage Alaska

16 Fantastic Day Trips from Anchorage

What is the Worst Time to Visit Alaska

What Is the Worst Time to Visit Alaska? (And When to Go Instead)

Travel Guides You Can Trust

About Travelness

Brand Assets

Recent Posts

Tours & Activities

Tours in Europe

Digital Security

© 2024 Travelness. All Rights Reserved.

Terms of use - Privacy policy

  • Search Please fill out this field.
  • Manage Your Subscription
  • Give a Gift Subscription
  • Newsletters
  • Sweepstakes
  • Alaskan Cruises

10 Best Alaska Cruises to Take This Summer, According to Experts

We spoke to cruise experts to find the best Alaska itineraries to book this year.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

With its majestic wildlife, otherworldly glacial scenery, and endless outdoor adventure, a trip to Alaska is one for the books — and the best way to experience it, in our opinion, is by cruise. An Alaska sailing offers travelers the chance to get up close and personal to some of the destination’s most stunning natural wonders (think: Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, the Tracy Arm Fjord, and so much more). Fortunately, when it comes to the best Alaska cruises, options abound, from small-ship luxury sailings and expedition voyages to mega-ships that feel like a floating resort and theme park all in one. Ultimately, explains Travel + Leisure A-List travel advisor Eric Goldring , “The question of which are the ‘best’ cruise lines for Alaska really depends on the guest’s desires as there is a balance between how in-depth they wish to delve into Alaska’s nature and Indigenous culture, what type of onboard experience they desire, and, of course, whether the cruise is family-focused.” To determine which Alaska cruise is best for you, Goldring recommends using a travel advisor “who has actually been to Alaska more than once and on different ships” so that you have “access to important first-hand knowledge.” 

According to T+L A-List travel advisor Ashton Palmer , the Alaska cruise season is short (typically from May to September) and availability is limited, which is why travelers should plan their sailings six to eight months ahead of time. While the travel advisor notes that “most trips average a week in length,” he also recommends cruisers allow time to “visit the northern part of the state, including Denali National Park, the Kenai Peninsula, Anchorage, and Fairbanks,” either before or after the cruise. Several cruise lines also offer land extensions (sometimes called “cruisetours”) to make the experience as seamless as possible. 

While the Alaska cruise season takes place in the warmer months, be sure to pack a few sweaters — and consider dressing in layers. When I cruised Alaska in summer 2022, the weather was (mostly) warm and sunny; however, when we sailed through Glacier Bay, it was chilly, and I was especially glad to have brought a scarf, hat, and light jacket to help brace the chill. Rob Clabbers , another T+L A-List travel advisor , agrees. What’s more, he says, “Weather can change quickly in Alaska, so one moment you may need a sweater, and the next you’re better off in shorts.” 

Meet the Expert

Eric Goldring is a T+L A-List travel advisor specializing in expedition, small-ship, and medium-ship cruises. 

Ashton Palmer is a Seattle-based T+L A-List travel advisor who specializes in expedition cruises.

Rob Clabbers is a T+L A-List travel advisor specializing in cruises, and he’s the founder of Q Cruise + Travel. 

Dawn Gabree is a travel advisor who specializes in Alaska cruises at Travels by Danielle.

Mary Curry is another T+L A-List advisor who specializes in small-ship cruises to Polar regions and the Galapagos. 

Now that we’ve covered the basics of all things Alaska cruising, keep reading to discover the best Alaska cruises for every type of traveler, featuring expert insight and award-winning picks.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruisees

Dawn Gabree, a travel advisor at Travels by Danielle who specializes in Alaska cruising, deems Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) "excellent for multigenerational families" thanks to the abundance of onboard activities. "Their larger vessels used in the Alaska market ( Encore and Bliss ) feature must-do activities like go-karting, laser tag, and water slides." On the contrary, "Their smaller vessels ( Jewel and Sun ) provide a more intimate atmosphere over the large ships." Regardless of which ship you choose, expect an array of entertainment options, including Broadway-caliber shows, which Gabree describes as "excellent." What's more, she says, "We saw their production of 'Six' on an Alaskan sailing, and it was phenomenal." The travel pro also loves the World's Best Award-winning mega-ship ocean line for its Freestyle Dining program (read: no assigned seating or fixed reservation times) and plentiful dining options to appease even the pickiest of eaters. Lastly, says Gabree, "A huge selling point for NCL is always their Free at Sea promotion, which includes perks like specialty dining, an unlimited open bar, Wi-Fi, and more. "It's a great value, in my honest opinion." 

Itinerary: The 7-day Alaska: Dawes Glacier, Juneau, and Ketchikan itinerary sails from Seattle on select dates between April and October. Ports of call include Sitka, Juneau, Ice Strait, and Ketchikan in Alaska, as well as Victoria in Canada. Scenic cruising through the Endicott Arm and Dawes Glacier is also included.

Holland America Line

Tim Rue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Holland America Line (HAL) — which recently snapped up a 2023 World’s Best Award in the large-ship ocean cruise line category — has been cruising Alaska for over 75 years. HAL prides itself on having more permits for Glacier Bay National Park visits than any other cruise line. The cruise line also offers beloved live music programming, which I got to experience firsthand on a summer 2023 Alaska sailing. Most ships boast a “Music Walk,” a section home to venues like B.B. King's Blues Club, Billboard Onboard (a dueling piano bar), Lincoln Center Stage, and Rolling Stone Rock Room. After our shore excursions, we’d hop back on board the ship for drinks, dinner, and a nightcap at the dueling piano bar to jam out to hits from Billy Joel and Elton John. All of the above make HAL a popular pick among middle-aged and mature couples traveling without kids; however, onboard our summer sailing, I did notice quite a few small children traveling with their parents and grandparents. 

The onboard culinary offerings are especially noteworthy. While pulling into port one day, I remember digging into a hearty lunch of fish and chips featuring fresh-caught Alaskan halibut. (HAL is the first cruise line to serve fresh, certified-sustainable Alaskan seafood.) As of September, acclaimed chef Masaharu Morimoto is the Fresh Fish Ambassador as part of the line’s Global Fresh Fish Program . Cruisers can try his flavorful seafood dishes during their sailing. 

Itinerary: As a first-time Alaska cruiser, I thoroughly enjoyed the Alaska Explorer itinerary , which cruises round-trip from Seattle between June and September. Enjoy scenic cruising along the Puget Sound and Stephen’s Passage before calling on Juneau, followed by more scenic cruising in Glacier Bay. From there, it’s off to Icy Strait Point, Sitka, Ketchikan, Skagway, and Victoria.

Related: The Ultimate Alaska Cruise Packing List

Royal Caribbean International

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean International — or Royal Caribbean for short — offers great fun for families of all ages looking to experience Alaska. As such, it’s no wonder why the mega-ship ocean line is loved by T+L readers and travel advisors alike. What’s more, says Gabree, “Their larger ships (Quantum Class) have equally impressive amenities like skydiving simulators (RipCord by iFLY), the FlowRider surf simulator, and SeaPlex (an indoor recreation center with bumper cars),” says Gabree. The pro is also quick to highlight the North Star observation capsule, which is available on Ovation of the Seas , which cruises Alaska. The attraction whisks passengers over 300 feet above sea level, offering picture-perfect 360-degree views. Put simply, she says, “This is a one-of-a-kind experience when sailing scenic destinations like Alaska.”

The fun continues the minute cruisers disembark in each port, with excursions ranging from dogsledding to private helicopter tours. Back on board, Gabree recommends The Chef’s Table for a truly memorable meal — and I, too, can attest to this. While on board a Caribbean sailing with the cruise line, I had the chance to indulge in this chef- and sommelier-led multi-course food and wine pairing adventure. Four years later, I still find myself dreaming of the delicious circular-shaped dessert known as “The World” — the perfect combo of peanut butter ganache, chocolate mousse, and salted caramel gelato).

Itinerary: Set sail on the aforementioned Ovation of the Seas and embark on a journey through Alaska with Royal Caribbean’s 7-night Alaska Experience itinerary . Cruising round-trip from Seattle, the ship stops in Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka before heading onto Canada, where it calls on Victoria and Vancouver.

Princess Cruises

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Princess Cruises is among T+L readers’ top five favorite mega-ship ocean lines , and its Alaska sailings are not to be missed. Unlike other mega-ship lines, says Gabree, Princess is not at all flashy. That said, she recommends it for “more mature cruisers or those looking for a quieter atmosphere.” So, while you won’t find go-karts or race tracks aboard Princess ships, you can expect incredible educational programming. Don’t miss Puppies on the Piazza, which offers passengers the chance to interact with sled dogs brought on board by local mushers in Skagway. The line also partners with the Glacier Bay National Park rangers and the Discovery Channel to offer unique onboard exhibits and interactive activities like the Jr. Ranger Program. Similarly, says Gabree, “The naturalists that come aboard are extremely knowledgeable.” Last but not least, the service is top-notch. According to the pro, the staff is best described as “attentive and very pleasant.” 

Itinerary: Book the 14-day Voyage of the Glaciers Grand Adventure , which sets sail on select dates between May and September. Passengers will cruise round-trip from Vancouver and visit Juneau, Skagway, Anchorage, and Ketchikan. Bonus: Scenic cruising through Glacier Bay National Park, College Fjord, and Hubbard Glacier is also built into the itinerary.

Related: All 16 Princess Cruises Ships, From Newest to Oldest

Seabourn Cruise Line

Courtesy of Seabourn

This World’s Best Award-winning cruise line combines the best of expedition-style and luxury cruising, making it a popular pick amongst well-heeled, adventure-seeking travelers. Highlights include bespoke service, all-suite oceanfront accommodations (most with private balconies), world-class dining (the cruise line has a partnership with Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller), and, last but not least, a swanky country club-esque atmosphere. According to Goldring, both Seabourn Quest and Seabourn Odyssey offer similar Alaska itineraries in 2024; however, it will be the latter’s final sailing since it was sold. 

Alaska sailings feature a team of academics, scientists, and naturalists, all of whom are on hand to provide expert insight and lead excursions (think: kayaking and Zodiac tours, hiking, bear viewing, and so on). Also, according to Goldring, Seabourn ships “travel no further north than Juneau” and offer a “more intensive and nature-focused experience.” On a similar note, says Clabbers, thanks to the vessels’ small size, cruisers can “spend more time sailing through places like Misty Fjords, where most ships can’t go.” Back onboard, says Clabbers, “enjoy Champagne and caviar when you like, or relax in your suite, the spa, or elsewhere.” 

Itinerary: The 7-day Alaska Fjords and Canadian Inside Passage cruise sails from Juneau to Vancouver, calling on Tracy Arm or Endicott Arm, Wrangell, Rudyerd Bay (Misty Fjords), and, finally, Prince Rupert in British Columbia. Scenic cruising through Stephens Passage, Decision Passage, Stikine Strait, and the Behm Canal are also included in the itinerary.

Celebrity Cruises

jewhyte/Getty Images

Those who prefer a “younger atmosphere on a modern, larger ship with lots of bars and restaurants and entertainment” should consider cruising Alaska aboard the Celebrity Edge, explains Clabbers. (While Edge is the newest Celebrity ship to cruise Alaska, Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Summit also sail here . ) Per the pro, the seven-night sailings on Edge “include key destinations like Ketchikan and Skagway,” along with a quick visit to Victoria in British Columbia and scenic cruising through the beautiful Endicott Arm Fjord. Additionally, the World’s Best Award-winning line offers round-trip sailings from both Vancouver and Seattle — as well as one-way itineraries between Vancouver and Seward, the latter of which offer more time to explore (read: fewer sea days).

Regardless of the ship, passengers can expect a wide range of entertainment offerings, an abundance of bars, restaurants, and lounges, and a handful of accommodation options. Speaking of the latter, wellness-seeking duos can reserve an AquaClass stateroom, which includes perks like complimentary dining at the exclusive Blu restaurant, their very own spa concierge, and unlimited access to the adults-only Sea Thermal Suite. Alternatively, for a worth-it splurge, opt for a suite in The Retreat, which includes a dedicated team of concierges and butlers, access to a private lounge and/or sundeck (note that the latter is not available on Celebrity Solstice ), premium drinks, Wi-Fi, and access to the private Luminae at The Retreat restaurant, helmed by chef Daniel Boulud. 

Itinerary : The aforementioned 7-night Alaska Dawes Glacier itinerary on Celebrity Edge cruises round-trip from Seattle and visits Ketchikan, Endicott Arm Fjord (scenic cruising), Juneau, Skagway, the Inside Passage (scenic cruising), and Victoria.

Related: What to Know About All 16 Ships in the Celebrity Cruises Fleet

Viking Ocean Cruises

Courtesy of Viking Cruises

Viking Ocean Cruises recently nabbed a 2023 World’s Best Award in the midsize-ship ocean cruise lines category, coming in at first place for the second year in a row. The line’s identical ocean ships offer a sleek Scandinavian design, which only enhances the tranquil atmosphere on board. The luxury adults-only line is also all-inclusive, covering meals, activities, most beverages, Wi-Fi, port taxes and fees, spa access, and one complimentary excursion in every port of call. Cruisers can bask in the mountain and glacier views from the comfort of their private balcony — and, if they’re lucky, they may even spot a whale or two. Finally, in addition to classic ports like Juneau and Ketchikan, Viking Ocean Cruises’ Alaska itinerary also calls on Valdez, which is chock-full of natural beauty and outdoor adventure. 

Itinerary : The 10-night Alaska and the Inside Passage itinerary , which sails between Vancouver and Seward, “is a great choice for curious travelers who have a bit more time and want to learn more about Alaska,” says Clabbers.

Courtesy of Silversea

Those craving a luxury Alaska cruise need not look further than Silversea, says Goldring. Additionally, “While primarily for adults ranging from contemplative to active, Silversea is also a good option for families with more mature children who are more engaged with the journey than onboard child-focused activities.” Silversea guests enjoy all-suite staterooms with butler service and an all-around tony atmosphere. The line’s Door-to-Door All-Inclusive fares cover private airport transfers, economy flights, business-class upgrades or air credits, and shore excursions. 

This luxury cruise line offers classic and expedition-style cruising, the latter of which takes aboard the 274-passenger Silver Wind . (Classic cruises, on the other hand, take place on board Silver Muse , Silver Nova , Silver Shadow , Silver Whisper , or Silver Moon ). Nova and Moon offer the Sea and Land Taste program (S.A.L.T), offering culinary connoisseurs the incredible opportunity to experience the local food scene and culture both on and off the ship. Last but not least, keep in mind that Silversea sails between Vancouver and Seward (with the exception of one September 2024 itinerary, which sails from Nome to Vancouver).

Itinerary : The 7-day Vancouver to Seward sailing on board Silver Nova features Inside Passage scenic cruising and stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Sitka. Before disembarking in Seward, enjoy scenic cruising around Hubbard Glacier.

Related: This Is the Cheapest Time to Cruise to Alaska

UnCruise Adventures

Courtesy of UnCruise

“If you are looking for a more casual and laid-back experience, Seattle-based UnCruise Adventures offers down-to-earth trips with enthusiastic naturalist guides, simple accommodations, and hearty local cuisine,” says Palmer. Mary Curry , another T+L A-List travel advisor, echoes these sentiments, explaining that “small ships are the absolute best way to see Alaska if your goal is to immerse yourself in nature and wildlife.” While the cabins are no-frills, Curry stresses that the main focus of the cruise is “getting off the ship and exploring everything Alaska's Inside Passage has to offer.” With that said, when it comes to activities, options abound. Per the pro, travelers can “choose between a menu of included excursions such as kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, zodiac cruises, whale watching, and more.” All in all, UnCruise really does offer something for everyone. 

Itinerary : For a truly unique Alaska itinerary, consider the Aleutian Islands Adventure with Kodiak, Katmai, and Kenai Wilderness . Cruisers embark in Whittier before making their way to Kenai Fjords National Park, Kodiak Island and Foul Bay, Katmai National Park, Ugashik National Wildlife Refuge, Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, the Shumagin and Unga Islands, False Pass, and Unalaska (where they’ll dock overnight in Dutch Harbor before disembarking the next day).

Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic

Courtesy of Nation Geographic

For a true expedition-style experience, Lindblad Expeditions is your best bet. The cruise line offers itineraries in partnership with National Geographic, which have come highly recommended by almost every travel advisor we spoke to. Just take it from Curry, who tells T+L, “If you want to learn about Alaska from a team of exceptional experts, there's no better choice than a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic itinerary. “Every night before dinner,” she says, “We would hear about what we had seen on our excursions that day from the perspective of the experts — naturalists, geologists, marine mammal researchers, and even a diver who would share magical and colorful images from underwater of the area we had explored via Zodiac during the day.” According to the pro, the vessels are “some of the nicest and most modern small ships in the area,” some of which have private balconies along with “little extras” like water bottle filling stations, a mudroom to store gear, and multiple disembarkation platforms to get travelers on and off the ship quickly. Meanwhile, Goldring notes the line’s National Geographic Global Explorers family program, “which focus[es] on interactive and hands-on education with a true naturalist during outings.” As a result, cruisers can expect “a far more enriching experience [than those] offered by most other lines.” 

Itinerary : The weeklong Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness itinerary is “perfect for couples and multi-generational families interested in an engaging and authentic experience exploring the fjords, islands, and small coastal communities,” says Palmer. The itinerary sails between Juneau and Sitka throughout May and September. Along the way, cruisers will visit Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, the tiny fishing town of Petersburg, Glacier Bay National Park, and more.

Related : 21 Cruise Tips That Will Help Make Your Trip Even Better, According to Experts

Related Articles

  • Visit Family Vacation Critic on Facebook!
  • Visit Family Vacation Critic on Twitter!
  • Visit Family Vacation Critic on Instagram!
  • 1 Subscribe to stay up to date!
  • Cruises for Families

10 Best Alaska Cruises for Families 2020

Alaska Cruise With Disney Cruise Line

Feb 18, 2020

See recent posts by Dave Parfitt

Not only is a cruise to Alaska at the top of many families’ bucket lists , but it’s also a convenient way to sample The Last Frontier.

The standard Alaska cruise used to feature a week-long itinerary departing from either Seattle, Washington , or Vancouver, British Columbia , and traveling to Seward or Whittier (or the reverse). Now, in addition to those one-way cruises to Alaska , families can find round-trip cruises through the Inside Passage , longer cruises to and from California , and smaller ships that maneuver inside fjords (where larger ships can’t).

Here, we highlight 10 Alaska cruises that are especially good for families, including what the ships have to offer onboard, as well as family-friendly port excursions.

Puppies in the Piazza on Princess Cruises to Alaska

1. Princess Cruises

In 2019, Princess Cruises celebrated its 50th year sailing to Alaska. Princess has won multiple industry awards for “Best Cruise Line in Alaska” (11 consecutive years including 2019), and currently has eight ships sailing to Alaska. Current Princess Alaska cruises include round-trip Inside Passage sailings of 14 days from Los Angeles, 10 days from San Francisco, seven days from Seattle, and seven days from Vancouver. In addition to the round-trip Inside Passage cruises, Princess Cruises also offers one-way “Voyage of the Glaciers” sailings northbound from Vancouver and southbound from Anchorage . Princess also owns five wilderness lodges throughout Alaska to create a seamless land and sea vacation.

In 2019, Princess Cruises won for Best Shore Excursions in Cruise Critic’s annual Editors’ Picks Awards , thanks the line’s wide range of excursions designed to appeal to almost everyone. Through its partnership with Discovery & Animal Planet, Princess Cruises offers shore excursions tailored to animal lovers, as well as science and nature enthusiasts. Discovery & Animal Planet exclusive tours include: Black Bear, Wildlife & Nature Walk; Discover Alaska’s Whales; and Underground Mine Exploration & Gold Panning.

The “North to Alaska” onboard program brings authentic Alaska experiences to life through local seafood while real Alaskans come aboard to share their stories. Sled dog fans will love “Puppies in the Piazza,” where husky puppies are available for photos and snuggling, and Iditarod sled dog champion musher Libby Riddles tells tales of her winning Alaska races.

Related: How to Communicate on Cruise Ship: 5 Ways to Stay Connected 

2. Disney Cruise Line

In 2011, the Disney Wonder offered its first Alaska voyage, and the seven-night summer sailings have proved very popular ever since. Between May and September 2020, the Disney Wonder visits Dawes Glacier, Icy Strait Point, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan during week-long, round-trip cruises from Vancouver. Onboard, the spirit of Alaska is incorporated through themed entertainment and authentic experiences, including meet and greet opportunities with Disney characters dressed in northern attire, presentations from naturalists familiar with the region, as well as exclusive food and beverage offerings and cooking demonstrations.

Disney’s port excursions highlight the beauty of Alaska while bringing local culture and customs to life. During many of these excursions, there are special Disney touches, characters, and storytelling. In Skagway, guests can explore the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail, a camp nestled beside a waterfall where music, puppetry and panning for gold with classic Disney characters immerse guests in the gold rush era. While visiting Ketchikan, guests can look on as professional fishermen haul in the catch of the day in 700-pound king crab pots during the Bering Sea Crab Fisherman’s Tour.

After a behind-the-scenes tour of the ship, Disney Cruise Line guests have an exclusive opportunity to dine with the crew and listen to stories about life on the Bering Sea over freshly caught King and Dungeness crab. Several Ketchikan excursions include a visit to the Exclusive Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, a rollicking competition created for families that features some of the world’s top timber sport athletes going head-to-head for bragging rights and the title, “Bull of the Woods.” This enhanced performance features additional segments developed exclusively for Disney Cruise Line guests.

Families looking for even more Alaska immersion can add-on an Adventures by Disney package to their Disney Cruise Line sailing. This Adventures by Disney cruise package includes the benefits of two Adventure Guides, exclusive activities both on and off the ship (including meals), private welcome and farewell receptions, all photography, special VIP experiences, and more.

Related: What to Pack for a Disney Cruise: The Ultimate Packing List 

Royal Caribbean North Star on Cruise to Alaska

3. Royal Caribbean International 

Royal Caribbean International currently has three ships sailing to Alaska: Ovation of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, and Serenade of the Seas. Ovation of the Seas is presently the largest ship sailing to Alaska— with all the bells and whistles families might expect on a 4,000-plus passenger mega-ship. One particularly awe-inspiring feature is North Star that offers panoramic views of jaw-dropping Alaska landscapes from a glass-enclosed capsule that ascends 300 feet above the ocean. Ovation of the Seas sails seven-night itineraries roundtrip from Seattle through the Inside Passage with stops in Skagway, Juneau, and more. Other onboard amenities include a theme park-like atmosphere complete with FlowRider surf simulator, RipCord skydiving by iFly, and a SeaPlex indoor active space that includes bumper cars, roller skating, trapeze school, and more.

Radiance of the Seas sails seven-night, one-way itineraries between Seward and Vancouver, where families can enjoy the sights of Hubbard Glacier and the Inside Passage. Land options can extend the cruise vacation by three to seven nights in order to visit Kenai Fjords National Park , Denali National Park & Preserve , and more. All cruise tours are led by local guides who take families deep into Alaska’s interior via bus, train, and optional flightseeing tours. Serenade of the Seas travels roundtrip on seven-night cruises that include time in Ketchikan, Alaska, and cruising through Tracy Arm Fjord. Possible excursions include dog-sledding, helicopter rides, and glacier hikes.

Both Radiance and Serenade of the Seas are much smaller ships compared to Ovation of the Seas (2,100 vs. 4,000 passengers). These mid-sized ships tout ocean-facing glass elevators and floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, allowing breathtaking views of the Last Frontier. Onboard the two Radiance Class ships, families can climb rock-wall towers for panoramic views, enjoy poolside movie nights under the stars, and dine at venues including Chops Grille, Giovanni’s Table, and Izumi.

Norwegian Cruise in Alaska

4. Norwegian Cruise Line

In 2018, Norwegian Cruise Line launched the 4,000 passenger Norwegian Bliss, a ship specifically designed for Alaska cruises, and in spring 2021, Norwegian Encore (built in 2019) will sail to Alaska from Seattle, bringing Norwegian Cruise Line’s total to five ships in the Last Frontier. The newest ships offer thrilling amenities such as a two-level go-kart track where electric cars reach speeds up to 30 mph, an open-air laser tag course, and an expansive water park with two multi-story waterslides including one that extends over the edge of the ship and loops down to the deck below.

For those looking for smaller ships, the Norwegian Sun has less than 1,000 staterooms and was refurbished in 2018, adding a Spinnaker Lounge where guests can grab a drink and watch the scenery pass through panoramic windows.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s Alaska itineraries include five- to 12-day round-trip sailings from Seattle, as well as week-long one-way cruises to/from Seward, Alaska. In partnership with Alaska Native Voices, cruises that sail into Glacier Bay National Park have Cultural Heritage Guides onboard to interpret the 25-million-acre World Heritage Site.

Norwegian Cruise Line has also invested in the ports of Icy Straight Point, Ketchikan, and Juneau to create shore excursions for visitors to experience the land, wildlife and native peoples of Alaska. Many of these investments are in partnership with Alaska native-owned corporations and built with environmentally sustainable practices in order to maintain the natural setting. A high speed gondola will transport families to attractions such as the world’s longest ZipRider zipline, accessible coastal brown bear viewing platforms, whale watching, and fishing excursions. A second will transport guests further up the mountain, offering spectacular views of icefields, the Fairweather Range and Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. A network of hiking trails will allow families to explore the wilderness via a 340-foot suspension bridge swaying over a box-canyon with a 900-foot vertical drop. Another nature trail at the top-of-the-mountain wanders around a glacially carved pond.

Finally, for families wishing to see more of Alaska’s interior, four- to seven-day land tours can be added to Norwegian’s one-way cruises exploring Seward, Homer, Girdwood, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, and Fairbanks via motorcoach or Alaska Railroad.

Holland America Cruise to Alaska

5. Holland America Line

Seven Holland America ships sail in Alaska from April through September on roundtrip cruises from Seattle or Vancouver, or one-way between Seward and Vancouver. For those interested in Glacier Bay National Park, Holland America offers the most itineraries that include the scenic destination. In 2020, families can cruise to Alaska aboard the Eurodam, Koningsdam, Maasdam, Noordam, Oosterdam, Volendam and Westerdam.

This is the inaugural season for Koningsdam (launched in 2016) in Alaska, sailing seven-day Inside Passage itineraries roundtrip from Vancouver. The luxurious Pinnacle Class ship has outstanding service and dining and a number of entertainment options including Music Walk, Rolling Stone Rock Room, and World Stage, and more. Holland America Line is currently the only cruise line with seven-day roundtrip itineraries from Vancouver that include Glacier Bay National Park.

Families with more time might consider the 14-day Great Alaska Explorer Voyages aboard the Maasdam. This smaller ship (1,258 passengers) provides an intimate atmosphere with plenty of room at the rail to watch passing scenery. Maasdam’s itinerary sails roundtrip from Vancouver and travels around the Kanai Peninsula calling upon Anchorage, Homer, and Valdez. Excursions include Zodiac boats departing directly from the ship for close-up views of glaciers, wildlife and scenery, all guided by an expert.

Every Holland America ship in Alaska includes onboard programming about local Alaska culture and history. Cruises to Glacier Bay bring on a national park ranger as well as a native Huna speaker. Other presentations include Alaska naturalists, bush pilots, and mushers from the Iditarod dog sled race.

For explorers who want to travel further into the Alaska interior, Holland America offers multiple land packages that spend up to three nights at Denali National Park & Preserve—maximizing the chances of mountain viewing. Finally, Holland America is the only cruise line that offers a land tour option to Dawson City, home of the Klondike Gold Rush in Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Carnival Spirit in Alaska

6. Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line is expanding its presence in Alaska with two ships in 2020 and a third coming in 2021. In 2020, Carnival Spirit sails week-long roundtrip cruises from Seattle, and Carnival Miracle will offer 10- and 11-day Alaska cruises from San Francisco for the first time ever. In 2021, Carnival Freedom will operate out of Seattle. A mix of itineraries includes Inside Passage ports of Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, cruising Tracy Arm Fjord, and Victoria, British Columbia.

For families wanting to truly explore Alaska, Carnival offers a variety of shore excursions from adventurous helicopter flightseeing to traditional salmon bakes and gold panning. Onboard, Carnival offers special menu items featuring Alaska fare including freshly caught local game, seafood, and fish, and a naturalist points out animal and sea life from the bridge for guests to photograph. Carnival Cruise Line’s kids program, Camp Ocean (for children ages 2 to 11), offers Alaska-themed activities for kids exploring the Last Frontier.

Celebrity Cruise in Alaska

7. Celebrity Cruises

Families with older children or multigenerational groups looking for a premium vacation experience might consider Celebrity Cruises . In 2020, Celebrity sends three ships to Alaska, visiting 12 Canadian and U.S. destinations, and spending more time in port. Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Solstice sail seven night, round-trip cruises from Vancouver and Seattle. Ports on these sailings include Endicott Arms & Dawes Glacier, Hubbard Glacier, Icy Straight Point, Juneau, and Ketchikan to name a few (check specific itineraries for more details).

Celebrity Millennium will offer two, seven-night, one-way Alaska itineraries—one northbound from Vancouver, the other southbound from Seward, AK—making it easy to combine a tour of interior Alaska with a cruise. Both Celebrity Millennium cruise itineraries feature the Inside Passage and call upon Ketchikan, Icy Straight Point, Juneau, Skagway, and Hubbard Glacier. Celebrity Cruises offer land and sea packages extending the cruise from Seward on to Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Denali National Park. On the southbound cruise from Seward, Alaska, families can add on a Canadian Rockies tour and travel to Lake Louise in Banff National Park .

Linblad Expeditions With National Geographic to Alaska

8. Lindblad Expedtions

Lindblad Expeditions partners with National Geographic to create exclusive family programming. Its National Geographic Global Explorers program is designed for kids and teens to develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge of an explorer. Activities include earning a Zodiac boat driver’s license, recording wildlife sightings in their field notebook, and learning to be a storyteller through photos, video, and more.

Families can choose from a selection of Alaska itineraries—ranging from six days to a 22-day end-to-end coastal cruise stretching all the way from Ketchikan to Nome. The 100-guest ships, National Geographic Quest and Venture, and the 62-guest sister ships, National Geographic Sea Lion or Sea Bird, travel past wildlife-filled islands and deep into channels to find bears, eagles, bubble-netting whales, and more. Family activities include hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, biking, and exploring. Cultural programming include First Nation performers, as well as sailing with a team of naturalists and photographers.

Sea Otter Spotted While Kayaking With UnCruise Adventures

9. UnCruise Adventures

Voted “Best for Adventure” by Cruise Critic , UnCruise Adventures specializes in off-the-beaten path itineraries. UnCruise zigs when the big ships’ zag, allowing passengers to avoid crowds in ports. The expedition-style cruises sail seven to 14-day itineraries around Glacier Bay National Park and as far south as Seattle. In addition, UnCruise Adventures cruises can be paired with an optional six-day pre-cruise Alaska Railroad excursion to Denali National Park.

For family travelers, UnCruise Adventures has designed specific family-focused departures called Family [F]UnCruise Discoveries. The Family Discoveries program offers summer camp at sea programs with activities for everyone to experience together.

Alaska-based family travel writer, Erin Kirkland of AKontheGo , sails onboard as the UnCruise Youth Adventurist on the 76-passenger Wilderness Discoverer, July 4 and August 1, 2020 Alaska Fjords & Glaciers Cruise, as well as the July 3 and 31, 2021 Northern Passages Glacier Bay Cruise on the 86-passenger S.S. Legacy. Activities include beach parties, kayaking and paddle board relays, local history and culture talks, arts and crafts, photography lessons, and more.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

10. Windstar Cruises

Windstar Cruises is a small ship cruise line consistently rated as one of the best under 500 berths. Windstar’s smaller vessels can access Alaska fjords, inlets, and coves not available to large ocean liners. While children younger than 8 aren’t allowed on Windstar Cruises, it’s a great choice for families with tweens and teens. These smaller ships jettison the frills of the mega ships to focus on connecting as a family over authentic local experiences such as wildlife watching on deck and enjoying meals together.

Windstar’s small ship cruises in Alaska include lectures and onboard educational programming from a team of six experts who sail with the ship throughout its journey. This team of scientists and naturalists also lead optional Signature Expedition tours. Excursions include kayak and Zodiac boat trips directly from the ship, giving guests more time for extreme close-up views at sea level. The tours offer breathtaking perspectives of icebergs, calving glaciers, and gorgeous natural habitats.

Signature Excursions help guests experience the active wildlife of Alaska first-hand while cruising by rafts of sea otters, spotting sea birds overhead or sea lions lounging on mini-icebergs, all while keeping an eye on shore to spot bears and more.

Dave Parfitt lives in Rochester, New York, with his wife and two daughters. A runner with a PhD in neuroscience, he lived in numerous Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. cities before taking a college job in the Finger Lakes. He’s traveled worldwide, but a Walt Disney World trip with two budding princesses is the trip that elicited the family travel wanderlust. He shares his vacation tips and tricks on AdventuresbyDaddy.com .

What to Pack for Your Next Trip 

Mom’s/women’s camping outfit, shop the look.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Organic Donegal Sweater

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Rambler 20 oz Tumbler

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Long-Sleeve Waffle Tee

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Aberdeen Jogger

best alaskan cruise lines for families

GEL-Contend® Walker

Dad’s/men’s camping outfit.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Super Deluxe Book Pack

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Streamlight 88052 ProTac HL USB 850 Lumen Professional Tactical Flashlight

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Flannel Shirt

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Trailhead Pants

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Outline Hiking Sneaker

Girl’s camping outfit.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Mini Sleepy-Eyes Backpack

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Big Long Sleeve Solid Cardigan

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Glitter Best Dad Graphic Tee

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Warrior Knee Joggers

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Wicked Good Slippers

Boy’s camping outfit.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Galaxy Superbreak Backpack

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Thermos Funtainer 12 Ounce Bottle

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Fleece Crewneck Sweatshirt

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Everyday Chino Shorts

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Jr Alonisso 41 Sneakers

Our team of parents and travel experts chooses each product and service we recommend. Anything you purchase through links on our site may earn us a commission.

Related Articles

Exterio ship wonder of the seas; Courtesy Royal Caribbean

6 Best Cruise Booking Sites for Families

mom holds toddler in front of cruise ship; Courtesy Seleznev Oleg/Shutterstock

What's the Minimum Age for a Cruise?

adventure ocean kids club Royal Caribbean ; Courtesy Royal Caribbean

6 Best Kids' Clubs on Cruise Ships

Princess Cruises Family Suite; Courtesy Princess

10 Best Cruise Ship Family Cabins

Your personal family vacation planning starts now.

Get expert advice, handpicked recommendations, and tips for your family all year round!

Get family travel & tips from our experts

By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use .

Thanks for signing up!

7 Best Cruises to Alaska, According to Travel Experts

Book a once-in-a-lifetime trip to see glaciers, national parks and wildlife!

glacier bay national park and preserve, alaska

We've been independently researching and testing products for over 120 years. If you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more about our review process.

While some travelers dream of lounging on a beach in the Caribbean, others might be itching to put on hiking shoes and explore the great outdoors. If glaciers, wildlife and picturesque coastline have long been on your bucket list, consider booking a cruise to Alaska. The northernmost American state offers an activity for everyone's interest and level of adventure. You can take a thrilling helicopter flight to explore a glacier on foot or observe miles of Alaska’s lush scenery and spy whales from a comfortable seat on a boat.

Princess Cruises

majestic princess in glacier bay alaska

A top choice for multi-generational families and larger groups seeking on-board experiences for a wide age range, Princess will sail seven ships to Alaska in 2024 — more than any other line. Princess also offers the most departure cities , potentially saving you money on airfare. Alaska sailings range from 4 to 22 days, though a week is the sweet spot. The line is also only one of seven permitted to enter the magnificent Glacier Bay National Park (shown); check out the tips at the end of the story for details.

Good Housekeeping Contributing Travel Editor Karen Cicero and her daughter recently sailed on Majestic Princess, a Family Travel Awards Winner , and raved about the ship's amenities, especially the Hollywood Pool Club. She described it as “an indoor space with a heated pool, plush loungers, and cabana-like spots that are free for all guests to use.” Cicero was also impressed with the entertainment and activities suitable for all ages, the excellent dining options and a supervised kids’ club for ages 3 to 12. "We saw grandparents and grandkids on the dance floor, at the shows, on the excursions — bonding moments were everywhere," Cicero said.

In 2024, Majestic Princess and Discovery Princess, the line's newest Alaska ship, will both sail roundtrip from Seattle. "You can't beat Princess if you're looking for an experience that will please all ages," said Cicero.

Departure Cities: Los Angeles; San Francisco; Seattle; Vancouver; Whittier, Alaska Cruise Ships: Crown Princess (2024 only); Grand Princess, Caribbean Princess (2025 only), Royal Princess, Sapphire Princess, Discovery Princess, Majestic Princess (2024 only), Crown Princess, Coral Princess (2025 only)

Norwegian Cruise Line

norwegian cruise line encore in alaska

Passengers are loyal to Norwegian for its beautiful ships, top-notch service and innovative amenities. The cruise line pioneered the concept of “freestyle cruising," which includes a flexible dining time. Flexible cruising continues to be a major selling point , according to our testers who recently sailed roundtrip from Seattle to Alaska on the Norwegian Encore (pictured). "We enjoyed not having to rush back to the ship after an excursion because we had a dinner reservation," said our tester who sailed with her spouse.

They also frequented the Encore’s Observation Lounge, where they were able to cozy up and spend hours searching for marine life from floor-to-ceiling windows. Activities and entertainment, like go-karting, slides and laser tag, are abundant. For a premium experience, consider booking a stateroom in The Haven. The Encore's most luxurious accommodations feature spacious rooms — the bathrooms are nearly double the size of those in standard staterooms — a private sundeck and a concierge.

The variety of sailings to Alaska is also another reason to choose Norwegian. "If Hawaii is also on your bucket list, Norwegian is one of the only cruise lines to offer a 16-day cruise departing from Honolulu that sails through both Hawaii and Alaska so you explore two dreamy destinations on one vacation," said Cicero. She added that Norwegian sails to Alaska until late October — about a month longer than most cruise lines.

Departure Cities: Honolulu; Seattle; Seward, Alaska; Vancouver; Whittier, Alaska (2025) Cruise Ships: Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Jewel (only in 2024), Norwegian Spirit (only in May 2024), Norwegian Sun, Norwegian Jade (only in 2025), Norwegian Joy (only in 2025)


Disney Cruise Line

disney cruise ship docked in ketchikan, alaska

Disney lovers will have the time of their lives sailing roundtrip from Vancouver to Alaska aboard the Disney Wonder. "It was the best experience ever," said a mom of two young adults who sailed on the ship in May 2023. "We felt like it was a great combination of Disney and Alaska."

On-board experiences brilliantly align with the destination. For instance, Disney characters are dressed in special outfits for Alaska and are on deck during the days at sea. "We were able to get incredible photos with the glaciers behind the characters," said the mom, who also noted that you can order Mickey Mouse ice cream bars from room service. Cicero added, "Disney has the best kids' and teen clubs of any cruise line. They're enormous, filled with epic activities like superhero training and are a great place for kids and teens to make friends."

If you want an equal dose of Disney and Alaska, this is the cruise for your crew. Sailings range from five to nine nights. All routes head to Stikine Icecap so guests can observe stunning glaciers, cliffs, waterfalls and wildlife.

Departure City: Vancouver Cruise Ship: Disney Wonder

Royal Caribbean International

juneau, alaska, usa

Royal Caribbean doesn’t only sail to the Caribbean. This global cruise line whisks passengers to Alaska from popular ports such as Seattle and Vancouver. You can choose a classic seven-night itinerary or a 13-night land-and-sea getaway.

Cruise enthusiasts at the Good Housekeeping Institute are fans of Royal Caribbean for its state-of-the-art ships, exceptional service and high-quality entertainment. "Royal Caribbean had the first rock-climbing wall and ice-skating rink on a cruise ship," said Cicero. "Since then, they've brought so many other epic activities to sea." For instance, Royal Caribbean’s Quantum Class, which includes Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas, offers skydiving, a surf simulator and a robot bar. "This line is an especially good fit for families with tweens, teens and young adults ," said Cicero, who sailed on Royal Caribbean with her teen daughter.

Departure Cities: Seattle; Seward, Alaska; Vancouver Cruise Ships: Quantum of the Seas, Anthem of the Seas, Radiance of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas (only in 2024), Ovation of the Seas (only in 2024), Serenade of the Seas (only in 2025)

National Geographic Lindblad Expeditions

lindblad expeditions ship national geographic sea lion

For an incredible small-ship experience, look no further than the Lindblad Expeditions–National Geographic team-up. The largest of its ships that sail to Alaska can accommodate no more than 138 passengers — just a sliver of the 4,900 or so that Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas can hold. " Being on a smaller vessel means that you’ll be able to sail right up to less frequented glaciers, waterfalls and fjords, " said Cicero.

Of course, an intimate experience comes at a higher price tag — its eight-day Alaskan adventure starts at about $6,200 per person, though you won't need to pay extra for excursions. "Voyages tend to be themed and stress the educational component," said Cicero. For instance, one focuses on coastal wildlife while another explores native cultures. A Good Housekeeping staff member who sailed the line to the Galápagos Islands (a providence of Ecuador) raved, "The ship was beautiful! I was super impressed with the staff and the service felt above and beyond.”

Departure Cities: Juneau, Alaska; Ketchikan, Alaska; Seattle; Sitka, Alaska Cruise Ships: National Geographic Quest, National Geographic Venture, National Geographic Sea Bird, National Geographic Sea Lion, National Geographic Resolution

Holland America Line

holland america line cruise to alaska

Holland America has a well-earned reputation for bringing guests to new destinations for more than 150 years. Its ships tend to be mid-sized — larger than Lindblad's offerings but smaller than the Quantum ships from Royal Caribbean. While Holland attracts an older demographic, its Alaskan cruises are often filled with multi-generational families.

One of the cruise line’s most popular itineraries is the Seven-Day Inside Passage, which takes you through Glacier Bay National Park, the Inside Passage, Tracy Arm Inlet and several must-visit port towns. But for adventure seekers curious to see as much of Alaska as possible, you’ll find tons of extended itineraries including a robust 28-day voyage that crosses the Arctic Circle.

Holland America is the only cruise line permitted to serve glacier ice, using it for cocktails like the Blue Iceberg and Juneau Gin & Tonic. The line also launched a new Alaskan-themed brunch menu offered once per cruise.

Departure Cities: Anchorage, Alaska (for land-sea tours only); Fairbanks, Alaska; Seattle; Vancouver, Whittier, Alaska Cruise Ships: Eurodam, Koningsdam, Nieuw Amsterdam, Noordam, Zuiderdam, Zaandam

Celebrity Cruises

topshot france transport sea tourism

Celebrity is popular with adults and couples looking for a premium onboard experience, including delicious cuisine, luxurious staterooms and a high-end spa . We can’t imagine a better way to rest and relax after spending a day exploring the Alaskan wilderness. Our travel experts suggest choosing one of Celebrity's many Alaska itineraries that sail through the Inside Passage and up to Dawes Glacier or Hubbard Glacier, two of the state’s gems.

Of the three Celebrity ships that sail to Alaska, we recommend the Celebrity Edge for those new to cruising or seeking a more contemporary experience. Launched in 2018, the ship features standout innovations like Eden, a multi-level bar with panoramic views, and the Magic Carpet, a multi-purpose floating space suspended directly above the sea.

Departure Cities: Seattle; Seward, Alaska; Vancouver Cruise Ships: Celebrity Solstice, Celebrity Summit, Celebrity Edge

Tips for booking your cruise to Alaska


✔️ Check your itinerary. The itinerary you choose is key on an Alaskan cruise. If you have your heart set on visiting Glacier Bay National Park, make sure that your cruise line has it listed on the schedule. "Only seven lines were awarded the Glacier Bay contract by the National Park Service ," Cicero said. If you're not sure whether the cruise you have in mind will go through Glacier Bay, double-check with the cruise line or your travel agent.

✔️ Book shore excursions well in advance. Alaskan cruises generally sail from April to October. Because of the shorter season, your ship will likely be close to capacity and several ships may overlap in ports. Excursions will book up quickly. To secure your spot, book excursions well in advance or as soon as they're available.

✔️ Focus on family. Alaskan cruises are best for kids who are at least 5 years old. "Keep in mind that cruise lines don't allow kids who aren't potty-trained to be in pools, even if they're wearing a swim diaper," Cicero said. It's also worth noting that most cruise lines don't permit babies under 6 months or pregnant passengers who are 24 or more weeks along. Cicero advises families with school-age children to look for on-ship amenities, such as an indoor heated pool, a supervised kids' club and a variety of family-friendly nighttime entertainment. "Before you sail, you should also find out which non-alcoholic beverages are complimentary," Cicero said. "Many cruise lines charge extra for soft drinks, but milk and juice are usually included." Free room service is another big perk for families, she notes, so see if that's offered on the line you're considering.

✔️ Check your passport. Even if your cruise starts and stops in a U.S. port like Seattle, there's a high chance your ship will dock in Canada at some point throughout your trip. Also, " some of the excursions in Alaskan ports venture into Canada and will require a passport," explained Cicero. For instance, you may take the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway from Skagway into Yukon, a Canadian territory. Your passport will need to be valid for at least 6 months following the cruise.

✔️ Pack layers. This is especially crucial if you're traveling in Alaska's shoulder season — May and September. While May tends to be drier, temperatures remain relatively chilly. Likewise, September marks the end of the summer season and welcomes cooler temperatures and more rainfall. Because you'll be spending a lot of time outdoors, it's important to prepare for all weather scenarios, including windy conditions common to sailing cruise ships.

✔️ Book next summer's cruise soon. To get the best staterooms and excursions, start looking for a 2025 cruise in 2024, Cicero said, noting that many ships start to fill up at least 6 months in advance. And don't forget about major sale days. "Last year, cruise lines had fantastic Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals," she said.

Why trust Good Housekeeping?


Good Housekeeping Institute Writer and Product Analyst Olivia Lipski covers everything from tech to travel, fitness, outdoor, home and more. Not only does she have years of product review experience under her belt, but she’s also a travel enthusiast who has been on more than 20 cruises (and counting)!

The former travel editor at Parents magazine, Karen Cicero specializes in travel, children's book, lifestyle and food coverage. She manages the experience portion of the Good Housekeeping Family Travel Awards. She has sailed on four cruise lines with her family and toured several others. She recently was a featured speaker at several travel industry conferences, including PRSA, Mid-Atlantic Tourism Alliance and the Family Travel Association.

Headshot of Olivia Lipski

Olivia (she/her) is a media and tech product reviews analyst at the Good Housekeeping Institute , covering tech, home, auto, health and more. She has more than five years of experience writing about tech trends and innovation and, prior to joining GH in 2021, was a writer for Android Central, Lifewire and other media outlets. Olivia is a graduate of George Washington University, with a bachelor's degree in journalism, political science and French, and she holds a master’s degree in communications from Sciences Po Paris.

preview for Good Housekeeping US Section: Life

@media(max-width: 64rem){.css-o9j0dn:before{margin-bottom:0.5rem;margin-right:0.625rem;color:#ffffff;width:1.25rem;bottom:-0.2rem;height:1.25rem;content:'_';display:inline-block;position:relative;line-height:1;background-repeat:no-repeat;}.loaded .css-o9j0dn:before{background-image:url(/_assets/design-tokens/goodhousekeeping/static/images/Clover.5c7a1a0.svg);}}@media(min-width: 48rem){.loaded .css-o9j0dn:before{background-image:url(/_assets/design-tokens/goodhousekeeping/static/images/Clover.5c7a1a0.svg);}} Travel

uniworld boutique river cruises

Universal's Epic Universe Will Live Up to Its Name

tiana bayou adventure

A Look Inside Tiana's Bayou Adventure

large group of happy friends in mountains area

Best Quotes About Traveling With Friends

clearwater beach, florida

The 15 Best Beaches Near Orlando

cinderella castle, inspired by the disney film cinderella, is the enchanting icon of magic kingdom park at walt disney world resort in lake buena vista, fla abigail nilsson, photographer

The Best Tips for Visiting Disney World With Kids

happy young couple walking out of doorway

The Best Travel Captions for Your Next Vacay

vessi sneakers review

Are Vessi's Travel Sneakers Worth It?

quebec city skyline

The Best Mother-Daughter Trips to Take Together

santa monica beach and pier

13 U.S. Amusement Parks That Are Free to Enter

family on water slide at aquapark, romania

10 of America’s Best Water Parks

young african american couple on vacation exploring

Romantic Weekend Getaways

The Family Cruise Companion

Here Are The Best Alaskan Cruises For Families This Year

By: Author Elaine Warren

Posted on Last updated: October 14, 2023


So you’ve decided to sail an Alaskan itinerary, but what cruise line and cruise ship would be best for your family? To help you decide, we have compiled a list of the best Alaskan cruises for families. Our focus is on the best family-friendly cruise lines that have ships that are particularly good for families sailing with kids.

Best Alaskan Cruises For Families | photo Row of cruise ship empty wooden outdoor deck chairs

We reviewed the 18 different cruise lines that offer Alaskan sailings with an array of dozens of different ships from which to choose. We have narrowed the field down to nine different ships that we think offer the best Alaskan cruises for families. This list includes megaships, large ships, luxury ships, and one recommendation from the small ship category. Read on to figure out which one will be just right for you. (And, once you’ve settled on a ship, be sure to check out our post on Alaska cruise excursions !)

Click here to subscribe

Best Alaskan Cruises For Families: Our Top 3 Choices

These three ships make the top of the list because their on-board activities make them the best Alaska cruises for kids.


Best Alaskan Cruises for Families | photo Norwegian Bliss

We recently posted our Norwegian Bliss review based on a recent Caribbean sailing. But this ship was actually tailored for Alaska. And, it has elements designed to maximize guests’ exposure to the majestic landscape that makes Alaska so special.

For instance, the Observation Lounge on deck 15 presents the most striking example of that. Specifically designed to enhance Alaska cruising. It’s an oversized  20,000 square foot lounge with 180-degree panoramic views through its floor-to-ceiling windows. It has an abundance of seating in a wide variety of configurations for guests to relax with enjoy the view with coffee or other preferred beverage. Stepping back from the main forward-facing viewing windows, you’ll find seating areas that wrap down both sides of the ship, as well as several food stations serving breakfast and lunch. And you’ll find a full bar as well.

Family Activities

The Norwegian Bliss offers a wide range of family activities including a family circus workshop, a variety of game shows, dance parties and challenges, as well as a circus themed escape room.

Signature attractions include the extremely popular Go-karts and outdoor laser tag (make reservations before boarding!). And, top notch water facilities include several water slides and a kids’ aqua park.

The ship also features a large contemporary arcade, a small miniature golf course, two bowling lanes, and a range of live entertainment and stage productions.

The Bliss also offers a full range of supervised youth programming for kids ages 3 through 17.   Splash Academy provides a drop-off program for children ages 3-12 that is structured across three age groups. Activities include sports, interactive games, creative play, theme parties and circus school.

Entourage provides a teen space for kids 13-17 that combines a hangout zone, dance zone, game zone, and party zone. Program counselors host teen activities and challenges around the ship.

For more details on this beautiful ship, check out our full Norwegian Bliss review .


Best Alaskan Cruises For Families | photo of Disney Wonder

Disney ships are always filled with families and children of all ages.  But the Alaska sailings tend to attract more multigenerational groups and also adults sailing without kids. Disney offers high-quality stage shows, but no casinos. Stateroom configurations are notably family-friendly with 1 ½ split bathrooms and extra berth options. Prices tend to be substantially higher than the competition.

As for character experiences, Disney Wonder offers a wide range of character experiences throughout the ship. These are opportunities to meet and interact with a variety of your favorite characters from numerous Disney films. Some of the structured experiences include photo ops with favorite characters, designated meet and greet locations for specific characters, a royal tea party with Disney princesses, a meet-and-greet with the Disney princesses, character breakfasts, and special character greeting with the stars of Frozen .

Youth Club Programming

The Disney Wonder will be particularly attractive for families cruising with a baby .  This ship offers  drop-off nursery care for children ages 6 months to 3 years for a fee. And, it also offers a wide range of complimentary baby gear including diaper disposal units, bottle warmers, bottle sterilizers, cribs and playpens, and strollers.

Disney provides youth club programming on its cruise ships through its Oceaneer Club and Oceaneer Lab from 9 a.m to midnight. Both are open to children ages 3 to 12. Disney does not otherwise separate children based on age. In Oceaneer Club , children interact with Disney characters in various themed magical lands that vary based on the ship. On Disney Wonder , the   Oceaneer Club features the Marvel Super Hero Academy , where kids can interact with Captain America, Spiderman, and the Black Widow to solve various missions.  And, among the various themed rooms, kids will find the Frozen Adventures theme room with games and props based on the movie Frozen, as well as guest character appearances from Elsa and Anna.

The ship also provides two activity areas for tweens and teens. The Edge (for kids 11 to 14) features a large array of hi-tech entertainment, including an illuminated dance floor and tables with notebook computers. Vibe (for teens ages 14 to 17) is a chaperoned lounge with music, movies, video games, big-screen plasma TVs, dance floor, Internet café, and teen-only activities.

Other Family Activities

The Disney Wonder has a wide range of fun family-oriented water attractions including the Twist n Spout water slide. It’s a double looping water slide for guests who are at least 38 inches tall.  And, an 1,800 square foot recreation space themed around Donald Duck’s nephews that includes a series of pop jets, geysers and bubblers, pouring paint cans, raining shower heads, and other fun surprises. You’ll also find the Dory’s Reef splash zone for kids 3 and under which is designed based on the moving Finding Dory .  It includes fountains, pop jets, bubblers and a water curtain. Plus, the array of water attractions include Goofy’s family pool and Mickey’s children’s pool. All of the water attractions are centrally located on Deck 9.

The Disney Wonder also features dedicated adult spaces for evening entertainment featuring three lounges that offer a variety of musical entertainment, comedians, dancing, mixology classes and more (but no casino).


Ovation of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s newer ships and a member of it Quantum class. While not as large as some of the Oasis class ships, this vessel can still hold up to 4900+ passengers. And, as of now, it is the largest cruise ship sailing Alaska.

Best Alaskan Cruises For Families | photo RC Ovation of the Seas

We were very saddened to learn the news that Royal Caribbean discontinued the Dreamworks Experience . So, after April 2019, there won’t be any more character experiences on any of its ships. Nevertheless, Ovation of the Seas still has many family-friendly options that earns it a spot on the list of best Alaskan cruises for families.

Ovation of the Seas features an extremely large indoor activity space known as the Sea-Plex . Activities include a trapeze school, roller rink, full-size basketball court, and real bumper cars. Note that for roller skating, kids under 6 must be accompanied by a grown up at all times. And, for bumper cars, kids must be at least 42 inches tall to drive alone.  The Sea-Plex fun also includes a pool table and a wall of large screen Xbox One stations.

Other featured attractions include rock climbing, the FlowRider surfing simulator, a skydiving simulator (iFly), and the North Star observation pod that ascends 300 feet above sea level and out over the ocean (weather permitting).

As for water play, Ovation of the Seas features, in addition to its regular pools, Splashaway Bay . This features a more tricked out splash park that includes a large tipping bucket, and small and medium water slides.

Royal Caribbean offers the Adventure Ocean Youth Program for children ages 3 to 11. Children are grouped as follows: Aquanauts (ages 3-5); Explorers (ages 6-8); Voyagers (ages 9 to 11). Ovation of the Seas also offers a dedicated Royal Babies & Tots Nursery, which provides drop-off care for infants and toddlers ages 6 to 36 months, for a fee. And, there’s also a dedicated open play area for toddlers that’s stocked with a range of age appropriate toys where families can visit at their leisure. Group sitting is available in Adventure Ocean center for a fee from 10 p.m. to 1:00 a.m. The Nursery also has evening hours.

Older kids can participate in the ship’s teen programs for kids ages 12 to 17. Sample activities for younger teens may include rock climbing competitions, dodgeball, dance activities, movie nights, and talent shows. Older teens may enjoy activities such as pool parties, teen dinners, karaoke competitions, and sports competitions (both virtual and real). The ship’s “teen-only” hang out spaces include a low-key lounge area and an evening dance club. 

Best Alaskan Cruises For Families: Other Outstanding Choices

Celebrity eclipse.

Celebrity Cruises is the upscale sister-line to Royal Caribbean . And, this year Celebrity Eclipse will be sailing Alaska itineraries. The Eclipse debuted in 2008 and has been refurbished in 2015. It can hold approximately 2800 passengers. has extensive spa offerings and numerous specialty gourmet restaurants. Innovative features include a hot glass show and the Lawn Club featuring real grass. 

Best cruise lines in Alaska | Celebrity ship sailing near Hubbard Glacier

At the Lawn Club, guest can indulge in outdoor games, or relax in the lounging spaces to order drinks and snacks while soaking in the impressive views. Or, you could wander over to the Corning Museum of Glass to observe the glass-blowing demonstrations. 

Families can also lounge in a spacious pool area containing two relaxing pools and a jacuzzi. Or, grownups seeking some alone time can venture over to the Solarium, an adults-only area with its own pool, tranquil waterfall and plush lounge seating.

The Fun Factory provides programming for children ages 3-11 across three groups: Shipmates (3-5); Cadets (6-8); Ensigns (9-11). After 10 p.m., Celebrity offers group sitting in the kids’ club facilities from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. for a fee.

Celebrity also offers the X-Club for teens and young adults. X-Club provides supervised activities hosted by youth counselors, including social activities, gaming consoles, sports activities, and late-night teens-only dances.


Best cruise lines in Alaska | photo of Holland America ship

Holland America , has a well deserved reputation for appealing to older cruisers, and it offers a rich schedule activities that are largely geared toward adults.  One of the most notable features of the Nieuw Amsterdam is its $3 million art collection that features works from the likes of Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.

The menu of activities includes many enrichment classes in cooking and technology, including cooking classes and workshops in America’s Test Kitchen , a digital workshop with photography classes, and video editing opportunities. You’ll also find more old-school traditional cruise experiences like afternoon tea and ballroom dancing.

Youth Programming

Holland America offers three programs for youth ages 3 to 17. Club HAL Kids is offered for ages 3 to 6. Club HAL Tweens covers children ages 7 to 12. The Loft is available for Teens ages 13 to 17. The clubs generally close for extended lunch and dinner periods on sea days, and also close for a dinner period on port days. For children ages 3-12, HAL offers Club HAL After Hours from 10:00 p.m. until 12:00 a.m. for a fee. 

HAL also sponsors a youth-oriented Culinary Arts Center that provides hands-on cooking classes for kids and teens. Kids learn basic cooking techniques, kitchen safety, new ingredients, and how to follow recipe instructions. Youth activities also include an array of arts and crafts programs, gaming tournaments, contests and themed parties.


Best cruise lines in Alaska | photo of Royal Princess cruise ship

Princess generally tends to attract and older crowd, but  it also has an established kid’s program, and one that has recently benefited from some added bells and whistles.

Families considering an Alaskan cruise should take a look at Royal Princess .  Royal Princess is the largest of the Princess ships sailing Alaska with room for more than 3,500 guests.

Princess has some signature programs for its Alaska sailings that includes the “Cook My Catch” culinary program where guests can bring back their bounty from certain Princess-sponsored fishing excursions have it cooked on-board by a chef.  And, there’s also “Puppies in the Piazza,” where guests can interact with real Alaska sled dog puppies on the ship.

On Royal Princess , you’ll find youth programs for kids ages 3 through 17.  For the aged 3 to 7 crowd, the ship offers the forest-themed Treehouse where they can enjoy pajama movie nights, puppet projects and Lego contests. Kids ages 8 to 12 can hang out in the Lodge, an area inspired by the great outdoors. Activities include games, dancing, contests, theme nights and science oriented programs. And teens can visit the Beach House where they can socialize with peers in dance classes, movies, sport competitions and teens-only parties.

Princess is one of the few programs that will allow adults to stay with kids during the youth club activities. And, children under 3 are welcome to participate provided they have a grown up in tow.

Best Alaskan Cruises For Families: Something Different

If you’re looking for the best luxury Alaskan cruises for families, then take a look at Cunard and Crystal Symphony . And, if you’re looking for a smaller, more intimate experience, then check out the National Geographic cruise below.


For the first time in 20 years, Cunard will have its Queen Elizabeth ship sail Alaska itineraries. These will be 10 night round trip sailings from Vancouver starting in May 2019. The Queen Elizabeth first set sail in 2010, and was most recently refurbished in November 2018.

The Cunard youth program provides supervised activities for children ages 2 to 17.  The age group categories include The Play Zone for ages 2 to 7 (includes an outdoor play area, arts and craft station, carpeted indoor play area with blocks and toys, and tables for puzzles and games); The Kids’ Zone for ages 8 to 12 (gaming consoles, sports competitions, arts and crafts, karaoke); and the Teen Zone for ages 13 to 17 (table tennis tournaments, sport deck, dancing/discos). Notably, the kids’ areas also have access to outside deck space for activities and play.

Cunard ’s youth program includes complimentary group supervision in the evening. Cunard also has a Night Nursery available for children ages 6 months to 23 months from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. at no charge, on a first-come, first–served basis.

Classic Cruising

This is traditional cruising the way you’ve seen in movies like Titanic (without the iceberg and the steerage quarters). And, its not centered on high adrenaline activities that many family orientated ships now include. No water slides. No skating, surfing, race cars or sky diving.  (Movie buffs should check out Trip Savvy’ s list of checking out some other great cruise ship movies .)

It’s particularly noteworthy that Cunard takes formal night to a whole new level with its Gala Balls. Guests don their finest dinner jackets and most glamorous ball gowns to go dancing in a real ballroom accompanied by a live 8-piece orchestra. Cunard also has gentlemen hosts on standby dance partners for any ladies without dance partners.

The Queen Elizabeth has a fun Games Deck featuring paddle tennis, boules and croquet. You will also find traditional shuffleboard and a card room with a library of board games. And the ship offers lots of educational and enrichment activities such as watercolor classes, different styles of dancing lessons, and fencing classes.

Overall, this ship may be a bit more restrained and adult than some of the other ships on our list. And, it may be better suited for families traveling with older kids or in multigenerational groups. Although the free night time babysitting for infants and toddlers could make it a uniquely good fit for families sailing with kids under 3.

Best cruise lines in Alaska | multiple cruise ships in Ketchikan port

Cruise ships lined up in Ketchikan port .


Crystal Cruises is known for its upscale luxury cruises, but it typically has relatively limited programming for kids. During holiday and summer sailings, however, the ships become more family-friendly. And fortunately, summer sailings coincide with the Alaska cruise season. So, we’re including the Crystal Symphony on our list of best Alaskan cruises for families.

During the summer , Crystal Symphony offers supervised dedicated play areas for kids and teens. Sample activities include scavenger hunts, cookie baking, karaoke, stories and dancing. The teen space also has a video arcade. And, Crystal Symphony offers in-stateroom baby-sitting (ages 1 year and up) for an additional fee, on a first-come first served basis.

Although not completely all-inclusive, standard fares include cocktails, beer, wine, soda, and specialty coffee. Each guest also receives one complimentary dinner at each of two specialty restaurants.  And all gratuities, except for spa services, are also included.

All staterooms have a small refrigerator stocked with complimentary soft drinks and bottled water.  Suite class cabins also have complimentary liquor. 

Notably, Crystal is one of the few cruise lines offering complementary launderettes.  And, all guests now have free wifi for up to two devices. Crystal also offers complimentary volunteerism shore excursions.

Crystal Symphony features a beautiful pool deck with plenty of comfortable lounging space and an oversized jacuzzi.  Guests can also enjoy the driving range and putting green, movie theater, and a full-size paddle tennis court (not to be confused with ping pong – which it also has).

And, guests have access to a robust menu of enrichment and educational activities.  You can explore your artistic interests in painting, sculpture or crafts workshops led by art specialists, learn to make movies on an iPad, or take lessons in bridge or golf, as well as ballroom dancing (a partner will be provided if you don’t have your own).

For entertainment, Crystal Symphony offers magic shows, comedians, production shows, a variety of live music and a DJ oriented venue.

Note that Crystal Symphony receives particularly high marks for dining and service. But, its standard staterooms tend to run smaller than competitor luxury lines.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Kayaking in the Chilkat Inlet in Southeast Alaska


Our final entry on the list of best Alaskan cruises for families features a representative from the “small ship” category of cruises. If you have older kids and a (ahem) robust travel budget, the National Geographic Venture could be a fantastic option for your family!

This 100-passenger ship is geared toward folks seeking exploration and adventure.  Everything is 100% casual. No formal nights and no dress codes. Your cruise fare includes all meals, all non-alcoholic beverages and all excursions.

This expedition-style ship combines wilderness cruising with occasional off-vessel activities such as kayaking, skiff rides and shore walks. And, it’s equipped with its own fleet of landing craft and kayaks, allowing for in-depth exploration of icebergs, calving glaciers, and hidden coves.

This ship does not offer a dedicated kids’ club, but it does offer special activities for kids through its National Geographic Global Explorers program. This interactive educational program teaches kids about glaciers, and using glacial ice to make ice cream or watercolor paint. And, certified field educators will help kids and teens cultivate their Alaska observation skills and learn to document their experiences through photographs, videos, maps, drawings, and more. Kids have a range of activities to choose from, and the opportunity to explore interests such as marine biology and photography.  Other activities include journaling, scavenger hunts, Zodiac-driving lessons, and other hands-on nature and science programming.

The ship will generally offer shore excursions twice a day with several options to choose from. However, if your child chooses not to participate in an activity, then an adult will need to stay on board with them.

An Alaska cruise offers something for everyone. And this list of the best Alaskan cruises for families does as well. No matter your size preferences or your price point, you should find something that will be a fantastic cruise vacation for your family.

Keep up with the latest cruise tips and insights! Follow us on Pinterest:

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Related Articles

best alaskan cruise lines for families

best alaskan cruise lines for families

6 Best Alaska Cruises for Families 2024

Are you planning a family cruise vacation to Alaska? Alaska is one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever been to. From the majestic glaciers in Juneau to the charming gold-rush town of Skagway to watching a brown bear swim in Haines, Alaska is an epic adventure. Because of the lack of interconnected highways, you can’t just road trip to Alaska since many places are only accessible by boat or seaplane.

The most convenient and relaxing way to see Alaska is on a cruise ship, especially if you are traveling with kids. Here are the best Alaska cruises for families.

6 Best Alaska Cruises for Families

1. discovery princess: 7 nights to alaska from seattle.

Want to go on your Alaska family cruise vacation on one of the newest ships at sea? Yes, please! Discovery Princess is one of the newest Princess cruise ships.

Black Bear in Alaska cruise

Built in 2021, the Discovery Princess is a Princess MedallionClass™ship featuring the largest balconies at sea, Michelin-star chef dining options and a state of the art Princess theater.

Your kids will enjoy hanging out at Camp Discovery Kids Club on the days you are not exploring Alaska. Plus they will love meeting one of the many guests that come onboard the ship such as the lumberjack from Ketchikan and the sled dogs from Skagway. 

With ports of call in Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, your family will have the opportunity to see glaciers, bears, salmons and a charming gold rush town. Your Alaska family cruise vacation will undoubtedly be memorable aboard the Discovery Princess.

2. Norwegian Encore: 7 Nights to Alaska from Seattle

Norwegian Encore is one of the newest ships in Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet. Built in 2019, Norwegian Encore is a family friendly ship featuring the Norwegian Encore Speedway, the largest race track at sea and a state of the art virtual reality playground at Galaxy Pavilion.

Creek Street in Ketchikan Alaska Cruise

Your kids will enjoy going on the water slides on the ship’s Aqua Park even if it’s a little too chilly for adults! Watch Tony Award® winning Broadway show, Kinky Boots.

After your day exploring Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, grab a bite to eat at one of the many family friendly restaurants.

Norwegian Encore stops at the most popular Alaska ports of calls- Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. Your family will get to opportunity to see the glaciers in Juneau, the lumberjacks in Ketchikan and the gold rush town of Skagway! Cruising on Norwegian Encore is the perfect Alaska family cruise vacation.

3. Disney Wonder: 7 Nights Alaska Cruise from Vancouver

Cruising on the Disney Cruise line takes family cruising to another level. There is so much to do for families aboard the Disney Wonder. Your kids will have so much fun at the epic Disney Cruise line kids club.

Dog Sledding in Glacier Bay

Learn how to become a Super Hero at the Marvel Super Hero Academy. Sing Frozen songs with Olaf. Meet the Disney Junior Characters. Watch award winning live productions like Frozen, A Musical Spectacular.

Big kids will love zipping down the water slides. Little kids will love splashing in the Disney-themed water playground.

The Disney Wonder itinerary with sailings to Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan will give your family a good introduction to the most popular sights in Alaska. You can’t go wrong cruising to Alaska on Disney Wonder, it’s the ultimate family friendly cruise experience.

4. Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas: 7 Nights Alaska Cruise from Seattle

You can’t go wrong cruising with Royal Caribbean on your next Alaska family vacation. There are two Royal Caribbean ships sailing to Alaska, Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas. They will depart from Seattle and head north to Alaska with inside passage itineraries.

Quantum of the Seas was built in 2014 and Ovation of the Seas was built in 2016.

Sea Otter in Sitka Alaska Cruise

Both Royal Caribbean ships are jammed packed with family-friendly activities. Go skydiving at iFly. Grab a board and surf at FlowRider® Surf Simulator.

Order a Shirley temple from the robot bartender at Bionic Bar®. Go on the North Star for breathtaking 360 views of the glaciers! Go rock climbing on the ship. Play at the massive SportsPlex.

Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas stops at the most popular Alaska cruise ports- Juneau, Ketchikan, Sitka and Skagway. Your entire family will have blast sailing to Alaska on Royal Caribbean!

5. Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor: 7 Nights Alaska Cruise from Seattle

Family friendly activities abound on both Carnival Cruise ships. There are 2 Carnival Cruise ships sailing to Alaska from Seattle, Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor. Both Carnival cruise ships depart from Seattle and have inside passage itineraries. Carnival Spirit was built in 2001 and Carnival Splendor was built in 2008.

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau

Onboard the Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor, kids will be treated to Dr. Seuss inspired activities ranging from storytime to parades to character breakfast. Green eggs and ham, anyone?

Older kids (and adults) will have a blast going down the Green Thunder water slides at WaterWorks! There is also an indoor pool in case the Alaskan temperature becomes too chilly even for the kids.

Picky eaters will love the kids menu at Carnival cruise line serving kid approved food like spaghetti with meatballs and mac and cheese.

Carnival Spirit and Carnival Splendor have ports of call at the most popular Alaska destinations. Depending on your sailing date, you will have the chance to see Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway. Families always have a great time sailing to Alaska on Carnival Cruise line. 

6. Holland America’s Koningsdam and Nieuw Amsterdam: 7 Nights Alaska Cruise from Vancouver

Take a cruise to Alaska with your family on Holland America’s Koningsdam and Nieuw Amsterdam cruise ships. Both of these cruise ships belong to Holland America’s fleet of newer ships. Nieuw Amsterdam was built in 2010 and refurbished in 2015 and Koningsdam was built in 2016.

Skagway Alaska Cruise Gold Rush Town

Despite the fact that Holland America’s activities and onboard programs are geared more towards adult guests, Holland America has a fantastic kids club that rivals that of other cruise lines.

The 7 nights Alaska cruises from Vancouver on Koningsdam and Nieuw Amsterdam have ports of call at the most popular Alaska destinations- Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. Cruising to Alaska on Holland America will undoubtedly be a memorable experience for families.

How to Decide Which Alaska Cruise is Best for Your Family Vacation

I’ve taken over 20 cruises with various cruise lines. All cruise lines, in my experience, offer similar experiences for families- they all have a kids club, a kids menu and kid-friendly activities. The price, date, ports of call, and newness of the ship will determine which cruise is best for your family vacation to Alaska.

The Alaska cruises listed above all have similar inside passage ports of call. The date, price, and newness of the ship will determine which cruise ship you choose for your family vacation.

I’ve listed below the Alaska cruise ships and the year they were built.

  • Discovery Princess was built in 2021
  • Norwegian Encore was built in 2019
  • Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas was built in 2016
  • Holland America’s Koningsdam was built in 2016
  • Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam was built in 2010 and refurbished in 2015
  • Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas was built in 2014
  • Carnival Splendor was built in 2008
  • Carnival Spirit was built in 2001
  • Disney Wonder was built in 1999

The two newest ships on this Alaska cruise list are the Norwegian Encore and Discovery Princess. Disney Wonder is the oldest ship but the Disney experience makes up for being an old ship! Carnival Splendor and Carnival Spirit are older ships on this list, but Carnival typically has lower prices, which compensates for the age of the cruise ships. In terms of age, the Royal Caribbean and Holland America cruise ships are in the middle of the pack, so price and date will be deciding factors.

Remember that when deciding which Alaska cruise is best for your family vacation, you should also consider the departure port. Some of the cruises on this Alaska cruise list depart from Vancouver, while others depart from Seattle. Depending on where you live, you should calculate the cost of a plane ticket to both Vancouver and Seattle to get a more accurate picture of the total cost.

Final Thoughts on Your Alaska Cruise Vacation

No matter which Alaska cruise you choose for your family vacation, you will have the most unforgettable vacation of your life. Alaska is a breathtakingly beautiful place where you will be in awe of the glaciers, bald eagles, bears, and the stunning views. Going on an Alaska cruise will be one of the most amazing vacations you’ve ever had.

Family Vacation 101 participates in affiliate programs including Amazon Associates Program and may earn from qualifying purchases.

Related Posts

Top 5 Alaska Travel Bucket List (with video)

Top 5 Alaska Travel Bucket List (with video)

Are you planning a vacation to Alaska? Alaska is truly America’s last frontier. You will have plenty of opportunities to get up close to see…

The best cruises to Alaska from Seattle for every type of traveler

Gene Sloan

What are the best Alaska cruises out of Seattle ? It depends on what kind of traveler you are.

If you're a parent traveling with teens and tweens, you'll probably want to pick a voyage on one of the big, family activity-filled cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line that sail out of Seattle each summer.

If you're looking to get away from families with young children — maybe you're a retiree looking to travel with people your own age — you'd want to check out the itineraries operated by cruise lines that cater more to couples without kids, most notably Holland America and Princess Cruises.

For more cruise guides, news and tips, sign up for TPG's cruise newsletter .

Other cruises might be best for solo travelers or travelers on a tight budget.

Here we list our top picks for the best Alaska cruises from Seattle for six different types of travelers.

Best for families: Ovation of the Seas

best alaskan cruise lines for families

It isn't easy picking the best Alaska cruise out of Seattle for families. There are four world-class family-focused cruise ships in the market, each of which is a contender for the best for families title: Royal Caribbean 's Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas, and Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Bliss.

All four ships are loaded with all sorts of gee-whiz family attractions, from bumper car pavilions and skydiving simulators on the Royal Caribbean vessels to go-kart tracks and laser tag courses on the Norwegian ships.

Unlike the Royal Caribbean ships, the Norwegian ships also have epic waterslides on their top decks, which in theory, might put them over the top in any listing of the best cruise ships for families based in Seattle.

However, keep in mind that Alaska can be chilly, even at the height of summer, and rainy, too. For that reason, we discount the value of some of the family-friendly attractions on the Norwegian ships, which are open to the elements, and consider the Royal Caribbean ships the best of the bunch for Alaska cruises from Seattle.

Both of the Royal Caribbean ships sailing to Alaska from Seattle are loaded with attractions that are protected from the elements, including those bumper car pavilions and skydiving simulators. In fact, both Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas were specifically built to operate in areas of inclement weather.

Of the two ships, which are nearly identical and part of the relatively new Quantum class of vessels, we give the 4,180-passenger Ovation of the Seas the nod for best Alaska family cruise ship sailing from Seattle only because it's a couple of years newer. Newer is almost always better in the cruise world.

Related: The 6 types of Royal Caribbean ships, explained

A cavernous indoor activity area on each of the two Quantum-class ships called the SeaPlex is home to the aforementioned bumper cars, as well as such family-friendly activities as roller skating, basketball and even trapeze lessons. The two-level complex also has upstairs nooks for playing Xbox, ping pong and foosball. It's like one big play zone for families that will keep your kids busy for hours.

Each of the ships also offers one of the most unusual attractions you'll find at sea: A glass-enclosed capsule mounted on a mechanical arm that will take you and your family soaring into the sky for bird's-eye views. It's called the North Star ride.

All the above come in addition to many of the core Royal Caribbean attractions you'll find on most of the brand's ships, including pools, rock climbing walls, casinos, spas and Broadway-style shows, plus lots of eateries and bars.

Related: The 9 craziest attractions you'll find on a cruise ship

Of particular note, given Alaska's weather, is that one of the two main pool areas on each of these Quantum-class ships is enclosed.

Best for budget travelers: Eurodam

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Our pick for the best Alaska cruises from Seattle for budget travelers may come as a surprise to many cruise aficionados. That's because it's not the Alaska voyages from Seattle offered by the North American cruise line best known for budget sailings — Carnival Cruise Line .

Carnival does offer cruises to Alaska from Seattle regularly with two ships: Carnival Spirit and Carnival Luminosa. However, while Carnival is the low-cost leader in many cruise destinations, that's not always the case in the market for Alaska cruises from Seattle. Often, the lowest starting prices you'll find on cruises to Alaska from Seattle, on both an absolute and per-day basis, are the cruises offered by Holland America .

For the coming year, for instance, as of this guide's posting, there were lots of Holland America sailings to Alaska from Seattle available for under $750 per person for seven nights — some as low as $429 per person for seven nights.

There were very few Carnival sailings available for under $750 per person, with most Carnival sailings starting around $800 per person or more for seven nights.

We suspect the lower starting prices for Holland America ships as compared to Carnival ships on Alaska sailings out of Seattle is because Alaska cruises from Seattle are round-trip voyages. Many Holland America fans who cruise to Alaska choose a one-way voyage to or from the state that lets them add extra days for touring in Alaska at the start or end of the voyage. Such one-way voyages only are available out of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Holland America — the longtime leader in Alaska cruises, along with its sister company Princess Cruises — is particularly known for "cruisetours" to Alaska that combine a one-way cruise to or from the state with multiple days touring Alaska by motorcoach and train.

Holland America bases two ships in Seattle for cruises to Alaska: the 2,104-passenger Eurodam and 1,964-passenger Westerdam. Starting prices for both are relatively similar, but we give the nod for the best Alaska cruises from Seattle for budget travelers to Eurodam as it's a somewhat newer vessel.

Best for luxury lovers: Norwegian Encore

best alaskan cruise lines for families

No luxury-focused cruise ships sail to Alaska out of Seattle. Still, you can get a variation on a luxury cruise experience on a voyage to Alaska from Seattle on Norwegian Cruise Line 's Norwegian Encore.

Yes, the 3,998-passenger Norwegian Encore is a cruise ship that generally caters to the masses, not the luxury crowd. However, it has its own "ship-within-a-ship" luxury zone that offers a much more swanky experience for those willing to pay.

At the top front of the vessel, this private enclave, called The Haven, is home to dozens of upscale suites; a sprawling, two-deck-high pool area; a private lounge and bar; and a private restaurant. Only the deep-pocketed swells who can afford one of the suites get exclusive access to these areas.

The pool area, a true stunner, comes with comfortable padded loungers, a pool and whirlpools. Its retractable glass roof is perfect for cruises to Alaska when the weather is iffy. Guests can enjoy the deck, rain or shine.

If living large is your goal, you're not going to find anything better than this — other than with a cruise on a similar Norwegian vessel that also cruises to Alaska from Seattle. Norwegian Bliss, also based in Washington during the summer, is part of the same Norwegian Breakaway-Plus class of vessels and has a similar Haven enclave.

Related: How to turn a mass-market cruise into a luxury experience

Why did we pick Norwegian Encore over Norwegian Bliss as the ship offering the best Alaska cruises from Seattle for luxury lovers? Built a year after Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Encore offers one big improvement for the upscale crowd as compared to Norwegian Bliss.

On Norwegian Encore, there's a much bigger version of the exclusive, extra-charge Vibe Beach Club sunning area that's on Norwegian Bliss. Home to a full-service bar, cabanas and two hot tubs, the version of the Vibe Beach Club on Norwegian Encore sprawls across both sides of the ship (instead of just one side on Norwegian Bliss) and extends upward to a partial deck above. It's just $99 or more per day to get in.

It's yet one more stylish and upscale area for cruisers looking for an upgraded experience to retreat.

Note that there is one other option for upscale Alaska cruises out of Seattle: A voyage on Oceania Cruises ' 684-passenger Regatta. While Oceania isn't considered a luxury line on the level of Silversea Cruises or Seabourn Cruise Line , it has an elegant feel. That said, given the ship's age (it dates to 1998) and limited venues, we're still in the camp that favors a Haven stay on a Norwegian ship.

Best for solo travelers: Norwegian Bliss

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Bliss are also our top picks for ships operating the best Alaska cruises from Seattle for solo travelers. Between these two, it's a tossup, though we put Norwegian Bliss in the headline above since, well, we already gave Norwegian Encore a turn in the limelight with the best-for-luxury category.

Notably, both Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Encore boast large private zones for solo travelers — something you won't find on any other cruise ship sailing out of Seattle. It's a hallmark of Norwegian's newest and biggest ships.

On each of the ships, the "studio" zones, as Norwegian calls them, are made up of 82 special solo cabins and a private Studio Lounge where solos can gather for happy hours and other events. Only the studio zone on Norwegian's 2010-built Norwegian Epic is bigger.

Passengers staying in solo cabins get exclusive access to the Studio Lounge (using their keycards), meaning a maximum of 82 people will share the space.

A special zone for solo travelers is a rare concept in the cruise world, where almost all rooms for vacationers are designed for two people and sold with per-person fares that are based on two people occupying the room.

The solo cabins in the studio zones are small (measuring 100 square feet) but are superbly designed to maximize storage space (something I learned firsthand staying in one on Norwegian Epic).

Related: The best cruise lines for solo travelers

Solo passengers on Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Bliss will also find a sometimes rollicking bar scene, with plenty of counter-style seating in bars that are a great place to meet other solo travelers and friendly guests. We recommend the Sugarcane Mojito Bar on Norwegian Bliss. There, the bartender will muddle your mojitos with raspberry, guava, passion fruit or even jalapeno pepper to spice things up when you're sitting with your new solo friends.

One warning if you're considering booking one of the solo cabins: They've become so popular that they often sell out far in advance and at prices that aren't much better than booking a cabin for two.

Best for multigenerational travel: Discovery Princess

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Looking for the best Alaska cruise from Seattle if you're bringing three generations of your family along for the ride? We can think of nothing better than a voyage on one of the two Princess Cruises ships that sail out of the city, the 3,660-passenger Discovery Princess and 3,560-passenger Royal Princess.

Both ships are almost identical, but we give Discovery Princess the edge only because it's newer than Royal Princess. The two vessels were built in 2022 and 2013, respectively.

Princess has long been heralded as one of the best cruise lines for multigenerational travel, in part because its ships offer a little something for travelers of all ages.

Unlike the Royal Caribbean and Norwegian ships mentioned above, the two Princess ships sailing from Seattle don't have top decks heavily skewed to family fun. Instead, their top decks offer lots of quiet and relaxing pool and lounge areas where you can enjoy the experience of being at sea without much hustle and bustle.

That makes these ships more appealing to an older demographic that doesn't necessarily want to be on a vessel that's loaded to the gills with children's fun zones and the younger family travelers drawn to that. Notably, the average age of Princess passengers is around 57, and you'll usually see many couples on board in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

Still, unlike some lines that cater to an older crowd, Princess doesn't ignore the children's market. Both Discovery Princess and Royal Princess offer an extensive children's program that gets high marks from parents, with dedicated Discovery Channel-themed Camp Discovery areas where counselors supervise free activities daily for children ages 3 to 17.

When sailing to Alaska, these ships also offer other kid-friendly events, such as Puppies on Princess, when dog mushers and their newest sled dogs come on board for meet-and-greets (and photos!). In partnership with the Discovery Channel and Glacier Bay National Park, the line also adds such kid-friendly fun during Alaska sailings as a Junior Ranger Program, totem pole decorating and a "Deadliest Catch-"themed crab sorting challenge.

In addition, an onboard Klondike Festival brings added family entertainment, including gold nugget arts and crafts projects, a naturalist exhibition, harmonica music classes and North to Alaska dance performances.

In short, Princess provides an Alaska product specifically designed to appeal to a wide age range. It's the line you take if you want an affordable ship that'll appeal to your 70-year-old parents as much as your 12-year-old kid.

Best for retirees: Westerdam

best alaskan cruise lines for families

The best Alaska cruises out of Seattle for retirees, in our view, are the sailings offered by Holland America on both the 1,964-passenger Westerdam and 2,104-passenger Eurodam. We give Westerdam the slight edge for reasons we will explain below.

While Holland America draws some families with younger children, the passengers on its ships skew heavily toward middle-aged and older travelers, including many retirees. If you're nearing or already have hit retirement age and prefer to travel mostly with people who are at a similar stage in life as you, you'll feel right at home on a Holland America ship.

The top decks of Holland America vessels, notably, lack many of the kid-focused attractions found on the top decks of more family-focused ships operated by the likes of Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian. That often keeps families with younger kids from booking the ships.

What you will find on the top decks of both Eurodam and Westerdam are more serene sunning areas with pools and whirlpools. Depending on your travel style, that might be all you need.

Related: The best cruises for seniors who love to travel

Both Eurodam and Westerdam mostly sail seven-night trips to Alaska out of Seattle. However, for 2024, Westerdam has added an epic new 28-night Alaska itinerary out of Seattle that will include calls in remote areas that most cruise ships never visit. The new itinerary is one reason we give Westerdam the edge among ships when rating the best Alaska cruises out of Seattle for seniors.

It's the sort of itinerary that specifically appeals to retirees with the time (and money) to book such a long trip.

Westerdam is also a slightly smaller ship than Eurodam, and as a result, its demographics on any given sailing are more likely to skew toward a retired crowd. To the extent that families with younger kids book Holland America ships, they are more likely to book one of its larger vessels.

In addition to Eurodam and Rotterdam, two other good choices for retirees considering Alaska cruises out of Seattle are the two Princess ships that sail on such itineraries: Royal Princess and Discovery Princess. Like the Holland America ships, they aren't loaded with kid-focused attractions that draw families.

Bottom line

Nearly a dozen major cruise ships operate Alaska cruises out of Seattle during the summer months, giving cruisers plenty of choice.

What is the best Alaska cruise from Seattle for you? That'll depend on your personal interests and travel style because there are cruises from Seattle that appeal to everyone, including family travelers, budget travelers and retirees.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 best cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 15 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • What to pack for your first cruise

Where'd My Sanity Go

The Best Alaska Cruises for Families

Alaskan Cruises for Families

Many people love the idea of a cruise, and other people do not find them appealing. I fall into the latter category. I am not a fan of the touristy-ness of a cruise.

Even the suites are cramped, the food is just not up to par, and the ports of call are often dirty, overly crowded, and unenjoyable. But, that’s just me. I’m only going on a cruise if someone is having an event I cannot miss – big birthday, wedding, whatever – and I’m not planning one of my own accord.

However, those who love to cruise love to cruise and you cannot change their mind – and that’s great (we are all entitled to our opinions). However, cruising to Alaska is not like cruising to the Caribbean, but many people don’t realize this before booking. Alaska cruises are amazing outdoor adventures .

Alaskan Cruises for Families

No, it’s not the same. Yes, it’s beautiful. The Alaskan landscape is glorious, but this is not a beach vacation. It is, however, one cruise I’d actually recommend and even go so far as to recommended taking your kids on.

It’s such a cool experience to get to see so much of such a vast – and really inconveniently located in terms of everyday travel – state. If you’re looking to expose your kids to a bit more than the Senor Frogs and the Nassau’s of the world, try an Alaskan Cruise.

It’s one they will never forget – and we have the best cruises going to and from Alaska right here. We also have everything you need to know about Alaskan cruises and travel.

Alaskan Cruises for Families

Best for Overall Family Fun and Kid-Friendliness: Disney Cruise to Alaska

Disney cruises are the most family-friendly of all the cruise lines as they are Disney Cruises. If you haven’t been on a Disney Cruise, it’s important to understand that this is not just a cruise line for kids, though.

It’s a luxury cruise line that has options for everyone whether you have kids or you simply love Disney . Disney cruises to Alaska include all of the traditional Disney Cruise activities such as cool clubs for kids, restaurants, entertainment, and a variety of staterooms.

From small interior rooms with a low price tag to large family suites designed for the entire family, there’s something for everyone.

However, what you won’t find on any other Disney Cruise is the Pixar Pals Party. Only Alaska sailings offer kids the chance to party with Pixar. They’ll get to meet characters from their favorite Pixar movies such as Toy Story and Monsters, Inc. which is what makes an Alaska cruise that much more fun.

Sailings are seasonal and run anywhere from five to nine nights. Disney’s Alaskan Cruise season runs from May to September. Only one ship sails from the Disney line during the Alaskan season, and that is the Disney Wonder. All cruises depart from Vancouver.

Alaskan Cruises for Families

Best for Family Fun and Upscale Atmosphere: Royal Caribbean Cruise to Alaska

Royal Caribbean allows passengers to depart from three different locations when they take off on an Alaskan Cruise . You can choose from Vancouver, Seward, or Seattle. The cruise line offers round-trips and one-way cruises, as well as seven night cruises.

There are four ships specifically designed to sail to and from Alaska in the Royal Caribbean fleet. You can choose from the Quantum, Ovation, Radiance, and Brilliance of the Seas. Each of the four ships is designed specifically for cold climates, which means guests have options. You can choose from weather appropriate indoor and outdoor activities, and everything is enjoyable.

Each of the ships offers a unique itinerary for families to enjoy, but each one also offers the same fun that all Royal Caribbean ships offer when family fun is in question.

From nightly entertainment to games, fun in the pool, kids clubs, ice skating, rock climbing, and even miniature golf to ice cream and other fun restaurants, there is something for everyone.

What’s most exciting about these ships is that each one has oversized, spacious family cabins with bunk beds and large bathrooms. Families need more space than couples or singles, and the cruise line knows this. As a result, they offer more than the traditional ships.

Finally, what sets this cruise apart from the others is that babies as young as six months can go have fun in the kids club. You can take a nap, book a spa treatment, or just enjoy your time on board without the baby for a few hours. These ships are fun for the entire family.

Alaskan Cruises for Families

Best for Cruising on a Tight Budget: Carnival Cruise to Alaska

Carnival Cruise Line is the party ship of the seas. It’s inexpensive, it doesn’t offer as much luxury as other ships, and many people call them the Daytona Spring Break of cruise ships.

You’re not getting luxe accommodations or upscale offerings on a Carnival Cruise, but you’re also not paying for those things. Carnival does have a child’s program dedicated to helping everyone have a game plan for the day.

The cruise line’s children’s programs include options for kids as young as two and as old as 17. Spirit, Miracle, and Luminosa are the Carnival ships that currently take passengers to and from Alaska.

Sailings are seasonal from April until September. These ships offer water slides, swimming pools, nightly entertainment, clubs, and more.

Almost all of the ports of call that these ships cruise to are the same, too, so you’re really only choosing which ship you want to take. On a Carnival Cruise with the entire family, you will see locations such as Icy Strait Point, Victoria, Seward, Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, and Ketchikan.

Alaskan Cruises for Families

Best for Casual Family Cruising: Norwegian Cruise to Alaska

Norwegian Cruise Line is all about casual cruising. You choose when you dine, and you choose where. The idea of cruising on your own schedule is what makes this ship unique, and you have options.

There are so many things to choose from that you might not know where to start, but try starting with the kids. The Norwegian Bliss is the one ship dedicated to taking cruisers to and from Alaska, and this ship is a lot of fun.

There is a go-kart track for kids to enjoy. Additionally, there is a water park with plenty of water slides, and there is the added bonus of an open-air tag course. The Jewel, Encore, Joy, Pearl, and Sun are the other four ships that take you to and from Alaska .

If you want a slightly more intimate family vacation, try booking a cruise on the Norwegian Sun. There are not quite 1,000 staterooms aboard this ship (it’s very small compared to the Bliss’s 4,000 staterooms).

Norwegian offers cruses that last five days up to 12 days, and you can also choose to board some boats in Seattle. There are plenty of family-friendly excursions, too. You can book a zip-line day of fun, whale watching tours, and deep sea fishing while you’re on a Norwegian Cruise ship. The kids will have a great time.

Alaskan Cruises for Families

Best for a Memorable Family Cruise: Holland America Cruise to Alaska

What people love the most about Holland America Cruises is the staff. While the staff on every cruise line is there to make sure your stay is the best of the best, it’s the staff on Holland America that always seems to be the one that takes it just a bit further.

What makes this line unique for families heading to Alaska is that the staff on the Holland Cruise ships are all vastly knowledgeable about Alaska, and they can answer all of your children’s burning questions – and believe me when I tell you that I know a thing or two about the burning questions children have.

There are regular dining rooms, special dining rooms, restaurants, and casual dining included on these cruises. You also have kids’ clubs for kids of all ages, pools, fitness facilities, and spas. Nightly entertainment is a guarantee, and there are plenty of activities for the entire family. They also love karaoke on Holland America, and that’s a lot of fun for families.

Perhaps the best part about booking an Alaskan cruise through Holland America is that they offer six ships to and from the great state of Alaska. What does this mean?

This means you have more sailing to choose from than any other cruise line listed here. Each of the six ships cruising to Alaska offer special routes and experiences, which means no two Holland America Cruises to Alaska are the same. You and the kids could really book all six and not experience the same thing more than once. It’s a nice thing to know.

Alaskan Cruises for Families

What You Need to Know About Cruising To and From Alaska

There are a few helpful tips that might make your trip to Alaska a bit more enjoyable. Most of the ships sail seasonally, and that season is typically from May to September.

You want to book early or late in the season if you want to avoid the crowds both on board and at port. Another great tip on an Alaskan cruise is to get a room with a balcony. You’ll spend a great deal of your time in awe over the landscape, and this is the kind of cruise that does not really benefit you when you choose an interior cabin.

Booking closer to September allows you to see the Northern Lights because the sky is darkening after a very bright, very light summer. Remember, Alaska sees daylight almost all day long in the summer, and it sees darkness almost all day long in the winter.

Additionally, packing is something you won’t be able to nail down perfectly, so be sure you’re packing for all kinds of weather. It might be beautiful one day and frigid the next. If you’re from the south or another warm climate, just assume you’ll be cold all the time.

Alaskan Cruises for Families

Do You Need a Passport to Cruise to Alaska & Are There COVID Requirements for Alaskan Cruises?

Your cruise might require a passport for the entire family depending on where your ship embarks, debarks, and where you stop. If you stop for any reason in Canada, whether it’s to get on board the ship or get off of it or just for a few hours to tour, you will need a passport.

Otherwise, you will not. Familiarize yourself with your cruise and the requirements before you book – and be sure you apply for passports early if you don’t already have them.

Every cruise line is different, so it’s imperative that you check with your cruise line prior to booking to see which requirements they have in place . For example, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines no longer requires their guests are vaccinated against COVID-19 before booking unless they are sailing to specific places such as Australia.

However, some excursions might require a vaccination, and many cruises will require you to take a COVID-19 test within three days of boarding your ship. The

Be sure you are familiar with the rules, because even one ship’s main rules might be different in different areas. For example, Carnival Cruise Lines no longer requires guests to have a vaccination, and 5-day or shorter cruise passengers don’t need to take a COVID-19 test unless one of the ports they are traveling to requires the test.

There are so many fine lines and details, and you need to be aware of what your specific cruise requires. We cannot answer this question in its entirety for you without knowing your specific cruise destination, dates, and times.

Additional Resources for Family Fun

  • Disney traveling hacks
  • Parenting hacks that work
  • Car activities for kids
  • 20 Awesome Dysfunctional Family Movies
  • 20 Awesome Outdoor Family Activities


Tiffany Raiford is a lifelong Floridian, wife to my high school sweetheart and mother of four littles (two girls and boy/girl twins...no, they are not identical and yes, I'm sure). My kids love to whine, so I love to wine. My loves include nap time, bed time, date night, travel and evenings and weekends when my husband is home because he handles all diaper changes.

Similar Posts

20 Holiday Traditions that Won’t Break the Bank

20 Holiday Traditions that Won’t Break the Bank

Do you decorate for Christmas before or after Thanksgiving? And do people really wait until just a few days before Christmas to put up their trees and decorate? I see it all the time in…

Crafting Your Ideal Lifestyle: A Roadmap to Personal Fulfillment

Crafting Your Ideal Lifestyle: A Roadmap to Personal Fulfillment

Crafting your ideal lifestyle is an adventurous journey toward personal fulfillment, a mosaic of choices and habits that define your days and, ultimately, your life. In this roadmap, we explore the avenues that lead to…

Sleek and Professional: How to Style Long Sleeve Dresses for the Office

Sleek and Professional: How to Style Long Sleeve Dresses for the Office

Are you tired of the same old office attire? Do you feel like your wardrobe is lacking creativity and style? Look no further! In today’s blog post, we’re here to show you how to take…

20 Things To Do in Houston With Kids

20 Things To Do in Houston With Kids

Houston, we have a problem. The kids are coming to town and we don’t know how to keep them happy. The good news about a stop in Houston is that there is plenty you can…

Why Every Mom Should Start A Journal {And the Important Benefits It Has}

Why Every Mom Should Start A Journal {And the Important Benefits It Has}

Do you have a journal? If not, you should start a journal. Since I was young, I’ve always enjoyed keeping a diary, journal, whatever you want to call it. I would write in it nearly…

Family Game Night: Bringing Joy and Laughter to Every Gathering

Family Game Night: Bringing Joy and Laughter to Every Gathering

In the midst of our hectic lives, finding time to unwind and connect with loved ones is more important than ever. Family gatherings offer the perfect opportunity to strengthen bonds, create memories, and simply enjoy…


7 Tips To Plan The Best Alaskan Cruise For Families

Best Alaskan Cruise For Families

It’s never too early to develop a lifelong passion for adventure! There’s something magical about bringing your entire family along to the land of northern lights, midnight sun, dog sledding, glaciers, national parks, epic fishing, and vast wilderness. That’s why you’re looking for Alaskan cruises and excursions that are perfect for younger children.

Nothing matches a family cruise to Alaska when it comes to making memories, bonding, connecting with nature, and seeing once-in-a-lifetime sights! Of course, the best Alaskan cruise for families should combine adventure with luxury touches. Popular cruise lines known for offering the best Alaska cruises include:

A tour we think you'll love

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Princess Cruises

Holland America Line

Carnival Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line

Celebrity Cruises

Royal Caribean

  • and many more

Of course, planning an amazing family cruise isn’t about which cruise line you choose to sail with! It’s all about the family-friendly shore excursions you book once you dock. When you come to the Last Frontier, glacier viewing, whale spotting, and visits to iconic national parks are all on the table.

Feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to where to start with planning your great Alaskan adventure? Don’t start building your itinerary until you check out this list of tips for the best Alaska cruise with family!

1) Choose A Cruise Ship That Docks At Icy Strait Point

While cruise lines dock at many different port cities, the truth is that many cruise ships actually end up at tourist areas that don’t showcase the “real” Alaska. That means that you’ll need to take an excursion away from town just to enjoy some breathtaking views and experiences. One exception is Icy Point Strait.

Located near the village of Hoonah, Alaska, Icy Strait Point is considered one of Alaska’s best spots for wildlife viewing and fishing. Hoonah is famed for being Alaska’s largest Tlingit village. While Hoonah’s year-round population is just 800 residents, it’s not uncommon for the village to receive more than 10,000 visitors in a single day during cruise season. Highlights include:

The warehouse shops are located just a few steps from the dock on Cannery Road but tend to have much higher prices than the shops in downtown Hoonah

Icy Strait Brewing

The Yaakw Kahidi Cultural Center

Birding tours

Kayak tours

Chichagof Island ATV tours

Hoonah and the Icy Strait offer a uniquely lush environment that has been preserved to allow the abundant local wildlife to run wild! As a result, this is one of the easiest places to spot various animals and mammals in the woods and waters that surround you during your visit.

A Cruise Ship That Docks At Icy Strait Point

2) Plan A Shore Excursion With Some Scenic Cruising

Getting off your ship to hop on a locally owned boat can be the best way to make a family cruise feel like a custom adventure. Countless families have planned once-in-lifetime experiences with help from Hoonah Travel Adventures . Our expert guides offer guests the opportunity to get a firsthand look at the local wildlife.

Our shore excursions bring you to some of the best spots in Alaska for bear watching, whale watching, fishing, birding, and more. Every single trip we offer is planned with the needs of cruise passengers in mind.

From picking you up at a convenient spot to ensuring you’re back at your ship to board in time, our crew will work hard to make sure your day goes off without a hitch! Our popular excursions include:

Guaranteed Whale Watching

Wilderness Tour and Brown Bear Search

Icy Strait Fishing Adventure

Icy strait kayak adventure.

Chichagof Island Birding and Nature Adventure

Tours with us bring you to places in the Alexander Archipelago where brown bears vastly outnumber people! All of our round-trip adventures last three hours. If you’re planning a day of family fun, you’ll be happy to know that all of our top-notch vessels have bathrooms.

Go adventuring with the company that caters to passengers docking with Alaska Cruises. Book a day you’ll never forget with Hoonah Travel Adventures!

A Shore Excursion With Icy Strait Whales

3) Discover The Best Family Friendly Activities At Denali National Park

Planning the perfect trip for young visitors when going to a national park isn’t always easy. You need to think about ways to balance a desire for adventure with age-appropriate activities. Here’s a look at some spots in Denali where kids can have fun:

Denali Visitor Center: As the main visitor center of the park, this spot offers tours, talks, and opportunities to learn about what’s going on during your visit.

Murie Science & Learning Center: Offers exhibits and activities for kids.

Riley Creek Mercantile: Offers snacks, ice cream, showers, bathrooms, and areas for sitting.

Winter Visitor Center: Visitors can stop in to get information on the night’s aurora forecast.

Sled Dog Kennels at Park Headquarters: Families can meet fluffy, friendly rangers! While there’s no guarantee that the dogs won’t be out on an important mission, visitors can always take a look around the dog yard!

Spruce Tree Trail: This 0.5-mile, 15-minute round-trip loop is wide and flat enough for toddlers to enjoy! Expect to see squirrels, spruce cones, wild blueberries, and wildflowers. Other kid-friendly trails in Denali include Horseshoe Lake Trail, McKinley Station Trail, and Mount Healy Overlook Trail.

Family Vacation At Denali National Park

4) See Puffins At Kenai Fjords National Park

Just wait until you tell your kids that you’re taking them to one of the puffin capitals of Alaska! With more than 50% of its land covered by ice, Kenai Fjords National Park is a favorite spot of coastal birds. In fact, this is a popular spot for cruising among people coming to the state specifically for bird watching.

Both tufted and horned puffins arrive each spring for the breeding season. They can be seen congregating in coastal colonies throughout the spring and summer.

Puffins At Kenai Fjords National Park

5) Explore The Beach At Low Tide At Glacier Bay National Park

Glacier Bay National Park covers 3.3 million acres of glaciers, mountains, rainforests, and fjords. However, it’s the wild coastlines that attract many visitors. With views that can give you beach meadows buffered by waves that carry humpback whales, these beaches are unlike any other beaches on the planet!

For families, the beach near the docks at Bartlett Cove is the best choice because this is the most developed area of Glacier Bay. In addition to being the “headquarters” of Glacier Bay, Bartlett Cove is a protected bay that offers a public dock that is used by countless boaters and kayakers in the summer months. The Glacier Bay Visitor Center offers displays and tourism information. This is also where you can get permitting information for a boat or campsite.

Experience Kayaking At Glacier Bay National Park

6) Take Advantage Of Alaska Cruises With Kids Programs

Many cruise lines offer kids programs that allow the youngsters on the cruise ship to get together for some fun. While you may love the idea of a family vacation, the truth is that many people who book Alaska cruises are looking for some wild adventures that may not be safe for children.

Having kid-friendly activities or childcare available on the ship can allow you to enjoy more strenuous excursions during your Alaska cruise. Experience a variety of family-friendly activities:

Alaska State Fair

Whale-watching tours

Glacier cruises

Fishing charters

Anchorage Museum

Alaska Sealife Center

Alaska Cruises With Kids Programs

7) Make A Family Scavenger Hunt

You can easily turn your Alaska cruise into a learning experience for your kids by creating a scavenger hunt for your trip! This trip will ensure that your kids stay alert as you travel over water, through forests, and around glaciers.

Experience the thrill of a scavenger hunt as you search for items, compete for the top spot on the leaderboard, and most importantly, create lasting memories of fun and laughter with your loved ones.

Alaskan Cruise Family Scavenger Hunt

Plan The Best Alaska Cruise With Family

It doesn’t matter if you’re getting to Alaska with Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, or any other popular cruise line. Everyone knows that the best Alaska cruises are all about what happens once you dock.

Regardless of which cruise line you arrive with, Hoonah Travel Adventures is ready to bring you on an unforgettable shore excursion in Hoonah, Alaska! We make connecting to the Alaskan wilderness easier than ever.

In addition to offering convenient bookings and transportation options, we take off just a short distance from where cruise ships dock in Icy Strait Point. Secure your reservation with us today!

Guaranteed Whale Watching in the Icy Strait Point, Alaska Area - LEO, Military, Teacher Discount!

Our Hoonah whale watching tour begins when we pick you up at the Icy Strait Point Excursions Hub. We drive along Shaman Point to the Hoonah City Harbor where our charter boat is waiting. Along the way, you may spot some of our local wildlife, including bald eagles, blacktail deer, and more. Hoonah is home to the largest concentration of Alaskan brown bears in the world, so keep your eyes open!

We then board the boat and leave Hoonah Harbor. While traveling along the shorelines, sightings of bears, deer, coastal ducks and geese, blue heron, puffin, terns, cormorants, and more are common. In the water, you may get a chance to spot humpbacks, orca, sea otters, sea lions, porpoises, and seals.

Large numbers of humpback whales come to Hoonah to feed in the nutrient-rich waters of Point Adolphus, Glacier Bay and Icy Strait every summer before migrating south again in the winter. The whale population begins to arrive in Hoonah in May and stays through September. Humpback whales are large baleen whales that can reach over 50 feet in length and weigh as much as 50 tons. They are most famous for their whale songs, thought to be used by males as a mating call. Humpbacks are amazingly active and typical whale sightings include diving, blows, and flukes (tails). Lucky whale watchers may get to see breaching or bubble-net feeding, a cooperative feeding method where a pod forms a circle and dives under the water. They blow air to create a wall of bubbles that force krill and plankton to the surface where the whales can eat them. Observing humpbacks practice bubble-net feeding is a real treat and a truly thrilling experience. We have a $100 whale sighting guarantee! If a whale is not sighted on your tour your will be credited $100.


Wilderness Tour and Brown Bear Search - LEO, Military, Teacher Discount!

Chichagof Island, or Shee Kaax, is an island in the Alexander Archipelago of the Alaska Panhandle. At 75 miles long and 50 miles wide, it has a land area of 2,048.61 square miles, making it the fifth largest island in the United States. Chichagof Island has the highest population of bears per square mile of any place on Earth and its dense rain forests are some of the last grizzly strongholds!

The community of Hoonah, with a year-round population of approximately 750, is located in the northern part of Chichagof Island. The vast majority of the island is made up of pure, uninhabited Alaskan wilderness teeming with wildlife! The Ursus arctos, or brown bear, is the king of the forest, but Sitka black-tail deer, bald eagles, minks, martens, beavers, ducks, and seabirds thrive on the island and are sometimes spotted on this tour.

This Alaskan wilderness and bear search tour is only offered May through September because those are the months that afford the highest probability of bear sightings. In late April and May, the bears are coming out of hibernation and looking for food. In June, the bears are mating and eating grasses on the tidal flats. Older males fight each other for dominance and mating rights with the females, who at times are not receptive and force the male to give chase.

In July, the salmon start their migration from the ocean up the rivers and we find the bears feeding in coastal rivers and streams. In August and September, the salmon have made it further up the rivers to shallow streams where the bears chase them.

Depending on the month and the weather, the wildlife can be found in different locations throughout the island. Your guide spends a lot of time in the forest and knows where to look.

Join us as we search for these amazing creatures!

This tour is located on the Tongass National Forest under special use permit from the Forest Service, USDA. Hoonah Travel Adventures LLC is an equal opportunity provider.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Fishermen come from around the world to cast their lines in the waters of Southeast Alaska in search of halibut and salmon. Join the ranks of these traveling fisherman and book a trip with us today!

best alaskan cruise lines for families

The reasons to Kayak with us are endless! A few reasons might be to experience unspoiled nature and stunning scenery amid a mountainous back drop! Or simply the serenity and peace that speaks to ones soul while gliding silently across the water in this majestic, remote location.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Chichagof Island Birding & Nature Adventure

In the lush vegetation of Chichagof Island, near Hoonah, Alaska, where Brown Bears outnumber humans, birding is an adventure! Your expert bird guide is also a naturalist, and you will learn about the natural and human history of the area, the plants, animals, fish, forests, and rivers. Pigeon Guillemots, Bald Eagles, Varied Thrushes, Steller’s Jays, Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Red-breasted Sapsuckers are some of the favorites, but this is so much more than just another birding tour. Come experience the vibrant ecological web created here, in Hoonah, Alaska, near Icy Strait Point where the towering temperate forests of Chichagof Island tangle with the rich marine life of Icy Strait.

best alaskan cruise lines for families

The best Alaska cruises for every type of traveler

MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from card issuers.

Even with a season that only runs from April through October, there are some 40 big ships and dozens of small ships cruising Alaska , making it one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world after the Caribbean and Europe. The best Alaska cruises range from off-the-beaten-path voyages on vessels carrying fewer than 100 passengers to weeklong jaunts through the Inside Passage aboard megaships that hold thousands.

The itinerary choices are numerous in Alaska. Some ships stick to tried-and-true ports, sailing through Southeast Alaska and into western Canada. Others wander deeper along the Alaska coastline to places such as the Kenai Peninsula, north to Nome and Barrow and even deep into the Bering Sea.

Some trips hit multiple national parks; others dive into Alaska culture, allowing guests to learn the stories told by totem poles or hear about “the big one” from a fisherman at a dive bar.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter .

It can be hard to figure out which ship will deliver your idea of a “bucket list” experience in The Last Frontier. A lot comes down to your travel style, preferences and budget. Some travelers demand luxury, while others don’t mind going less fancy if it means close encounters with bears and other creatures in the wilderness. Some look for romance, while others want to introduce the kids or grandkids to glaciers and eagles, gold panning and sled dogs.

The good news is there’s a ship in Alaska for you no matter your taste or style. Here’s a beginner’s guide to the best Alaska cruises to help you narrow down your choices.

Best for megaresort fans

Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean both sail some of their largest ships in Alaska. They are floating megaresorts, carrying thousands, and are big on amenities, glitz and a certain amount of glamor — think flashy casinos, Broadway shows, lavish spas. Dining and drinking venues number in the dozens, while amusement park features thrill the kids and adrenaline-seekers.

Norwegian Encore

On Norwegian Encore, you can race along a go-kart racetrack, compete in outdoor laser tag and zoom down slides at the water park while you traverse Alaska’s Inside Passage. The ship sails seven-night cruises from Seattle, visiting Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan in Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia, and Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve .

Related: A beginner’s guide to picking a cruise line

Ovation of the Seas

On Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class ships, you can order a drink from a robotic bartender, try simulated skydiving or surfing experiences and take a ride in a glass capsule that travels high above your ship on a mechanical arm — a weird and wonderful way to see the Alaska scenery.

Ovation of the Seas sails round-trip from Seattle on seven-night cruises, but the exact itinerary varies by week. The ship cruises Endicott Arm for scenic views of Dawes Glacier and typically visits three Alaska ports and Victoria.

Best for land and sea adventures

You’ve traveled far to get to Alaska, and it would be a shame to miss inland sights such as Denali National Park and Preserve and the sight of Denali, North America’s largest peak — so big it’s often shrouded in clouds caused by its own weather system.

Market leaders Holland America Line and Princess Cruises both send a half-dozen ships to Alaska each year, and they have 75 and 55 years in the market, respectively.

They top the list in terms of cruises, as well as cruise tours, which combine time sailing with overnight stays on land. The companies operate their own lodges, rail cars and motorcoaches for exploration of Alaska’s interior and beyond. Many of the ships have permission to sail in Glacier Bay.

Related: The coolest things to do on an Alaska cruise

Choose from 10- to 17-night land tours that combine a standard weeklong cruise (sometimes half a cruise) with time spent exploring Alaska’s interior by bus, train or even plane.

Holland America will base six ships in Alaska in 2024, with tour offerings to Denali, Fairbanks and Anchorage.

However, it also offers nine- to 14-night cruise tours on Koningsdam that head into the Canadian Yukon, following the route of the Klondike Gold Rush from Alaska to northwestern Canada. Disembark your cruise ship in Skagway, then travel to Whitehorse and Dawson City in the Yukon before continuing on to Fairbanks (the gateway to Arctic Alaska), Denali National Park and Anchorage.

Sapphire Princess

Princess Cruises offers a cruise tour where you visit four national parks: Glacier Bay, Denali, the Kenai Fjords and America’s largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias. The 15- and 17-night trips combine a seven-night cruise on Sapphire Princess from Vancouver to Whittier, Alaska, with another week or more on land, ending in Fairbanks or Anchorage.

Best for travelers on a budget

Older ships in Norwegian and Royal Caribbean’s fleets tend to offer more reduced prices than you’ll find on the lines’ larger and newer ships, based on the fact the older ships don’t have as many bells and whistles.

Since they have so many ships in the market, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises also tend to offer frequent sales — especially on their older tonnage. These ships have a loyal following and tend to have fewer families on board, which some couples find particularly appealing.

Related: Best time to cruise Alaska

If you’re looking for other surefire ways to save, consider sailings in the area’s shoulder season. You’ll find better deals from April to early June and in September than you will in the height of summer.

Also, in Alaska, balcony cabins are highly desirable, with everyone seeking views of the wilderness, snow-capped peaks and glaciers. As those reserves get low, the prices tend to get higher. Bargain seekers should either book early for these accommodations or choose inside, outside or guarantee cabins (where you don’t pick your room location) to save more.

Radiance of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s 20-year-old ship Radiance of the Seas mainly sails weeklong, one-way cruises between Vancouver and Seward, Alaska, with prices below $100 per person, per night, for inside and outside cabins on many departures.

However, its early-season May 2024 sailing from Seward to Vancouver is the cheapest Royal Caribbean Alaska cruise of the season. It starts at $368 per person for an inside cabin.

Grand Princess and Sapphire Princess

Princess Cruises has so many ships based in Alaska that you’re bound to find deals, especially on shoulder-season cruises. Both Grand and Sapphire Princess offer weeklong Alaska cruises in May 2024 starting from $548 per person for inside cabins. The itinerary starts in Vancouver and ends in Whittier, Alaska, with calls in Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway and scenic cruising in Glacier Bay and College Fjord.

Best for off-the-beaten-path travel

Want to see and deeply experience coastal Alaska, and don’t mind a mellower environment where lectures and impromptu guitar singalongs replace casinos and show productions? Consider lines such as UnCruise Adventures , Lindblad Expeditions and Alaskan Dream Cruises, all with ships that carry fewer than 100 passengers (and in the case of Alaskan Dream, even under 20 passengers).

On these small ships, captains have the flexibility to alter itineraries and linger if the naturalist onboard spots a pod of whales or bears digging for clams on a beach.

Small ships can go places bigger ships can’t, so itineraries stretch far beyond the traditional ports. You’ll visit more remote places such as Petersburg, a fishing town with strong Norwegian roots, and Wrangell, one of Alaska’s oldest communities. Some itineraries are conducted entirely in the wild, with no port calls at all.

UnCruise Adventures

UnCruise Adventures explores Southeast Alaska on seven-, 12- and 14-night itineraries. A day might start with a morning birding expedition, continue with a kayaking adventure and end with an evening campfire ashore. You might visit LeConte and Baird Glaciers (where the big ships don’t go), plus UnCruise has the only permits for hiking and biking adventures on Chichagof Island.

Lindblad Expeditions

Lindblad Expeditions frequents off-the-beaten-path destinations in both Alaska and British Columbia, with itineraries ranging from six to 15 nights.

Guests might explore the small fishing town of Petersburg or discover native petroglyphs on the beaches of Wrangell Island in Alaska, or search for grizzly bears in Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest. Lindblad has special permits to bring passengers into the wilderness of Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and the Tongass National Forest, beyond what the big ships can offer.

Alaskan Dream Cruises

Alaskan-owned Alaskan Dream Cruises’ ships carry 12 to 76 passengers to remote Native villages that rarely see visitors, with plenty of time for wildlife viewing far from the cruise ship crowds. Itineraries range from five to nine nights, from departure ports such as Sitka, Ketchikan and Juneau.

Best for families

If you’re traveling with your kids or grandkids in Alaska and want an activity- and entertainment-packed experience, target the newest and biggest ships of Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival and especially Disney Cruise Line. All have excellent camp-like activity programs for kids, plus eye-popping amusement attractions.

Disney Wonder

On Disney ships, Goofy might make an appearance as you admire soaring eagles, blue icebergs and glaciers. The extensive children’s program, entertainment and such activities as water slides and play areas deliver what you would expect from the purveyor of dreams. Bonus: Cabins are designed with families in mind and include split bathrooms (one with a toilet and sink, the other with a shower/tub combo and sink).

Related: 5 best cruise lines for families

Discovery Princess

While lacking in whiz-bang attractions, Princess Cruises is another good choice, both for its children’s and teens program, complete with spacious facilities, and for such programming as bringing sled dogs on board, which is a hit with young passengers. The line’s newest ship, Discovery Princess, sails round trip from Seattle, a convenient U.S. home port for families to fly or drive to.

Carnival Spirit

Water slides, a partnership with Dr. Seuss and three hangouts for kids and teens make Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Spirit a great bet for families in Alaska.

The ship’s huge array of included quick eats — pizza, tacos, Guy Fieri’s burgers and unlimited soft serve ice cream — and casual atmosphere take the stress out of dining with the family. The ship sails round trip from Seattle on seven-night itineraries that call in Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan and Victoria, with scenic cruising in Tracy Arm Fjord.

Best for luxury lovers

If you envision sipping Champagne as you watch a glacier thunderously calve into the sea, consider booking one of the all-inclusive luxury cruise lines in Alaska: Seabourn , Regent Seven Seas Cruises or Silversea .

All these lines include ships that are experts at delivering gourmet cuisine and the other finer things in life in intimate, cushy floating environments. Additionally, all the lines are big on featuring lectures by experts, which provides passengers with a deeper insight into Alaska.

Itineraries tend to include the popular ports and beyond. You might, for instance, visit Wrangell and Prince Rupert, a port city in Canada, and linger in places such as the Misty Fjords and Prince William Sound. Seven- to 14-night sailings embark from ports such as Vancouver, Seward and Juneau.

Seven Seas Explorer

Regent’s 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer is an all-suite ship offering guests in Alaska multiple gourmet onboard restaurants, all-inclusive beverages, free airfare and included gratuities. Many shore excursions are complimentary. Enjoy little luxuries, like an afternoon in the thermal suite of the two-story spa-and-fitness center, or really splurge out by booking the Regent Suite, the most lavish suite you’ll find at sea.

Seabourn Odyssey

The 450-passenger Seabourn Odyssey boasts an onboard expedition team and does a posh version of expedition cruising in Alaska, using inflatable Zodiac craft and kayaks.

Seabourn calls its program Ventures by Seabourn. Experts onboard these sailings include naturalists, biologists and other scientists who are members of the expedition team. Once guests finish communing with nature, they can indulge in complimentary Champagne and caviar on board or relish a meal created by famed chef, Thomas Keller.

Related: The 4 best luxury cruise lines for elegance and exclusivity

Best for solo travelers

Solo travelers don’t always have to pay double to cruise Alaska on their own. Several ships feature cabins designed and priced for one. Single cruisers should also note that luxury lines Silversea and Seabourn, while not cheap, do a great job of taking care of single cruisers, hosting them at dinner and providing easy opportunities to meet and mingle with other travelers.

Norwegian Bliss

The ships in Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway and Getaway classes all have cozy studio cabins designed and priced for one person. Additionally, they’re located in a complex where a private lounge encourages mingling. Norwegian Bliss offers 82 solo rooms on its round-trip Seattle cruises that visit Dawes Glacier, Sitka and Icy Strait Point.

Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s studio staterooms, on its Quantum-class ships in Alaska, give solo travelers the benefits of both decent space and balconies.

On Quantum of the Seas, choose a 101-square-foot inside cabin or a 119-square-foot ocean-view room with a 55-square-foot balcony. Either way, you get a full-size bed and plenty of space for one person. The ship sails a similar weeklong itinerary to sister ship Ovation of the Seas, round-trip from Seattle with scenic sailing along Endicott Arm.

Holland America offers ocean-view accommodations for one in Alaska only on Koningsdam. Measuring 127 to 172 square feet, these rooms come with a full-size bed and a picture window.

Koningsdam sails round trip from Vancouver to Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, with scenic cruising in Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay. Its cruises can be combined into nine- to 14-night cruise tours to the Yukon and Denali.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A beginners guide to picking a cruise line
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 12 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • The ultimate guide to what to pack for a cruise

Additional reporting by Erica Silverstein.

SPONSORED:  With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

The best Alaska cruises for every type of traveler

This is the announcement bar for Poornima to test the Close Button.  It will expire May 31 2024.

  • Pre-Cruise FAQ
  • Onboard FAQ
  • Post-Cruise FAQ
  • Cruisetours FAQ
  • Special Offers Sign Up
  • Cruise Deals

You have been logged out

Your window will update in 5 secs

Princess Cruises Launches Cruise Industry’s Best Price Guarantee on 2025 & 2026 Cruises

The line’s new “better than best price guarantee" lets smart shoppers book early with absolute confidence.

By downloading this image you agree to the Princess asset use terms and conditions

FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (June 27, 2024) – Smart shoppers looking for the very best price on their 2025 or 2026 cruise vacation will appreciate the new “Better than Best Price Guarantee” from Princess Cruises. From July 1-September 2, 2024, guests can book their dream Princess vacation with the added confidence of knowing they are securing the absolute best price available.

With the “Better than Best Price Guarantee” guests are assured that if they find a better price for the same Princess cruise, stateroom category, and sail date at any time before their final payment, Princess will honor the lower rate and provide 120% of the difference in the form of an onboard credit.

“Our new guarantee underscores the Princess commitment to offering unparalleled value and exceptional service to guests…value that is unmatched by land-based vacations,” said Terry Thornton, Princess Cruises chief commercial officer. “With our booking volume for 2025 voyages already nearly 30% higher than it has ever been at this point in the typical booking cycle, securing your spot early has never been more important and this offer not only guarantees the best rates, but also ensures guests can choose their preferred dates and destinations. This way, guests can enjoy the best selection of Princess worldwide destinations and accommodations, knowing they have the best rate available for their cruise.”

How it Works

If a guest who books a cruise between July 1 and September 2, 2024, for any 2025 or 2026 departure, finds an active, publicly available lower price for the identical verified booking on princess.com prior to the final payment of the cruise, guests can submit a Guarantee Claim Form and Princess will give the guest an onboard credit (OBC) with a value of 120% of the difference between what the guest actually paid for the original booking and the located fare (or other mutually agreed makegood). Full terms and conditions can be found here:  https://www.princess.com/en-us/plan/best-price-guarantee/terms-and-conditions .

All 16 ships in the Princess fleet offer well-appointed staterooms, world class dining, grand performances, award-winning casinos and entertainment, luxurious spas, imaginative experiences and boundless activities.

No matter the cruise, Princess delivers a premium vacation with the line’s award-winning, signature Princess MedallionClass experience which offers unparalleled service and personalization. Guests booking can take advantage of inclusive packages like Princess Plus and Princess Premier which add popular amenities like WiFi, beverages, desserts, fitness classes, crew appreciation and more at an even greater savings of up 65% when the inclusive package amenities are purchased separately. 

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel advisor, by calling 1-800-Princess (1-800-774-6237) or by visiting www.princess.com .

Media Contacts

Contact information for members of the media

Negin Kamali, +1 661-753-1539, [email protected]

Briana Latter, +1 661-753-1538, [email protected]

About Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises is The Love Boat, the world’s most iconic cruise brand that delivers dream vacations to millions of guests every year in the most sought-after destinations on the largest ships that offer elite service personalization and simplicity customary of small, yacht-class ships. Well-appointed staterooms, world class dining, grand performances, award-winning casinos and entertainment, luxurious spas, imaginative experiences and boundless activities blend with exclusive Princess MedallionClass service to create meaningful connections and unforgettable moments in the most incredible settings in the world - the Caribbean, Alaska, Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera, Europe, South America, Australia/New Zealand, the South Pacific, Hawaii, Asia, Canada/New England, Antarctica, and World Cruises. The company is part of Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE:CCL; NYSE:CUK).

Additional media information is available at princess.com/news

Not a member of the media? 

Contact us at: 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237) or 1-661-753-0000

More contact information is available on our Contact Us page

  • Skip to primary navigation
  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to primary sidebar
  • Skip to footer


Our mission is to serve the 50+ traveler who's ready to cross a few items off their bucket list.

Best Cruise Lines for Adults for 2024

best alaskan cruise lines for families

  • Cruises and Sailing

Going on a cruise is one of the best ways to travel because you have everything you need at your fingertips. With a cruise, you’re surrounded by restaurants, amenities, and a staff to cater to your every need. Plus, the ship acts as your transportation to deliver you to the next destination — and you don’t have to do any of the work! In short, cruising is vacationing done easy.

When you choose cruise lines for adults , you can rest assured that vacation is tailored to a mature audience, whether that means more exciting nightlife, no need for childcare, or fewer kids at the pool. Or maybe it just means you don’t have to bring your kids along! While not every cruise line we’ve outlined here is truly child-free, they’re all geared toward the mature crowd. Ahead, find out the best cruise lines for adults and then check out the best cruise lines in the world (and don’t forget to pack accordingly !).

How We Chose the Best Cruise Lines for Adults

We looked at several factors when considering the best cruise lines for adults, including reviews from customers and other travel professionals, amenities on board the ships, the price of the vacation, and everything else the brands have to offer. We weighed each of these against each other to determine the best cruise lines, and while not every one of them is for adults only, each of them caters to an older demographic.

Our Picks for the Best Cruise Lines for Adults

  • Best for Overall: Viking Cruises

Best for Couples: Virgin Voyages

  • Best Excursions: Azamara
  • Best for Relaxation: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best Budget Option: Celebrity Cruises

Best overall: viking cruises.

Person holding white ceramic mugg while facing the back of a cruise ship

About Viking Cruises

Viking Cruises has a lot to offer passengers — with sailings on rivers and oceans and even expeditions to far-flung locations. Viking Cruises sails all seven continents, with trips starting at seven nights and lasting up to 180. The company focuses on the destination but doesn’t skimp on the journey to get there, and customers will find plenty to do ( and eat !) on board the ships while traveling to the destinations. Cruises start at $1,999 and reach upwards of $80,000 for the 180-day Viking World Voyage. Viking Cruises has some of the pricier cruises, but the experiences on offer will make the price worth it.

Why We Like It

Viking Cruises offer some of the most unique experiences — from a submarine excursion to a romantic trip down the Danube. It’s a well-rounded cruise line that sails both rivers and oceans all over the world and offers experiences unlike what you’ll find on any other cruise line. This company truly focuses on enrichment and opening passengers’ eyes to new experiences. Plus, your cruise fare on an ocean cruise covers an excursion in each port — because Viking wants passengers to get out and explore the destinations. This cruise line is for adventurers who have time (and money) and who want to learn about the world.

Scarlet lady Virgin Voyages Cruise Ship

About Virgin Voyages

Virgin Voyages are totally child-free on its three ships, with another coming in 2025. The relatively new cruise line, which first launched in 2021, sails around the Caribbean, Europe, and North America. Passengers can find great deals on board Virgin Voyages, with prices starting as low as $800 per cabin for a three-night European cruise. Sailings range from just a few nights to over two weeks, so you’ll find a little bit of everything.

When you’re looking to escape the kids at home — or just kids in general — and have a getaway with your partner, do it with Virgin Voyages. The cruise line is adults only and is all about having fun. With this cruise line, you’ll find plenty of things to do with your partner, whether it’s enjoying an evening show, taking a trip to the spa, lounging by the pool, enjoying dinner in one of the many restaurants, or dancing the night away in the club on board. Once you set sail on one of Virgin Voyages’ cruises, there’s a good chance you’ll come back again and again

Best for Excursions: Azamara

Woman on a boat watching the sea

About Azamara

Azamara has four small cruise ships and specializes in world travel. Though this cruise line offers your typical shorter cruises, it also offers the World Voyage each year, which lasts for 155 nights and travels to 37 countries. While that unique trip starts at $88,000 for an interior stateroom, a regular cruise can cost as low as $1,100 per person (for a double occupancy room). Azamara also isn’t specifically adults-only, but is a luxury cruise line that caters to the older crowd (and has a smaller capacity), so it has a bit of a slower pace and high-end feel while on board.

The Azamara cruise line can truly take you nearly anywhere in the world and bring you to once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Whether you’re sailing around Africa, South America, Europe, or Asia, you can try any number of activities while on your trip. Sailings range anywhere from five days to over 100 days, and while vacations (and the excursions) can run a steep price tag, the ships are luxurious and small and are taking passengers to some places that they may never have otherwise traveled to. If you’re looking for a well-rounded trip that has a little bit of everything all in one go, this cruise has it.

Best for Relaxation: Regent Seven Seas Cruises 

White Regent Cruise Ship

About Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has six luxurious ships to choose from, and no detail was missed when building them. Beautifully decorated, each ship will have you feeling like a million bucks from the moment you step on board. Cruises go all over the world, so you have your pick of where you’d like to go. Prices start at $3,600 for an all-inclusive two-passenger cruise for seven nights. The most luxurious trip on offer right now is the 168-night around-the-world trip for $100,000. The all-inclusive two-passenger cruise goes through South America, the Arctic, Australia, Asia, and more.

If you’re looking for a cruise that’ll have you in the lap of luxury, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is it. Once you pay for your all-inclusive cruise, everything is taken care of. Your cruise fare includes your flight to and from the port, airport transfer, excursions, on-board restaurants and drinks, Wi-Fi, gratuities, and so much more. All you have to do is show up and enjoy it. This vacation comes with a high price tag, but you pay one time, and then you get to sit back and relax.

Large Blue and white Celebrity cruise ship in the water

About Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises, which is based in Miami, has more than a dozen ships to choose from and sails all over the world with more than 300 ports of call. Sailings range anywhere from three days to two weeks, with prices as low as $200 to upwards of $16,000. Ship sizes vary greatly, with the largest ship carrying over 3,000 passengers and the smallest boat holding under 100. Amenities on board range from spas to restaurants, pools to workout facilities (though they vary by ship).

Going on a cruise doesn’t have to mean breaking the bank. With Celebrity Cruises, you can take a quick three-day cruise for as little as $200 per person and have the escape you need. There are plenty of jaunts from South Florida to Key West and the Bahamas — but you can also sail farther and longer if that’s what you choose. Either way, you can certainly find a deal with Celebrity Cruises, as the company is also always offering deals, including discounts for additional passengers, restaurant coupons, and more.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cruise Line for Adults

How you want to spend your time.

A cruise ship is essentially a floating city — and it has a little bit of everything on board. But not every boat is created equal. Consider how you want to spend your time on board before you pick a cruise line. Do you want to spend your time exercising, relaxing, swimming, or in the spa? Look for a cruise line that has the amenities that suit your needs properly.

What Is Your Budget?

When booking any vacation, you always want to consider your budget. Cruise lines will vary in price, so consider how much you’re willing to spend, the length of the cruise, the type of stateroom you can afford, and the destinations within your budget while considering where you’ll go.

Your Cruising Style

In addition to considering what you want to do and how much you’re spending, think about the type of cruise you want to take. Is this a romantic cruise, an adventure cruise, a relaxing cruise, etc.? Look for a cruise line that can meet those specific needs.

What Cruise Line Is the Best for Adults?

Viking Cruises is the best overall cruise line for adults. It offers tons of international sailing destinations and top-notch service on board. It also offers unique experiences while you’re traveling.

Which Cruise Line Has the Highest Rating?

All of the cruise lines we listed have high ratings from customers and other professional reviewers. We chose Viking Cruises as the best overall cruise line because it has excellent customer ratings and comes highly recommended.

What Is an Adults-Only Cruise?

Some cruise lines have an age limit, which means no one under 18 is allowed on board. These cruises are designed for adults only and cater to a certain crowd. This means you won’t have any children on board during your cruise.

Image of Hedy Phillips

Hedy Phillips is a freelance lifestyle writer with more than 10 years of experience. Her work has been published in PEOPLE, Reader's Digest, TV Guide, and more.

Protect Your Trip »

The 26 best new cruise ships for 2024.

Check out these exciting new vessels before booking your next cruise.

The Best New Cruise Ships

Water park on back end of Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas.

Courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas will be the world's biggest new cruise ship.

Cruising is one of the fastest growing sectors of tourism, with passenger numbers projected to reach 37.2 million by 2025, according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Cruise lines are responding to this growth by building new (and often, larger) vessels with all the bells and whistles, including technological advancements that are more environmentally friendly and create the capability to use alternative fuels.

U.S. News has compiled this roundup of new cruise ships that have just set sail or are scheduled to launch later in 2023 and in 2024, plus a preview of new ships coming in 2025 and beyond. The list includes everything from expedition and luxury yacht-style vessels to reimagined ships and megaships – plus the debut of a brand-new cruise line.

  • New ships for 2023
  • New ships for 2024
  • New ships for 2025 (and beyond)

Oceania Vista: May 2023

Oceania Cruises' Vista ship Atrium with staircase.

Courtesy of Oceania Cruises

Top feature: Luxurious, distinctive spaces

Fares begin around: $2,899 per person (double occupancy) for a 10-night Caribbean cruise

Sails to: Mediterranean, Caribbean

Debuted in May 2023, Oceania Vista is the first ship in Oceania Cruises ' new Allura class and the line's first new ship in 10 years. The 1,200-passenger, all-veranda vessel features a fresh interior design inspired by nature. The elegant new signature spaces include the dramatic Grand Staircase, the reimagined Martinis bar, the clubby Grand Lounge and 180-degree ocean views from the floor-to-ceiling windows at Horizons.

Another highlight of the new ship is the luxurious Aquamar Spa + Vitality Center. Elevated dining concepts on Oceania Vista include the new venue Ember, wellness-inspired cuisine at Aquamar Kitchen and The Bakery at Baristas, which specializes in French and Italian pastries.

Book an  Oceania  cruise on GoToSea, a service of U.S. News.

Carnival Venezia: May 2023

Exterior of Carnival Venezia outside St. Thomas.

Courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line

Top feature: Italian-style ship

Fares begin around: $419 per person (double occupancy) for an eight-night cruise to the Bahamas

Sails to: Caribbean, Bermuda, Canada and New England, Panama Canal

Originally built for the Chinese cruise market in 2019, Carnival Venezia first sailed throughout Asia under the Costa Cruises brand. It headed to Europe in 2020, then was reintroduced as a Carnival Cruise Line vessel in 2023. The rebranded ship, now homeported in the U.S., features Carnival's "Fun Italian Style" concept, with Venetian-style artwork and the Piazza San Marco atrium – not to mention Italian-inspired beverages and dishes at venues like Frizzante, Amari, Marco Polo, the Canal Grande Restaurant and La Strada Grill.

The 4,090-passenger ship has classic Carnival favorites, too, like Bonsai Teppanyaki, Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse, Piano Bar 88 and the Serenity Bar. Guests will also find Carnival's Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, three kids clubs, the outdoor SportSquare and onboard water park WaterWorks.

Find a  Carnival  cruise on GoToSea.

Resilient Lady: May 2023

Exterior of the Resilient Lady.

Courtesy of Virgin Voyages

Top feature: New and exciting entertainment offerings

Fares begin around: $2,550 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night cruise to the Greek islands

Sails to: Europe, Middle East, Asia, Australia and South Pacific

Virgin Voyages' third adults-only ship , Resilient Lady , debuted with its MerMaiden voyage sailing the Greek islands in May 2023. The new 2,762-passenger ship offers the same features as its sister ships, including more than 20 dining venues with menus created by Michelin-starred chefs, an impressive fitness and wellness program, and superyacht-inspired cabins.

The immersive entertainment is one highlight on the new Virgin ship, with shows like rock 'n' roll "Persephone," a concept from the Brooklyn nightclub House of Yes produced by Kaleidoscope Immersive. The Supper Club Series featuring Another Rose is a new show by Randy Weiner of theatrical performance "Sleep No More." The evening with the Supper Club includes a dining experience with cabaret and acrobatic performances in a tale of ill-fated love.

Explore  Virgin Voyages  deals on GoToSea.

MSC Euribia: June 2023

The Carousel Lounge on the MSC Euribia.

Courtesy of MSC Cruises

Top feature: Commitment to sustainable cruising and environmental stewardship

Fares begin around: $219 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night Northern Europe cruise

Sails to: Northern and Western Europe

The LNG-powered MSC Euribia has several features that exemplify the line's commitment to sustainable cruising , including an advanced onboard wastewater treatment system and energy-saving equipment like smart heating, air conditioning and ventilation. MSC Euribia's hull, decorated with the hashtag #SaveTheSea, was designed by artist Alex Flämig and is also a symbol of MSC Cruises ' dedication to preserving our fragile marine ecosystem.

One of the most striking features on MSC's fifth (and final) Meraviglia-class ship is the two-story Galleria Euribia. The 360-foot-long Mediterranean-style promenade – lined with shops, restaurants and bars – sits beneath the longest LED dome at sea. Another highlight is the Carousel Lounge at the aft of the ship. The new space features floor-to-ceiling windows, indoor and outdoor areas, and Big Band at Sea: a 19-piece in-house group of musicians and entertainers. MSC Euribia can accommodate up to 6,327 passengers.

Compare  MSC Cruises  on GoToSea.

Viking Saturn: June 2023

The Deluxe Veranda Stateroom aboard the Viking Star.

Courtesy of Viking

Top feature: "Residential design" (found on all Viking ocean vessels)

Fares begin around: $2,799 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night Mediterranean cruise

Sails to: Mainland Europe, British Isles, Iceland, Mediterranean and India

The 930-passenger Viking Saturn is the ninth ship in the Viking Ocean Cruises fleet and identical in design to its eight sister ships. The all-veranda vessel offers six categories of accommodations ranging from the 270-square-foot Veranda Stateroom to the spacious 1,448-square-foot Owner's Suite. On board, guests will enjoy the sleek, elegant Scandinavian-inspired public spaces and lounges. The line's enrichment program includes lectures with resident historians, TED Talks and sessions with world-renowned guest speakers. There are eight dining venues featuring destination-focused cuisine, the Nordic Spa with its snow grotto, two pools and hot tubs, and a sports deck.

Book a  Viking Ocean cruise on GoToSea.

Norwegian Viva: August 2023

Guests in Haven Courtyard and pool aboard the Norwegian Viva:.

Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

Top feature: Indulge Food Hall

Fares begin around: $629 per person (double occupancy) for an eight-night Greek islands cruise

The line's second Prima-class ship, Norwegian Viva mirrors the elevated design of sister ship Norwegian Prima . The new ship features six complimentary dining venues, including globally inspired dishes at Indulge Food Hall, pub fare at The Local Bar & Grill and 270-degree ocean views at the beautifully redesigned main restaurant, Hudson's.

The Haven on Viva is the most exclusive and spacious private enclave in Norwegian Cruise Line 's fleet; it was designed by one of Italy's leading designers, Piero Lissoni. Guests will also find updated styling at Mandara Spa. There's no shortage of entertainment on Viva; it's home to the first free-fall dry slide in the world, a three-story racetrack, high-tech mini-golf and the musical "Beetlejuice." Viva has the capacity to carry up to 3,099 guests.

Find a  Norwegian Cruise Line  itinerary on GoToSea.

Explora I: August 2023

The Conservatory Pool & Bar on the Explora I.

Courtesy of Explora Journeys

Top feature: Luxury details and design, with a focus on sustainability

Fares begin around: $3,000 per person (double occupancy) for a six-night cruise to the Caribbean and Columbia

Sails to: Mediterranean and Western Europe, Caribbean and Central America, U.S. (including Hawaii) and Canada, Red Sea and Arabian Peninsula

Explora I is the first of six luxury vessels for new cruise line Explora Journeys. Owned by the Aponte family and MSC Group, the elegant 922-guest ship combines Swiss precision with modern European craftsmanship, offering suites and residences that are comfortable and spacious enough to be considered "homes at sea."

Guests can explore 14 decks offering nearly 27,000 square feet of outdoor space. Lounge at four pools (one with a retractable glass roof), book a rejuvenating body treatment at the spa, work out at the fitness center or browse the boutiques. There are also six dining venues, 12 bars and lounges, and a Chef's Kitchen for culinary classes and private dining. Regional wine pairings will accompany the onboard dining experience, which includes Pan-Asian, Mediterranean and French cuisine, as well as classic steakhouse offerings.

Compare  Explora Journeys  cruises on GoToSea.

Silver Nova: August 2023

S.A.L.T. Kitchen aboard the Silver Nova.

Courtesy of Silversea Cruises

Top feature: Ship's asymmetrical deck plan, which offers more open spaces and higher ceilings

Fares begin around: $3,850 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night cruise to Central and South America

Sails to: Caribbean, Central America, South America, U.S. West Coast, Alaska, Canada, Asia, Australia and New Zealand

Silversea Cruises' newest ship is the 728-guest Silver Nova . The 12th vessel in the fleet is ultra-luxurious and offers one of the highest space-to-guest ratios in the industry. Two highlights are the ship's asymmetrical design and aft suites, which have 270-degree views. Silver Nova's nine dining options include S.A.L.T. Kitchen's destination-inspired menus, Silversea 's classic dining experience at Atlantide and French cuisine at La Dame. Silver Nova is also Silversea's most environmentally friendly vessel yet.

Explore  Silversea  cruises on GoToSea.

Seven Seas Grandeur: November 2023

Regent Suite Bathroom aboard the Seven Seas Grandeur.

Courtesy of Regent Seven Seas

Top feature: "Journey in Jewels," the first Fabergé egg at sea

Fares begin around: $3,799 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night cruise to Mexico and Central America

Sails to: Mediterranean, Caribbean and Panama Canal

The 746-passenger Seven Seas Grandeur will be Regent Seven Seas Cruises' third Explorer-class vessel when it launches late this fall. While Grandeur is similar to its two sister ships, Explorer and Splendor , the new vessel features updated lounges, restaurants, spa spaces and suites. The line's signature Regent Suite – coming in at an impressive 4,443 square feet – has also been redesigned by Miami firm Studio DADO.

A few additional standout spaces include the art nouveau design of the Observation Lounge (located at the bow of the ship) and the reimagined Serene Spa. The stunning new Compass Rose is the ship's main dining room. Meanwhile, the onboard art collection is also notable: Seven Seas Grandeur will set sail with the first Fabergé egg at sea.

Compare  Regent Seven Seas  cruises on GoToSea.

Celebrity Ascent: November 2023

Private dining room at Le Voyage restaurant aboard the Celebrity Ascent.

Courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

Top feature: 32 restaurants, bars and lounges, including the redesigned Le Voyage by Chef Daniel Boulud

Fares begin around: $756 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night cruise to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean

Sails to: Europe, Caribbean

The fourth ship in Celebrity Cruises' Edge class, Celebrity Ascent , will accommodate up to 3,260 passengers and offer the same features as other ships in the series. There are 32 bars, lounges and restaurants, including the newly designed Le Voyage by Chef Daniel Boulud.

Other favorites from the Edge-class ships will return on Ascent, such as the multideck Sunset Bar and an open-air Rooftop Garden with floating pools that are cantilevered over the edge of the ship. It's also home to Celebrity's Magic Carpet, a multipurpose 90-ton deck that moves up and down the side of the ship between Decks 2, 5, 14 and 16; it's used for everything from tendering passengers to hosting happy hours and private functions and late-night parties. Guests will also find Celebrity 's innovative Infinite Veranda staterooms and the exclusive ship-within-a ship concept of The Retreat.

Book a  Celebrity Cruises  itinerary on GoToSea.

Carnival Jubilee: December 2023

Carnival Jubilee under construction.

Top feature: Two new ocean-themed zones, Currents and The Shores

Fares begin around: $669 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise

Sails to: Western Caribbean

Carnival's newest ship in the Excel class, Carnival Jubilee , will offer six zones (fun themed areas) for up to 6,631 passengers. The LNG-powered vessel features two new zones: Currents and The Shores. Currents is an immersive space with innovative technology such as LED windows and a wave-shaped LED Ceiling. Located on Decks 6 and 7, the space offers new venues for imbibing, dining and listening to live music, such as casual bar Inks, Ph.D and stylish lounge The Golden Mermaid. This is also where you'll find Emeril's Bistro 717.

The Shores, located on Deck 8, features a three-deck-high art installation of a school of fish, a boardwalk, and vibrant colors throughout the indoor and outdoor spaces. Dining and bar venues include Rudi's Seagrill, Cucina del Capitano and Marina Bar. Enjoy other returning Carnival favorites on Jubilee such as the BOLT sea coaster, Waterworks, SportSquare, the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, Guy's Burger Joint and BlueIguana Cantina.

Tips on Trips and Expert Picks Newsletter

Travel tips, vacation ideas and more to make your next vacation stellar.

Sign up to receive the latest updates from U.S News & World Report and our trusted partners and sponsors. By clicking submit, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions & Privacy Policy .

Icon of the Seas: January 2024

The Royal Loft Suite aboard Royal Caribbean's Icon of the Seas.

Top feature: Largest cruise ship in the world, carrying up to 7,600 passengers

Fares begin around: $1,930 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night Western Caribbean cruise

Sails to: Eastern and Western Caribbean

Icon of the Seas is the first Icon-class vessel in the Royal Caribbean International fleet – and the first new class of ship since 2014. When the massive vessel debuts in January 2024, it will replace Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas as the largest ship at sea (Icon of the Seas is 6% larger). The ship features eight distinct neighborhoods – including the new Surfside neighborhood, a colorful space geared toward family fun with kids clubs, Splashaway Bay, themed eateries and bars, adjacent staterooms and more.

There are four additional new neighborhoods as well. Thrill Island features Category 6, the largest water park at sea, while Chill Island boasts the line's first swim-up bar and The Hideaway features the first suspended infinity pool at sea. AquaDome, the impressive glass-enclosed space at the top of the ship, is home to the AquaTheater, panoramic ocean views, a waterfall, and bars and restaurants.

Sun Princess: February 2024

Park19 lookout and splash pad on the Sun Princess.

Courtesy of Princess Cruises

Top feature: Princess Cruises' largest ship and the first in the line's Sphere class

Fares begin around: $577 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise

Sails to: Caribbean, Mediterranean

Sun Princess will have many new attractions when it launches in early 2024. It has the most balconies on any Princess Cruises ' ship, and you'll find exciting new dining, activity and entertainment offerings. One notable highlight is Park19, a top-deck space with activities for kids of all ages, including the Sea Breeze Rollglider, the first ride of its kind on a cruise ship. This new attraction soars 19 decks high and offers unparalleled views of the ocean below.

Cruisers can enjoy additional spaces like a two-story dome that is a pool during the day and a stage for shows at night; the European-inspired Piazza, which offers ocean vistas from nearly every angle; the Princess Arena, a high-tech performance space; the elegant three-story Horizons Dining Room; and the new Wake View Terrace with an infinity pool. There are also new styles of accommodations and expanded offerings for young children, tweens and teens. Sun Princess can accommodate up to 4,300 passengers.

Queen Anne: May 2024

The Bright Lights Society show bar on Cunard Line's Queen Anne.

Courtesy of Cunard Line

Top feature: The Pavilion, a glass-enclosed pool area with a retractable roof

Fares begin around: $1,199 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night Western Mediterranean cruise

Sails to: Canary Islands, Mediterranean, Northern and Western Europe, Iceland, British Isles, Australia, Asia, Africa and Indian Ocean

When Queen Anne launches in spring 2024, it will be Cunard Line's 249th ship since the company's inception in 1840, and the line's first new vessel in 14 years. The 3,000-passenger ship will feature a fresh, modern design, yet still give a nod to the Cunard's art deco past.

Once on board, guests will discover new entertainment venues like the Bright Lights Society show bar and more wide-open spaces throughout the ship, as well as Cunard 's first two-story theater. New international dining options include Japanese restaurant Aji Wa with sushi and omakase menus, plus Indian cuisine at Aranya. Queen Anne also offers an extensive health and wellness program in collaboration with health group Mareel that features a large thermal suite, a spa pool and a top-deck wellness studio.

Find a  Cunard  cruise on GoToSea.

Utopia of the Seas: July 2024

The Ultimate Abyss slide on Royal Caribbean's Utopia of the Seas.

Top feature: Three- and four-night ultimate weekend getaways

Fares begin around: $471 per person (double occupancy) for a three-night Bahamas cruise

Sails to: Bahamas, Perfect Day at CocoCay (Royal Caribbean's private island)

Utopia of the Seas will be Royal Caribbean's sixth (and final) Oasis-class ship when it debuts in summer 2024. With a capacity of 5,668 passengers, the vessel will join the line's other Oasis- and Icon-class ships as the largest cruise ships sailing on the high seas. The ship will have the same eight neighborhoods as other Oasis-class ships, including Central Park, The Boardwalk and the Pool & Sports Zone.

The 40-plus food and beverage options will include new additions like the Pesky Parrot bar and a themed "mixed reality" dining experience that takes place on a train. A reimagined playscape is another addition, with nets, games, puzzles, slides and climbing walls for junior cruisers. The line's Ultimate Abyss – a dry slide with 10 stories of thrilling twists and turns – will now stretch an additional 43 feet, making it the longest dry slide at sea.

Explora II: August 2024

Top feature: Luxurious cabins

Fares begin around: $4,500 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night Mediterranean cruise

Sails to: Caribbean and Central America, Mediterranean, Arabian Peninsula and Red Sea, India, Indian Ocean and Africa

As sister ship to Explora I, Explora II will offer the same transformative travel experience for 922 guests. The luxury vessel will feature 461 oceanfront suites with private terraces. Cruisers can take advantage of 11 culinary options across six dining venues, a dozen indoor and outdoor bars and lounges, and a Chef's Kitchen. Guests will also have access to four pools, 64 private cabanas and wellness facilities.

Silver Ray: Summer 2024

Exterior of the Silver Ray.

Top feature: One of the most spacious ships ever built; extraordinary space-to-guest ratio

Fares begin around: $4,000 per person (double occupancy) for a nine-night cruise to South America

Sails to: Mediterranean, Northern Europe, British Isles, South America, Caribbean and Central America

Silver Ray, Silversea's second Nova-class ship, is scheduled to set sail in summer 2024. The 728-passenger, low-emissions vessel will offer the same advanced hybrid fuel technologies as its sister ship, Silver Nova. It will also have Silver Nova's horizontal layout and asymmetrical design, creating more open public areas and providing suites with 270-degree views. In addition, guests on board the luxury vessel will have their choice of eight dining venues and a wide selection of bars and lounges, including The Marquee, a new alfresco restaurant.

Viking Vela: December 2024

Wintergarden on a Viking ship.

Top feature: Larger than Viking's other ocean vessels, carrying up to 998 passengers

Fares begin around: $4,999 per person (double occupancy) for a 12-night northern lights cruise

Sails to: Scandinavia, British Isles, Iceland

Measuring 748 feet long and 101 feet wide, Viking Vela will be the line's largest ship when it debuts at the end of 2024. It will accommodate 68 more passengers than its sister ships, but feature Viking's signature veranda staterooms, public spaces, amenities and dining venues. Seasoned Viking cruisers can look forward to favorites like The Nordic Spa, the Wintergarden, Mamsen's, the Explorers' Lounge, the Sports Deck, Manfredi's Italian Restaurant and The Chef's Table.

Disney Treasure: December 2024

The Grand Hall of the Disney Treasure.

Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line

Top feature: Debut of new Disney Parks-inspired onboard venues

Fares begin around: $4,028 per person (double occupancy) for a seven-night Caribbean cruise

Sails to: Eastern and Western Caribbean, Castaway Cay (Disney Cruise Line's private island)

Fans of Disney Cruise Line will find many familiar venues, attractions and restaurants on the new Disney Treasure, sister ship of Disney Wish . However, there will also be plenty of new features, including the theme of the ship: adventure. The Grand Hall, inspired by the movie "Aladdin," is designed with dark shades of blue, turquoise and gold and features a golden statue of a magic carpet with Aladdin and Jasmine.

Plaza de Coco replaces Disney Wish's "Frozen" dining experience with a two-night Mexican, "Coco"-themed theatrical dinner show. Meanwhile, "Disney The Tale of Moana" – a Broadway-style production based on the film "Moana" – will be exclusive to Disney Treasure. Adults will also find new lounges, such as the Jungle Cruise-themed Skipper Society and the Periscope Pub, which is inspired by "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea." Disney Treasure can carry up to 4,000 passengers.

Explore  Disney Cruise Line  deals on GoToSea.

MSC World America: Spring 2025

MSC's new futuristic ship – and sister ship to MSC World Europa – will be based in Miami and sail the Caribbean. The LNG-powered, 6,762-passenger ship will offer more than 420,000 square feet of public space and many of the attractions found on World Europa, such as the MSC Luna Park Arena and World Galleria. There will also be more than 30 dining venues, bars and lounges, as well as the line's private enclave, MSC Yacht Club.

Oceania Allura: June 2025

Oceania Allura will be the eighth ship in Oceania's fleet, the second vessel of the line's Allura class and the sister ship to Oceania Vista. The 1,200-passenger Allura will offer the same upscale amenities as Vista, as well as a new Chef's Studio and one of the highest space-to-guest and staff-to-guest ratios in the cruise industry. Allura is scheduled to debut in June 2025.

Star Princess: August 2025

Star Princess is scheduled to set sail in 2025 as the sister ship to Sun Princess. The 4,300-passenger, LNG-powered ship will offer the same features as Sun Princess, including the Dome, the Piazza and the line's Signature Collection Suites. The vessel will also have 29-plus restaurants and bars.

Star of the Seas: Summer 2025

Royal Caribbean plans to introduce Star of the Seas – the second Icon-class vessel and sister to Icon of the Seas – in summer 2025.

Disney Cruise Line: 2025

Disney purchased the former Global Dream from Genting's Dream Cruises in 2022, when it was still being built at the German shipyard MV Werften. Disney plans to base the ship in Singapore for at least five years, offering Disney vacations to the Southeast Asian market. When it launches in 2025, the vessel will be the line's seventh ship and is expected to carry 6,000 passengers. Another newly built, currently unnamed Disney ship is planned to debut in 2025, as well.

Norwegian Cruise Line: 2025 and beyond

The third Prima-class ship is expected to be approximately 10% larger than the first ship in the class, Norwegian Prima (143,535 gross tons). The following ships for the line are anticipated to be even larger, with the fifth and sixth Prima-class vessels (debuting in 2027 and 2028) weighing as much as 171,000 gross tons.

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity's fifth Edge-class ship will be more eco-friendly, thanks to the addition of a new tri-fueled engine model and the capacity to store three different kinds of fuel, including methanol. The effort toward net-zero emissions and more sustainable cruising is a partnership between Royal Caribbean, the French shipyard Chantiers de L'Atlantique and the technology firm Wärtsilä. A debut date for this ship has not yet been announced.

Why Trust U.S. News Travel

Gwen Pratesi has been an avid cruiser since her early 20s. She has sailed to destinations around the globe on nearly every type of cruise ship built, including the newest megaships, luxury yachts, expedition vessels and traditional masted sailing ships. She used her extensive experience with cruises to write this article. Pratesi covers the travel and culinary industries for major publications, including U.S. News & World Report.

You might also be interested in:

  • The Newest Royal Caribbean Ships
  • The Best Cruise Lines
  • Cruise Packing List: Essentials for Your Cruise
  • The Best Gay Cruises
  • The Best Transatlantic Cruises

Tags: Travel , Cruises

World's Best Places To Visit

  • # 1 South Island, New Zealand
  • # 4 Bora Bora

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

You May Also Like

Best monterey whale watching tours.

John Rodwan and Ann Henson July 1, 2024

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Amazon Prime Day Luggage Deals

Amanda Norcross June 25, 2024

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Sun Princess Review

Holly Johnson June 25, 2024

best alaskan cruise lines for families

The 7 Best Key West Snorkeling Tours

Gwen Pratesi June 21, 2024

best alaskan cruise lines for families

The Best San Diego Whale Watching

John Rodwan June 21, 2024

best alaskan cruise lines for families

6 Top Boston Harbor Cruises

Brittany Chrusciel and Marisa Méndez June 21, 2024

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Fun Things to Do in Oklahoma

Ben Luthi and Justine Harrington June 20, 2024

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Fun Things to Do in Pennsylvania

Amanda Norcross June 20, 2024

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Carry-on Luggage Sizes by Airline

Amanda Norcross June 18, 2024

best alaskan cruise lines for families

What to Bring to a Water Park

best alaskan cruise lines for families

Traveling for Thanksgiving? These are the best airlines for kids and families in the US

  • I'm an airfare analyst with more than a decade of experience covering flights, points, and miles for publications including Airfarewatchdog, Thrifty Traveler and FamilyVacationist.
  • I enjoy helping other travelers discover good flights on a reasonable budget.
  • These are my picks for the best U.S.-based airlines for families, which offer special perks like family seating, early boarding, and kids-fly-free deals.

Flying as a family is an entirely different experience than flying solo or as a couple. Your priorities change when flying with kids , and perks like advanced seat assignments, early boarding, and inflight entertainment may play a more prominent role than price when deciding which airline to fly. And when you're flying during a busy time of year like Thanksgiving or the winter holidays, choosing the best airline for your family matters even more. 

While every airline allows travelers to gate-check a travel stroller and/or car seat free of charge, not all airlines are the same when it comes to seating families together or keeping kids entertained at 30,000 feet. Here’s a look at the best U.S. airlines for kids and families, and the ways in which they go above and beyond both at the airport and in the air. 

FIND A DEAL: 17 best flight booking sites for cheap airfares

Best overall airline for kids and families (U.S. and international combined)

The best overall airline for kids and families, JetBlue is known for having the most legroom in coach of any U.S. airline, and that can make a big difference if you’re flying with a lap child . With an average seat pitch of 32 to 34 inches, JetBlue’s spacious seating means your family will have ample room to spread out and get comfortable during the flight.

SAVE MONEY: 12 best hotel booking sites for cheap prices

Another reason why JetBlue ranks among the best airlines for families is its free inflight Wi-Fi and personal TVs at every seat that help everyone in the family stay entertained. Choose from live DirecTV, movies, or SiriusXM radio, with included kid-friendly programming such as Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Animal Planet. (Just remember to bring headphones that fit the little ones .) JetBlue is also generous with its snacks by providing an unlimited snack basket in the galleys after service is completed.

At JFK airport in New York, JetBlue’s Terminal 5 is set up with families in mind. There’s a pirate-themed playground near Gate 12 and an aviation-themed interactive play area near Gate 26. Another huge perk for flying families is that JetBlue’s frequent flyer program, TrueBlue , allows you to pool points with up to six other people (for a total of seven people). This means your family can combine points to redeem for a free flight. If parents and grandparents are all pooling points, for example, you can quickly earn free flights for the kids to visit the grandparents (or vice versa) on a skip-gen or multigenerational family vacation . 

TURKEY TALK: A New Yorker’s Guide to Watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Person  

Families should be wary of JetBlue’s cheapest Blue Basic fare class , which does not include full-size carry-on bags or advanced seat assignments. However, you can pay extra to guarantee seats next to each other. Alternatively, you could purchase a Blue fare, which includes full-size carry-on bags and advanced seat assignments, along with other family-friendly perks like no change fees. 

Pro Tip: When comparing prices on Google Flights , adjust the "Bags" filter to "1 carry-on bag." That way you’ll only see "Blue" fares on JetBlue.

2. Alaska Airlines

Best overall airline for families (U.S. only)

Alaska Airlines shares top billing as the best airline for kids and families. Internationally, it has fewer options than JetBlue, but within the U.S., Alaska offers more than 1,000 daily flights, including more nonstops from the West Coast than any other airline. Seattle is the airline’s primary hub, with others in Anchorage, LA, San Francisco, and Portland, Oregon. Its route network extends into a lot of smaller cities via its sister airline Horizon. 

KNOW BEFORE YOU BOOK: 10 best car rental booking sites for cheap prices

Alaska Airlines stands out with its family-friendly offerings. It’s one of only three airlines to offer a family seating policy that guarantees that children under 13 will be seated with at least one adult on the same reservation at no additional cost. The airline also offers priority boarding for families traveling with kids two years and younger. 

On board, entertainment options (via inflight Wi-Fi on passengers’ personal devices) include a separate Kids Zone entertainment stream that includes audio stories, kid-appropriate movies and television shows, and educational shorts like ABCmouse. 

On the food front , there are the standard drinks and light snacks offered onboard at no extra charge. There are also preorder options (preorder two weeks to 20 hours before your flight) that include kid-friendly options like the Kid’s Choice Picnic Pack with items like Pirate’s Booty, granola bars, apple sauce, and a little toy to play with.

Alaska’s frequent flier program allows new parents to maintain elite status Mileage Plan benefits for an extra year with its Elite Leave Program. Its unaccompanied minor program, Junior Jetsetters Service , escorts solo-traveling kids between the ages of five and 17 and includes supervision at all times, early boarding, and a free meal on flights longer than two hours.

KIDS FLYING SOLO: Unaccompanied minors on flights: Everything you need to know

Though it's not a family-specific offering, Alaska's 20-minute baggage service guarantee is a sanity saver for families who check luggage. The airline promises that bags will be at baggage claim within 20 minutes of the plane's arrival at the gate, and if it's not, passengers are offered a $25 discount code or 2,500 bonus miles.

Another thing that sets Alaska apart from many other airlines is its Fly for All app (for iOS or via Google Play ), an app designed for traveling families, unaccompanied minors, and passengers with cognitive and developmental disabilities, including autism. The app is designed to help passengers understand the airport, boarding, and flight process before they even get to the airport to reduce travel anxiety.

3. Southwest Airlines

Best airline for families who need flexibility

If your family often travels with multiple checked bags or values flexibility above all else, put Southwest at the top of your list of family-friendly airlines. All of Southwest’s airfares include two free checked bags , and there are no change fees if something comes up and you need to change the time or day of your flights. 

TRAVEL HACK: Can’t sleep on a plane? Here are 6 tried-and-true tools I always use  

Family seating on Southwest shouldn’t be a problem either, since Southwest allows families with children under 6 to board together after group A, regardless of boarding position. When flying Southwest, you’ll choose your seats as you board on a first-come, first-served basis. If you haven’t paid for Upgraded Boarding and your children are over 6 years old, you’ll want to check in exactly 24 hours before departure to ensure seats together. This is because the boarding order is determined by when you check-in. 

Another reason Southwest is one of the best airlines for kids and families is its unique Companion Pass perk. Sign up for Southwest’s loyalty program, Rapid Rewards , and when you earn 125,000 qualifying points in a calendar year you’ll be able to assign one person to fly with you for free (plus taxes from $5.60) through the following calendar year.

4. Frontier Airlines

Best cheap airline for families

Frontier is the best airline for kids and families in the ultra-low-cost category. Flights are incredibly cheap, and the airline has some special perks like Family Pooling of points and Kids Fly Free promotions. 

CRUISE DEALS: 6 cruise lines with kids sail free deals for families

Of course, as with any ultra-cheap airline, extra fees are plentiful with Frontier. But there are ways to mitigate the extra fees, especially when traveling as a group. By joining Frontier’s Discount Den membership ($59.99 annually, plus a one-time $40 enrollment fee), you’ll be able to purchase discounted fares for up to nine people on the same reservation. And you’ll have access to exclusive sales such as Frontier’s frequent kids-fly-free promotions, where one child under 15 can fly for free for every paid adult fare.

Families can often share bags to reduce fees, and it may even be worthwhile to purchase tickets at the airport to eliminate Frontier’s online booking fee, which can add up to $46 per person each way. The larger your family , the more you can save if it’s convenient enough to buy tickets at the airport.

FUN FOR ALL: 10 toddler-friendly vacations that are just as much fun for parents

When it comes to earning frequent flyer miles, you can start a family (or friends) pool with up to eight different people and combine your miles. To unlock this perk on Frontier, you’ll need to reach Elite 20K status or sign up for the Frontier Airlines World Mastercard . Budget airlines like Frontier aren’t for everyone, but if the price is right and you can navigate its fare structure, Frontier is a great choice for families.

5. Delta Air Lines

Best legacy airline for families

With its best-in-class experience among U.S. legacy airlines, Delta is the large U.S. carrier most likely to deliver a good experience to traveling families. With hubs in Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, LA, Minneapolis, New York (JFK and LaGuardia), Salt Lake City, and Seattle, it’s well-positioned to serve cities around the country and the rest of the world. 

HOW TO DECIDE: When Is It worth it to take your children out of school for vacation?

Delta has a host of offerings families will find helpful, including discounted tickets for children with a pricing structure that depends on the age of the child and the destination of the flight. Delta’s family seating policy isn’t a guarantee, but the airline does say that it "strives to seat family members together upon request," and that if you can’t get seats together when you book, you should call the Reservations line (800-221-1212) to "review available seating options."

The airline also checks strollers and car seats for free (curbside, at the ticket counter, or the gate). If you book a seat for your child – or if there’s an open seat in your row – you can bring a car seat on board, as long as it’s Federal Aviation Administration-approved. In addition to your carry-on allowance, you can also bring baby packing essentials like a booster seat, infant seat, and/or breast pump/cooler bag for free.

As part of its entertainment offerings, Delta has a whole suite of kids programming, including movies and kids shows from the likes of Disney, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon.

YOU DESERVE IT: Why every family should try an all-inclusive resort at least once  

For infants, Delta offers free onboard bassinets (SkyCots) for babies up to 20 pounds and 26 inches. Each flight has a limited number of SkyCots, so it’s important to request one in advance by contacting the Reservations line and then speaking with a gate agent at the boarding gate. 

Delta’s unaccompanied minor program offers passage for up to four kids together for a single fee and includes an employee escort, barcoded wristbands that track them on their journey, the chance for guardians to escort the minor to the gate, and at some airports, access to a kids-only lounge. 

Delta doesn’t have restrictions on flying if you’re pregnant and doesn’t ask for medical certificates for pregnant women traveling, though the airline does suggest that if you’re eight months pregnant or more, you check with your doctor before flying.

Best airlines for kids and families in the U.S. originally appeared on FamilyVacationist.com . This story contains additional reporting by Christine Sarkis.

More from FamilyVacationist:

  • 7 foolproof tips for packing a carry-on suitcase
  • When do you need a child travel consent form?
  • 6 things to know before you fly Cayman Airways  

FamilyVacationist.com and TourScoop.com are owned and operated by Vacationist Media LLC. FamilyVacationist covers family vacation ideas ; family vacation spots ; all-inclusive family resorts ; and must-have travel accessories for families. TourScoop covers guided group tours and tour operators , tour operator reviews , tour itinerary reviews and travel gear recommendations .

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.


  1. Best Alaskan Cruises For Families, From Tots To Teens

    best alaskan cruise lines for families

  2. Best Alaskan Cruises For Families, From Tots To Teens

    best alaskan cruise lines for families

  3. Top 7 of the Best Alaskan Cruises for Families

    best alaskan cruise lines for families

  4. Top 7 of the Best Alaskan Cruises for Families

    best alaskan cruise lines for families

  5. The 7 Best Alaska Cruises for Families of 2020

    best alaskan cruise lines for families

  6. Top 7 of the Best Alaskan Cruises for Families

    best alaskan cruise lines for families


  1. Alaskan cruise tips #alaska #cruise #cruisetips

  2. Wildlife in Alaska

  3. Best Cruise Lines Skagway Alaska Cruises

  4. My Alaskan Cruise!! (Day 2 and 3) (Day at Sea) (Juneau, Alaska) (NCL)

  5. WHAT I WISH I KNEW 🙇‍♀️

  6. Alaska Cruise Mistakes


  1. The 8 Best Alaska Cruises for Families

    Norwegian Cruise Line: Alaska - Dawes Glacier, Juneau & Ketchikan. Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line. Departure city: Seattle, Washington. This seven-day round-trip voyage from Seattle is ...

  2. 6 best Alaska cruises for families

    7-night Alaska cruise on Disney Wonder. Fisherman Mickey on Disney Wonder in Alaska. SUMMER HULL/THE POINTS GUY. Disney Cruise Line 's 1,754-passenger Disney Wonder (which can carry 2,713 guests when completely full) is the perfect size ship for a family cruise to Alaska.

  3. 13 of the Best Alaska Cruises for Families

    Princess Cruises. Carnival Corporation-owned Princess Cruises also offers some of the best Alaska cruises for families. The cruise line offers a 10-night round trip cruise from Sam Fransisco, a seven-night roundtrip cruise from Vancouver and Seattle, and a 14-night round trip cruise from Los Angeles. Princess uses some of its largest ships for ...

  4. The 8 Top Alaska Cruise Lines of 2024

    Alaska cruise ships: Radiance of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Brilliance of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas. Departure cities (cruises and cruisetours): Seward, Alaska; Vancouver, British Columbia ...

  5. 15 Best Alaska Cruises for Families with Kids and/or Teens

    10. Seven Seas Mariner. For families with slightly older children, Regent Seven Seas Cruises is a good choice (kids must be over one-years-old to sail.) Kids 5-17 can make sue of the free Club Mariner Youth Program which includes all sorts of interactive activiites like scavenger hunts and dance parties.

  6. Top 7 of the Best Alaskan Cruises for Families

    In This Article…. Top 7 Best Alaskan Cruises for Families. Blending Tradition With Modernism: Celebrity Cruises. For Nature Lovers: Norwegian Cruise Line. Most Family Friendly: Disney Cruise ...

  7. THE 25 BEST Family Cruises to Alaska (with Prices) on Cruise Critic

    Lowest pricing is based on our 3rd party pricing supplier and valid as of June 30th, 2024. Looking for family cruises to Alaska? Cruise Critic offers a variety of Alaska cruises for family . Find ...

  8. 10 Best Alaska Cruises to Take This Summer

    Itinerary: The aforementioned 7-night Alaska Dawes Glacier itinerary on Celebrity Edge cruises round-trip from Seattle and visits Ketchikan, Endicott Arm Fjord (scenic cruising), Juneau, Skagway ...

  9. 10 Best Alaska Cruises for Families 2020

    6. Carnival Cruise Line. Carnival Cruise Line is expanding its presence in Alaska with two ships in 2020 and a third coming in 2021. In 2020, Carnival Spirit sails week-long roundtrip cruises from Seattle, and Carnival Miracle will offer 10- and 11-day Alaska cruises from San Francisco for the first time ever.

  10. The 11 Most Popular Cruise Ships in Alaska: A Comparison

    The list of most popular cruise ships in Alaska includes a wide range of choices, from family-friendly mainstream lines, to slightly quieter options preferred by couples and solo cruisers.The best ...

  11. The 8 Best Alaska Cruises For Every Travel Style

    Best Alaska Cruise Overall: Holland America Line, Nieuw Amsterdam. Best Luxury Alaska Cruise: Cunard, Queen Elizabeth. Best Alaska Cruise For Families: Disney Cruise Line, Disney Wonder. Best ...

  12. 7 Best Cruises to Alaska, According to Travel Experts

    Princess Cruises. Princess Cruises. A top choice for multi-generational families and larger groups seeking on-board experiences for a wide age range, Princess will sail seven ships to Alaska in ...

  13. Best Alaska Cruise Lines For Families, Kids And Adults

    Alternatively, select a cruise line or vessel for its onboard experience, and the itinerary becomes secondary. This option is best suited to large generational families who want the best of both worlds. Budgeting For An Alaskan Cruise. When trying to pick the best Alaska cruise for the whole family, sometimes the budget plays a significant ...

  14. Here Are The Best Alaskan Cruises For Families This Year

    The Norwegian Bliss debuted in 2018. It has 20 decks, 2,220 cabins and can carry 4,000 passengers. Its combination of amenities and activities make it one of the best Alaskan cruises for families. We recently posted our Norwegian Bliss review based on a recent Caribbean sailing.

  15. Best Alaskan Cruises For Families, From Tots To Teens

    For the 2024 and 2025 seasons, only the Ruby Princess, Crown Princess, Carnival Miracle, and Carnival Legend offer roundtrip sailings to Alaska from California. Of the four, the Carnival Miracle is the better option for a family cruise to Alaska. While both cruise lines have kids' programs, babysitting, and mini-golf, the Miracle has family ...

  16. Best Alaska Cruise for Families

    Carnival. This mega cruise line has ships with giant waterslides, poolside movie screens and dedicated play areas. The kids program, Camp Carnival, is divided into 5 age groups: 2-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, and 15-17. Supervised playrooms have age-appropriate activities such as arts and crafts, wading pools, gaming consoles, computers and even candy ...

  17. 6 Best Alaska Cruises for Families 2024

    3. Disney Wonder: 7 Nights Alaska Cruise from Vancouver. Cruising on the Disney Cruise line takes family cruising to another level. There is so much to do for families aboard the Disney Wonder. Your kids will have so much fun at the epic Disney Cruise line kids club. Dog Sledding in Glacier Bay (Juneau)

  18. When Choosing the Best Alaska Cruise for Your Family, Ship Size ...

    Best mid-size Alaska cruises for families seeking a nostalgic cruise experience If your family is looking for high-octane, shipboard action like zip lines and go-karts, Holland America is probably ...

  19. The best cruises to Alaska from Seattle for every type of traveler

    It isn't easy picking the best Alaska cruise out of Seattle for families. There are four world-class family-focused cruise ships in the market, each of which is a contender for the best for families title: Royal Caribbean 's Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas, and Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Bliss.

  20. The Best Alaska Cruises for Families

    Best for a Memorable Family Cruise: Holland America Cruise to Alaska What people love the most about Holland America Cruises is the staff. While the staff on every cruise line is there to make sure your stay is the best of the best, it's the staff on Holland America that always seems to be the one that takes it just a bit further.

  21. 5 Best Alaska Cruises for Families

    Norwegian Bliss: 7-night Alaska Cruise from Seattle. Norwegian Bliss is a great ship to be on for sailing to Alaska. It is a fairly new ship with lots of family-friendly amenities for days at sea. Norwegian Cruise Line's Freestyle cruising experience is at its best onboard the Bliss. This ship is perfect for kids (and adults) of all ages!

  22. 7 Tips To Plan The Best Alaskan Cruise For Families

    Nothing matches a family cruise to Alaska when it comes to making memories, bonding, connecting with nature, and seeing once-in-a-lifetime sights! Of course, the best Alaskan cruise for families should combine adventure with luxury touches. Popular cruise lines known for offering the best Alaska cruises include:

  23. 13 Best Alaska Cruise Excursions for Families

    Excursions booked through the cruise line are typically more expensive, as much as $20-30 per person; Cruise lines will typically guarantee that they will wait for you if you are on an excursion ...

  24. The best Alaska cruises for every type of traveler

    The best Alaska cruises range from off-the-beaten-path voyages on vessels carrying fewer than 100 passengers to weeklong jaunts through the Inside Passage aboard megaships that hold thousands ...

  25. Princess Cruises Launches Cruise Industry's Best Price Guarantee on

    FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. (June 27, 2024) - Smart shoppers looking for the very best price on their 2025 or 2026 cruise vacation will appreciate the new "Better than Best Price Guarantee" from Princess Cruises.From July 1-September 2, 2024, guests can book their dream Princess vacation with the added confidence of knowing they are securing the absolute best price available.

  26. Best Cruise Lines for Adults for 2024

    About Virgin Voyages. Virgin Voyages are totally child-free on its three ships, with another coming in 2025. The relatively new cruise line, which first launched in 2021, sails around the Caribbean, Europe, and North America.

  27. The 26 Best New Cruise Ships for 2024

    Debuted in May 2023, Oceania Vista is the first ship in Oceania Cruises' new Allura class and the line's first new ship in 10 years. The 1,200-passenger, all-veranda vessel features a fresh ...

  28. What is the US most family friendly airline? Here are the top 5

    2. Alaska Airlines. Best overall airline for families (U.S. only) Alaska Airlines shares top billing as the best airline for kids and families. Internationally, it has fewer options than JetBlue ...