Alaska 101: Alaska Cruise versus CruiseTour – Which is right for you?

Courtesy Royal Caribbean Blog

While on an Alaska cruise or CruiseTour you can view some of the world’s most majestic scenery, spot amazing wildlife, taste delicious seafood, and learn about Alaska’s history and culture.

Is Alaska on your bucket list but you’re unsure whether to just do a cruise or enhance your trip by taking a CruiseTour? They sound quite alike but will offer you extremely different experiences on your trip to the Last Frontier.

What is a CruiseTour?

Alaska Train Travel - Princess Cruises
Princess Train for CruiseTour Courtesy Princess Cruise Line

If you’re not familiar, CruiseTours are simply a combination of a cruise and land tour into one seamless trip. I definitely recommend an Alaska CruiseTour for most of my clients, because without the land portion, you’ll miss out on some incredible experiences!

Alaska Cruise Only

Cruise may be the ideal choice for someone who may prefer to depart from & return to the same location, & is more interested in taking in the majestic beauty of this area from their cruise stateroom balcony or decks onboard the ship than exploring on the land.

Which is best for you?

A Cruise Only may be Right For You If:

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  • You’re coming to Alaska and prefer a floating resort experience
  • Gliding along the coastline
  • Quick trips to shore to experience port towns and culture
  • You want to depart from and return to the same port
  • You want lots of time to relax
Indoor options plentiful if that’s your jam – Courtesy Royal Caribbean Blog

A Cruisetour May Be Better For You If:

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You want the cruise experience of seeing spectacular coastline, tidewater glaciers, marine wildlife, and Inside Passage ports of call. You want a land tour where you’ll see our great interior, and the chance to see:

  • Alaska’s land treasures: Denali (Mt. McKinley), mighty glacial rivers coming out of the mountains, & tundra stretching as far as you can see
  • Great wildlife in Denali National Park: Moose, caribou, grizzly bears, Dall sheep and wolves
  • Get the chance to meet Alaskans and learn about their lifestyles
  • Anchorage and Fairbanks, the areas where most Alaskans live
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Tip: A CruiseTour is a tremendous value for your time and vacation budget & gives you the best of both worlds. Airfare is an expensive component of your trip; you get more out of it when you double the experience with a CruiseTour.

Where Does an Alaska Cruise or CruiseTour Begin and End?

Radiance pulling into Seward
Courtesy Royal Caribbean Blog

The vast majority of Alaska cruises & CruiseTours depart from either Seattle or Vancouver on round-trip 7-night sailings on the cruise end. Some cruises are one-way only – starting in Vancouver & ending in Seward, Alaska or the opposite. This makes it possible for cruise lines to line up with pre and post-Cruisetours to Alaska or Canada, which lets you experience more inland destinations like Denali National Park and Reserve and Banff National Park.

Deciding where to start your cruise is one of the first decisions you make when planning an Alaska cruise. If you’re from the USA & have to fly to an Alaskan cruise port, heading first to Seattle tends to be less expensive on airfare than to Vancouver or Seward. A passport isn’t necessary when cruising out of Seattle, either, although it is recommended and either a passport or REAL ID will be required (as of May 2022) by May 2023.

Destinations on a CruiseTour

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Depending on which & how long of an Alaska CruiseTour you choose from, you might also get to explore some of Alaska’s cities such as Anchorage, Fairbanks, Seward, or Talkeetna. Stops in these areas offer you a magnificent opportunity to interact with locals, & get a taste for daily Alaskan life. Some may even take you throughout gorgeous Canadian territory too!

CruiseTours often include visiting Alaska’s biggest city of Anchorage, where you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time at a former gold mining town, by train on the scenic Wilderness Express, or marveling at the stunningly high mountain peaks of Denali National Park.

Cruisetours in Canada are also available, and may feature a comfortable overnight train ride through the Rocky Mountains & visits to Jasper and Banff National Parks!

While Alaska’s Inside Passage cruise only trip provides amazing views of Alaska’s fjords, glaciers, & mountains, CruiseTours offer the chance to see more of Alaska and/or Canada, which you can enjoy before or after your one-way cruise in Alaska.

Land Travel In Alaska

One thing to keep in mind on Alaska CruiseTours is that getting between these areas does a bit of time. While towns and cities might not seem very far apart on a map, Alaska’s map is stretched weird on a map and it is a much larger area than you might have in mind. It’s actually THIS big when compared to the United States:

How Big is Alaska? | ALASKA.ORG

If an Alaska CruiseTour sounds like the right fit for your vacation wishes, you may be wondering which cruise lines have this destimation and travel methods down to a seamless science.

A variety of cruise lines offer Alaska land and sea cruise tour packages. Though Princess and Holland America tend to dominate the Alaska region, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Oceania and several other cruise lines offer incredible cruise tour options as well! Contact Sandy to learn more!

Where to Begin Planning

Finding the very best option for you will be determined by your preferred length of trip, budget, accommodations preferences, & regions of Alaska you wish to see. Not sure where to start? Here are some of my favorite Alaska CruiseTours happening this year:


Ready to plan your Alaska Cruise or Cruise Tour?

If so, Easy Breezy Journeys is here to make it easy for you! Just click HERE to answer a few quick questions and we’ll get started!

Radiance of the Seas in Seward, Alaska
Courtesy Royal Caribbean

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