Picking the right cruise line for your style and interests can make a big difference in your Alaska experience. You have a choice of large and small cruise ships for an Alaska cruise.

Large ship cruise lines carrying thousands of people can fill up the small Alaska ports quickly. However, they have more onboard entertainment and features than small ships. Small boats showcase the local scenery more than the ship’s amenities.

Small ship cruise lines can visit the minor ports where large vessels must anchor and tender (send you to shore via lifeboats). They offer more intimate and personalized excursions and experiences. You’ll also receive a higher level of individual service from the crew and more elegant dining options.

Cruise tours

Many cruise lines also sell cruise tour packages. You can see Alaska more in-depth by spending several extra days seeing the state via coach and glass-roof train.

You’d either spend a few days before the cruise traveling and sightseeing from Fairbanks to Denali then to the ship, or traveling north after the cruise.

Large cruise ships sailing in Alaska

First class cruise lines

First-class cruise lines that visit Alaska feature the largest ships with a variety of entertainment options, but relatively limited itineraries.

Premium cruise lines

Premium cruise lines offer a more immersive Alaska experience with a focus on culture and cuisine. Usually, their ships are a bit smaller than the first class cruise lines.

  • Celebrity
  • Holland America (HAL) – Holland America and Princess both own lodges in Alaska and offer land tour packages as part of the cruise booking.
  • Princess

Luxury cruise lines

Luxury cruise lines provide the ultimate experience on a large cruise ship. It is more like a traditional, semi-formal cruise experience.

Does MSC cruise line go to Alaska?

Currently, MSC does not operate cruise itineraries for Alaska. In the past, MSC executives discussed Alaska, but there is nothing in place yet.

Small luxury cruise ships sailing in Alaska

Small cruise ships provide an intimate experience than the large cruise ships in Alaska. You get to know the other passengers and interact with them, the entertainment is specialized, and the dining is exquisite. 

In general, small lines have larger, luxurious staterooms, many with balconies, upgraded fluffy white linens, world-class customer service, and port-intensive itineraries.

Typically, small cruise lines are all-inclusive. Your dining, drinking, excursions, transfers, and often, airfare costs are all included in the price.

Some lines offer a high level of sophistication like you’d expect with classic cruising experience. Others are more casual and modern.

Share this story with someone who'd find it interesting or helpful!