If you are considering an Alaska cruise, you can choose from a wide array of ships and itineraries.
There are two main Alaska itineraries. One is a round-trip Inside Passage cruise featuring a glacier visit (such as Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm or Hubbard Glacier) and port calls at Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.
Some itineraries may include Sitka, Haines, Icy Strait Point, Prince Rupert or Victoria.
Or consider a one-way cruise between Vancouver and Seward or Whittier (near Anchorage) with calls at several Inside Passage ports and glacier viewing in Prince William Sound or Yakutat Bay (location of Hubbard Glacier).
Cruise rates do not vary much for similar staterooms, and most lines offer specials cruise prices in May and September. If you don't mind taking a chance on the weather, some great deals are on offer.
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES: This is a casual, family-oriented cruise line and Carnival's 'Fun' ships often attract a high number of first-time and younger cruisers. The line is known for good children's facilities. Carnival Spirit (2,124 passengers) sails mostly seven-day one-way cruises between Vancouver and Whittier, with glacier viewing in Prince William Sound and stops at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka.
CELEBRITY CRUISES: An upscale cruise line which offers both a sophisticated ambiance and good facilities for children and teenagers. The fleet's ships feature modern decor and gourmet cuisine. Mercury (1,870 passengers) sails seven-day round-trips from Vancouver with calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka and Hubbard Glacier. Millennium (1,950 passengers) offers seven day one-way cruises between Vancouver and Seward.
CRUISE WEST: This Seattle-based line offers a casual atmosphere on board its small ships which travel on a variety of itineraries that explore less-travelled waters of the Inside Passage, Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. Evening presentations are designed to enhance the daytime sights and activities which include wildlife viewing by Zodiac. Spirit of Oceanus (114 passengers) offers 12-night voyages between Vancouver and Anchorage.
HOLLAND AMERICA LINE: This premium line offers spacious, immaculate ships with a high level of personal service. HAL's distinctive dark blue-hulled ships have classic lines, contain extensive artwork and are finely appointed with amenities. HAL has been a major presence in Alaska since 1973 with extensive infra-structure supporting land tour and shore-side activities for its passengers. HAL currently bases five mid-sized ships in Vancouver throughout the summer. Servicing the Inside Passage on seven-day round-trips are the Ryndam and Statendam (1,258 passengers), with visits to Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Glacier Bay. Servicing one-way line cruises between Seward and Vancouver are three ships -- Zaandam and Volendam (1,432 passengers) and Veendam (1,258 passengers)
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE: This mainstream line is an industry leader in innovative cruising, offering unstructured dining in its many restaurants and a casual dress code. Ideal for families, NCL is home-porting one ship in Vancouver this season. The Norwegian Sun offers seven-day round-trip cruises from Vancouver which stops at Tracy Arm, Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway.
PRINCESS CRUISES: This Los Angeles-based company appeals to all age groups with its well-designed ships featuring an abundance of private balconies, attentive service and extensive children's facilities. Five Princess ships are sailing from Vancouver this year, four of them on one-way cruises between Vancouver and Whittier (Anchorage). A unique 14-day round-trip cruise from Vancouver is being offered on Tahitian Princess, an intimate ship carrying 670 passengers on an extensive itinerary that includes Glacier Bay and the major Inside Passage ports as well as Kodiak Island, Seward, Valdez, Sitka and Victoria. One-way Gulf of Alaska cruises between Vancouver and Whittier are available on sister ships Diamond Princess and Sapphire Princess (2,670 passengers) and on sister ships Coral Princess and Island Princess (1,970 passengers). This seven-day itinerary takes you to Glacier Bay, College Fjord in Prince William Sound, and the Inside Passage ports of Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway. The company's extensive services in Alaska include luxury rail service to custom-built wilderness lodges.
REGENT SEVEN SEAS: This luxury line made its Alaska debut in 2000, where it currently positions Seven Seas Mariner, which accommodates 700 passengers -- all in outside suites with a balcony. It offers mostly seven-night Gulf of Alaska cruises between Vancouver and Seward and one round-trip cruise from Vancouver. Ports of call include Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Sitka, with glacier viewing in Tracy Arm.
ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL: RCI's modern megaships feature a casual atmosphere and the company's hallmark rock-climbing wall. Family suites, a large playroom and teen centre make these ships ideal for passengers with children. RCI has a strong presence in Vancouver with Serenade of the Seas (2,500 passengers) sailing seven-day round-trip cruises from Vancouver with stops at Skagway, Juneau, Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier. Radiance of the Seas (2,112 passengers) sails seven-day one-way cruises between Vancouver and Seward, with calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier.