By David Barclay | February 8, 2023
One of the questions I’m frequently asked is how far in advance someone should book a cruise. While it’s never too early to book a cruise, waiting until the last minute will likely mean a limited selection of staterooms (potentially located next to a noisier area of the ship) or even having your ideal itinerary completely sold out. For standard ocean & river cruises, I recommend booking 6-9 months out. For expedition cruises, 12+ months is ideal. For World Cruises (which in recent years have sold out within days of opening for bookings), I recommend reserving your suite as soon as possible.
To help my readers better plan for their cruises I will periodically provide a Cruising Regional Spotlight. These spotlights will pick a region where it is now the optimal time to book. If you are interested in cruising this region in the coming year, you should think about booking your cruise soon.
Today’s spotlight is on Alaska and British Columbia. The summer and early fall months are a great time to visit this region and a cruise is the perfect way to travel. These cruises provide travelers with breathtaking scenery, including towering glaciers, lush rainforests, and majestic mountains that rise straight from the sea. The Inside Passage is home to hundreds of islands and these islands help shelter the waterways (making an Alaskan cruise a great option for those prone to seasickness). Another reason travelers cruise this region is the wildlife. Imagine enjoying the scenery as you cruise along the shore when suddenly you spot a grizzly bear meandering along the water’s edge. Moose, wolves, and deer are also commonly spotted on shore. Travelers may see bald eagles in the sky and whales, seals, and sea otters in the water. If the natural wonders are not enough to convince you to try an Alaskan cruise, you will also have the opportunity to visit quaint and historical towns along the coast.
Many cruise lines sail the British Columbia and Alaska coasts in the summer months. From large premium line ships to small expedition lines, there are a number of options to fit the needs of every traveler. Below are a few of my recommended lines, ships, and itineraries, any of which would be an ideal way to check Alaska off your bucket list. However if you don’t see a cruise itinerary that looks perfect for you, reach out to me and we can discuss other options.
Seabourn (Seabourn Quest)
14-Day Alaska Glaciers, Fjords & Inside Passage
JUL 28 – AUG 11, 2023
Seabourn is known for delivering unique and luxurious experiences to its guests. For many years it has focused the itineraries of the Seabourn Quest on expedition cruising in various regions of the world including Alaska. This means the crew and expedition team on the Quest are highly skilled at providing an outstanding experience for guests sailing Alaska and BC.
With the optional Ventures by Seabourn™, operated and escorted by the Seabourn Expedition Team, guests can participate in kayaking, zodiac and hiking excursions to explore Alaska’s wildlife and scenic highlights up close. Sample excursions include Kayak in Misty Fjords and Tracy Arm, cruise the Inian Islands and Holgate Glacier by Zodiac and hiking to photograph wildlife in their natural habitat at Wrangell. Pros for this itinerary: July tends to be the warmest month in Alaska and guests both embark and disembark in Vancouver, making travel to and from the cruise easy for travelers. Seabourn’s experienced crew will delight guests with their knowledge of the ports and shoreline.
Silversea (Silver Muse)
7-Day Vancouver to Seward
JUN 29 – JUL 6, 2023
Silversea has been a leader in luxury expedition cruising and has sailed these waters for many years. All suites have butler service and in 2022 Silversea began offering door-to-door fares, including all transfers and economy air in the cruise fare. Silversea fares also include excursions in each port, or guests can opt to pay a small extra fee for premium excursions providing unique experiences. Guests who want to extend their vacation can add the Majestic Canadian Rockies pre-cruise package (with stops in Calgary & Banff) or the post cruise Denali package.
While Silversea has two ships sailing in the region, the Silver Muse is one of its newer and larger ships, launched in 2017 and offering 8 dining options including the famous La Dame. Pros for this itinerary: A relatively new ship with additional amenities and the included flights, transfers, and excursions. July is a great month for additional exploration of Alaska after the cruise.
Lindblad (National Geographic Venture)
8-Day Exploring Alaska’s Coastal Wilderness
AUG 5 – AUG 12, 2023
Lindblad is an expert in expedition cruising, because that’s all it does. Its small ships take guests to the most unique locations. Lindblad has a long standing partnership with National Geographic and all ships have a National Geographic photo instructor on board to assist guests with capturing the best photographic memories of their trips. In Alaska it has also partnered with the Alaska Whale Foundation, with conservation experts boarding to discuss the local whale population.
Lindblad benefits from over 40 years of Alaskan exploration and their ships tend to travel to areas not frequented by other cruise ships. Its expedition leaders and naturalists are among the best in the world. Lindblad is also very family focused, offering the National Geographic Global Explorers program for children with National Geographic certified field educators. It also offers reduced fares for children on many itineraries. Pros for this itinerary: National Geographic photo instructors and field educators enhance the experience and Lindblad’s family focus makes it a great cruise for all ages.
Explora Journeys (EXPLORA I)
11-Day Journey of the Glaciers
JUN 18 – JUN 28, 2024
Explora Journeys is the latest ultra-luxury cruise line to launch and its first ship, EXPLORA I, will mark its maiden season sailing the Alaska and BC coast in 2024. Although Explora Journeys is new to sailing these waters, it has lined up an astonishing number of destination experiences and thrills for its guests.
EXPLORA I will be the newest ultra-luxury ship to sail these waters (launching in July 2023) and will offer the latest in travel comforts. Travelers who want to experience sailing on a new ship with numerous dining venues, lounges, bars, and pools will enjoy this itinerary and this ship. Explora Journeys is also a good option for families, with 78 connecting suites and a kids program for younger travelers. Pros of this itinerary: Sail on a brand new ship, visit three of the most famous Alaskan glaciers and visit many of the famous towns including Ketchikan and Skagway.
Owner, Barclay & Company Travel
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