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Alaska cruises from Seattle Guide & Review

04 Jan 2023
Jenna DeLaurentis

Alaska cruises from Seattle visit many of the 49th state’s most beautiful destinations while offering all the comforts found in a cruise vacation. The city makes a convenient start point for embarking on a much-anticipated adventure.

Serenade of the Seas in Seattle

From spending the day exploring historic ports to enjoying wonderful dining and entertainment each evening onboard, it’s easy to see why Alaska cruises are so popular.

If you’re considering booking an Alaska cruise from Seattle, here’s everything you need to know.

Where do Alaska cruises go from Seattle?

Seattle is a gateway to Alaska cruises, and you’ll have the opportunity to visit remarkable, stunning ports on a weeklong cruise. You’ll typically find between 3-4 ports and a scenic glacier viewing day on a 7-night Alaska cruise from Seattle.

Ports may include Juneau, Skagway, Sitka, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier, and Tracy Arm Fjord. Most port stops are between 7-10 hours.

All Alaska cruises from Seattle must also include a port stop in a country outside of the United States. Because of this, you’ll find a port stop in Victoria, British Columbia on each Alaska cruise itinerary from Seattle.

How long are Alaska cruises from Seattle?

Side of Quantum of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Alaska cruises from Seattle are 7-night roundtrip sailings. This provides enough time to travel to the Inside Passage, visit 3-4 ports in Alaska, and travel back to Seattle.

Some cruise lines may offer longer sailings from Seattle, such as 10-14 day cruises visiting more ports and glaciers, but this is not offered on Royal Caribbean.

Where is the Seattle cruise port located?

Seattle aerial view

Royal Caribbean ships depart from Pier 91 in Seattle, which is located three miles from downtown and sixteen miles from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).

The address of Pier 91 is Smith Cove Cruise Terminal 91, 2001 West Garfield St, Seattle, WA 98199.

Related: Guide to Seattle cruise port for Alaska cruises

Alaska cruises on other cruise lines may leave from other ports in the Seattle area. Therefore, it’s important to check which Seattle cruise port your ship departs from if you’re sailing on a line other than Royal Caribbean.

Which cruise ships sail from Seattle to Alaska?

Ovation of the Seas on a sunny day

Two Royal Caribbean ships sail from Seattle to Alaska each summer, with Ovation of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas offering Alaska cruises each season. These large, modern Quantum Class cruise ships are perfect for any passenger due to the variety of dining options, activities, and cabin categories you’ll find onboard.

Related: All about Quantum Class ships

Outside of Royal Caribbean, you’ll find Alaska cruises from Seattle on many popular cruise lines including Carnival, Holland America, Princess, Celebrity, and Norwegian.

Is it better to book an Alaska cruise from Seattle or Vancouver?

Most Alaska cruises depart from either Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, British Columbia. Deciding which port to leave from is one of the first decisions you’ll make when planning an Alaska cruise.

Seattle is convenient for most passengers from the United States, with direct flights offered to Seattle from around the country. While Vancouver still offers many direct flights to and from the United States, most cruisers find it easier to travel to Seattle.

Radiance of the Seas docked in Vancouver

Cruising from Vancouver, though, allows for more port stops in Alaska. Because of the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA), roundtrip cruises from Seattle to Alaska must include a foreign port stop, so visiting Canada is required on these sailings.

If you’re cruising from Vancouver, you won’t need to stop in Victoria, British Columbia, and this allows for another port day in Alaska instead.

One benefit of cruising to Alaska from Seattle is that Royal Caribbean sends its newer, bigger cruise ships to the city each summer season. Activities like bumper cars, indoor skydiving, surfing simulators, and the latest and greatest of entertainment, bars, and dining are available on these newer ships.

How to prepare for an Alaska cruise from Seattle

Serenade of the Seas in Seattle

Arrive in Seattle the day before your cruise begins

If you’re flying to Seattle before your cruise, be sure to arrive the day before embarkation day. Flying can be unpredictable, and allotting wiggle room in the case of any airline delays or cancellations is recommended.

Plus, by arriving in Seattle a day early, you’ll have more time to enjoy the city’s attractions. Whether admiring skyline views from the Space Needle or eating your way through Pike Place Market, there are plenty of ways to keep busy in Seattle before your cruise begins.

Know what to pack for an Alaska cruise

Alaska beach

Packing for an Alaska cruise is totally different than packing for a tropical vacation in the Bahamas. Knowing what to pack can keep you from freezing in port, getting soaked in the rain, or even feeling too warm in the peak of Alaska’s summer.

Our best advice is to pack layers for an Alaska cruise. Having a base layer, warm layer, and waterproof layer ensures you are covered for a wide range of weather conditions.

Related: Alaska cruise packing list: What to pack for your sailing

In addition to clothing, you’ll also want to pack accessories such as a waterproof daypack, binoculars, sunglasses, and bug spray. 

Book shore excursions far in advance

Mendenhall Glacier

It’s common to book shore excursions on an Alaska cruise, and with high demand there’s always a chance that an excursion will sell out. Therefore, if there’s an excursion you really want to experience on a cruise to Alaska, be sure to book the tour far in advance.

You can choose to book an Alaska shore excursion directly through the cruise line or through an independent tour company. Both come with their own pros and cons; a tour booked through Royal Caribbean may offer added protection, although it usually comes at a higher price.

Related: 5 quick and easy tips for finding a great shore excursion on your own

It’s also important to note that booking an excursion on an Alaska cruise is not a requirement. Alaska cruise ports offer many options for free and low-cost sightseeing, from walking around historic towns to tasting local cuisine and hiking in the mountains.

Related: 7 ways to have a great time in port without a cruise ship shore excursion

Research the best time of year to visit Alaska before booking your cruise

If you cruise to Alaska in late September and expect sunny skies, warm temperatures, and 18 hours of daylight, you’re going to end up disappointed. Likewise, if you’re hoping to find a cheap cruise deal to Alaska in the peak of summer, your chances are slim.

Depending on the month you sail, Alaska cruises can vary greatly in terms of weather, crowds, wildlife viewing opportunities, daylight hours, and cost.

Related: When is the best time to cruise to Alaska?

The cheapest months to cruise Alaska are in the shoulder season of April, May, and September, although these months don’t always bring the best weather. The busiest times to cruise Alaska are in June, July, and August, so you should expect more crowds during this time of year.

Planning an Alaska cruise from Seattle? Check out more of our top tips & tricks:

Jenna DeLaurentis enjoys exploring new ports of call around the world on a cruise ship, learning about new cultures, discovering beautiful landscapes, and trying diverse cuisine. She loves to get active while at port, whether cycling through mountains in the Caribbean or scuba diving under the sea.

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