Best Alaska Expedition Cruises 2025: Cruising Guide to Alaska

Travel Advice
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The extraordinary land of Alaska is so many different things and an expedition cruise is the best way to explore the lush green rainforest, a cornucopia of diverse flora, amazing ancient glaciers, white water rafting, waters seething with wildlife, fascinating gold-rush history, magical myth and legend, looming peaks, dog-sledding, bear-watching - we could go on and on. These are some of the best Alaska expedition cruises to book now for 2025.

Alaska is many things to many people, but we would always recommend choosing an expedition cruise to escape the crowds. Within hours you are away from the big ships and will find yourself at the very heart of this wonderful wilderness.

When is the best time to visit Alaska?

The season stretches from May to September, although certain services run from June to August only. In mid-summer Alaska enjoys long days where the sun barely sets, and temperatures are pleasant, usually ranging from 15 - 25°C.

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Which Alaska expedition cruise to choose?

The Inside Passage (Alaska's south eastern 'pan handle') offers protected waters and in-depth wilderness experiences with local park rangers, hiking, whale-watching and amazing scenery.

But you may wish to go further afield - Alaska stretches far to the north and west, where you will be truly remote from the trappings of the modern world.

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How to get to Alaska?

For the pan handle, the major international gateways are Seattle and Vancouver - from here you can fly on to Anchorage, Juneau or Ketchikan. More remote destinations such as Nome are reached by connecting flights from Anchorage, often chartered specifically for your trip.

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What wildlife can I see in Alaska?

Alaska's incredibly diverse array of species includes black, brown and grizzly bears, deer, wolves, Arctic terns, pigeon guillemots, moose, elk, musk oxen, wood bison, caribou, bald eagles, vultures, puffins, porcupine, lynx, mountain goat, pods of orca, humpback whales, Steller sea lions, harbor seals, porpoise, sea otters and maybe even the mythical, shape-shifting creature known to the local Indians as Kushtaka!

Extending your Alaska expedition cruise holiday

The options to extend your holiday depend on your gateway to Alaska. The cosmopolitan cities of Seattle and Vancouver are fantastic in themselves, and you may wish to explore the environs, pick a remote bear-watching camp, or cross the Rockies by rail on the Rocky Mountaineer.

If your gateway is Anchorage, you can travel north to Mount McKinley, hike into the wilderness, explore the Kenai peninsula, and go fishing or hunting, or voyage through the ice-choked waters of the Northwest Passage, filled with mystery and intrigue due to its history and sheer inaccessibility throughout most of the year.

Rocky Mountaineer, Canada

Best Alaska expedition cruises

HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

Only a few expedition cruise lines offer pure Alaska exploration, and HX Hurtigruten Expeditions offer regular Alaska expedition cruises between May and September 2025 on a range of itineraries on board their pioneering hybrid vessels, the 528-guest MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen.

Look to their Alaska and British Columbia voyages which sail from Vancouver to Seward and vice versa, with highlights including the breathtaking Misty Fjords National Monument and Alaskan icons such as the state capital Juneau and its epic Ice Field, and the spectacular Tracy Arm Fjord home to whales, dolphins, eagles, sea lions and bears. Or, go via the Inside Passage to also call in at Alaska's stunning Katmai National Park, Kodiak and its salmon-filled streams, and remote islands in the Bering Sea such as St Paul and its thousands of sea birds, and isolated St Matthew Island, a whole day's sailing away from the nearest human settlement.

MS Roald Amundsen HX Hurtigruten Expeditions in Alaska

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

In July and August 2025 and 2026 bilingual cruise line Hapag-Lloyd's 230-guest Hanseatic Inspiration provides the perfect luxurious base from which to experience an Alaska expedition cruise with their 14-night voyages from Seward to Vancouver, or the route in reverse.

Highlights include the little town of Homer on the beautiful Kenai Peninsula and whale watching, bear spotting and learning about the indigenous Tlingit people on Kupreanof Island, as well as a call in at Alaskan icon Ketchikan and its colourful wooden buildings and the fascinating fishing town of Petersburg, known as 'Little Norway', and an important feeding ground for humpback whales.

Hanseatic Inspiration in Alaska

Seabourn

Although Seabourn don't offer Alaska expedition cruises that explore Alaska proper, it would be remiss not to mention their fabulous voyages that include some Alaskan ports before sailing across the fabled Northwest Passage, with some itineraries mixing in Iceland exploration too in August and September 2025 on the lovely 264-guest Seabourn Venture.

Explore the remote Alaskan town of Nome, only accessible by air or sea and a great place to learn about the historic Gold Rush era, as well as Anchorage, home to several cultural sites where you can learn about the region's indigenous peoples and visit the stunning surrounding landscapes.

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AE Expeditions

Whilst not pure Alaska exploration, AE Expeditions will call in to a couple of Alaskan ports on their Northwest Passage voyage alongside their fantastic expedition team on the 130-guest Sylvia Earle on 27 August 2025.

You'll sail the fabled passage which includes calling in at the UNESCO-listed Ilulissat ice fjord and Canadian High Arctic landscapes such as the world's largest uninhabited island, Devon Island, and its bearded seals, harbour seals and humpback whales, as well as visiting Alaska's Nome and Anchorage, where you can extend your stay to explore the surrounding Alaskan landscapes.

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Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Adventures. Her most recent adventure was a cruise on Silver Origin and she has also sailed with Seabourn, Ponant and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite adventure destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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