North to Alaska: New Cruises in the "Great Land"

While 2022 brought a “return to normal” with Alaska’s first full cruise season since 2019, this summer’s upcoming season is expected to bring at least 60 ships, operating more than 700 voyages, to the “Great Land.”

Small-ship, upscale Windstar Cruises will offer two maiden port calls—Valdez and Homer—this coming summer. In addition, the new port of Klawock will open this spring on the Pacific coast side of Prince of Wales Island. On May 24, 2023, Oceania Cruises ’ 656-passenger Regatta will be the first cruise ship calling at the 16-acre port destination; three more calls will follow this summer. Located near the Tlingit village of Klawock, the area is known for cannery history, sport fishing, culinary experiences, wildlife viewing and totem carving traditions.

Seven Seas Explorer
Regent Seven Seas Cruises will position its 746-passenger Seven Seas Explorer in Alaska, sailing seven-night cruises. (Regent Seven Seas Cruises)

For the first time, Regent Seven Seas Cruises also will position its 746-passenger Seven Seas Explorer in Alaska, sailing seven-night cruises. While that line typically operates many longer voyages, the shorter, close-to-home Alaska voyages this summer are designed in part to attract new-to-brand, premium cruise guests desiring to splurge and step up to luxury. Guests will sail in style, as every suite—ranging from 307 square feet to 4,433 square feet—has high-end finishes, relaxing Elite Slumber beds and private balconies.

On September 16, 2023, Seabourn’s 264-passenger Seabourn Venture will operate a 12-day “Bering Sea and Inside Passage” expedition. Guests will begin the journey in Anchorage with an included flight to Nome, where they’ll board the expedition ship for the southbound journey to Vancouver. We’d opt for the 637-square-foot  Penthouse Spa Suite; it’s near the spa and offers special spa amenities.

If you’re seeking a more classic Seabourn experience on a bit larger ship but still with some adventure options, we’d suggest a cruise on the 458-passenger Seabourn Odyssey. During Alaska cruises, that ship offers the “Ventures by Seabourn” program with optional Zodiac, kayak and other active adventures.

Canada’s Yukon Territory
Six of Holland America’s Alaska cruisetours will include Canada’s Yukon Territory. Shown here is Whitehorse, the capital of the Yukon territory. (Getty Images)

On September 18, 2023, Ponant’s 264-passenger L’Austral will sail a 14-night “Alaska and its Fur Traders” voyage from Nome, Alaska, to Vancouver; it will cruise along the Bering Strait, visit Saint Paul Island in the Pribilof Islands and Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. Guests will hike, head out via Zodiacs and explore the Tlingit village of Kake, before whale watching in Alert Bay, British Columbia, Canada. This season, Ponant also will sail two Northwest Passage voyages from Iceland or Greenland to Nome.

On August 24, 2023, upscale Aurora Expeditions' new 132-passenger PC6-class Sylvia Earle will set sail on a 30-day “Complete Northwest Passage” voyage between Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Nome; guests will then take a flight to Anchorage, where the journey will end. During this voyage, one highlight is arrival at Point Barrow, AK, the U.S.’ most northerly headland.

Early in the season, Scenic Group USA’s luxurious, 228-passenger Scenic Eclipse will offer a Bering Sea and Inside Passage expedition itinerary between Nome and Vancouver. Also sailing Alaska waters in 2023 are Silversea Cruises’ 392-passenger Silver Whisper and Royal Caribbean International’s 2,142-passenger Brilliance of the Seas, both replacing other ships for those lines in the region. Alternatively, ultra-luxury guests can opt for Silversea’s 596-passenger Silver Muse with multiple sailings throughout the summer, or late in the season, the 274-passenger Silver Wind.

Silver Explorer
Silversea Cruises will see many of its ships operating multiple voyages in Alaska this summer. Shown here is Silver Explorer in Yakutat, Alaska. (Adrian Wlodarczyk)

Multi-generational groups might also check out additional family-friendly Alaska options with Royal Caribbean’s 2,143-passenger Radiance of the Seas or the 4,180-passenger Ovation of the Seas. Sister brand Celebrity Cruises also will offer Alaska voyages on three ships this summer. Among them, we’d opt for Celebrity Solstice as it will sail to Endicott Arm Fjord and the Dawes Glacier. In addition, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder will return to Alaska this summer, sailing from Vancouver.

In a newly announced partnership with Cunard Line, a Royal Canadian Geographical Society (RCGS) expert will sail/lecture on every 2023 Alaska voyage of the 2,081-passenger Queen Elizabeth, which operates roundtrip from Vancouver. This summer and next year as well, Viking will offer multiple 11-day “Alaska and the Inside Passage” cruises on the 930-passenger Viking Orion. These sailings will operate between Seward and Vancouver; seven guided tours are included within the cruise fare.

Denali National Park
Princess and Holland America are offering cruisetours that couple an Alaska cruise with lodge stays and inland touring, including Denali National Park and beyond. Shown here is a Caribou bull in Denali National Park with its namesake mountain in the background. (Getty Images)

In terms of “powerhouse size and scope” in the “Great Land,” Holland America Line will operate six ships in 2023, while sister brand, Princess Cruises, will position seven ships in the region. Both also own or operate their own Alaska lodges, many in remote locales. We’d suggest that luxury guests seeking a full Alaska immersion look at one of the lines’ seamless “cruisetours” (25 for Princess, 16 for Holland America in 2023). These couple an Alaska cruise with lodge stays and inland touring, including Denali National Park and beyond. This summer, six of Holland America’s Alaska cruisetours also will include Canada’s Yukon Territory.

Many other contemporary and premium lines offer multiple 2023 “Great Land” sailings, too. Some operate on intimate, small ships including those of UnCruise Adventures, Alaskan Dream Cruises and others. Built in 2021, American Queen Voyages’ 186-passenger Ocean Victory will sail many expedition cruises between Vancouver and Sitka, AK; we’d suggest reserving a 465-square-foot, two-room Premium Deluxe Suites (PS category) on Deck 4.

Dawes Glacier
Celebrity Solstice will sail to Endicott Arm Fjord and the Dawes Glacier (shown here). (Getty Images)

Prefer a classic, small-ship sailing? American Cruise Lines’ 175-passenger American Constellation offers all-balcony accommodations, including 450-square-foot Owner’s Suites. It sails eight- and 11-day voyages roundtrip from Juneau this summer, plus 15-day “Alaska Inside Passage” cruises between Seattle and Juneau at the season’s start and finish.

On the Horizon

Looking ahead, the new Explora JourneysExplora I will sail its first Alaska season with three 10- to 11-night itineraries departing from Vancouver in 2024. Plus, Silversea’s new 728-passenger Silver Nova and many other new and existing ships will also head north to the Great Land in 2024.

New for Visitors

What’s new in Alaska for cruise travelers? Here’s a sampling...

To learn more about Alaska’s First Peoples and lands, we’d suggest downloading the new Alaska Native Culture Guide ( This excellent resource covers Alaska’s five geographic regions, provides event, culinary and attraction information, and talks traditions and tales.

In addition, look for downtown Juneau’s waterfront to soon be graced with a new, artistic Totem Pole Trail (Kootéeya Deiyí). Sealaska Heritage Institute is working with nine Indigenous master carvers who are creating 10 totem poles reflecting Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian cultures.   

Holland America Line
Holland America Line will operate six ships in Alaska in 2023. Guests on one of the line’s ships are seen enjoying the views of Glacier Bay. (Holland America Line )

For culinary and brew fans, Juneau Food Tours is launching a new four-hour “Sip, Savor and Explore Jeep Adventure.” Travelers will travel by Jeep to view the Mendenhall Glacier and other sites before savoring a brewery lunch paired with a flight of craft beer or seltzers. Separately, Juneau Lighthouse Tours will offer a new tour across Auke Bay to the Sentinel Island Lighthouse.

In Skagway, Klondike Electric Bicycle Rentals and Tours’ new “Trail & Sail Tour” combines its “Skagway City Highlights and Gold Panning Tour” with a sailboat experience and lunch. For those seeking thrills, the Alaska Zipline Adventure Park has opened near Palmer. Covering 4,000 feet, tandem lines (spanning six different zip line sections) soar 255 feet over the boreal forest. Riders will “zip along” at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour.

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