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Now is the time to take an Alaskan cruise

Newer ships in Seattle this season

View of a glacier while cruising Glacier Bay from the deck of the Holland America Westerdam. Photo credit: Marguerite Cleveland

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If you have ever wanted to take an Alaskan cruise, now is the time. Multiple cruise lines depart each week from the Port of Seattle to head north to Alaska. In previous seasons, older ships were typically what you would see, but in 2018, Norwegian Cruise Lines launched the brand-new Norwegian Bliss in Seattle for its inaugural season. This year, the Norwegian Joy, built in 2017, is joining the Bliss for the Alaska season, and in 2021, they are adding the new Norwegian Encore, which launches in winter 2019. Another newer ship coming this year is the Royal Caribbean Ovation of the Seas, built in 2016. The Carnival Legend is an older ship but underwent a complete refurbishment in 2018 and has all the bells and whistles one expects on the newer ships.

What do these new ships mean? Well for one thing, they are more family-friendly with new amenities like go cart tracks and ziplines that appeal to children. The traditional cruise ship model for dining was two seatings in the main dining room and then a casual buffet restaurant. The newer ships have more dining options and specialty restaurants.

An Alaskan cruise is already a good travel deal because you don't have to fly to get to the port of departure. There are deals to be had. Unfortunately, with the military lifestyle, it is unlikely you can book a year out and get a better selection and other perks, but you can book last minute and find some deals. My favorite place to look for a cruise is VacationstoGo.com. When cruise lines have unsold cabins, this is where you find them at greatly discounted prices, and while you can find the same price elsewhere, they often negotiate extras like credits you can use during your cruise. The website offers a 90-day ticker and you can see all the cruises available to a certain destination over the next 90 days and what the discount is. There is also the option to check off what discounts are available to you like a military discount or over 55 years old. It makes it so much simpler to plan as everything is in one place. You can look at the deal which shows the pricing, the itinerary for the trip, and you can click on the ship to learn about it as well.

When planning an Alaskan cruise, you have the option of departing and returning from the same port, a one-way option, or a sea and land tour which combines a one-way cruise with a land tour. The advantage of returning to the same port is you don't have the added expense of airfare. When departing from the Port of Seattle, parking is extremely expensive at over $30 a day, which adds up over a seven-day cruise, so you want to plan to get a ride to the ship or take an Uber. Splurge for the balcony if you can afford it. The cruise to Alaska is so scenic especially when in Glacier Bay. Your own balcony is a nice place to hang out away from the crowds on deck.

An Alaskan cruise is an enjoyable summer vacation. You unpack once and all your meals are included. Excursions are available at additional costs, but many ports have plenty of activities within walking distance of the ship. Make sure to do your research to find a cruise line that meets your needs to guarantee a fun, memorable trip that the whole family will enjoy.

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Tacoma Wayzgoose

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