It’s known as the Final Frontier and is on the bucket list for most travellers, with recent data released by the cruise industry showing Aussies are heading to Alaska in rapidly growing numbers in recent years.

Recent investments by cruise lines has seen a dramatic decrease in the age of ships sailing in the region, with bigger, newer and more interesting vessels than ever now showing guests the famed fjords, glaciers and towns. If you are in the early stages of planning an Alaskan cruise, the two major questions you’ll be asking yourself is first, which ship catches your eye and second, which city do you need to travel to in order to join your cruise?

We have taken a look at the numerous ports offering voyages to the region to help you with your decision on where to embark on your Alaskan adventure.

Anchorage, Alaska

Denali National Park's famed Mount McKinley sits just outside of Anchorage.
Denali National Park’s famed Mount McKinley sits just outside of Anchorage.

Which lines set sail from this city? Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Ponant, Royal Caribbean and more.

Alaska’s capital and largest city is situated at the north end of the Inside Passage. The city is home to numerous attractions and points of interest and also serves as the embarkation point for guests wishing to sail southbound through the passage.

Guests embarking and disembarking in Anchorage can also take advantage of the numerous land touring options available either side of your cruise, many providing a great opportunity to discover the interior areas of Alaska and The Canadian Yukon, such as Denali National Park or the gold rush towns of Talenkeetna or Copper River.

Anchorage is relatively easily accessed from major North American cities such as Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Honolulu, however flying in directly from Australia will be a long journey north, with most journeys lasting 24 to 30 hours door-to-door!

Vancouver, Canada

A look at Vancouver, British Columbia, from high above.
Vancouver is a culturally diverse city, with both natural beauty and man made attractions.

Which lines set sail from this city? Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Ponant, Royal Caribbean, Oceania Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Silversea, Disney Cruise Line and more.

Providing one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, it should come as no surprise that Canada’s second largest city plays host to a strong cruise scene which is continually growing.

Capable of handling up to eight ships at once, the city is a hive of activity during the key Alaskan cruise season. Guests can sail from the city on a range of round trip and one-way cruises to ports both in the Inside Passage and The Gulf of Alaska. Many guests also embark in Vancouver for back-to-back cruises which cover both Hawaii and Alaska, offering a taste of two very different climates. Some Alaskan voyages can also be combined with repositioning sailings to and from Australia, giving guests the option of only flying one way on their holiday.

Vancouver’s unique cultural institutions and interesting neighbourhoods such as Gastown and Granville Island offer visitors an interesting look at this cosmopolitan metropolis. While guests more inclined to discover natural beauty can venture out to attractions including the Capilano Suspension Bridge or Stanley Park, Vancouver also holds the distinction of having non-stop flights from Sydney and Brisbane, with Air Canada serving both cities year-round.

For more information on Vancouver, take a look at our handy destination guide.

Seattle, Washington State

Guests on a tour of the abandoned underground city in Seattle.
Guests on a tour of the abandoned underground city in Seattle.

Which lines set sail from this city? Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean, Oceania, Carnival Cruise Line and more.

Setting off from Puget Sound, guests embarking in Seattle can soak up some of the world class hospitality for which the Pacific Northwest region is renowned. Playing host to some of the largest ships cruising Alaskan waters such as Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas and Celebrity’s Celebrity Solstice, Seattle is already a popular embarkation port for Alaska.

Guests spending time in the city either side of their cruise can include some unusual sites in their travels, with nearby attractions including the Boeing aircraft manufacturing plant and the abandoned underground city built after the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. Additionally, guests with a penchant for scenic cruising can indulge in the views afforded from the time spent sailing out of the chain of sounds surrounding the city on the way north to Alaska.

San Francisco, California

Disney Cruise Line vessel Disney Wonder sails under the Golden Gate Bridge on arrival into San Francisco.
Disney Cruise Line vessel Disney Wonder sails under the Golden Gate Bridge on arrival into San Francisco.

Which lines set sail from this city? Princess Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and more.

If you’re a fan of sailing under the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge when cruising close to home, you may also enjoy cruising under San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

Princess Cruises sets sail from San Francisco on 10-14-night itineraries and these are quickly becoming a firm favourite for guests who enjoy a longer Alaskan adventure. Disney Cruise Line uses the city as a home port for selected voyages from San Francisco to Vancouver and onward to Alaska.

Itineraries from San Francisco, which incorporate several sea days in addition to numerous port visits in Alaska, British Columbia and Oregon serve up a bit of a different perspective on Alaskan cruising. Combined with an exciting city to sail to and from, voyages from the Bay Area are amongst the most exciting in the market.

Los Angeles, California

The City of Angels offers everything to enjoy pre or post-cruise.
The City of Angels offers everything to enjoy pre or post-cruise.

Which lines set sail from this city? Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises.

Debuting in 2017 as the newest and southernmost American embarkation port for Alaskan cruises, the opening of Los Angeles as a gateway port for Alaskan cruising makes the destination cheaper than ever.

The Californian city, which sees multiple daily non-stop flights from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, is one of the cheapest to fly to in the United States. Through lower airfares and the removal of the need to take a second flight to your embarkation city, the improved accessibility is expected to further open up the market. Larger family groups may even find an Alaskan cruise more enticing as they can now combine it with a visit to Disneyland.

Voyages from Los Angeles however are significantly longer than similar cruises from Seattle & Vancouver, with both Carnival and Princess scheduling 14-night itineraries as a minimum.

We recently covered how much more there is to “Tinseltown” in a recent destination guide.

Tokyo, Japan

The hustle and bustle of Tokyo, couldn't be further from the serene nature of Alaska, however many cruise lines sail between the two.
The hustle and bustle of Tokyo seems like a long way away, but many cruise lines sail between the two.

Which lines set sail from this city? Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises.

While probably not front of mind as a setting-off point for cruises to Alaska, the Japanese capital is an increasingly popular destination to start a cruise to Alaska, particularly with time-rich travellers. Tokyo is often the embarkation port for many repositioning itineraries sailing the Inside Passage.

Alaskan itineraries well over two weeks in length often feature from Tokyo in the months of September and May, as many offer access to some off-the-beaten-track ports in addition to those called upon more regularly.

Ports such as Dutch Harbour – made famous by the Discovery Channel show The Deadliest Catch – and Vladivostok, on Russia’s Pacific coast are two such ports generally called upon as part of these special combination Alaska and Japan voyages.

Where did you join your Alaskan voyage? Tell us below in the comments!

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