It’s no secret that Alaska is home to some of the country’s best wildlife spotting opps, which is why I was psyched to embark on Holland America’s epic Alaskan Explorer sailing in August 2022. Both on and off the ship, I had the chance to spot many a whale—along with puffins, otters and other adorable and astonishing creatures that call the Last Frontier home. (If you’re lucky, you may even spot a bear or two!). Sailing roundtrip from Seattle, this bucket-list itinerary includes scenic cruising through the Puget Sound and Glacier Bay, along with stops in Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Sitka, Ketchikan, and last but not least, Victoria, British Columbia.
Cruises have become increasingly popular in recent years, with over 35 million passengers slated to set sail in 2024 alone: and it’s easy to see why. Not only do cruises make for a convenient vacation option—you just need to unpack once, and you’ll never have to travel too far from your stateroom (if at all) for your next meal or drink—but they also offer plenty of onboard activities and amenities to appease all types of travelers. Plus, cruises are available across various price points and lengths. Whether you prefer oceans or lakes, islands or cities, spotting wildlife or sitting on the beach (no wrong answers!), I’ve used my experience both as a cruiser and travel writer—I’ve covered the industry for nearly five years—to narrow down the best cruises from the U.S. to suit all individuals, regardless of travel style and personal preferences.