Choosing an Alaska cruise is difficult, but the choices between glaciers can complicate things even more. Also keep in mind that a passport is required for the cruises leaving from Vancouver, or an Alaska to Vancouver, but not those leaving from Seattle.
A roundtrip Seattle, or Vancouver inside passage cruise will go to either Tracy’s Arm, or Glacier Bay. Several cruise lines go to Glacier Bay & that includes Holland America and Princess, however not all ships of either line go here. Only 2 large ships per day are allowed in to the bay. At Glacier Bay a ranger will get on the ship & give you some narration. Ships can typically only cruise to the middle of the bay, and not close to the glaciers. If you do choose a Glacier Bay cruise get a port side balcony cabin, as more glaciers are on this side of the ship.
Link to Glacier Bay National Park Service website
The glaciers at Tracy’s Arm are reached after a 30 mile cruise up the fjord. These glaciers are known as Sawyer Glacier & South Sawyer Glacier. Because of ice claved off the glaciers you can not always get large ships close to them. You can, however reach these as a small boat excursion from Juneau. In comparison, while not on the scale of Glacier Bay, at Tracys Arm Fjord you are surrounded by cliffs towering all around you, seeing wildlife, waterfalls, as well as glaciers as you cruise along. Both NCL and Celebrity go to Tracy’s Arm.
In order to get to Hubbard Glacier or College Fjord …… you need to do a one way cruise either to or from Seward or Ankorage.
Hubbard Glacier is 76 miles long, and 25% larger than the state of Rhode Island. It is a very actively calving (shedding large chunks of ice into the water) and is a popular cruise destination.
College Fjord Glaciers, are named after colleges, and are located within the Prince William Sound.
Not accessible by cruise ship is Portage Glacier. This glacier is located 50 miles south of Anchorage, and 5 miles off Seward Highway. It is a good stop for cruise passengers heading to Seward or Whittier. there are several tours available that go to this glacier for those not wishing to rent a car.