Cruise Critic’s Best Cruise Itineraries for First-Time Cruisers

Curious about where to go for your first cruise? Fear not: Cruise Critic's editors pick their favorite first time cruise itinearies for you!

Cruise Critic’s Best Cruise Itineraries for First-Time Cruisers

An Alaska Cruise from Vancouver

Carnival Spirit in Tracy Arm Fjord (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Aaron Saunders, Senior Editor, News and Features: “There are some destinations that are just better by sea, and Alaska is one of them. Its inlets and fjords are bordered by some of the most remarkable scenery in the world, teeming with wildlife and dramatic skies. Getting to places like Sitka, Ketchikan, Skagway and Juneau – or even more remote ports of call – would be downright challenging and expensive without a cruise. (Fun fact: a typical weeklong cruise costs less, on average, than a trip from Bellingham, Washington to Ketchikan on the Alaskan Marine Highway System ferry).

"My first-ever cruise was a weeklong trip to Alaska from Vancouver, and I recommend it heartily to everyone I meet. Sure, it may rain – that’s possible when you sail from a rainforest, to a rainforest. But Alaska has pulled me back again and again for that reason – it’s never the same twice. Sunny, rainy, calm, stormy, Alaska always offers up a different version of itself. And while it may lack the warm sunny beaches of the Caribbean, it makes up for it with its rich Gold Rush, Indigenous and industrial history, not to mention its abundant natural splendors like Glacier Bay.

Skagway, Alaska on a quiet afternoon (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

"You’re going to want to sail out of Vancouver, Canada. Trust me on this. Vancouver departures hug the Inside Passage – the coastal waterways between mainland British Columbia and Vancouver Island. Seattle departures do not; you swing out into the open, often bumpy, Pacific Ocean instead.

Mainstream cruise lines like Disney, Holland America Line, Norwegian, Princess and Royal Caribbean all offer cruises from Vancouver to Alaska, but so do luxury lines like Seabourn, Silversea and Regent. And that means this run has a cruise to fit every style and budget.