Majestic Princess in Alaska

© Princess

Cruise to Alaska from Seattle for two holidays in one

Combine a vibrant city sojourn with an otherworldly, glacial adventure, for a trip you won’t forget

May 2024

By Ashleigh Arnott

If you’re finally planning the Alaska adventure that’s been on your bucket list for decades, we have good news: Alaska cruises from Seattle make adding an extra, more urban holiday experience to your trip a no-brainer. Let Washington State’s biggest city ease you into travel mode with its iconic landmarks and vibrant food and drink scene, before you sail off across the Salish Sea in search of Alaska’s icy landscapes.

Here’s why an Alaska cruise from Seattle gives you the best of both worlds…

The Space Needle in Seattle

See spectacular views of Seattle from the Space Needle observation tower © Princess

You’ll see Seattle’s best bits

A wonderfully retrofuturistic observation tower – the Space Needle – has claimed centre stage in the Seattle skyline since 1962, and the views from the top are as impressive as the structure itself. As well as the sprawling city below, you’ll get a panorama of the glittering waters of Puget Sound (often frequented by orcas, which were filmed here for the 1993 movie Free Willy) and, beyond it, stately Mount Olympus and the Olympic National Park.

In the shadow of the Space Needle, at the Chihuly Garden and Glass gallery, Seattle-based artist Dale Chihuly’s curious sculptures, featuring fluorescent spirals and neon spikes, are showcased in well-kept gardens as well as darkened rooms, offering photo opportunities galore.

There’s everything from a gold rush to the birth of Bill Gates in Seattle’s rich history, and you can learn about the beginnings of the city on a tour through the 19th-century underground pathways below Pioneer Square. But one of Seattle’s greatest selling points is that it’s very navigable for a big city; don’t be afraid to wander the area’s independent shops and characterful bars to get a feel for its people.

The multi-cultural population here has created an enviable food scene, and a tour of the iconic Pike Place Market will help you get a nibble of all the best bits (including crab cakes and clam chowder) as you meet the market traders who are famous for their fish-throwing skills. The market is also home to the first ever branch of Starbucks, at which you can expect excellent merchandise and very long queues.

Beer lovers should plan a trip out of the city centre to Fremont, a spacious suburb that has more craft breweries than a bowl of Seattle chowder has clams. It’s also the location of the city’s most elegant farmers’ market, which runs every Saturday from 9am to 1pm in downtown Fremont.

Totem Bight State Historical Park in Ketchikan, Alaska

Get to know Alaska's native history at Totem Bight State Historical Park in Ketchikan © Princess

And experience the jaw-dropping wonder of Alaska

It’s the largest and most sparsely populated state in the USA, so it’s fair to say that Alaska is all about natural beauty rather than buzzing metropolises. Cruise to Alaska from Seattle and the cities you’ll find on arrival will be a complete contrast to Seattle’s modernity.

Ketchikan – often the first port of call – is a colourful jumble of timber-built shops and restaurants that sit right on the water. It’s rich in native history, notably boasting one of the world’s largest collections of heritage totem poles. It’s also a gateway to the rainforests that have grown around the salmon-rich rivers and streams; choose to follow the forest trails on foot or whizz through the treetops on a zipwire tour.

, Alaska’s capital and also a popular port stop, sits within one of the largest wilderness areas in all of the USA and is a springboard for wildlife excursions, glacial hikes and fishing trips. With Princess, you can take a helicopter to the iconic Mendenhall Glacier to trek across the ice and then refuel on just-caught wild salmon before roasting marshmallows on a campfire. Or embark on a whale watching tour, which offers guaranteed whale sightings during peak season.

On dry land, you can attempt to catch sight of Alaska’s big five: bears, moose, caribou, Dall sheep (recognisable by their enormous, curled horns) and wolves. But as the animals aren’t usually found in the same areas, seeing all of them in one trip requires some planning and a lot of good fortune.

One place where you will be able to see numerous species gathered in one spot is the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre in Anchorage, which cares for muskox, bison, bears, lynx and bald eagles (among many others) that have struggled to live in the wild. You can visit on a day trip with Princess that also includes a stop at Potter Marsh Bird Sanctuary.

Some of Alaska’s most breath-taking landmarks are best seen from the water – for example, from College Fjord. Many of our itineraries that depart from Seattle sail down this spectacular glacial fjord, allowing you to take in views of endless snow-capped mountains and glittering glaciers that jut out into the sea.

Our Alaska cruises from Seattle really are a trip of two vastly different (but equally fascinating) halves.

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About the Author

Ashleigh Arnott

Ashleigh Arnott

Ashleigh is a freelance writer who plans her travels around delicious dinners, elegant bakeries and rowdy taprooms. She'd always choose verdant hills over sandy beaches and lives in the UK's greenest city, Sheffield, where you are very likely to find her in a good pub with a pint of stout, even in summer.