School’s out for summer and it’s the perfect time to plan a cruise vacation. Whether you plan on exploring natural wonders with the whole family or simply escaping for a quick weekend getaway, the west coast has an abundance of summer sailing options to consider. Based on my own recent experiences, here are my picks for the best west coast cruises this summer.
Norwegian: Awe of Alaska
Norwegian Bliss began her journey in the summer of 2018 and this new ship carries just over 4000 passengers. The Observation Lounge is the perfect spot to take in the stunning landscape during a 7-Day sailing through Alaska’s Inside Passage & Glacier Bay, roundtrip from Seattle. The pool deck and Aqua Park are perfect places for kids and kids at heart to soak up the sun, while Mandara Spa & Salon offers a wonderful mix of pampering and relaxation. Complimentary entertainment includes the hit musical Jersey Boys and ¡HAVANA!, an energetic musical trip back to 1950s Cuba. Complimentary dining includes the Garden Café buffet and The Local, a 24-hr pub, while à la carte options are abundant with Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville® at Sea, Cagney’s Steakhouse, Starbucks, and the barbeque at Q just a hint at what’s on board.
Holland America: Alaskan Explorer
Holland America Line recently celebrated its 70th year sailing Alaska, so you can bet this cruise line knows the terrain well. The Eurodam serves just over 2100 passengers, so if you prefer the vibe of a mid-size ship HAL is ready to cater to your needs. One of its highlights is the Music Walk™ experience, which celebrates a range of musical interests with the Lincoln Center Stage, B.B. King’s Blues Club, and Billboard Onboard. On the 7-Day Alaskan Explorer, you’ll visit some of Alaska’s most popular ports, then return to the ship for nightly entertainment and world-class dining. I’m quite a fan of HAL’s culinary options, ranging from the Dining Room and Lido Market buffet included with your sailing, to à la carte options including Pacific Northwest flavors at Pinnacle Grill and Italian favorites at Canaletto.
Carnival: Baja Mexico Getaway
If you’re in search of an exciting weekend getaway, set sail on Carnival Inspiration. With round-trip sailings from Long Beach CA, enjoy a 3-Day Baja Mexico mini-vacation wherein you embark on a Friday and return during sunrise on Monday—just in time to get back to work, if need be. You’ll enjoy a full day in Ensenada for exploring wine country, touring the sights on horseback, or riding through the countryside during a Jeep Safari. On your sunny day at sea, kick back at the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat or splash around with the kids at WaterWorks, then join the dance party into the wee hours. Complimentary dining ranges from the Lido Restaurant to the Dining Room, along with my personal favorite: Guy’s Burger Joint, where you’ll enjoy Guy Fieri’s menu poolside.
While there are countless options for sailing away this summer, these are my recommended go-to itineraries based on my own recent sailings. Insider tip: plan your vacation with your preferred mileage program, like Delta’s SkyMiles Cruises or Alaska Air’s cruise portal, so you’ll earn bonus miles simply by booking through the airline partner site.