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Koningsdam  Docked in  Astoria,  Oregon (Photo: Harriet Baskas)
Koningsdam Docked in Astoria, Oregon (Photo: Harriet Baskas)

A Guide to Pacific Coastal Cruises

Koningsdam  Docked in  Astoria,  Oregon (Photo: Harriet Baskas)
Koningsdam Docked in Astoria, Oregon (Photo: Harriet Baskas)
Aaron Saunders
Senior Editor, News and Features

When most people think of cruises, they picture the Caribbean, Alaska or Europe. But other cruise destinations can be just as rewarding, for a fraction of the price -- and Pacific coastal cruises are no exception.

Sometimes called Pacific Northwest or California Coastal cruises, these Pacific coast voyages are just that -- explorations of some of the great ports along the Pacific coast of North America, from Los Angeles to Victoria, Astoria to Vancouver, and everywhere in between.

Should you consider a Pacific coastal cruise? Here's why these unique sailings remain Cruise Critic favorites.

What Are Pacific Coastal Cruises?

Norwegian Sun in Victoria, Canada (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Norwegian Sun in Victoria, Canada (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Pacific coastal cruises come in several varieties: short roundtrip sailings; quick repositioning voyages between ports; and longer explorations that can stretch from Mexico, the United States and Canada -- all on the rugged West Coast.

Typically offered at the start or end of the traditional Alaska cruise seasons from Vancouver, Canada and Seattle, Washington, Pacific Coastal cruises could come in the form of a one-night sailing between Vancouver and Seattle, or a three-or-four night sailing that travels to Victoria, Astoria, or even Ketchikan, in Alaska.

They're quick, they're inexpensive (generally) -- and Pacific Coastal cruises are packed with value for those who are short on time and tight on budget.

Why Should You Take A Pacific Coastal Cruise?

Shot of the deep blue waves of Vancouver Island from onboard Passing Cloud
Waters outside of Vancouver Island (Photo: Aaron Saunders/Cruise Critic)

Pacific Coastal cruises offer a one-two punch when it comes to value.

First, these sailings are typically under a week in duration, from one-night repositioning sailings to three- and four-night tours of the Pacific Northwest. They're great "taster" sailings that provide a good cruise experience featuring a variety of ports in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California and, yes, even Alaska.

Second, these sailings tend to be value-priced. One night repositioning voyages between Vancouver and Seattle can often run for less than $100 per person, while four and five night cruises can be as little as a few hundred dollars -- all-in.

That adds up to cruises that are not only unique, but economical on both budget and vacation days. If you've been curious about the Pacific Northwest, if you live locally, or if you're looking to add a cruise to part of a larger overland tour, these quick getaways do not disappoint. These sailings cruise the waters of the Pacific Ocean, from the splendor of the Inside Passage to the Juan de Fuca Strait that runs between Vancouver Island and Washington State.

As an added bonus: these short sailings can be a great way to try a cruise without committing to the time -- or financial -- cost of a weeklong sailing.

Which Cruise Lines Typically Offer Pacific Coastal Cruises?

Nieuw Amsterdam in Ketchikan (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Nieuw Amsterdam in Ketchikan (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Cruise lines sailing to and from Alaska are the biggest operators of Pacific Coastal voyages, and among these, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises offer the most sailings, departures and variety.

Other lines offering occasional Pacific Coastal and Pacific Northwest cruises include Celebrity, Cunard, Disney Cruise Line, and Norwegian Cruise Line. Luxury cruise lines, lines focused on small-ship expedition sailings, and those that don't sail to Alaska typically do not offer short voyages along the Pacific.

When Are Pacific Coastal Cruises Offered?

An empty Canada Place terminal in Vancouver on a cloudy day
An empty Canada Place in Vancouver (Photo: Aaron Saunders/Cruise Critic)

For all the benefits they offer, Pacific Coastal cruises are limited when it comes to departures. The bulk of these cruises will sail in April, May, September, and October as vessels reposition to and from Alaska, though some lines offer sailings outside of these timeframes.

California Coastal cruises are typically offered in the winter months between November and March, but not every line offers these. Princess Cruises, however, offers a healthy selection of California Coastal sailings during the winter months, sailing from ports like Los Angeles (San Pedro) and San Francisco.

Updated April 21, 2023

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