If you’re an AdventureSmith traveler, fan or follower, you are likely familiar with some of our favorite cruises to explore Alaska’s famed Glacier Bay National Park by small ship: Sea Wolf Glacier Bay AdventureGlacier Bay & Island Adventure and Northern Passages & Glacier Bay. But in 2018, we’re prepped to have some new favorites. Thanks to updated permit allocations from Glacier Bay National Park doled out in 2017, a new batch of itineraries and vessels are sailing into Glacier Bay.

Alaskan small ship cruise in front of a tidewater glacier in Glacier Bay.

1) Glacier Bay National Park Adventure Cruise

The 8-day Glacier Bay National Park Adventure Cruise aboard the 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer is an entirely new route for this popular small expedition ship. The itinerary spends two full days exploring the national park area, with departures starting earlier than any we’ve seen aboard overnight cruises: April 14, 2018. In previous years, cruise routes did not enter into Glacier Bay until mid-May. Early-season sailings here bring the benefits of more wildlife sightings of moose, wolves and bears with cubs, and well as the rare chance to catch the northern lights before the summer sun extends daylight longer.

2 moose walking along the shore in Alaska.

2) Alaska’s Inside Passage & San Juans Cruise

A new 15-day Alaska’s Inside Passage & San Juans Cruise between Seattle and Juneau (northbound in the spring, southbound in the fall) includes one day exploring Glacier Bay National Park. The previous iteration of this cruise in 2017 was two days shorter and did not include any time in Glacier Bay National Park, so this is a big bonus for travelers on this iconic route between Seattle, Washington, and Juneau, Alaska. Five small ships, from 36 to 88 guests, sail this itinerary so there is a vessel for every style and budget.

Stellar sea lions basking on a rock in the ocean in Alaska.

3) Discover Glacier Bay

The intimate 8-guest Westward and 12-guest Catalyst are also now sailing in Glacier Bay National Park, spending 7 of 10 days exploring the national park on the Discover Glacier Bay itinerary, round-trip from Juneau. Catalyst is registered as a Historic Place by the National Park Service so it’s a fitting floating basecamp for these historic and wild waters.

A traveler walking in front of a large glacier in Alaska.

4) Alaska’s Frontier & Wilderness Quest

A new 11-day Alaska’s Frontier & Wilderness Quest alternative itinerary aboard the Chichagof Dream on June 3 and June 13, 2018, extends the classic Glacier Bay & Island Adventure journey to include two days in Glacier Bay (instead of only one on the main 8-day cruise). These two special departures include excursions north up the Lynn Canal to Skagway and down the Inside Passage south to Wrangell for an even more comprehensive voyage in Alaska’s Inside Passage.

A group of Alaskan travelers walking on rocks with scenic snow covered mountains and a Alaskan small ship cruise in the background.

5) Wild Alaska Escape

The usual view of Glacier Bay National Park is from water level. While cruising alongside glaciers is certainly an intimate way to see them and best to witness dramatic calving events, the eagle’s view provided by flightseeing really shows you the expanse of this 3.3-million-acre park. The 6-day Wild Alaska Escape: Sitka to Juneau cruise aboard the 62-guest National Geographic Sea Bird has added this special new addition in 2018 to their already packed, diverse itinerary. This exciting side journey takes off from the “adventure capital of the world,” Haines, to explore Glacier Bay National Park from above. From this special vantage point travelers get to see rivers of ice, how glaciers form and the stunning scenery of the park. Take a peek.

Scenic view from a float plain of Alaskan mountain ranges and the ocean.

6) Great National Parks of Alaska – AdventureSmith Exclusive Trip!

Last but not least, AdventureSmith Explorations is introducing the ultimate way to explore Glacier Bay National Park in 2018… by combining your journey with explorations in two of Alaska’s other national parks: Kenai Fjords National Park and Denali National Park. The 18-day Great National Parks of Alaska trip combines a small ship cruise aboard 60-guest Wilderness Adventurer with wilderness lodge-based travel and is inclusive of all accommodation and transportation, including train rides on the historic Alaska Railroad. This is the ultimate way to experience the best of Alaska at three of the state’s favorite national parks. If you can make the time to do Alaska right, this is the trip you want to take.

Alaskan traveler and young child on the deck of a Alaskan small ship cruise with snow capped mountains.

This blog post was originally published as 5 New Ways to Explore Glacier Bay National Park in November 2017 and has since been edited to reflect a sixth way: flightseeing. The most recent update occurred April 2018. Learn more about all of AdventureSmith’s Alaska cruises to have the adventure of a lifetime!