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West Coast cruises

6 amazing adventures to California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and beyond.

West Coast cruises can bring you to vibrant cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle, along with more peaceful ports like Santa Barbara, Catalina Island and Astoria. If it’s a beach vacay you’re after, book a West Coast cruise down to Ensenada or Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. For an adventure that’ll give you chills, sail north to Alaska.

Budget cruisers should check out Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, which typically have West Coast cruises available for less than $100 a night. Go with Windstar if you want a yachting experience, American Cruise Line for historically rich small ship cruises, and Celebrity if you’re ready to splurge for an upscale sail.

Ports with West Coast cruises

It’s no surprise that most of the ports serving as the departure point for West Coast cruises are in California, Oregon, Washington, Canada or Alaska. You might be able to book a West Coast cruise that departs from a port along the Gulf Coast — like New Orleans, Galveston, Tampa or Mobile — and sails south to cut through the Panama Canal before ending up in California. But these are rare, and tend to last at least three weeks or longer.

Check out these ports to book a West Coast cruise:

  • Astoria, OR
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Diego, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Seward, AK
  • Vancouver, Canada
  • Whittier, AK

Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, though it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 2021. It recommends that you delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.

When traveling, follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for COVID-19 test results — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.

Our favorite West Coast cruises

Cruise lineCruiseItineraryPriceBook
Royal CaribbeanSouthbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier — 7 nights
  • Seward, Alaska
  • Hubbard Glacier, Alaska
  • Juneau, Alaska
  • Skagway, Alaska
  • Haines, Alaska
  • Icy Strait Point, Alaska
  • Ketchikan, Alaska
  • Inside Passage, Canada
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
From $509 per personBook now
Princess CruisesPacific Coastal — 5 days
  • Los Angeles, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
From $449 per personBook now
Norwegian Cruise LineMexican Riviera: Cabo & Ensenada — 5 days
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
  • Ensenada, Mexico
  • Los Angeles, California
From $342 per personBook now
Celebrity CruisesPacific Coastal Cruise — 10 nights
  • San Diego, California
  • Santa Barbara, California
  • Cataline Island, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Astoria, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
From $1,451 per personBook now
WindstarWest Coast Epicurean Extravaganza — 10 days
  • San Diego, California
  • Santa Barbara, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Victoria, British Columbia
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
From $3,000 per personBook now
American Cruise LineHighlights of the Columbia River — 5 days
  • Hayden Island, Oregon
  • Astoria, Oregon
  • Mount St. Helens, WA
  • Stevenson, WA
  • Hayden Island, OR
From $2,375 per person

Best cruises lines sailing along the West Coast

Whether you’re looking to soak up some of that glorious Californian sunshine or venture to the northernmost point in the US, one of these cruise liners can take you there.

Best for Alaska trips: Royal Caribbean

Take your trip one step further and tag a visit to Alaska to the end — or begin there. Royal Caribbean offers an impressive range of itineraries, lasting from three days to two weeks, so you can choose a trip that’s perfect for you. Shorter trips disembark from Seattle, whereas longer trips begin from Seward, AK and work its way south for three weeks.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • Price matches
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for wine enthusiasts: Princess

Along with onboard wine tasting sessions, a certified sommelier and a huge wine cellar, opt for a cruise through Wine Country with Princess and you’ll have countless opportunities to visit some fantastic wineries including Napa, just north of San Francisco.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card, JCB
Price ($-$$$):

Best for short trips: Norwegian

Setting sail from Los Angeles or Vancouver, Norwegian offers a series of five or six-day cruises through the Pacific that stop off at key ports along the way. This introduction to the West Coast gives you time to explore Los Angeles, San Francisco and more.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for couples: Celebrity

This luxury line has everything you might need to rekindle that spark. From huge suites with private tubs big enough for two, to romantic shore excursions off-board. Enjoy alfresco film screenings and candlelit dinners, to find yourself falling more in love every second of your trip.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for multidestination cruises: Seabourn

Adventurous cruisers can add a visit to Canada, Mexico, or South America onto their cruise with Seabourn. Consider the Odyssey of Americas for the ultimate voyage, beginning in Miami before journeying through the Panama Canal, past Costa Rica, along Mexico’s coast and ends north at California’s Wine Country.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for family friendly luxury: Cunard

Despite its upmarket appeal, Cunard Cruises does a great job of accommodating young families, giving Mom and Dad the break they deserve. Along with a complimentary night daycare for children six months to 23 months, you’ll find two staffed kids zones and a teenagers-only area on board each ship.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now
  • We don’t receive compensation if you book with Windstar or American Cruise Line. However, we’re including them because their West Coast itineraries are some of the best.

Best for foodies: Windstar

Windstar cruises feel like you’re on a private yacht owned by your culturally savvy best friend. Its West Coast itineraries dock at smaller ports that large cruise lines can’t, like Portland and Santa Barbara. It also offers cruises that start in San Diego and sail south along Mexico’s Pacific coast to Puerto Vallarta.

Read Windstar review

Best for river cruises: American Cruise Line

American Cruise Line has itineraries along the Columbia and Snake rivers, in Oregon and Washington, offering a more in-depth look at West Coast culture, landscapes and heritage. It’s known for bringing aboard historians and regional experts, for an educational spin on your cruise. Choose American Cruise Line if you want a small ship cruising experience, complete with complimentary cocktail hour.

Read American Cruise Line review

How we picked the best cruises

When it comes to cruising the Pacific coast, there are a huge number of companies operating in the area, which is why our team has spent so much time searching for the best.

When picking cruises for this list, we looked at the quality of routes available from each company, making sure itineraries included stop-offs at key ports along the way. We also took a look at the onboard facilities on offer, including cabins, suites, daily entertainment and dining options, as well as offshore facilities including any shore excursions and overnight stopovers.

When is the best time to go to the West Coast?

Many West Coast cities experience beautiful sunshine year-round, especially in Southern California. For this reason, you’ll generally find cruises available throughout the year on the West Coast. To get the best deals, cruise during the shoulder months of April, May, September and October. Early November usually sees super cheap fare too, since fewer people want to cruise during that time.

Of course, this depends on how far north you’re planning to go. If you’re venturing into Alaska, we’d recommend booking between May and August for the best chances of clear blue skies and pleasant sailing conditions. It’s rare to see Alaska cruises during chilly winter months, though West Coast cruises to Mexico depart all year round from California.

What are the must-do cruise excursions on the West Coast?

The West Coast is certainly not short of things to keep you entertained. Check out what to do in some of the major ports of call.

  • Catalina Island, CA. Docks in Los Angeles can get you on a connecting ferry to Catalina Island where sunbathing, snorkeling and hiking are all popular ways to pass the time.
  • San Francisco, CA. No trip to the West Coast would be complete without a wine tasting session or two. Head beyond the busy streets of San Francisco and into the countryside for a tour of some iconic wineries.
  • Astoria, OR. History buffs shouldn’t miss the chance to hop off at historic Astoria, where the stories behind Lewis and Clark and Fort Clatsop are unraveled.
  • San Diego, CA. Stay within the realms of the city and visit the world-famous Balboa Park, home to San Diego Zoo, Museum of Man and more than 15 other worthwhile attractions.
  • Juneau, AK. Take to the skies with a once in a lifetime helicopter ride over Juneau’s four famous glaciers including Taku, Hole-in-the-Wall, Dead Branch and East Twin Glaciers.
  • Los Angeles, CA. Drive along the palm-lined streets of Beverley Hills in search of celebrities and their mansions.

Do I need a passport for a West Coast cruise?

No — on most West Coast cruises you shouldn’t need a passport. Even if the boat docks at Vancouver in Canada, you won’t need a passport to get on and off the ship.

However, if you need to fly to an international cruise port to board your ship, or are visiting ports outside of the US, Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean and Bermuda as part of your cruise, then you’ll need your passport.

If you have questions, check with the company you’re sailing with to find out exactly what’s required for your cruise.

Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, though it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 2021. It recommends that you delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.

When traveling, follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for COVID-19 test results — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.

Bottom line

Cosmopolitan cities, exciting wildlife, fantastic local produce — the West Coast has it all. Search for the best deals now to see what a cruise along one of the world’s most vibrant coastlines can offer you.

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