Alaska isn’t like a Caribbean destination at all. In fact, booking an Alaska cruise trip has a lot more moving parts and could be compared to heading over to Europe. Though the miles to Alaska aren’t quite as far, the planning is just as involved.
7 Tips for Planning a Cruise to Alaska
1. Book offseason to save.
The peak of the Alaska season is the mid-summer. If you want to save a few dollars, consider booking in late April or early May on the front-end and late August or early September on the back-end of the season. Rates can be up to 50% off in the offseason.
2. Don’t skimp on anything.
Many people will only get to experience Alaska one time in their life, so plan on going big and doing those excursions you’ve always wanted to do. Enjoy the seafood, sights, the trains, and everything else there is to do in the Last Frontier.
Alaska cruises also offer a lot of onboard events and amenities like naturalists, tastings, and lectures, so take advantage of all activities offered by the cruise line.
3. Look for 3rd party excursion companies.
We know that sometimes the cruise line excursions are through the roof; we also know that if we don’t use them we might be left in port. The cruise lines seem to have us backed in a corner – but it’s not entirely true.
Third-party shore excursion companies, like CruisingExcursions, offer affordable excursions in Alaska that have a worry-free guarantee.
4. Book a balcony.
Doing an Alaskan cruise without booking a balcony is like going to your car without your keys. You have this beautiful vessel but without booking a balcony, or a oceanview at the very least, you aren’t doing yourself any justice. The views, wildlife, and intimate accounts of nature that can be seen from the privacy of your own stateroom are unparalleled.
5. Do a pre-cruise stay.
Especially if you’re coming from the east coast. Anytime I fly over to the west coast I always allow myself one extra pre-cruise night for a couple of reasons. The first reason to have a pre-cruise night in your embarkation port is that things do happen and flights do get delayed. The last thing you want is to arrive in Seattle or Vancouver and your cruise ship is already northbound to Alaska. The second reason is just for the sight of checking out the city. It doesn’t make sense to fly into, say Seattle, and just go to the cruise port. There are so many landmarks and sights there that it’s crazy not to build it into your vacation.
6. Consider travel insurance.
Personally, I am a heavy advocate of travel insurance. Anything can happen. Anything. I booked my Alaska cruise at the end of March and paid $800 for my airfare. On April 5th I fractured my ankle. Travel insurance runs a small percentage of your cruise fare, typically 3% – a small price for travel insurance can save you if things go wrong.
7. Study the weather.
Alaska is known for their rain but it shouldn’t limit your vacation. Look at the best time of year to travel to Alaska and study the climate charts. When I sailed in Alaska in both early June and late August I still needed a sweatshirt in almost every port.
When it comes to booking your Alaska cruise make sure you use a travel advisor who knows the ins and outs of those itineraries. It’s a very exciting destination but you will want to make sure you have all your bases covered when investing so much in a vacation.
Do you have any tips to offer for an Alaska cruise?