Though the cruise ships are typically the same, there are some of the major differences between Caribbean and Alaska cruises:
Cruise fare. Depending on the time of the year, you can get a Caribbean cruise for as low as $299 for a seven-night sailing. In Alaska, the fares stay pretty solid during the season from $599 and up. Occasionally an Alaska cruise fare will drop when the cruise line is having a hard time filling the ship.
Clothing. In Alaska you have to dress in layers. You won’t walk off the ship in a pair of shorts and flip-flops, typically. The only cold you’ll get in the Caribbean is the cold shoulder from your wife when she can’t buy that fake designer purse.
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Weather. While it’s usually sunny and 85 year-round in the Caribbean, Alaska is a little bit cooler. I’ve been to Alaska in both June and August and still had to wear a swear shirt. Also keep in mind that certain times of the year Alaska can be very rainy.
Excursion costs. I’d put the cost of a true Alaska excursion almost double a Caribbean excursion. Most of the excursions in the last frontier involve day trips on sightseeing vessels, crab feasts or getting somewhere by a floatplane.
In the Caribbean you’re good just putting a snorkel in your mouth and jumping into the water. You can see a full list of Alaska shore excursion prices at Shore Excursions Group. , you’ll see the price difference from the Caribbean.
You don’t want to skimp when it comes to Alaska shore excursions, anyone can return to the Caribbean, Alaska is usually a bucket list trip.
Extra gear. Bug spray, binoculars, extra spending money, umbrella, and gloves are all things that you’d never take on a Caribbean cruise, but almost a necessity in Alaska.
Wildlife. In Alaska there’s a good possibility that you’ll see a humpback whale, a bear or salmon spawning in one of the streams (especially in Ketchikan) – in the Caribbean you’re more like a barracuda or porpoise.
I highly suggest heading to Alaska if you’ve never had the opportunity to see it. Alaska was one of those places that I never wanted to go to – I just didn’t think I’d like it. Having been there a couple times, it’s addicting and I want to go back again and again.
Keep an open mind, always travel with trip insurance, and keep traveling!