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How To Plan An Alaska Cruise

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Featured May Cruises To Alaska

Alaskan Cruise Tips – How to plan your trip to Alaska!

Get to Alaska right when the cruise season begins on an Alaska Northbound Glacier Cruise that departs in May from Vancouver, British Columbia. Youll see something new every single day of your cruise in May, from sailing the Inside Passage to visiting Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, and Skagway before ending your cruise in Seward, Alaska, where you might even be able to see some snow on the ground.

Which Cruise Lines Sail To Alaska

Alaska is one of the most popular cruise destinations, and interested travelers have a variety of options to choose from. Almost all cruise lines travel to Alaska during the summer. Cruisers should first identify what type of cruise they are looking to take, and where their closest port is, to select which cruise line is best for them.

Best Time Of Year To Take An Alaska Cruise

Alaska is one of the top cruise destinations. While Alaska might not be what you first picture when you think of a cruise, a cruise is actually the easiest way to visit this region. Unlike Caribbean cruises though, Alaska is a seasonal cruise port. This means that you will only be able to cruise to Alaska during select months of the year.

There are actually several factors to consider when determining the best time of year to take an Alaskan cruise including weather, price, and crowds. Thus, when to cruise to Alaska is not as clear cut as you might think.

The Alaskan cruise season generally runs from late April/early May through the end of September. With that being said, many choose to visit Alaska in the middle of the season. July usually provides the best combination of average temperatures, rainfall amounts, and hours of daylight. Rain and temperature swings of 25 degrees or more are still common. However, you will have the most hours of daylight and the best chances at wildlife sightings.

However, with this optimal weather comes increased crowds and increased price. If you take an Alaskan cruise during the shoulder seasons, you will save money. You will also avoid the crowds, especially families. While the weather and wildlife will be less predictable early and late in the season, we have cruised to Alaska in September twice now and had great weather.

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Which Shore Excursions Are The Best

While the answer to this question really depends on who you are and what you hope to get out of your trip to Alaska, there are definitely some shore excursions that stand out. First is anything that involves flightseeing, or taking a plane or helicopter to view wildlife, admire landscapes, or land on a glacier. Even though these are usually the most expensive excursions, they are once-in-a-lifetime experiences that are worth every penny. You get such a different perspective on the grandeur of Alaska when seeing it from the air. I personally recommend a glacier landing, but any way you flightsee is better than not doing it at all!

Another recommended excursion is taking the White Pass & Yukon Route train ride in Skagway. This tour is often listed among the best train trips in the world, and for good reason. The scenery is stunning youre riding a single-gauge railway through a beautiful glacial valley and you learn a ton about the areas fascinating Klondike Gold Rush history along the way.

I have also heard good things about the whale watching in Juneau, and experiencing the Mendenhall ice caves is a must there as well. In addition, I recommend taking advantage of any opportunity to visit a sled dog kennel, since its such a unique part of Alaskan culture.

Purchase A Mini Travel Charger Surge Protector

Stuck in Tiny Singapore: How to plan an Alaska Cruise from ...

This Mini Travel Charger Surge Protector is another great gadget that goes with me every time I travel. I keep it stored in my travel backpack, along with a couple of these reusable rubber twist ties. I like to use a tie to hold my backpack more securely on my carry-on roller bag, and keep an extra for just in case situations.

Our cabin had one plugin at the desk. Thats it.

Imagine coming back from a day of excursions and exploring a port city, with all your electronics needing to be charged. With two to four people in a cabin, that can be quite a feat these days. We were so thankful to have this travel charger with three outlets and two USB ports.

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Alaska Cruises From Seattle

If youre planning an Alaskan cruise from Seattle, this chart indicates which glaciers are included on selected cruise ships. The Norwegian Bliss does not cruise to any of the following glaciers. For me, that would be a good reason not to sail that ship because, after all, dont we sail to Alaska to see the glaciers?

Cruise Ship
RC Serenade of the Seas X

How Much Will It Cost

Average fares for Alaskan itineraries vary dramatically depending on when you sail, which ship and grade of cabin you choose, and when you book. Published rates are highest during July and August youll pay less, and have more space on ship and ashore, if you sail in May, June, or September.

Whenever you choose to sail, remember that the brochure price is the highest fare the line can charge for a given cruise. Most lines offer early booking discounts. Although these vary tremendously, many lines will offer at least 10% off if you book several months ahead of time, usually by the end of January for a summer cruise this may require early payment as well. Sometimes you can book a discounted last-minute cruise if the ship hasnt filled all its cabins, but you wont get your pick of ships, cabins, or sailing dates. However, since most cruise lines will, if asked, refund the difference in fare if it drops after youve paid your deposit and before you make your final payment, theres little advantage in last-minute booking. Some other deals to watch for are kids sail free deals, where children under 12 sail free in the same cabin as their parents free upgrades rather than discounts or special deals for home port residents. Frequent cruisers also get discounts from their preferred cruise lines.

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Will I Be Able To See The Northern Lights From The Ship

Im sorry to disappoint you, but if youre taking a cruise anytime between mid-May and mid-September, the answer is probably no. During those months, the tilt of the earths axis causes Alaska to be bathed in daylight and it doesnt gets dark enough at night for the aurora borealis to be visible.

If seeing the northern lights is a priority, youll want to cruise as late in the season as possible. Better yet, travel to Alaska during the late fall or winter when the state experiences long periods of darkness.

When Do You Want To Go


Alaska cruise season is five months long from late May to September. I understand from talking with cruise staff that each month of the cruise season presents something a little different to cruisers.

May May is the beginning of the cruising season in Alaska! This is a great time to cruise if you are looking for lower prices and cooler temperatures, with highs around 55º F.

While the weather is cooler, youll also expect fewer bugs than during the warmer months. You can expect to see large waterfalls, spring flowers, and wildlife.

Youll find fewer families with school-age children cruising in May since more children are still in school. This means that ports of call arent as busy.

Also known as the peak season, the months of June, July and August bring warmer weather, with highs around 65º F. You can expect longer days during the months of June and July, with the longest days surrounding summer solstice.

Fish and wildlife are more active during these warmer months as well with the peak bear season in June and early July. Along with more wildlife, youll also experience more bugs such as mosquitos during these months.

Since most schools are out during these summer months, youll find more families traveling with school-aged children meaning busier cruises and ports of call.

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Are You A First

  • 71 pages packed with money saving tips and insider tricks
  • Discover the best time of year to cruise, how to get free onboard credit, how to maximize credit card bonuses, and much more.
  • This must-have book is great for first-timers as well as long-time cruisers.

Lets face it, Alaska is quickly becoming the top cruise destination in the world. If youre planning an Alaskan cruise vacation or Alaska has tweaked your interest, theres a lot to think about when choosing a cruise line and an Alaska cruise itinerary. Even when sailing in the middle of summer, forget your flip-flops and ideas of sipping margaritas around the pool deck. Think cozy and warm in your fleece pants and jackets while drinking hot chocolate next to a snow-capped glacier. If youre looking for some Alaska cruise travel tips, read on.

While many seasoned cruisers are loyal to one cruise line, its best to look at all cruise itineraries when sailing to Alaska. After all, the competition may offer a better route, more desirable ports, and a better price. Having sailed to Alaska four times, I can safely say, dont book on price alone. A lower Alaskan cruise price usually means cruising either shoulder season or a less popular Alaska cruise itinerary.

Should I Buy A Drink Wifi Or Other Onboard Package

Although it may seem like cruises are all-inclusive, there are actually a number of amenities that may incur an additional fee. Most ships charge extra for beverages like soda, fresh-squeezed juice, and alcohol, and WiFi is rarely included for everyone.

You can pay for some of these amenities a la carte, like purchasing a glass of wine with dinner or paying for an hour of WiFi as needed, but cruise lines also sell packages that give you unlimited access for the duration of your cruise. Whether or not those packages are worth the money, however, really depends on what you want from your cruise experience.

Personally, I encourage people to forego the WiFi packages and take the opportunity to disconnect and enjoy a technology- free vacation. That said, there are lots of reasons why you might need to have internet access on the high seas, and sometimes paying the flat rate for a package can be more economical than purchasing internet time by the hour.

My advice for drink packages is to try to estimate how many drinks youll probably have per day and see if that cost is more or less than the per-day cost of a drinks package. If, like M and me, you rarely have soda and indulge in two or three drinks at most in an evening, it likely doesnt make sense for you to purchase a full package. But if you drink more heavily, have multiple sodas per day, or just dont want to have to worry about a drinks tab at the end of your cruise, a beverage package is probably a good fit.

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Carnival To Send Second Ship To Alaska

The 2,980-passenger Carnival Freedom will join the 2,124-passenger Carnival Miracle in Alaska in 2021. The Freedom will increase Carnivals Alaska capacity by 40%.

Carnival Cruise Line will sail the Carnival Freedom in Alaska in 2021, operating week-long voyages from Seattle. Starting in April, 2021, the Freedom will join the Carnival Miracle, which will operate 10- and 11-day Glacier Route cruises in Alaska from San Francisco beginning in May 2021.

Alaska is a bucket-list destination that offers a unique combination of fascinating wildlife and unique cultural and sightseeing opportunities. Were delighted to provide our guests with even more opportunities to choose fun as they experience and explore the beauty and majesty of Alaska, said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

The Freedom will operate 21 Alaska cruises from Port of Seattle from April 27 to Sept. 22, departing every Tuesday. Port calls on the Glacier Route voyages include Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, as well as Victoria, and scenic cruising of Tracy Arm Fjord. There is also an eight-day cruise featuring Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Icy Strait Point, Victoria and cruising Tracy Arm Fjord.

Prior to its Alaska program, the Freedom operates a 17-day Panama Canal cruise from Galveston to Seattle from April 10-27, with stops in Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico.

Source: Cruise Industry News

Alaska Cruise Planning Guide

How to Plan Your First Trip to Alaska

In this Alaska Cruise Planning Guide, we outline everything you need to know to plan and execute the perfect Alaskan cruise vacation.

With cruising set to resume in the United States soon, you might be considering an Alaskan cruise for 2021 or 2022. In this Alaska Cruise Planning Guide, we outline everything you need to know before taking an Alaskan cruise. Learn all our insider cruise tips and hacks to plan and execute the perfect cruise vacation.

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Best Things To See While Cruising In Alaska

Alaskan cruises are known for their beautiful, mountainous scenery. Cruises travel past the Kenai Peninsula, where travelers can enjoy the stunning views of Kachemak Bay and the volcanic peaks of Cook Inlet. Cruisers can also partake in an excursion in Alaskas “Golden Heart City,” where you can hike around a six-million-acre wildland provided by Denali National Park. This is also where North America’s tallest peak, Denali, resides. The Park also plays host exciting wildlife that can be observed by travelers. Bears, moose, wolves, caribou, and other animals have been found when hiking through the park. Many ships also visit destinations like Glacier Bay National Park and Prince William Sound, where guests watch glaciers calve into the ocean in breathtaking geologic displays.

What Is The Cost Of An Alaska Cruise Tour

Cruise tours cost more per night than cruises alone, likely because the cost of lodging and transportation in Alaska is high and some activities are included. Most cruise tours run 9 to 14 nights, featuring a seven-night cruise and a bus- and train-based tour through Southcentral and Interior Alaska.

When we checked Alaska cruise tour prices on Royal Caribbean, fares ranged from $160 to $210 per person, per night, for an inside cabin, and from $240 to $320 per person, per night, for a balcony. The cheapest cruise tour we found was $1,410 per person for an inside cabin and $1,882 for a balcony on a seven-night September cruise with a two-night tour to Denali and Anchorage.

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What Shore Excursions Are Available In Alaska Throughout The Cruise Season

Many of Alaskas most popular activities can be done anytime from May through September, depending on the port of call.

Glacier viewing is an all-cruise-season activity, with many ways to get to the glacier depending on your preference while in different ports. Biking alongside the glacier, or taking a helicopter to land on top of a glacier, is a memorable and spectacular way to begin a glacier hike.

Other popular Alaska shore excursions include sea kayaking, rafting, craft beer tasting in town, attending a salmon bake, visiting museums to learn about Alaskan culture and history, and going on local hikes you can access from town.

For all your Alaska shore excursions, youll want to dress in layers, as the weather can change quickly.

When Is The Best Time To Cruise To Alaska For Maximum Daylight

Cruise lines plan to resume sailing to Alaska in July

Imagine being able to enjoy Alaskas incredible natural beauty during days of near-continuous sunlight. With so much daylight, you can enjoy all the best Alaska shore excursions, from biking alongside the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau to hiking in the Tongass National Forest.

If you want to experience the phenomenon of sunlit nights for yourself, the best time to go to Alaska on a cruise is right around the Summer Solstice in the second half of June. This is the time when days are longest in the entire Northern Hemisphere.

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Plan The Cruise As A Family

A trip to Alaska shouldnt be planned by just one person, it should involve the whole family. Take into consideration the age of your kids, it could be a great way to see Alaska in real life and not just in a textbook. Each family member will know their limitation and it will help you decide if mom would be better shopping in downtown Sitka, while dad and the kids go whale watching.

Plan Your Shore Excursions Well In Advance

The ports you visit may vary by cruise line or by length of cruise. If you start in Seattle, you may get a stop in the south of British Columbia in Canada. Victoria or Vancouver are popular cruise ship stops. You will get two or more ports in the Panhandle of Alaska. And you may get a stop in Prince Rupert at the far north end of British Columbia. On our 7 day cruise we stopped in Sitka and Ketchikan in Alaska and in Prince Rupert.

When planning an Alaska cruise, think about the excursions you want to do on your port days. The cruise ship will offer a variety of different kinds of tours. You may do your research ahead of time and book your own tours. In every port we stopped, there were a large number of tours available right on the dock. If you made no plans in advance, you may be able to just decide when you arrive. Or you can just plan to wander on your own!

We booked our tours on this trip with the cruise company. Because we booked the cruise a little late, when we looked for tours to book on our own, many had little availability. Make sure to plan your excursions early. When we arrived in Ketchikan, we were the 4th cruise ship in. It was no wonder that all of the tours were already gone!

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