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Tips for Cruising Alaska on a Budget

If you dream of visiting the beautiful landscapes and fjords of Alaska on a Royal Caribbean cruise but are on a tight budget, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of ways to save money on a cruise to Alaska.

Flexibility is key when planning an Alaska cruise on a budget. If you don’t mind visiting one port over another, the port of departure, the month of sailing or the type of cabin you book, you can easily find a way to visit the final frontier without breaking the bank.

From choosing to cruise in the shoulder season to booking the cheapest cabin, here are our top tips for cruising Alaska on a budget.

Sail out of season

More often than not, the best way to save money on an Alaskan cruise is to sail during the shoulder season. The Alaska cruise season runs from late April through September each year, with the busiest season in June, July, and August.

Booking a cruise during the shoulder season months of April, May and September can often result in fantastic discounts compared to sailing in midsummer. A cruise to Alaska in May, for example, can sometimes be half the price of the cruise in July.

Related: When is the best time to go on a cruise to Alaska?

There are of course advantages and disadvantages to sailing out of season compared to high season. Although you’ll encounter fewer crowds and lower prices during the shoulder season, you might also experience rougher seas, more rain, less daylight, and colder temperatures.

It’s never a good idea to book a cruise based on price alone, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before heading to Alaska in the shoulder season:

Book an inside cabin

One of the best ways to save money, not just on an Alaskan cruise, but on any cruise, is to book an inside cabin. Inside staterooms can cost hundreds of dollars less per person than ocean view or balcony staterooms, providing big savings for those on a budget.

Related: Why should you book a cruise ship inside the room

Royal Caribbean’s inside staterooms offer most of the same amenities as higher category staterooms. You’ll find everything you need to stay comfortable in an inside cabin, with a comfortable bed, sofa or chair, TV, dressing table, dresser, closet and private bathroom.

Although inside staterooms don’t come with private balconies, there are plenty of public spaces on board to watch the Alaskan landscape pass by as you sail.

If you want to save even more on an Alaskan cruise, book a Guaranteed Inside Stateroom. While you can’t choose your exact room location when booking a guaranteed inside cabin, you can save a little more money on your cruise fare.

Related: Do I have to book a guaranteed cabin on a cruise?

Buy little used winter clothes

Packing for an Alaskan cruise involves more research and planning than packing for a summer cruise to warm weather destinations. From water-resistant clothing to base layers, jackets, sweaters, and pants, there’s plenty to remember to ensure you stay warm and comfortable throughout your time in Alaska.

Before breaking the bank on new outfits, head to local thrift stores or check websites like Facebook Marketplace and eBay for little-used clothes. You can often find great designer clothes at a fraction of the cost of buying new, which is extremely helpful for those on a tight budget.

Related: What to bring on an Alaskan cruise?

Do free or cheap activities in the port

Once you’ve booked an Alaskan cruise and started looking for shore excursions, you might be shocked by the stickers. Tours in Alaska are often quite expensive, with many tours costing well over $100. Some tours, like helicopter tours, can cost upwards of $400!

Instead of booking shore excursions at every Alaskan cruise port, research what activities are available at little or no extra cost in each city.

All Alaskan cruise ports have a walkable downtown area, where you’ll find landmarks, a scenic waterfront, restaurants, museums, shopping, hiking trails, and more. Many of these activities are at no additional cost, but still offer insightful insight into Alaskan history, nature, and culture.

Read our guides on what to do in Alaska cruise ports to plan your budget days off the ship:

Consider your departure port

When you browse Royal Caribbean’s website for cruises to Alaska, you’ll find sailings departing from Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia.

If you must fly to the cruise departure port, it’s a good idea to check prices and typical flight times to Seattle and Vancouver before booking one cruise over another.

You don’t want to book an Alaska cruise from Vancouver because it’s $100 cheaper per person only to find out that flying to Vancouver will cost $300 more per person than flying to Seattle!

This is extremely important if you are planning to book a more port-intensive one-way cruise to Alaska. These often come with cheaper prices, but you’ll need to consider the cost of one-way flights to or from Vancouver and Anchorage, Alaska.

Do a little research on travel costs and flight schedules before you book your cruise to avoid any unforeseen costs later.

Related: How much does a cruise to Alaska cost?

Avoid specialty meal and drink packages

While Royal Caribbean ships offer incredible specialty restaurants, with everything from hibachi to Italian and a steakhouse, there are more than enough free restaurants to choose from while on a cruise. You can easily save $100-200 by only dining at free venues, like the Main Dining Hall and Windjammer, instead of specialty restaurants.

Related: Food on a Royal Caribbean cruise

Additionally, consider not purchasing a beverage package on an Alaskan cruise on a budget. Royal Caribbean’s luxury beverage packages can cost up to $80+ per person per day, which can significantly increase the price of a 7-night Alaska cruise.

Instead of buying a drinks package, opt for a few drinks on port each day at historic lounges. Not only will drinks be cheaper on land than on the ship, but you’ll also get a taste of local Alaskan culture.

Book your cruise well in advance

Although it is possible to find a last minute cruise to Alaska, this is usually the exception and not the norm. Therefore, once you know you want to visit Alaska, book the cruise as soon as possible.

Royal Caribbean typically releases Alaska cruise itineraries in November for the upcoming season two years from now. This is when you will often find the lowest prices on cruise fares.

Related: How far in advance to book an Alaskan cruise

Even if you book an Alaskan cruise for say $2,000 and the price then drops to $1,500, you can change the price of your cruise and save the $500 as long as it’s before the payment date. end of the cruise. To change the price of your cruise, call Royal Caribbean or speak to your travel agent to receive the price difference.

Long story short: there’s no harm in booking a cruise earlier rather than later so you can get the lowest price!

Don’t miss out on a tight budget

Our final tip for cruising Alaska on a budget is to not be too strict with yourself on board and in port. An Alaskan cruise is a unique vacation for many cruisers, and there are some aspects of the vacation where you might want to splurge.

If visiting the Mendenhall Glacier is on your bucket list, don’t skip the tour just to save a few bucks. Likewise, if tasting freshly caught salmon in port is important to you, budget $20 for a meal instead of returning to the ship for lunch.

While it’s important to stick to your budget, don’t limit yourself too much or you might regret not trying something later.