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Alaska Cruise - Booking question


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Hey all,

I'm currently thinking about doing an Alaska cruise in June 2023. I've read somewhere on here that it is usually a good idea to book a whole year beforehand. Prices right now look fine indeed but I'm actually going on a cruise in August this year, so I was wondering whether it might be a good idea to book the Alaska cruise on ship in August? I remember from a previous cruise (a long time ago) that there are some benefits when booking your next cruise while cruising.

So, in your opinion, are these benefits worthwile or should I just book right now?

Thanks in advance,

Alex

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4 hours ago, AlexD said:

I've read somewhere on here that it is usually a good idea to book a whole year beforehand.

yes, you want to book as early as possible

4 hours ago, AlexD said:

I was wondering whether it might be a good idea to book the Alaska cruise on ship in August?

You're right, there are benefits to booking onboard (extra onboard credit).

However.....

By waiting until August, the price could be higher than it is today, thus negating any savings you get from that OBC.

In my opinion, you're better off booking now to lock in the price.

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As an aside, if you are interested in doing an excursion to see wildlife, mid June is better as the leaves are not yet on the trees and the wildlife is easier to see.  Bears are coming out of hibernation also.  In August, the foliage makes it much more difficult to see animals.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

For our first and only trip to Alaska in 2018, my wife spent about a year researching and planning it. She eventually planned 10-days on land with the aid of a very helpful outside company (not sure I can mention it here) before we sailed Radiance Southbound from Seward to Vancouver.

FWIW, I'd recommend spending as much time as possible on land as possible (especially Denali). We took the train all the way down from Fairbanks to Seward with many stops along the way.

Nothing against the cruise, I love cruising (obviously), but many of our highlights came on land. That said, we also didn't do as much in the ports b/c some of it would have been redundant (i.e. whale watching).

I have an insanely long trip report posted elsewhere but I unfortunately lost the actual word document to a dead laptop so I can't re-post it and don't think I can link to a competitor forum here (I could be wrong).

Hope this helps!

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We booked a family cruise (inside passage - with my 3 grown kids and their spouses) to Alaska June 2023 on the Quantum OTS back in March (we just passed the 1 year out date).  I have a price tracker turned on and so far, the price has only creeped up.  Also, we locked our fares prior to the latest rise in oil prices so I can't imagine our rooms going down in price, but you never know. I'm not sure if RCCL would add a "fuel surcharge" to the trip if oil prices don't come back down but, I assume that written in the paperwork, that they have the option to do that.

We grabbed a specific June sailing as it is porting at Skagway.  Several other sailings did not. Mrs Fan and I have been on the White Pass/Yukon train trip and to me it was one the best excursions. So, I wanted to make sure that Skagway was one of the stops.  We did most all of our excursions last time outside of the cruise line's website. It was less expensive and WAY less crowded.  Example - We did a whale watching excursion thru an independent operator. We got on a ~40' boat that had a viewing are plus an inside are. There were maybe 12 or 14 of us in total on the boat. The mate set out smoked salmon, crackers, soft drinks, etc. It was super personable and laid back. The price was about 2/3rds of cost that they cruise line wanted.  We saw the boat offered in the cruise line excursion. It was a bigger boat, but people were shoulder to shoulder (at least 70 or 80 passengers) crowding each other to see the whales. 

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16 minutes ago, FSUFAN said:

We did most all of our excursions last time outside of the cruise line's website. It was less expensive and WAY less crowded.  Example - We did a whale watching excursion thru an independent operator. We got on a ~40' boat that had a viewing are plus an inside are. There were maybe 12 or 14 of us in total on the boat. The mate set out smoked salmon, crackers, soft drinks, etc. It was super personable and laid back. The price was about 2/3rds of cost that they cruise line wanted.  We saw the boat offered in the cruise line excursion. It was a bigger boat, but people were shoulder to shoulder (at least 70 or 80 passengers) crowding each other to see the whales. 

Agree 100% with finding independent excursions, especially in Alaska (although I'd recommend it for the Caribbean too).

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1 hour ago, FSUFAN said:

We did most all of our excursions last time outside of the cruise line's website. It was less expensive and WAY less crowded.

1 hour ago, OCSC Mike said:

Agree 100% with finding independent excursions, especially in Alaska (although I'd recommend it for the Caribbean too).

I will give this method another thumbs up. The excursions are MUCH by going third party. 

Another plus, Whale Watching excursions through RC have a higher price and a set $ amount or % paid back if you don't see whales. Most third party excursions have a 100% money back guarantee if you don't see whales.

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Hi, We are booked on Ovation for this August and did it 1 yr ahead (w/booked excursions). We’ve watched prices over the last year, we’ve seen a slight uptick in price but cabin availability has disappeared quick. The biggest changes we’ve noticed are excursions…they have almost doubled in price, even tripled in some cases. We booked normal RC excursions through Private Journeys and they were able to get us the best price and in some cases, open additional slots for us. Although we normally use 3rd party vendors (pre-covid), We recommend RC tours right now based on our experience. Private Journeys had a bit of a time finding things for us. From what we understand, many 3rd party providers left Alaska during Covid and have not returned which leaves very limited availability. They can work with the vendors for you if there is something you really like. 

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The first question you should ask is what do you want from. Your cruise? 

A round trip out of Seattle will have a bigger,  newer and more interesting ship. A one way will give you more of alaska. 

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1 hour ago, Carotthat said:

Already scrolled through that, thanks

I think personally, any inside passage cruise for a first timer. The trip is easy, the ports are nice and you get to see plenty of wildlife and even glaciers.  As I stated in an earlier post, we are going on the Quantum June 2023 with our grown kids and their spouses. Mrs Fan and I have been on an inside passage before and if it wasn't for my kids, I would have opted for something different and longer. But again, they have never been before and they are still working and need to get back to work in a week. My only request was that we stopped in Skagway for the White Pass/Yukon train. Only 1 of the Quantum's June sailings ported in Skagway.

Excursions - Whale watching, visit to a glacier, White Pass/Yukon rail trip, Float Plane trip, all are great and can be done on an inside passage from Seattle.

 

 

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The only thing I could add to this conversation is Salmon fishing.  We missed the salmon fishing season by 1 week.  Still had fun fishing and the captain tossing a rock fish up into the air for an eagle to grab it!  Amazing!!

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2 hours ago, FireFishII said:

The only thing I could add to this conversation is Salmon fishing.  We missed the salmon fishing season by 1 week.  Still had fun fishing and the captain tossing a rock fish up into the air for an eagle to grab it!  Amazing!!

What port did you fish out of?

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We book our AK cruises when they go on sale, and also book our excursions as soon as available.  We book third-party excursions, for smaller groups, and for better choices than the cruise lines allow.

We prefer the Quantum-class ships over the smaller ships, but for Alaska, we prefer the one-way, smaller ships because of sailing the Canadian Inside Passage.  On the R/T from Seattle, a day is lost to sailing the Pacific instead of the Canadian Inside Passage.  We sailed Seattle R/T the last time for my oldest sister and aunt, because the longer flights would have worn them out.  Seattle was easier, but the next time, we will sail one-way.

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A friend called us from Vancouver yesterday to ask for excursion suggestions before boarding today.  Here are our suggestions from our two trips to Alaska.  

Discounts:  https://www.facebook.com/NorthernLightsCoupons/ .   Many discounts especially if doing a land tour.

Denali Hotels:  Book your own or use Alaska Tour and Travel - saves hundreds

Denali Evening Activities:  Coupon book.

Train, bus, hotel reservations:  Alaska Tour and Travel, https://www.alaskatravel.com/mcw .

Excursions:

Ketchikan:  Bering Sea Crab Fisherman's Tour, https://alaskacrabtour.com .  The best excursion EVER.  On Aleutian Ballad crab boat from Deadliest Catch.  Docks at cruise terminal.

Juneau:  Harv and Marc Whale Watching, https://www.harvandmarvs-juneau-whale-watching.com .  Those are whales in the picture (little fuzzy) and outboard motor (had 2) in lower left of pic.

Skagway:  Chilkoot Chaters and Tours, https://chilkootcharters.com

Happy planning.

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Planning first Alaska trip a year from Sept. Leaving from Seattle on Ovation and finishing cruise in Vancouver. Or is it better to start and finish the cruise in Seattle? Unsure about getting back to Texas from B.C. Appreciate any thoughts/tips. 

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18 hours ago, JeffH said:

Planning first Alaska trip a year from Sept. Leaving from Seattle on Ovation and finishing cruise in Vancouver. Or is it better to start and finish the cruise in Seattle? Unsure about getting back to Texas from B.C. Appreciate any thoughts/tips. 

Flying in and out of Seattle is probably easier and cheaper since there are more flights to other domestic destinations than Vancouver has to places in US.

But itineraries that sail out of Vancouver typically have more interesting ports of call.

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23 hours ago, JeffH said:

Planning first Alaska trip a year from Sept. Leaving from Seattle on Ovation and finishing cruise in Vancouver. Or is it better to start and finish the cruise in Seattle? Unsure about getting back to Texas from B.C. Appreciate any thoughts/tips. 

You can fly into Seattle then take the train to Vancouver.  We flew into Vancouver for the Radiance Northern Passage and flew home from Anchorage in 2018.  We also did a 3 day land tour post cruise.  We loved every minute.

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