If you have dreams of visiting the beautiful landscapes and fjords of Alaska on a Royal Caribbean cruise but are on a tight budget, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many ways to save money on an Alaskan cruise.
Flexibility is key when planning an Alaska cruise on a budget. If you don’t mind visiting one port at a time, the port of departure, the month you’re sailing or the type of cabin booked, you’ll easily find a way to visit the Last Frontier without breaking the bank.
From deciding on a mid-season cruise to booking the cheapest cabin, here are our top tips for cruising Alaska on a budget.
Sail in the off-season
Most of the time, the best way to save money on an Alaskan cruise is to go during the off-season. The cruise season in Alaska runs from late April through September each year, with peak cruising times occurring in June, July, and August.
Booking a cruise in the low season months of April, May and September can often result in fantastic discounts compared to sailing in the height of summer. An Alaska cruise in May, for example, can happen half the price of cruises in July.
Related: When is the best time to cruise to Alaska?
Of course, sailing in the low season has advantages and disadvantages compared to the high season. While you’ll encounter fewer crowds and lower prices in the off-season, you can also experience rougher seas, more rain, less daylight, and colder temperatures.
Booking a cruise based solely on price is never a good idea, so it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before traveling to Alaska during the off-season:
Book an inside cabin
One of the best ways to save money not just on an Alaska cruise but on any cruise is to book an inside cabin. Inside cabins can be hundreds of dollars per person cheaper than ocean view or balcony cabins, resulting in big savings for travelers on a budget.
Related: Why you should book a cruise ship in the room
Royal Caribbean’s inside cabins offer almost the same amenities as higher-category cabins. In an inside cabin you will find everything you need to get comfortable, with a comfortable bed, couch or chair, TV, vanity, dresser, closet and private bathroom.
While inside cabins may not have private balconies, there are plenty of public areas onboard for observing the Alaskan scenery while you sail.
If you want to save even more money on an Alaskan cruise, book a guaranteed inside cabin. While you don’t get to choose the exact location of your room when you book a guaranteed inside cabin, you can save a little more money on your cruise fare.
Related: Should I book a guaranteed cabin on a cruise?
Buy little-used winter weather gear
Packing for an Alaskan cruise requires more research and planning than packing for a summer cruise to warm-weather destinations. From water-resistant clothing to underwear, jackets, sweaters, and pants, there’s plenty to keep you warm and comfortable throughout your stay in Alaska.
Before you break the bank on new outfits, visit local thrift stores or search for slightly used clothing on sites like Facebook Marketplace and eBay. You can often find beautiful name brand clothing for a fraction of the new purchase price, which is extremely helpful for those on a tight budget.
Related: What to take on an Alaska cruise?
Do free or cheap activities in the port
Once you’ve booked an Alaskan cruise and start searching for shore excursions, you may be in for sticker shock. Alaska excursions are often quite expensive, with many tours costing well over $100. Some tours, like helicopter trips, can cost upwards of $400!
Instead of booking shore excursions at every Alaskan cruise port, research what activities are available in each city at little or no additional cost.
All Alaska cruise ports have a walkable downtown area where you can find attractions, a scenic waterfront, restaurants, museums, shops, hiking trails and more. Many of these activities are free while still providing an insightful insight into Alaskan history, nature, and culture.
Read our guides to Alaska cruise port activities to plan your budget-friendly days off the ship:
Consider your port of departure
If you search Royal Caribbean’s Alaska cruises website, you’ll find departures from both Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia.
If you must fly to the cruise port of departure, you should inquire about typical fares and schedules to both Seattle and Vancouver before choosing one cruise over another.
You don’t want to book an Alaskan cruise departing from Vancouver because it’s $100 cheaper per person, only to find out that flying into Vancouver costs $300 more per person than flying into Seattle!
This is extremely important if you are considering booking a more port-intensive one-way cruise to Alaska. These often have cheaper prices, but you must consider the cost of one-way flights to or from Vancouver and Anchorage, Alaska.
Do a little research on travel expenses and flight schedules before booking your cruise to avoid unexpected expenses later.
Related: How Much Does an Alaskan Cruise Cost?
Skip specialty 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 complimentary dining choices on a cruise. You can easily save $100-$200 by only dining in free venues like the Main Dining Room and the Windjammer instead of specialty restaurants.
Related: Dining on a Royal Caribbean cruise
In addition, consider Not Purchase a beverage package for a budget cruise to Alaska. Royal Caribbean’s deluxe beverage packages can cost upwards of $80+ per person per day, which can drastically increase the price of a 7-day Alaskan cruise.
Instead of buying a drinks package, you can enjoy a few drinks in the port in historic saloons each day. Not only are drinks cheaper on land than on the ship, you get a taste of local Alaskan culture along the way.
Book your cruise well in advance
While it is possible to find a last minute cruise deal to Alaska, this is usually the exception and not the rule. So if 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. Then you will often find the lowest prices for cruises.
Related: How far in advance should you book an Alaskan cruise?
For example, even if you book an Alaskan cruise for $2,000 and the price later drops to $1,500, you can reprice your cruise and save the $500 if you do so before the cruise’s final payment date. Call Royal Caribbean or speak to your travel agent to find out the difference in fare for your cruise.
Long story short, there’s no harm in booking a cruise sooner rather than later so you can secure the lowest price!
Don’t miss out on a tight budget
Our final tip for an Alaskan cruise on a budget is don’t be to On board and in port, be strict with yourself. An Alaskan cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation for many cruisers, and there are certain aspects of the vacation where you want to treat yourself.
If visiting Mendenhall Glacier is on your bucket list, don’t skip the visit just to save a few bucks. Likewise, if sampling freshly caught salmon in port is important to you, budget $20 for a meal instead of returning to the ship for lunch.
While staying on budget is important, don’t limit yourself so much that you end up regretting not trying something.