How far in advance to book an Alaskan cruise
If you’re sailing to Alaska, is it better to book a cruise years in advance or try to find a last-minute cruise?
Knowing the ins and outs of booking an Alaskan cruise can guarantee you the lowest price, the best cabin, and the most enjoyable vacation. While you can experience a wonderful Alaskan cruise whether you book two years or two weeks in advance, here’s what you need to know about the best time to book.
Book early, save money
Alaskan cruises are extremely popular, and it’s almost always a good idea to book an Alaskan cruise well in advance. Booking an Alaskan cruise 12 months or more in advance can save you money and give you the most flexibility on itinerary and cabin choices.
You may also want to be ready to book as soon as Royal Caribbean releases new Alaska cruise itineraries. Royal Caribbean tends to release Alaska cruise itineraries in late November for the upcoming season two years from now. If you can plan far enough in advance to know you want to cruise Alaska in two years, it’s a good idea to book as soon as new itineraries are released.
Read more: What to know before booking a Royal Caribbean cruise
Even if you can’t book two years in advance, you can still find great Alaska cruise deals by booking 6 to 12 months before departure.
If you look on the Royal Caribbean website, you can sometimes come across cruises to Alaska that are priced higher for the following year than for the current season. For this reason, you might decide to wait in the hope that the price on the departure date you are interested in will drop. That’s never a good idea because of Royal Caribbean’s Best Price Guarantee program.
Best Price Guarantee Program
Royal Caribbean operates its year-round Best Price Guarantee program, which guarantees that you will receive the lowest price on your cruise up to your final payment date if you live in a country that allows price adjustments ( United States, Canada and others).
Read more: Are cruise prices falling?
If you book a cruise and later see a drop in the cruise fare, Royal Caribbean will honor the lower fare by refunding you the difference in price. Price adjustments can be assigned until final payment, which is 75 days prior to departure date for cruises of 1 to 4 nights and 90 days prior to departure date for cruises of 5 nights or more.
It’s up to you to find the fare differences, which you can do by making a “shadow booking” on the Royal Caribbean website and see if the overall cruise fare is lower. You can also contact your travel agent to check if the price has dropped.
When booking an Alaskan cruise, the Best Price Guarantee program comes in handy when you want to book the cruise as soon as possible, but still want to make sure you can afford the most cruise fare. low for your cabin category and cruising itinerary.
Consider your cabin choice
An important consideration for any cruise is the cabin you wish to book. From the most basic inside staterooms to lavish two-story suites, Royal Caribbean has a cabin to suit every vacation style and budget.
Read more: What is the best cruise ship cabin for my family?
Generally speaking, it’s best to book your Alaska cruise as early as possible when you have a specific cabin in mind. If you know your budget only allows for an inside cabin, be sure to book well in advance so you don’t have to pay extra for an ocean view or balcony.
Likewise, if you’re looking to splurge on a suite, booking early ensures you have the most choice on suite category and location. Although cabins don’t always sell out, it’s not worth the risk if you have a particular cabin selection in mind!
Shore Excursions and Advance Booking
By booking your Alaska cruise as early as possible, you can start purchasing pre-cruise extras, such as beverage, meal and internet packages well in advance.
More importantly, you will be able to start booking shore excursions in Alaska. Shore excursions are one of the most amazing parts of an Alaskan cruise, whether it’s whale watching, hiking, or visiting glaciers. Popular shore excursions can (and sell out) closer to the cruise date.
Read more: The best things to do on an Alaskan cruise
Booking your cruise early gives you more time to research, plan and purchase the shore excursions that most interest you.
Last minute cruises in Alaska
Despite our advice above, it may be possible to land a great last-minute cruise deal. Cruise prices are dynamic and the cost of an Alaskan cruise one day can often be much cheaper or more expensive than the next. Sometimes there can be more supply than demand on cabins and Alaska cruise itineraries, resulting in a relatively cheap last-minute fare.
Be sure to check airline prices before booking a last-minute cruise to Alaska, as any cruise fare savings can be negated by inflated, last-minute airfare prices. Also, last minute rates may not be valid during the month or season you wish to sail.
Read more: Are last-minute cruises really cheaper?
Therefore, we don’t necessarily recommend waiting until the last minute to book an Alaskan cruise in hopes of finding a cheap fare. It’s usually always best to book your Alaska cruise well in advance to ensure you can book the ship, cabin category and itinerary that works best for you.
Next steps: How to book (and reprice) your cruise and excursions
Now that you have a better idea of when to book your Alaskan cruise, you should follow these steps to ensure your Alaskan cruise gets off to a good start:
First, you need to book your cruise through a travel agent. A good travel agent won’t cost you anything extra, but it’s an extremely valuable resource before and during your cruise. Travel agents are available to answer any questions you may have, offer ship and itinerary suggestions, and resolve any issues or problems you may encounter while planning your cruise.
Read more: The Best Things You Didn’t Know Travel Agents Could Do For Your Cruise Vacation
After booking through a travel agent, start researching the best shore excursions for an Alaskan cruise and decide if you want to book directly through Royal Caribbean or with an outside supplier.
In the months leading up to your cruise, be sure to reprice the cruise often. Bookmark your cruise in your internet browser so you can easily access the itinerary page on the Royal Caribbean website. It only takes a few seconds to make a “shadow booking” (pretend you’re booking the cruise and select the number of guests, cabin category, etc.).
If you notice the price has dropped, send a quick email to your travel agent and they can refund you the price difference if it’s before the final payment date.
You can also do the same with shore excursions. If you notice that the price of a Royal Caribbean shore excursion has dropped, cancel and rebook the excursion to lock in the lower price.
How far in advance do you usually book a cruise? Have you ever found a fantastic last minute deal on an Alaskan cruise? Let us know!