I was not prepared to experience the magnificence of God’s work when I traveled to Alaska this summer. Truth be told our goal was to check off the 49th state on our quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states. My husband and I were more excited to run than going on the cruise itself:-) When we first caught a glimpse of Alaska, it was love at first sight. I hope that everyone will get a chance to visit the Last Frontier. I am sharing how we saved money on this trip so you would, too.
There are so many choices out there. Just like airlines, there are best times to book your cruise. We did not have the option to shop around on our cruise. We were signed up to run a half marathon in Alaska. The race was to have been run both on the cruise ship and in every port of call. We had to book with Celebrity as this was the partner cruise for the race. Celebrity is a Premium cruise line so prices were also premium. Contemporary cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Carnival offer affordable prices for a 7-night cruise. If sailing in June 2018, there are Inside cabins that run about $799 per person. These are sailings from Seattle.
We used earned miles on Delta to fly to Seattle. This saved us almost $750 round trip. If you don’t have miles available, book far enough in advance to find the cheapest fares. Alaska Airlines had some very reasonable round trip fares to SEATAC Airport.
CHECK AIRBnB AND FREE HOTEL NIGHT STAY
Coming from Florida, we could have flown into Seattle on the day of the cruise. There was a flight arriving the morning that we were sailing. Departure from Seattle was not till 4 pm but we did not want to risk it. There was a family of 5 who arrived at the pier as the gangplank was being removed. The three boys were crying. I would have been devastated if we would have missed the ship. We decided to fly the day before instead. We had earned one hotel night’s stay as we had stayed 10 nights through hotels.com. We stayed at a hotel in downtown Seattle for FREE. This was a huge savings because hotel rooms in downtown Seattle were at least $200 per night.
After the cruise, we stayed for 2 additional nights so we found an AirBnB. We paid only $150 with tax for two nights. It was only a 20 minute Uber ride to downtown.
DON’T GO ON ALL THE TOURS
We only took a couple of tours – Yukon and White Pass and Mendenhall Glacier-Whale Watching Tour. We did not take the Rail Tour instead opted for the coach tour to the Yukon and White pass. The rail tour was twice the price of the coach tour. We also saved by not booking the tours through the cruise line. They were way too expensive. Instead we purchased the tours through companies that had good ratings on Trip Advisor. In Ketchikan, we just walked to around and were able to find the famous Creek Street, checked out the beautiful gardens around the city and saw some Totem Poles. We did the same in Victoria, BC.
SKIP THE PHOTOGRAPHS
If you can help it, don’t buy pictures on board. They are very expensive. The crew and fellow passengers understand that we all want our pictures take so they are always willing to use your own camera or phone to take good pictures. If you really have to, just buy one.
DON’T GET THE UNLIMITED BEVERAGE PACKAGE
If you love to have a drink or two, or more, it is worth it to pay for the package. One of the perks for booking early (we booked in September for our June cruise), was unlimited beverage package. We saved a lot by having this perk. This package on Celebrity allows you to order any drink under $11 as long as you order only one at a time. Warning: Don’t be conned to purchasing the Premium Beverage package. The only thing that changed it for me was the use of Grey Goose on martinis.
Photo credit: Steve Halama