Alaska Cruise on a tight Budget

Ol Goof

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jul 25, 2018
We cruised in Alaska in 2019 and had an amazing time. Living up to our Scottish stereotype we are a bit tight with money and managed to do Alaska without spending a lot. You can read about how we managed it on my trip report, “ 4 Cheapskates Sail Alaska.”
I definitely will! thank you.
 

princesscinderella

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 27, 2011
We cruised Alaska in 2018 and had an amazing time and did so on the NCL bliss. The ship is amazing and was designed to view the wonders of Alaska. It had an amazing lounge right at the front top of the ship where you could see all the glaciers when sailing through the tight passages. We love DCL and that was actually our first non Disney cruise and our kids loved the kids clubs onboard the bliss. They worked all week to put together a carnival show where they learned a trick and performed it on the main theater stage on one of the sea days. We were able to sail with 6 people 2 staterooms and all the excursions we wanted at each port for $3k less than DCLs price just to book not including tips, excursions etc.

We love the classic DCL ships and know whatever you decide you will have an amazing time. We did a whale watching excursion and it was amazing seeing a pod of them breach the water and flip their tails, but sometimes it’s the luck of the day if you get to see them.
 

hrhdhd

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 9, 2010
This is genius I wouldn’t have to be on board and can book opening day! I am in Florida now and can go to the new Costco to get my membership. Do you know if I can book through a Costco operator as I go back to the snowy north end of the month.
Note that the "rebate" and the "cash back" described above aren't cash. Costco now issues "Shop" cards, not cash cards, and the executive member bonus check is not allowed to be cashed. I had one for less than $8 and just today they wouldn't let me cash it; I had to buy something. And those amounts can't be used for travel purchases, just in-store (or at the tire place and gas station).
 

_auroraborealis_

I like marshmallows. And adult beverages.
Joined
Oct 18, 2015
I had one for less than $8 and just today they wouldn't let me cash it; I had to buy something. And those amounts can't be used for travel purchases, just in-store (or at the tire place and gas station).

Hummus is delicious though. And gas is useful depending on what you drive.
 

Gigi22

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 11, 2009
I have only sailed to Alaska once so far. I highly recommend getting a cabin with a balcony if you can possibly swing it. That way you can take turns admiring the amazing scenery and then run into your cabin to warm up! And your toddlers will be able to admire the scenery for themselves, as they won’t get stuck behind adults hogging the view.
 

Keyser

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 19, 1999
If you're allowed to book excursions on your own, you can definitely save money.

For Skagway, we loved Chilkoot charters. We did the Yukon bus up/train down combo and had a great time.

For Juneau, we just wanted to visit Mendenhall glacier, so I prebooked one of the glacier shuttle buses, but you can buy them same day. Shuttles ran every half hour...maybe around $30/person roundtrip... could be more now. We didn't do it, but if you're interested in the Mt Roberts tram, I'd buy same day tix...if it's a foggy/rainy day I'd do something else as you'll see nothing from the top. In 2016, Disney had a free shuttle from the ship to the edge of downtown, right where you can buy tours/tix, etc.

For Ketchikan, we did the Disney excursion with the Saxman native village and the lumberjack show. The lumberjack show is near the cruise port, and you could buy cheaper tix there vs going thru Disney.
...
And of course the biggest savings is what type of excursions you choose...if you want helicopters/small planes, those are the expensive ones!
I'll second all this. We also did Chilkoot charters just like that on our own and it was great (and much cheaper than Disney's price). And, we did Mendenhall glacier on our own, also (not expensive relative to most things). We also did whale watching in Juneau, which was not cheap, but arranging on our own was cheaper than Disney. Our excursion in Ketchikan was cancelled, so I can't help there.

Seriously, though, the excursions can add up quickly, so saving money there can be one of the best things. But (as opposed to what others might say), if this is likely to be your only trip to Alaska, you don't want to skip things that are some of the "main" things you could see if it's just to save money.
 

BruinEd03

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 23, 2013
I have only sailed to Alaska once so far. I highly recommend getting a cabin with a balcony if you can possibly swing it. That way you can take turns admiring the amazing scenery and then run into your cabin to warm up! And your toddlers will be able to admire the scenery for themselves, as they won’t get stuck behind adults hogging the view.

Between a Verrandah and less excursions or Oceanview and more excursions - take the Oceanview and more excursions. You can always sit at Deck 4 and watch the wildlife or the scenery.
 

Cheburashka

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 25, 2020
We have decided for our family, DCL is the only way to cruise to Alaska with our wide age of kiddos (toddlers to teens).
I need serious help with all the tricks to save money. We plan to book while we are on a DCL cruise and are looking at fall 2023. We have plenty of time to start saving via Disney rewards dollars, but what other tips do you use to help the budget? Ty !!
Don't book excursions through DCL. There are (or were- I can't vouch for Covid changes) plenty of affordable options in Alaska if you book independently. We had a perfect Alaska cruise and here's what we did:

Skagway: Jewell Gardens & glassblowing, booked directly with Jewell Gardens (saving 1/2 off of booking via DCL and including a nice lunch). It was very easy to get there & back using the little town tourist bus that stops at the port. We chose to walk back to the port as the town is so small, & stopped at the Gold Rush graveyard & Lower Reid Falls.

Juneau: We took a tour bus (no advance reservation needed) to Mendenhall Glacier National Park, which was very nice. Toured independently at our leisure (much more enjoyable than being herded along on an excursion), then waited at the tourist bus stop at the park for the bus to take us back (buses constantly looped through, so that was easy). Once back by the port, we had lunch at Tracy's Crab Shack, which was awesome (and I normally won't even eat shellfish), then took the tramway (which is right there) to the top of Mount Roberts and hiked on the mountain trails, taking in the beautiful views.

Ketchikan: We independently booked a flight with Island Wings, to tour Misty Fjords. That was great, the meeting place was within easy walking distance of the Wonder, and the pilot was very experienced & excellent (she owns the company), although the prop plane was loud but what else can you expect? This cost some money but not nearly as much as it would cost to book something like this via DCL for an inferior experience.

The one DCL excursion we did was one we booked while onboard. It was a post-cruise tour of Vancouver, that took us through Chinatown, to Stanley Park and the Capilano Extension Bridge. It was affordable and very nice.

Independently in Vancouver, we went to Fly Over Canada (right next to the port & a lot like Soarin'), and to VanDusen Botanical Gardens, which is a wonderful, huge set of gardens and even includes a good hedge maze. Both of these were affordable, as well.

No need to spend thousands of dollars on flashy excursions to fully experience Alaska. If you can possibly afford a Navigator's verandah, I recommend that, or at least an oceanview. We had a Nav verandah and loved it. Great view, good shelter from the wind, and less expensive than a full verandah. And beautiful views early morning before we wanted to get dressed & leave the room. The view from our room was a highlight of the trip, so I do recommend getting a room with a view if at all possible (it's cold on deck). That is more important than booking the most expensive excursions available, imo.
 
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martikus

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 13, 2010
We are choosing to wait until we are empty nesters to visit Alaska save costs and won’t do DCL 🤣. My kid wouldn’t appreciate the nature etc so we stick to cheaper places. I get that is t quite helpful 🙃.

One thing I always hear is how port heavy Alaska is. Maybe DCL isnt needed. Royal Caribbean also caters to families and so much cheaper. Just make sure you will have time and energy to enjoy all DCL offers before paying those high costs.
 

auntlynne

Aunt Lynne
Joined
Sep 2, 2008
If you are truly interested in saving money, consider getting an inside room.

Our first AK cruise was on DCL, and we booked inside sideways rooms (Cat 11C). They have single baths; but more open floorspace, making them feel roomier. (decks 5 & 6 forward, easy access to Buena Vista Theater and kids’ clubs. [Got them booked for our ever-date-changing cruise this April] Sure, a balcony is nice, but it’s about $4K more per cabin. There is plenty of deck space available for viewing. (I just sailed AK in September and again booked an inside room. Out of five cruises to AK, I have only had one balcony cabin. It’s all to save money.

If you can swing the early September dates or the middle-to-late May, either while school in still in session in most states, another cost saver. I have sailed out on May 15, May 28, June 27, mid-July, and Sep 4. There was no extreme weather difference among these dates. Two weeks difference on either end might have mattered. You will get rain somewhere. And might be colder than mid-summer. But you will need to take coats, anyway - there will be at least one cold day. Or maybe not; that’s AK weather.

Consider flying into Seattle. We took Amtrak Seattle to Vancouver to save on airfare. And hotel costs south of Seattle (Renton) were far less expensive than Vancouver - a lot less. For ease of travel, the return home from might be easier to fly out of Vancouver. The old penalty for flying one way seems to have gone away.

If you have to stay in Vancouver, check out the YWCA lodging on Robson Street. They have rooms that will sleep 6 with a private bath. Sure, lots of very nice hotels at the Vancouver port, but you can pay dearly for them. We used the metro train to get from hotel to port.
 

brewcrew

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 25, 2009
We booked the second cruise out in 2015 on DCL to help us save some money. We are a family of 6 and booked one balcony and an inside across the hall to help save money. We did book all of our excursions on our own to help save money but I am not sure what the protocols will be for this year. We booked Chilkoot Charters in Skagway (awesome) and took the bus up and the train back down. In Juneau, we rented a van and drove out to Mendenhall to take our time. We just walked around Ketchikan and found it to be the cutest little town. We thoroughly enjoyed the scenery and DCL does a fantastic job of entertaining families. It is a pricy trip but you can save some money here and there. Also, just start putting some money aside every month until the cruise!
 

Ol Goof

Earning My Ears
Joined
Jul 25, 2018
I enjoy reading everyone’s adventures, I have never sailed Royal Carribean, anyone have an opinion on the kids activities?
 

Cheburashka

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 25, 2020
Some people have stated that an Alaskan cruise is port-heavy, but keep in mind that on DCL's 7-night Alaskan cruises, 3 out of 6 of your full days onboard are days at sea (including Glacier viewing day), so you'll be spending half of your cruise onboard, so the ship & its available activities do matter.
 

HuskyGal

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 15, 2016
Note that the "rebate" and the "cash back" described above aren't cash. Costco now issues "Shop" cards, not cash cards, and the executive member bonus check is not allowed to be cashed. I had one for less than $8 and just today they wouldn't let me cash it; I had to buy something. And those amounts can't be used for travel purchases, just in-store (or at the tire place and gas station).
I’m interested in this option but didn’t people have trouble reaching Costco travel for their cruise rebooking during the shutdown? Also, Do the shop cards work at Costco gas station?
 

hrhdhd

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 9, 2010
I’m interested in this option but didn’t people have trouble reaching Costco travel for their cruise rebooking during the shutdown? Also, Do the shop cards work at Costco gas station?
I read reports, yes, but I didn't have an issue with a couple of cruises I had booked (they weren't DCL, though).

And yes, as I noted, the Shop cards work at Costco gas stations.
 

TinkLoverSam

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 10, 2009
We did Alaska booked in an IGT in 2014 on the 10 day that stopped at Sitka. We booked all our excursions with Disney but did a mix of cheaper and more expensive ones. We did the train up and bus back to liarsville in Skagway and whale watching in Juneau (the reason I wanted to go to Alaska) and then the lumberjack show and a glass pulling excursion. If we had had more time to save we might have done a helicopter or dog sledding excursion but really enjoyed the excursions we did.
 

_auroraborealis_

I like marshmallows. And adult beverages.
Joined
Oct 18, 2015
I enjoy reading everyone’s adventures, I have never sailed Royal Carribean, anyone have an opinion on the kids activities?
Pretty fun if they are of a certain age. Bumper cars, stuff like that. Decent clubs.
 


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