Is an Alaskan cruise on your bucket list?
The fact that so much of the 49th state’s breathtaking scenery is best viewed by ship makes it a perfect cruise destination. It’s no surprise that over the past decade, cruising to Alaska has boomed.
Meanwhile, the cruise lines anticipate even more demand for this already popular destination, with plans to send more and larger ships to Alaska in the next several years.
The one problem? Sailing to Alaska is often much pricier than a similar length cruise to the Caribbean or Mexico.
Although Alaska voyages tend to carry a higher price tag, fortunately you can still find bargain fares. In general you should expect to see prices ranging from $700-$900 per person for an interior cabin for a roundtrip, week-long Alaskan cruise.
But we found a spectacular deal on one specific trip that is among the cheapest Alaskan cruises around. It’s a 7-night cruise on Carnival Spirit with fares as low as $509.
The Alaskan Cruise Deal
The $509 deal we found on Avoya is for an inside cabin. (If you prefer to go up a bit, oceanview cabins on this voyage start at $669, and a balcony cabin costs $709.)
To be fair, you can sail cheaper to Alaska, but they are usually one-way trips. So to get back home you have to buy another cruise or catch a flight.
Given that you can easily spend $1,000 per person on an Alaskan cruise, why is this sailing so inexpensive?
First, it departs on April 20, 2020. This is extremely early in the Alaskan cruise season, when fares are cheaper. Rates are highest during the middle of summer when school is out.
Sailing to Alaska in late April rather than later in the season helps save you some money and also offers several other advantages. Although the weather will be cooler (be sure to pack clothing that you can layer), cruising to Alaska at this time means you’re less likely to experience crowds in popular ports like Juneau.
The fact that the trees aren’t in full foliage in early spring can also make wildlife easier to spot. (Also, Alaska’s notorious mosquitoes don’t hatch until warmer weather arrives, so you won’t have to slather yourself with so much bug spray when you go ashore.)
Second, this is not a typical roundtrip. The cruise departs from Vancouver, but it returns to Seattle.
Normally we don’t like trips that depart from one port and return to another as they can make planning your travel more difficult. In this case, however, the two cities are near each other and can be reached by train, bus, or car. So you can plan to fly in or out of either city, but still save a lot of money due to the two ports.
As we said, the ship departs from Vancouver, British Columbia on April 20, 2020.
If you haven’t yet visited this British Columbia port, try to allow yourself an extra day to spend exploring here. Surrounded by mountains, and with a lively, and eclectic cultural scene, Vancouver offers activities for almost every taste.
Lonely Planet lists Vancouver among its “Best in Travel 2020,” calling the seaport “Canada’s dine-out capital” with options reflecting the cultural diversity of the population. Visitors to Vancouver can also partake in a range of cheap or free outdoor activities suitable for all levels of energy and fitness — ranging from walks along the harbor to riding through rainforest trails.
After sailing out of Vancouver, passengers on this cruise will enjoy a day at sea. Fortunately, days at sea heading toward Alaska still provide gorgeous scenery.
The following day, the ship cruises through Tracy Arm Fjord, which Carnival’s website describes as “one of the most spectacular cruise destinations on earth. With hundreds of waterfalls, giant chunks of sliding ice and a huge variety of native wildlife, you won’t even want to blink as you cruise past this natural wonder.”
The fourth day brings you to Skagway, a tiny Alaskan town now preserved as part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. While visiting here, you can explore restored historic buildings and ride a vintage locomotive for a mountain train ride.
The following day, your ship docks in Juneau. You’ll have a hard time choosing among the many excursions here — whale watching expeditions, a dog sled adventure, glacier-viewing via seaplane, or enjoying some of the city’s many museums and galleries featuring Native American art. Seafood fans won’t want to miss fresh Alaska crab in one of Juneau’s restaurants.
The sixth day of the voyage brings you to Ketchikan. Excursion options here include ziplining through the rainforest and learning about Native Alaskan culture while sailing a sightseeing vessel past 3,000-foot vertical cliffs. The city is known as the “Salmon Capital of the World,” so you’ll want to dine at one of the city’s restaurants while you’re here.
The last day of the cruise you can enjoy another day at sea. The ship docks in Seattle (instead of returning to Vancouver), giving you time to enjoy some sightseeing in the Emerald City. You can take in the city’s highlights like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle if this is your first visit.
That’s a lot of bang for your cruise buck. For just over $500, you’ll visit two of the most exciting cities in the Pacific Northwest, plus see glaciers, mountains, and rainforest paths.
The Cruise Ship
The voyage takes place on Carnival Spirit, a 2,100-passenger vessel which joined the cruise line’s fleet in 2001 (most recently refurbished in 2015).
Although you’re likely to spend much of your time at sea photographing the jaw-dropping scenery, you’ll also find plenty to do onboard. Carnival Spirit has one of the cruise line’s famous WaterWorks waterparks (if you can brave the cool weather), plus a mini-golf course, a Serenity Adults-Only Retreat, a spa, and Piano Bar, and Punchliner Comedy Club.
For meals, you can choose from Guy’s Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina, Bonsai Sushi, The Steakhouse, and more.
As we said, we found this cruise with prices starting at $509 per person for an interior room. You can click here to learn more. Just keep in mind that prices may change.