Alaska is on everyone’s bucket list. In addition to perennial favorite activities and attractions in this majestic land of timeless beauty, there’s something new for visitors every year. Thirty-one large ships are scheduled to sail 396 times in Alaska’s waters in 2013, a gain of one ship and 19 trips for a total passenger gain of 65,647. Celebrity Solstice, a larger ship, is replacing the Infinity. Carnival Miracle is replacing the Carnival Spirit. The 700-passenger Regatta is also returning, its last call being in 2011. The Grand Princess is replacing Sea Princess on a San Francisco round trip and the Amsterdam returns to seven-day Inside Passage sailings, which will double its visits.
The bad news is that cruises to Alaska are very popular and sell out quickly. The good news is that you can still find a deal if you do a little research — because there is no one single strategy that will get you the cruise you want at the best possible price.
National Cruise Month/National Cruise Vacation Week. October is National Cruise Vacation Month, so there will be industry-wide promotions and sales. October 21-27, National Cruise Vacation Week, is the centerpiece with more than 5,000 travel agencies in the United States and Canada expected to participate through special events, including online travel agency promotions throughout the month and special live, in-person travel agent events such as Cruise Nights at travel agencies and in partnership with other local businesses. Check out some of the promotions at the website of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Carnival, for example, is offering special rates, up to $200 cash back per stateroom, 50% reduced deposits and up to a two-category upgrade on some sailings. Other cruise lines, including Celebrity and Holland America, are also offering deals on Alaska sailings.
Compare different booking websites. Go to Cruise Critic’s comparison page and you’ll be able to check the price on the Alaska cruise you want on many booking sites. You’ll find different prices for the same cruise on the same sailing date. Pick the best one.
Consult a Travel Agent. Many people believe that they will pay more if they book a cruise through a travel agent. That’s not true; in fact, if you consult a travel agent who specializes in cruises, you may well get the best possible deal — because these specialists have up-to-the-minute information on prices and availability — and they may have the “clout” to get you an upgrade or some on-board perks. Perhaps best of all, you will have someone to call if you encounter any problems.