Alaska cruise deals are a bit harder to find than their cheaper Caribbean counterparts. In fact, scoring truly cheap Alaska cruises means knowing where and when to look. But why is it so hard to find deals on Alaska cruises? For starters, cruise lines generally operate fewer ships in the region, the season is short, and everybody knows Alaska is on top of many bucket lists.
To help you make sense of the ins and outs of finding Alaska cruise deals, we've found the best months to shop for an Alaska cruise on a budget, what it generally costs, and how to make sense of all the deals you're likely to see. Read on for our expert Alaska cruise deals breakdown (and if you're hunting for Alaska cruises right now, check out Cruise Critic's Alaska deals).
Without a doubt, the price of your Alaska cruise is one of the most important factors in any deal you'll find. Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Carnival, Celebrity and Disney all offer solid Alaska cruise deals, but don’t overlook premium cruise options. You might find that Viking Ocean Cruises cost more, but are a great deal when you factor in the included drinks, Wi-Fi, and excursions.
In early 2022, we found Alaska cruise prices for inside cabins as low as $50 per person per night, but anything below $90 per night is a deal worth considering. Oceanview cabins were as low as $69 per person per night, but any fare below $100 per night can make for a great Alaska cruise deal. Balcony rooms on Alaska cruises are some of the most popular options because of Alaska's stunning scenery. They come in a wide range of prices, and the lowest fare we uncovered was $73 per person per night. However, any balcony stateroom below $150 per night on a mainstream line is a good deal on an Alaska cruise fare.
Besides low cabin fares, Alaska cruise deals might include additional perks like onboard credit (something you’ll need lots of when it comes to pricey Alaska shore excursions) and even free fares for kids or other sailing companions. To find the best deals, try weighing the value of the deal against your actual needs (more on that below).
The best time to shop for Alaska cruise deals is during wave season, which lasts from January to March and is when most lines offer the best sailing bargains. Inboxes overflow with deals during wave season, and if you're after a cheap cruise to Alaska, make sure they're not going to your junk mailbox.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on Alaska cruises can sometimes top wave season deals, so keep your eyes peeled and during the busy holiday season. The third best time to shop for Alaska cruise deals is between 60 and 45 days prior to sailing. Your choice of cabins may be limited, but last-minute deals on Alaska cruises are often surprising.
To help you out, here’s an example of fare changes for a Junior Suite on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas during peak season 2022. (An Alaska cruise is the ideal time to splurge on a higher-end room. You’ll be spending more time indoors than on a warm-weather cruise.) These are actual prices checked during wave season, starting with a Junior Suite booked departing May 4, 2022 for a five-night itinerary.
May 4: $110 per person, per night
June 6: $389 per person, per night
July: Sold Out
August 29: $337 per person, per night
September 11: $410 per person, per night
June 2023: $413 per person, per night
July 2023: $478 per person, per night
All cabin categories will generally follow similar patterns, with the least dramatic changes found among inside rooms, but even those are popular among people who can't tolerate the long hours of daylight durings Alaska's summers.
Read More: The Best Month to Cruise to Alaska
Alaska cruises are expensive, in large part because shore excursions are some of the priciest out there. You'll want to shop for cruise deals that include onboard credit you can apply to your excursions. These are abundant during wave season, though Cruise Critic's Deal Score also clearly shows you what inclusions and offers are part of Alaska cruise deals as well.
If you're navigating Alaska cruise deals on your own, you'll want to consider your additions carefully. The standard advice is to buy internet and drink packages in advance at a discounted rate, but you might be able to save even more money by waiting until you need Wi-Fi on board the ship or gauging how much drinking you'll do between whale watching and glacier tours. Since your cruise takes place entirely in North America, you likely have cell phone coverage while in port, making Wi-Fi potentially less necessary.
As for excursions, keep your bucket list in mind. It’s entirely possible to spend more on your Alaska shore excursions than on the cruise itself. Expect to spend between $100 and $300 per person for each excursion. If you budget for anything less, you may not get the Alaska cruise experience of your dreams (which makes credits even more valuable for a solid deal).
Get Inspired: 6 Things You Need to Know About Alaska Cruisetours
To help you digest every cruise tip and trick we know about finding a great deal on an Alaska cruise, consult this handy cheat sheet. We've broken it down into the basic tactics you'll need as well as some handy insider info on scoring a cheap cruise to Alaska.
Basic Alaska Cruise Deal Tips:
Consult Cruise Critic's Alaska deals for great discounts and inclusions on Alaska cruises.
Put your name on several email deals lists, so you'll never miss an opportunity to score a deal. Opt for a mix of cruise line emails and travel wesbite emails.
Don’t worry about looking for a ship with the most bells and whistles. Alaska cruises are more about the destination than the ship.
Look at cruise itineraries outside the norm. The highest demand is for seven-night cruises, so consider every other length a possible good deal. Be sure to do the math to break it down to the cost per night. The odd four, five, and six-night cruises at the beginning of the season can be the best Alaska cruise deals available.
Do you want to get to Alaska or not? Then don’t rule out a lower-category cabin. If Alaska is the goal, consider the ship as your transportation, not the destination.
Unless your usual brand is saving you a lot of cash, jump ship and start fresh with another line.
Don’t forget to consider every possible discount when you book. You may get reduced fares for your age, your occupation, military service, or your state of residence. Use a travel agent or look for checkboxes when booking online (usually a screen or two before you select your cabin).
Cruise loyalty programs can be a gold mine for finding cheap Alaska cruises. They might offer you deeper stateroom discounts as well as freebies or discounts on add-ons like drinks and Wi-Fi (again, this is all spelled out for you with Cruise Critic's Deal Score).
Gold Nugget Deals Tips (Warning: These may be outside your comfort zone, but isn’t that why you want to cruise to Alaska in the first place?):
During cold weather months, when your inbox is full of beaches and bikinis, you'll likely find unadvertised Alaska cruise discounts (because nobody is thinking about glaciers in January).
Try your luck at a cruise casino (or some land-based casinos) and be sure to track your play every time. Onboard casinos on the mainstream lines have players clubs that can save you hundreds on your next cruise -- or even award you free cruises (including those hard-to-get Alaska cruises).
The alternative to going on a cheap Alaska cruise is to use an Alaska cruise deal to splurge on your dream cruise. For instance, while it's pricier, Viking includes beer, wine and sodas at lunch and dinner, plus Wi-Fi and one tour-style excursion in each port. Seabourn and Silversea add even more luxury and include beverages, Wi-fi, and a long list of free shore excursions (not to mention butlers).
Consider a small-ship Alaska cruise, where the cruise may be as exciting as the shore excursions you’d pay extra for on a mainstream line. American Cruise Lines has promoted deals for balcony cabins plus a pre-cruise hotel stay, transfers, an open bar, guided tours in each port, and unlimited Wi-Fi on a ship carrying only 200 passengers.