Alaska Cruise Prices
Costs to Consider

Alaska cruise prices and cruise fares in general continually ebb and flow like the sea. You, as the cruise consumer, are diligently researching and performing price comparisons but it sure feels like someone’s not playing by the rules. Cruise fares are influenced by a large number of factors and can fluctuate daily. By understanding the dynamics of cruise pricing you’ll have an edge in separating fact from fiction.

First, never ever pay the published brochure rate. This fare is wishful thinking by the cruise line. You can do better.

So what impacts Alaska cruise prices?

  • When you make your reservation - The cruise lines like to fill their ships up early and offer early-bird rates to encourage you to book in advance. Our advice, take a look at early booking discounts, you might (keyword – might) find a last-minute deal by waiting but Alaska is a very popular destination and due to the short cruise season space may not be available. It’s also worth noting that cabins being offered in last-minute promotions are very limited and are probably not located in the more desirable areas of the ship.
  • The date you are sailing - All cruise fares are seasonal and Alaska is no exception. Your lowest Alaska cruise prices will be in the shoulder months of May and September. The highest fares will be in late June, July and early to mid-August. Early June and late August are the value season with more moderate fares.
  • Group discounts - Many agencies will purchase large blocks of cabins in advance. This gives you access to lower fares available only through that agency. You could also put your own group together and reap the benefits. We’ll explain more about group pricing later…
  • Age - Discounts for senior citizens and special rates for children may be available.
  • Your choice of accommodations - When you research Alaska cruise prices look for the word “from” in the advertising. The prices shown will reflect lead in cost for that category. Remember that cruise lines have several cabin types within each classification. If you want a better location or cabin upgrade you’ll pay more.
  • Your hometown - Regional discounts may be available where you live.
  • Ship reputation - The ship you’ve selected has a fan club and books up quickly.
  • Itinerary - The ship’s route is more attractive to you and others. In Alaska, many passengers find the southbound gulf route more appealing (which makes it more expensive.) A couple of reasons why: you make the longer leg of your flight first allowing for a shorter return home at the end of your cruise and/or you’ve booked a cruisetour and prefer participating in the more active land portion first.
  • Your travel agent - If your online or offline agency is a top performer with the cruise line they may pass on special Alaska cruise prices specific to their company.
  • Past passenger reward program - You’ll become a member with your first sailing. Your loyalty as a repeat passenger will earn you special savings and other amenities on future trips.

Always check the cruise line web sites for current promotions or savings. If you like your cruise vacation, consider booking while onboard. The cruise lines offer some great deals and you can continue to work with and give credit to your favorite agent. Just be sure you can combine the offer with discounts before signing on the dotted line.

Alaska cruise prices and the quoted fare:

The price quote you receive should have two components. The voyage fare and what they call “non-commissionable fees.” In the agent community these fees are referred to as NCF’s and agents don’t receive any commission from them. Many years ago, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission dictated that cruise fares quoted in ads must contain these fees and the cruise lines agreed. Non-commissionable fees, which you are required to pay, include port charges but not any taxes.

Port charges include taxes and fees assessed by governmental and other agencies. The cruise lines incur these costs for port-related functions. Some examples include pilot fees when entering and leaving a port, dock laborers, waste removal and payroll for other port operations. The more ports visited, the higher the port charge cost.

Some agencies will quote the voyage fare and list the NCF’s in the fine print. While this is not disallowed it is a deceptive practice and you need to be aware of it. Taxes on cruise prices are usually added last.

We recommend you make a table like the one located above to be safe and know what you will ultimately pay for your basic fare. In other words, don’t assume the NCF and taxes are already added in.

Fuel surcharges, a fee added to cover the increased cost of fuel, were being passed on to you, the consumer. With the recent drop in oil prices this policy is being reviewed and may be revised in the future. (We have excluded this fee from the table please take this under consideration if still applicable when totaling your basic cost.)

Alaska cruise prices and the add-ons:

Alaska cruise prices include ship accommodations, ocean transportation, most meals, some non-alcoholic beverages and most entertainment. Here are some other items you will need to add to your bottom line:

Shore Excursions: - These are sightseeing tours designed to enhance your experience while visiting a port and can add a large amount to your cruise vacation costs. See the shore excursion area of this web site for more information.

Cruisetours: - This is a total package combining a cruise and a structured, prearranged multi-day land program.

Please visit our cruisetour page for details.

Tips - On most ships gratuities have not been included but they are expected. The exception is Regent where your gratuities are included in your cruise fare. Take a minute to visit the end of cruise concerns section and the small ships area for more information on tipping.

Alcohol and Soda - Most ships charge additional for alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. Some cruise lines have beverage packages available unlimited soda and percentage discounts on wine programs offering you some decent savings over ala carte price.

Air add-ons: - Unless you live within driving distance you’ll probably be flying to join your ship. As major customers of airlines around the world the cruise lines negotiate the best discounts. You can book your own flight but the only way to get a better deal is through the use of frequent flier miles.

Another advantage, if you purchase cruise line air they can keep track of you in case of a flight delay. As with all good things there is a drawback. You are at the mercy of the cruise line when it comes to scheduling. If you’re picky about the airline you fly or the route you take many cruise lines offer an air deviation program for an extra fee. Cruise line air will save you taxi fare as most lines include airport transfers to/from the ship.

Pre and Post cruise hotel stays: - This option will add to your overall bottom line but does provide some nice advantages. You’ll have time to explore some very beautiful ports, no delayed flight or luggage worries and the opportunity to start your vacation relaxed and refreshed. You can certainly book a room on your own but take some time to check the cruise lines negotiated prices you may find a good buy. Be aware the cruise lines usually list these prices as per person rates. Hotel listings will be published per room. Lastly, you’ll want to confirm what’s included, transfers to/from the ship, any meals, baggage handling, etc.

Insurance: - This is one of those “it will never happen to me” items. We use to think that way too until we experienced a medical emergency onboard a recent cruise. Now we will never travel without it. A cruise vacation requires that you pay a large portion of your expenses up front. Trip cancellation insurance protects you if you are unable to take your trip or it’s interrupted. A good policy will include missed connection, trip delay, baggage and medical coverage and travel assistance in making the necessary arrangements if needed.

As you can see Alaska cruise prices are a complicated thing. Take a minute to visit our cruise budget area then go forth and conquer…

"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." -- Helen Keller

Return from Alaska cruise prices to Alaska family vacation planning guide...