Thursday, October 26, 2017

how much does an Alaskan Cruise really cost?

I never would have imagined that we could swing the cost of an Alaskan Cruise at this stage in our lives. Because with the husband and I both in graduate school, we feel fortunate enough to afford a day trip to the beach, yet alone a week long luxury cruise. I've always assumed that an Alaskan Cruise would cost at least $5k. And I was right. It was $5,305.24 to be exact. Thankfully, we found a way to do things on a much smaller budget. 
cost Alaska cruise blog
 Everyone's budget for an Alaskan Cruise will obviously look a bit different depending on the type of room you chose, the time of year (peak vs. shoulder season) you travel, and the types of excursions you chose to do. We held off on taking this cruise for a long time because we thought that we couldn't afford it. And boy were we wrong. I wanted to show how we made things a bit more reasonable by sharing our exact budget here.
cost Alaska cruise blog
But first, if you haven't already, be sure to check out our itinerary because it gives our budget a bit more context. 

Flights $35// Our cruise was through Seattle. Roundtrip flights for us from Boston to Seattle added up to $1600. Thankfully, we had $600 in credits with Alaskan Airlines that covered our flights to Seattle. Then we used 65k rewards points with United Airlines to fly home. Our out of pocket expenses for flights included $25 for a checked bag and $10 in taxes.

The Cruise $800// Alaskan Cruises are known for being pricey and we traveled during the peak cruising season of August. The best deal I could find booked out at $2,200 for an interior room for two. Thankfully, we had rewards points to bring down our total, so even though the original cost was in the thousands, we only paid $800 for the cruise. This balanced out to $57/day per person. That’s pretty doable when you take into account this covers your room, meals, and lots of on board entertainment.

Other Transport $82// This number should be a lot lower, but we got kind of lazy and didn’t take public transit as much as we should. It’s way too easy to call a quick $10 Uber here and there, but it added up fast. Oops! 

Accommodations $80// With flying into Seattle the day before our cruise took off, we spent a night in a hotel. 

Excursions $456// When it comes to cruise excursions, you can easily break the bank because they offer everything imaginable. In fact, if you have a few thousand $$$ to spare, you can even take a helicopter ride and land on top of an ice glacier. I noticed two things about the cruise excursions: 1.) cruises tend to charge for things that are actually free if you organize it yourself and 2.) you should always look into booking outside of the cruise-line. Booking excursions with the cruise directly is convenient, but in many cases, it can cost you more money for the exact same thing. We did a little of both with arranging some excursions on our own and booking others directly with the cruise-line.
Quick summary or our excursion costs for two people: Seattle’s Chihuly Glass & Garden House ($60), Misty Fjord Boat Tour in Ketchikan Alaska ($400), the White Pass Yukon Gold Train Ride in Skagway Alaska ($260). In Juneau, we did a shuttle tour to/from Mendenhall Glacier ($90) and airtram rides ($66) up the mountain so we could hike. All told, that adds to a whooping $876. Yea, I know. Thankfully, we did early booking for our cruise, which earned us a $220 voucher to spend with the cruise-line. And you can subtract another $200 thanks to a travel credit card reward, so that places our excursions at $456. Still on the pricey side, but worth it because if you’re going to travel all the way to Alaska, then you really need to enjoy the adventure.

Food & Drinks $322// This is one of the best benefits of taking an all-inclusive cruise. And while we did splurge on a few meals out, we technically didn't have to pay for any additional food. You can of course pay extra to dine at the ship’s restaurants, but we didn’t feel the need to because everything offered as a part of the all-inclusive package was so delicious. In fact, I gained 4 pounds during this cruise! We did order drinks ($177) daily while cruising. We also grabbed lunch in Seattle ($43), coffee in Skagway ($21), and an early dinner in Juneau ($81). 
cost Alaska cruise

Souvenirs $110// Per our usual travel tradition, we stocked up on Christmas ornaments for our travel tree. We actually ended up buying ornaments made by local artists, so they were a little pricey, but are one of a kind and we can't wait to hang them on our tree this year. We did pick up gifts for family and friends as well, but for reasons, I'm sure you can understand, we're excluding those costs from this budget share. 

So our bottom line of what we paid out of pocket was $1,885 for a 9 day trip for two that included flights, Alaska cruising, accommodations, excursion adventures, food, beverages, and souvenirs. I know that we could have spent less, but we didn't feel the need to penny pinch too much since this was for an anniversary and we stayed well under our budget. When I think about the fact that we could have paid over $5k for this trip, it makes me shudder. I'm thankful that we have figured travel hacking because it saved us over there thousand dollars! 

Click on any of the links below to see more travel budgets: 
French Canada 
The Mighty Five


  1. I love that you were able to experience this on a budget that works for you. It looks like a great time! My in-laws went on an Alaskan cruise several years ago and they still say it was one of their favorites. Beautifully Candid

    1. We haven't been on other cruises to compare, but this is definitely one of our favorite trips we've ever taken

  2. Alaskan cruises seem like so much fun!