Monday, November 20, 2017

the logistics of planning an Alaskan Cruise

Dear Alaska, 
I dreamt of you again last night. Only, I could never be creative enough to dream up anything so gorgeous on my own. You live on in my dreams because you live on in my heart. You keep your beauty hidden and are so hard to gain access to. But I want to share you with the world because "to the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world" -John Muir 

We do a west coast trip every year, but this year we realized that we simply didn't have the time or energy it would take to plan such a big trip. So we decided to opt for something simpler that would require little work on our parts with booking an Alaskan cruise. In my head, I imagined that we could simply buy our tickets and then call it a day with the cruise, but there ended up being so many more logistics than we thought. Here's just a few things to consider when booking your cruise. 

flights// Alaskan cruises only leave from the West Coast, so don't forget to factor in possible flights. I would recommend arriving to your destination at least the day before your cruise disembarks to give yourself some wiggle room in case flights get delayed. It's safe to fly out the last day of your cruise since most cruises port early in the morning. 

choosing a cruise// Alaskan cruises leave out of Seattle, Vancouver, and of course Alaska. There are two main routes: the inside passage or the gulf of Alaska. Round-trip cruises tend to leave out of Seattle and Vancouver and cover the inside passage. This is the route we took through Seattle. Or cruisers can take the northbound or southbound gulf of Alaska cruise, but keep in mind that the gulf cruises tend to start/end in Canada or Alaska. You have to research each cruise and decide what fits best for you. With factoring flights in, we decided to do a round trip cruise. Regardless of which route you choose, you will likely need your passport as there will be stops in Canada. 

what to pack// layers. layers. layers. We cruised over the summer, but the weather ranged anywhere from summer to winter temperatures. Layers are your best friend on a cruise like this. A few items that I could not have lived without during our cruise: 
  • a fleece-I picked this fleece up just before our cruise and it is honestly the best purchase I've made all year. It was perfect for wearing around the ship and layering on colder days. 
  • rain jacket-It rained nearly everyday of our cruise. Unfortunately, we saw so many cruisers missing out on activities or being miserable because of the rain. Husband and I both have rain coats from outdoor research and as far as I'm concerned I will never buy a rain coat from another company. Alaska contains some of the wettest places on Earth in terms of rain, but we hardly noticed because we stayed so dry. 
  • lightweight coat-You want to easily be able to peel off and potentially carry your layers around as the temperatures. That's why I'm a big fan of this lightweight coat that folds into itself and can fit into your purse. Being warm doesn't mean being covered in something bulky.  
  • waterproof shoes-It blew my breath away how many other cruisers weren't prepared to trek around in the Alaskan wilderness all day. I alternated between these and these, both waterproof and both stylish. 

at sea// With this being our first cruise, I really was worried that we wouldn't enjoy being at sea. But Alaskan cruises are special because the ship passed through glacier fields and fjords. You can spot humpback whales and dolphins all from deck. Yes, it's pretty easy to settle into life at sea

excursions// When it comes to cruise excursions, make sure you do your research and consider booking outside 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. Whichever route you take, definitely plan out and book ahead of time. Don't wait until the cruise has taken off, or you will be limited. 

tips & things to know// Just a few random tips and things to know...
  • we took a thermos along in our luggage, best decision ever. You can get as much coffee, hot chocolate, tea as you like, but only in those tiny disposable mugs that don't hold up well. It was so nice to have a real mug to keep things warm while on the cold deck sailing though ice glacier fields. We noticed that all the seasoned cruisers had done the same. 
  • Tipping is automatic and compulsory on most cruises. So keep that in mine that your room will be charged daily per person for gratuities. 
  • Bring a swimsuit. We almost didn't because Alaska, but hot tubing while sailing through fjords became a daily ritual for us, the pools are heated as well. 
  • Don't bother with a balcony room. We were on the fence about this one since the cruise passes through so many amazing spots. But at the end of the day, you can see much more from deck than you can from your balcony  room that make add hundreds to your room cost. 

budget// For us, the budget is was the deciding factor over whether or not we could do this. Alaskan cruises are indeed known for being pricey, but it be manageable in so many ways. Details on our exact budget and how we shaved thousands of dollars off our trip can be found here

Cruising ended up being a bit more involved then we had initially thought. And maybe that was just us being naive. But I'm glad that I could share all about the logistics of planning for an Alaskan Cruise. More details from our itinerary, budget, and port stops below. 

More on Alaska:

linking up with weekending//


  1. I'm so glad you shared this because this is one of my husbands dream vacations! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

    1. I recommend it to everyone, it's such a good way to see Alaska because most of the towns are accessible by roads anyway. Hope you guys get to go soon