First Cruise - Alaska


Level 2 Member
My wife and I are looking to book our first ever cruise with some friends of ours (who have also never cruised) to Alaska this upcoming summer.My wife has done most of the research so far, and is leaning towards Royal Caribbean. Price is going to be a big factor for our friends, and we'll probably all do a drink package.

How can I ensure we're maximizing our value on a cruise? Should I book through a travel portal, stock up on discount gift cards, etc? Any tips for a cruise newbie would be greatly appreciated.

I'll have Companion Pass within the next month (and I'm trying to get our friends to get it as well) so we'll be able to fly to Seattle on points. I have a bunch of cards, and access to 400k AmEx MR, 400k Chase UR, and 70k Citi TYP.


Level 2 Member
You want to go this summer? As in 2020? There won't be much availability left, and whatever there is you'll pay top dollar for it. You might be fine with that, just keep that in mind going in. Here's some tips:

  1. Drink package? As in alcohol drink package? There are a few different levels so no matter what you choose, run the math. For the alcohol package, unless you plan on putting down 5+ of their most expensive cocktails every day, you'll lose money on the deal. Remember you'll spend a lot of time on land, away from the ship.
  2. Fly in a day early. That ship is leaving with or without you. If you're flight the day of the cruise is delayed or cancelled, you'll be SOL, or trying to find a way to get to the ship mid-cruise. Not good.
  3. Interior cabins are just fine. All rooms (excluding suites) are very small, and you don't spend much time in the room anyway. There is a significant savings over ocean view and especially balcony rooms.
  4. For Alaska, take a look at shore excursion pricing before diving in head first. It is much higher than any other area I've been to. Even if you book independently, it's often the same price as the ship, or at best a small discount.
  5. For your return flight (post cruise), do some research on the earliest flight time you should book for your port. Generally speaking though, anything before 11:00am is pushing it. Some ports, 11:00am is asking for trouble. It's all YMMV.
Cruising is a very enjoyable way to travel. Our family of 5 will be setting sail on an Alaskan cruise the summer too! We fly into Anchorage, departing from Seward.