Alaska: The Top 10 Alaska Cruise Tips
While it is no wonder as to why every year thousands of people attend breathtaking and beautiful Alaskan cruises, they are not like your everyday vacation. Your jaw will drop as you view sights that are inaccessible to all forms of transportation except for boat, such as miles of gigantic glaciers, untouched wilderness, and whale/orca watching. Several major cruise lines offer access to these amazing Alaskan features without causing you to break the bank and your budget. However, as stated above a cruise to Alaska isn't like your typical vacation, it is the Last Frontier. Read on below for the top ten Alaska Cruise tips you should know prior to embarking on your chilly adventure.
1. Pack for Cold Weather No Matter the Season
Even though you may be visiting Alaska during their summer months, summer is never really 'summer' in this region of the world. An Alaskan summer is more like a summer in San Francisco, there may be warmer day here and there but the weather is extremely unpredictable and chilly for the majority of your days. Not to mention, the ship's movement creates a strong wind chill, so make sure to pack a wardrobe for an Alaskan cruise heavily consisting of Winter/Fall clothes with a few exceptions for when the sun decides to come out and play. Do not forget to pack a raincoat along with thermal hats and gloves. If your aim is to pack lighter, than make sure your ship has laundry services, so that you are able to wash your wardrobe on one your days at sea. Furthermore, make sure to include a few cruise ship necessities such as imodium, ear plugs, eye drops, powerstrip, and travel clock.
2. Choose A Midship Room to Avoid Seasickness
It is a general rule that the lower and closer your room is to the middle of the ship, the less movement you will experience. Cruise ships typically do not bounce on the water when out at sea but they will sway. Thus, you must prepare yourself against seasickness. There are several medicines as well as mechanisms you can take and wear while enjoying your cruise ship stay. If you fail to plan, than plan to fail because their is nothing worse than spending your entire vacation nauseous.
3. Bring a Good Amount of Spending Money
Although, your cruise may claim that it is 'all inclusive', it will not be so. Cocktails, spa treatments, photographs, wifi, and gym classes are all extra fees with marked up pricing. Allot yourself anywhere between fifty to one hundred dollars a day in spending money alone, and do not forget to tip. If you can skip the wifi aspect all together, and bring alcohol from home you will surely save a few hundred dollars between these two items alone.
4. Do Not Book Your Excursions Through the Cruiseline
Your cruise line will be offering pre-departure deals on all day excursions left and right but do not be fooled by these 'discounted offers'. Private companies will offer the same excursions for hundreds of dollars less, even when booking day of the event. The excursion activities consist of helicopter rides, kayaking tours, float planes, ziplines, and wildlife viewing adventures. It is only wise to book your excursions in advance when you need assurance on accommodating an extremely large party or need assistance with handicap transportation. Despite your availability worries, mostly all excursions are available all year round, even during high season for same day booking.
5. How to Visit Mendenhall Glacier
As famously beautiful as the Mendenhall Glacier is, do not make it a priority to visit off the boat unless you are flying to the very top. No vehicle other than your cruise ship or a helicopter will get you close enough to truly experience this glaciers naturally beauty. So, if you are not budgeting for a plane ride, than stay on the cruise ship the day you visit the Mendenhall Glacier. Your cruise ship alone will offer you breathtaking views of Glacier bay as well as Arm Fjord in all their viewing glory.
6. Avoid Wildlife Excursions
As fun as a wildlife excursion may sound, it could possibly be a major waste of money. Instead make sure to purchase or pack a great pair binoculars. It is highly likely that you will be able to a spot bear or bald eagle from the comfort of your own cruise ship or maybe even during a hiking excursion. Not to mention you are guaranteed to see plenty of orcas, sea lions, dolphins, and whales while out at sea. However, if you must go on a wildlife viewing excursion to ensure the experience of bear watching be prepared to spend a pretty penny as these excursions are not cheap.
7. Make Sure to Add Cocktail Attire to Your wardrobe
Almost every cruise you attend will host a formal cocktail dinner. During this night your ship will be flooded with floor length gowns and fancy tuxedos. While it is generally fun to take part in these ship wide activities, you can opt out of participation. The buffets are always open and welcome casual dress.
8. Involve the Kids
Your kids will thoroughly enjoy the cruise ship experience. Most cruise lines are extremely child friendly and welcome kids with an array of activities, exclusive pools, bunk beds, babysitting services, free treats, and wholesome entertainment. On the flip side of bringing children, in order to avoid children - be sure to book your vacation prior to the months of June or after August. Kids typically tend to be in school before and after these months and are typically easy to avoid. If you must cruise during these select months be sure to hang out in the areas specifically marked 'adults only'.
9. Make Your Purchases From Privately Owned Alaskan Stores
Make shopping one of your top priorities during your Alaskan vacation as tourism is one of Alaska’s most influential factors on the state's economy. Several city port stores are owned by oversea companies so make sure to make an effort to look for locally owned stores to shop from. Just look for a window display stating that the store is family owned or something in the like.
10. Try to Book Your Vacation As Early As Possible
Alaskan cruises tend to book up as soon as they are released, so it is in your best interest to book your vacation as far in advance as possible, a year is a solid time frame. Make sure to shop around for competitive pricing. Costco Travel usually offers the best deals on Alaska cruises. A little known fact about cruising is that it is best to book early but arrive to the cruise ship only an hour or so prior to departure. If you show up any earlier then this you may be standing in wait lines for hours.
As you can see, an Alaska Cruise is a chance of a lifetime, so add this adventure to your bucket list today!