Cruise essentials for an Alaskan cruise! Packing tips for a cruise | Packing for a cruise | cruise hacks | cruise tips. Things to do in Alaska while cruising Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway. Alaska cruise excursions | Alaska cruise Ketchikan | Alaska cruise Juneau | Alaska cruise Skagway. Booking a cruise | cruise checklist | Alaska cruise budget

Alaska Cruise Tips, Hacks, Packing List, & Excursions

An Alaskan Cruise is an absolutely incredible and unique travel experience. You’ll see sights and sounds that you can’t find ANYWHERE else on earth, and you will do it in style! In this article we are going to walk you through our packing list, Alaska cruise tips & hacks, excursion recommendations, and more (including mistakes to avoid)!

Your Alaska Cruise will be a top 5 vacation you’ve ever taken, it absolutely was for us! We saw whales, walked on glaciers, ate AMAZING food, took a train through the mountains, and built a storybook of memories. And we didn’t break the bank doing it!

If you want to check out all the amazing Alaska sites, and learn a few cruise hacks, in video form, check out the video we made of our adventure! Now, let’s get started planning YOUR Alaska Cruise.

Why We Chose an Alaskan Cruise

Let’s start with a very important question: why do an Alaskan Cruise? That is a very good question. Isn’t Alaska cold and snowy all year? And doesn’t Alaska have zero sunlight?

Well, folks, it might surprise you to learn that Alaska is flipping BEAUTIFUL! Especially during the summer months. The weather is top notch, you’ll have days full of sunshine and warmth, though it probably won’t be as tropical as a Caribbean cruise… You will still have time to stay by the pool, sip fruity drinks, and eat eat eat until you burst (not that we did…)!

But, all of this STILL misses the point on WHY you would choose an Alaskan Cruise. It is because Alaska is an absolute wonderland of sights and sounds and wildlife and more! The Last Frontier, as they call it, has whales, glaciers, lakes, mountains, fjords (what is a fjord? we’ll tell you soon…), cliffs, rivers, salmon, bears, bears eating salmon, sea lions, orcas, the Northern Lights (AKA Aurora Borealis), and we are barely scratching the surface!

On an Alaskan Cruise you will see sites you’ve dreamed about but never experienced! And when you see Alaska on a cruise? You will see incredible sites WITHOUT having to drive 40+ hours through Canada OR having to take a long, expensive flight. You’ll ride in style as the captain steers the ship towards all of the best sites while you sit back, relax, and make your mouth a huge funnel for all the delicious food on board the ship.

Booking your Cruise

Okay, so you want to do an Alaskan Cruise… How do you book it? And are there any tips and tricks to get the best possible price? Well, you’re in luck! Yes there sure are some tips and tricks, and we are here to share them with you!

First off, you need to determine a few things. Number one, how long you can cruise for? Second, what dates could you set sail? And third, where can you sail from?

How Long Can You Cruise?

By far the most common cruise length for an Alaskan Cruise is 7 days, however if you want extra time there are 14 day options as well. For us, we were more than okay with a 7 day cruise, and thought it was the perfect amount of time to explore 4 wonderful locations while still getting some awesome time at sea as well.


Photography Equipment


We absolutely LOVE photography, and sharing pictures! These are the cameras we use on all of our adventures. The drone and GoPro help us get cool new perspectives (underwater, in the air, wide angle) and the Rebel we use on a day-to-day basis for most of our shots!


Full disclosure these are affiliate links. If you click them and buy the products we get a little bit of money, which helps us keep providing content to you for free!

Click to See our Travel Gear Recommendations



For the sake of the rest of this article, we will assume you are looking at a 7 day cruise, however know that all of these principles will still apply to 14 day cruises as well. Another qualifying point: these cruises almost always leave and return on weekend days, either Saturday or Sunday. Therefore, you’ll be at sea for 1 full work week.

What Dates Work for You?

This is important. Your dates will in large part determine what cruise ship you go on and will have an impact on your final price. The more flexible you are, the better deal you will get on your cruise, 100%.

Here’s what you need to do. Talk to your boss. Talk to anyone going on the cruise with you. Hopefully those aren’t the same person. You have to let your hair down here, and your boss breathing down your neck is sure not going to help!

Talk to everyone you need to, and come up with a list of weeks that will work for you to cruise. Once you have the list, we are off to the next step, choosing a port.

Where Can You Sail From?

Just like when we talked about dates, flexibility around where you will cruise from is also a great way to lower costs. Now, if you live in Seattle, you probably aren’t going to want to cruise from California or Vancouver or Portland or Anchorage, you’ll want to go from Seattle.

However, if you are flying in for the cruise, then you can have more flexibility on cruise location. If you do fly in, you will want to not look at only the cost of the cruise, but the cost of the cruise plus the cost of round trip flights when considering which cruise is the best deal.

The best way to do this in our opinion is to first locate the 5 cheapest cruises that work for your dates, and then search flights for those 5 cruises. Ideally, you’ll have a variety of ports on those 5, because sometimes flights might be really expensive in one or two places, and really cheap in another!

Once you have your 5 best cruise prices, and add on the costs of a round trip flight to those destinations, then you can compare those totals to determine the best Alaskan Cruise deal for you!

What Site or Provider to Book From?

We booked from Expedia, but not because we are loyal to Expedia… they just happened to have the cheapest price when we booked! Here’s the thing, the cruise ship employees and other guests will not know or care whether you paid $600 or $6000 for your cruise, so you might as well get the best price, right!

Oddly enough, one thing we learned while searching for a cruise is that different sites will lead to different prices, for the same cruise! Crazy isn’t it? We cruised on the Star Princess, which was lovely, however we did not have that ship in mind when we booked the cruise.


Travel Accessories


Here are our best recommendations for travel accessories to complete any trip! We are ALWAYS looking for great deals and shopping on a budget. We swear by these accessories!

Click to See our Travel Gear Recommendations



Every major cruise line will have great entertainment, wonderful food, and a fun-filled lineup of excursions and port stops. So, we just chose based on the cheapest! We searched Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, VacationsToGo, and LastMinuteCruises, and Expedia happened to be the winner! That might be different for you, you’ll have to wait and see!

Note that it can be good to check the price straight through the cruise line (Princess, Norwegian, Holland America, Carnival, Disney, etc) to verify that the price is not cheaper to go directly through them. For us it wasn’t, but that could be different for every cruise!

Why to Cruise – 1 Day on our Itinerary

We cruised on the Star Princess, which was a beautiful ship with a TON of incredible benefits. The on-board entertainment was a 10. The food was a 10. Our room was more than enough for us. The stops along the way were a 10. Everything was great!

We booked it on Expedia for $399 per person (before taxes and fees, which were about $200). So for $600, we got a full week of breakfast, lunch, dinner, hotel accommodations, coffee, entertainment, and more for $85 per day.

Let’s walk through one of our days. We woke up, had a breakfast sandwich and coffee with a side of bacon and french toast. We walked up to the deck to see the Tracy Arm Fjord, which we were sailing through that morning. A guide talked us through the formation of the glaciers, pointed out whales we could see, and gave us a historical tour of the Alaskan shore.

When we left the Fjord, we went to the fitness center for a quick workout. After the workout, we got a plate of food from the buffet, some ice cream, and another coffee and went and enjoyed the hot tub on deck. For lunch, we sauntered over to grab a few fish tacos and a plate of olive and cheese, and snacked on that while reading and enjoying the sun.

In the early afternoon, we docked in Juneau and got off the boat for a tour of the beautiful Alaskan Capitol! After a few hours later, we boarded the ship and went straight to dinner, of course. The appetizers were a shrimp cocktail and clam chowder, and the main course prime rib and lobster tails. Dessert and coffee after? Yes please.

After dinner, we went to a Broadway-level show on the legends of British Music, and ended the night with a HILARIOUS stand-up comedian show. We crawled into bed just after midnight, and the next day got up to do it all over again.

ALL OF THAT WAS $85!!!! CAN YOU IMAGINE TRYING TO PLAN AND PAY FOR THAT ALL ON YOUR OWN ON ONE DAY! I dare you to try it and count how much you would spend. It would probably be over $1000. In fact, every single one of those events (guided tour of Tracy Arm Fjord, Exploring Juneau, surf and turf dinner, Broadway show, stand-up comedian) would probably be more than $85 on their own!

Packing Tips for a Cruise

To start with packing tips, let’s first understand what we are working with. If you are flying in (we always recommend flying without checking a bag) then we may be more limited than if you live in San Francisco and are cruising from there. In any case, you are definitely going to want to bring along the following:


Clothing We Love


You need clothes to travel. Heck, maybe you don’t. We don’t judge. If you want to hop around the world in your birthday suit then go right ahead! But if you want to cover up, here are a few of our favorite clothing items we love, and we think you’ll love too!

Click to See More Recommendations



  • Camera (we had along a GoPro, Drone, and Canon Camera)
  • Toiletries
  • Playing Cards
  • Books
  • Wine (1 bottle per person for Princess Cruises…)
  • Phone
  • All Necessary Batteries and Chargers
  • Power Strip (only 1 outlet in most staterooms…)

Canon Rebel T6

GoPro Hero 7

DJI Spark Drone

Power Strip

Note that you WILL need your passport, ladies and gentlemen! This cruise will be going through international waters and will probably be making a stop in Victoria, Canada. Therefore, you will need to pack along your passport and be prepared to show it when you enter the ship.

Now that we have everything packed, let’s talk about excursions! Oh we missed something? What? Oh yes of course, clothes! Unless you chose the fully nudist cruise line, you’ll want to pack along clothes!

In fact, your clothes will probably take up the most space in your bags… Well, let’s get to it, here is what you need in terms of clothes for your Alaskan Cruise.

Cruise Clothes

  • 1 Winter Jacket
  • 1 Rain Jacket
  • 2-4 Long-sleeve Shirts or Sweathshirts
  • 2-4 T-Shirts or Tank Tops
  • 2-3 Pants or Jeans
  • 3 Swimsuits
  • 2 Sets Gym Clothes
  • Socks
  • Underwear & Bras
  • 2 Formal Outfits (1 if you’re Zach and re-wear it for both formal nights…)
  • Flip Flops for On Deck (optional)
  • Boots
  • Tennis Shoes
  • 1 Hat
  • 1 Pair Gloves

Note that formal nights on the ship, at least for us, were optional. The dining room asked that guests please look presentable, however a full suit or gown was not necessary. Many people were dressed to the nines, but we definitely weren’t, and that was 100% okay!

This is pretty much the bare minimum for clothes you’ll want to bring along. However, if you do have additional space in your bag (or you live in the port city and can bring along another bag!) then of course feel free to bring along a few more clothing options or another pair of shoes.

Unlike planes, there will not be size restrictions on your bags, other than your bags having to fit in the car for your ride to the ship… Also, your belonging will have to fit in your stateroom on board the ship, so just try your best to not overdo it.

Bring what you need, maybe a few more things, and remember that it is what you are doing (not how you look!) that you’ll remember about your Alaska Cruise!

Our Clothing Recommendations

Alaska Cruise Excursions

The number 1 reason to do an Alaskan Cruise over any other destination is…to see Alaska! Of course! You will have 3 or 4 ports in Alaska on which you’ll be able to get off the cruise ship and explore the city or wilderness.

Each site that you’ll see is very unique, and unlike anywhere you’ll find elsewhere in the United States. Alaska is the Last Frontier, people! Now, let’s talk about what you can do in the 5 stops on our cruise: Ketchikan, Tracy Arm Fjord, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria!

Things To Do in Ketchikan

In Ketchikan, there are a TON of options for paid excursions. The Shore Excursions Group goes through their top ten, with everything from flying over fjords to a back-country safari, you can even zip line or do a fishing tour!


Book Recommendations


We love to read, especially on a trip! We get our books on a Kindle so we can bring multiple books anywhere. Reading is a great way to relax and unwind while also getting caught up in a great story. We love everything from novels to self-help, business books to memoirs. Here are our favorites!

Click to See All Our Book Recommendations



All of these tours do sound incredibly fun and interesting, but what we found incredible was exploring the city of Ketchikan and walking along Ketchikan Creek.

We were here during salmon spawning season, so the first thing we did when we got off the ship was to take a walk along Ketchikan Creek, which is known for salmon spawning. HOLY MOLY MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS we had never seen one tenth of the fish we saw in Ketchikan in our whole entire lives.

The salmon basically take up the ENTIRE RIVER as they swim their way upstream to lay their eggs. We truly had never seen anything like it. Once we left the salmon, we took a walk down Creek Street! Well, to be more accurate, we walked over the creek!

Creek Street is a long row of houses and shops that run along the creek that flows right through the heart of the town of Ketchikan! It is really cool to walk along the creek and stop in at all of the touristy shops, learning about the local industries, and do some sight-seeing. We even saw a few sea lions who came to hunt the salmon during spawning season!

We bought a few souvenirs on Creek Street, and even had a locally brewed beer at a local bar, before making our way back to the ship before the ‘all aboard’ call from the Captain. Note: DO NOT MISS THE ALL ABOARD CALL THE SHIP WILL LEAVE YOU!

We talked to a few people who did excursions, and they had a wonderful time on them, however we had quite an unforgettable time ourselves along Ketchikan Creek and Creek Street! And the best part about our adventure? It was free! Well, except for the souvenirs and beers… Now we are back on the ship and headed from Tracy Arm Fjord!

Things To Do in Tracy Arm Fjord

The Tracy Arm Fjord is not technically a ‘stop’ on your cruise but it is absolutely a destination. I say it isn’t a ‘stop’ because you will not actually be getting off the boat, unless you book a boat tour excursion.

The boat tour excursion is a tour of the glaciers and smaller waterways in Tracy Arm Fjord that the enormous cruise ship is not able to reach. We did not take the tour, but from what we heard it was a super cool experience!

We chose to hang out on the boat and stare in awe at the glaciers, ice fields, and mountainous cliffs that make up the edges of the fjord and carve the waterways we were cruising through. There is SO SO SO SO much visual beauty in the Tracy Arm Fjord, and even if you have to set your alarm to wake up early to catch the views, it will be more than worth it!

Things To Do in Juneau

Juneau was a port stop that we made on the same day we cruised through the Tracy Arm Fjord. We docked around 12:00 noon and stayed until after sunset, which was enough time for us to do some major exploring! We did book a tour in Juneau, and we are SO glad we did!


What is Harvest Hosts?


Harvest Hosts is a network of free camping locations all over the USA! Wineries, breweries, farms, museums, and even golf courses. You can camp free at all of them! And even better, if you click this link you’ll get 15% off!


This was our favorite day on the entire adventure, and the excursion was a major reason why. We booked the Mendenhall Glacier canoe and trek trip through Above and Beyond Alaska (ABAK)!

The tour picked us up right from the dock, and drove the quick 15 minute drive to the ABAK headquarters and then on to Mendenhall Glacier. We got suited up at headquarters and ABAK provided us with everything we’d need for the trip.

Our trekking poles, waterproof pants, waterproof jacket, waterproof boots, cramp-ons, a water bottle (we got to keep!), a sack of yummy snacks, a harness, a helmet, and a waterproof backpack to store it all in. Everything was provided by ABAK! We also got life preservers for the canoe ride, really everything we needed was all provided!

The adventure starts with a breathtaking canoe ride on Mendenhall Lake, a lake which was fully created by the Mendenhall Glacier over time by glacial melt. The water you canoe on is a beautiful milky shade of blue, and is dense with glacial silt which gives it the incredibly unique color.

Note: don’t be worried at all about the canoe tipping or anything, ABAK has never tipped a canoe and if you follow their instructions you’ll be A-OK!!

Our canoe had 12 people in it and we fit very comfortably, and our guides Jacob and Casey were absolutely wonderful. They even told some pretty hilarious (or cringe-worthy…) dad jokes on our ride over!

Once we crossed Mendenhall Lake, it was time to put on our cramp-ons, grab our trekking pole, and head out ON THE GLACIER! We got to trek on top of the glacier people! This was a top ten experience for us not just in Alaska, but in our whole travelling history! It was both of our first times using cramp-ons, but the guides helped us get comfortable and once we got the hang of it it was really easy!

The views OH MY GOSH the views of the glacier are unlike anything we’ve seen. The bright white ice contrasted with the glowing blue ice where water has penetrated the pockets. Oh and if you are worried about falling through, don’t. The ice is hundreds of feet thick, even thousands at some points! Even after you have been gorging on everything in site during your cruise, you will be fine…

We trekked around the glacier for a good hour or so, exploring everywhere we could set our eyes on, before reluctantly making our way back to the beach where our canoe was waiting. All our trekking and excitement built up an appetite, so we feasted on the snacks ABAK provided and had a great little break at the toe of the glacier.

Ice to our left, lake to our right, and the mountains in front of us. It really is a site to behold, one that we will not soon forget! And a special bonus, we saw some mountain goats hanging out by Mendenhall Lake on our paddle back across!

We couldn’t recommend this tour and Above and Beyond Alaska enough, they were top notch in every way! We will be choosing them again if we ever make our way back to Juneau, fingers crossed that that will be sooner rather than later… After our tour, we had some time to explore town and buy a few souvenirs before making our way back to the ship.

Juneau has a beautiful town, and is the capitol of Alaska, so there is no shortage of things to do in town if that floats your boat (pun intended…). Also, we heard that a few of the seafood restaurants in town were to die for.

We ourselves opted for dinner on the ship. I mean it is included in the ship cost, so why wouldn’t we! That was our thoughts at least… Now on to Skagway!

Things To Do in Skagway

Skagway was our last stop in Alaska (cue up image of me sobbing while writing this) but it was a great one. We had a full day of exploring in Skagway, and it is a good thing we did because we needed it! We split up our time in Skagway into 3 parts: hiking, around town, and on the train.

First off, hiking (we booked a train ride for the afternoon, so we were able to hit the trails in the morning). We hopped off the ship and headed for what we had heard is the best hike in town! The best hike that we could do in a morning at least… Smuggler’s Cove!

Smuggler’s Cove is a quick hike, between 1-2 miles roundtrip depending on how far you want to go and whether you take any detours, and the trail is extremely flat. You’ll walk along the water and cross a bridge near the airport to get to the trailhead, and from there it is a quick walk through the forest to the cove.

We didn’t see any smuggler’s when we were there, but we can see why they chose this cove. It is very remote, and visually incredible to look at. The mountains rise up above the bay, and the cove is formed by a rocky outcropping that holds in very calm waters for you to sit near and drink in the view. Our one and only complaint?

Note: because of the proximity to the Skagway airport, we weren’t able to fly our drone around. Nevertheless we spent some time exploring this area and scratching our wilderness itch before heading back to town.

Once we got back to the town area, we had about an hour and a half to explore what we could before the train left the station! We walked around and explored the touristy shops, sampled the local food (clam chowder was awesome!) and had a beer at a local pub, and before we knew it it was time to board the train!

We booked a train on the White Pass Summit and Yukon Route, and had a blast on this excursion! The train takes you from sea level in Skagway and climbs a literal mountain up 3000 feet over the course of the 20 mile journey!

The train takes you from the coast through the forest to the tree line where the forest opens up to the alpine wonderland past the USA/Canada border (reminder, bring your passport…) and even up through British Columbia to the Yukon Territory!

The train itself was built during the mid-1800s gold rush that swept the west coast from California through Canada all the way to Alaska! The train ride includes a well-educated guide who takes you back in time to the gold rush and spout off countless interesting tidbits and stories as your train climbs and climbs, the little engine that could.

Our favorite 2 things on the ride were going to the outside part of the train cars to take in the view as we rolled through the mountainous expanse, and the bridges and tunnels we passed through along the journey. The bridges and tunnels are a very interesting experience, as the train goes from bright sunlight to complete darkness for a few seconds, and back to light as you emerge.

The bridges are very visually appealing structures, and you even get a cool sight of one bridge (not in use anymore) that was built on a rickety wood structure high above the valley below! We highly recommend the White Pass Summit and Yukon Route for your time in Skagway. But even if you choose not to do a paid excursion, there are enough hikes and adventure for you in and around Skagway to fill your day on shore with fun and memories.

Things To Do in Victoria

Victoria was our very last stop on the cruise, and unfortunately for us came at a time when the weather was not cooperating. The rain came down heavily, which we were surprised to learn was rather rare in Victoria as it is shielded by the Olympic Mountains.

Nevertheless, we hopped off the boat with our rain jackets on and headed for town! There is a bus that takes you roundtrip for $5, or if you prefer you can walk the distance, it is just over 1 mile each way.

In town, the Empress Hotel and the Parliament building are the two main attractions to see. On top of those, there are countless touristy shops and delicious food and beverage locales to try. And if your cruise is like ours, you’ll be stopping in Victoria in the evening, so stop a local pub and grab a beer!

We also took some time to walk around the Victoria harbor and have a look at all the fishing boats and other ships docked there. We had to get a picture at the bright red ‘Canada’ sign there as well… After a few hours, we had explored everything we could, and it was time to head back to the ship before the captain left the port without us!

Side note: when we were traveling in our van through Key West, we saw a few people get stranded because they weren’t back to their ship on time. DO NOT be those people. It didn’t look fun…

Cruise Cost

Let’s talk total cost for our Alaska cruise. We are going to give you a 100% fully transparent view into how much we spent, not a dime left out. We booked our cruise through Expedia, at a cost of $399 per person plus taxes and fees. For four of us, the total cost was $2398, or about $600 per person.

Included in that cost was our lodging for the week, all our food, coffee, non-alcoholic beverages, a $50 onboard credit, and all of our onboard entertainment. While on board, we resisted purchasing alcoholic beverages (we brought some wine onboard…) other than having a few beers each during the comedy show.

We used our $50 credit on the beers, for which the tab was $62, so we paid $12 for those after taking out the $50. In addition, there was a $14 per day gratuity which we paid which was for the dining room and housekeeping employees on board (shout-out Anna and Alberto!).

All in all, we payed just under $700 per person for our full week on board the ship with everything included. NOT BAD IF YOU ASK US! Of course, the on-shore excursions and any souvenirs purchased could make that number go up a bit, but that is all up to you with what you are looking to experience and what memories and souvenirs you are looking to bring home!

The real message here is that cruises DO NOT have to break the bank! We have spent our whole year living out of a van on a super strict budget, and we were able to pull it off! You may be thinking ‘okay but I am searching cruises right now and there aren’t any for $399…’. Well, there will be, you might just need a few hacks to help you out…

Cruise Hacks

Okay, time for perhaps the most important part of the article: cruise hacks for your Alaskan Cruise. These are the reasons we were able to have our entire Alaskan Cruise adventure for just $100 per day.

Cruise Hack #1: Book Last Minute

Okay, maybe not literally last minute, but book it late. The cruise is required to report their passenger list at least 3 days before departure, so you won’t be able to book it last minute literally, but you will be able to book after prices fall.

Cruises are a lot like hotels and airplanes. They want to make as much money as possible, and if they have unfilled spots they will lower the price until they are filled! They know that an empty spot is just a wasted opportunity for them.

So, if there is a ship that leaves in 2 weeks and still has unsold rooms, the price will come down! Now, there is a caveat to this. It won’t come down everywhere you search. We searched for our cruise on Expedia, Priceline, LastMinuteCruises, the Princess website, and other places and got different prices everywhere.

The cheapest was Expedia, so we went with that, but for you perhaps the cheapest will be Priceline or Kayak! If you are comfortable with it, booking a cruise in the last week or two before departure can save you a TON of money! And once you are onboard, you’ll be treated the same as everyone, even if they paid twice (or five times) as much!

Of course, there is a risk with this. It may happen that the cruise books up while the price was dropping. If that’s the case, shrug your shoulders and search for the next one!

Also, if you are flying in, then don’t book your flight until you book your cruise. Otherwise you might be spending a week in Seattle (which if you are, we have more blogs for you to read…)!

Cruise Hack #2: Bring Wine on Board

For our cruise, we read the rules and learned that we were allowed to bring 1 bottle per person. Since we had 4 people, we went out and got 4 bottles of wine from the nearest grocery store and brought them aboard!

They were SO much cheaper than the wine on board, and we aren’t wine snobs in the first place so we were A-OK with the $8 bottles we got! Learn the rules about bringing alcohol on board and take full advantage of them!

Cruise Hack #3: The More the Merrier!

This is another HUGE reason we were able to cut costs: we had 4 to a room. We bunked up with Julie’s parents for the week, and we are so glad we did!

First off, we got to spend some quality time with them, and we haven’t been able to spend a bunch of time with family and friends during our adventure, so it was great to catch up! Also, we barely spent any time in the room other than sleeping!

There was SO much to do on board, from the pool to food to shows to games to food to ice cream to excursion to food and more! There was hardly any time to spend in the room, and even if there was we would want to be outside taking in Alaska!

The more people you book per room, the cheaper your cruise will be per person. If you are comfortable with it, then the more the merrier!

Cruise Hack #4: Free Onboard Credits

Many cruises offer onboard credits for free to military veterans, senior citizens, and disabled people. For us, Julie’s Dad is a veteran and as a result he got a $100 onboard credit to use as he pleased!

He could use his onboard credit to buy drinks, souvenirs on board, snacks, he could use it really anywhere except the casino. You could even use it to book excursions through the cruise line, though we don’t recommend that…

Cruise Hack #5: Book Excursions Directly.

You have the option to book excursions directly through the cruise, and there are some reasons to that: convenience being the main one. There was typically a shuttle picking up people that had booked through the cruise ship, whereas we had to walk from the pier to a nearby parking lot for our excursions.

In each case, it was a quick and easy walk, which we actually appreciated after being on a ship for so long! Because we were willing to walk to a meeting point, we typically saved about $20-$40 per person on each excursion! A no-brainer for us…

Another point: some people will say that the cruise won’t leave the harbor without you if your excursion is late when you book through the cruise. Well, that is true, but there is almost 0% chance that they would leave without you regardless.

The ships all communicate with the excursion companies to know when they are running late. Also, the odds are pretty good that there is at least one other person on your excursion who booked through the cruise. You won’t be left behind.

Cruise Hack #6: Free Stuff!

On our cruise, there were events every day. Every hour of every day it seemed. And at a lot of these events was free stuff! Free champagne at the captains party. Free champagne for dancing at the welcome party. Free gifts for people who participated in the game shows.

You came on the cruise to let your hair down, so let loose and have some fun! The reward will be an unforgettable time, and probably some free champagne or gifts as well! Read the onboard cruise schedule each day to know what the events are, and take advantage!

Cruise Hack #7: Explore the WHOLE SHIP on Day 1

We didn’t do this, but we wish we had. On Day 6 we learned about a coffee shop and panini stand on Deck 5 that we would have been hitting up EVERY DAY if we had known about it! What’s the lesson? Take some time day 1 to explore!

Wander aimlessly around the common areas of the ship to learn everything you can about the food and amenities on board so that you don’t miss out! Also, this will help you get the lay of the land on board so that you don’t get lost after that 3rd cocktail on your way back to your room (not that that happened to us…)!

Mistakes to Avoid on an Alaskan Cruise

You are putting a lot of time, energy, and money into your Alaskan Cruise, so you sure don’t want to be making any mistakes! We are going to share with you what NOT to do, so that you don’t regret 1 minute of your time exploring Alaska!

Mistake #1: Spending All Your Time in Your Room

The rooms on board are nice. They give you chocolate every day. BUT DON”T SPEND EVERY MINUTE THERE! You bought the cruise to experience all the cool things on board the ship and on shore. Experience them!

Get outside, get out of your comfort zone, you will NOT regret it. Qualification: if you have a balcony, that doesn’t count as ‘time in your room’. Taking in the views from your balcony would be awesome as well!

Mistake #2: Eating the Same Thing Every Day

On board your cruise, there will be SO MANY options for where and what to eat. Try as much as you can! We could have breakfast/lunch/dinner in the dining room, eat in the buffet, or eat at the panini, burger, pizza, taco, ice cream, or rotating stand available near the pool. OPTIONS! Take advantage of them.

Mistake #3: Not Doing Any Excursions

We know we are kinda talking out of both sides of our mouth here. We want to cut costs, but sometimes you have to splurge. Do at least 1 excursion, you came all the way to Alaska you might as well experience it right!

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the Last Frontier, so see it in a way that you will never forget. Our Mendenhall Glacier excursion with ABAK was our personal favorite!

Mistake #4: Not Going on Shore

Shore days usually lead to an exodus from the ship, with all the passengers leaving for adventure and exploration. Some passengers choose to stay aboard for the day. We get it, it may be nice to have the ship all to yourselves. But you came to Alaska!!

If you want somewhere to escape for some alone time, then skip the dining room for a meal in your room for one night (but not every night…). Don’t miss out on the beauty of Alaska that caused you to book the trip in the first place!

Well my friend, there you have it. Everything you need to know about an Alaskan Cruise to make sure you have an unforgettable experience! If you have any questions or anything you want to tell us, or there are some Alaska cruise tips you’d like to share, let us know in the comments and we will reply as soon as we can!

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15 thoughts on “Alaska Cruise Tips, Hacks, Packing List, & Excursions”

  1. Love it! My parents just went on an Alaskan cruise last summer and they RAVED about it. Maybe someday down the road!

    1. Zach & Julie Ruhl

      Thanks! We hope you can do a cruise down the road! My parents loved it too and we are thankful to have had the experience with them!

  2. Wow! First off beautiful photos. I am a Caribbean cruise type of gal myself so going on an Alaskan cruise really never crossed my mind. But after your review, I think I need to do it at least once just for the experience and the views.

    1. Zach & Julie Ruhl

      We were the same!! But we can say an Alaskan cruise exceeded our expectations in every way and we will definitely do it again some day!!

  3. Wow oh wow, cruises really do sound amazing! My partner and I have been pondering whether or not a cruise would be for us. This one really sounds amazing though; the sites you saw are breathtaking, and there seems to be SO much you can do just on the boat! We’re just not sure whether or not we’ll get sea sick 😅

    1. Zach & Julie Ruhl

      They are special!! We hope you can take an Alaskan cruise soon! We think you would be very happy with your choice!

  4. Alaska is such a gorgeous place–I went with my family on a cruise there back in 2004 but definitely wouldn’t mind going again! I’d love to stay longer and do some hiking too. *-* The photos are gorgeous–especially the glacier! <3

    1. Zach & Julie Ruhl

      We agree. We would love to go back and thought this cruise was the perfect introduction to this huge and beautiful state! We can’t wait to see more of it

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