A question we often get is, “When should I book my Alaska cruise for the best deal?”
The answer is…… It depends.
It depends on how flexible you are. Can you go on any week or do you need to go over a specific date?
Is it just the two of you or are you going with a group of people and need several cabins?
Do you want a roundtrip from Seattle or Vancouver or a one way from Vancouver to Anchorage or one way from Anchorage to Vancouver?
Do you wan to go on a specific ship on a specific sailing date?
Do you want to just go on a cruise or go in a specific kind of cabin, say a balcony cabin, on the port side, mid ship and not near an elevator or you just want any cabin offered at an interline rate?
Do you need just one cabin for 2 people or do you need 2 cabins, one balcony, one inside across the hall for the kids or a cabin(s) that sleep 4 people?
Do you want to go in May or Late July?
The answers to these questions will tell us when you should book.
So you ask “Will there be deals to Alaska?” Yes there will be interline deals to Alaska!
When? No idea. The cruise lines will let us know 60 to 30 days out typically. The closer to the date usually the better the rate, if one is offered at all.
What ships or sailings? No idea. Again 60 to 30 days out, the cruise lines will tell us.
Could be as low as $199 at the last minute on an inside cabin on a ship sailing from Vancouver to Anchorage. But we won’t know until about a month in advance when the cruise lines unload last minute cabins at these cheap interline rates. There again, there may be no deals.
So when should you book? Use these as guidelines…
- The cheapest prices are going to be in May and September. The highest prices will be July to Mid August.
- Interline rates typically start to come out between March and April for May and June dates. This is after the big push for consumers to book and the cruise lines then know which sailings might have issues getting filled.
- July, August and September dates at interline rates normally roll out about 30 to 60 days in advance.
- Interline rates may not be available for the sailing you want or the cabin category you want. We might also only see only inside cabins open at interline rates on a particular sailing.
- Inside cabins are most likely to be the cabins open for interline rates followed by oceanview cabins.
- Balconies and Suites are least likely to be open for interline rates on a given sailing.
- If need a cabin that sleeps 4, then those tend to be harder to find the closer to sailing we get.
- The Coast Guard can also at any time tell the cruise lines they can no long sell triple and quad cabins due to lifeboat restrictions.
- If Europe is popular, then it is possible Alaska will be weak so more interline rates may open up. If folks are not going to Europe, Alaska will be popular and there will be less interline rates available.
- Booking early, before interline rates come out, means you get the cabin, the cabin location, the ship and sailing date of your choice. We often have discounts and specials on Alaska cruises starting in September for the following season.
- Nonreving to Seattle, Vancouver, Anchorage and Fairbanks in the summer is difficult if not almost impossible. Buying tickets should be considered. The earlier you book your air, then less it tends to run and thus one reason not to wait to book a last minute interline rate. Particularly true for parents flying standby and retirees due to their lower status on standby. If you can ride jumpseat then obviously your odds are better.
- When you book early, IF an interline rate then comes out later on the category, ship and sailing date you have booked, AND final payment date is not yet arrived, we can normally switch your rate code over to the new interline rate at no additional cost to you!
- If you are booked and have made final payment and a lower rate comes out, the cruise lines typically will not protect you on the new lower rate. You would have to cancel, pay the cancellation penalty and make a new booking to get the lower rate. Depending on how much the cancellation penalty is, it may or may not be worth it.
- By booking early and at a non-interline rate, we can often add positive space airfare to your reservation. If you have ever tried to nonrev to or from Anchorage in the summer you know how valuable that is.
- If you are celebrating an anniversary or a special event, don’t wait to see if interline rates come out. You might find yourself spending your anniversary at home if you do.
- If you have 10 or more days, consider an Alaska CruiseTour and see Denali National Park and other wonderful sights of Alaska. Holland America for the past couple of years has offered select cruise tour packages at interline rates at about 60 days prior to departure. Not all tours, not all date.
- The most popular routes are roundtrip from Seattle or Vancouver.
- The southbound cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver is much more popular than the northbound going from Vancouver to Anchorage. The reason is that when the cruise is over on the southbound cruise you have a shorter flight from from Vancouver or Seattle than the red eye from Anchorage. Also if you are doing a cruisetour in Alaska, most people prefer to fly to Anchorage or Fairbanks, do the land portion then get on their cruise and relax and sail to Vancouver, then take the flight home. They arrive home more relaxed versus taking the cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage, then doing the land travel ending with a red-eye flight home from Anchorage and getting home a bit more weary for the travel. This is why we tend to see more interline rates coming open on northbound sailings than southbound sailings.
- The balcony cabins on the right side or starboard side of the ship on the northbound cruises will fill first. On the southbound cruises the port or left side will fill first. The reason is that that is the side of the ship facing land so you have more waterfalls and scenery to see from your balcony. Now if you prefer sunsets and more open water then you want cabins on the opposite side and those are the ones typically open for interline rates. If you really want the land side, then book early. If you are booking a roundtrip cruise from Seattle or Vancouver, it does not matter as you will be on the land side for one half of your cruise. Which half will depend on which side your cabin is on.
- If you can afford it, Alaska is one destination where it is well worth the money to get a balcony cabin. Remember you are far north in the summertime so it is light longer as the sun is up longer. In fact from mid June to Mid July it might never really get dark outside. So you can wake up in the morning and sit on your balcony and watch the wildlife and scenery while sipping on a hot cup of coffee in your robe. At night come back to your cabin after the late show and slip into your robe and sit on the balcony and watch more wildlife and scenery. A balcony will extend your Alaska cruise and is well worth the additional money.
- If you are going with a group, do not wait for the interline rate. Have us book your entire group so you can get the cabins you want, near where you want them and everyone can go ahead and book their airfare and lock in the best rates out there. Yes we can book everyone, interline and other and we will work to make sure everyone gets the right discount they qualify for.
- Watch for our cruise sales in the fall. Sometimes the value added (shipboard credits for example) can be so attractive that you don’t really save that much by waiting for an interline rate at a later date. See something attractive early on even if it is not an interline rate? You might want to consider booking that deal instead of waiting.
Do you have more questions or want to book? Then contact InterlineTravel.com at 800 766-2911 and any of our agents can help you and there are no booking fees. You can also look at Alaska cruise options on our online cruise booking engine and if you want even book yourself online.