Planning an Alaskan cruise usually involves booking shore excursions to the state’s beautiful destinations, whether it’s whale watching, visiting a glacier or taking a train through the mountains, but when is the best time to book a cruise? Alaska shore excursion?
Let’s dive into our top tips for booking shore excursions on an Alaska cruise that will help you pay the least and choose from the widest variety of tours.
Book early, reassess later
It is recommended to book shore excursions as soon as possible after booking an Alaska cruise. This helps ensure that the tour you wish to book does not sell out and that you pay the lowest possible price for a shore excursion when booking through Royal Caribbean.
Waiting for the price to drop for a shore excursion is never the best idea, as you can always cancel a shore excursion and book it immediately on the cruise planner if you see a lower price.
For example, if you book a whale watching tour for $179.99 and it is then charged $149.99, you can cancel and rebook without penalty, saving you $30.
Plus, tours can and do sell out occasionally. Royal Caribbean may occasionally add more tour options or sites to an excursion, but this is not guaranteed. Therefore, if you find something you really want to do on an Alaskan cruise, be sure to book the tour right away.
In fact, some tours may have multiple time slots to choose from, with tours offered in the morning or afternoon. By booking early, you can select the time slot that best suits your schedule.
Related: The best things to do on an Alaskan cruise
Research excursions in advance
It helps to know before you book your cruise to get an idea of the types of activities and tours available at each Alaskan cruise port. Not only can this influence your choice of itinerary, but it reduces research time after booking the cruise, meaning you can save time and book excursions while they are still available.
Juneau, for example, offers some of the best whale watching opportunities on an Alaskan cruise, while Canada’s Yukon Territory can be visited on a Skagway cruise. Ketchikan offers great hiking, kayaking, and cultural activities, while excursions to Sitka can provide insight into Russian Alaska and the town’s history.
Deciding which shore excursion to book ultimately comes down to your budget and interests. A day hike with 3,000 feet of elevation gain may seem like a dream to some passengers and a nightmare to others! Likewise, those prone to seasickness will want to seek out tours that don’t involve small boats, and passengers with children will want to find the best child-friendly excursions available.
What To Do At Alaska Cruise Ports:
Related: Guide and tips for whale watching on an Alaskan cruise
Reservation of excursions on board
Each Royal Caribbean ship has an area on board where guests can inquire and book shore excursions once the cruise has begun. On some ships it is a standalone location while on other ships it is located in Guest Services.
We do not recommend waiting to book excursions once on board, as the price may be higher than if you book an excursion before your cruise. Although there is the advantage of being able to speak directly with the Shore Excursions staff about tour options, you will be limited to excursions that still have places available.
If you have already booked an excursion but have questions or concerns about the tour, you can speak to the shore excursion staff on board to get your questions answered or find an alternative excursion.
Related: Cruising in Alaska: what I did right and wrong
Why are there no excursions available?
If you have booked your cruise well in advance, excursions and other cruise options may not yet be available in the cruise planner. Check periodically before your cruise to see if any excursions are listed. Once you see them listed and know which excursion to book, book right away to ensure you get a seat and a good price.
Royal Caribbean may add additional excursions to the cruise planner, so check periodically to see if there are any exciting new excursions available that you would like to book.
Can I cancel my Alaska Shore Excursion?
Per Royal Caribbean’s tour cancellation policy, excursions may be changed or canceled up to 48 hours prior to port arrival without penalty. However, tours involving flights, trains, special events, overnight stays, hotel stays and private travel must be canceled at least 30 days prior to your departure date. Cancellation penalties may apply if customers do not comply with these rules.
If you book a tour through an independent supplier, check with the tour operator for information and cancellation policies.