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PrincessArlena'sDad

Alaska summer 2021 - when to book?

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We're considering an Alaskan cruise summer 2021.  But, it is far from certain.  We might do a cruise tour package.

 

What's the timeline when I should have my research done and ready to book? This might be a once in a lifetime, so I do want to make sure we get the tours/excursions we want!

 

Thanks!

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For Alaska, I always book early (with a refundable deposit!).  I find an itinerary I like and then start planning excursions, tours and transportation.  I’ve already booked two trips  for 2021.  Then I watch the fares and refare/rebook accordingly.

 

This summer, we have two trips booked—a combo DIY/land cruise and just a cruise.  The land/cruise tour we booked through Princess has been sold out since last June.  

 

 

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I would be doing research NOW and make a decision as soon as possible as to what are your "must do stops" on land and on a cruise. Then you can take a look at what itineraries offer the most stops on your list at a price you are willing/able to pay at a time when you can travel. As long as you make a refundable (until sometime in 2021) deposit you should book as soon as you decide on dates and ship. Insurance might/might not be refundable if you cancel, but you would get your deposit and all excursion fees refunded.

 

Most ship-booked excursions will not sell out a year in advance, but some with limited spaces could. Some popular independent excursions sell out a bit earlier because they have smaller capacities. As long as the budget allows "The early bird gets the worm." is my motto.

 

I have already booked our July 2021 cruise and excursions, but it certainly wasn't necessary to book as soon as we did. Plenty of staterooms are still available in the categories our family booked.

 

I wanted to do another Alaskan cruise and visit at 2 "bucket list" places we hadn't been, but DH didn't want to go until 2021. Then DD and DS decided to come with us. I used the 2020 itineraries as a guide and narrowed it to a few preferred options that might be available in 2021 - taking into account everyone's schedules for work and other commitments . As soon as the 2021 schedules were published, it was fairly easy to come up with the 2 that worked best for our family. We decided on which to do in early October. Then, upon looking at the staterooms available on that ship, DD found 2 that were ideal for her and our SIL. I also found 2 that were ideal for us. There were many other staterooms each of us would have been delighted to book. DS and our DIL wanted an aft-facing on the whichever deck we booked. With such admittedly picky wants, we thought it best to book sooner than later. Due to not all lines publishing schedules simultaneously, it had been 2 months since the cruise we decided on had been announced. One of the 2 staterooms I really preferred was already taken, so I quickly took the other on October 15. DD got one of those she preferred. DS was able to get the location he wanted as well. It took some time to decide what excursions to do, but there was plenty of time to book. Then one December day I noticed the ship's excursions increased in price. So we booked the ones that could only be done via the ship's offerings - can be changed up to 3 days before sailing. Went ahead and booked the smaller independent ones as well - all are refundable up to a month in advance. Don't have to worry about getting the ones we want. Will check back every month or so in case something we like better is added. DD and DS have not booked excursions - this is their first time to Alaska and they want to do far more than can be fit into the port times.

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Thanks for the replies!

 

We would most likely to a Princess cruise tour.  If 2021 doesn't work out for us, we'd do it in 2022.  

 

Do you know when Princess' 2022 schedules come out?  If we do it then, might as well have everything ready to go asap. And it gives us more time to pay for everything!

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59 minutes ago, PrincessArlena'sDad said:

We would most likely to a Princess cruise tour.  If 2021 doesn't work out for us, we'd do it in 2022.  

 

Do you know when Princess' 2022 schedules come out?  If we do it then, might as well have everything ready to go asap. And it gives us more time to pay for everything!

 

 I would guess the 2022 Alaskan schedules would be available late September or early October 2020. Doesn't take but a few seconds to select Alaska as a destination and then check dates on Princess.com

 

You're right, using the 2020 and 2021 schedules will give you a good idea on how much you'll need to budget for 2022. Plus. if you check about once a month, you can tell if there might be a window when fares are less expensive but stateroom choices aren't limited.

 

Researching now what you will do then can be fun  - or not. Good in that it will build anticipation, bad in that you can't go now!

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1 hour ago, PrincessArlena'sDad said:

Thanks for the replies!

 

We would most likely to a Princess cruise tour.  If 2021 doesn't work out for us, we'd do it in 2022.  

 

Do you know when Princess' 2022 schedules come out?  If we do it then, might as well have everything ready to go asap. And it gives us more time to pay for everything!

You might want to post on the Princess forum- they may have a better idea when the schedules come out.

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As part of your research, read the trip reports as they come out this summer.  They will give you an idea of what works and doesn't work for people.   Some reports will be cruisetours and some will be DIY land tours by car, bus or train.

There are some really bad cruisetours out there so KNOW what you're buying.  The 3 or4 day land tours are stinkers; your time is spent in transit with little time to enjoy any destination.  Look down the page and you'll see a perfect example;  a thread called " RCLL precruise travel.. '.     I understand that cruisetours are a great option for some people, but they're very expensive; just be mindful of the details so that you know what you're getting.  

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We are going in 2021 and booked last month.  I did not so much care about the price but just wanted to hold 4 rooms next to each other so we can open the balconies and get the cabins we wanted.  So, we took a refundable deposit.  Then this month I moved it over to a TA who had group space on the cruise I wanted.  It was crazy. I went from 4500 with 1 perk to 3700 with 3 perks with Celebrity and $300 from my TA. Got in on a great deal.  So, the earlier the better and then just watch.  I continue to watch to see if anything will be cheaper.  

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On 1/23/2020 at 1:13 PM, Cruise Suzy said:

 

 I would guess the 2022 Alaskan schedules would be available late September or early October 2020. Doesn't take but a few seconds to select Alaska as a destination and then check dates on Princess.com

 

You're right, using the 2020 and 2021 schedules will give you a good idea on how much you'll need to budget for 2022. Plus. if you check about once a month, you can tell if there might be a window when fares are less expensive but stateroom choices aren't limited.

 

Researching now what you will do then can be fun  - or not. Good in that it will build anticipation, bad in that you can't go now!

Princess Cruises’ 2021 Alaska schedule first came out the week of 12/15/19, I believe. Many other cruise lines that sail to Alaska published their schedules several weeks before Princess did.  

 

Beginning in mid-October, I’d suggest monitoring the Princess section of Cruise Critic for release dates for Alaska 2022. Maybe Princess will publish it earlier than they did this past year!

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We're going in August 2021 and booked in November 2019, as soon as Celebrity's 2021 Alaska schedule came out (13-day cruise tour, 6 days on land + 7 days on the Celebrity Millennium).  We had already decided ahead of time which itinerary we wanted (the one with the most rail legs) and we wanted a particular cabin type.  We figured it didn't really matter what the price was at that point since it's adjustable whenever they have a sale right up until the final payment is due.  We booked directly with Celebrity just to snag the cabin we wanted, then transferred it to our TA.  Our original booking was with $500 of OBC and no other "perks."  Several weeks ago I was able to rebook, losing $200 of the OBC, but adding all three of the other perks (pre-paid gratuities, wi-fi for two, and the premium drink package) for just $100 more.  Those of you who are familiar with Celebrity know how much all that's worth.  Since we always get the premium drink package, that was fantastic news for us!

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We’re doing a 10 day roundtrip out of San Francisco on Princess in August 2021.  I booked it December ‘19.  It was during the Best. Sale. Ever. promo, so wanted to take advantage of it and secure a cabin where we like in midship. 

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I booked our June 2020 Golden Princess RT/LA Alaska cruise on 11/15/18 -- the first day it was opened to non-Elite passengers. I re-fared NINE times (must have a refundable deposit to do this)! And then I added the remaining perks through the BSE and stopped looking at sales.

 

I did not make any of our private excursions bookings until starting early January 2020, and made the last one on 2/24.

 

In the meantime, I also made a 2021 Alaska booking under the BSE, the first week of January (it was not opening day for this one)!

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I booked our Alaska B2B May 19, 2021 cruise on March 17, 2020.  I booked early because I wanted a particular cabin.  The cost of the booking was a couple hundred dollars cheaper than the same 2020 cruise that I booked and will most likely be cancelled.  I figured I would book now and watch pricing to see if it falls in the future.

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Something to consider: people that have cancelled cruises due to COVID-19 are being offered FCC (future cruise credit often at 125% value) or a 100% refund. Many people are/or will take the FCC and sail again at a later date. If there is a specific cruise you want to do, I would book it ASAP and select your cabin. All those FCCs need to be used by a certain date (I've seen Dec. 31, 2021 for Royal Caribbean - not sure about Princess) and they are going to impact the availability of future sailings.

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We have a July 4, 2020 cruise booked on Ruby Princess out of Seattle. But since Princess hasn't  cancelled, we are afraid to chance our lives. This especially being 70 & many Carona viruses on that ship in Australia. If we cancel now & take a FCC(If allowed for our deposit), I see that the same cruise for 2021 is about $1,000 more. DOES THAT MAKE SENCE? For that same itinerary as this year which we wanted to include Glacier Bay & Skagway, would be on Emerald Princess for 2021. We had originally booked in early January 2020. Called the online travel agent I originally booked with who now says they will check with Princess given our ages & their new health restrictions. Also is Glacier Bay all it's cracked up to be as not many ships go there. But must see Glaciers if taking Alaska  cruise + want the Skagway train excursion. Some say Glacier  Bay is best versus Endicott Arm or others.   ANY ADVICE is appreciated. 

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17 hours ago, Willwils said:

We have a July 4, 2020 cruise booked on Ruby Princess out of Seattle. But since Princess hasn't  cancelled, we are afraid to chance our lives. This especially being 70 & many Carona viruses on that ship in Australia. If we cancel now & take a FCC(If allowed for our deposit), I see that the same cruise for 2021 is about $1,000 more. DOES THAT MAKE SENCE? For that same itinerary as this year which we wanted to include Glacier Bay & Skagway, would be on Emerald Princess for 2021. We had originally booked in early January 2020. Called the online travel agent I originally booked with who now says they will check with Princess given our ages & their new health restrictions. Also is Glacier Bay all it's cracked up to be as not many ships go there. But must see Glaciers if taking Alaska  cruise + want the Skagway train excursion. Some say Glacier  Bay is best versus Endicott Arm or others.   ANY ADVICE is appreciated. 

You can cancel and request a full refund here  (Requests must be received by May 31, 2020) or a FCC.

https://princess.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bKHMO3kF1HsNhVX

 

I doubt your July 4 sailing will go but it could if Princess can meet the CDC retirements and Canada opens up. I took the FCC on a HAL ship and the 125% FCC covers the price increase for me. I haven't looked at the Princess FCC T&C but the HAL T&C allowed for a future refund, if you are inclined to bank your money with the CCL corp. I took a refund on my canceled Princess cruise  (September to Alaska) as they didn't offer the FCC for cruises that weren't paid in full and I wasn't sure I could do to cruises next year.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
20 hours ago, Willwils said:

We have a July 4, 2020 cruise booked on Ruby Princess out of Seattle. But since Princess hasn't  cancelled, we are afraid to chance our lives. This especially being 70 & many Carona viruses on that ship in Australia. If we cancel now & take a FCC(If allowed for our deposit), I see that the same cruise for 2021 is about $1,000 more. DOES THAT MAKE SENCE? For that same itinerary as this year which we wanted to include Glacier Bay & Skagway, would be on Emerald Princess for 2021. We had originally booked in early January 2020. Called the online travel agent I originally booked with who now says they will check with Princess given our ages & their new health restrictions. Also is Glacier Bay all it's cracked up to be as not many ships go there. But must see Glaciers if taking Alaska  cruise + want the Skagway train excursion. Some say Glacier  Bay is best versus Endicott Arm or others.   ANY ADVICE is appreciated. 

 

  1. Supply and demand drives pricing. Right now you have thousands of cruisers with FCC to use, plus thousands more whose cruises will almost certainly be cancelled soon. Alaska is a limited-season region. High demand + low supply = Alaska 2021 is going to be expensive. If I rebook my just-cancelled Alaska cruise with the same cruise/week/cabin in 2021, it will cost $500 more (solo oceanview). Luckily I had already booked a different Alaska cruise for the same fare as my just-cancelled one; the price on my new cabin is already $150 more expensive than when I booked it just 10 days ago!
  2. Glacier Bay is a U.S. National Park. Only certain cruise lines have access, and a maximum of two ships are allowed to enter each day during the cruise season. Captains can vary their routes inside the park based on what areas are accessible that day. And yes, Glacier Bay is extraordinary.
  3. The White Pass & Yukon Railroad in Skagway is definitely worth putting on your excursion list. There are different trips available, depending on how long you want to spend on the journey. I did the shorter version (2.5 hours, I think?) to the Canadian border and back with no stops.
Edited by coastcat

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Thanks. Travel agent checked with Princess & called me back today. Princess told agent rep that we would need a doctor  note ok to board our Ruby Princess in Seattle. Otherwise we would need to cancel. But, travel agency insists they(agency, not Princess) would still charge us their $100 cancellation fee even if we accept a FCC. It's NUTS.  But, it's in their fine print. Of course, if Princess cancels, then no $100 fee & maybe bonus for accepting FCC. They will let me wait a week  on decision. Otherwise my final payment is due.

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On 1/23/2020 at 9:58 AM, PrincessArlena'sDad said:

We're considering an Alaskan cruise summer 2021.  But, it is far from certain.  We might do a cruise tour package.

 

What's the timeline when I should have my research done and ready to book? This might be a once in a lifetime, so I do want to make sure we get the tours/excursions we want!

 

Thanks!

 

I would not book anything until the cruise lines actually start sailing. I expect major changes over the next three or four years and it is simply too soon to consider giving lines that may have to oseek bankruptcy protection any money.

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4 hours ago, zqvol said:

 

I would not book anything until the cruise lines actually start sailing. I expect major changes over the next three or four years and it is simply too soon to consider giving lines that may have to oseek bankruptcy protection any money.

Thanks. Amazingly, when I posted in this thread back in January, no one was thinking about covid causing all these cruises to be canceled. 

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Posted (edited)
On 2/11/2020 at 11:05 PM, SunsetPoint said:

We're going in August 2021 and booked in November 2019, as soon as Celebrity's 2021 Alaska schedule came out (13-day cruise tour, 6 days on land + 7 days on the Celebrity Millennium).  We had already decided ahead of time which itinerary we wanted (the one with the most rail legs) and we wanted a particular cabin type.  We figured it didn't really matter what the price was at that point since it's adjustable whenever they have a sale right up until the final payment is due.  We booked directly with Celebrity just to snag the cabin we wanted, then transferred it to our TA.  Our original booking was with $500 of OBC and no other "perks."  Several weeks ago I was able to rebook, losing $200 of the OBC, but adding all three of the other perks (pre-paid gratuities, wi-fi for two, and the premium drink package) for just $100 more.  Those of you who are familiar with Celebrity know how much all that's worth.  Since we always get the premium drink package, that was fantastic news for us!

 

We readjusted again about two weeks ago with another promotion that dropped the price by $10 (that gave us a chuckle) and got us $300 more in OBC, so now up to $600 in OBC.  The base fare price has remained fairly steady since we booked for our category, but the perks have improved.  I guess some of the other categories have changed a bit because our TA told us we could move to Aqua class for the same price as our current Concierge C1, but it was not worth it to us to give up the larger aft balcony.  We spend soooo much time on our own balcony when we cruise Alaska that it was all about getting the cabin location we wanted (of course, we'd love to be in an aft suite, but not willing to drop that much $), which is why we booked as soon as the itinerary was available.  I guess we didn't HAVE to do it that early, considering the cabin next to ours is still available, but it worked out just fine. 

 

Now we just have to hope that we'll actually be able to cruise next year.

Edited by SunsetPoint

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Posted (edited)

Alaska fills up quick and now with the cancellations this season 2021 is really  selling quickly.  We are booked for this July (booked back n November 2018 when the bookings first opened up). Tried to switch to 2021 but very few cabins are left and they aren't our ideal location on the ship.We will probably try to go in 2022 when the bookings open up. 

Edited by kitty1

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