When to book to get best deal


Pat from Ottawa

Keeping in mind that we are 4 couples and will probably spring for a suite for Mom and Dad (or at least a balcony) Want to balance best deal with guarantee of space.

Also, can your thoughts on cruise lines. We are one couple turning 80. 2 couples in 50's and one in 40's.

Thanks in advance


Princess and Holland have cruised Alaska the longest. Both are very good cruise lines. I would choose one of them for Alaska. It is not that the other lines would do a bad job, because I know they wouldn't do a bad job in Alaska, its just that Princess and Holland have the experience.

Both Holland and Princess would work well with your age group also with a possible slight edge towards Princess due to the 40 and 50 year olds. They both have great ships and are both known for good service.


Pat, if I got your first question right it was WHEN to book, correct?
My advice: Book as early as possible...

You will be able to insure that you can get that suite you want...or that you can book cabins in close proximity...and you'll be able to know your "worst case" price...

The key is that the ONLY negative to booking early is that you put your deposit up when you book...

...But, face it, all you lose is use of the $$$ and interest for however long you put it up...Depending on what interest you're pulling on wherever you have that money, interest on $500 at 3% is about a buck and a quarter a month...

For that buck and a quarter, you get to reserve the cabin of your choice on the cruise of your choice...You have insurance against price INCREASES (Yeah, cruise prices DON'T necessarily decrease when you get close to the sail date...especially on more popular ships at more popular times of year)...You get a guarantee against the ship selling out...and, if I've booked it on board the last one, I even get a couple hundred bucks of on-board credit...Oh, yeah...and if the price drops WHILE you're booked, call your TA and they'll get you the price drop...

And, here's the kicker: Up until the last couple of months, you can change the cruise, you can change the cabin (depending on availability) and you can even BACK OUT ENTIRELY and get a FULL REFUND!!!

So, let's say you DO find a more desirable cruise a little over two months to go...All you have to do is cancel the one you've pre-booked...


Also, make sure you have a good TA...and one who discounts fares...

As to cruise lines, OBVIOUSLY, I am choosing to do it with Celebrity...
Partly because I don't place that much value in the notion that doing it longer or having more experience with a particular route means you do it any better...

Holland America has the reputation of being a very good line, but also has the reputation of attracting a very "senior" crowd...

Princess has long been known for Alaska Cruisetours...
There's that "Experience" thing, whatever that's worth...
Their other two marketing points are:
1) that they own their own hotels in Alaska...of course, I'm not sure what advantages owning the hotels makes...are they necessarily BETTER hotels? I can't picture other lines are offering bad hotels...and
2) their routes include Glacier Bay and College Fjord while others do not...

Let's compare the typical Princess cruise to my Celebrity Itinerary:
Coral Princess, July 10, 2004:
1 Whittier 10:00 PM
2 College Fjord Scenic Cruising, Alaska, United States 6:30 AM 9:30 AM
3 Glacier Bay Scenic Cruising, Alaska, United States 10:30 AM 8:30 PM
4 Skagway, Alaska 5:30 AM 8:15 PM
5 Juneau, Alaska, United States 6:30 AM 4:00 PM
6 Ketchikan, Alaska, United States 8:30 AM 5:45 PM
7 At Sea
8 Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada 7:30 AM

Celebrity Summit, July 9, 2004:
Fri seward, alaska -- 9:00 PM
Sat hubbard glacier (cruising) 2:00 PM 6:00 PM
Sun juneau, alaska 8:00 AM 10:00 PM
Mon skagway, alaska 7:00 AM 8:30 PM
Tue icy strait, alaska 8:00 AM 4:00 PM
Wed ketchikan, alaska 8:00 AM 7:00 PM
Thu inside passage (cruising) -- --
Fri vancouver, british columbia 7:00 AM --

You get the same 7 nights either way...Basic difference is Celebrity gives you four ports (Juneau, Skagway, Ketchican and Icy Strait) while Princess gives you three (No Icy Strait).... Princess basically gives you three "at sea" days, Celebrity only two...Both lines do the same inside passage at sea the last day...Princess has you at sea all day the first two days in College Fjord and Glacier Bay while Celebrity just has you floating around by Hubbard Glacier for its one at-sea day...Some folks swear that Princess' glacier float bys are "don't miss"...to me, it's sort of a wash...Celebrity also stays longer in every port ( I don't care that Princess get's to port at 5:30 in the morning--I'm still not up and haven't eaten breakfast yet)...

Also, maybe a personal thing with me, but my one cruise with Princess was very disappointing...I think Celebrity, as a whole, delivers a far superior product--it's classier, more traditional, the ships are incredibly roomy and uncrowded, the service and food exceptional...and, from my experience, much better run...

Of course, that's just my opinion...


Bruin Steve that is why there are different cruise lines. Yes Princess has been to Alaska longer than Celebrity. I can understand why you like Celebrity but the worst cruise I ever had was on Celebrity and the worst food I ever had on a cruise was on Celebrity. I still say go with Princess or Holland in Alaska without question. I do believe all lines will do a good job in Alaska but they will not compare to Holland and Princess in Alaska JMHO.


Hi Pat,

I sent you an email with some details about a group cruise aboard the NCL Star 6/27/04 sailing. You may want to check this option and deposits are only $25 pp.

Cruise Itinerary: 7-Night Alaska, Seattle Roundtrip

Day Port of Call Arrive Depart

Sun, Jun 27 Seattle, Washington - 04:00 pm
Mon, Jun 28 Cruise Inside Passage - -
Tue, Jun 29 Juneau, Alaska 02:00 pm 10:00 pm
Wed, Jun 30 Skagway, Alaska 07:00 am 05:00 pm
Thu, Jul 1 Cruise Glacier Bay - -
Fri, Jul 2 Ketchikan, Alaska 06:00 am 01:30 pm
Sat, Jul 3 Victoria, British Columbia 06:00 pm 11:59 pm
Sun, Jul 4 Seattle, Washington 07:00 am -



Princess does College Fiords and Glacier Bay and that is so much better then Hubbard Glacier. Having done Celebrity and Princess in Alaska, Princess wins hands down. Celebrity just stopped at ports when Princess does so much more on the ship in reference to Alaska. Having Icy Straits on Celebrity's schedule is really not a big deal--it is a brand new port and there is very little there. Ironically, the worst food I have ever had on a cruise was on Celebrity.