Travel

Airfares are creeping down slowly, but late-season cruises for Alaska residents are still a great value

Cruisers board Holland America’s “Nieuw Amsterdam” ship in Juneau

It’s still peak summer travel season here in Alaska, but airlines and cruise companies are planning for late-season specials. That means lower prices for travelers in August, September and beyond.

The heat is still on for airline prices for most of August. But fares are coming down in select markets as fall approaches.

Between Anchorage and Seattle, prices dipped as low as $99 one-way on Delta for travel during the last week of August. But they popped back up to $117 one-way starting on Aug. 27, with broad availability after Sept. 18. Although Delta initiated the fare cuts, Alaska Airlines usually matches the rates on select flights. Remember: Fares are subject to change without notice and they change all the time.

Fares from Anchorage to Los Angeles are expensive until Aug. 24, when Delta drops the rate to $178 one-way.

Travelers to Hawaii will have to wait until after Christmas for some relief. Although Alaska Airlines’ nonstops to Honolulu resume on Nov. 18, nonstops to Maui and Kona don’t start until mid-December. Those holiday fares are high. But starting Jan. 4, Alaska offers one-way tickets on all three routes as low as $198 one-way.

Holland America Line is offering Alaska residents bargain rates on sailings between Whittier and Vancouver, starting at $199 per person, plus $260 for port charges and fees. The total for a weeklong cruise is $459 per person, double occupancy. On Holland America’s website, the least-expensive itinerary is $519 per person, plus $260 in taxes and fees, for a total of $779 per person.

The lowest available rate is for inside cabins for cruises between Aug. 7 and Sept. 22. There are two northbound cruises departing Vancouver on Aug. 14 and Sept. 4. There are five featured southbound cruises on two ships: the Noordam and the Nieuw Amsterdam.

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Aside from the inside cabins, Holland America is offering discounted rates on all other categories: Oceanview (from $399), Verandah rooms (from $599) and suites (from $899). All prices are per person, double occupancy. You have to add the port charges and taxes, too: $260 per person.

There are all sorts of add-ons and excursions to select, although they’re not specifically discounted for these cruises. The “have it all” add-on costs $50 per day and includes a drink package, a $100 shore excursion credit, Wi-Fi connectivity and specialty dining. Ports include Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. The ships do “scenic cruising” loops in Glacier Bay and in College Fjord.

Nobody is going to go hungry on a cruise. But Holland America teamed up with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to feature “sustainably-sourced Alaska seafood” on all its cruises through the Inside Passage, including those ships that cruise across the Gulf of Alaska to Whittier.

According to Erik Elvejord of Holland America, the company orders more than 5,000 pounds of Alaska seafood for each sailing of its six ships sailing in Alaska this summer. That includes salmon, cod, halibut and rockfish.

Seattle Chef Ethan Stowell introduces new Alaska seafood dishes in Juneau
Alaska salmon, served with honey lemon glaze and dill butter

Seattle celebrity chef Ethan Stowell, a member of Holland America’s Culinary Council, rolled out a selection of Alaska seafood dishes that are available on board each of the ships this summer. One dish in particular features Alaska salmon with a honey lemon glaze and dill butter, also known as “melt in your mouth salmon.”

Because this cruise sale is restricted to Alaska residents, there are a few extra hoops to jump through. You will not find the prices listed on Holland America’s website, although you can check there for itinerary specifics.

All bookings must be done through a travel agent or over-the-phone with Holland America: 877-932-4259. To get the discounted Alaska resident rates, mention the promo code “KJ3.″

“These are great prices,” said Nate Vallier, president of Alaska and Yukon Tours in Juneau. Vallier noted that for cross-gulf sailings, masks still are required on board Holland America ships, as stated on the company’s website. A company representative said masks no longer are required on the ship, although they may be recommended in certain areas of the ship “like show lounges.”

Because COVID-related guidance can change frequently, travelers should be prepared to wear their masks on board.

All cruise travelers on Holland America must be fully vaccinated to board. Also, all travelers must have a valid passport, since the cruises begin or end in Canada.

Take advantage of Air Canada’s nonstop flights between Anchorage and Vancouver to connect with a cruise. One-way tickets range from $205 to $215 through Sept. 17. After that, you can either fly or take a shuttle to Seattle for a trip back to Anchorage.

Holland America’s late-season sale may be the first offer for travelers, but it won’t be the last. Also, keep a close watch on airfares as they change often — and they are trending lower.

Holland America Line's “Nieuw Amsterdam” rests at the dock in Juneau

Scott McMurren

Scott McMurren is an Anchorage-based marketing consultant, serving clients in the transportation, hospitality, media and specialty destination sectors, among others. Contact him by email at zoom907@me.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@alaskatravelGRM) and alaskatravelgram.com. For more information, visit alaskatravelgram.com/about.

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