the ruby princess to alaska- tips on booking your first alaska cruise

Our trip North to Alaska! — and booking tips for first time cruisers

glaciers - tips on booking your first alaska cruise

We went 🎶  north to Alaska 🎶 for 10 days on the Ruby Princess with my parents! (North to Alaska is a song). It has been almost 31 years since I’ve been to Alaska with my family and I remember the cruise as a young pre-teen very well. My parents go to Alaska regularly, and I wanted to go again and take Benjamin because I knew he would LOVE Alaska. The guy could eat salmon every day!

I’m so thankful for the time he was able to take off to go on this memorable trip. We had an incredible time, Alaska is truly magical, it is breathtaking to see the mountains, snow, and just as magnificent as Switzerland in my opinion. And we’re in America and that’s even better! Cruising to Alaska is the best way to see Alaska my opinion – the towns are small so a day trip is great! You can also go through Glacier Bay which is where the glaciers can be seen (though receding quickly as I will show).

I want to share some of our photos and cruise booking tips in hopes you will book your cruise to Alaska soon!

We found these wool knit hats in Juneau and I thought they had to be purchased! This is Glacier Bay.
ruby princess cruise ship review Alaska cruise 10-day review, tips for first time cruiser
The back of the ship which was my favorite spot! Less crowded and less windy!
skagway alaska- tips on booking your first alaska cruise
Skagway, Alaska
tips on booking your first alaska cruise
glaciers - tips on booking your first alaska cruise
Glacier Bay

I quickly noticed the glaciers were much smaller than when I was a child. Since I am at my parents house I went to dig up some pics from that trip because I knew I wasn’t imagining things! This is from our photo album – the glaciers used to this big beyond the mountains. Today they are nestled between the mountains and disappearing. So please go to Alaska soon!

BEFORE, 31 years ago:

Glacier Bay 31 years ago (on our trip when I was a kid)

Our ship port was San Francisco which is why our cruise was a 10-day. We selected this because I’m from Nor Cal, so we flew into Sacramento, stayed with my parents for a few nights in Granite Bay, then took a bus from Roseville (city next to GB) to the port. We used a cruise travel agency called Zoe’s Cruises which caters to the Sacramento Valley making it easy for them to get to San Francisco to start their cruise journey. They consider this service an escorted journey – they handle your bags and transportation to the port which makes traveling easy!

We were spoiled! No cleaning, cooking, a schedule of entertainment, drinks and food are delivered to you wherever you are, just use an app. The service was remarkable on the Princess (Ruby Princess). We had a lot of great connections and really loved seeing the crew every day, I truly believe this was a special crew. We didn’t want to go back home! In fact, I’m really really missing this trip and will forever think of it fondly as one of my favorite trips in my life not only because Alaska is magical but because of who I went with!

the ruby princess to alaska- tips on booking your first alaska cruise
the ruby princess to alaska- tips on booking your first alaska cruise
the ruby princess to alaska- tips on booking your first alaska cruise
Enjoying the view of Glacier Bay from the back of the ship
the ruby princess to alaska- tips on booking your first alaska cruise
Against a store totem pole in Skagway

TIPS: Cruise booking and Preparation – for first timers

I have been on Holland America (7 day to Alaska departing from Vancouver as a child), and as an adult, cruised on Royal Caribbean (Oasis of the Seas to 7-day to Caribbean departing from Ft. Lauderdale – see old blog post here), and recently, Princess (Ruby Princess, a 10-day to Alaska departing from San Francisco). 

Selecting your cruise line is like selecting a hotel, talk to those who have been and decide if they have the same interests and tastes as you to consider their recommendation.

Alaska specific cruise tips:

  • We booked our cruise in the winter, before Christmas for our June cruise. Alaska cruise season is June to September. The sooner the better as the good room locations book up quickly. 
  • Our stops: Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Ketchikan. One stop in Prince Rupert (Canada) which is nothing to report on … maybe walk by the pier.
  • Excursions we did:
    • Juneau – salmon hatchery and salmon bake
    • Skagway – the Skagway train
    • Ketchikan – lumberjack show

The salmon hatchery is whatever, but the salmon bake is an interesting experience. I highly recommend the Skagway train and lumberjack show!

Lumberjack show in Ketchikan
Train in Skagway (2 hours)
ruby princess cruise ship review Alaska cruise 10-day review, tips for first time cruiser
Ruby Princess to Alaska

SHOULD I BOOK AN Inside Room or Balcony room?

  • Booking a balcony room will cost about an extra $1,000 per person, so $2,000 a room more than inside.
  • Look at the map of the boat when you book your room. Avoid booking close to popular entrances such as by the elevators or the laundromat. Book a room located in the middle of the boat — it is the most popular because it is calm. It also makes accessing other areas easier. Book 1 or 2 floors above main floors of entertainment but not on the main floors where people go in and out to the decks.
ruby princess cruise ship review Alaska cruise 10-day review, tips for first time cruiser
On our private balcony before formal dinner
I prefer the back of the ship for photos and enjoying the view. Less wind and people!

What to pack/ how to best prepare For A Cruise

  • Pack Dramamine! It is suggested you take it a day before you need it, not actually when you need it – and take half a pill. But, speaking from experience if you take it when you already feel sick, it takes about an hour to kick in.
  • Pack casual but comfortable clothes for sea days. Think of what you would wear inside a shopping mall. The temperature is comfortable so even if you are going to a cold location such as Alaska, you do not have to wear a wool sweater while inside, but on the deck will be a different story.
  • Download the cruise line’s app (Princess has one) — to find your shipmates (travel buddies), see the scheduled activities, view photos taken if you, and order room service.
  • Packages include pre-tipping staff on board. You can also tip outside of this. We do this for our waiter who served us all week, and our room service attendant who cleaned our room twice a day!
  • Be aware of which dining restaurants are complimentary because some don’t realize that there are very nice three-course dining included for lunch and dinner, and only go to the buffet. You can make reservations for a time at the same table because the staff will get to know your name, and preferences, and you’ll have a personalized experience! You can do this before you get on the boat, on the app, or after your first dining. Eating one of these three-course meals usually takes two hours.
  • Preparation and scheduling ahead will give you the maximum experience! Read all materials! 
Swan dessert!
Sitting in our regular dining seat!
Things to pack for Alaska
A clear umbrella isn't distracting from the scenery
the ruby princess to alaska- tips on booking your first alaska cruise
The Piazza in the Ruby Princess

My favorite items I brought for the Alaska cruise:

If you have additional cruising tips leave them in the comments! I heard there is a world cruise and now I want to go…now how do I convince Benjamin to take 200 days off ;)


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Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive thrift shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next creative themed party. She continues to blog weekly.


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