There are plenty of in-state travel deals for Alaskans put off by rising airfares
Are you ready to travel this spring? Many people in the travel industry are betting that you will pack your bags and go somewhere.
Ready or not, airlines are struggling to keep up with growing demand. Look no further than Alaska Airlines’ decision to cancel its popular nonstop Anchorage-Honolulu flights. The reduction of this route is part of a larger initiative to better align the schedule with available flight crews, avoiding further cancellations and delays this summer.
Even if you want to fly to Hawaii this summer via Seattle, the price goes from $377 round trip — nonstop — in mid-May to over $1,000 round trip starting June 1.
This might be your clue to some of the early season specials available around Alaska. May is a great month to see the best of Alaska, if you can look past the random snow patches and brown lawns.
Stan Stephens Cruises in Valdez offers two glacier cruises each day. The most popular cruise departs at 10:30 am from the small marina for Columbia Glacier. You will spend six hours on the water. Besides seeing the glacier, there are plenty of wildlife along the way: whales, otters, and eagles, among others. The regular cruise price is $145 per adult. But if you live in Alaska, you can save 30% on the cost if you sail between May 15 and June 15. That brings the price down to $106.50 — there’s a $5 fuel surcharge. Use promo code “ak30.″
The promo code also works on the longer Mears Glacier cruise. This visit can last up to eight hours. According to the tour description, the captain “has time to go where we usually spot sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, humpback whales or killer whales, porpoises, eagles, puffins, cormorants and more”.
The Mears Glacier cruise does not start until June 1, so there is a two-week window until June 15 to qualify for the discount.
In Fairbanks, the Riverboat Discovery and Gold Dredge 8 offer a 40% discount for Alaska residents. (The Binkley family, which owns and operates the Riverboat Discovery and Gold Dredge 8, also owns the Anchorage Daily News.) As long as you buy your tickets before May 6, you can visit anytime this summer, between May 11 and September 17. .
The Binkley family has operated sternwheel riverboats in Alaska for over 100 years. Today, however, the main focus is to take visitors on a three-hour tour down the Chena River in Fairbanks. The cruise includes a visit to the “Chena Indian Village Living Museum” and a stop at the home and kennel of the late Iditarod champion, Susan Butcher. The kennel is now operated by her husband Dave Monson and their daughters. There’s also a touch-and-go bush pilot demonstration where the plane lands right next to the riverboat. Regular cruise fare is $75.95, but Alaska residents can sail for $45.57 per adult.
Gold Dredge 8 is a great place to catch “gold fever”. The giant dredge operated in the Goldstream Valley between 1928 and 1959. Your visit to the dredge includes a tour of the superstructure and a lesson in how gold was extracted from the massive amounts of ‘paydirt’ mined by the buckets drag giants. Next, you’ll have the chance to pan for gold, which is a very different process from the giant dredge. Regular tour price is $45.95, discounted for Alaskans at $27.57 each.
For the first time since 2019, Princess Tours will offer its train/hotel packages between Anchorage and Fairbanks. Packages include rail transportation between Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali, and Fairbanks, plus accommodation en route at Mt. McKinley Princess and hotels near the Denali National Park entrance.
Using Princess’ online booking engine, you can choose from 15 itineraries between one and four nights that offer 2-for-1 deals.
For example, the “72E” tour includes rail transportation in Princess’ private cars between Anchorage Station and Talkeetna. From there, take the Princess bus to Mt. McKinley Princess for a two-night stay. Then take the train back to Anchorage. Usually the cost is $549 per person. With the 2 for 1 offer, it’s $274 per person, plus tax.
Drive to Denali and back on the “72A” route which offers two nights of accommodation near the park. Because Princess works with two hotels near the park entrance, they don’t specify whether you’ll be staying at the Denali Princess or the McKinley Chalet Resort; it’s right next. The regular cost of the tour is $849 per person, reduced to $424.50 per person.
You can also ride Princess cars to Fairbanks, stopping in Denali for two nights en route. Choose route “72B”. The sale price is $399.50 per person.
Princess rail tours begin May 17 and end September 11.
If you’ve ever wanted to sail through Alaska’s Inside Passage on a smaller luxury ship, check out the Alaskan Dream Cruises sale for May and early June.
You can check the itineraries online for the “Last Frontier Adventure” and the “Glacier Bay and Island Adventure”. But you won’t find the best prices listed on the webpage.
Special unpublished discounts for Alaska residents are available.
Two ships operate the “Last Frontier” route, the 54-passenger Admiralty Dream and the 76-passenger Chichagof Dream. Usually, all-inclusive cruises start at $3,795 per person for the 8-day/7-night itinerary. This includes accommodation, meals, and all activities such as kayaking, guided hikes, and off-ship yole expeditions. Alaskans can cruise for as little as $1,500 per person. The sale rate applies for departures on May 13, 14, 20 and June 3.
The 40-passenger Alaskan Dream will depart Sitka on June 5 for the 8-day/7-night Glacier Bay and Island Adventure. The cruise includes stops in the remote communities of Pelican and Kake, in addition to sailing deep into Glacier Bay. This itinerary also includes a cruise through the scenic Wrangell Narrows between Wrangell and Petersburg. Usually, cruise fares start at $5,195 per person. Alaskans can cruise for as little as $1,995 per person.
To receive the Alaska discount, residents must call the reservation line directly: 855-747-8100.
If you’re not ready to dedicate a week to sailing the seas, consider the four-hour Resurrection Bay cruise with Kenai Fjords Tours. Cruises operate Thursday through Sunday through May 16. Usually the fare is $89 per adult. Book online and bring it down to $80 per adult. In addition, adults can bring one or two children aged 2 to 11 for free.
The cruise is booked as a “grey whale watching” cruise. You might see gray whales. You might also see killer whales. You’ll probably see otters, an eagle or two, porpoises, and a bunch of glaciers.
Major Marine Tours in Seward invites you to bring your mother for free on Mother’s Day, May 8th. At least one other person has to pay, though – you can’t just drop mum off at the dock. This special is available on either the Spring Wildlife Tour or the Kenai Fjords National Park Six-Hour Cruise.
Clearly, there are plenty of amazing adventures here in Alaska to keep you busy until direct service returns from Alaska to Hawaii on November 11.