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What Is The Best Time Of Year To Cruise Alaska

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When To Visit Alaska For Wildlife

These Are Best Cruises To Go On By Month! See Why!

Late May is best if you want to see spawning salmon or concentrations of bears feeding on the salmon runs.

June is best for watching Dall sheep rams battle each other on high mountain ridges.

July and August are best for whale watching, especially around Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord.

September offers the last chance to see bears getting ready for winter. But it will be very cold, especially at higher elevations.

September is also a great month for dogsledding. If you want to see wildlife, July and August are the best months but if you prefer warmer temperatures then June or September are better choices.

Best Time Of Year To Take An Alaskan Cruise: Wildlife

Besides the majestic snow-capped mountains, fjords, and glaciers, you are probably traveling to Alaska to see the wildlife. Many will tell you that anytime during the months of May through September is the best time of year to go on an Alaskan cruise to see wildlife. While compared to the winter months that might be true, but some months are better than others for viewing some wildlife.

In terms of whales, you have the opportunity to see a variety of different species on an Alaskan cruise. The most common whales in the region are the massive Humpback Whales. While they are found in the Gulf of Alaska during the entire cruise season, you have the best chance of spotting pods during the months of June and July.

Most whale watching tours will guarantee a whale sighting, but they wont tell you what types of whales you will see or how many.

If bears are what you are looking to discover on an Alaskan cruise, then traveling from late June through early August will increase your likelihood of seeing these creatures, especially if you take tours that depart from Juneau or Ketchikan.

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The Best Time To See The Northern Lights On An Alaska Cruise

Few places allow for viewing of the aurora borealis, and the best time see the Northern Lights is in September.

Of course, temperatures during September will be lower than other times of the year, but the opportunity to see the Northern Lights is a real treat.

As mentioned in this article, not only does September provide the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, but you will also enjoy less crowds and likely lower prices on a cruise.

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When Is The Best Time To Cruise To Alaska For Salmon Fishing

Salmon fishing is a popular activity and one of the states most lucrative industries. Many cruisers simply cant wait for the opportunity to try and catch a salmon.

One of the best ways to experience salmon fishing is by booking a shore excursion with one of the fishing tour companies. These companies offer services to package up your catch and ship it back home in dry ice so you can enjoy your catch when you return home.

Luckily, any Alaskan cruise season month is a good time for salmon fishing. But, if its King Salmon youre after, the best time to visit is between May and mid-July when they are running through coastal waters.

Here is a quick guide to help you time your trip to match when your favorite salmon is running:

  • King salmon: May-July
  • Silver salmon: Mid July-late August
  • Chum salmon: July-August

Best Time To Cruise To Alaska


The Alaska cruise season is short, running mainly from May to September, with a few lines offering sailings in April and October. The best time to cruise varies based on what you prioritize most.

The best Alaska cruise weather is typically found in June, when the summer rains havent ramped up, but the air temperatures are rising. This is the time when the sun barely sets and its light nearly all day long. July and August are the rainiest months in Alaska and see the most mosquitos September is starting to get chilly, with rougher waters and shorter days.

May is the best month to see waterfalls and wildflowers. June is when the salmon start to run, and the different species will appear and disappear throughout the cruise season. Denali lodges and the park road open in June, so your best bet for visiting the national park is in July and August for full accessibility and wildlife activity. However, if you want to see baby animals, plan your Alaska visit for May or June.

The best prices are found in the shoulder seasons: April-May and September-October. The biggest crowds and highest cruise fares come mid-June through mid-August.

Travelers who want the best shot at viewing the Northern Lights should book a cruise at the very end of the season, and tack on a cruise tour up to Denali and Fairbanks for the greatest potential.

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Best Time Of Year To Take An Alaskan Cruise: Weather

The first factor you will want to consider when planning your Alaskan cruise is the weather. Dont let all those beautiful pictures of Southeastern Alaska fool you. Unfortunately, the summer months in Alaska are not always bright and sunny. In fact, the weather during the Alaskan cruise season tends to be rather wet.

A benefit of traveling earlier in the season is the reduced precipitation. Historically, May is the driest month of the cruise season. Less rain is good, but the weather also tends to be cooler earlier in the season.

If you are looking for the warmest weather, then you will want to sail mid-July to mid-August. Still, temperature swings in one day of 25 degrees will not be uncommon. You could wake up to freezing temperatures and be in the mid 60s by late afternoon.

There is also the longest daylight hours during the months of June and July. During this time of year, the sun doesnt set until around 10 pm. These extended periods of light make viewing the surrounding scenery sailing in and out of ports even more appealing.

Taking into consideration the average temperatures, rainfall amounts, and hours of daylight, the best time of year to go on an Alaskan Cruise is the month of July. However, with this optimal weather comes increased crowds and increased price. Not to mention, popular tours and shore excursions will fill up quickly.

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So When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska

Considering everything stated above, we advise travelers that June 15 through August 15 is the best time to go to Alaska. But not everyone can schedule their trip during this time and as weve noted, each season has its benefits. If you plan your trip during the peak season, then plan ahead and book early as these are the dates that sell out first.

If you like this guide to the best time to visit Alaska, youll love our comprehensive travel planning services. Our experts have more information on when to visit Alaska, planning your Alaska trip or the best time of year to visit Alaska. When you are ready to book the trip of a lifetime, just give us a call, our experts are ready to help.

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The Timeline For Cruising Alaska

While the state is beautiful during any season, the best time to cruise Alaska is between May and September. Between these months, there is an average of zero inches of snowfall in Juneau and Anchorage. The days are longer than they are in the winter, and theres usually much more to do. The Anchorage Market, for instance, runs from mid-May to mid-September on the weekends, so no matter which month you choose, a visit may be a part of your cruise itinerary.

May to September also has the safest and calmest water to cruise on, but which of those months is the best time to take an Alaskan cruise? Well break down the pros and cons to help you decide when to experience the great Alaskan wilderness and culture. Some factors to consider include:

  • Hours of daylight
  • Wildlife sightings
  • Potential for crowds

Check out our breakdown of the months between May and September to decide when is the best time to visit Alaska based on what you want to see and do.

Best Weather In Alaska


A foggy start to the day in Sitka, Alaska

One of the many misconceptions about Alaska is that its always cold there. However, the summer months see a temperature range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

It does rain almost every day in mid-summer along Alaskas coast. It surprises some first-time cruisers that the southeast quadrant of the state is actually a coastal temperate rainforest. The wettest month is August.

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Late April to mid-May can be cool, with snow caps still visible on the mountain peaks, though each day it gets warmer. September is also cooler, but thanks to the rain and daily average temperatures starting to drop, it tends to feel much damper, colder, and less pleasant than earlier in the summer.

Pro Tip: For the best weather to cruise Alaska, youll want to consider mid-May to late July, with the late June to mid-July period being the ultimate choice.

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Best Price On Alaska Cruises

Carnival Miracle in Tracy Arm, Alaska

As a summertime and family-focused cruise destination, demand is greatest when kids are out of school, so prices start to rise in mid-June, peak in early to mid-July , and begin dropping from late July into August.

The two shoulder seasons, late April and May and September, almost always offer the lowest prices and best promotions.

Pro Tip: For the best price on an Alaskan cruise, youll want to travel early or late in the season.

Alaska Cruise Weather By Month

The following breakdowns of weather by month combines 30 years of weather data for five major Alaska cruise ports from the U.S. National Weather Service.

These historical averages are simply averages and will vary somewhat from year to year and port to port. But they give cruise planners a general idea of what to expect with weather and what clothing to pack.

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Plan Your Alaskan Cruise With Windstar

Now that you know the best time to take an Alaskan cruise, its time to make it happen! Why not turn your dreams into reality with us at Windstar Cruises? Connect with fellow travelers and the crew as you sail the Alaskan waters on our intimate cruises. Our smaller ships give us access to ports the other ships cant reach, meaning you get a unique experience and opportunities you couldnt anywhere else.

Take a look at the Alaskan cruises we offer to see what will take you on the adventure of a lifetime. Well take you on guided fishing trips, through scenic forests and close to legendary fjords and glaciers for the Alaskan trip of a lifetime. Plan your voyage today by calling us at 800-258-7245 or requesting a call. We cant wait to have you aboard a Windstar Cruise!

Alaska Cruises In September

Best Time of Year to Take an Alaskan Cruise ...

Treat yourself to a custom Alaska cruise this fall after the kids go back to school. September in Southeast Alaska is when autumn starts to sink in, and just like any other season in Alaska, there are countless reasons to plan a vacation around this time.

Peak tourist season is over by September, so Alaska will once again be quiet as everyone prepares for another long, white winter, including the wildlife.

Black and brown bears will be stuffing themselves in preparation for winter hibernation and migratory birds will be preparing for a long flight south, while other animals are ready to hang in there for the Alaskan winter.

Bald eagles can be seen flying above or sitting in trees despite the season. Sea otters, sea lions, orcas and Dall porpoise aren’t picky about the weather either.

Alaska experiences some beautiful fall foliage in September, as well. The mountainsides turn beautiful shades of gold and yellow, and the mountains begin to collect snow on their peaks.

As the nights grow darker and longer, there is a very good chance to catch the awe inspiring Aurora Borealis, Alaska’s northern lights. Imagine cruising aboard the Sikumi and looking into the night sky to see dancing curtains and swirls of light.

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What Are The Best Months For Wildlife & Activities

Spotting wildlife is always unpredictable in Alaska, but your best bet of getting pics of wildlife ashore is probably late May and early June, when mothers and their calves or cubs tend to be out and about. One exception: If you want to do a bear-watching shore excursion, prime bear season is not until late June or early July.

Denali: If you want to do a land tour that includes the national park, dont come during the May shoulder season. Denali National Park doesnt open up until early June.

Want to fish ashore? Fishing is good during any monththere are just different species of salmon that peak as the weeks go by.

Summer berry-picking on shore is best late in August or early September.

If you want to see fall foliage ashore, wait until the first week of September. It remains good through the third week of September.

Hate mosquitoes? If youre doing a land tour, come during either shoulder season

See a full calendar of Alaskas natural events.

When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska To See The Northern Lights

Alaska is one of the best places on earth to see the northern lights. The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, Latin for morning light coming from the North, are some of the most incredible sights in the world. Travelers visit Alaska from around the world, hoping to catch a glimpse of the colorful bands of light that dance in the dark night sky.

The northern lights are one incredible sight that you dont even need to leave the ship to see that is if you are lucky enough to see them at all.

The northern lights can be visible at any time of the year. But, the long hours of daylight in the summer make them harder to spot.

Seeing the northern lights from the cruise ship is a rare occurrence. If you want to maximize the chance of seeing the incredible sight, you need to book a trip in late September or early October.

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Better Pricing And More Value

Not only do you get a much better selection of staterooms and itineraries, but most cruise lines offer early booking discounts that are usually coupled with value-adds such as drink packages, onboard credits and free upgrades.Plus, with many cruise lines offering reduced deposits you can lock in the low cruise price and get the cabin that is right for you and a cruise experience you will never forget!

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When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska For Wildlife

Best and Worst Time to Cruise Alaska

The best months for viewing some of Alaskas larger mammals will vary depending on what part of the state you visit, and what time of year it is. For example. Moose are more readily visible during the fall. When the foliage has begun to change color and drop to the ground.

Whales can be viewed year-round in coastal areas like Seward. But its best to plan a cruise during May through September if you want to see them in the more remote northern regions of Alaska.

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Best Time For Alaska Cruises

The Alaska cruise season typically runs from late April to early October, with high season normally falling between June through August. However, the best time to go is rather subjective.

May and September offer cheaper cruise fares and fewer crowds however, due to more unpredictable weather, shore excursions have a greater chance of being canceled than they do in high season — especially boat and helicopter tours. May is one of the driest sailing season months in the Inside Passage region, but you may still find snow on the ground — great for scenic photos, less ideal for hiking.

Advantages Of Visiting Alaska In September

  • Pack warm clothes and enjoy Septembers cool temperatures that vary between 35-55 degrees. If youre on an arctic tour, pack winter coats, as youll experience daytime temperatures of 28-33 degrees.
  • Looking for a bargain? September increases your odds of finding low-cost tours and other Alaska cruise deals.
  • Elk, caribou, bears, moose, and deer can be spotted across the wilderness. Above, raptors and gulls migrate south and bald eagles hunt for prey. Below, harbor seals and sea lions dot the beach, and pods of gray whales pass your cruise ship.

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The Best Time To See Wildlife In Alaska

As the state with by far the most wilderness in the country, its no surprise that Alaska is a great place for wildlife viewing. The type of animals youre likely to see depends on what season youre there.

Spring is one of the best times to visit Alaska in search of wildlife. Temperatures are beginning to warm, and vegetation hasnt fully grown in and concealed the best views. Bears, caribou, sheep and mountain goats are all active and can be found in easily-accessed areas. If you are along the coast of western Alaska, you may also spot a bowhead whale, seal or walrus.

Summer is a special time for wildlife viewing. Salmon spawn in many of the states streams, drawing bears and eagles. Moose often congregate along roads, and in July, muskoxen begin to rut. Alaska is also the only place in North America to see the Pacific Walrus, which can be found at some of the more remote beaches and islands in the western part of the state.

Once the leaves begin to change, wildlife can be spotted grazing among a sea of vibrant reds, oranges and yellows. Fall is the mating season for moose, goats, caribou and muskoxen, which often brings them to open areas where they can be seen easily. Bears tend to stock up on food in preparation for the winter, so your best bet for spotting one will be near a salmon stream or berry patch. A variety of whales begin to migrate along the west coast

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