What Is The Best Month To Cruise Alaska 2020
Every summer, the hot beating rays of the Caribbean appeal to most cruise-goers. But after taking several Caribbean cruises and/or coping with the melting temperatures of your home state, youâre probably looking for a change of pace â your own icy getaway.
Or maybe youâve grown accustomed to your hometownâs snow capped mountains and zipping up your winter coat. But youâve always dreamed of getting close enough to see the Northern Lights and the fascinating wildlife that roams even farther north.
Regardless of where you live and where youâve cruised , youâll likely find your own pocket of serenity when you cruise Alaska in 2020.
From awe-inspiring glaciers to up-close views of wildlife to quaint neighborhoods and towns, Alaska wonât just become another destination to tick off your bucket list â itâll create memories for a lifetime.
But before you book that cruise, youâre probably wondering what the best month is to cruise Alaska in 2020. That answer depends on what intrigues you about Americaâs Last Frontier.
Alaska Whale Watching Season
Whales can be seen from small ships to Alaska throughout the small ship cruise season of May through September. Orca and minke whales are residents so they may be found at any time of year. But most travelers want to see humpbacks and if you fall into this category, then you must plan your trip accordingly.
When to see humpback whales in Alaska? The first humpbacks begin to arrive in Alaska about late April and early May. These are typically the adult males that can make the long migration the fastest. They are followed by younger males, females and finally mothers with calves arriving in late May and early June. Small ship cruises in May will likely view whales, but they will be individuals or smaller groups of two or three spread about looking and waiting for food.
When is the best time to see whales in Alaska? The best time to cruise Alaska for whales is from mid-June through mid-August.
Why is mid-June through mid-August on an Alaskan cruise the best time to see whales? Sunlight from long midsummer Alaskan days causes a bloom of phytoplankton which serves as the base of Alaskas rich marine food chain. Strong currents bring nutrients from deep below to mix with oxygen-rich water near the surface resulting in huge blooms of zooplankton , krill and small fish such as capelin, candlefish and herring.
Alaska Cruise Weather: July
Pack your sunglasses and sunscreen, and your bathing suit for a top-deck dip after your shore tour. Despite the positive forecast, youll still want to pack light layers and rain gear that you can don for glacier viewing or visits, forested hikes, or the always-possible rain shower.
Ships docked in Juneau, Alaska
Fishing enthusiasts will do best cruising in July since the most types of salmon are running during this month. As with June, its an ideal month for wildlife viewing, whether you seek out bears, moose, or Humpback whales. The glaciers along your route will be cracking like mad, so make sure your July cruise swings by Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, or other scenic cruising destinations.
Youll have the full range of cruise tour destinations open to you if you travel in July. But be warned: Cruise fares average the highest this month because the Alaska cruise weather in July is so nice, and more families are traveling because school is out for the summer.
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How Do I Plan An Alaska Cruise
First, you will want to get an idea of what your must-see attractions are. Most Alaska cruises follow the popular itineraries of the Inside Passage, Gulf of Alaska, or even longer sailings from the west coast.
After you determine the itinerary you would like, then you need to focus on a specific cruise line for the best Alaska cruise ever. Each cruise line offers a unique experience for every type of cruiser. Then, you can select a date with that perfect cruise line and itinerary to book and mark in your calendar!
I highly recommend booking a balcony or higher stateroom with a trusted cruise travel agent as you will not regret waking up to the breathtaking Alaska cruise landscape from your own private balcony. Also, make sure to avoid the loudest staterooms onboard to completely relax on your Alaskan cruise.
Once booked, you will receive access to more booking options like onboard packages, shore excursions, and stateroom upgrades. I highly suggest taking advantage of these pre-travel opportunities to have your vacation planned out before you leave!
Alaska Cruises In June
Of the few warm summer months in Alaska, June has the longest days all year, with summer solstice falling on the 20th. Southeast Alaska experiences daylight nearly around the clock in June, making it a good time to see everything there is to see on an Alaskan cruise.
Wildlife is visibly abundant, with whales making their journey back into Alaskan waters from Hawaii. There is a heavy concentration of humpback whales in Southeast Alaskan waters during the summer months, and it is not uncommon to see them feeding with their young.
There are also grey whales, orcas, Dall porpoise, seals, sea lions and sea otters inhabiting the area where the Sikumi cruises. And look ashore for black and brown bears who are in full swing for summer, hunting and fishing for food.
Summer solstice is an exciting time all over Alaska, so make plans to visit a town or festival before or after your custom Alaska cruise on the Sikumi.
“Our adventure was close to its end… I could feel the nostalgia growing inside me. I would miss this boat and her crew. Our once-in-a-lifetime experience was their routine, and I couldn’t help but envy them.”
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When To Cruise Ketchikan
The salmon capital of the world, Ketchikan is not to be missed for the chance to take a fishing adventure cruise, dine on fresh fish, and learn more about the local people of this unique area.
With a fishing history dating back to the 1880s, this history-rich city is a fascinating destination for culture fans. Ketchikan has the largest collection of standing totem poles in the world and an abundance of salmon species for you to try.
There is of course plenty of Alaskan wildlife, plus outdoor pursuits on glacial and forest terrain perfect for working up a good appetite for dinner.
Cruise Ketchikan in April and you can delight in seeing hummingbirds return after their winter away. Whichever month you choose, bear in mind its the fourth wettest place in the world and pack accordingly.
Types Of Alaska Cruise Lines
No matter what cruising experience you are looking for, I guarantee you will find it in Alaska. Nearly every cruise line has voyages heading up to Alaska, from 3-day weekend trips to 180-day world cruises.
There are plenty of Alaska cruise deals available for eager cruisers booking through a travel agent or directly with the cruise line. Make sure to research diligently to find the best Alaska cruise for you!
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Whens The Best Time To Cruise To Alaska For Salmon Fishing
Luckily, any cruise season month is a good time to fish for salmon in Alaska. Heres a quick guide to help you time your trip to match when your favorite salmon is running:
- King salmon: May-June
- Silver salmon: Mid July-late August
- Chum salmon: July-August
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Visiting Alaska In January
Alaskas long winter stretches from October through to April, during which temperatures plunge to well below freezing, the nights are long and much of the state goes into a hibernation-like shutdown. Although winter sports are available and a few lodges offer northern lights viewing, this is not the best time of year to visit Alaska.
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Top Ports For Alaska Cruises
No matter which cruise line and itinerary you ultimately decide on, you will likely visit a mix of these popular ports. Many cruises to Alaska feature fabulous ports of call that are consistent with most itineraries. Like Caribbean cruise ports, these ports cater to the Alaskan cruise market. If you are looking for more than touristy attractions and activities, make sure to get out of the main port area and explore the most scenic Alaska cruises ports.
When To Cruise The Alaska Islands
Alaskas long and winding coastline has over 2,600 named islands with diverse landscapes and attractions for a variety of interests. An Alaska Islands cruise will take you to explore a number of these islands, where you can immerse in wildlife spotting, photography, shore excursions and more.
Chicagof Island is a nature lovers paradise. With its plunging fjords, porpoises, whales and the largest population of bears per square meter in the world, its ideal for nature photography.
The Brothers Islands also offer some of the best Alaska Islands wildlife spotting, with more whales, porpoises, sea lions and numerous birds. Be sure to also visit Baranof Island to experience remote communities, hiking and bathing in blissful hot springs.
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Scenic Cruising Is Glacier Bay Better Than Other Scenic Glacier Cruising
Theres no question that Glacier Bay National Park is absolutely stunning. However, there are plenty of other glacier cruising areas that are every bit as beautiful, just different. Most Alaska cruises have a day of cruising near a glacier but its not always Glacier Bay. If youre looking at a cruise itinerary that does not include Glacier Bay, you can be confident that you will have an amazing experience! Dont let that on its own stop you from booking. Small ships sometimes dock at Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay , but big ships do not go ashore in the park. Park rangers usually come aboard to share about what youre seeing and experiencing. Other possible glacier cruising areas include:
- College Fjord Cross gulf cruises sometimes call at College Fjord, a spectacular collection of tidewater glaciers, narrow fjords and towering mountains.
- Hubbard Glacier located near Yakutat, this glacier is huge! In fact, this is the largest glacier that big cruise ships visit. It is not in a narrow fjord, but the glacier itself, the icebergs and massive mountains behind more than make up for this
- Tracy Arm located near Juneau, Tracy Arm is a local favorite and an impossibly long and gorgeous fjord. The glacier is not huge but the setting is stunning. Locals will tell you Tracy Arm is more beautiful than Glacier Bay!
No matter where your ship sails for glacier viewing, it is sure to be absolutely stunning.
When Should I Book My Alaska Cruise
We always recommend booking your cruise early, even nine to 12 months in advance, to get the lowest prices and best pick of cabins. You can probably wait until January or February, when cruise lines put out Wave Season sales and promotions, to see if you can get a deal on your Alaska sailing.
Once it gets to be March or April, your booking is considered last minute. You might find a low fare, especially on shoulder-season cruises, but you might also find that the room types you prefer are sold out or that fares have gone up on a nearly full ship.
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Top Alaska Cruise Tours
Cruise tours to Alaskas interior come in different lengths and visit different areas of the state. The most popular visit Talkeetna for views of Denali and Denali National Park to see wildlife and learn about the parks history and ecosystem.
Some Alaska cruise tours will give guests a night in Anchorage to explore the city, or travel as far north as Fairbanks. Others will swap Anchorage with a stay on the Kenai Peninsula or at the Alyeska Resort in the Chugach Mountains before heading north.
Other cruise tours combine interior Alaska with trips to Canadas Yukon. Some simply extend the land portion of the trip to include Dawson City or Whitehorse for one epic trip. For those with less vacation time, Holland America has an option that combines half an Alaska cruise with a land extension through the Yukon to Fairbanks and Denali, ending in Anchorage.
For a different Canadian adventure, Princess offers a cruise tour that starts in Calgary and visits Banff and Lake Louise before finishing up in Alaska to meet the cruise ship. This tour does not venture as far as Denali.
Which Alaska cruise tours are the best? That decision is personal, but Holland America and Princess lead the pack for the most diverse tour options, company-owned Alaska railway cars and resort properties, and experience in the region.
Ketchikan Overall Runner Up And Best For Shopping And Totem Poles
Ketchikan is a very close second for me for the top spot as the best Alaska cruise port! Juneau gets a slight edge from me as I mentioned above for the number of hiking trails that are easy to get to from the cruise ship dock. Like Juneau, Ketchikan is relatively easy to get around on your own and has a bus system that takes you to most places.
Ketchikan also has excellent shore excursions, particularly to Misty Fjords National Monument, and its a great place for fishing trips.
One of the best things about Ketchikan is its impressive number of totem poles. There are several you can see downtown, including at the entrance to Creek Street, the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center and the Totem Heritage Center. To see and learn even more, take an excursion offered by your ship to either Totem Bight National Historical Park or Saxman Totem Park.
This is the best Alaska cruise port for shopping, with delightful Creek Street and the streets surrounding it offering up more local art and gifts than many other ports . Make sure to visit Crazy Wolf Studio, which is Alaska Native owned and features Native art from across the northwest coast. In addition, I highly recommend the Captains Lady, with lots of locally made items as well as Ray Trolls studio.
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Alaska Cruises In August
Whales and bears alike are feeding before the long winter takes hold once again. A dense population of humpbacks feeds in the waters of Southeast Alaska preparing for their journey back to Hawaiian waters. Bears are fattening up for their long, winter hibernation, and migratory birds prepare to head South.
Alaska is alive with activity in August, and the warm, summer days of Southeast Alaska cause the landscape to move and change.
Experience the powerful and incredible force of calving glaciers and moving icebergs. And there is still plenty of daylight in August to experience all you can take in aboard the Sikumi.
It can rain more in August than in other months, but it can be beautiful as well.
Alaska is a fickle state, and the weather can be unpredictable – clouds and rain one day and warm, clear skies the next.
No matter the date, we can guarantee that once you step aboard the Sikumi, your trip will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, out and away from it all in the Alaskan wilderness.
Taking An Alaska Cruise In August
Youre still in peak season here, but at the back end, so you might see some deals emerge toward the end of the month. However, you should likely expect to pay full price for an August Alaska cruise.
Your chance of rain for the month is at more than 50 percent, so you should surely expect to see some rain during your cruise.
Waterproof shoes and wool socks are your best friend during July, as well as any other breathable rain gear you own. Count on getting wet, so its best to be prepared.
The famous Alaska blueberries will be in season in August so snatch up your favorite berries. You know the bears sure will be, as July still offers great chances to view them feeding on branches or salmon. Youll even have a solid chance of spotting bald eagles near salmon-spawning streams.
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Taking An Alaska Cruise In May
With 17 hours of daylight, youll have plenty of time to work with on deck or shore. But you can leave the t-shirts and shorts at home, as the beginning of the Alaska cruise season, temperatures here are just starting to warm with an average high in the mid-50s.
Youll still need to pack layers, as the nights will be quite chilly, but you might luck out and not need your rain gear, as May is historically Alaskas driest month.
Cruise prices and excursions will also be lower in May, especially during the first week of the season. You can even find cruises for as low as $100 per day.
This early season is also a great time to view wildlife as the vegetation has not completely grown in yet, meaning it will be easier to spot animals between the trees.
Migratory birds should also have begun to arrive, and the fishing season will be just kicking off .
For those looking to hop on shore and take a hike, you still may encounter some snow on the ground, depending on where you are and at what elevation.
There are also numerous opportunities to walk on a glacier should you so choose. Just check to see what excursions are available in each port.
If youre pulling into port in Seward, keep an eye out for Alaskas resident orca whale pods, as May is the best time to spot these locals of Resurrection Bay. Its also your best chance to spot the elusive gray whale before they migrate north to colder waters.