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What Months Do Cruises Go To Alaska

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Alaska Cruise Reading List


Alaska has inspired many literary works over the last century, from fictional tales set against the backdrop of real events to captivating travel memoirs, and where better to read them than in the great land itself? Passage to Juneau by Johnathan Raban, Travels in Alaska by John Muir, and Coming Into the Country by John McPhee, are just three books you may wish to pack for your Alaska cruise.

What Alaska Is Like In The Spring

The average spring temperature in Alaska is around 24 degrees Fahrenheit, though this varies depending on the specific region that you visit. Most days will be cold but clear with occasional rain showers and an occasional sprinkling of snow mixed in.

  • : March is a bit of a transitional month in Alaska with very chilly weather and frozen grounds. Though late in the season, you may still be able to see the Northern lights and enjoy other winter activities such as dog sledding.
  • : Due to the warming of the temperature, ice and snow begin to melt during this month, resulting in a soggy landscape make sure to pack boots if you visit in April! Most days you will experience clear weather that is perfect for hiking or wildlife viewing.
  • May: Tourism season is just around the corner, so take advantage of the fast-warming weather to hit some of the biggest tourism spots such as Denali National Park, Kenai Fjords National Park, and the Inside Passage. In just a couple of short weeks, all of these peaceful spots will be overrun with tourists so take full advantage of nature and solitude while you can.

Denali Zipline. Photo courtesy of

What Cruise Lines Go To Alaska

While most major cruise lines venture to Alaska, here are a few to explore:

  • Large premium: Princess Cruises – Voted “Best Cruise Line in Alaska,” Princess Cruises to Alaska include not only beautiful ships to get you there, but exclusive rail service and Princess-owned wilderness lodges to stay in once you arrive.
  • Large contemporary: Disney Cruise Line – Families will love taking a Disney Cruise to Alaska, which stop in ports like Skagway, Juneau and Tracy Arm, home to the Tongass National Forest.
  • Small luxury: Silversea’s small luxury ships will bring you to Alaska in comfort and style, with exclusive events on shore and at sea, like a land tour to the majestic Denali National Park.
  • Mid-size premium: Oceania – One of only a few lines to dock at Haines, the adventure capital of Alaska, an Oceania Cruise to Alaska provides an upscale yet casual ambiance with fresh Alaskan seafood served in restaurants onboard.

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Best Time To Travel To Alaska By Land

Alaskas interior is colder than the coast so the land-based travel season can be shorter than the cruising season. Keep this in mind if you are planning an Alaska small ship cruise and an Alaska land tour combination.

Summer in interior Alaska is short and occurs from mid-June through late-August. Winter in Alaska sees far fewer travelers with December through March being the best months to view the northern lights or aurora borealis. The spring and fall months in Alaska offer unique opportunities and lower prices.

In our opinion the best time to travel to Alaska is in June, July and August. The best month to visit Alaska is July, when travelers will experience the best combination of weather and wildlife. See our below breakdown of Alaska weather by month to learn more about the temperatures, sunlight and wildlife, to find the best time to visit Alaska for you.

If You Want To Ditch The Crowds

Hold the Line: Royal Caribbean Bullish on 2021 Alaska Season

High summer is when most people visit Alaska, and with good reason temperatures are warmer, the days seems to never end, and the land is blanketed with colorful wildflowers. Keep in mind though that higher demand means youll have to book your onshore activities much further in advance, plus share the beauty with lots of other fellow travelers. And while Alaskas too big to ever truly feel crowded, maybe you crave the quiet tranquility of empty streets and unoccupied trails. If youre looking for a more chill escape and dont mind chillier weather, think about visiting before mid-June or after mid-August. Considered Alaskas shoulder season, its a great time to take advantage of easier access to top attractions and lower prices many local spots offer shoulder season discounts of 10-25%. Aside from bigger savings and less bustle in port, another benefit of visiting Alaska before or after peak season is that youll probably have all the best hiking paths and photo spots like the aptly named Photo Point trail in Juneau or Beaver Lake in Sitka to yourself. Youll also get a chance to catch Alaskas brief yet beautiful change of season, which can start as early as mid-August in Denali, when tundra mosses and shrubs deepen their hues to red, and forest birch, aspen and willow tree leaves turn fiery shades of orange and gold.

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Best Time Of Year To Take An Alaskan Cruise: Price

Alaska cruise fares fluctuate considerably depending on a few factors. Pricing can range widely depending on the cruise line, ship, itinerary, and time of year.

The Alaskan cruise season generally runs from late April/early May through the end of September. As with most seasonal cruise regions, the shoulder season is when prices tend to be the lowest. For those looking to save money, the best time of year to take an Alaskan cruise would be either early in the season or late in the season. Besides having lower fares, you will have greater choices for cabins and can score the perfect mid-ship balcony at a reduced cost.

If you travel towards the end of the season, you may be able to score some great deals on souvenirs too as many of the local shops run sales to get rid of merchandise before closing for the season. Another perk of sailing in September is that you will have a chance at seeing the Northern Lights. On our September cruise, we were told to be on the lookout for the Northern Lights on two separate nights, but we never did see them.

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If Youre Interested In Wildlife Viewing

In addition to having the warmest temperatures, June and July are the best months to see the humpback whales when they migrate to Alaskas Inside Passage. But as long as nature parks and trails are on your itinerary, you can pretty much count on spotting wildlife from late May through mid-September. Angling to get an up-close look at a grizzly bear? Take a guided tour into Denali National Park and keep your eyes peeled for these solitary giants along rivers and among blueberry bushes, where they like to feast. In Ketchikans Tongass National Forest the largest national forest in the country be on the lookout for deer, seals, black bears and bald eagles. And in Skagway, you can mingle with a playful team of huskies and take part in the traditional practice of dog sledding, still Alaskas state sport.

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Best Month To Cruise To Alaska

A message from Cruise Critic: During this unprecedented time throughout the world and across the cruise industry, it is important to note that article information might be impacted by cruise line hiatuses and port closures due to COVID-19. For the latest information, please visit our regularly updated article on what cruisers need to know about coronavirus.

The Alaska cruise season is five months long — from May to September — but not all Alaska cruises are created equal. From one week to the next, summer in the Last Frontier can see noticeable differences in weather, cruise pricing and what’s in season. Whether you’re looking to find some savings or spot bears, catch a king salmon or plenty of daylight, you’ll have to book accordingly.

To help you set the right expectations for your Alaska adventure and pick the best month to cruise, Cruise Critic breaks the Alaska cruise season down by month and compares nine elements to consider during a cruise there.

A few things to note:

Hours of daylight are rounded to the nearest hour and calculated by the average seen in the city of Anchorage daylight hours in the port city of Seward are always slightly less. Temperatures are measured in degrees Fahrenheit and are based on Southcentral Alaska ports, which include Anchorage, Seward and Whittier temperatures will vary in other areas of the vast state.

When Is The Best Time To Cruise To Alaska To See Whales

Here’s What It’s Like Onboard the First Large Cruise Ship to Alaska in 21 Months

Watching a humpback or an orca arc gracefully out of Alaskas blue-green water is a sight youll never forget.

On an Alaska whale-watching cruise, youll have the chance to see some of the states eight magnificent species of whales that frequent its icy waters. As luck would have it, the entire Alaska cruise season is also prime whale-watching season.

Depending on which itinerary you sail and when you choose to cruise, you can increase your chances of seeing certain species, including humpbacks, orcas, and Minke whales. Dont forget to throw in a good pair of binoculars when planning your Alaska cruise packing list.

You can spot whales on Alaska shore excursions like a safari vessel whale-sighting tour in Stephens Passage, Juneau, to evening whale-quest cocktail cruises where sighting a whale is guaranteed.

You may even catch a glimpse of a whale swimming alongside your cruise ship as you sip morning coffee on your stateroom veranda its just one of the joys of cruising to Alaska.

Humpback whales start making their journey from the warm waters of Mexico and Hawaii in March and April, and by June and July theyre happily feeding in the waters of Alaskas Inside Passage.

Seeing a single whale, as they prefer to travel, or in small pods, as they like to feed, is highly likely. If humpbacks are your favorite, book an Inside Passage cruise during late June, July, or August.

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Things To Consider When Visiting Alaska

Now that you understand what the different seasons bring to the state, lets explore a few more things that will help you decide what the best time to travel to Alaska is for you.

These factors include the kinds of activities youd like to do, how tight your budget is, what weather you prefer, which wildlife youd like to see, and what events youd like to attend.

Best Time Of Year To Take An Alaskan Cruise: Crowds

There are also certain times of the Alaska cruise season that are preferred if you would like to avoid crowds. The busiest time of year for cruises to Alaska usually coincides with warmer weather and summer break. To avoid the crowds, you should skip cruising in the middle of the season, especially July. If you cruise during this time, be prepared to share Alaska with thousands of other cruisers.

If you take an Alaskan cruise during the shoulder seasons, you will not only save money but you will avoid the crowds, especially families. In April/May kids are usually still in school, and they are usually back to school by September. The number of families and kids will of course vary based on the cruise line and cruise ship you choose. Popular mega-ships from brands like Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean will inevitably have more families onboard.

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The Best Time To Book An Alaskan Cruise

Book ahead for selection, wait for bargains.

Conventional wisdom for Alaska cruises is to book a year in advanceparticularly for travelers who want the best selection of sailing dates and cabins during the June/July peak season. Bargain hunters who are more flexible can often snag deals during the Wave booking season in January and February, when cruise bookings for all destinations peak last-minute deals can also be found as late as June.

Cruise lines tend to price higher for early bookings, with included add-ons like onboard credits or prepaid gratuities to entice buyers. Last-minute offers, on the other hand, are typically cruise-only. It also pays to monitor fares after the initial depositmany cruise lines will honor lower fares after the initial booking as long as the final payment hasnt been made. However, lower fares may not come with the same included amenities originally applied.

Royal Caribbean And Celebrity Cruises To Sail In July With Covid Vaccine Requirement

Princess Reveals 2022 Alaska Cruise Season

Royal Caribbean Group announced Friday that its cruise lines Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises will plan to sail from Seattle to Alaska on round-trip itineraries starting in July. Celebrity set a date of July 23, but other restart dates were not specified.

All passengers over 16 will be required to have been vaccinated to board the sailings. Starting Aug. 1, every passenger over age 12 will be required to be fully vaccinated to board.

We are so pleased that Congress unanimously voted to pass legislation enabling cruise ships to sail to Alaska this season,” Richard D. Fain, Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO, said in the announcement.

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Alaska Cruise Weather In June

Most of the month of June in Alaska is either cold or pleasantly cool with very cold temperatures being less frequent than in May. The lows can be as low as forty-three degrees Fahrenheit, and the highs can get up to the sixties on average.

Cloud cover and precipitation conditions from May persist throughout June and July, and wind speeds remain low as well. Layers are essential for this type of fluctuating weather, and travelers should be sure to pack waterproof jackets and shoes for rainy moments, cardigans or light sweaters, and other warm clothes like jeans, long skirts, and tights.

What Alaska Is Like In The Winter

Winter temperatures in Alaska can vary quite dramatically depending on the month and region that you are visiting. For the most part, you can expect extremely cold temperatures that necessitate heavy winter gear.

  • : Winter is in full swing in December. This is an ideal time of year to stay at a cozy lodge and enjoy a relaxing winter vacation. Though extremely cold, outdoor activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, and dog mushing are still enjoyed.
  • : You can experience all of the winter magic that Alaska has to offer in January the Northern Lights, multi-hour sunrises that paint the sky in pastels, and snowy landscapes to your hearts content.
  • : This is a good month to enjoy all of the food scenes that Alaska has to offer. Visit some breweries, indulge in mouthwatering Alaskan cuisine, and soak in the atmospheric naturescapes with the luxury of solitude. The Yukon Quest is also held during February and is a fun event to catch if you get the chance.

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When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska Via Land And Sea

To explore even more of the natural wonders of Alaska, consider a cruisetour. A cruisetour is a vacation that combines a full-length cruise with an escorted tour on land before or after the cruise.

The tour portion can be anywhere from two to six nights long and take you deep into the Alaskan wilderness, where youll explore small mountain towns and Denali National Park and Preserve.

During the land portion of your vacation, your tour guide will make sure you have everything you need and will arrange comfortable transportation from one site to the next. Youll also get ample free time to explore on your own. When it comes to transportation and accommodation, youll experience luxurious glass-domed trains and stay in high-end hotels and lodges.

When Is The Best Time For Families To Visit Alaska

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Summer break, which is peak cruising season, is an ideal time for families to go on an Alaska cruise. Depending on your familys interests, youll want to decide whether to book earlier or later in the season, since there can be a difference in weather and activities between the end of June and mid-August.

Some of the shore excursions you can experience when going on an Alaska cruise with kids include hiking the Tongass forest, whale-watching tours, kayaking, and learning about Tlingit culture.

Aim for the week right after school ends or the week before school begins if youd like to get there just ahead of the most crowded part of peak season. A cruise to Alaska is an unforgettable summer family vacation experience your kids will cherish forever.

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Featured July Cruises To Alaska

Choose a longer vacation that lets you soak up the warmer weather that July is known for in Alaska. The Grand Heartland Adventure Cruisetour combines a 7-night Alaska cruise with seven days of touring the inland area of Alaska through Denali National Park and up into Fairbanks. You can also choose tours tailored to your interests during your .

The Best Months For An Alaska Cruise For Low Prices

Alaska is not a cheap cruise, but if you want to save money on your cruise fare, then your best bet is May or September.

For the same reasons May and September feature lower crowds, these months see most often the lowest prices for a cruise because of the combination of colder temperatures and the school calendar.

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A Guide To The Best Alaskan Cruise Vacation

Alaska is a beautiful and wild destination, popular with travelers looking for an extraordinary experience in the United States. With a coastline that’s longer than all the other U.S. states coastlines combined, a multi-day Alaskan cruise is an elegant and relaxing way to see the massive states stunning landscape. Sailing past the icy beauty of some of the world’s most impressive glaciers while enjoying a wide range of services and relaxing options is an experience unique to cruising. On land, Alaska cruise passengers have a variety of tour options in port cities, ranging from rail excursions to zip-line tours to wildlife viewing to sportfishing.

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