Best Month To Cruise To Alaska
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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.
Alaska By Month: When To Go & Why
Alaska is open for travel year-round, but the primary tourist season begins in June and ends in August. The Alaska by month travel season calendar below brings in April and early spring, because that is when the yearly travel season kicks off.
The guide below will help you determine the best month to visit Alaska. It will outline Alaska weather by month and answer questions such as When is summer in Alaska? and What month is the best time to visit Alaska? or When is the best time to go to Alaska? We strive to give you the information to answer these questions based on your own travel timing and interests. We hope this guide helps you make the most of your Alaska summer vacation. For even more information and detailed climate tables, view our Alaska climate page.
In the monthly guide below we refer to Coastal, Interior and Arctic regions:
- The coastal region includes Southeast Alaska and the Alaska Inside Passage and Glacier Bay, Southcentral Alaska including Prince William Sound, Anchorage, Kodiak Island, as well as coastal Katmai National Park and the Aleutian Islands.
- Interior Alaska is the region north of Anchorage up to the Brooks Range just north of Fairbanks and includes Denali National Park.
- Arctic Alaska includes the Brooks Range north to the Arctic Ocean.
Alaska Cruise Packing List Extras
Hat Or Beanie
You lose the majority of your body heat through your head, so you will want to put a hat like this chunky beanie haton your Alaska cruise packing list.
When you are on a glacier calving or marine mammal sighting boat excursion when you are in port, you will be glad you thought to bring a hat to keep your head warm. Its much colder when you are on the water!
This unisex chunky slouch beanie is fashionable. It is lined to keep you warm!
If the weather is scheduled to be warmer, when you are packing for your Alaskan cruise, you can include this unisex breathable mesh quick-dry baseball sun cap.
Just about everyone in your family can wear this baseball cap, it comes in oodles of colors and is very affordable.
This wide-brimmed waterproof unisex hat would be great to protect you from the suns harmful rays. It is waterproof, packable, and comes in several colors. Not only that it is pretty cheap!
If your waterproof jacket has a comfortable hood, you might want to put ear mitts on your Alaska cruise packing list, instead of a hat. These earmuffs are affordable and come in a very wide variety of colors. Space is a premium when packing and these can substitute for a beanie.
These unisex foldable earmuffs are another option. They are affordable, adjustable and come in a variety of colors.
Even another additional item to consider to wear is a thermal headband.
Hand And Toe Warmers
Motion Sickness Options
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Cruise Companies Postpone Alaska Trips Amid Virus Guidelines
ANCHORAGE, Alaska Holland America and Princess Cruises announced pauses on planned sailings in Alaska waters in response to health guidelines established since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The cruise operators said Wednesday that trips scheduled to operate around Alaska have been postponed.
Princess canceled six Alaska trips scheduled through May 14. Holland America canceled sailings on three Alaska-bound ships through the first week of June and on three others through mid-May.
Carnival Cruise Line, which owns Princess and Holland America, announced Wednesday it was suspending all sailings until April 30.
Princess and Holland America said in statements that health rules imposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and uncertainty around travel restrictions prompted the cancellations.
The CDC issued a no-sail order last year at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and lifted the order in October, issuing a conditional sailing order. The agency issued guidelines for companies that include a phased return of passengers.
Competing cruise lines have also pulled back. Celebrity Cruise Lines was expected to announce similar postponements, while Norwegian Cruise Lines website said Thursday that the company suspended all sailings through March 2021.
Mike Tibbles of Cruise Lines International Association Alaska, an industry group that works with multiple cruise ship companies, declined to comment on the 2021 season.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages
The British-based cruise line has extended its hold on cruises through August 25, 2020. This is due to the lockdown still being in place in many countries along with port closures. Read the details here.
Update 1: The cruise line has gone unto administration and will likely no longer continue its business. As of now, all cruises are canceled permanently. More details about this are here.
- Cruises Resume: Never
- Official Advisory:
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Heres When Alaska Cruises From Seattle Will Start Again And Which Lines Will Resume
A cruise ship seen off Alki Beach on Sunday, May 12, 2019 in West Seattle. Several cruise lines plan to resume cruises between Seattle and Alaska as early as July. TNS
Cruises from Seattle to Alaska are set to return this summer after federal lawmakers cleared the way for sailings that have been on hold since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The move signals the return of a significant slice of downtown Seattles economy, where some waterfront businesses plan staffing around the cruise schedule. But significant questions remain about exact safety protocols the cruise lines will enforce.
Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Line said Thursday they would resume cruising to Alaska for a partial season starting in July for passengers who have proof of vaccination.
Princess Cruises will sail seven-day cruises from July 25 through Sept. 26. Sales will begin on May 21.
Holland America Line will resume seven-day cruises to depart on Saturdays from July 24 through Oct. 2.
Carnival will depart weekly from July 27 to Sept. 14. Most trips will be seven-day cruises, with one eight-day trip that has one additional stop.
Norwegian Cruise Line has also started selling tickets for August sailings from Seattle to Alaska, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Proof of vaccination will be required, the companies said Thursday. Decisions about masks, social distancing and precise quarantine procedures are still to come.
News Result For Things To Do On Alaskan Cruise
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Alaska Public Media
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Indulge In Fresh Fish And Seafood
Fishing is one of Alaskas main industries and you can find some of the worlds best fish and seafood in its coastal towns. Especially Ketchikan is renowned for its fish dishesits the unofficial world capital of salmon. If you time your cruise well, you can see the famous salmon run in the river running through the town. A visit to the Ketchikan hatchery is fascinating as well.
Additionally, you can also go on a shore excursion with a crab boat. King crab is another Alaskan staple and you should definitely grab some freshly caught crab with melted butter!
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Featured May Cruises To Alaska
Get to Alaska right when the cruise season begins on an Alaska Northbound Glacier Cruise that departs in May from Vancouver, British Columbia. Youll see something new every single day of your cruise in May, from sailing the Inside Passage to visiting Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, and Skagway before ending your cruise in Seward, Alaska, where you might even be able to see some snow on the ground.
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Alaska Cruise Weather In August
Like July, nights and early mornings can be very cold, so late nighters and early risers should be prepared to bundle up for icy temperatures. Plenty of layers are also essential in August, and travelers should be sure to pack waterproof jackets, shoes, and bags as August and September are among the rainiest months of the year.
During The Day At Sea
As soon as your ship heads out to sea, it gets colder and colder. Our first day at sea, we woke up and were FREEZING. I put multiple layers on to go to the buffet for breakfast.
So pack lots of comfortable and warm clothing for the days you are at sea. Everything you do on the ship can be very casual. I brought a good pair of fleece-lined leggings and some casual joggersand pretty much lived in those while I was on the cruise.
The fleece-lined leggings are also great to have on hand to layer under jeans and other pants for extra warmth.
I also recommend having some tee shirts, long-sleeved shirts, and hooded sweatshirtsfor walking around the ship during the day. I practically lived in this North Face Pullover when we were on the ship. It comes in a bunch of different colors too!
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The Best Months For An Alaska Cruise For Good Weather
The weather in Alaska can, and will, change multiple times per day, but you will find the warmest months to be June, July and August.
The median months will see higher temperatures and longer days for touring, and it represents the limited summer that Alaska enjoys. However, July and August tend to also have higher levels of precipitation.
If you do book a cruise during summer, be sure to plan your shore excursions well in advance to avoid tours selling out.
If you are willing to trade warmth for less precipitation, then go for May. In fact, the end of May and the beginning of June offers some of the best weather in the region throughout the year.
If you want to see snow on the ground, May is the best month for that.
So Whens The Best Time To Cruise Alaska
May to September marks the best of Alaska cruise season, with the fall and winter being a bit too unpredictable. But of those months, which is the best time for an Alaska cruise? Thats difficult to say because every traveler is unique. If we had to pick just one month, wed lean toward June for its low rainfall and abundance of daylight hours, but you cant go wrong any time during cruise season. When you decide on what month to take your Alaskan cruise, be sure to think about factors such as the following.
Consider what you and any travel partners want to experience and any other needs you have before you book. Are you prone to seasickness? Do you need optimal conditions to get some sleep and prepare for the next day? If you cant decide on one month or dont have any particular concerns, you can always make multiple trips to experience all that Alaska has to offer!
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If You Want To See The Northern Lights
There are only a few places in the world where you can see the aurora borealis. Fairbanks, Alaska happens to be one of the greatest spots to catch them. The best time to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is in September when the sun sets earlier, yielding darker skies that are ideal for witnessing the aerial lightshow. Temperatures start to drop around this time of year, but its a small price to pay to cross this awe-inspiring natural wonder off your bucket list. Whats more, prime time for viewing the Northern Lights coincides with Alaskas transition into its off-season, which means youll be able to take advantage of Alaska cruise deals and discounts on onshore activities across your adventure a triple win for any savvy traveler.
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.
Are There Dolphins In Alaska
The Dalls porpoise is discovered in Alaska coastal waters as far north because the Bering Sea. Pacific white-sided porpoises journey as far north as Kodiak Island and are current in the Aleutians and Gulf of Alaska. Harbor porpoises could also be discovered as far north because the Beaufort Sea in ice-free months.
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Royal Caribbean Kid’s Programs
Every year, more and more families are sailing with Royal Caribbean. One of the biggest reasons is their Adventure Ocean Youth Program.
The idea behind this award-winning program is to teach kids about new, interesting things, like the ports they visit, the science of sailing, even exciting new sports like gagaball. But most of all, it’s about having fun.
Whats The Weather Like On An Alaskan Cruise
We started our Alaskan Cruise with 88 degrees and sunny in Seattle and spent the day lounging by the pool with drinks in our bathing suits. The next day at sea, we froze! So we ended up bundled up the whole day.
TIP: Dont forget your bathing suits! It can be warm your first day, plus there are plenty of hot tubs to relax in after a full day hiking around Alaska! This cover-up was perfect for my cruise! It still looks cute and kept me warm enough to get from the hot tub to my room. Even appropriate enough to wear to the buffet.
Our day in Skagway was also in the mid 80s and very sunny. I ended up in a tee-shirt for the majority of the day. But the locals said it was only a high of 50 and cold the week prior. So really, you just never know what kind of weather youll have on an Alaskan Cruise.
Excursions on your Alaskan Cruise can vary a great deal too. Some popular examples of Alaskan Cruise Excursions can include:
And SO much more!
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The Best Time To Take An Alaska Cruise
Want to know when is the best time to go on an Alaska cruise for great weather, low prices, or fewer crowds?
While the short-term future of cruises is still murky at best, eventually cruise ships will be heading back out to Alaska and the beautiful natural scenery to enjoy in Alaska is simply unparalleled.
It is hard to top the majesty beauty of rugged glaciers, plethora of unique animal sightings, or huge mountains. Going on a cruise to Alaska is an extremely popular kind of cruise, because it offers an easy way to see so much in a compact amount of time.
While it is impossible to see and do it all over the course of a one week cruise, Alaska has the power to enchant even brief visitors. So while you are stuck at home, this may be the perfect time to start planning a cruise to The Last Frontier.
Here is your guide for figuring out the best times to visit for your first Alaska cruise.