Best And Worst Months To Cruise To Alaska
The best time to cruise to Alaska depends on both warm temperatures and a lower risk of rain.
Historically, July has ideal combination of the two, followed by June and then August. Rainfall is usually lowest in May and climbs steadily until reaching the highest point in September. May is ideal for rain but not for temperatures, which are often quite a bit cooler.
The best time to visit Alaska certainly isnt the winter, but winter is a great time to plan the trip.
The majority of Alaskan cruises run between May and September. July and August are the most active cruise months, according to scheduled cruises on major travel booking websites. July and August also have the warmest temperatures.
Average high temperatures can reach into the mid 60s Fahrenheit or high teens Celsius along the Alaskan coast during the summer months of June through August. On a good day, they will climb into the 70s as they did on > our first Alaskan cruise .
They reach the mid to upper 50s Fahrenheit or low teens Celsius during May and September, according to historical records from the U.S. National Weather Service. Because of these cooler temperatures, fewer cruises are available in either month.
Despite temperatures in that are similar to July and August, June usually has fewer cruises.
What Sights Should I Hold Out For
Most of the top scenic attractions on cruises are capacity limited. Glacier Bay National Park, the banner destination for scenic glacier cruising, cannot accommodate all the large cruise ships each season. So, if Glacier Bay is a must, be sure to select a cruise that features it.
That said, the limited number of Glacier Bay entrance passes means that cruise lines have started calling at Hubbard Glacier and Tracy Arm for scenic cruising, and port calls at gems like Sitka are growing in popularity after years of downturn.
Denali National Park is a major draw for many visitors, but its also worth exploring alternative options such as the Kenai Peninsula, Copper River Center or Katmai National Park .
When To Cruise The Glacier Bay National Park
The Glacier Bay National Park is within the Inside Passage and some cruises spend their itinerary focussed on this unique area. The scenery is staggering, as you would expect for the largest UNESCO protected biosphere in the world.
Glacier Bay National Park cruises combine wildlife watching with dramatic landscapes, adventurous activities such as paddling a skiff or kayaking, and visiting remote villages. It goes without saying youll be surrounded by glaciers in this national park, with the chance to see huge blocks of ice calving away.
As with the rest of the Inside Passage, there is plenty of wildlife to see and summer is the best season to visit for warmer temperatures. April to June are usually the driest months, with Glacier Bay experiencing the most rainfall during September and October.
If you have the chance to visit in winter, there is still plenty to enjoy amidst the cold and foggy landscapes.
Also Read: What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise
Don’t Miss: How Much Are 7 Day Cruises
When Is The Best Time To Find Special Offers On An Alaska Cruise
If you have a flexible travel schedule and dont have a specific stateroom in mind, consider visiting Alaska during shoulder season.
Shoulder season for the Alaska cruise season includes the months of May and September. The weather is still cool or cooling down , and with school still in session or just beginning, special offers can be found during these months.
During May cruises to Alaska, its still on the cold side , so you may find the states wildlife just emerging. The weather may also play a role in your cruise ships route, as some areas may still be unpassable with ice. However, May is the states driest month, with little to no rainfall.
Look for reduced fares when booking a cruise to Alaska in late shoulder season with the same travel benefits of still fine but changing weather.
The Best Time To Visit Alaska
Among the most common questions we receive, and indeed an important consideration when planning Alaska travel, are What is the best time to visit Alaska? or What is the best time to cruise Alaska?
The answer is complicated and depends on many factors. Alaska is huge and weather is vastly different in the north vs south or interior vs coast. The travel season is short and can vary greatly between spring, summer and fall. Combine all this with Alaskas notoriously unpredictable weather and it can be a challenge to determine the best time to visit Alaska.
What follows is our expert advice and a month by month guide with tips on weather, wildlife, daylight and the benefits of each month, to get you thinking about the best time to go to Alaska.
IN THIS POST Best Time to Visit Alaska:
Also Check: What Cruise Lines Depart From Bayonne Nj
The Best Time For A Cruise To Alaska If You Want To The Northern Lights
Unfortunately, if your goal is to see the Northern Lights, you will have to compromise in terms of ideal weather conditions. You will have slim-to-none chance of seeing the lights during the summer months, but if you come during September, you might just have a shot!
Whats interesting is that the conditions that create the aurora borealis are present all year long, but in order to be seen, youll need dark, clear skies and a bit of luck. Because Alaskas summer days are so long, it does not create dark enough conditions to view the lights.
The ideal time to view the Northern Lights is actually outside of the cruise season window, between late September and April. However, there is some opportunity in September for you to spot the aurora during a particularly fortunate night.
While going on an Alaska cruise this late in the season also gives you the opportunity to catch a last-minute deal, youll give yourself the best chance of spotting the Northern Lights. There is certainly no guarantee that youll see them, but the later you can go, the better, as there will be long nights late in the season.
You can also improve your chances by taking a land or sea tour that includes one or more nights in Fairbanks, which lies just under 200 miles below the Arctic Circle. This area is considered one of the best in the state, and the world, to see the aurora, especially if you are able to venture away from the city lights.
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.
Also Check: How Much Are 7 Day Cruises
Packing For An Alaska Cruise
First things first, before you even start thinking about what items to pack you probably are wondering if you can take a suitcase, or if you should have a soft bag for a cruise. Cruise cabins are not huge, but they are well designed to maximise the space and provide large wardrobes, plenty of drawers and usually space to store your hard shell suitcases.
On our recent cruise with Carnival we had two large suitcases and we had plenty of space to hang up all of our clothes and store the cases in the wardrobe. However, if you prefer travelling with a soft bag this will also ensure you can tuck it away in a wardrobe too.
In terms of clothing for an Alaska Cruise, definitely bring warm items and most importantly a windbreaker jacket. Even when the sun is shining and warm , the wind on the upper decks can be chilly. One of the best parts of an Alaskan cruise is that there is usually a beautiful landscape to enjoy as you sail so you will want to be on deck for most of it.
Bring some hats, gloves, good walking shoes or boots, and other warm weather gear for your day trips. A rain jacket and umbrella is also advised as Alaska weather can often be overcast and rainy so be prepared for that.
Advantages Of Visiting Alaska In June
- Warming coastal temperatures between 40-60 degrees and even warmer interior temperatures of 50-70 degrees.
- Between 18-20 hours of daylight, giving you lots of time to enjoy the Alaskan wilderness and wildlife.
- Wildlife is everywhere in June, with caribou, black bear cubs, mountain goats, moose calves, and even polar bears, out in force. On the water, pods of beluga whales can be spotted, along with plentiful seabirds and seal pups.
- Cruises offering land tours are available, as all the major national parks open in June.
- The warmer weather and longer daylight hours mean that tourist attractions in towns like Anchorage, Juneau, and Fairbanks are fully open.
Girdwood Forest Fair. Photo by Brook Binkowski/Flicker
You May Like: Hawaiian Cruises 2021 From California
When Is The Best Time To Cruise To Alaska For Maximum Daylight
Imagine being able to enjoy Alaskas incredible natural beauty during days of near-continuous sunlight. With so much daylight, you can enjoy all the best Alaska shore excursions, from biking alongside the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau to hiking in the Tongass National Forest.
If you want to experience the phenomenon of sunlit nights for yourself, the best time to go to Alaska on a cruise is right around the Summer Solstice in the second half of June. This is the time when days are longest in the entire Northern Hemisphere.
A First Timers Guide To Taking An Alaska Cruise
This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. We may receive a small commission when you make a purchase using our link.
If you have never taken a Alaskan cruise before then you absolutely should! Cruises are an amazing way to visit a destination and maximise how much you see whilst you are there.
After taking two cruises in Alaska I have collected a bunch of tips and advice that I think will help first timers to plan for the cruise, make the most of their time on board and above all have fun! My most recent cruise was with Carnival Cruises in Alaska and in this guide I share my top tips for joining an Alaskan cruise!
Don’t Miss: Cruise Lines Departing From San Diego
Taking An Alaska Cruise In June
June is a bit of a sweet spot for an Alaska cruise. The weather is fairly dry and warming up, crowds and prices still have not reached peak levels, and wildlife aplenty will be out and about.
The days will be longer still, including the summer solstice on June 21, on which you will experience nearly 24-hours of daylight, depending on how far north you happen to be. Denali, in particular, is an incredible place to experience the summer solstice.
With average temperatures in the low 60s, youll still have chilly nights, but as far as Alaska goes, June offers what amount to ideal conditions.
Unfortunately, the mosquitos agree, so youll want to pack some bug spray. You will want to be outside, however, because everything will be in bloom and it can be remarkably beautiful.
Reserve A Healthy Budget For Excursions
Day tours and excursions get you away from the crowds and into the real Alaska you came to see. But taking these tours may require some extra effortand money. After all, many of Alaska’s most dramatic sights and wildlife can be accessed only by plane or boat. Other activitieslike river rafting, glacier hiking, or dogsleddingnecessitate hiring expert guides and renting gear. Plan on one to two excursions per day, and budget $100$200 for each. If thats a little high, here are tips to see Alaska on a budget.
Read Also: Where Is The Cruise Port In Amsterdam
When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska To See The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, Latin for morning light coming from the North, are one of the worlds most amazing sights.
If youre hoping to see the Northern Lights on your cruise, the best time to cruise Alaska is the last part of the shoulder season, late September. With days beginning to shorten and the nights getting longer, a September cruise itinerary offers the last possibility of the year.
You can also book an Alaska cruisetour with an optional Evening Aurora Pursuit excursion in Fairbanks that offers the best chance to see this spectacle of light.
What Shore Excursions Are Available In Alaska Throughout The Cruise Season
Many of Alaskas most popular activities can be done anytime from May through September, depending on the port of call.
Glacier viewing is an all-cruise-season activity, with many ways to get to the glacier depending on your preference while in different ports. Biking alongside the glacier, or taking a helicopter to land on top of a glacier, is a memorable and spectacular way to begin a glacier hike.
Other popular Alaska shore excursions include sea kayaking, rafting, craft beer tasting in town, attending a salmon bake, visiting museums to learn about Alaskas history and culture, and going on local hikes you can access from town.
For all your Alaska shore excursions, youll want to dress in layers, as the weather can change quickly.
Recommended Reading: What Cruise Lines Leave From New Jersey
Alaskas Cruise Season Desperately Needs A Shot In The Armand Quick
UnCruise, a small-ship cruise line, is offering 2021 Alaska sailings for fully vaccinated passengers.
When Canada announced a ban on cruising through February 2022, it seemed at the time to deliver a fatal blow to Alaskas summer cruise season, which fuels a $1.2-billion industry for the 49th state.
But on a Zoom call with reporters on Monday to promote his states tourism industry, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy said he remained hopeful that a solution could be reached that would allow big ships to come to his state in 2021.
The first possible path toward this goal is a legislative one.
We’re a seasonal cruise destination, said Dunleavy. Here in Alaska, we’re going to need to know soon, within the next few weeks if bills introduced in Congress by an Alaskan delegation Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young are going to move forward. If passed, the legislation would allow cruise ships to sail to Alaska without requiring a stop in Canada, as U.S. law would normally require.
At issue is the Passenger Vessel Services Act , which prohibits foreign-flagged ships from embarking and disembarking passengers at two different U.S. ports without stopping at a foreign port in between. Most big-ship cruise lines register their ships in foreign countries. Normally, Alaska-bound ships departing from Seattle might spend a day in Vancouver or Victoria to satisfy the requirement.
When Is The Best Time To Cruise Alaska
A full guide on when is the best time to cruise Alaska. Providing travel tips and making sure cruisers get to see destinations like Ketchikan and Juneau.
Alaska is a fascinating place to cruise, packed with towering mountains, vast wilderness areas and unparalleled wildlife encounters. There are numerous icy fjords and lush forests to cruise, plus bright blue glaciers and an abundance of marine life passing you by. With thousands of islands, bustling cities and a rich history to boot, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Whilst many people cruise Alaska in summer, the best time really depends on where you want to go and what you want to see. Alaskas diverse cruise destinations have seasonal highlights for different cruising interests throughout the year. Read on to find out more.
Also Check: What Month Is The Best Time To Cruise To Alaska
Insider Tips For Alaska Cruises
Transfer day is a sightseeing day The trip between Whittier or Seward and Anchorage travels one of the most scenic stretches of road in the state. Youll cross the mountains and follow the coast of Turnagain Arm. Transfers are typically by motorcoach, private shuttle or train, but this is far more than getting from A to B. Keep your camera at the ready, and dont be surprised if you spot wildlife and incredible natural landscapes along the way.
Day cruises get even closer to glaciers Its worth adding a day cruise either in Prince William Sound or Resurrection Bay/Kenai Fjords. These nimble vessels are able to slip into smaller spaces than the big ships, better navigate to sea lion haulouts, bird nesting areas and whale watching hot spots in the moment, and get closer to glaciers and then linger in silence. These incredible sights also makes day cruises a great option for independent travelers as well. If spending nights aboard a ship doesnt appeal to you, day cruises are a great way to sample the marine ecosystem and keep the start of each day on solid ground.
Anchorage as flightseeing capital Anchorage isnt just the spot to catch the flight into or out of Alaska. With a huge concentration of pilots and small aircraft, its also a prime spot for sightseeing tours by air. Flights from Merrill Field or Lake Hood in Anchorage take off for glaciers in the nearby Chugach Mountains, the waters of Prince William Sound, or even circle Denali by air.