Best Time To Cruise Alaska
The Alaska cruising season begins in March and ends in October. The peak season with best weather and wildlife occurs during summer months. Its then that travelers will find the best combination of long days, good weather and abundant wildlife, including greater numbers of whales that congregate in predictable feeding pods putting on quite a show. But spring, when Alaska awakens from a long winter, is also another favorite time to cruise Alaska. Snow is present in the mountains, driving hungry bears down to the coast for a meal. Small ships, which can sail close to the shore, take advantage of these springtime encounters. April and May are the driest months along Alaskas coast and there are fewer crowds in both town and on the water. You will find the best prices of the year on small boat tours of Alaska as well at this time.
As Alaska small ship cruise experts, we advise clients that the best time to cruise Alaska is May 15 through September 1. If we had to choose one, the best month for an Alaska cruise is July.
Typically, there are no scheduled cruises from mid-October through February, but special Alaska charter cruises can be arranged during this time with advanced notice. Families typically visit mid June through mid August. View the best Alaska cruises for families. See our monthly Alaska weather tips and travel advice above to find your best time to take an Alaskan cruise.
Types Of Cruise Ships That Sail Alaska
There are several different types of cruise experiences in Alaska: smaller, more adventure-focused ships and larger, traditional cruise-liners.
Large cruise ships, from Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean, and Norwegian Cruise Line, are ubiquitous in Alaska.
The lines traditionally sail seven-night cruises from either Vancouver, Seattle, or Anchorage, stopping at the three primary ports Juneau, Ketchikan, and Skagway with a stop for glacier viewing typically included.
The experience onboard these ships is comparable to what youd expect in the Caribbean or Europe, and youre sailing with a few thousand other passengers.
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Smaller expedition ships, like those from UnCruise Adventures, Lindblad Expeditions, and American Cruise Lines host, at most, a few hundred cruisers, and often much fewer than that, making for a more intimate, personal cruise experience.
But most importantly, these expeditions sail unique itineraries in Alaska, stopping at smaller ports, cruising closer to the shore for wildlife spotting, and offering more adventure-focused excursions and activities.
In the middle, youll find luxury cruise lines like Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seabourn Cruises, Windstar and Silversea Cruises.
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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Cost Of Alaska Cruise In September
This is a low-demand period because the schools have re-opened and families with kids cant go on cruises anymore.
If you are lucky you may end up grabbing a last-minute Alaska cruise deal from one of the travel agents.
If cost is a concern for you, this is the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise.
However, dont leave the booking to last minute because nowadays everybody wants to cut costs by traveling in the shoulder season.
Best Time To Go On An Alaskan Cruise To See Northern Lights
If you want to see Northern Lights in Alaska, the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise is the month of September.
If you plan your Alaskan cruise in September, besides witnessing one of natures wonders, you may also end up grabbing last minute cruise ticket deals.
For the best sighting of Aurora Borealis, you can visit Fairbanks, which is geographically under the auroral oval, the spot where Northern Lights are seen most frequently.
The best time for seeing the aurora during Alaskas winter is 11:30 p.m.3:30 a.m. so make sure you are out there staring at the sky.
While you will witness the Northern Lights during your Alaskan cruise, you may have to sacrifice some wildlife experience because some parts of Denali National Park close in September.
The Gulf of Alaska is the choppiest during this period and if you tend to get seasick, we suggest you plan your Alaska cruise during the calmer months.
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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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Wildlife Viewing During Alaska Cruise In September
This is the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise if you love wildlife. Bears still congregate around berries and Salmon and are quite a sight.
You will see lots of Moose, Caribou, Goats, and Muskoxen mate in early autumn. Some of them such as the Caribou and Moose also engage in sparring as part of the mating process.
This is also the best time to spot Gray, bowhead and beluga whales migrate along the west coast.
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Cost Of Alaska Cruise In July
This is bang in the middle of the Alaska cruise season and hence the busiest.
If the month of June is your preference, please book in advance for this is one of the best times to go on an Alaska cruise.
Price of an Alaska cruise ticket is always at its highest during this month reaching as high as $1,000 for a person for a seven-day cruise.
That is more than $140 per person per day.
Best Time To Cruise The Caribbean: December
You can sail to the Caribbean year-round, but the best time to cruise the Caribbean is when it’s coldest in the Northern Hemisphere. Not only is the warm Caribbean climate a welcome respite from bad weather, but December through April are the driest months in the islands as well.
Those months coincide with peak season in the Caribbean, though, so crowded ports and beaches plus higher cruise fares are the norm. However, the vast number of cruise lines plying the Caribbean Sea mean you can find a massive spread of cruises for almost every budget. You can often land deals if you travel during the early weeks of December and in the later spring, when weather is still mostly calm and dry.
The cheapest time for Caribbean cruises runs from late summer into fall, when hurricane season is at its peak. If this is the only chance you have to cruise, keep in mind that itineraries can change or be canceled depending on the weather.
If you dislike large numbers of children, avoid sailing late June through August or during school break times .
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Best Time To Cruise To Mexico: November
If you’re after that sweet spot of cheaper fares and perfect weather, the best time to go to Mexico is from November through January. Skies during this period are mostly clear, temperatures are warm and crowds are smaller . That’s true if you’re after bright and warm Riviera Maya weather or optimal conditions in the Mexican Riviera on the Pacific Coast as well.
From February onward, the number of visitors swells, as U.S., European and Canadian residents flee the cold. In March and April, spring break revelers descend on destinations like the Riviera Maya, Cabo San Lucas and Ensenada. If you love a party vibe, go for it. But if your version of fun is a little more mature, opt for the November through January time frame.
You’re likely to find discounted rates for cruises from June through November, but keep in mind that both Mexican coasts are affected by hurricanes throughout hurricane season. May can be a decent time to go to Mexico as well. Cruise fares can be cheaper, though weather in the Riviera Maya and Cozumel will be oppressively humid. While it will still be dry in the Mexican Riviera, weather in Cabo and other Pacific Coast destinations will be incredibly hot.
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Is It Worth Having A Balcony On An Alaska Cruise
You may see the passing mountains, glaciers, gorgeous villages, animals, and a great deal more from the comfort of your accommodation if you have a balcony cabin. A balcony cabin gives you this opportunity. A balcony is the ideal location to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments with a camera since it offers a unique vantage point.
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Cost Of Alaska Cruise In May
These first trips to Alaska are also known as the off-season trips and hence the cruise prices are 20% lesser.
If you are lucky, you may be able to find Alaska cruises for as less as $100 per day.
Even though this is the shoulder season dont bet on last minute booking because even in May the tickets get sold out soon.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Banff
The best time to visit Banff is during peak summer season, July and August, with warm, but not sweltering temperatures. Its perfect for exploring the pristine lakes and wilderness in this part of the Canadian Rockies.
Albertas Banff National Park is marked by mountain weather, which can be erratic. Always dress and be prepared for sudden temperature changes.
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When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska To Avoid Crowds
Shoulder season is also the best time to go on an Alaska cruise if you prefer fewer crowds while exploring the historical and cultural aspects of Alaskan cities and towns.
Shore excursions are easier to book, so take full advantage of roomier whale-watching cruises and less crowded restaurants.
Schools are still in session in May and September, so fewer families are traveling. Also, many cruise passengers prefer to travel to Alaska in the warmer weather, so crowds on both sea and land tend to thin out.
Read: Alaska Cruise Tips to Make the Most of Your Vacation
Best Small Ship: Oceania Cruises
Oceania cruises introduce Alaska to guests by offering local experiences in partnership with native tribes for a more meaningful connection to the area beyond sightseeing.
Two specialty restaurants , WiFi, and free and unlimited soft drinks replenished daily in refrigerated mini bar
Onboard menus feature local Alaskan delicacies, such as Halibut, King Crab, and Alaskan blueberry pancakes
Impressive guest-to-staff ratio: maximum of 656 guests served by 400+ officers and crew
4 open-seating restaurants, 8 lounges and bars, and a casino
Not all staterooms feature private verandas
Built in 1998 but fully refurbished in 2019, Oceania Cruises Regatta dazzles guests with bejeweled chandeliers in the Grand Dining Room, fresh color palettes, and new furnishings in the public spaces, plus new everything in the suites and staterooms. Between the gentle rocking of the ship and the Ultra Tranquility Bed, youre sure to sleep like a baby.
When youre not off exploring Alaskas many wonders, keep busy at the casino, take in an after-dinner production of Tuxedo or Gatsbys or chill out and choose a book from the English-style library with 2,000 options. Book a spa treatment or work out in the Aquamar Spa + Vitality Center, play nine holes of golf on the putting greens, shop the three boutiques, and unwind, help yourself to afternoon tea with all the accouterments at 4 p.m. daily.
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What Is The Best Month To Cruise Alaska
The best month to visit Alaska depends on what you hope to experience during your trip.
- Do you want as much sun and daylight as possible? Then book a June or July cruise.
- Would you like to see lots of wildlife? Then purchase a May, August, or September cruise as these months feature young animal families and migrations.
- Do you want to get into the interior and see Denali National Park or the Yukon? Then select July or August.
- Are you chasing bright tree foliage? Then book a cruise at the end of August or in September.
- Would you like to avoid mosquitoes? Then May and September are the best months for your cruise.
- Are northern lights on the itinerary? Then your trip will be in September or October. Would you like to fish for salmon? Then select any summer or shoulder month.
The good news is that no matter which month you choose, your Alaskan cruise will reward you with incredible experiences and memories that last a lifetime.
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.
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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 mid-May.
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.
Alaska Cruise In October
Alaska Weather in October: Alaska’s October temperatures aren’t the coldest of the year, but you should expect a chill in the air. Temperatures in Southeast Alaska, where most October itineraries will sail, are similar to late April and May. Expect highs in the 40s and possibly 50s, with lows in the 30s. , so prepare for low clouds and rain.
Alaska Cruise Prices in October: Depending on your cruise style, prices will range widely, though than summer months for cruising to Alaska. A 7-night cruise averages around $1,000 without inclusions or extras.
Hours of Daylight in Alaska in October: You can expect an average of 10 to 11 hours of daylight in Southeast Alaska during October, though that will vary depending on how far north you travel. Later in the year, the majority of the day passes in darkness.
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Devil’s Club Brewing Company
Devil’s Club Brewing Company is a brewery and restaurant. Their story is an interesting one, with three Juneau boys who wanted to create a successful brewery in Juneau. So they did! All three boys have a rich history of brewing.
We enjoyed visiting this friendly spot. We ordered a flight as we normally do at new places. It’s a great way to see what you like.
I loved the Silt Milk Stout and the Couch Beach Belgian Blonde. The food looked good, too.
Address: 100 N Franklin St, Juneau
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Closed Sunday & Monday.