When Is The Best Time To Visit Alaska
The largest of the United States of America, Alaska is also arguably the most beautiful.
Its diverse regions experience a range of seasons, weather, and other natural phenomena that make it an unforgettable place to vacation for the entire family.
There is no simple, straightforward answer to the question of the best time to visit Alaska, as it very much depends on what you want to experience and where in this large state you want to go.
Lets take a look at some of the factors that might be decisive for your family, depending on your preferences. That way, you can make the best choice for your Alaskan adventure.
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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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
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Alaska Cruises: The Ultimate Guide For An Unforgettable Alaskan Cruise
As one of the most beautiful places in the world, Alaska offers a perfect escape into the Last Frontier. With most of the noteworthy destinations being ruggedly remote, the best way to traverse the landscape is through Alaska cruises.
Through this form of travel, visitors can enjoy cruises to Alaska do not need to sacrifice luxury and comfort while cruising on their ship. Eager cruisers will enjoy the Alaska cruise deals offered throughout the year by various travel agents and cruise lines.
So make sure to grab one of my free cruise planners and get comfortable, because we are going to dive into all the things you need to know about Alaska cruises!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means Ill receive a commission if you purchase through my link, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure here.
The Best Time Of Year To Take A Cruise From Seattle To Alaska
The morning fog peels back from the waters surface, exposing jagged peaks as the sun turns the steel-grey water of the Inside Passage sapphire blue. A cruise from Seattle to Alaska through the inside passage follows the same routes whales travel in spring and fall, taking you to the foot of towering glaciers and into what many call The Last Frontier. Within the short season extending from May through September the best time to go depends on your travel style.
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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.
Summer Cruises To Alaska
The summer cruise season in Alaska runs from early May-late September, with peak popularity between June and August. These summer months feature the most Alaska cruise options from West Coast ports for visitors, and thats a great thing as cruise choices include numerous routes, schedules and itineraries, sizes of vessel, cruise lines, on-ship amenities, with a wide range of price points.
Cruise ship coming to port HAL Collection
Summer is also the best time to choose an Alaska cruise because of all of the on-shore adventures and Alaska shore excursionsthat help fulfill your travel companions cravings for off ship activities from kayaking to wildlife tours, dogsledding on a glacier to culinary fun. And with all of the comforts onboard and activities onshore, summer cruises to Alaska are perfect fits for all types of travelers, from soloists and couples to groups and families that are small to multigenerational.
Playful sea otter in Alaska
Welcome to Ketchikan!
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Make Reservations From Your Tv
We mentioned earlier how important it is to make reservation for the popular restaurants and attractions. You can go down to Guest Services or call from your cabin phone, but if you want many cruise lines offer the ability to make reservations via the television. Its a bit clunky to be honest, but its great for making a reservation late at night when you dont want to go down to Guest Services in your pajamas.
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How To Choose The Best Time To Cruise To Alaska
Alaska. The land of adventure. The land of rugged beauty. The combination of majestic glaciers, wilderness, mountains and wildlife make it a once-in-a-lifetime vacation of discovery for many.
Although visitors travel to Alaska year-round the Alaska cruise season begins in May and ends in September – creating limited availability. Learn more about when to book your Alaska cruise, and how to choose the best time to visit the 49th state of wonder.
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Best Traditional Cruise: Princess Cruises
Courtesy of Princess Cruises
- Ship Name: Royal Princess
- Itinerary: Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Whittier
Royal Princess is a gorgeous ship that like all Princess cruises focuses on a more traditional experience . As passengers sail through Glacier Bay or the College Fjord they can stroll around the stunning skywalk a glass walkway that overhangs the vessel or relax next to a lovely water fountain in the pool area. In the evenings, passengers catch movies under the stars. The cruise concludes in Whittier, Alaska, where most cruise lines do not visit. Although Whittier is industrial, its ideal for those extending their stay in Alaska on land. The Alaska railroad connects Whittier to Anchorage so travelers can also enjoy a scenic ride to Anchorage and hop on a connecting flight.
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.
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Winter Vacations And Prime Aurora Viewing
The northern lights are visible August 20 through April 20. The best time for a winter aurora vacation is February and March. Its still plenty dark at night, but the days are longer and snow conditions are best for dog sledding, snowmobiling, skiing and other winter activities. The best area to view is near Fairbanks. Here are our recommended northern lights viewing tours.
Weather & Packing For Alaska Travel
Weather in various Alaska destinations is unpredictable and travelers should prepare themselves for a range of conditions, no matter what month you travel. We have developed comprehensive Alaska planning guides for our booked clients, with expertise culled from years of our own living, working, guiding and traveling in Alaska.
Prepare for a range of conditions, no matter what month you travel.
Layers are essential for a comfortable Alaska vacation, using fast-drying wicking materials. A raincoat and rain pants are also must-haves, as is a warm hat and gloves. Many boats and some lodges will provide rubber boots. With a well-packed bag, you can appreciate the opportunities created by varying weather, which in turn creates the cornucopia of landscapes and wildlife that brings travelers to the Last Frontier.
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When To Cruise The Inside Passage
Stretching from Puget Sound in Washington into the Gulf of Alaska, the Inside Passage offers over 500 miles of jaw-dropping scenery teeming with wildlife. Shaped by huge glaciers, this passage is over 100 miles wide in parts, encompassing more than 1000 islands.
Cruise there and you can enjoy everything from towering mountains to deep fjords, remote island visits and, of course, glaciers. This haven for wildlife is a must-do for fans of wildlife spotting and bird watching, plus active cruisers who want to try a variety of outdoors pursuits.
You can spot migrating animals and enjoy blooming wildflowers in the forests during spring. Summer is the main mating season, when you can spot seals lazing on the ice and watch young birds learning to fly. Youll also have the best chance of seeing whales during summer. If you want to go hiking, visit from mid-summer onwards once the terrain has thawed.
Bear in mind the Inside Passage is known for its high rainfall all year and pack accordingly.
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 .
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Recognize That Different Regions Have Different Lead Times
Popular but remote destinations and areas with a limited cruise season such as Alaska, where ships dont sail in wintertime tend to fill up fast. A general rule is the farther away the destination, the further out you should book, because more planning is required, from airfare to hotel reservations.
When booking cruises to Alaska, exotic destinations like the Galapagos Islands or Australia, and some European locations especially in the Mediterranean and Baltic routes that include St. Petersburg plan ahead so you can get your preferred route and cabin location. For example, the starboard cabins with views of the coastline sailing north to Alaska can sell out 15 to 18 months before those on the port side. However, placement may not be as important as getting an outside cabin. According to Chiron, the ship is usually too far out to sea to see the coastline for more than a day, and once in Alaska, theres usually land on both sides of the ship.
For Alaska cruises, we strongly recommend booking at least six to 12 months out, as the cruise season runs only from May to September, says DeLaCruz. And staterooms with balconies are highly desirable for Alaska cruising, so its important to book early to be assured a balcony cabin in your preferred location.
Mainstream And Family Cruise Lines For Alaska Cruises
Just about all the main cruise lines offer sailings to Alaska’s scenic shores.
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Alaska Cruise Guide: Planning Tips And Best Cruise Itineraries
Most people equate cruising with tropical destinations. Why would anyone cruise to chilly, rainy Alaska, where you might be wearing fleece jackets and knit hats and gloves in July?
Look beyond the iffy weather, and youll find many reasons to cruise Alaska. Perhaps youre drawn to the gorgeous scenery, the areas cultural and historic riches, or its abundant wildlife. With a variety of itineraries, cruise ships, destinations, and activities to consider, no two cruises to Alaska will be the same. However, first-timers can easily become overwhelmed choosing the best Alaska cruise itinerary or picking the perfect cruise line or cruise tour.
In our definitive Alaska cruise, well take you through everything you need to know to choose and plan the Alaska cruise vacation of your dreams.
Alaska Cruises In September
Treat yourself to a custom Alaska cruise this fall after the kids go back to school. September in Southeast Alaska is when autumn starts to sink in, and just like any other season in Alaska, there are countless reasons to plan a vacation around this time.
Peak tourist season is over by September, so Alaska will once again be quiet as everyone prepares for another long, white winter, including the wildlife.
Black and brown bears will be stuffing themselves in preparation for winter hibernation and migratory birds will be preparing for a long flight south, while other animals are ready to hang in there for the Alaskan winter.
Bald eagles can be seen flying above or sitting in trees despite the season. Sea otters, sea lions, orcas and Dall porpoise aren’t picky about the weather either.
Alaska experiences some beautiful fall foliage in September, as well. The mountainsides turn beautiful shades of gold and yellow, and the mountains begin to collect snow on their peaks.
As the nights grow darker and longer, there is a very good chance to catch the awe inspiring Aurora Borealis, Alaska’s northern lights. Imagine cruising aboard the Sikumi and looking into the night sky to see dancing curtains and swirls of light.
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Alaska Saltwater Small Group Tours
Small-group whale watching, wildlife, and glacier tours offer daily excursions into the pristine Kenai Fjord National Park
Season:$89+3.5 hrs – Full Day
Resurrection Bay and Kenai Fjords are great places to see wildlife and glaciers. And Major Marines vessels, which have cozy heated cabins and an outdoor viewing area, can take you out to see both. This family-owned tour operator has gone above and beyond to give guests an amazing day on the water since 1990.
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.
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