Best And Worst Times 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.
Always Fly Into Port The Night Before
Flying in for your cruise? Then the most important piece of advice is to fly in the day before your ship departs. These days between weather, mechanical issues, and even computer shutdowns, there are way too many instances of flights getting delayed. Fly in the morning of your trip and a delay could mean you miss the entire cruise. Give yourself peace of mind and fly in the day before. A number of Seattle hotels offer shuttles to the port, making them convenient for those flying into the area.
See Bald Eagles On The Chilkat River
The Chilkat River near Haines is thought to be the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world. They flock to these warmer waters to feed on salmon while tourists, of course, flock to them. There are a number of kayak, jet boat, and rafting tours of this area. You’re almost guaranteed to see the majestic birds and you’re likely to come by moose and other wildlife, too.
Don’t Miss: Cruise Ships Leaving Galveston
See Juneau From Above
One of the best things to do in Alaskas capital, Juneau, is a ride on the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway. It offers stunning panoramic views of the city below and the mountains beyond. Additionally, theres also great hiking, Native Alaskan cultural exploration, wildlife viewing and seafood to be enjoyed.
Best Things To Do On An Alaska Cruise
Preparing for a cruise to Alaska can seem a bit overwhelming. Whether selecting a ship or planning your time in port, you dont want to miss out on all of the outdoor and cultural activities Alaska has to offer.
Its best to research what activities fit within your interest, fitness level, and budget. Some passengers may want to view as much wildlife as possible whereas others may be looking to learn more about Alaskas history and culture.
Heres a look at some of the best things to do on an Alaskan cruise.
Recommended Reading: Working On A Cruise Ship Requirements
Dog Sledding Or Helicopter Flightseeing
Most folks identify Alaska with dog sledding. But since dog sledding is a winter activity, cruise ship visitors in the early days never had a chance to experience it. That all changed when helicopters became readily available to travelers. On this wildly popular tour with TEMSCO Helicopters, you’ll fly over the Denver Glacier by helicopter, then land there to visit a dog camp. You can take a ride on the sled and even learn the basics so that you can take the reins yourself. Definitely an unforgettable experience!
Advantages Of Visiting Alaska In August
- Warm weather, with temperatures between 45-65 degrees and 18 hours of daylight.
- Abundant fishing opportunities, as halibut, northern pike, rainbow trout, and salmon are all in season.
- Numerous cruise and land tour packages on offer, giving you access to the breathtaking fall foliage of the Last Frontier.
- As for wildlife, August is peak migration season for songbirds and youll see numerous caribou, bears, beavers, orca, and loons on your adventure.
You May Like: Best Cruise Lines For Greek Islands
Shore Excursions Will Be Costly But Worth It
What gives many cruisers sticker shock are the costs of the shore excursions. Part of the experience is getting to do and see all that Alaska has to offer. Why go all that way and not walk on top of a glacier or take a trip down the historic White Pass Rail? These popular excursions easily run $100+ per port of call, often times up to $300-$500 a person. Do know your budget for the entire vacation and then pick your tours and excursions wisely.
Sail On A Ship With Lots Of Indoor Things To Do
So much of taking an Alaskan cruise is about the scenery, but you cant spend all your hours outside watching nature go by. Thats why its a good idea to book a ship that has a lot of indoor activities and things to do. Given that the weather in Alaska can be rainy and cool, indoor things to do give you a chance to have fun while also staying out of the weather. In general you can find a lot more to do on the bigger and newer ships say those built in the past 10 years.
Recommended Reading: How Much Does A Cruise Cost Per Person
Payouts In The Casino Arent That Great
During your trip there will be plenty of time to try your luck in the ships casino. Now it doesnt take a genius to know that any time you gamble the edge always goes to the house. On a cruise ship that edge is even larger. Payouts are notoriously low on the ships, including blackjack that pays 6-to-5, and video poker with low returns. If you still want to gamble theres nothing wrong with that, but just know that the chips are stacked against you.
Book A Ship With Somewhere Warm To Swim
Sure any cruise ship you select is going to have hot tubs for passengers. But we suggest looking for those that have a solarium or other covered spots with pools. Only a few ships have them, but covered pools are a great spot to be able to relax and swim while staying out of the chilly air that can accompany a cruise to Alaska.
Recommended Reading: Cruises Leaving From South Carolina
Learn About Tlingit Culture At Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center
The Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center is maintained and operated by the National Park Service, and includes a small museum, a theater, and rotating demonstrations by local artisans.
I recommend that you begin your visit to the center in the theater, and watch the short film, The Voices of Sitka. The 12-minute film tells the story of the city through the lens of Sitkans of the past and present.
After the film, venture across the hall to the Exhibits Hall, a small museum displaying Tlingit cultural objects. On display there is a hammer used in the 1804 Battle of Sitka by Katlian, the leader of the Kiks.adi clan.
Next, youll find two demonstration rooms where local artisans demonstrate their craft for visitors. During my visit, one artisan was demonstrating Tlingit beadwork along with her personal collection of regalia. Another, a Tlingit carver, explained how he carves and paints totems and ceremonial masks.
Featured artisans appear on a rotating schedule, so check the parks calendar for times and dates.
Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center
The last room houses a display of totems along with interpretive panels. Learn how the Tlingit traditionally made and stored the pigments used to decorate the totems in vibrant red, turquoise and black, and what methods conservators currently use to restore and protect the totems.
Best Things To Do In Sitka Alaska On A Cruise
Disclaimer: I may receive a small commission when you make a purchase from a link on this site, at no added charge to you. For more info, please read my Disclosure Policy.
Does your Alaska cruise include a stop in Sitka? Make the most of your day in port by experiencing some of the best things to do in Sitka, Alaska in one day. Some of these sights and activities may be included in a Sitka shore excursion offered on your cruise ship, but you can easily see many of them on your own by walking from downtown.
Located on the Alaska Panhandle, Sitka is a popular port of call for cruise ships. In fact, you can only reach Sitka by sea or air theres no road access to the city.
Most cruise ships arrive at Old Sitka Dock, and you can take the free shuttle from the cruise port to Harrigan Centennial Hall, located right downtown. Other ships, especially on a busy day, may drop anchor in Crescent Harbor and tender passengers ashore.
Many Alaska cruise itineraries feature Sitka as a port of call, and some small-ship cruise lines offer cruises that begin or end in Sitka.
Fun Sitka Fact: Sitka is the largest city in the US. If you think about the largest cities in the US, Im sure Sitka, Alaska doesnt come to mind. With a population of just under 9000, most people would never guess that Sitka is the largest city in the United States! By land area, that is. Sitkas 2870 square miles makes a sprawling city like Los Angeles look tiny in comparison.
Also Check: Cruise Lines That Leave Out Of New Orleans
Go Sea Kayaking Around Sitka Harbor
guided kayak tour
Sea kayaking may sound a little too adventurous, but this sea kayaking tour from Sitkas cruise port doesnt go out in the open ocean! Instead, youll paddle around the protected bay and into small inlets, while taking in Sitkas natural beauty.
You dont need any kayaking experience to participate in the tour. Guides demonstrate the proper techniques, and groups are usually of mixed abilities.
Kids are welcome to kayak, but they need to weigh at least 40 pounds to fit into the required life jackets, and kids 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Teens are required to have a signed consent form if they want to join a tour without a parent.
Cruisers meet right at the cruise port dock, and board semi-rigid skiffs to reach the floating base camp. Theres lots to see on the way, and the Captain points out interesting sights as well as any whales or other marine creatures that come into view.
At the base camp, youll learn how to safely maneuver your tandem kayak, and youll suit up in the provided rain gear and personal flotation device. Kayakers then split into groups of no more than six, and glide across the water to follow their guide.
During the 90 minutes of kayaking, you may have the chance to see some of the wildlife that Sitka is famous for, including black-tailed deer and brown bears by the shores, harbor seals in the bay, and bald eagles gliding overhead.
What To Do In Ketchikan
Like I said before, the town itself wont offer you more than about an hours worth of shopping. But outside of the town are a TON of things to do.
We decided to see Alaska and head out on a hike.
We decided to be adventurous and go on the Deer Mountain Trail. Its known for its gorgeous scenery and views and it did NOT disappoint. I will warn you though, the first mile is straight up. Its like climbing stairs for an hour straight.
Now, Im like in mediocre shape and I was able to do it just fine but you will most certainly need a good pair of hiking shoes for this trail. I personally recommend this pair because they are comfy, affordable, waterproof ,and cute!
If you can make it to the top you will be greeted with the BEST views. Check out some photos from our hike
You May Like: Port Liberty Nj Parking
More On Cruising From Seattle
Getting to the Port of Seattle Transportation options from airports and the Seattle area to the cruise port. Everything you need to know to get to the port and start your vacation.
Seattle Cruise Parking Parking at the port? Weve got you covered with all your parking options, including costs and discounts.
Dropping Off at the Port Dropping off passengers? Not sure where to go once you get to the port? We have turn-by-turn directions to find your cruise terminal.
Seattle Cruise Hotels Getting in late? Leaving early? Simply need a place to rest your head? Weve rounded up the options for places to stay near the port.
Dont Forget To Pack Binoculars
One thing thats very different from a Caribbean cruise is the scenery on an Alaskan trip. Thats why its always a good idea to pack a pair of binoculars to take in the sites from both the ship and the shore during ports of call. The good news is that a pair of binoculars doesnt have to be big or expensive. You can that wont take up a ton of space in your luggage.
Also Check: Alaska Cruise Terminal Seattle
Us Bill Allowing Alaska Cruises To Resume While Bypassing Canada Signed Into Law
- Copy article linkCopy link
The measure pushed by members of Alaskas Republican congressional delegation will allow large cruise ships to sail directly from Washington state to Alaska without stopping in Canada. It is intended as a temporary workaround of a longstanding federal law that requires certain large cruise ships bound for Alaska to stop in Canada or start trips there.
Canada, amid COVID-19 concerns, has barred cruise operations through February.
Global News has reached out to Canadas economic development ministry as well as Transport Canada for comment, but did not immediately hear back on the holiday Monday.
British Columbias port authorities have raised concerns the U.S. law could set the stage for a permanent bypassing of Canadian ports.
The provinces tourism ministry told Global News on Monday that the bill makes clear it will be automatically rescinded when Canadian ports are reopened to cruise ships.
Premier John Horgan is set to meet with Alaskan senators on Tuesday to discuss this matter and other issues, the ministry added.
The province will continue to support and defend B.C.s tourism industry and all the people, businesses and communities who depend on it, a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
With files from Global News and the Canadian Press
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.
Don’t Miss: Mediterranean Cruise Costs
Experience Denali National Park
Due to its location quite north of the coast, a visit to Alaskas most popular attraction, Denali National Park, isnt included in your standard cruise itinerary. But a once-in-a-lifetime trip still warrants a visit to one of the countrys most awe-inspiring National Parks, so if you can, schedule your flight a little earlier or later than your cruise departure/arrival and check out the park on your own. Princess Cruises also offers a two-week cruise tour itinerary, where one week of your trip is spent traveling by motorcoach to Denali State and National Parks . Additional excursions and outdoor adventures are offered each day to make sure you make the most of the parks unique desert tundra.
Learn About Sitkas History At Baranof Castle Hill
Baranof Castle Hill
Although the castle itself was destroyed by fire in 1894, a visit to the top of Baranof Castle Hill is a must if youre a history buff. Even if youre not very interested in history, the view of Sitka Sound and the surrounding mountains from the top of the hill is one of the best in town.
Situated on a rocky outcrop above downtown, Baranof Castle Hill is maintained by the Alaska state park system. Its accessible by a mobility-device-friendly paved trail.
What is now known as Castle Hill was originally occupied by Tlingit families. When the hills namesake, Alexander Baranov arrived in Sitka in 1795, he wanted to establish a trading post there. The Tlingit soon rallied to take back their home. But after the six-day Battle of Sitka, the Russians took control of the city.
The Russians destroyed the Tlingit houses on the hill and built various structures on its summit, including Baranof Castle, the governors residence.
After the Alaska Purchase in 1867, the ceremony to transfer Russian Alaska to the US took place on Castle Hill.
When Alaska became the 49th state in 1959, a secret ceremony was held on Castle Hill to raise the first 49-star flag in the new state.
In the 1960s, the site became a National Historic Landmark and was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
A stone parapet was built on the hill, and today it features interpretive panels, six Russian cannons, and a flagpole.
Saturday 25th of January 2020
Recommended Reading: Things To Do In Grand Turk Carnival Cruise