Alaska Cruise Weather By Month
The following breakdowns of weather by month combines 30 years of weather data for five major Alaska cruise ports from the U.S. National Weather Service.
These historical averages are simply averages and will vary somewhat from year to year and port to port. But they give cruise planners a general idea of what to expect with weather and what clothing to pack.
Best Time Of Year To Take An Alaskan Cruise: Price
Alaska cruise fares fluctuate considerably depending on a few factors. Pricing can range widely depending on the cruise line, ship, itinerary, and time of year.
The Alaskan cruise season generally runs from late April/early May through the end of September. As with most seasonal cruise regions, the shoulder season is when prices tend to be the lowest. For those looking to save money, the best time of year to take an Alaskan cruise would be either early in the season or late in the season. Besides having lower fares, you will have greater choices for cabins and can score the perfect mid-ship balcony at a reduced cost.
If you travel towards the end of the season, you may be able to score some great deals on souvenirs too as many of the local shops run sales to get rid of merchandise before closing for the season. Another perk of sailing in September is that you will have a chance at seeing the Northern Lights. On our September cruise, we were told to be on the lookout for the Northern Lights on two separate nights, but we never did see them.
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When Is The Best Time To Cruise
There is no one-size-fits-all answer for when to sail: It depends on your own personal priorities. Whether youre looking to avoid the rough seas or score a bargain deal, theres a time of year thats best for you. If youre looking for low prices, shoulder season the time between peak and low season is a great option, but it may come with trade-offs like rainy weather or fewer wildlife sightings. Check out our breakdown of the best time to cruise based on destination, weather, and price:
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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 early June.
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.
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 Port Highlights
Ketchikan, Alaska: Creek Street one of the town’s main attractions. Built on pilings over the water, it once was the city’s red light district and now is lined with funky stores and restaurants overlooking canoeists and leaping salmon. Ketchikan is the gateway port for scenic tours of the Tongass National Forest, Misty Fjords, and Totem Bight State Park, as well as fishing trips and crab-feasts. Be prepared: It’s one of the rainiest cities in the U.S and proudly boasts a “rain gauge” on its main cruise dock.
In Alaska’s capital, you can kayak, canoe or hike close to nearby Mendenhall Glacier. In town, the Mount Roberts Tramway takes riders 1,800 feet up for gorgeous views and hiking trails. Or enjoy honky-tonk music and wholesome grub at the raucous Red Dog Saloon. The local culinary scene has been booming of late, and some solid breweries and distilleries are on hand, too.
Skagway, Alaska:Skagway came into being in the last part of the 19th century as the nearest port of entry for stampeders making their way into the Klondike in search of gold. Today, a train ride along the narrow-gauge White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad is a must for cruise passengers. The tracks follow the staggeringly photogenic route the gold-seekers took — on foot — over the pass to the Canadian border. In town, take a Gold Rush history tour, or spend your own gold at the various local shops, breweries and restaurants.
Will A New Variant Cause Issues
However, there now appears a new hurdle is on the horizon. Worries over a new variant Omicron have made headlines in recent weeks. While hard data around the variant is still to come, there are reasons to think it could be more mild than other versions.
But there is also concern that it could bypass vaccines and spread faster. In that case, the protocols put in place by the cruise lines could be challenged even further.
The bedrock of these protocols are vaccinations and testing prior to boarding. Testing helps keep cases off the ship from the start, while vaccinations reduce the likelihood of catching COVID and leads to better outcomes if you do happen to get sick.
But Omicron is showing early signs of reducing the effectiveness of two shots. A third booster shot shows in initial studies to sharply restore protection against getting sick.
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Temperature & Daylight Hours
For the warmest temperatures, cruise between mid-June and mid-August.
For the most Midnight Sun, come 3 weeks before or after the summer solstice and longest day of the year, June 21.
Want to see the northern lights? Thats a long shot during cruising season. It does get dark enough at night to see them by the second week of September, but it’s still not as brilliant as what youll see on a winter, land-based Alaska aurora viewing vacation.
Alaska Cruise Weather In July
The late nights and early mornings can be very cold, but these are also the hours when most people are asleep in their cabins. Travelers cruising to Alaska in July should be sure to pack plenty of layers along with some waterproof outerwear, but they should pack light, removable layers to adjust to the warmer temperatures of the afternoons.
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Which Glacier/s Do You Visit
Most Alaska cruises have at least one day of scenic cruising in their itinerary, when you get up close to a glacier or maybe two or more of them if youre doing a one-way cruise. Normally the ship will spend at least half a day at the glacier, with a commentary from an on-board naturalist to explain what youre seeing. The three main glaciers visited on Alaska cruises are:
Best Time For Alaska Cruises
The Alaska cruise season typically runs from late April to early October, with high season normally falling between June through August. However, the best time to go is rather subjective.
May and September offer cheaper cruise fares and fewer crowds however, due to more unpredictable weather, shore excursions have a greater chance of being canceled than they do in high season — especially boat and helicopter tours. May is one of the driest sailing season months in the Inside Passage region, but you may still find snow on the ground — great for scenic photos, less ideal for hiking.
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Q: What Is The 2022 Alaska Cruise Season And When Is The Best Time To Cruise Alaska
A: Cruises will be available between May through September from a variety of cruise lines, with July 2022 being the most popular time to cruise Alaska and September 2022 being the least crowded time to go. When the best time to take an Alaskan cruise is all depends on what you are looking to see and what weather you are willing to endure – July experiences some of the longest, warmest days of the region in the Arctic but going up to 70 degrees in Denali), giving you the opportunity to potentially experience the Midnight Sun and plenty of wildlife on the other hand, September is much colder but experiences significantly less crowds and is the best time to cruise Alaska to see the Northern Lights.
Advantages Of Visiting Alaska In May
- May is part of the spring shoulder season and sees fewer visitors than later in the year, so you should be able to find better travel deals and lower cruise prices.
- For wildlife spotters, May offers migratory songbirds, pods of gray whales, and herds of moose. Bring a pair of binoculars and you may even catch the occasional wolf or lynx on the prowl.
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Taking An Alaska Cruise In September
Youve now reached the other shoulder!
The kids are back in school and the end of cruise season is near, meaning youve got your best chance to catch a sweet last-minute deal on an Alaska cruise in September. Things will be relatively quiet and cool, and September will often be just as rainy as August.
The nights are longer, days are shorter, and the weather getting colder, but its not all doom and gloom for September! Especially not if youre a moose or caribou, as September is the mating season! You might even catch them in the act right out in the open.
Early autumn is also a great time to spot bears near berry patches and salmon streams. At this time, gray, bowhead, and beluga whales will be migrating back south along the Alaskan coast.
But what brings most people out for an Alaska cruise in September is a chance to spot the Northern Lights. Youll likely need your waterproofs and some heavy layers, but if you are lucky enough to catch a clear night up near Fairbanks, youll give yourself the best chance to catch a glimpse of the aurora. This chance alone is often enough to bring people out for a September cruise.
This monthly break down should give you a better idea of what you can expect during the Alaska cruise season. However, if youd prefer to search in terms of certain attractions, continue reading below.
Alaska Cruise Weather In June
Most of the month of June in Alaska is either cold or pleasantly cool with very cold temperatures being less frequent than in May. The lows can be as low as forty-three degrees Fahrenheit, and the highs can get up to the sixties on average.
Cloud cover and precipitation conditions from May persist throughout June and July, and wind speeds remain low as well. Layers are essential for this type of fluctuating weather, and travelers should be sure to pack waterproof jackets and shoes for rainy moments, cardigans or light sweaters, and other warm clothes like jeans, long skirts, and tights.
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What Is Aurora Borealis
Aurora Borealis are magical bands of neon green light that spontaneously burst and dance in the sky. And there are only a few places on the globe where it can be viewed. Specifically, it occurs within the Northern Lights zone .
The Borealis is composed of solar particles shooting into the magnetic field of the earth and appear more than 60 miles above the earth’s surface. Natives have believed the lights have a mystical force or even marked the appearance of spirits who have passed on.
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.
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What About Waiting For Sales To Book/sail
Now that you know the best time to book a cruise, there is one final thing to mention cruise line sales. You might wondering if they have an impact on the best time to take a trip.
Frankly, cruise lines are similar to clothing stores in that they are always running sales. Sometimes it might be an incentive to book and receive onboard credit, or a sale where additional passengers sail for a discount, or a percentage off the total cruise.
Truth is, there rarely seems to be a difference in what you end up paying for a cruise based on sales. Deals run so often that cruises seem to be in a constant sale. If you are short on cash right now, cruise lines do run deals with lower deposits to book cabins from time to time. However, the overall price that youll pay tends to end up the same.
In other words, if youre looking for the best time to book, then focus on buying earlier and sailing when school is in session. Those factors play a much bigger role than constant sales offered up by cruise lines.
Whats The Best Time To Take An Alaska Cruise
I have taken Alaska cruises during all the major seasons and can promise you that no two are alike, from the weather to the wildlife to the cost of tickets.
Most Alaska cruises run between late April and early September, with peak season in June and July.
Here is what you can expect from each cruising season.
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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.
Best Time Of Year To Take An Alaskan Cruise
If you are planning a cruise to Alaska, you should consider these factors when determining the Best Time of Year to Take an Alaskan cruise.
Alaska is one of the top cruise destinations. For many, visiting Alaska is on their bucket list. While Alaska might not be what you first picture when you think of a cruise, a cruise is actually the easiest way to visit this region. Unlike Caribbean cruises though, Alaska is a seasonal cruise port. So, WHEN you visit the area is important. There are actually several factors to consider when determining the Best Time of Year to Take an Alaskan cruise. The answer to this question is not as clear cut as you might think.
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Benefits Of Alaska Travel In June:
- Longest daylight hours make active wildlife & ample time for exploration
- Denali National Park & other interior parks open
- Popular towns such as Juneau, Sitka, Anchorage & Fairbanks are in full swing
- Opportunities for cruise & land tour combinations begin
- Wildlife is active with opportunities to view young animals
- Melted snow enables higher altitude hikes
Best Time To Buy Your Cruise: As Far In Advance As Possible
When should you buy your cruise? While the lure of last-minute cruise deals tempt people, data actually suggests that its a much better idea to book as far in advance as possible.
This isnt because youll get amazing deals by buying earlier. There is a different benefit to booking early.
Truth is that cruise prices will vary, but tend to hover around the same point, whether the trip departs next month or next year.
But what about last-minute deals?
It seems like basic logic that if a cruise were about to set sail with empty rooms, the company would slash prices to get people on the ship. After all, once a room leaves empty, it earns no money for the cruise line.
However, if every cruise line slashed prices last-minute, people would catch on and wait to book their trip. There would be no reason to book early.
This would be disastrous for the cruise lines, who want you to book as soon as possible. In fact, some lines refuse to drop prices any lower once the cruise gets within a few weeks of departure.
Where you can get burned waiting until last-minute is with cabin selection. If you wait until a couple of weeks before the cruise sails, then youre going to be left with cabins that other passengers didnt want. This usually means there are no or limited balcony rooms, and the locations of available rooms are often less desirable.
In other words, by waiting you can actually see fewer options for cabins and locations on the ship.
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