Haines Best Weather And Kayaking
Haines doesnt have a lot of cruise ships that call in its port, but it does have some. You can also visit Haines by taking a shore excursion when your ship calls in nearby Skagway. However you get there, Haines is worth a visit for plenty of reasons.
In addition to the scenery that every Alaska town has on offer, Haines is positioned to have the best weather in Southeast Alaska, making it ideal for outdoor activities like kayaking! When I say best weather I mean less rain than most other ports but it doesnt have the wind that Skagway has. In any part of Southeast Alaska you need to be ready for rain, any day, all year, but Haines gives you a better chance of a dry day than most.
Kayaking is unique in Haines because you can take a tour for sea kayaking or you can kayak in Chilkoot Lake, giving options for every preference and every skill level in a kayak. This is a wonderful place to try kayaking for the first time!
Misty Fjord Floatplane With Landing
With huge granite cliffs rising straight up from the sea and the sheer beauty of the area, Misty Fjords offers a unique Alaskan flightseeing experiencevery different from other Inside Passage areas like Juneau or even a Denali flightseeing tour. This is a great chance for a truly Alaskan experience: to ride in a floatplane and land on a pristine wilderness lake.
Begin with an aerial overview of Misty Fjords National Monument and those granite cliffs. Just beyond is a series of small, remote mountain lakes that would be next to impossible to reach on foot. Your pilot picks out one of the lakes, lands the floatplane, and turns off the engine. You can step out on the pontoon, breathe in the fresh air and listen to the silence.
What Excursions Do You Want To Do
Each cruise port has a range of different excursions available at an extra cost. Some of the more common ones like floatplane sightseeing, bear-watching, whale-watching, dog sledding and fishing you can do in multiple places, but others are only available in one location.
Its worth doing a bit of research in advance to work out what you want to do as some of the most popular excursions book up fast, especially in peak season. So if theres something you particularly want to do then its a good idea to reserve a spot when you book your cruise. The pros of official cruise line excursions is that youre usually allowed off the ship first and itll wait if there are delays, but they can be pricey and sometimes have big group sizes.
Float plane in Juneau
You can also book excursions independently, either through companies like Get Your Guide or Viator, or directly with local operators. There are usually tour desks lined up at cruise ports too where you can book something last-minute too if you dont want to book ahead we did a last-minute trip to the Mendenhall Glacier from Juneau when we knew itd be a sunny day. Make sure you allow plenty of time though as the ship wont wait if youre late back.
An excursion to the Mendenhall Glacier
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What Makes The Perfect Alaska Cruise Itinerary
While theres no such thing as a one-size-fits-all Alaska cruise, newbies and seasoned pros will always be guaranteed cinematic scenery, out-of-the-ordinary ports of call, and oceangoing adventures of epic proportions. Little wonder, then, that its one of the worlds most popular cruise destinations not least because it makes light work of showcasing the very best of Americas 49th state . With this in mind, weve put together a list of reasons why you need to experience the Last Frontier from the water.
When Is The Best Time To Take An Alaskan Cruise
We prefer cruising to Alaska in the fall toward the end of the season. Youll escape insects and crowds on an autumn visit, but shoppers may find that boutiques and gift stores are either closed already or offering limited merchandise.
Spring is another good time for an Alaskan cruise, with the promise of drier weather and fewer crowds . In both fall or springknown as shoulder seasondiscounted fares are a possibility.
Of course if youre traveling on a multi-generation Alaskan cruise, with work and school schedules to accommodate, summer may be your only choice. This is when an UnCruise adventure makes especially good sense for those traveling with tweens and above, since the line skips typical ports in favor of helping you experience wild Alaska.
No matter which line you choose, expect rainier weather on a summer Alaska cruise, especially in July and August.
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Best Modern Cruise: Celebrity
- Ship Name: Celebrity Solstice
- Itinerary: Seattle, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Alaska Inside Passage, Victoria
For an upscale Alaska cruise without the luxury price tag, Celebrity is a fantastic option. The award-winning, Celebrity Solstice is a dignified ship that focuses on modern well-being. Activities include culinary classes, silent discos, and educational lectures. Theres also a half-acre of fresh grass with hot glass demonstrations, private cabanas, and outdoor movies. The ship also has a fabulous fitness center and programs, and the Canyon Ranch Spa situated right next to the Aqua Class cabins. These cabins include access to a health-conscious restaurant as well as the relaxation room and other spa perks. This voyage includes a full day cruising Endicott Arm for fabulous views before concluding in Victoria.
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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Rafting The Mendenhall River
If youre looking to go whitewater rafting in Southeast Alaska, the Mendenhall River rafting trip is your only option. So dont miss out! You start with a float in Mendenhall Lake with a view of the blue-tinged Mendenhall Glacier. The current picks up, and soon youre bouncing through some mild, Class III rapids with ice cold water splashing in your face. The river winds through the forest, and you end the trip floating through a Juneau neighborhood. Watch for real Alaskan wildlife, like a family barbecuing salmon in their backyard!
The Timeline For Cruising Alaska
While the state is beautiful during any season, the best time to cruise Alaska is between May and September. Between these months, there is an average of zero inches of snowfall in Juneau and Anchorage. The days are longer than they are in the winter, and theres usually much more to do. The Anchorage Market, for instance, runs from mid-May to mid-September on the weekends, so no matter which month you choose, a visit may be a part of your cruise itinerary.
May to September also has the safest and calmest water to cruise on, but which of those months is the best time to take an Alaskan cruise? Well break down the pros and cons to help you decide when to experience the great Alaskan wilderness and culture. Some factors to consider include:
- Hours of daylight
- Wildlife sightings
- Potential for crowds
Check out our breakdown of the months between May and September to decide when is the best time to visit Alaska based on what you want to see and do.
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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.
Ride The Alaska Marine Highway
And if youre really looking for off-the-beaten-path Alaska cruisingand dont mind bare bones accommodationsthe Alaska Marine Highway ferry offers a plethora of routes. We combined a 5-night cruise from Haines, Alaska, to Bellingham, Washington, with an Alaska Highway road trip. But you dont have to be driving to enjoy this journey.
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Best Time Of Year For Your Alaska Cruise
There are a lot of variables to consider when selecting the best time to take an Alaskan Cruise.
First off, the price. If you choose your Alaska cruise in July, know that it is the busy season and will be more expensive. Attractions will also be more crowded if you choose your Alaska cruise during the high season.
Secondly, the weather. While the shoulder seasons of early spring to late fall will offer the most affordable prices, the weather will undoubtedly be chillier.
If you refer to my Alaskan cruise packing list and suggestions, you will not have to worry about the weather!
Thirdly, your family and friends traveling with you will probably need to arrange time off work, and this is certainly a huge consideration in the early planning stages of an Alaskan cruise.
What is most important is that everyone is able to accompany you on your dream Alaskan cruise, so giving credence to others schedules is of paramount importance!
So Whens The Best Time To Cruise Alaska
May to September marks the best of Alaska cruise season, with the fall and winter being a bit too unpredictable. But of those months, which is the best time for an Alaska cruise? Thats difficult to say because every traveler is unique. If we had to pick just one month, wed lean toward June for its low rainfall and abundance of daylight hours, but you cant go wrong any time during cruise season. When you decide on what month to take your Alaskan cruise, be sure to think about factors such as the following.
Consider what you and any travel partners want to experience and any other needs you have before you book. Are you prone to seasickness? Do you need optimal conditions to get some sleep and prepare for the next day? If you cant decide on one month or dont have any particular concerns, you can always make multiple trips to experience all that Alaska has to offer!
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The 6 Most Important Factors To Consider When Choosing The Perfect Alaska Cruise
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INSIDER SECRET: Youll want to choose your cruise line carefully. Some cruise lines, like Carnival, cater to families and budget travelers, while others, like Celebrity, are known for offering a more luxury experience.
If you have looked into or taken an Alaskan cruise before, you know how confusing it can be to choose the right cruise itinerary. There are many different ports of call, none of which you have likely heard of before, tons of scenic cruising days , plus one-way or round-trip options.
Its overwhelming, to say the least. Alaskan cruises offer some of the largest variety from week to week and ship to ship compared to any other cruising region in the world.
But there are good reasons to have so many options. Once you know what differences to look for, you can find the right itinerary for that perfect Alaskan cruise.
Skagway: Best Of Skagway
- Who Offers This Excursion? As mentioned, this excursion is offered by many of the cruise companies. The Best of Skagway tour is offered by Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, and Royal Caribbean.
- Find 9 other excursion options on my guide to the best Skagway cruise excursions.
In my opinion, there is just too much to choose from in Skagway. Thats why I consider a city tour to be the best Skagway cruise excursion, like the top Alaska cruise excursion that I recommended in Seattle.
The Best of Skagway tour shows you the best parts of this small Alaskan community. Its offered by many of the cruise companies that make port stops in Skagway. On this 6.5-hour tour, youll have three incredible experiences and three that are totally unique to Skagway .
First, youll board and ride the White Pass and Yukon Route, a narrow-gauge railroad that ascends the White Pass for epic views and scenery. Next, most tours disembark at the Liarsville Gold Rush Trail Camp and Salmon Bake for a bawdy historic reenactment about Skagways history and a meal of fresh Alaska salmon. Finally, some tours add on a saloon stop at Red Onion Saloon you can raise a glass in camaraderie with the legions of intrepid gold miners who passed through Skagway over the centuries.
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Sitka: Sea Otters Raptors & Bears Oh My
- Who Offers This Excursion? This Sitka cruise excursion is offered by almost everyone: Carnival, Celebrity, Disney, Holland America, Princess, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, and Royal Caribbean, oh my!
- Find 8 other excursion options on my guide to the best Sitka cruise excursions.
While youll be trying to spot wildlife throughout your Alaska cruise, I thought it was important to include a diversity of excursions on this list. This excursion is arguably one of the best chances to see wildlife and sea life in any cruise port!
This wildlife-focused day cruise is offered the sister company of Alaskan Dream Cruises . Ive read the book of their family company history and I know theyve perfected this tour over decades of service. Its the excursion with the best boats, the best experience, and the best chance to see wildlife. Need I say more?
The Best Cruises In Alaska
Cruise lines are in the business of giving their guests a good time, so they’ve all got something going for them. Here are our picks for Alaska’s best, in a few different categories.
- The Best Ships for Luxury: Luxury in Alaska is defined in 2012 by Regent Seven Seas and Silversea. If you want a more casual kind of luxury , the Seven Seas Navigator offers just that on an all-suite vessel with excellent cuisine. Silversea, on the other hand, represents a slick, Italian-influenced, slightly more formal luxury experience with all the perks — big suite cabins and excellent food, linens, service, and companions. Both Regent and Silversea include fine wine and booze in their cruise fares. For the ultimate Alaska experience in a small-ship setting, check out the intimate offerings of American Safari Cruises, where soft adventure comes with upscale accouterments.
- The Best of the Mainstream Ships: Every line’s most recent ships are beautiful, but Celebrity’s Infinity is a true stunner, as is its sister ship, Millennium. These modern vessels, with their extensive art collections, cushy public rooms, and expanded spa areas, give Celebrity a formidable presence in Alaska. And the late-model Sapphire Princess and Diamond Princess have raised the art of building big ships to new heights. Both of these vessels will again be in Inside Passage service this year from Vancouver.
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Best Alaska Cruise For Families
If youre cruising with grandkids, a luxury cruise is definitely going to strain the budget. Based upon recommendations from friends and family, Princess or Holland America are good choices for multigenerational Alaska cruises.
Disney has also started sailing in Alaska, which makes an excellent option if youre cruising with very small children. Of course active teens will appreciate the adventure of an UnCruise experience.