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.
You Can Expect A Dizzying Amount Of On
Although big-name cruise liners steadily complete for the best never before seen at sea attractions , little beats the action taking place outside your balcony think idyllic coves and bays, forest-clad islands, ice-carved fjords, tidewater glaciers, soaring mountains, and wild maritime encounters. However, given that cruising Alaska involves spending many, many hours at sea, its crucial that the on-board activities are a memorable part of your experience. Of equal importance is the dining, which always includes a buffet-style breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the duration . Much of the cuisine will be local Alaskan fare, so you may well end up trying five types of salmon , buckets of crab legs served with melted butter, seafood chowder, fresh-off-the-boat oysters, caribou steak, bison burgers, and sourdough . Equally noteworthy are the fancy add-ons such as spas, gyms, waterparks, kids zones, and coffee shops .
For Couple Romance In The Intimate Ships
If youre a couple, head to the top-rated luxury cruise lines for huge apartments, gourmet cuisine, massages , and the chance to socialize with other travelers. In addition, anyone celebrating a special occasion, such as a big birthday, an anniversary, or retirement, may benefit from luxury cruises personalized attention and all-inclusive nature. A marine biologist could be onboard.
Consider Seabourn, Oceania, Scenic, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Viking Ocean, and Windstar Cruises. Silversea , also sails two expedition cruises, Silver Explorer and Silver Cloud that have a popular route that gets you off the beaten track.
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Where Does The Ship Depart From
The three main departure points for Alaskan cruises are Seattle and Vancouver in the south and Anchorage in the north. Seattle is popular with cruisers from the US as they dont need to go through immigration and can often get cheap flights. But you end up travelling through a large section of open sea which can be rough, some short trips miss out the Inside Passage and ships have to make a compulsory stop in Canada so theres less time in Alaska.
Vancouvers Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal
Vancouver is the most popular departure point for Alaska cruises so youll have the biggest choice of cruise lines, itineraries and departures. If youre travelling internationally there are plenty of flights, and routes mostly travel through the Inside Passage with more to see.
Most departures from Anchorage actually leave from the ports of Seward or Whittier rather than Anchorage itself. So you need to allow time to get to the ship from the airport. Its 60 miles to Whittier and 125 miles to Seward so will take at least a couple of hours, but its probably safer to stay overnight, especially if youre flying internationally. Theres some beautiful scenery along the way though, and one bonus is you can get there via the Alaska Railroad.
Sailing out of Vancouver
Which Month To Choose
To pick the right time of year to cruise for you, you will have to weigh cruise costs, weather, and what you are most interested in seeing. Alaska cruise prices are lowest in May or September. The least amount of rain is typically in May or early June. June, July and August offer the warmest temperatures and some of the most active wildlife spotting opportunities.
- Best value: May or September
- Best time for whale watching: June or July
- Best time for bears, moose and other animals: August
The bottom line is a cruise to Alaska is rarely disappointing. Regardless of which month you choose, Alaska is a fantastic place to explore and each month provides some intriguing benefits.
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Looking For Extended Voyages
If youre looking for an extended voyage, consider one of the cruises that sail to Anchorage or even further up into the Inside Passagethese can be as long as fourteen nights! And if you want to see everything Alaska offers, including glaciers and wildlife, try an expedition cruise.
The largest ships in Alaska are typically found on these routes and most major cruise lines like Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Disney. So if youre looking for a luxurious experience with all the bells and whistles, these might be the best option for youbut they come at a premium price tag.
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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Denali And Talkeetna Wilderness Rail Adventure
Do you want to go for an escorted Denali National Park and Talkeetna exploration?
This package takes you from the busy urban life and connects you with nature in your true spirit of adventure.
For seven days, youll travel by bus and first class train and explore the heart of Alaskas most impressive wilderness.
And if you like, you can complement this land our package with an adventure cruise, especially if you want to explore the seas as well.
When you arrive at the Anchorage airport, therell be an escort waiting to take you to your hotel.
Youll meet with your guide and other travelers later in the evening at cheese and wine reception.
Your exploration kicks off the next day where you hop the rails to Talkeetna.
To make the tour adventurous, your guide will explain some of the most interesting sights and points of interest.
Theres a short lunch break at the Denali Adventure Hub, followed by a guided hike on the Talkeetna Lakes trail.
Spend your third day hiking and kayaking. Go to the low elevations of the trails along crystal clear lakes and learn more about the plants, animals of the mountain, and birds.
You can even go for a 1,500 feet climb to the Denali Mountain. Eat your lunch in the afternoon, and the gear up for a kayak on Lake Byers and then later grab dinner at the hotel.
You spend your fourth day aboard a railcar touring the most exquisite views from the Alaskan Range to the Denali National Park.
Day six is when you start your journey back to Anchorage.
Six Popular Ports Of Call On Alaskan Family Cruises
Alaska is vast and is home to some of the most breathtaking and untouched natural wonders, including volcanoes, glaciers, shorelines, and wildlife. A cruise to Alaska should be considered incomplete if you fail to explore the interior and the ports of call along the route. That said, these are six of the most popular ports of call on Alaskan family cruises:
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Whats The Best Time To See Whales On An Alaska Cruise
Gray whales, humpback whales, orca, beluga whales Alaska has them all. Here are some quick tips to help you increase the odds of seeing whales during your cruise.
- Humpback whales: June and July are the best months for seeing these giants of the deep. Over 500 humpback whales spend summer within the Inside Passage, so select a cruise that passes through this route and visits the Barren Islands.
- Beluga whales: You can spot belugas in Turnagain Arm from mid-July through August, just south of Anchorage. September is also a good month for belugas, as long as your cruise passes Nome.
- Gray Whales: April and May are ideal for gray whales, as they feed around Kodiak, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Seward.
- Orca : The ideal time for orca spotting is between early May and early June when you can find these colorful behemoths feeding in Resurrection Bay and along cruise routes going between Seattle and Alaska.
Best Cruises For Your Alaska Extended Trips
If you want to enjoy Alaskas interior while also seeing some of it, go with a cruise-tour package from Holland America. This cruise offers incredible Alaska itineraries beyond the Inside Passage, reaching Denali National Park, Anchorage, and other areas like the Kenai Peninsula, Yukon, and Talkeetna. In addition, Holland America owns a number of its lodges.
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The Best Time To Take An Alaska Cruise
Want to know when is the best time to go on an Alaska cruise for great weather, low prices, or fewer crowds?
While the short-term future of cruises is still murky at best, eventually cruise ships will be heading back out to Alaska and the beautiful natural scenery to enjoy in Alaska is simply unparalleled.
It is hard to top the majesty beauty of rugged glaciers, plethora of unique animal sightings, or huge mountains. Going on a cruise to Alaska is an extremely popular kind of cruise, because it offers an easy way to see so much in a compact amount of time.
While it is impossible to see and do it all over the course of a one week cruise, Alaska has the power to enchant even brief visitors. So while you are stuck at home, this may be the perfect time to start planning a cruise to The Last Frontier.
Here is your guide for figuring out the best times to visit for your first Alaska cruise.
What Shore Excursions Are Available In Alaska Throughout The Cruise Season
Many of Alaskas most popular activities can be done anytime from May through September, depending on the port of call.
Glacier viewing is an all-cruise-season activity, with many ways to get to the glacier depending on your preference while in different ports. Biking alongside the glacier, or taking a helicopter to land on top of a glacier, is a memorable and spectacular way to begin a glacier hike.
Other popular Alaska shore excursions include sea kayaking, rafting, craft beer tasting in town, attending a salmon bake, visiting museums to learn about Alaskan culture and history, and going on local hikes you can access from town.
For all your Alaska shore excursions, youll want to dress in layers, as the weather can change quickly.
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The Shore Excursions And Experiences Are Like No Other
While the sea experiences are remarkable, the shore excursions are often the highlight for cruisers with an adventurous spirit. For adrenaline junkies, little beats bouncing over turbulent Class IV and V level white-water rapids at the three distinct canyons along Six Mile – or hiking the 8.4-mile-long Harding Icefield Trail through cottonwood, alder forests, and heather-filled meadows. Theres also whale-watching , fishing for trophy-size Chinook salmon along the Kenai River, and feeling the tug of the icy tundra as you hang on for dear life on a dog-sledding tour. For those who want to slow the pace down a bit, take a ride on the Skagway White Pass Railroad and travel along the original route to the 2,865-foot-high White Pass summit, passing Bridal Veil Falls, Inspiration Point, and Dead Horse Gulch – or board the peaceful Scenic River Float Tour to enjoy a smooth ride along the Taiya River. Alternatively, take a scenic flight from Ketchikan to the Misty Fjords National Monument on the Misty Fjord Floatplane – or book a helicopter ride to soar above Alaskas wilderness and take in jaw-droppingly beautiful views of the iconic lakes, glaciers, and mountain peaks.
Choose An Alaska Cruise Line
Just about every line offers sailings to and from the Anchorage area. From big ships to small vessels, luxury sailings and adventure-oriented expeditions, theres something for everyone. Azamara, Cunard, Crystal, Celebrity, Holland America Lines, Norwegian, Ponant, Princess, Regent, Royal Caribbean, Silversea, Windstar and Viking Ocean Cruises all have offerings in this part of Alaska.
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More Tips For The Best Cruise To Alaska
The best Alaskan cruises for seniors is the one that meets your needs. But keep these tips in mind when making up your mind about where and when to cruise in Alaska:
Boomer Travel Tip
Visit our Alaska Travel Planner page before your trip.
Like everything in life, advice for the best cruises to Alaska changes with time. So, if youre an avid Alaskan cruiser, bookmark this page for updates. Better, yet, subscribe to our weekly updates at the bottom of this page.
And sorry if I havent mentioned your favorite Alaska cruise line as I only write from first-hand experience. However the travel tips still apply no matter which Alaska cruise you choose.
Book A Longer Luxury Cruise That Travels To Alaska
Another option is to book a long cruise that crosses the Pacific beginning or ending in Vancouver and ending or beginning in Hong Kong, Singapore or other Asian ports. These itineraries offer the best of Alaska cruising combined with off-the-beaten-path ports like Dutch Harbor and beyond into Asia.
When Alan and I cruised from Vancouver to Singapore on a fall crossing aboard Regent Seven Seas Mariner, the itinerary included typical Alaskan ports combined with Kodiak Island, Sitka and Dutch Harbor. In spring 2018, we cruised on Seabourn Sojourn from Hong Kong to Alaska where we visited Kodiak Island again.
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Youll Guaranteed To See Some Of The Worlds Grandest Glaciers
Alaska’s glaciers are iconic – and theres over 100,000 of these giant bodies or ice and snow scattered throughout the state. Arguably the best of the bunch is Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve – the extraordinary destination in the Inside Passage that spans a whopping 3.3-millions-acres . The icy thrills here come fast and furious, with big-name tidewater superstars such as Margerie, Muir, Johns Hopkins, McBride, and Grand Pacific grabbing centre stage. As you might expect, the National Park Service take their role in managing this legacy very seriously – only a limited number of permits are issued each year for cruise ships who meet the strict criteria. Further geological marvels include Prince William Sound for its high concentration of sparkling glaciers and deeply-carved fjords, Worthington Glacier for its reputation as the snowiest place in the entire state, and Ruth Glacier for its wonderfully deep gorge . Equally visit-worthy is Exit Glacier – the Kenai Peninsula celebrity that has loomed large in the public consciousness ever since Barack Obama declared it as good of a signpost of what we’re dealing with when it comes to climate change as just about anything.
Best Cruises For Extended Trips To Alaska
If you want to cruise Alaska but also see some of the interior and enjoy a stay in a lodge or hotel, go for a cruise-tour package from either Holland America or Princess Cruises. Both have fantastic itineraries that take passengers not only to the Inside Passage, but also Anchorage, Denali National Park, the Yukon, Kenai Peninsula, Talkeetna and Fairbanks. Princess even owns a handful of its own lodges.
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Best Alaska Cruise And Land Tour Packages
Located in the northwest extremity of North America, Alaska teems up with recreational and frivolous regions for tours and travel.
With the best Alaska cruise and land tour packages, you can explore some, if not all, of the most exotic places in the region and get the best of both worlds.
Besides touring big cities such as Fairbanks and Anchorage, an Alaska cruise and land packages give you the opportunity to go rafting,
explore pioneer towns, hike the Denali National park, and even see the highest peak of North America.
Alaska cruise and land tour package varies depending on the travel agency, so its important to do further research upfront to know what youre getting for your money.
Here, we look at some of the top package options that might be worth your consideration.
The Best Months For An Alaska Cruise For Low Prices
Alaska is not a cheap cruise, but if you want to save money on your cruise fare, then your best bet is May or September.
For the same reasons May and September feature lower crowds, these months see most often the lowest prices for a cruise because of the combination of colder temperatures and the school calendar.
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Best Alaska Cruise Itineraries
Big ships and smaller luxury cruise lines tend to follow similar cruise itineraries.
Alaska Inside Passage cruises sail roundtrip from Seattle or Vancouver, perhaps with a stop in Victoria, B.C., and explore Southeast Alaska, never reaching Anchorage. They call at the big, tourist-focused Inside Passage ports.
One-way cruises travel between Vancouver and Whittier or Seward in Alaska. These cruises typically visit several Inside Passage ports, but swap Victoria for a more northern Alaska stop, such as Sitka. They take cruisers through the Gulf of Alaska to Southcentral Alaska, close to Anchorage.
The best Alaska cruise itinerary for you depends on what you want to prioritize for your vacation. The benefit of a roundtrip cruise is easier and cheaper airlift to the departure ports. You wont have to bother with one-way flights and the longer transit time to/from Anchorage. A one-way sailing is best for cruisers who want to tack on extra vacation time on land to visit Denali National Park or the Kenai Peninsula.
To assist with the latter, most cruise lines offer cruise tours, which combine a three- to seven-night bus tour through Alaska with a weeklong cruise. These options are ideal for travelers who want their entire itinerary planned out for them, rather than booking their own lodging, transportation, and activities pre- or post-cruise.