One of the best ways to see the beauty of Alaska is by taking a cruise along the rugged coastline of our northernmost state. You’ll be able to explore tall mountains, ancient forests, stunning fjords, and awe-inspiring glaciers and return home with memories to last a lifetime.
Alaskan cruise season runs from May through September. The best time to go on a cruise to Alaska depends on your budget and personal travel preferences.
If saving money is a priority, book your cruise during the shoulder months of May and September. Many cruise lines offer discounts during these months, particularly in September. An advantage of cruising during the shoulder season is that both ships and the tourist attractions are less crowded. However, May and September have much cooler weather,and September is likely to be rainy.
In spite of the cooler weather, every month has something special to offer. Those visiting Alaska in May will be able to see the brilliant wildflowers in bloom. As the leaves on many of the trees begin to change color around Labor Day, those traveling in September will be rewarded with amazing fall foliage, while those traveling at the very end of September may be able to catch a glimpse of the magical Northern Lights.
If good weather is a priority, you should book your cruise for late June to mid-August, when the days are warmest, and there are the most hours of sunlight. This is also the height of the salmon run, which means the best bear watching. Whale watching is also best during this time. However, this is also the peak of the cruise season, so cruise prices will be higher and availability could be limited.
Cruise lines that sail to Alaska include Carnival, Norwegian, Princess, Celebrity, Holland America, and Royal Caribbean.
Even during the summer, Alaska can have a range of temperatures. From May to September, temperatures range from 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. During the nights, the temperature can dip down into the 30s. Windy and rainy weather conditions are possible throughout the summer, and the temperature on deck will feel cool at times. Come prepared for the variations in weather and temperature by packing clothing you can layer, as well as a jacket. A waterproof jacket and hat are recommended.