Best time to go on an Alaska cruise – best price, weather and wildlife

Alaska cruise season is five months long – from May to September.

During these five months, the scenario changes every week.

Every week, one there are noticeable differences in weather, wildlife, and cruise pricing.

Therefore, the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise is rather subjective.

The best time to board an Alaskan cruise depends on whether you’re looking for cheap Alaskan cruise options, or the best wildlife experience, or the maximum daylight to enjoy the scintillating Alaskan views.

To help you pick your best time for an Alaskan cruise we have broken down the conditions to expect in three parts.

Best time for an Alaskan cruise if you are interested in:

  • Best Alaskan cruise prices
  • Best exposure to Alaskan wildlife
  • Best Alaskan weather conditions

Our month-by-month break up of what to expect during an Alaskan cruise will help you take an informed decision.

If you are in a hurry to know what’s the best time for a cruise to Alaska, here is our short answer: Any month is a good month to be on an Alaskan cruise.

However, the locals of Alaska, and those who are part of the Alaskan tourism industry suggest the most favorable time for an Alaskan cruise is between 20 May to 10 June.

This period offers the most beautiful Alaskan weather for a cruise. Besides, there is less crowd as the kids are still in school.

Note: Whatever time of the year you choose for your Alaskan cruise, please pack in a lot, for weather is unpredictable. Layered clothing is a must for you can experience heat, dampness, cold or extreme winds even during a 3-day long Alaska cruise.

For a more detailed answer to the question ‘What is the best time for an Alaskan cruise’ continue reading.

Alaska cruise in May

Princess Cruises and Holland America are the two cruise lines which send out the maximum number of Alaska cruises. However, every major cruise line has at least one ship going to Alaska each summer. Image:

Cost of Alaska cruise in May

By mid-May, the temperature has started to go up and the Alaskan cruises are ready to hit the waters.

These first trips to Alaska are also known as the off-season trips and hence the cruise prices are 20% lesser.

If you are lucky, you may be able to find Alaska cruises for as less as $100 per day.

Even though this is the shoulder season don’t bet on last minute booking because even in May the tickets get sold out soon.

Weather for Alaska cruise in May

May is the driest month of Alaska’s cruise season. If you book your Alaska cruise in May you have 25% less chance of encountering rain.

The temperature ranges between a high of 12 degree Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit) and a low of 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit).

Wildlife viewing during Alaska cruise in May

Since the trees aren’t in full bloom and the vegetation is low, Spring is a great time to view wildlife. The lack of greenery ensures high visibility of wildlife.

You will also be able to see Dall sheep, mountain goats, and black bears as you pass by your cruise.

If you love watching birds, this is a nice time – for the migratory songbirds and seabirds start to gather at southcentral nesting colonies.

Alaska cruise in June

If you are an adventure seeker who loves an up-close experience with nature and wildlife, we recommend expedition cruises such as Alaskan Dream Cruises, Lindblad Expeditions, and UnCruise Adventures. Image:

Cost of Alaska cruise in June

The early weeks of June is the period when the crowd is yet to come in hordes.

However, the peaceful Alaska cruise during this period will cost you as much as the peak season.

The cost of a 7-day cruise during this period ranges from $800 to $900 per person. That is, approximately $115 to $125 per person per day.

Weather during Alaska cruise in June

June brings with it long daylight hours, which means you have more to see.

Temperatures during your Alaska cruise in June will range from a high of 16.5 degrees Celsius (62 degrees Fahrenheit) to a low of 8.5 degree Celsius (47 degrees Fahrenheit).

The rainfall has just started increasing and hence is much lesser than rest of the summer months.

If you want the weather during your Alaska cruise to be just perfect, plan your cruise in June.

Wildlife viewing during Alaska cruise in June

One of the highlights of an Alaskan cruise in June is the possibility of witnessing a Moose giving birth to a calf.

June is also the best month to see herds of caribou if you are lucky.

To increase your chances of seeing a herd of Caribou you can book a float trip down one of the rivers in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Fairbanks.

If you are interested in birds, June offers a chance to see not-so-common birds such as Asian accidentals etc.

Alaska cruise in July

Expedition cruises such as UnCruise Adventures, Lindblad Expeditions, and Alaskan Dream Cruises are your best bet if you want to see Alaskan wildlife. These ships are small, so can go where the big ships can’t. Besides, they also have the maneuverability to follow aquatic wildlife when needed. Image:

Cost of Alaska cruise in July

This is bang in the middle of the Alaska cruise season and hence the busiest.

If the month of June is your preference, please book in advance for this is one of the best times to go on an Alaska cruise.

Price of an Alaska cruise ticket is always at its highest during this month – reaching as high as $1,000 for a person for a seven-day cruise.

That is more than $140 per person per day.

Weather during Alaska cruise in July

July is the warmest month of the year in Alaska.

Temperature ranges from a high of 18.5 degree Celsius (65 degrees Fahrenheit) to a low of 10.5 degrees Celsius (51 degrees Fahrenheit).

Rain starts to increase a bit more during July.

Wildlife viewing during Alaska cruise in July

In July, there are enough Salmon in the waters of Alaska to start attracting the bears.

Expect to see a lot of bears trying to get their share of Salmon.

You can also visit the seabird colonies from Southeast to Northwest Alaska.

In July, fur seal pups and Steller sea lions start giving birth to young ones, which is quite popular amongst the kids on Alaskan cruises.

In the North of Alaska, you can see a lot of walruses.

Alaska cruise in August

On an Alaska cruise, you will see tall mountains, massive glaciers, tranquil and turbulent waters, Arctic tundra, acres of rainforests and interesting wildlife. Each of these visuals will take your breath away. Image:

Cost of Alaska cruise in August

The first half of August falls under the peak season but as the second half starts Alaska cruise deals get announced.

Keep an eye out.

You may not see the Alaskan cruise price reduce drastically but hey, any saving is a saving.

Expect to see not more than 10% dip the price of the tickets.

Weather during Alaska cruise in August

One of the major reasons why many don’t consider August to be the best time for an Alaskan cruise is because of the rain it brings.

There is a 50% chance of you encountering rain during this month.

A few of your planned visits may get rained out.

The temperature ranges from a high of 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) to a low of 9 degrees Celsius (48 degrees Fahrenheit).

Wildlife viewing during Alaska cruise in August

The bear sightings which start in July continue into August.

They can be easily spotted around Salmons and berries.

Salmons are also quite popular with Bald Eagles, so you will spot quite a lot of them around streams filled with Salmons.

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Alaska cruise in September

On your Alaska cruise don’t forget to bring binoculars and warm outerwear to best enjoy the views of glaciers, wildlife and the amazing scenery you will witness. Most ships have naturalists onboard to guide you along. Image:

Cost of Alaska cruise in September

This is a low-demand period because the schools have re-opened and families with kids can’t go on cruises anymore.

September marks the end of the Alaska cruise season and hence the price of cruise tickets are at their lowest.

If you are lucky you may end up grabbing a last-minute Alaska cruise deal from one of the travel agents.

If cost is a concern for you, this is the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise.

However, don’t leave the booking to last minute because nowadays everybody wants to cut costs by traveling in the shoulder season.

Weather during Alaska cruise in September

In the month of September, it starts getting colder again.

Temperatures drop to a lower range – a high of 13 degrees Celsius (55 degrees Fahrenheit) and a low of 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit).

Besides, in the month of September, it rains in Alaska every alternate day.

Because of the rains, some of your shore excursions have a greater chance of being canceled. Especially the boat and helicopter tours you may have booked.

Wildlife viewing during Alaska cruise in September

This is the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise if you love wildlife. Bears still congregate around berries and Salmon and are quite a sight.

You will see lots of Moose, Caribou, Goats, and Muskoxen mate in early autumn. Some of them such as the Caribou and Moose also engage in sparring as part of the mating process.

This is also the best time to spot Gray, bowhead and beluga whales migrate along the west coast.

Best time to go on an Alaskan cruise to see Northern Lights

Witnessing Northern Lights (or Borealis Aurora) during your Alaska cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Image:

If you want to see Northern Lights in Alaska, the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise is the month of September.

If you plan your Alaskan cruise in September, besides witnessing one of nature’s wonders, you may also end up grabbing last minute cruise ticket deals.

For the best sighting of Aurora Borealis, you can visit Fairbanks, which is geographically under the “auroral oval,” the spot where Northern Lights are seen most frequently. 

The best time for seeing the aurora during Alaska’s winter is 11:30 p.m.–3:30 a.m. so make sure you are out there staring at the sky.

While you will witness the Northern Lights during your Alaskan cruise, you may have to sacrifice some wildlife experience because some parts of Denali National Park close in September.

The Gulf of Alaska is the choppiest during this period and if you tend to get seasick, we suggest you plan your Alaska cruise during the calmer months.

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Jamshed V Rajan: He is a two-faced traveler, who enjoys both the hustle-bustle of an urban holiday and the serenity of a break from the rest of the World. During some of his vacations, he is a resort hopper, and on others, he barely spends time in his hotel. He loves to try mouth-watering local cuisines, especially non-vegetarian dishes. Favourite Cities: Amsterdam, Las Vegas, Dublin, Prague, Vienna

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