Best Time to Cruise to Alaska
Like many, taking an Alaskan cruise may be on your bucket list. Once you decide its time to go and check it off that list, the first question is usually, when is the best time to cruise to Alaska? Well, it depends.
If you talk to one of our Alaska cruise advisors at CruiseExperts.com, they will need you to answer a couple of questions first. Is budget an issue? Does weather matter to you? Do you want to just cruise in Alaska, or also take a land tour? Here are the factors to consider, so that you can determine the best time for YOU to cruise to Alaska.
Cruise season in Alaska runs from mid-May to mid-September. For the warmest temperatures, cruise between mid-June and mid-August. For the most midnight sun, come three weeks before or after the summer solstice and the longest day of the year, June 21. If you’d like to see the northern lights during cruise season, you’re taking a gamble. It does get dark enough at night to see them by the second week of September, but its not as brilliant as what you’d see on a land-based tour during the winter months.
Cruise Line and Departure Ports
There are several of the popular cruise lines that send ships to the Last Frontier every year. Holland America Line, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Celebrity offer the most sailings. Most offer 7-day roundtrip cruises from Vancouver, Seattle or Anchorage. You can also get on a cruise ship and sail to Alaska in San Francisco, Fairbanks, Calgary and a few other less popular ports. If you opt to add a land tour, otherwise known as a cruisetour, there are smaller ports you will embark and debark from depending on the type and length of cruisetour you choose.
In the past, you may have thought that cruising to Alaska was going to break the bank. You should know, however, that this isn’t the case. You can enjoy time aboard a luxury Alaska cruise ship while saving money. If you’re looking to cut costs, consider going during the “shoulder season” of May and September, instead of peak months, such as July or August. Select shore and land excursions can also be 20% cheaper at the beginning and end of the cruise season.
Wildlife and Seasonal Nature
The good thing about spending time in Alaska during the shoulder season is that temperatures are still mild enough for you to enjoy a wide variety of activities like hiking, whale watching and horseback riding around ports of call such as Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, When you book with us, you’ll find that many of our discounted trips are available at the beginning and end of the season.
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, don’t come during the May shoulder season—the park doesn’t open up until early June.
Hate mosquitoes? If you’re doing a land tour, come during either shoulder season (The bugs haven’t hatched in May, and they’ve died off by September.)
Another plus to visiting Alaska during the shoulder season is that towns tend to be less crowded. You’ll spend far less time waiting in line to buy your ticket to the Tongass Historical Museum and Alaska State Museum and there will be more availability when booking excursions.
Of course, as always, our suggestions at CruiseExperts.com are only meant to be a guide. If you have any more questions about when to sail to Alaska on a budget, feel free to contact us. We can be reached by calling 1-888-804-CRUISE (2784) or by filling out the Contact Us page. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook and join our InnerCircle for more exclusive offers!
Julie joined the CruiseExperts.com team in 2013 as the Marketing Coordinator. She’s lived in Visalia, CA for neaqrly 30 years and is a wife and mother of two adult daughters. She holds a Communications/Marketing degree from the University of Illinois (Go ILLINI!) She has been involved in advertising, marketing, public relations, fundraising development, and event planning throughout her career. “I’m thrilled to work with the CruiseExperts.com team! And I love to travel. Put those together and I have the ideal job!”