What Is The Best Time Of Year To Cruise Alaska

If you’ve ever dreamt of embarking on an incredible Alaskan adventure, cruising through ice-capped fjords and witnessing breathtaking displays of nature, then it’s vital to know the best time to make your journey. From warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours to the chance of catching awe-inspiring wildlife sightings, the perfect time to cruise Alaska depends on what you’re hoping to experience. In this article, we’ll guide you through the different seasons, providing valuable insights to help you decide when to set sail and create memories that will last a lifetime.

Factors to Consider


When planning a cruise to Alaska, one of the most important factors to consider is the weather. Alaska is known for its unpredictable weather patterns, so it’s crucial to choose a time of year when the weather is more favorable. In general, the summer months of May to September offer the warmest temperatures in Alaska, with July and August being the hottest. However, it’s still important to pack layers and be prepared for sudden changes in weather, even during the summer months.


Alaska is a treasure trove of wildlife, and seeing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is often a highlight of an Alaskan cruise. The best time to spot wildlife in Alaska is during the summer months when animals are more active and visible. From humpback whales to orcas, bald eagles to bears, there is no shortage of incredible wildlife sightings to be had. Keep in mind that each animal has its own migration and mating patterns, so researching which animals you are most interested in seeing can help inform your decision on the best time to cruise.


The level of crowds can greatly impact your experience during an Alaskan cruise. Generally, the summer months see the highest number of tourists, especially in popular ports such as Juneau and Skagway. If you prefer a more intimate and less crowded experience, consider cruising during the shoulder seasons of May or September. While the weather may not be as warm, you’ll have the advantage of smaller crowds and potentially better deals.


Budget is another crucial factor to consider when planning an Alaskan cruise. Prices for cruises to Alaska can vary greatly depending on the time of year. The summer months tend to be the peak season, with prices reflecting the high demand. If you’re on a tighter budget, consider cruising during the shoulder seasons or even the fall season. During these times, cruise lines often offer discounted rates and special deals to attract more passengers. Just be sure to weigh the potential savings against any potential drawbacks, such as cooler temperatures or fewer wildlife sightings.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Cruise Alaska

Spring Season

Months of Spring

In Alaska, the spring season typically spans from April to May. During this time, the temperatures start to rise, and the landscape begins to come alive after the long winter months.

Weather Conditions

Spring brings milder temperatures to Alaska, with average highs ranging from the 40s to the 60s Fahrenheit. The weather can be quite unpredictable, with a mix of rain, snow, and sunshine. Packing layers is essential to stay comfortable as the temperature and weather conditions can change throughout the day.

Wildlife Sightings

Spring is a great time to spot marine mammals such as seals and sea lions, as well as migratory birds returning to the region. While some animals may still be hibernating or have yet to arrive in Alaska, the overall wildlife activity starts to pick up during the spring months.

Pricing and Deals

Cruising in the spring season often offers lower fares compared to the peak summer months. Many cruise lines offer special deals and promotions during this time to attract passengers. If you’re looking to save money and don’t mind slightly cooler temperatures, cruising in the spring can be a great option.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Cruise Alaska

Summer Season

Months of Summer

The summer season in Alaska typically spans from June to August, with July and August being the warmest months.

Weather Conditions

During the summer, Alaska experiences its mildest and warmest weather of the year. Average temperatures range from the 60s to the 70s Fahrenheit, with some areas experiencing temperatures in the 80s. However, it’s important to note that weather conditions can still be quite changeable, so packing layers is still essential.

Wildlife Sightings

The summer months offer the best opportunities to spot a wide range of wildlife in Alaska. From humpback whales breaching in the distant waters to bears fishing for salmon along the shores, the chances of witnessing these incredible creatures up close are significantly higher during the summer months.

Activities and Excursions

Summer is the prime time for outdoor activities and excursions in Alaska. From kayaking through serene fjords to hiking along picturesque trails, there is no shortage of adventures to embark on. Additionally, the longer daylight hours during the summer allow for more time to explore and experience the natural beauty of Alaska.

Pricing and Deals

As the peak season for Alaska cruises, summer often comes with higher prices. However, it’s worth noting that the increased demand also means there are more options available in terms of cruise itineraries and ship choices. If you’re looking for a specific cruise experience or prefer warmer weather, the summer months might be the ideal time for you.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Cruise Alaska

Fall Season

Months of Fall

Fall in Alaska typically starts in September and lasts through October. During this time, the colors of the landscape change, providing a breathtaking backdrop for an Alaskan cruise.

Weather Conditions

The fall season brings cooler temperatures to Alaska, with average highs ranging from the 40s to the 50s Fahrenheit. While the weather can still be unpredictable, it’s generally drier in the fall compared to the summer months, making it a great time to explore the outdoors.

Wildlife Sightings

Fall in Alaska marks the start of the salmon-spawning season, which attracts numerous bears to the rivers and streams. It’s also a prime time for birdwatching, as migratory birds start their journey south. While some wildlife may begin to migrate or hibernate, the fall months still offer excellent opportunities for wildlife sightings.

Fall Foliage

One of the most stunning aspects of cruising in Alaska during the fall is the vibrant display of fall foliage. The mountains and forests transform into a palette of reds, oranges, and yellows, creating a picturesque setting for your cruise.

Pricing and Deals

The fall season is considered the shoulder season for Alaska cruises, which means there are often more deals and discounts available compared to the peak summer months. If you’re looking to save money and don’t mind cooler temperatures, cruising in the fall can provide a more affordable and serene experience.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Cruise Alaska

Shoulder Seasons

Months of Shoulder Seasons

The shoulder seasons in Alaska are typically May and September. These months fall between the peak summer season and the quieter fall season.

Benefits of Shoulder Seasons

Opting for a cruise during the shoulder seasons offers several advantages. Firstly, the crowds are significantly smaller compared to the peak summer months, allowing for a more intimate and immersive experience. Additionally, prices during the shoulder seasons tend to be lower, making it a more budget-friendly time to cruise. While the weather may not be as warm as in the summer months, the landscapes are still stunning, and there are ample opportunities for wildlife sightings.

What Is The Best Time Of Year To Cruise Alaska


Choosing the best time to cruise Alaska depends on your preferences and priorities. The summer months offer the warmest weather and the highest chances of wildlife sightings, but they also come with larger crowds and higher prices. Spring and fall provide more affordable options, with the added bonus of vibrant landscapes and the potential for unique wildlife encounters. The shoulder seasons offer a balance between smaller crowds and favorable pricing, making them an excellent choice for those seeking a quieter and more budget-friendly Alaskan cruise experience. Ultimately, the best time to cruise Alaska is the time that aligns with your interests, budget, and desired level of activity. So pack your bags, prepare for adventure, and get ready to experience the wonders of Alaska on an unforgettable cruise.