What Is The Weather Like In Alaska During May On A Cruise Ship

Are you planning to embark on a magical Alaskan adventure aboard a cruise ship in May? Wondering what kind of weather to expect during this time? Look no further! In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the weather conditions in Alaska during May on a cruise ship. From the temperature ranges to the precipitation levels, we’ve got you covered. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the stunning beauty of Alaska’s majestic landscape while basking in the delightful weather of May.

What Is The Weather Like In Alaska During May On A Cruise Ship


Alaska in May offers a unique and captivating experience for cruise ship travelers. As the weather transitions from winter to spring, it brings a mix of temperatures, precipitation, and daylight hours. It’s important to be prepared for the changing weather conditions and pack accordingly for your trip. Let’s delve into the specifics of what you can expect during your May cruise in Alaska.


May in Alaska presents a moderate climate, with temperatures ranging from the low 40s to the high 60s Fahrenheit. While it may not be scorching hot, the weather can still be pleasant, especially when the sun is shining. Layering your clothing is essential to adapt to the varying temperatures throughout the day.


Alaska is known for its stunning landscapes and pristine wilderness, which can often be accompanied by rain showers. In May, it’s not uncommon to experience some rain during your cruise. Rainfall can vary, with some regions seeing around 2 inches of precipitation for the month. It’s advisable to pack rain gear and ensure your outdoor activities are flexible enough to accommodate potential rain showers.

Daylight Hours

Alaska is famous for its long daylight hours, particularly during the summer months. In May, you can expect extended periods of daylight, with some regions enjoying up to 16 hours of sunlight each day. This provides ample opportunities to explore and engage in various activities, both on the cruise ship and on land.

Weather Patterns


May in Alaska can bring occasional rain showers that contribute to the lush landscapes and vibrant flora found across the state. While rainfall can occur throughout the month, it generally isn’t continuous or heavy. A lightweight rain jacket or poncho would suffice in keeping you dry during any unexpected showers.


As spring progresses, snowfall becomes less likely and limited to high elevations. However, some mountainous areas may still experience snow, creating a stunning backdrop for your cruise. It’s worth checking with your cruise line or tour operator for any specific snowfall opportunities if you’re interested in experiencing the beauty of Alaska’s snow-capped peaks.


Fog is another characteristic weather pattern in Alaska, particularly along coastal areas and near glaciers. In May, fog can occasionally roll in, creating an ethereal atmosphere that adds an air of mystery to your cruise. While it may limit visibility at times, it also lends a unique beauty to the landscapes you’ll encounter.

What Is The Weather Like In Alaska During May On A Cruise Ship

Wind Conditions

Wind Speed

Alaska’s wind conditions in May are generally mild to moderate, with average speeds ranging from 5 to 15 mph. However, gusts of higher intensity can occur, especially near open water and mountain passes. It’s wise to bring a light windbreaker or jacket to protect yourself from these occasional gusts.


While gusts in May may not be constant or severe, they can still catch you off guard, particularly in exposed areas. It’s important to secure loose items on the cruise ship’s deck, and when participating in outdoor activities, be mindful of the wind. Protecting your head with a hat or cap can also help prevent discomfort caused by strong gusts.

Sea Conditions

Wave Height

Alaska’s coastal waters in May generally experience calm to moderate wave conditions. Wave heights typically range between 1 to 4 feet, providing a smooth sailing experience for cruise ship passengers. However, it’s worth noting that weather and sea conditions can change rapidly, so it’s always a good idea to stay informed about any updated sea advisories or forecasts.

Sea Temperature

The sea temperature in Alaska during May hovers around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. While swimming might not be the most popular activity during your cruise, the colder waters offer unique opportunities for wildlife sightings, such as whale spotting. Packing layered clothing is crucial, as sea breezes can make temperatures feel even cooler.

What Is The Weather Like In Alaska During May On A Cruise Ship

Dress Code

Layered Clothing

Given the fluctuating temperatures in Alaska during May, it’s crucial to dress in layers to adapt to changing conditions. Start with a light base layer, such as a long-sleeved shirt or thermal top, then add a cozy sweater or fleece for warmth. A waterproof outer layer, like a jacket or parka, will protect you from rain and wind.

Rain Gear

As mentioned earlier, Alaska in May can experience rain showers, so it’s essential to come prepared with appropriate rain gear. A waterproof jacket or poncho, along with waterproof pants or a skirt, will ensure you stay dry during any unexpected downpours. Don’t forget a pair of waterproof shoes to keep your feet comfortable and dry.


Accessories can make a significant difference in your comfort and enjoyment during your May cruise in Alaska. Consider bringing a warm hat or beanie, gloves or mittens, and a scarf to protect against chilly winds. Sunglasses and sunscreen are also essential to shield your eyes and skin from the sun’s rays, which can still be strong even in the cooler temperatures.

Outdoor Activities


Alaska’s stunning landscapes make it an ideal destination for hiking enthusiasts. In May, hiking trails start opening up, offering breathtaking views of mountains, forests, and meandering rivers. It’s advisable to choose trails suitable for your fitness level and be prepared with sturdy footwear, plenty of water, and snacks. Always check with park authorities or local guides for any trail closures or safety advice.

Wildlife Spotting

Alaska is home to diverse wildlife, including bears, moose, eagles, and marine creatures like whales and seals. May provides an excellent opportunity to spot these animals in their natural habitats as they emerge from hibernation or migrate. Bring binoculars or a camera with a zoom lens to get a closer view of these magnificent creatures while ensuring you adhere to the guidelines for responsible wildlife viewing.

Whale Watching

Whale watching is an incredibly popular activity in Alaska, particularly during May. As whales return to Alaskan waters to feed and breed, you may have the chance to witness their majestic presence firsthand. Many cruise ships offer whale-watching excursions, allowing you to get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Don’t forget to bring your camera and binoculars to capture the unforgettable moments.

What Is The Weather Like In Alaska During May On A Cruise Ship

Indoor Activities

Cultural Performances

Alaska’s rich cultural heritage is best experienced through engaging cultural performances. From traditional dances to storytelling, indigenous cultures showcase their artistry and traditions. Many cruise ships arrange onboard performances, allowing you to witness the vibrancy and depth of Alaska’s native cultures.

Art Exhibits

Alaska’s art scene is thriving, with a plethora of galleries and exhibitions showcasing works inspired by the state’s breathtaking landscapes. Aligning with its natural beauty, Alaskan art often incorporates elements of wildlife, nature, and indigenous culture. Take the opportunity to explore art exhibits both onshore and onboard the cruise ship to immerse yourself in the local artistic expression.

Cooking Demonstrations

Alaska’s culinary scene is a delightful fusion of local flavors and international influences. Joining a cooking demonstration on the cruise ship can offer insights into creating delectable dishes inspired by Alaska’s abundant seafood and fresh produce. Learn new recipes and techniques while indulging in mouthwatering delights that embody the flavors of the region.

Packing Essentials


When packing for your May cruise in Alaska, it’s crucial to consider the varied weather conditions. Include a mix of short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved shirts or thermal tops, sweaters or fleeces, and waterproof jackets or parkas. Don’t forget to pack comfortable pants or jeans, along with a few pairs of shorts for warmer days. Mixing and matching different layers will keep you comfortable throughout the trip.


Appropriate footwear is key to enjoying your outdoor activities in Alaska. Pack sturdy hiking boots or walking shoes for exploring nature trails, along with comfortable sneakers or sandals for casual strolls on the ship’s deck. Waterproof shoes are a must to tackle any rain or wet conditions you may encounter during your time ashore.

Miscellaneous Items

In addition to clothing and footwear, there are a few miscellaneous items that shouldn’t be overlooked when packing for your May cruise in Alaska. Bring a daypack or small backpack for carrying essentials during shore excursions. Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, insect repellent, a reusable water bottle, and personal hygiene products. Chargers for electronic devices and a travel adapter are also essential to stay connected throughout your journey.

What Is The Weather Like In Alaska During May On A Cruise Ship

Cruise Ship Facilities

Indoor Entertainment

Cruise ships offer a plethora of indoor entertainment options to cater to various interests and preferences. Take advantage of onboard theaters, where you can enjoy live performances, Broadway-style shows, or even comedy acts. Many ships also provide movie theaters and casinos, ensuring there’s something for everyone to enjoy, even on days when outdoor activities may be limited.

Spa and Wellness

Indulge in relaxation and self-care by visiting the cruise ship’s spa and wellness facilities. Unwind with a massage or facial, take a dip in the indoor pool, or enjoy the serene ambiance of the sauna or steam room. Pampering yourself with these rejuvenating experiences will enhance your cruise ship journey and leave you feeling refreshed throughout your trip.

Dining Options

Cruise ships pride themselves on offering a diverse range of dining options to cater to every palate. Enjoy gourmet meals at upscale restaurants, savor international flavors at themed buffets, or sample local dishes that showcase Alaska’s culinary heritage. With a variety of venues to choose from, you’ll undoubtedly find something to satisfy your taste buds at every meal.

Tips for a May Cruise in Alaska

Check Weather Forecasts

Given the fluctuating weather conditions in Alaska during May, it’s essential to stay updated on weather forecasts before and during your cruise. This will allow you to plan your activities accordingly, pack the right clothing, and make informed decisions while exploring the magnificent Alaskan landscapes.

Pack Binoculars

Binoculars are a valuable accessory to have during your May cruise in Alaska, especially when it comes to wildlife spotting and whale watching. These optical tools will allow you to get a closer look at the incredible wildlife and appreciate the intricate details of the natural world around you.

Enjoy the Scenery

One of the most important tips for a May cruise in Alaska is to immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery. Take time to appreciate the snow-capped mountains, shimmering glaciers, and picturesque coastal vistas. Whether you’re relaxing on the cruise ship’s deck or exploring ashore, Alaska’s natural beauty is bound to leave an indelible impression on your heart.

In conclusion, a May cruise in Alaska promises an unforgettable experience filled with natural wonders, wildlife encounters, and cultural enrichment. By being prepared for the weather patterns, packing the right clothing and accessories, and exploring both indoor and outdoor activities, you’ll make the most of your Alaskan adventure. So, get ready to embark on a journey that will leave you with lifelong memories of the awe-inspiring beauty of the Last Frontier.