Best Time To Cruise Alaska

best time to cruise Alaska

The Alaskan cruise season only runs during Summer thanks to the long, dark hours of Winter. However, the best time to cruise Alaska during summer depends very much on what you want to see. 

The Alaska cruise season runs from late May to September. The high season is generally considered to be in July and August when temperatures are at their warmest. This is also the period of most daylight hours, giving you the best opportunity to see as much as possible. 

Although the high season is the warmest, you will also need consider elements such as cost and crowds. The high season is more expensive and, thanks to Summer holidays, much more crowded. Another element to consider is rain. The further into the Summer season you travel, the more rain you will experience. This means bringing a good waterproof jacket with you, and some warm layers!

The best way to decide on when to cruise Alaska is to know your budget and decide what you want to see. Don't panic if you do not have a choice though, no matter when you cruise in Alaska, you'll have a memorable time! 

Below we have provided a month by month description for further information on the best time to cruise Alaska.

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

Best Time To Cruise Alaska

​Month By Month Breakdown


May marks the start of the Alaskan cruise season. Because temperatures are quite low still (between 34° - 54°), prices are quite low and you can get some great deals. 

May is actually the driest month during Summer and you will only get occasionally showers if you're lucky. With the new sun comes flowers and this is one of the best times to cruise Alaska for landscape photographers. It's also a good time to spot wildlife as the foliage on the trees has not yet returned. 

Bears emerge from their hibernation in May and the first king salmon runs happen late in the month. Although not as ideal as later in Summer, you will have the chance to see bears pawing at salmon during the first run of the year. 


Temperatures in June continue to rise with the average being between 45° - 70°. The start of June also avoids the influx of holiday crowds, making it one of the best times to travel. Although cruise line prices are not yet peaking, they are beginning to increase substantially, with fewer deals on offer. 

The daylight hours are at their longest during June with the Summer Solstice offering near 19 hours of daylight. Wildlife becomes more active during this period and bears with their cubs are seen quite regularly. Moose give birth in June and huge herds of caribou are sometimes seen. 

Rainbow trout begin their run in June and continue right through the Summer. This is also a great month for fishing excursions thanks to the influx of northern pike and Halibut.  

Denali National Park opens up toward the end of June, making an ideal extra land-based option. Bears around Kodiak and Katmai are very active in June and Glacier Bay is looking idyllic for photography and kayaking


July is peak month of the Alaska cruise season. Prices are at their highest, as are the temperatures, ranging between 50° - 75°. This is also the busiest time to cruise Alaska which can often put people off. Saying this, your ship will generally have the same amount of people on it no matter when you travel. It is just the ports that will be more crowded. 

July offer more salmon runs, meaning more bears! This is one of the peak points to witness bears swiping salmon from the river, particularly around Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park. 

Seals and sea lions give birth around July and walrus haul out around Little Diomede and the King islands. Bald eagles during July are commonly seen and, in certain parts, can be seen in very large numbers.

July is also the best time to see glaciers calving! Many of the larger glaciers such as Sawyer and Tracy Arm glacier will calve on a daily basis during the warmest periods of the year. 


August remains fairly warm, however, rain fall increases a fair amount. Although the salmon runs start to conclude during this month, bear sightings are still excellent as the grizzlies attempt to fatten up before Winter. 

Whales are seen frequently during this period as they gorge on the last of the salmon and trout. As the weather becomes cooler and more unpredictable, the crowds become less, making the towns and ports a little more peaceful. Cruise prices begin to drop again in August and deals become more regular. 


September hails the end of the Alaska cruise season. Temperatures drop to between 40° - 55° with the wind and rain becoming more unpredictable. 

Bears can still be seen swiping at the last of the salmon before hibernation and Gray, bowhead and beluga whales can be seen migrating along the west coast.

The Inside Passage looks gorgeous in the fall colours and Denali National Park is nothing short of breathtaking in its orange, red and gold livery. Cruise prices during this shoulder month are relatively cheap and there are plenty of last minute deals on offer. 

You may even see the Northern Lights during this month, although you will have a better chance on a cruise tour package.

best time to cruise Alaska

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

Winter In Alaska

Winter in Alaska is a cold, dark affair where few people travel. The bears lie hidden in hibernation and the cruises stop running. 

If you're visiting in Winter, you may be lucky enough to witness the Northern Lights! This is more common in the Northern Alaska during the long Arctic nights. 


Below is a short video by un-cruise adventure. You can see how many different types weather conditions can be experienced over the course of 7 days!


If you have any queries or questions regarding the best time to cruise Alaska, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. For more Alaska cruise tips, please click here

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

About the Author Expedition Cruise is the web’s most authoritative information portal on adventure and expedition cruising. Our mission is to provide up to date and comprehensive information on traveling to the Arctic, Antarctica and further afield, so that your experience is as fulfilling and safe as possible.

Leave a Comment: