What is the best time to cruise Alaska?

The summer cruise season in Alaska runs from mid-May to mid-September. Check out our quick tips for picking the best time to cruise Alaska, then read on for more details.

  • May. Discounted shoulder season rates, more availability since not as many people are traveling, weather gets warmer.
  • June. Long days, warmer temperatures, wildlife viewing, full access to shore excursions.
  • July. Warmest month, good fishing opportunities, active glaciers.
  • August. Cooler temperatures, fewer children traveling.
  • September. Cooler weather, cheaper rates, more availability, smaller crowds, darker nights, chance to see northern lights on a corresponding land package.

May Alaska Cruises

In May, the state is transitioning from winter into summer. The temperature starts to rise, with highs in the mid-50s and lows in the 40s. May is also a drier month by Southcentral Alaska standards. There aren't as many travelers as the peak season, so if you'd like to avoid the crowds, this is a good start. You might also notice that many cruise lines offer lower prices in May than those for peak season. If you are traveling on a budget, cruise in May to take advantage of the discounted rates.

June Alaska Cruises

June is the first peak month for summer. Now into the busy months, cruise rates increase. The conditions tend to be warmer and drier in Southeast Alaska, and even places like Juneau and Ketchikan enjoy plentiful daylight. It's especially fun to cruise Alaska on the summer solstice (around June 22). Wildlife is abundant and active. A full selection of shore excursions is available to you. One tip: If you plan to take a land tour along with your cruise, schedule that portion for after June 4. The road into Denali National Park opens completely around the first week of June, and a wildlife bus tour into the park is not to be missed.

July Alaska Cruises

July cruisers enjoy the warmest weather, with highs around 65 degrees. Warmer weather also makes glaciers more active, so it's quite likely to see impressive calving events while cruising in front of Hubbard Glacier, or through the beautiful Glacier Bay National Park. If fishing in Alaska is on your bucket list, July is a good month to book a fishing trip during one of your shore days. Just like June, expect your cruise prices in July to be higher compared to the shoulder season.

August Alaska Cruises

August is the last peak month of the Alaska summer season. It is the rainiest month of the summer season, especially in Southeast Alaska, with Juneau averaging about 16 days with precipitation. Packing a good rain jacket and waterproof shoes is all it takes to make rainy port days enjoyable. Mature travelers who'd like a more adult-centered experience often choose to wait until the middle or end of August to cruise, when most kids are back in school.

September Alaska Cruises

September weather is much like August. Cruise lines typically lower their prices in September, so if you are traveling on a budget, September is a great time to cruise. Perhaps the best reason to cruise in September is a chance to see the northern lights. Nights are dark again, and while your chance of seeing them in Southeast Alaska is low, taking a land tour package along with your September cruise gets you farther north into Aurora Borealis country. Another reason to consider cruising in September is the smaller crowds.

No matter what you decide is the best time to cruise, keep this one thing in mind: Alaska is spectacular no matter the month.