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Best Time To Cruise Alaska To See Whales

Alaska Cruises In May

Best and Worst Time to Cruise Alaska

Alaska is a place of incredible beauty and gorgeous weather during the month of May. There are infinite reasons to take an Alaskan cruise in May, including active wildlife, blooming wildflowers, and the peace and quiet of traveling before peak tourist season.

Bear sightings are nearly inevitable during May.

With Alaskan black and brown bears having awakened from their winter slumber, they are active and hunting food near shore since salmon aren’t yet running in the streams and rivers.

May is also when the first Alaskan wildflowers begin blooming for the summer, and migratory birds are heading in, flocking to bodies of water to settle in.

And with 18 to 20 hours of daylight, there is plenty of opportunity for enjoying all there is to see, whether you are on board the Sikumi, cruising around in a kayak, or hiking a less traveled trail.

Not only is there lots of daylight to enjoy, but May generally brings less precipitation and more sunshine to Southeast Alaska than other months, and the daily temperature is warming up for summer as well.

With Alaska’s peak travel season not yet underway, enjoy the peace and tranquility that comes with one of the wildest and most beautiful places on the planet.

Best Time & Place To Watch Beluga Whales

Finally, Beluga Whales are a critically endangered species, making their sighting particularly memorable and important. Beluga Whale sightings tend to occur before and after high tides in Turnagain Arm along the Seward Highway.

Because of their association with high tides, the best time of year to look for Beluga Whales in Alaska is mid-July and September.

When Is The Best Time Of Year To Book An Alaskan Cruise To See Whales

The answer here is not a simple one.

The technical answer for the best time to cruise and see the magnificent wildlife starts with their summer migration, beginning in the spring.

Planning your perfect Alaskan cruise would be best suited sometime between May and September.

The timing for a cruise during these months also works perfectly for your wardrobe this is the Alaskan spring/summer months, and the weather is just beautiful!

You likely have a favorite of these magnificent creatures that you would be most excited to see in the wild.

There is more narrowing down that we can do to have a better chance of you catching that perfect shot of your beloved whale.

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Whale Watching On An Alaska Cruise: What To Know

Whale watching on an Alaska cruise is nothing short of spectacular, and not just because of the magnificent wildlife. The jaw-dropping scenery, fun shore excursions, and onboard luxury make for a truly unique travel experience. In fact, its so unique that some travelers arent quite sure how to prepare for it.

Its a cruise unlike any otherone that people often describe as the trip of a lifetime. Heres what you should know as you start dreaming and planning.

Your Guide To Whale Watching In Alaska

The Best Time for Whale Watching in Alaska

Youre probably here because youre looking for a trip that will break the clichéd cycle of city breaks and what better way to do that than by whale watching in Alaska?

Ah, whales.

Ever since I was really young, Ive always thought of whales as those ethereal creatures, with mind-boggling sizes and a sense of wonder surrounding them.

And you know what?

Nothing is truer. Nothing will actually prepare you for the first time you get to experience being in close proximity to a whale in Alaska in its natural habitat.

In this guide, Im going to be discussing everything you need to know about whale watching in Alaska from when to go to what to see.

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Alaska Cruise Cost: Amenities And Time Of Year Make The Difference

An Alaska cruise costs anywhere from $500 to $8,000 or more during high season. Cheaper fares can be usually found on mainstream lines like Royal Caribbean and NCL, while Cunard, Disney and Seabourn will be more expensive. In other words, Alaska can be one of the more affordable bucket-list destinations to reach by ship, especially when compared to other remote cruise destinations like Antarctica and the Galapagos.

You’ll need to set aside a good chunk of money to spend on shore excursions when you’re in Alaska. They can be incredibly expensive when compared to experiences in the Caribbean or Mexico.

If you’re happy with a couple of historic tours and a guided hike, you could likely budget $500 or less per person for shore excursions in Alaska. But if once-in-a-lifetime Alaska experiences like helicopter rides and flightseeing in Ketchikan are more your speed, you’ll need to triple that amount — or more.

You’ll find the best deals on an Alaska cruise by looking for sailings during shoulder season months: late April, May and September.

Things To Do In Alaska In September

Alaska Events in September: If your Alaska cruise is in early September, there’s a chance that you might be able to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights on your cruise to Alaska if you can get to Fairbanks or points farther north. Time and weather conditions play a major role, but it’s a highlight of cruising to Alaska at the end of the summer.

Alaska Wildlife in September:According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, mating season for moose, goats, caribou and muskoxen begins in the fall . Despite the weather, it’s also a great time for seeing moose and other animals at Denali National Park, and bears can be seen near berry patches and streams with salmon. There will still be whales in Alaska’s seas in September, though numbers will start to decrease later in the month.

Alaska Fishing in September: Silver salmon and halibut seasons run through September in Alaska for anyone hoping to add a fishing adventure to their cruise.

What to Eat in September: September is mushroom season in Alaska. Check out the Cordova Fungus Festival, which takes place every September. You can expect lots of locally sourced food, expert talks and — of course — plenty of mushrooms.

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Viewing Any Wildlife In Their Natural Environment Is A Privilege Please Be Respectful Of The Animals And Your Own Safety By Following These Tips:

  • Give wildlife plenty of space avoid crowding. Never approach a bear, always allow them room for retreat.
  • Let them know youre there avoid surprising. If you are hiking through bear country, make your presence known especially where the terrain or vegetation makes it hard to see. Make noise, sing, talk loudly or clap. If possible, travel with a group. Bears are wary of humans and will go out of their way to avoid them.
  • Dont share your lunch avoid attracting. Store your food properly, do not leave it out or neglect to dispose of trash. Feeding bears, moose, and some other wildlife is illegal in Alaska except under terms of a permit issued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

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Motion Sickness On The High Seas

Whale Watching Boat Tour in Juneau, Alaska

Some people swear its impossible to get seasick on a large, luxurious cruise ship, but there are those of us who can prove otherwise! The waters around Alaska can be choppy. A room in the middle of the ship will move less than one at the front or back, and a stash of anti-nausea medications can offer comfort and relief. Youll be especially glad you have it with you should you take a small boat excursion to see the whales up close since smaller vessels can get jostled by the waves.

Splurging on a room with a balcony is a savvy investment for travelers prone to motion-sickness. Access to the fresh air and uninterrupted coastline view can be soothing for some travelers experiencing queasiness.

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Best Time Of Year To See Bears In Alaska

Grizzly bears are one of the most sought-after wildlife sightings. Your best chance of spotting a bear is during June or July.

Summer is when brown bears gather along the Katmai coast to feed, mate, and socialize. You might also see bears fishing on the beaches for razor clams during low tide.

Another great opportunity to see wildlife is during the famous salmon run. This is when you can find grizzly bears fishing along Alaskas many rivers and streams.

Cruising To Alaska In July

The summer months are also great for those who love hiking and exploring new places on foot or by kayakâand there are plenty of opportunities for both! Once you arrive at your destination, get there as soon as possible dont wait to venture into nature.

Like June, July has many daylight hours, making it great for tourists of all species. Specifically, June and July are the peak times youll spot whales and orcas coming to Alaska to feed and birth their young. In addition, youll find whales breaching right off the bow of your ship as they migrate south to their breeding grounds.

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Alaska Whale Watching Season

Whales can be seen from small ships to Alaska throughout the small ship cruise season of May through September. Orca and minke whales are residents so they may be found at any time of year. But most travelers want to see humpbacks and if you fall into this category, then you must plan your trip accordingly.

When to see humpback whales in Alaska? The first humpbacks begin to arrive in Alaska about late April and early May. These are typically the adult males that can make the long migration the fastest. They are followed by younger males, females and finally mothers with calves arriving in late May and early June. Small ship cruises in May will likely view whales, but they will be individuals or smaller groups of two or three spread about looking and waiting for food.

When is the best time to see whales in Alaska? The best time to cruise Alaska for whales is from mid-June through mid-August.

Why is mid-June through mid-August on an Alaskan cruise the best time to see whales? Sunlight from long midsummer Alaskan days causes a bloom of phytoplankton which serves as the base of Alaskas rich marine food chain. Strong currents bring nutrients from deep below to mix with oxygen-rich water near the surface resulting in huge blooms of zooplankton , krill and small fish such as capelin, candlefish and herring.

Ways To See Whales In Alaska

An Alaskan Voyage

There are three popular ways to see whales while in Alaska:

  • Driving You can see whales from your car, depending on the season. Whether its along the Turnagain Arm or from the shores of coastal cities like Sitka, this is an easy way to enjoy whale watching.
  • Boat Tours Two of the largest companies in Southcentral Alaska are Kenai Fjords Tours and Major Marine. Both are great options and tours typically start from $80 to $180 USD per adult. These tours are usually based on how many hours youre actually on the boat, whether its for a half day or full day. Full day tours usually include a tasty meal of fish or another choice of meat.
  • Cruise The most popular way to see whales in Alaska is on a cruise. However, if you do take a cruise through Alaska, you definitely need to do a land tour because you have not seen half of what Alaska has to offer!
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    Packing For A Whale Watching Tour

    • Sunscreen make sure you do not forget to pack sunscreen as the summers in Alaska can catch people by surprise.
    • Dress in layers I cant stress this enough. Where ever you are and what ever your doing on your Alaskan vacation always wear layers. It can be glorious weather one moment and a storm can blow in at the blink of an eye.
    • Hat and Gloves depending on your tour boat and the weather you will be thankful for packing these. Smaller tour boats may not have heating.
    • Rain gear you will be out on the water you will get wet .
    • Binoculars some tour boats will have binoculars on board but I would recommend bringing your own.
    • Camera Bring your camera as you will want to remember your encounter with these magnificent creatures.
    • Drying cloth to clean and dry your lenses of camera and binoculars.
    • Food and drink bring some snacks and drinks. Bigger tour boats serve food and beer and have shops but smaller tour boat have less amenities.

    Do you suffer from motion sickness/seasickness.? There are only a few things you can do so your whale watching tour is enjoyable. Make sure you have medication . Being well rested will also elevate symptoms of seasickness so get a good night sleep before your tour.

    Thank you for reading my article on best time to see whales in Alaska. If you are planning a vacation to Alaska viewing whales in their natural habitat is a spectacular sight. And I recommend you read my article on Whale Watching In Juneau.

    What To Expect In Every Month Of Alaska Cruise Season

    The cruise season in Alaska is short , but what this state lacks in winter tours it makes up for in stunning summer vistas, exciting wildlife and a travelogue of iconic land excursions.

    Traditionally, July and August have been considered the best time to cruise to Alaska, as these months offer warm sun, long days, and abundant wildlife. However, the shoulder seasons are growing in popularity, thanks to fewer crowds, lower-priced cruises and seasonal attractions like the northern lights.

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    The Best Time For Viewing The Northern Lights

    Generally considered a winter activity, the northern lights are actually present in the upper atmosphere year-roundits just too light to notice them during the endless, sunny days of the Arctic summer. By August, its dark enough during the night to see the northern lights, and cruises in September afford the best chances with longer, darker nightsalthough its worth noting that September is one of Alaskas rainiest months, so theres more chance of cloud cover. That said, the routing of cruise ships away from shore and the light pollution of major cities affords some of the best conditions for northern lights spotting.

    Best Month To Cruise Alaska For Good Weather

    Juneau, Alaska Cruise Port Guide: Whale Watching & Mendenhall Glacier Tour

    July is the best month to cruise Alaska for good weather. and has the longest daylight hours and minimal rainfall.

    The warm weather and long hours of sunlight mean youll want to pack sunglasses and sunscreen. You should still wear layers when visiting the port, but if youre planning active shore excursions like hikes or glacier walks, youll want to stick with lightweight clothing.

    Despite having the best weather, Alaskas weather in July is very unpredictable. Youll want to pack for all kinds of weather and wear a lightweight rain jacket.

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    Lindblad Expeditions Exploring Alaskas Coastal Wilderness

    • Cost: From $7,340 per person

    Many of the sailings to Alaska center on the states major ports of call, like Juneau and Sitka. Theres nothing wrong with those itineraries, but they do tend to focus more on touristy downtowns and less on the great outdoors. While this Lindblad sailing does start and end in those cities , the days in-between are adventure packed. Multiple times a day, guests are invited to disembark for a closer look at the true wilds of Alaska. That could entail going kayaking among bobbing bits of glacial ice in Tracy ArmFords Terror Wilderness, or going for a Zodiac ride in Frederick Sound to view whales up close. Another option includes trekking on lesser-known forest trails and getting an explainer on tide pools along smaller islands. While Lindblad has a general idea of where the vessel will stop each day, itineraries are not set in stone and the crew is not afraid to mix it up if it means having a locale to themselves or if theres a stellar animal encounter to enjoythis is an expedition ship, after all.

    In Alaska, NCL offers passengers countless off-ship activities to choose from.

    Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line

    Best Time To Go On An Alaska Cruise Best Price Weather And Wildlife

    Alaska cruise season is five months long from May to September.

    During these five months, the scenario changes every week.

    Every week, one there are noticeable differences in weather, wildlife, and cruise pricing.

    Therefore, the best time to go on an Alaskan cruise is rather subjective.

    The best time to board an Alaskan cruise depends on whether youre looking for cheap Alaskan cruise options, or the best wildlife experience, or the maximum daylight to enjoy the scintillating Alaskan views.

    To help you pick your best time for an Alaskan cruise we have broken down the conditions to expect in three parts.

    Best time for an Alaskan cruise if you are interested in:

    • Best Alaskan cruise prices
    • Best exposure to Alaskan wildlife
    • Best Alaskan weather conditions

    Our month-by-month break up of what to expect during an Alaskan cruise will help you take an informed decision.

    If you are in a hurry to know whats the best time for a cruise to Alaska, here is our short answer: Any month is a good month to be on an Alaskan cruise.

    However, the locals of Alaska, and those who are part of the Alaskan tourism industry suggest the most favorable time for an Alaskan cruise is between 20 May to 10 June.

    This period offers the most beautiful Alaskan weather for a cruise. Besides, there is less crowd as the kids are still in school.

    For a more detailed answer to the question What is the best time for an Alaskan cruise continue reading.

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