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With its scenic landscapes, abounding wildlife, and majestic glaciers, Alaska is a beautiful destination any time of year. But if you’re thinking of exploring this vibrant region on an Alaskan cruise, the best time to do so is between May and September. However, within these months there are differences that may impact the time during which you choose to travel.

The Best Time to Cruise Alaska for Wildlife: Springtime (late-May through mid-June)

Though summer is the most popular time to cruise Alaska, springtime may be ideal for travelers who prefer fewer tourists, slightly cooler temperatures, and more regular daylight hours, with no midnight sun to contend with.

During this time, flowers, plants, and forests are just coming to life after a long winter’s sleep. King Salmon runs start and other wildlife is waking up too, as mothers and their calves or cubs can be seen ashore. The spring months are also great for viewing moose, sheep, mountain goats, and black bears who are lured back out to feed on the new vegetation.

The Best Time to Cruise Alaska for Good Weather: Summer (mid-June through August)

If you prefer warmer temperatures, ranging from 50° to 70° Fahrenheit, and longer days with up to 22 hours of sunlight, a summer Alaskan cruise might be the perfect choice. For the most midnight sun, travel 3 weeks before or after June 21, the summer solstice.

In late June through mid-August, brown bears and moose come out to feed in ponds, lakes, and along rivers. Summer is also a great time of year to cruise Alaska to see whales. You may see beluga whales, humpback whales, or pods of orcas who frequent Alaskan waters in the summer, as well as seals and dolphins. Throughout your journey, your captain will position the ship for best viewing from the top deck or your private balcony.

The Best Time to Cruise Alaska to Avoid Crowds: Late Summer (early September)

For those who want fewer crowds, lower pricing, cooler temperatures, and fall foliage views, early September is ideal. As summer turns to autumn, you may see humpback whales, spawning salmon, and caribou migrating to their winter feeding grounds.

The Best Time to Cruise Alaska to See the Northern Lights (late September)

The northern lights, or the aurora borealis, is a display of unbelievable colors that move across the Arctic Sky. This phenomenon appears when highly charged solar wind particles flowing from the sun collide with air molecules in the earth’s atmosphere transferring their energy into light.   Few places on earth offer more ways to witness the northern lights than Alaska. Though not as likely as during the winter months, September also offers the opportunity to witness the magic of the northern lights.

Book Your Alaska Cruise Vacation

When it comes to going on an Alaskan cruise, there is no wrong choice. Whether it be spring, mid, or late summer, you will witness incredible wildlife, explore spectacular scenery, and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences.