Alaska Cruise Weather: May-July Overview

Alaska is known for its unpredictable and often erratic weather, so many travelers hesitate over which month to book their sailing. 

While winter months carry a certain magical allure, most opt for spring or summer trips due to vibrant landscapes, extended daylight hours, and milder temperatures. 

Island Princess in Alaska
(Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

It’s also during this period that travelers can indulge in fishing and wildlife-viewing opportunities.

Check out our guide to Alaska cruise weather for May, June, and July. In addition to monthly stats, discover the other seasonal variations that can help you pick the perfect time to cruise. 

Alaska Cruise Weather: May

Alaska PortAverage High (°F)Average Low (°F)Daylight Hours
Icy Strait Point Upper 50sLow 50s16

In May, Alaska cruise temperatures average between 40 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit. 

May tends to be slightly rainier than June and July, with a slight chance of snow earlier in the month. 

Ketchikan, a popular stop for cruise ships, is one of the rainiest places in North America. It averages about 9.5 inches of rain in May. So if you’re cruise includes a visit to Ketchikan, it wouldn’t hurt to pack your rain gear. 

Ketchikan averages 16 hours of daylight in May; you’ll get even longer days as you travel north to Anchorage and still more if you take a cruise tour up to Fairbanks. 

ketchikan alaska creek street
Row of shops on Creek street in Ketchikan, Alaska (Photo courtesy of Holland America)

However, daylight hours in May are a few hours shorter than what you’ll experience if you travel around the spring equinox in late June. 

Expect to see plenty of snow-capped peaks in May. If you travel up into the hills or mountains on a shore excursion, it’s common to find snow still on the ground. As such, you’ll want to pack waterproof hiking boots and warm, waterproof layers (don’t forget gloves and hats) to handle any wet or chilly spring weather. 

Mosquitos aren’t a problem in May. They’re in the summer, so you don’t have to worry about pesky insects while enjoying your vacation. 

If you’re planning a cruise tour to Denali National Park and Preserve, it’s worth noting that the bus service doesn’t begin until late May. The road through the park is only partially open until early June. 

alaska denali moose holland america
(Photo courtesy of Holland America)

For nature lovers, you’ll be glad to know that May marks the beginning of the salmon-fishing, whale-watching, and wildlife-viewing seasons. 

Although you can spot whales and go fishing any time during the Alaska cruise season, late May and early June are considered the best for seeing mammals because this is when moms and babies search for food. 

If budget is as big a concern as Alaska cruise weather, May is one of the cheapest months to sail due to shoulder-season discounts. 

READ MORE: Alaska Inside Passage Cruises: What You Need to Know

Alaska Cruise Weather: June

Alaska PortAverage High (°F)Average Low (°F)Daylight Hours
Icy Strait Point604818

If you’re planning an Alaska cruise in June, temperatures average a low of 45 and a high of 62. 

June is tied with July as the least rainy month, with Ketchikan receiving an average rainfall of less than 7.5 inches.

Alaska cruise weather in late June is some of the best, with 18 hours of daylight and plenty of sun. If you’re lucky, it might even get warm! 

With drier ground in June than in May, Alaska cruisers can start to hike in earnest. 

Whether on your own or with a guide, be sure to pack appropriate gear, such as backpacks with bear bells, water bottles, snacks, and—most importantly—bug spray. The mosquitos start being a nuisance in June. 

For other shore excursions, layering is your best bet. You might need a fleece jacket in the morning but find yourself stripping down to a T-shirt by early afternoon. A packable rain jacket is always good to have on hand since you never know when you’ll get caught in a summer squall. 

alaska cruise holland america line
(Photo courtesy of Nancy Schretter)

The warmer Alaska weather makes June (and July) the best times to see calving glaciers during scenic cruise days. 

June is also one of the best months for whale-watching; late June and early July are the best times for bear-spotting excursions. 

Because of the fine Alaska weather in late June, it’s an excellent time to plan a cruise tour to Denali. The roads are open, days long and dry, and there’s an increased chance of seeing active wildlife.

Cruise fares in June will be higher than in May but better than in the prime summer months.

Alaska Cruise Weather: July

Alaska PortAverage High (°F)Average Low (°F)Daylight Hours
Icy Strait Point605118

July offers the best Alaska cruise summer weather. It has the least rain (less than 7.5 inches in Ketchikan), long days (17 to 18 hours of daylight), and a warm climate. Temperatures average a low of 48 and a high of 65.

Pack your sunglasses, sunscreen, and your bathing suit for a top-deck dip after your shore tour. Despite the positive forecast, you’ll still want to pack light layers and rain gear that you can don for glacier viewing or visits, forested hikes, or the always-possible rain shower.

Fishing enthusiasts will do their best cruising in July since most types of salmon are running during this month. As with June, it’s an ideal month for wildlife viewing, whether you seek out bears, moose, or Humpback whales.

Exterior view of Zaandam docked in Juneau, Alaska
Zaandam docked in Juneau, Alaska (Photo courtesy of Holland America)

The glaciers along your route will be cracking like mad, so make sure your July cruise swings by Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, or other scenic cruising destinations. 

You’ll have the full range of cruise tour destinations open to you if you travel in July. But be warned: Cruise fares average the highest this month because the Alaska cruise weather in July is so nice, and more families are traveling because school is out for the summer.

READ MORE: Visiting Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best time to cruise Alaska? 

The answer entirely depends on your travel goals. 
In general, the best time to cruise Alaska is from July to September due to milder weather and longer daylight hours. During these months, tour destinations and attractions are open and fully operational, so you can enjoy the full Alaskan experience. 

However, May and June also come with their own perks. For one, they’re excellent months for wildlife viewing. The landscape becomes alive with hundreds of migratory birds, and you’ll have a good chance to spot bears, whales, and other wildlife. 

Furthermore, May and June bring competitive pricing for cruises compared to the peak season in July. This can be advantageous for budget-conscious travelers. 

What is the best time of year to see the northern lights in Alaska cruise?

Northern lights in Alaska usually appear during the aurora seasons, which typically fall in April, August, and September. It’s less likely to occur between May and July due to the extended daylight hours and the midnight sun

Can I still see glaciers during an Alaska cruise from May to July?

Yes! In fact, most glacier excursions are best done in summer and early fall months, which coincidentally falls between May and July and extends till September. Glacial activities, such as calving, are more pronounced during these periods due to warmer temperatures.

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