If you’re wondering how cold Alaska cruises are and whether it’s best to travel early or late in the season, you’re not alone. Alaska’s unpredictable cruise weather leaves many travelers unsure about which month to choose for a trip.

Alaska weather in September for cruises is not much colder than early June, but it is much wetter. Add in the shorter days, rougher seas, and less wildlife than earlier in the season, and it’s easy to see why many travelers opt for spring or summer trips.

(Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean Organization)

May, June and July are the best months to enjoy warm, dry days, optimal fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities, and plenty of daylight. Check out our guide to Alaska weather in May, June and July. In addition to monthly statistics, discover other seasonal variations to help you choose the ideal time to go boating.

Alaska Cruise Weather : May

Temperatures on cruise ships in Alaska average below 40 degrees in May, with highs around 55 degrees Fahrenheit. May tends to be slightly wetter than June and July, with a small chance of snow at the beginning of the month. (Ketchikan, one of the wettest places in North America, gets an average of 9.5 inches of precipitation in May).

In Ketchikan, daylight averages 16 hours in May; north of Anchorage, the days are even longer, and even longer if you sail to Fairbanks. However, daylight hours are a few hours shorter in May than in late June, when you travel around the vernal equinox.

In May you can expect many snowy peaks. If you’re climbing hills or mountains on a land trip, there’s usually still snow on the ground. Bring waterproof walking shoes and warm, waterproof layers (don’t forget the gloves and hat) to cope with a wet or chilly spring.

Mosquitoes are not a problem in the summer, so you don’t have to worry about pesky insects. On the other hand, if you’re planning a cruise, bus service to Denali National Park doesn’t begin until late May, and the road through the park will only be partially open until early June.

(Photo courtesy of Holland America)

May marks the beginning of salmon fishing, whale watching and game season, although Alaska’s cruise season allows for whale watching and fishing trips at any time. Late May and early June are considered the best time to observe the mammals, as mothers and babies are searching for food.

If budget is as important as weather for Alaska cruises, May is one of the cheapest months to sail due to off-season discounts.

READ MORE: Alaska Inside Passage Cruises: What you need to know.

Alaska Cruise Weather: June

If you plan an Alaska cruise in June, temperatures will average 45 degrees on the low end and 62 degrees on the high end. June, along with July, is the wettest month, with an average precipitation of less than 7.5 inches in Ketchikan. The boating weather in Alaska in late June is one of the best, with 18 hours of daylight and plenty of sunshine. With a little luck, it will even be warm!

Because the ground is drier in June than in May, Alaska cruisers can embark on some serious hiking. Whether you’re hiking alone or with a guide, don’t forget to bring the right gear, like a backpack with a bear bell, water bottles, snacks and, most importantly, bug spray. Mosquitoes begin to be a nuisance in June.

For other shore excursions, a layer is the best option. In the morning, you may still need a fleece jacket, but in the evening you’ll only need a t-shirt. A raincoat is always handy, because you never know when you might find yourself in a summer storm.

Due to Alaska’s warmer weather, June (and July) is the best time to see the crumbling glaciers on a scenic drive. June is also one of the best months for whale watching. Late June and early July are the best times to visit bear habitats.

(Photo courtesy of Nancy Schretter)

With the beautiful weather in Alaska in late June, it’s a great time to plan a Denali cruise. The road is wide open, the days are long and dry, and you have a better chance of seeing active wildlife.

Cruise prices will be higher in June than in May, but better than in the best summer months.

Alaska Cruise Weather: July

July offers the best summer cruise weather in Alaska. This month has the least precipitation (less than 7.5 inches in Ketchikan), long days (17 to 18 hours of daylight), and a warm climate. Temperatures on Alaska cruises average 48 degrees at the bottom and 65 degrees at the top in July.

Bring sunglasses and sunscreen, and a swimsuit for a swim on the upper deck after the shore excursion. Despite the positive weather forecast, you should take into account light layers and rain gear for visiting or hiking on the glaciers, a forest walk or the ever-present rain showers.

Ships at anchor in Juneau, Alaska

Anglers should cruise in July, when most salmon are returning. Like June, it’s the perfect month for wildlife viewing, whether you’re looking for bears, moose or humpback whales. The glaciers on your route will crackle like crazy, so make sure your July cruise itinerary takes you past Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, or other scenic spots.

If you’re traveling in July, you can choose from a wide range of cruise destinations. But be careful: Cruise prices are highest on average this month because the weather in Alaska is very nice in July and more families are traveling because school is out for the summer.

READ MORE: Visit Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska

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