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Best and Worst Months to Cruise to Alaska

Best time to cruise to Alaska
Source: Pixabay public domain
The best time to cruise Alaska depends on both warm temperatures and a lower risk of rain.

July is the month with the ideal combination of the two, followed by June and then August.

For the most part, rainfall is lowest in May and climbs steadily until reaching the highest point in September.

The majority of Alaskan cruises run between May and September. July and August are the most active months with the warmest temperatures.

Average high temperatures can reach into the mid 60s Fahrenheit or high teens Celsius along the Alaskan coast during the summer months of June through August.

They reach the mid to upper 50s Fahrenheit or low teens Celsius during May and September, according to historical records from the U.S. National Weather Service. Because of these cooler temperatures, fewer cruises are available in either month.

Despite temperatures in June that are similar to July and August, those two months have more cruises.

Alaska Cruise Weather By Month


The following breakdowns of weather by month combines 30 years of weather data for all of the major ports from the U.S. National Weather Service.

These historical averages are simply averages and will vary somewhat from year to year and port to port. But they give cruise planners a general idea of what to expect with weather and what clothing to pack.


May


Temperatures are somewhat chilly with daytime highs in the upper 50s Fahrenheit. Nighttime lows are in the lower 40s. Rainfall averages about five inches, which is good for Alaska. Historically, it rains about 19 days during the month. Fog and cloud cover are common.

June


The month of June brings warmer weather and a little more rain. The average high reaches into the low 60s Fahrenheit. It rains about 18 days on average.

Seward Alaska harbor
Fog is common at Alaska cruise ports. © 2018 Scott Bateman

July


Temperatures stay about the same but rainfall jumps to more than five inches. Still, the total rainfall and number of days with rain is better than other times of the year. Although daytime temperatures average in the low 60s Fahrenheit, we were lucky enough to have temperatures in the low 70s during our first cruise.

August


August temperatures again stay about even with June and July. But total rainfall jumps again to more than eight inches. The number of days with rain increases to 21. Overall weather is less appealing than June or July.

September


September belongs to cruise visitors who like rain and want cheap cruise line tickets. Total rainfall leaps to nearly 13 inches.

Weather By Cruise Port


Five major destinations for Alaskan cruises have historical data from the U.S. National Weather Service that shows common patterns for temperatures and rainfall.

These historical patterns make it easier to choose the best time to cruise Alaska.

Juneau Weather


Juneau is the northernmost major city on the Alaskan coast for many seven-day cruises.

It has an average high temperature in the low 60s Fahrenheit from June through August. The average low temperature, mainly at night, is about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although the temperatures are the similar from June through August, the rainfall is not.

Juneau averages about four inches of rain in June, five inches in July and eight inches in August. Rainfall jumps to more than 12 inches in September.

It rains an average of 18 days in June, 17 days in July and 19 days in August.

Ketchikan Weather


The fourth largest city in Alaska is Ketchikan, which also is a major cruise stop. The city has weather patterns that are similar to Juneau, although it is slightly warmer.

Average high temperatures reach 61 Fahrenheit in June and climb to 64 in July and August.

Ketchikan also has slightly more rainfall than Juneau. It averages more than six inches in June and July and 10 inches in August, according to the National Weather Service.

It rains about 16 days a month on average.

Vancouver


The Canadian city of Vancouver is a popular stop for Alaskan cruises that usually embark from Seattle WA.

It is much farther south than Ketchikan and experiences warmer temperatures and much less rain as a result.

But despite the summer months, it remains jacket weather. The average high temperature is 67 Fahrenheit in June and 71 in July and August, according to the Meteorological Service of Canada.

The average low temperature is in the low to mid 50s Fahrenheit.

May through September is a dry season for Vancouver. July and August are the driest months of the year with an average of less than two inches of rainfall each month.

Seattle


Seattle Washington, the starting point for many Alaskan cruises, is slightly south of Vancouver and shares similar weather patterns.

July and August are the warmest months of the year with an average high temperature of 76 degrees Fahrenheit or 24 Celsius, the National Weather Service reports.

Rainfall averages less than one inch and five days per month.

Alaskan cruises are most popular in July and August, partly as a result of warmer temperatures both months.

But the higher amount of rain in August makes July the best time to cruise to Alaska.

Anchorage


Anchorage is often the end point for cruises that travel north from Seattle or Vancouver. Passengers often disembark at Seward or Whittier and take a train or shuttle up to Anchorage and then to the airport.

The city has an average high temperature of about 56 degrees Fahrenheit or 14 Celsius in May and September. The average high is about 62 Fahrenheit or 17 Celsius from June through August.

Precipitation averages about five inches in May, June and July. It jumps to eight inches in August and nearly 13 inches in September.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Planning Tips   

August 07, 2018

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