What Should I Expect on My Alaskan Cruise?
Hey, y’all! I have to admit, I’m suffering from a bit of wanderlust. I’ve been dreaming of some of my favorite locations (Honduras, Belize, and Alaska) and I’ve been counting down the days until my next trip. Boy, let me tell you, it can’t come soon enough!
My parents are almost completely in retirement mode. Let me tell you, they are loving life! They bought a camper and go camping at least twice a month. They just got back from Aruba and they are planning their return trip to Alaska. Needless to say, I’m totally jealous!
Since Alaska has been on my mind so much, I thought I’d share some information about what you can expect from an Alaska Cruise.
Which Cruise Lines Visit Alaska?
Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Carribean, Disney, Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, and Crystal cruise lines all sail to Alaska. There are also some smaller companies that make the voyage.
When is Cruise Season?
Most cruise lines begin sailing to Alaska in May however, some may try to sailing in late April. The cruise season will typically end by mid-September when the temperatures begin to plummet and the ice begins to form.
Rough Seas? Many people worry about experience rough seas while they are on cruises. If you cruise during the shoulder season (May or September) there is a greater chance of experiencing rough seas. This is mostly in part to the changing of the seasons.
What will the Weather Be Like?
The weather in southeast Alaska is relatively mild during the cruising season. The average day time temperatures are in the mid-60’s during the daytime and mid-40’s at night. Not bad, right? You should prepare for rain, however. Many of the cruise ports are located in the Alaskan rain forest.
If you plan on going to check out one of the many glaciers, you will definitely want to pack warm clothes; we’re talking coats, gloves, hats and scarves. Even on bright and sunny days these areas are super chilly!
It should be noted that if your itinerary includes a day sailing through the fjords that inclement weather/the presence of ice, may impact a fjord day. On my itinerary we were supposed to sail through the Tracy Arm Fjord. Unfortunately, there was a ton if ice caps floating around so we were unable to successfully go through Tracy Arm, instead we visited Dawes Glacier in the Endicott Arm, which was awesome!
Since the summers months are mild, you shouldn’t have to worry about snow. There will be snow on the mountain tops, and maybe even some on the ground (we saw snow up in the Yukon, for instance) but it shouldn’t be snowing.
Will I see Whales?
his is one of the most frequently asked questions people that visit Alaska get. Chances are, yes, you will see a whale. We were fortunate enough to see countless whales on our weeklong cruise. We saw several humpbacks (even some breaching the water!) and lots of orcas. The key to whale watching is being patient, paying attention and focusing on the horizon.
Our cruise had a naturalist on board that would announce when she spotted whales. She’d say “There’s a humpback fluke on the portside at 10 o’clock,” so people would know where to look.
We spotted most of the whales in the Inside Passage and right near the US/Canadian border.
What other wildlife is frequently spotted?
You’ll have a pretty good chance of seeing seals, and eagles in the fjords. I can’t even begin to tell you how many bald eagles we spotted. They literally dotted the entire fjord. We also so quite a bit of them in Juneau.
As far as other animals, it will depend greatly on the excursions you choose. While we didn’t get to see any moose, we did spot some bears. In fact, we saw a bear sauntering across the street in downtown Juneau! You may also see goats and salmon.
What should I pack?
The key to packing for Alaska is making sure you have layers! I packed a long sleeve shirt or a sweater/cardigan for each day. Underneath this shirt I also had a tank top or a short sleeve shirt. I also wore a jacket every single day. I almost never too off my jacket so I could have totally gotten away with wearing the same thing every day! Make sure you pack a jacket and you are prepared for rain. Check out my Alaska Packing List for a more detailed description of what I packed.
One cool thing about Alaskan cruises is that they are super laid back. You don’t have to worry as much about formal nights. This was incredibly handy since I had to worry about the weight of my baggage when I flew from Florida to Seattle.
Don't miss all of the highlights from my cruise; including some incredible photos and a run down of what I did in each port!