A voyage through Alaska’s Inside Passage is truly an unparalleled experience. Oceans teeming with wildlife, including breaching humpback whales and adorable sea otters, surround you, while visible on the shore, deep green forests stretch across the mountainous horizon and bald-eagles soar. Embarking on your Alaskan exploration by ship allows you to fully take advantage of the unique wonders Alaska has to offer both on the water and on land. When you’re planning to see this awe-inspiring area for yourself, what factors should you consider when deciding when to go?
Although the Inside Passage is located in Alaska’s South-East, the region is still fairly far north, bordering North-Western British Columbia in Canada, meaning it can get quite cold and it is thus important to plan your Alaska trip during a time that won’t be too frigid. Temperatures between May and September tend to be the warmest with average highs in May around 13 degrees Celsius getting up to an average high of 18 degrees Celsius in July.
While, judging solely by the weather, it may seem that the best time to visit Alaska by boat would be in mid-summer, you might risk having to be part of some serious crowds should you choose to go in July or August. According to a report by the State of Alaska, it saw 1,659,600 out-of-state visitors during the summer months of 2014, 58 per cent of which were cruise ship passengers. Considering the warmer temperatures, and the fact that North American children are out of school between the end of June and beginning of September, it makes sense then that this would be the busiest time for Alaskan cruises. If you’re looking for a more authentic and quieter Alaskan travel experience, it might be better to look at leaving in still-warm May or June.
Choosing May or June for your Alaskan trip also has the added benefit of providing better chances for wildlife spotting. On land, black and brown bears emerge from hibernation in May and June while moose and deer begin their calving seasons. Bird life is also active during this time as seabirds start gathering at their nesting areas and songbirds migrate into the area and can be heard by their courtship songs. In June, harbour seals start their birthing season while humpback and killer whales begin to arrive in the area for the summer.
If you’re interested in an Alaskan adventure that offers a unique, intimate experience away from the big crowds, take a look at the Alaskan expedition cruises in 2016 from Aurora Expeditions.