Why You Should Cruise Alaska in the Spring

alaska in the spring mountains
This post may contain affiliate links, including for the Amazon Associates program, which means I may make a small commission at no expense to you.

While many people may think the best time to go to Alaska is in the summer, this isn’t the only time to visit. Cruising Alaska in the spring has many advantages over other times of the year. Personally, I think the best time of year to go to Alaska is in the spring. This season has many advantages you won’t find with other seasons.

I went to Alaska in May with UnCruise Adventures and loved it for multiple reasons. During this cruise, I felt like I got to experience the state more as a local instead of a tourist.

I also saw many parts of Alaska, such as the Inside Passage, that wouldn’t have been as accessible if I were on another cruise ship or went at a different time of year. Here are several reasons to consider a cruise to Alaska in the spring.

Reasons to Cruise Alaska in the Spring

Fewer Crowds

Having fewer crowds is a huge advantage to visiting Alaska in the spring. Popular ports like Juneau and Ketchikan are absolutely packed during the summer months. The big ships haven’t yet shown up during this time of year, so you’ll have more of the cities to yourself. You can check out this Alaska travel guide if you want to explore more of the area on your own.

You’d be surprised at how even one big cruise line can completely clog up a town when they’re in port. With how many things to do in Alaska there are, it’s much more enjoyable when you don’t have to wait for a table at a restaurant or shove your way around other tourists in stores.

Personally, nothing turns me off from a destination more than seeing it packed with tourists. I prefer to enjoy towns with fewer crowds and experience it more like a local, which is why spring is one of the best times to visit Alaska to avoid this.

alaska in the spring ketchikan

Snow on the Shore

When I visited Fairbanks in the winter, I expected to see snow everywhere. However, I didn’t know there are many places you can go to in Alaska in the spring that still have snow on the shore, yet are still accessible. I loved doing our daily excursions and seeing the remains of snow everywhere.

However, it’s not enough snow that it stops you from hiking or doing other activities outside. Having snow-capped mountains and giant glaciers also makes for better pictures in my opinion. I loved being able to walk around on the land and see ice floating in the water that I could touch.

Northern Lights Sightings

Spring is one of the best times to visit Alaska because you still have a chance of seeing the Northern Lights. While they’re most prevalent in the winter, you’ll have to endure much colder conditions to see them.

Being outside in the middle of the night when the weather is warmer is much more doable. When you visit Alaska in April or other spring months, you have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights thanks to a lack of light pollution.

This is especially true the further away you get from large cities and more in the Inside Passage. While I didn’t see them on my cruise, I did note how dark it was each night out on the water.

More Sunny Days

While it does rain more in the spring, it’s not as much as you might think. When I went on my cruise to Alaska in the spring, there were a few hours in the morning or afternoon where it rained.

However, it wasn’t the entire day, and there was still plenty to do since it wasn’t a downpour. I also found that the sunsets were amazing during this time of year. Almost every night the sky would light up with the most stunning shades of pink and yellow. Alaska in May starts to become a lot drier, meaning you’ll get more sunny days and more of these sunsets.

best alaska cruise sunset

Increased Wildlife Sightings

One of the top animals that many people are obsessed with seeing when they visit Alaska are bears. Spring in Alaska is a great time to go if this is your goal, as many bears are coming down from their dens to go to the shore.

I had multiple bear sightings on my cruise, and I couldn’t believe how close they were to the ship. Bears tend to become most active in March and April as they start to wake up in hibernation.

Going to Alaska in May gives you a good chance of seeing the rest of the bears that are left, particularly the momma bears. Every time our captain spotted a bear, he would let us know over the intercom so we could all run to the front of the ship with our camera. No one would even mind that it meant we had to stay on the boat for a little longer, as it was a beautiful sight to see bears in their natural habitat.

We also saw so many whales that I lost count. Alaska in the spring is a playground for sea life, including humpback whales, seals, and sea lions. Since my cruise ship was small, we could easily observe them without disturbing them playing in their natural habitat.

spring in alaska fog

Cheaper Time of Year

Another reason to go to Alaska in the spring is how much cheaper everything is. My flight from Seattle to Ketchikan in May was half the price of what it would have been in July, saving hundreds of dollars.

Going on a cruise in Alaska will also be much cheaper than going in the middle of summer. I’d much rather save money than go during the most popular time of the year, especially when combined with all the reasons I already listed.

Another benefit to this is hotels will be cheaper if you decide to extend your time in Alaska before or after your cruise. You’ll be able to get nicer hotels at lower prices in the spring to call your home base while you explore.

mountains spring in alaska

Fewer Bugs

Something many people don’t think about is how many bugs there are in Alaska in the summer. The state is known for some gnarly mosquitoes and other giant insects, which makes your experience there less pleasant. Spring in Alaska is the perfect time to go because those bugs haven’t come out yet, so you can enjoy being outside without being bitten.

A unique part about taking an UnCruise cruise is how much you get to get out in the wilderness each day. From hiking to kayaking, you’re always outside. That means bugs should be the least of your problems so you can focus on the nature around you instead.

waterfall best time to visit alaska

How to Pick the Best Alaska Cruise

When deciding what the best Alaska cruise for you is, take into account all the factors I listed above. These will help you decide what the best time to visit Alaska is, and you can narrow your choices down from there.

Does it matter to you how much money you save, or is money not a factor? Do you prefer to explore ports when there are fewer people, or do you not mind waiting in stores and restaurants with big crowds? Are you looking for a more authentic experience of seeing wildlife, or is your main reason for going to be on the ship? Consider all of these before picking a cruise to Alaska.

Another major factor to decide is how big you want your cruise ship to be. Some of the big brands can have thousands of people on board. That means you’ll constantly be fighting for spots in restaurants on board, at shows, and in the pool.

With a small cruise ship like UnCruise, that will never be an issue. Getting time in the hot tub alone with a view of the mountains like below is much more possible. This is especially true when going to Alaska in the spring.

alaska in the spring hot tub uncruise

What Makes UnCruise Different

To be honest, I never considered myself a “cruise person.” When I travel, nothing makes me antsier than being stuck in one spot where I can’t get out and explore. With UnCruise, this is never an issue. In fact, you’ll have so many activities available that it’s hard to pick just a few!

Constant Activities on Land

Most days you get to sign up for an activity in the morning, come back for lunch, and go out for another activity in the afternoon. That may include kayaking in the morning to explore the shores and hiking in the forest later. I was so tired each day (in a good way) because of how active I was each day.

Getting all that fresh air also does wonders for sleeping well! They also add unique twists to each activity thanks to the fun tour guides (ex. drinking a shot out of an actual piece of ice from the water!).

spring in alaska uncruise

More Personalized

I didn’t even feel like I was on a cruise, but rather a floating bed. It just happened to be taking me to new destinations each day. UnCruise stands out because they use very small ships for each cruise.

That means you’ll get to know your fellow passengers much better than a more massive ship. It was the first cruise I’d been on where I knew at least a dozen people by name. I even knew details about their life and heard some amazing travel stories.

Getting to Secluded Areas

Another benefit of going on a small cruise ship in Alaska is fitting into areas where larger ships can’t. This is particularly true for the Inner Passage, which has some very narrow parts. The ship was able to go into a small bay, put down the anchor, and let us get out on small boats to go to shore.

When you go to Alaska in the spring, and you love nature, you’ll greatly appreciate this. I went on several hikes that would have been nearly impossible for anyone else to access. When kayaking, our group was able to learn about some of the plants growing on the shore.

Some of us even tasted a few of them! There were so many activities that were in secluded areas, so we were the only people around for miles. We got up close and personal with a glacier. I loved watching our boat navigate through the water and ice chunks as we got incredibly close.

All of these factors made this cruise so different from anything else I’ve ever experienced. My mind was completely changed on cruises after this!

hiking alaska in the spring

While southeast Alaska may seem small, there are various areas to explore. I heard several people on my cruise say that they were actually going on another cruise right after the one we were on was done. My journey went from Ketchikan to Juneau, but you can go on different routes. This includes leaving from Petersburg, Sitka, and even Seattle if you want an extended cruise.

To find out more information about Alaska cruises offered by UnCruise Adventures, visit their website. You’ll be able to see the specific cruises, how long they are, and where they go. While I recommend cruising Alaska in the spring, they offer cruises throughout the year. This cruise will be unlike anything you’ve done before, and I know you’ll love it!

This post was sponsored by UnCruise Adventures, but all opinions are my own.

4 thoughts on “Why You Should Cruise Alaska in the Spring

  1. Melissa says:

    I have always wanted to go to Alaska! everything about it just seems so beautiful. Spring sounds perfect if it has less crowds and bugs and more chances of seeing the Northern lights (all things that are a must for me ha!)

  2. Mar says:

    We used to live in Alaska, so I’m a huge pusher and believe everyone should visit. While the summer was great, I used to tell people to visit in the winter too. It’s not as bad as people think. Even though we lived there, I would still love to do a cruise. These photos are stunning, really make me miss it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.