“Fffshshhhh….” that’s the sound of a whale breaching next to your cruise ship in Alaska. Home to large marine mammals, bears, moose, and eagles, Alaska is a popular cruise destination for multi-generational travelers of all ages and interests.
Alaska was my family’s first cruise and included three generations. It was a chance for us to converge in one place since we are spread out around the country. And, of course, we created lots of new memories and experiences to last a lifetime.
My Alaska guide comes from personal experience cruising Alaska in June. From packing tips to wildlife sightings, read on and see everything you need to know about how to have an epic Alaska Cruise in June.
Tip: Don’t forget to read our Alaska Cruise FAQ at the end of this article. Additionally, we highly recommend that you purchase the best travel insurance (opens in a separate tab) for any type of cruise!
June is the ideal time to cruise in Alaska. The weather can approach 80°F (26°C) in the day, and the sun doesn’t set, it just drops to twilight from 11:30 PM until 4 AM. Although nights can get freezingly cold, you’ll spend evenings on board your warm and cozy cruise ship.
When being outside during nighttime, your hands can feel like icicles. More on clothing later!
The average daytime high for Juneau is 62°F (16°C), and the average nighttime low is 50°F (10°C).
Dress warmly for the day your ship sails up to a glacier. It can be bright and sunny, but cold winds can fly off the glacier, bringing a brisk chill.
Alaska Inside Passage cruises visit the state’s southeastern Panhandle, and it’s rich with rain forests.
During June on an Alaska cruise, it’s not uncommon to have a brief rainstorm sneak up on you or for the entire day to be foggy and overcast. However, the area still has its fair share of crystal-clear sunny days.
Juneau only averages about 2.3” inches of rain in June, compared to 7.5” inches in September.
Activities During My Cruise
My June cruise left from Vancouver, stopped at six ports and ended in Seward.
We took a bus from Anchorage to Denali. The climate in Alaska’s panhandle (the southeastern coast where Juneau is located — inside passage) is very different from that of inland Alaska north of Anchorage.
It was really hot inland. Like t-shirts and shorts. However, the majority of the time during the maritime portion of the trip, it was cold and raining. Even when the sun shines, it doesn’t warm up a lot. The sun can also be very bright when it reflects off of rain.
Most people avoid the outdoor decks of cruise ships in colder climates because the wind can reach 25 mph.
I went on a zodiac tour, so the wind and temperature varied greatly. It was chilly and uncomfortable on the boat, but when we arrived at the island for a hike, it was warm enough that I removed my coat and sweatshirt. You should always dress warmly with extra layers when going on a boat tour.
It was foggy and rainy when I rode the tram up to the mountain peak in Juneau. I also wore my winter (ski) coat that day. I didn’t bring an umbrella because my coat was waterproof and had a hood to pull over my head.
Later that day, I visited Mendenhall Glacier, and my attire was still appropriate.
If I had been able to fly and land on the glacier as planned, I would have needed hiking boots or something more substantial than walking shoes. If necessary, crampons (spikes) will be provided.
On the land tour portion of the trip, I wore a sweatshirt in the morning and a t-shirt during the daytime hours. Even though the sun sets in the Alaskan panhandle, sunset in June and July is around 11 p.m. or midnight. Unless you’re cruising in an inside cabin, bring an eye mask to block out the evening sun.
What to Wear / What to Pack
Be prepared for a variety of weather conditions, ranging from cold and damp to warm and dry. Experienced travelers know the way to deal with this situation is to wear layers.
Start with a warm base layer like a short or long t-shirt or lightweight thermal. Then, add a sweater, sweatshirt, or fleece layer, followed by a puffy jacket or vest. Finally, make sure you have a waterproof outer layer available, like a raincoat. Staying dry is the key to warmth.
Here’s a brief packing list to help you get started:
- Light layers like long-sleeved or short-sleeved shirts, long underwear, or leggings
- Middle layer like a sweater, hoodie, fleece/waterproof jacket/vest
- Insulated outer layer like a medium puffer coat or winter ski jacket if you get cold easily
- Waterproof jacket
- Tops, shirts, button-downs
- Slacks or jeans, optional shorts
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
- Hat, scarf, and gloves if you get cold easily
- Swimsuit (for pool and hot tub)
- Binoculars (for nature watching)
- Hand warmers
💡 Even though June is the start of summer, don’t underestimate the weather. It may be too chilly for you if you’re not used to cold weather, so it’s better to bring more layers than you think you’ll need.
Women’s Outer Layer/Jacket Recommendations:
Good to know: Every port sells fleece-lined, waterproof jackets in case you didn’t bring warm enough outer layers. These also make great souvenirs as they are usually reasonably priced.
Men’s Outer Layer/Jacket Recommendations:
If you get close to a glacier on land or in the water, the air cools quickly. Although viewing the glacier from the helipad is just amazing, cutting winds can entice you back inside before you’re ready.
Expect close to freezing temperatures, and have an insulated jacket, hat, gloves, and scarf for this experience.
Even though June is one of the driest months, be prepared for rain.
Being unprepared for cold rain can make your Alaska trip miserable. Even if one day is hot, the next day or the next hour could be different.
Make sure you have a waterproof (not water-resistant) jacket, waterproof boots, and a compact umbrella.
Many Alaska cruise excursions involve uneven terrain, so comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots are important. Sneakers/trainers, sandals, boat shoes, and other casual footwear are appropriate for onboard activities.
Prices in June
Since June is the peak Alaska cruise season. Kids are finished with school, the weather is great, and everyone wants to experience the Last Frontier.
As a result of high demand, Alaska cruise prices will be at their peak in June. Your cost also depends on which cruise line and cabin you choose and how you travel to the embarkation port.
Inside rooms cost more than balconies, Disney Cruise Line costs more than Norwegian Cruise Line, and flying cross country is more costly than a quick trip up from Los Angeles.
On the average large cruise ship (Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, and Princess), expect to pay:
- Inside room: $50 to $150 per person per day or $700 to $2,100 per week for two people.
- Outside room: $75 to $200 per person per day, or $1,050 to $2800 per week for two people.
- Balcony room: $100 to $300 per person per day or $1,400 to $4,200 per week for two people.
- Suites: $250+/person per day or $3500+ per week for two people.
These prices only cover the cruise fare and taxes, not excursions, premium dining, drink packages, internet packages, and anything else you’d spend on board. Your costs to and from the port are also excluded.
Some cruise lines have deep discounts or free promotions for 3rd and 4th passengers in a cabin. It’s rarely a better deal to put a large group in a suite since it can cost thousands per person.
However, if you book early (like two years ahead), you might find family rooms (not suites) with multiple bedrooms, bunks, and a sofa bed.
Several cruise lines offer land tour extensions that start/end in Anchorage or Fairbanks. You get the opportunity to see Alaska’s most popular National Park, Denali, and the beautiful landscape surrounding it. I did this with my family, and I’d absolutely do it again.
When the eight of us in my family took our Alaska cruise in June 2007, it cost $10,000 for three inside cabins on Holland America Line — and a 5-day land tour extension to Denali. In today’s dollars, that’s about $14,500.
How Busy / Sold Out?
Alaska cruises sell out because cruise lines operate fewer ships than in other areas like the Caribbean. The best time to plan an Alaska cruise is at least a year in advance, two if you can. Not only do you find lower prices, but you get the opportunity to choose the perfect room and location.
Occasionally, you can find deals last minute, but you may only have two or three weeks before sailing. June and July are the most popular months for Alaska cruises, so if you wait for a last-minute deal, you must have a flexible schedule and no cruise line or cabin preference.
Fortunately, even if the ship is at maximum capacity (a rare situation), it shouldn’t affect your experience much. Large ships are designed to accommodate thousands of people with staggered dining times, a variety of dining options, entertainment, and sometimes a dozen elevator banks.
Bring your binoculars because you’ll have many opportunities to glimpse wildlife on a June Alaska cruise. It’s peak migration season for marine life and a time for permanent residents to eat up for the long winter ahead. From the ship, you can see:
- Humpback Whales
- Killer Whales/Orcas
- Sea Otters
- Sea Lions
- Harbor Seals
- Bald Eagles
On land, you can also find majestic and unique animals like:
- Dall Sheep
- Mountain Goats
Alaska Cruise FAQ
Which cruise lines sail to Alaska?
Major cruise lines including Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Holland America, Norwegian, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, and Un-Cruise Adventures all offer cruises to Alaska. Past passengers may qualify for additional discounts.
Do any small ships sail to Alaska?
Small ships offer a more personalized and expedition-style of cruising, allowing passengers to explore remote waterways and get up close to glaciers and wildlife. However, these cruises tend to be more expensive than larger, contemporary cruises.
How long are Alaska cruises?
Alaska cruises can range from 6 to 30 days, with 7-day Alaska Inside Passage or Glacier Cruises being the most common. Passengers can also extend their cruises by adding a land tour to visit interior cities and National Parks.
Will Alaska be too cold on a cruise?
Although Alaska is located near the North Pole and has lots of ice, the May-September Alaska Cruise Season is not extremely cold. Visitors can enjoy dog-sledding or trekking across a glacier, but will not need to worry about extreme temperatures. Follow our clothing and packing tips above and you’ll be fine!
Is it true it doesn’t get dark in Alaska?
From April to September, Alaska experiences very long days, known as the “Land of the Midnight Sun.” The amount of daylight depends on the location and time of travel, but longer days provide more opportunities to see wildlife and natural beauty.
Is a stateroom with a balcony actually worth it?
A private balcony provides passengers with breathtaking views of Alaska’s changing scenery, including mountains, wilderness, glaciers, and wildlife. Balcony staterooms are also a great way to escape the crowds and enjoy the view in privacy.
Q: When’s the best time to see whales on a cruise?
A: The best time to see whales is between June and early September. To increase your chances, you can take a whale watching tour which is very exciting, especially when the captain gets close to the whale pods.
Q: Should I bring kids?
A: Yes, Alaska is a great vacation spot and an educational opportunity for kids. Many cruise lines have cabins that can accommodate families, including special activities and programs for children.
Q: Which side of the ship is best for glacier viewing?
A: There’s no better side when cruising the Inside Passage or entering the fjords in Alaska.
Q: Can I bring a wheelchair?
A: Most cruise lines can accommodate wheelchair passengers, but advance notice is required. Passengers must be able to travel independently or with a companion who can provide assistance.
Q: Can I also go fishing?
A: Yes, fishing is a popular activity in Alaska with many opportunities to fish for various types of fish. Fishing excursions can be booked through the cruise line or independently.
Q: When’s the most inexpensive month?
A: The two seasons for Alaska cruises are peak season, which is between June and August, and shoulder season, which is between May and September. Shoulder season can be more affordable.