Small Boat Alaska Cruises to the Tongass National Forest
Southeast Alaska is Picturesque Year-Round
It is important to understand that Alaska is not the frozen arctic as many in the “lower 48″ may believe. This Alaska travel guide will provide you with an idea of what to expect on your cruise aboard the LISERON or MIST COVE.
Protected by tall coastal mountains and warmed by Japanese currents off the Pacific Ocean, Southeast Alaska’s moist maritime climate is characterized by comfortable year-round temperatures. Average summer days are in the 60′s and low to mid 70′s. At night the temperature hovers around the mid to low 50′s.
For nature enthusiasts eager for a wilderness adventure, there is no “bad” time for a Southeast Alaska cruise. On any given day one can see humpback whales, orcas (also known as killer whales), dall’s porpoises, sea lions, seals and dozens of different species of bird.
World Class Fishing on an Alaskan Cruise
For those who choose a Southeast Alaska cruise in search of world-renowned fishing, this is the place for you. The fishing season begins in May, trolling for King Salmon in the waters of Southeast Alaska. As the summer progresses, the Kings run upstream from mid to late June, Pinks start running in July, and Silver salmon start upstream in early August. The Pink and Silver runs last into September. Halibut fishing is available all summer as these large cousins of the flounder roam the depths year round. Once you have caught your fair share of fish, the crew will clean, vacuum seal, freeze and box your catch for you to take home and, if you like, the chef will prepare some for dinner.
On any given day, guests of The Boat Company Alaskan Cruises have the opportunity to participate in an abundance of activities. We offer fishing, shoreline walks with our trained naturalists, early morning and late evening kayaking, wildlife and glacier viewing, and everything from leisurely beach combing or gentle strolls to vigorous hikes through virgin rainforests. On many wilderness adventure excursions you will traverse several different ecosystems in a single outing. Of course, it’s OK to curl up with a good book in the salon or on deck and just savor the view.
Experience the Wildlife on an Alaskan Cruise
On the water during an Alaskan Cruise, our guests cruise among pods of whales, capturing unique photographic souvenirs. A stop at The Brothers Islands gives everyone the chance to view sea lions from the safety of the skiffs; experience their rank smell, barking voices and most of all comic behavior. Not uncommon to these excursions are visits from the younger, more curious pups – where a game of peek-a-boo usually ensues.
Even though it’s summer, dressing in layers is the key to being comfortable on an Alaskan cruise. A light shirt, short or long sleeved, makes an excellent first layer. Over that, something for warmth like a sweatshirt, wool sweater or fleece pullover. The ideal outer layer is a light waterproof jacket, pants and knee high waterproof boots.
May – Sunny and Dry for Your Alaskan Cruise
Historically, May is the sunniest and driest month of the year for a Southeast Alaska cruise. During its many crystal clear days one can see the 12,000′ to 14,000′ snow capped peaks 50 to 60 miles away. The spring wildflowers are out in all their glory and the non-conifer plants of the forest are turning luminescent green as they don their newest finery. The signs of reawakening and rebirth are everywhere (including bears emerging from hibernation).
June – The Days are Long for Your Alaskan Cruise
With upward of 20 hours of daylight, an Alaskan cruise in June is the perfect time for those who just can’t get enough, whether it be fishing, hiking or kayaking. June 21 is the longest day of the year with almost 22 full hours of sunlight.
By this time the snow has melted out of the middle elevation bogs, called muskegs, making it possible for yet more showy wildflowers to appear up on the hillsides. In the lowlands, the spring grasses have grown high enough that hikes along the shoreline become wilderness adventures, as guests can now trail deer and bear track by simply following the trodden grass thoroughfares.
July – Mountain Goats Greet Your Alaskan Cruise
On calm, sunny days clouds of gulls gather along the mouths of streams and rivers to harvest salmon that have begun to enter the streams to spawn.
This is also probably the best month to view mountain goats on an Alaskan cruise. They can be seen grazing on the slopes above the inner reaches of mainland inlets, and are much easier to spot because they have lost their camouflage against the dwindling patches of snow.
August – The Air Grows Cooler on Your Alaskan Cruise
This is the month of westerly breezes in Southeast Alaska. Out on the water during an Alaskan cruise, one can expect to bundle up a little more than earlier in the summer. The outer coast receives a flow of warm and moist air coming in from the ocean. This hits the cold upwelling currents, which also visit Southeast Alaska this time of year resulting in the formation of mystical fog banks. These stack up on the western side of Baranof Island and spill like foam over the hills and into the inner passages. One can expect a bit more rain as Fall draws closer, so don’t forget an extra layer of clothes and your rain gear for an Alaska cruise, just in case. Incidentally, stream fisherman can now expect a bit of competition (the bears are back gorging themselves against the coming winter).
September – The Days Grow Shorter on Your Alaska Cruise
The summer fishing boats are starting to thin out by this time, many packing their nets on deck and heading home, or switching to long line gear for the Chatham black cod season. However this is probably the best time of the year in Alaska for catching Coho (Silver) salmon. The more frequent rains create magical waterfall spectacles on every steep slope. Every day that passes in September is five minutes shorter than the previous day. The tallest of Alaska’s mainland mountains usually get their first dusting of snow, just at the tops. Down by the ocean shore it is still mild, but there is an unmistakable hint in the air that fall is not too far off in the distance.