Anytime is good. Is this just a cruise? If you priority is seeing bears, then floatplane trips out of Ketchikan don't start until end of July. "Cheapest" bear watching probably on inside passage? Pick a time and price that works the best for you and go.
We took the floatplane/cruise trip out of Ketchikan last May and the weather was superb...clear and beautiful. Also saw a bear on the cruise portion of that trip. We're doing the exact cruise again this year in May...can't wait! My understanding from locals is that May is one of the driest and sunniest months in southeastern Alaska. We found that to be true. My parents went up there in July and it rained nearly every day.
We have been on Alaska cruises in June and in July. We had far better weather in July than June. That is generally the rule in the entire northwest portion of North America.
We live near Portland Oregon and our June weather is almost always more cloudy and rainy than in July. These weather patterns continue as you go north into Canada and Alaska. The farther north you go the more likely you are to experience rainy and colder weather. August and even September can be great too. But don't expect perfect weather any month of the year.
Remember it can rain any day of the year in Alaska, so be prepared with layers of warmer clothes on top so you can peal as the weather changes.
After 3 trips to Alaska I have learned that you cannot count on the weather more than 30 minutes at a time. Went August one year (sun every day, ,,__) Went same week next year and it rained EVERY DAY, ALL DAY. But whatever the weather it is beautiful, interewting and worth every minute. Going this year back to back late June and 1st week of July.
It depends on your goal. If you want to see wildlife then after the 4th of July. If you want the mildest days and the least rain Late May to mid August. The rainy season (it being all relative) starts in Southeast Alaska in August. If you want to see the mid night sun May 18 - August 3. However as a long time Alaskan I can tell you that we say "if you don't like the weather wait ten minutes it will change."
Mid-late September is the worst time. Those of us who live here call it "the pits"
July August willbe the most crowded.
I went both times the 3rd week in August & hadreally good weather both times. Carried a parka with me when I left the ship but hardly even used it...usually wore a sweater with a Tshirt or blouse under it so I could take the sweater off. On board ship, I just wore short sleeve pants suits -I'm not a shorts wearer. On the NCL ship I did wear sweater & sometimes parka the day we were in with the glaciers.
I'm a TA & if you're going this year, book it TOMORROW! Not much left...many cruises are totally sold out. Alaska is really hot this year.
One thing to consider - my 2nd trip & also my parents 2nd trip was on the Dawn Princess. Great ship & we had a terrific time but we were very disappointed because the ship was too big to get in close with the glaciers. When I went on NCL & when they went on RCCL, both ships were small enough (still hundreds & hundreds of pax + crew) to be much closer to the glaciers. It was cold outside - that made for great atmosphere (you could run right inside to thaw out)...sounded like a war with all the noise from the glaciers. It was great.
Last 2 weeks of May & first 2 weeks of Sept. (then the season's over...) are the least expensive times to go.
Try to allow for an extra day to enjoy Vancouver - great, great city.
HUH??? The Oosterdam is BIGGER than the Sun/Dawn and the negative - too much outside passage sailing. I have sailed the Sun 3 times in Alaska and it got JUST as close in Glacier bay to glaciers as did the tiny Sky Princess and Jubilee, almost half the size.
checked both lines' websites & the Dawn Princess holds over a 100 more pax than the ms Oosterdam does, plus I'm guessing 30-40 more crew. The princess website didn't list the size of the ship but 100 more people could be 25-50 more rooms.
Anyway, when I sailed on her in '03, I asked why we couldn't get closer to the glaciers & was told it was becauxse of the size of the ship. Very disappointing.
You are making general statements for a cruiseline/ship, on how close a ship gets to a glacier, based on your ONE sailing??? Each sailing is different and dependent on conditions at the time.
If you want close up glacier sailing, you don't even WANT a cruise ship. Go out of Whittier on the tour boats or Seward to Kenai Fjords- THAT is CLOSE.
We went in July 2004 and the weather was beautiful (70-75 degrees, no rain). In fact we packed totally wrong for the whole trip. My husband and son ended up alternating their swim trunks and shorts for most of the trip. It did get a little chillier at night but definitely not freezing or anything. My vote is July.