How does one go about seeing the Northen Lights when on a cruise to Alaska? Can you see them from late May/ thru July ? I saw a few photos and they looked awesome...am going on a cruise sometime btn May and July...so thought I'd check ...
Absolutely no chance in your timeframe, it won't be dark enough.
Earliest is mid August on average and Inside passage is not the preferred location, Fairbanks is. IF you do change your plans, and go end of Aug, Sept. DAILY look up predictions http://www.gi.alaska.edu/cgi-bin/predict.cgi
and be willing to spend several hours in a dark area of your cruise ship- which can be very difficult to find, you need CLEAR DARK nights.
It also can help to hook up with the ship naturalist and get on a calling list if available.
But even going later in the season, don't get your hopes up, On my 19 day trip Aug/Sept this year, aurora was only visible 1 night. Way too much overcast skys.
There is always a good chance to see them. We cruised later in the season and I had heard one night they were visible, but we were sleeping..
Sorry buy this is inaccurate. It is rare on the Inside Passage before Sept. and the cruise ship locations are way too south for the ideal viewing which is Fairbanks. I have also run into plenty of cruisers who did not know what they were looking at. MANY claimed Seward were the northern lights on one cruise I was on.
We were in Juneau in the month of August and a local told us that the Lights were out the night before so I assume there is a chance to see them. You'd have to get really lucky and lose some sleep I'd think.
So there might not be a good chance but it is possible....unless the local was lying to us that is.
But if a priority, you need interior Alaska, meaning extended time in Fairbanks. Aurora on the Inside Passage is horizonal, still some very nice views but a big difference interior where they are all over head and where all those promotional photos are taken.
I've gone 2 winters with an aurora priority and budgeted 2 weeks each time, which is needed.
I would suggest you consider a one way cruise in Sept and several days from Talkeetna north. Location is critical, you can't see anything from downtown Fairbanks or anyplace with lights. My preferred stop is to get out and drive on the Steese north, just past the Chena Hot Springs exit, over the hill and sitting on the side of the road. Very very few lodgings have good views and you have to get out. Look for specific properties that advertize views otherwise, be prepared for late night driving.
As for the cold, you need a wide range of attire sailing Alaska and overall much colder potential than Fairbanks mid Sept.