Bears and Whales - what month in Alaska?

flashy09

Earning My Ears
Joined
Dec 4, 2016
What is the best month in Alaska for seeing both bears and whales on one of the specialized port excursions (and from the ship if that ever happens!)

There is a little bit of discount on the June 22 and the Aug 3rd cruises.....would either of those dates be ok or too risky with wilding viewing?

Thank you!
 

dclpluto

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 11, 2012
What is the best month in Alaska for seeing both bears and whales on one of the specialized port excursions (and from the ship if that ever happens!)

There is a little bit of discount on the June 22 and the Aug 3rd cruises.....would either of those dates be ok or too risky with wilding viewing?

Thank you!
Yes whales are seen from the ship. I was on dcl first ever Alaska cruise beginning of May 2011. We seen whales. First time was waiting In line for the doors to open for the show. When a cast member yelled there’s whales. It was a mad house to see it. At the end of the cruise it was like there is whales it’s like ok I will go see them.
 

Van Houten

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Best time for active wildlife, such as bears, is July-August, but that does not mean that you won't see them earlier or later.
 
  • GPaLarry

    Have earned one ear!
    Joined
    Jun 28, 2016
    We went in mid-June two years ago and saw whales, seals and a few other small critters, but no bears. Having been to Alaska twice before and seeing bears, it was not a priority on this cruise. It depends on the excursion you choose...some try to focus on the chance to see bears. We spent most of our excursion time on the water and not even a Baloo did we see. We did see a lot of seals on ice flows on glacier day, where the ship sits all day in front of a glacier, but turns slowly so all verandahs have a good view. Also, if you can select your stateroom, do not get one forward on the port side decks 6, 7 or 8...we had 8006. The smoking section is just above you and we came out on our verandah to find ashes all over the table, chairs and floor with the smell all around. The wind was calm and it drove our daughter's family crazy in their adjoining stateroom. We complained to Guest Services and they moved the smokers back from the railing with roping, but the smell was still there. When the ship is moving there is no problem. Just a FYI...the rest of the cruise was great.
     

    disneyfaninaz

    It takes faith, trust & pixie dust!
    Joined
    Apr 19, 2007
    Our first cruise to Alaska was at the end of May. We had no problem finding whales. However, we were too early for salmon spawning and bears. The best time to see bears is later in July though September. Salmon run in July as well.
     
  • Pens Fan

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 27, 2014
    So it seems like the Aug 3rd date would be best for bears over the June 22?
    Yes. I mean, it's Alaska and you can possibly see bears anytime. But the best time is when the salmon are running in late July / early August. Most of the specific bear watching excursions are only scheduled during that time.

    As for whales, I'm not sure about the timing, but we've seen a ton of them on both of our cruises (both in July) by doing whale watching excursions out of Juneau. It seems those excursions go all summer, though, so I doubt the timing is that crucial.
     

    lady9

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 15, 2006
    We went the 2nd we week in Aug. We saw a lot of whales and seals. We went on a whale watching excursion (if you do this, make sure it is a small boat, no more than 40 people for best viewing) and saw a lot of whales breaching. We went to Mendenhall Glacier and saw the salmon run. We were in prime viewing for a black bear who scooped up a salmon from the creek and climbed a tree to eat it. Be aware, by this time in August, it starts to smell from the leftover parts of the fish the bears don't eat but it's not too bad. As we headed back to the bus, a ranger stopped our group to allow a huge brown bear cross the parking lot. We loved our Alaska cruise, our favorite vacation.
     

    nancy drew

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 12, 2005
    We were in Alaska in August 2018, and we saw plenty of whales from the ship and on our whale watching excursion.

    We also saw a mama bear and her cubs at Mendenhall Glacier. We were walking around an area where salmon were plentiful, and the park rangers asked us to wait a moment before going any further. It turned out mama and her cubs were about to cross the street, 10 feet in front of us. The rangers formed a wall between us and the bears. Not because of us, but because other people kept trying to walk past them!! Who thinks it is a good idea to approach a mama bear and her cubs????

    Anyway, this was a matter of being in the right place at the right time. These are zoomed-in photos from my phone. We were very close, but not quite as close as it appears. And we were behind a human wall.

    We could see some movement in the bushes, where the rangers were pointing. It was hard to see the bear, until she came right up to the fence and peeked out.



    Then she started across the street.



    One of the cubs was right on her heels.



    We had no idea there was a second cub, until s/he came bounding out after mama and sibling.



    You can see the 2nd cub joining mama and sibling, and how far we were from them in the video that my son took.

     
  • ladyofthetramp

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 3, 2014
    We went August 3rd last year. There are no guarantees of seeing any wildlife. We did see a lot of salmon, but no bears- just their trail- we rented a car and drove to Eagle beach in Juneau. Man- there were so many salmon! Anyway, walking along there we saw a fresh salmon kill, some bear poop and heard bunch of rustling leaves, We had scared the bear! Some naturalists were there taking pictures and told us the bears were around. But no direct views (we see them at home in our backyard anyway). We saw whales from the ship. Other small wildlife. I think August would be your best chance. Plan on taking a tour perhaps to see them specifically, but all the tour operators will tell you, it depends and no guarantees-they are wildlife, after all!
     

    mommy2allyandaveri

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 19, 2006
    Seeing bears up close like that would be a dream come true!

    We saw bears in Ketchikan but we were on a helicopter tour (which was AMAZING by the way)

    We went on a whale watching tour in Juneau and saw lots of whales. We saw several from the ship when we were going into endicot arm. It was really early on. I parked myself all day on the back of the boat. I didn't want to miss a thing!
     

    squinny

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 6, 2019
    We're looking at Alaska cruise dates for our first one. Any nature sighting is grand but bears would be further down on our wish list. Anyone with experience on September cruises? Thanks! (btw - my first post, glad to be here!)
     

    TikiThunderPirates

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 7, 2018
    Can you clarify what you mean by "seeing bears"? If you are wanting to just "see a bear" vs "see momma and cub bears" or "watching bears fish for salmon" all depends on when you should go.

    One great way to just "see a bear" is the Taku Glacier Lodge Float Plane Port Excursion (if this will continue to be offered) You take a float plane out to Taku Glacier Lodge for a Salmon dinner. They don't guarantee bears, but they told us around 80% of the time they show up wanting Salmon. We saw two bears up close right as we were about to leave the Lodge to head back on our return flight. The flight is a "flight tour" so you also see some spectacular scenery as well as Taku Glacier and the areas surrounding the lodge. Be prepared to battle the mosquitos though!

    If you are hoping to see bears fishing for salmon, well wait for August during salmon spawning season.
     

    KashasMom

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 28, 2012
    We went with Island Wings in Ketchikan to Anan Creek in mid-August and to Traitor's Cove end of August specifically for bears and were not disappointed either time! We did whale watching excursions in early May and mid-August and saw them as well.
     

    squinny

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 6, 2019
    Can you clarify what you mean by "seeing bears"? If you are wanting to just "see a bear" vs "see momma and cub bears" or "watching bears fish for salmon" all depends on when you should go.

    One great way to just "see a bear" is the Taku Glacier Lodge Float Plane Port Excursion (if this will continue to be offered) You take a float plane out to Taku Glacier Lodge for a Salmon dinner. They don't guarantee bears, but they told us around 80% of the time they show up wanting Salmon. We saw two bears up close right as we were about to leave the Lodge to head back on our return flight. The flight is a "flight tour" so you also see some spectacular scenery as well as Taku Glacier and the areas surrounding the lodge. Be prepared to battle the mosquitos though!

    If you are hoping to see bears fishing for salmon, well wait for August during salmon spawning season.
    Thanks, I actually wrote that after reading about salmon running, but didn't state that in my post. Appreciate that thorough information!
     

    squinny

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 6, 2019
    We went with Island Wings in Ketchikan to Anan Creek in mid-August and to Traitor's Cove end of August specifically for bears and were not disappointed either time! We did whale watching excursions in early May and mid-August and saw them as well.
    Sounds like some awesome sightings! Thanks for the info, definitely helps us make a decision!
     

    anjuan

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 10, 2012
    We were there the last week in May and in Skagway we saw multiple black bears on the side of the road a couple of times as well as a grizzly bear and two moose. If you’re looking for a whale watching tour I highly recommend Jayleen’s Alaska in Juneau!
     

    enjayws

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2019
    I went on a (non DCL) cruise 23 May about 5 years ago. I went on one boat-based excursion where we saw orca and humpbacks as well as a mother bear with her cubs. It was amazing.
    I would have been disappointed to return home without a bear sighting so I had pre-booked two bear spotting excursions. The land based one (overlooking a river) was unsuccessful as the salmon weren't running that early in the season.
    For what it's worth I think the boat-based one was in Ketchikan and the land based one was in Icy Strait Point.
    We also saw the orcas from the ship in Ketchikan.
     

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