When is the Best Time to See the Northern Lights on an Alaska Cruise

Guests onboard Star Princess were treated to a spectacular showing in the night sky while en route to Juneau. Thanks for the photo, Captain Michele Tuvo!
Guests onboard Star Princess were treated to a spectacular showing in the night sky while en route to Juneau. Thanks for the photo, Captain Michele Tuvo!

The Best Time to See the Northern Lights on an Alaska Cruise

The best time to see Northern Lights in Alaska is when daylight slips into a seasonal slumber and the darkened skies blanket the city below. While many guests head to the Great Land in hopes of seeing this cosmic treasure, conditions often get in the way. An unobstructed view is a rarity, but that’s what makes it all the more special if you do have a chance to see this phenomenon. Here’s everything you need to know about seeing the Northern Lights on an Alaska cruise.

What Are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, also known as the aurora borealis, are the iconic lights that whimsically paint Alaska’s skies seafoam green, fluorescent yellow and bright notes of fuchsia. While they appear transcendental, they are actually caused by collisions between gases in the earth’s atmosphere and those in the sun’s atmosphere. The solar winds that circle the globe create unique arrangements that can appear as rippling currents or dancing rays.

The Timing of the Northern Lights

When can you see the Northern Lights in Alaska? The aurora borealis is undoubtedly one of the most iconic attractions in the Great Land, but seeing this parade of lights is not guaranteed. Certain conditions and locations may increase the likelihood of this phenomenon occurring. The best month to see the Northern Lights in Alaska while cruising is in September. With fewer hours of daylight and more darkness, there are additional chances to see the waltzing colors illuminate the evening sky. Peak hours for observation are between 12:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. Keep in mind that weather plays an instrumental part in the successful observation of the aurora borealis. Cloudless skies must clear the path for the atmospheric display. While the best time of year to see the Northern Lights in Alaska is in winter, you may still have the opportunity to see them on a late September cruisetour or cruise.

Where to See the Northern Lights in Alaska

While this spectacle can be seen from various ports of call, Princess offers the Aurora Borealis Viewing experience in Fairbanks for an unparalleled experience. Step away from the city lights and into a cozy yurt where you can view the aerial performance from the comfort of your own space. Or, head outside, set up your camera and capture postcard-worthy photos to share with your loved ones. Select ships also offer an onboard viewing experience with the indoor planetarium located in the Princess Theater. Venture on a cosmic voyage with a Stargazing specialist and uncover the secrets of the skies above.

How to Photograph the Aurora Borealis

To capture the true essence of the Northern Lights magic, consider packing a high-quality camera. Many guests also bring a tripod, a remote control and replacement batteries for a seamless photography opportunity. As a part of our North to Alaska program, discover more tips and tricks on how to snap your own frameable Alaska photos from award-winning photographers.

Want to see the Northern Lights? Alaska cruises from Princess can transport you to enchanting and intimate ports of call that boast culinary and cultural experiences for all. Whether or not you’re lucky enough to witness the aurora borealis, your adventure to the Great Land will be just as enlightening and colorful as Alaska’s iconic skies.