Everyone I have talked to agrees with Dave; the land portion involves a certain amount of packing and unpacking and it's best to do that first, and then relax and enjoy the ship. It also makes the return flight not quite so long since most Southbound cruises end in Vancouver or Seattle but most land tours end in Anchorage or Fairbanks.
We have to disagree. We did the cruise first, then the land tour and love doing it this way. We have listen to several of our friends who did the land tour first and they wish they did it the other way around. We found the land tour to be very peaceful, plus you lose most of your weigh that you gain from the cruise as you do not eat well on the land tour as the meals are not cheap!! Also we heard from a friend when she did the land tour first, they did not arrive at the ship till around 6PM, which means you have lost most of your first day and your first meal in the dinning room. When we did the cruise first, we got on in Vancouver at noon and enjoy the ship. We did this on Princess. Just our opinion.
Have not done a land tour so can not input anything there.
Our first Alaskan Cruise was in late May. We did a Rain Forest Tour in Juneau, (BTW I do not recommend the tour). The tour guide a Native American said the best time to see Bear was May/June. The Bears are not moving real fast, and staying more in the open. They are eating Skunk cabbage to get their digestive system going. Makes senses to me, If I have not "gone" all winter, I am probably going to be moving a bit slow also.
So the bottom line is - whatever suits you and whenever! Alaska is an extremely unpredictable place. There are no guarantees that you'll see a bear, whale, seal, on any given day whether it is May, July, or September.
While you think it might be warmer in June than May, it can be warm and dry in May and wet and cool in July.
It depends on the location too. The panhandle is a rainforest and has different weather and animal activity than does the Alaskan mainland.
Anytime is a GREAT time to cruise to Alaska...
I've been there in May, June and September...I prefer May because it looks like Alaska is supposed to look...Lots of snow on the Mountains, cool and refreshing....Going back in May again....Happy Sailing...
I agree about the land tour before the cruise. The land tour often involves a lot of packing and unpacking of the few things you should take on the land tour, and getting up early to take the next bus, train or plane. On the cruise, you're still doing a lot of sightseeing at each port stop, but you've unpacked just once, your meals and entertainment are included, and it's a more relaxing experience.
Be prepared to NOT take all your luggage on the land tour. Often your main luggage is sent ahead to pier storage because the buses/trains you take on the land tour can't store big suitcases.
I never did a land/cruise to Alaska..BUT did through Disney..DO land first then cruise..Must agree with Dave..You are probally going to do a lot of walking and/or activities..Doing cruise after land gives you the chance to relax and unwind from everything you did on land.