What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise – 5 Tips

What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

Heading off for an Alaskan cruise is very exciting, but then all of a sudden you realize you have to pack! You may have been on cruises before, but packing for an Alaskan cruise is altogether different than what you’d pack for a Caribbean cruise. Alaskan cruise season runs from May to September, with quite a bit of fluctuation in temperature and precipitation. Weather can change in a flash! One day may be warm and sunny, and the next cold and rainy. Remember much of Alaska is a rainforest, and not necessarily the warm kind. So let’s get you prepared with these five essential tips.

1. Pack Light


  • Remember, you can wear something more than once! Plan to take items that can be worn with more than one outfit can be layered and can also be dressed up or down. Most people dress casually for the vast majority of the cruise.
  • Even though Alaskan cruises are typically more casual, many cruise lines do still have “evening chic” nights where you can dress up. So planning for a couple interchangeable, nice business casual outfits is a good bet. In general, buffets are casual and the dining room’s dress code is nicer business casual (think a nice dinner out). If your cruise line plans for a “formal night”; ladies, pack a beautiful top with black dress pants and guys throw in a sport coat with dress pants.
  • Swimsuit and cover-up (sarong can double as a wrap).
  • Shoot for clothes that are wrinkle-free naturally. There are no irons onboard!

Shoes & Socks

  • You will definitely want several casual, non-slip comfortable shoes for walking. Pack two in case one pair gets wet.
  • Socks, plus some heavier ones for colder excursions.
  • Waterproof hiking shoes or boots. Skip the bulky rain boots and go for comfort and warmth.
  • One pair of nicer shoes for an evening if you plan to dress up.
  • Flip flops for the pool or hot tub.

2. Think Layers

Be prepared for temperatures that can swing as much as 30 degrees on any given day

Think of it this way: a comfort layer, a warmth layer, and a protection layer.

An example of this would be beginning with a short-sleeved shirt (comfort layer), add a hooded sweatshirt or fleece (warmth layer), then add a waterproof, windproof jacket with hood (protection layer).

Comfort Layers

When you’re planning out your clothes, think clothes that layer well. Typically, you’ll want to pack a few warm weather clothes (especially mid-summer), perhaps capris/shorts and short sleeve shirts. You’ll also want a few long sleeve shirts. Essential, however, is to pack jeans and/or other weatherproof pants and some long sleeve shirts. A great option is convertible pants that can be converted to shorts if needed; and bonus, they dry quickly too.

Warmth Layers

Hoodies, sweaters or fleece are your best warmth layer options. With these, you can shed that outer layer and still have warmth. You don’t need anything super bulky, just a warm layer.

Protection Layers

Sometimes the wind kicks up across the ocean as you’re passing those glaciers and it can feel like it’s going right through you. An all-weather, windproof and breathable jacket with a hood is an absolute essential. A 3-in-1 waterproof jacket is a great choice. It’s not a bad idea to pack earmuffs or a small hat either if you are traveling in early spring or fall. Throwing a disposable rain poncho in your backpack or purse is also an excellent idea.

3. Tech Gear

  • Camera, phone, electronic readers and chargers (can we leave the laptop at home? You’re on vacation!)
  • Headphones/earbuds
  • Outlets are very limited in cruise cabins, so pack a mobile power charger and power strip.
  • Check with cruise lines to see if you need an electronic converter. Typically you don’t, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
  • Binoculars. You will want binoculars!

4. Healthy Stuff

  • Sunglasses. Some recommend polarized sunglasses to cut the glare on the water and see the scenery much clearer and brighter.
  • Hat with a brim. Better yet, a waterproof hat.
  • A beverage bottle that can hold cold and/or hot beverages comes in handy on board and off.
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent for excursions.
  • Anti-bacterial wipes or gel

5. Other Odds & Ends

  • A lightweight, waterproof and foldable backpack- a must for excursions to carry your extra layers and gear. Ditch the purse and go for this option.
  • Needed medication, including motion sickness medicine if needed.
  • Toiletries- save space in your cabin and put these in an over-the-door organizer.
  • Lanyards- handy to carry your room key card.
  • All travel and ID documents, emergency numbers, money.
  • Large/small bag(s) for dirty laundry.

There are many packing checklists out there, just remember that much of what’s on those lists vary depending on what kind of activities you are planning, where you are going and your own personal needs. Now that you have a simple understanding of the basics, you can start planning your own packing list with these tips in mind. Dream. Explore. Travel On!

Protect you Cruise with a travel protection plan.

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