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What To Pack for an Alaskan Cruise: 10 Essential Packing Items

What To Pack for an Alaskan Cruise: 10 Essential Packing Items

It can be quite tricky to figure out what to pack for an Alaska cruise. Compared to other cruises, Alaskan cruises are quite different. With other cruises, you can expect consistent temperatures throughout the trip, but on an Alaskan cruise, the climate can vary dramatically and you’ll want to be prepared for those changes as well as any activities you’re interested in. 

During the cruise in the Last Frontier, you’ll come across a drastic change in the temperature from morning to night. Hence, it is best to be prepared for different types of weather. 

When packing for the cruise, start with the essentials you would need for any other trip, including casuals, accessories, dinner attire, toiletries, and technology accessories. If you are leaving soon and don’t know what to wear, here’s a list of things you should pack for the cruise.

Remember to buy travel insurance before you embark on the journey. 

Alaska Cruise Packing List

Clothing

Wardrobe

The weather in Alaska varies from warm to cold on a daily basis and it’s important that your clothing choices include items that can be layered on top of one another for warmth and easily removed if the weather turns hot. 

As well as packing clothes for the varying temperatures, it’s wise to pack clothes for any excursions you book onshore as well as for sightseeing and beach activities. Hence, you should pack the right activewear for a range of experiences like kayaking, zip-lining, and spotting wildlife outdoors. 

As a side note, you must buy insurance for the adventure activities you want to engage in.

Long and short-sleeved t-shirts

Long and short-sleeved t-shirts

The weather can change drastically in one day and you need clothes you can easily change into.

For a summer Alaska cruise, you need to carry long-sleeved and short-sleeved t-shirts, allowing you to adapt to the forecast of the day. If you are traveling between May to September, carry more long-sleeved tees. 

Fleece vest

Fleece Vest

The fleece vest is a small clothing item that can make a huge difference in keeping you warm and cozy on the cruise. You can layer it with a long sleeve t-shirt on the sunnier days when you do not want to take the jacket outside. 

Lightweight jacket

Lightweight Jacket

Since the temperature in Alaska can vary from 70 to 30 Fahrenheit in one day, it is best to bring a lightweight jacket with you on the trip. The jacket can work double duty as it will keep you comfortable on chilly days but will not have you sweating it out on warmer days. Water-resistant jackets are best. 

Windbreaker

Windbreaker

You’ll witness a fair amount of rain on the cruise and you don’t want to get caught out in a freak shower.

Bring along a windbreaker or a heavy duty waterproof jacket in your suitcase. Jackets that can be easily rolled up and tossed in the backpack are great for outdoor excursions. 

Or, consider a waterproof rain jacket for your excursion.

Basic layers

Winter Clothing

It’s smart to carry a few base layers to wear underneath outer clothes. Sweaters and jackets are great but you will need a few additional layers. 

Carry the thin tops and bottoms that are made from insulating fabric so as to keep you warm but also handle moisture. Think about thermal underwear too.

Woolen socks

Woolen Socks

On days when you want to rest and relax, you will need a pair of woolen socks to keep your feet warm. Ooo, just picture it; enjoying a wonderful view from your cabin balcony with a cup of hot chocolate and comfortable socks!

If you plan to hike, pack a pair of thin wicking socks to keep the feet dry. Put your wicking socks on first and woolen socks over them before putting on your boots. This will keep your feet warm, dry, and prevent any boot sores or blisters.

Scarf

Stack of Scarves

Never underestimate the usefulness of the scarf!

It may seem like another accessory to find room for in your suitcase, but a wool scarf can come in handy when there are cooler days on the cruise and the breeze picks up and are great for covering the chest and neck when you don’t want to be laid down by a heavy coat, as well as augmenting your cold weather clothing.

Another option is a shemagh (pronounced shmug). These lightweight middle-eastern scarves are incredibly warm and super versatile. They can be used as scarves, hats, neck gaiters, towles, even light blankets!

Comfortable pants

Pants

To keep your legs covered, you’ll need comfortable pants. The beautiful Alaskan outdoors can get chilly and damp so bring a pair of water-resistant nylon pants with you. They go a long way if you enjoy rugged excursions. 

If you are traveling between July and August, consider bringing a pair of convertible zip pants that can be turned into shorts by unzipping the legs. 

Waterproof shoes

Waterproof Shoes

A major dilemma for all; what shoes to pack for an Alaskan cruise?

It is important to carry waterproof footwear to make the most of the excursions that an Alaskan cruise has to offer. 

Pack waterproof Wellington hiking boots or water-resistant hiking boots with you to enjoy the rugged Alaskan wilderness and engage in other outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, or zip-lining on your Alaska cruise itinerary.

Sweaters

Yellow Sweater

A warm sweater or hoodie is a must. Always carry it with you around the cruise or wear it underneath your jacket if you are feeling chilly.

You can easily remove it when the sun is out and tie it around your shoulders, waist, or toss it in a bag.

Gloves and hats

Woman in Pink Wearing Hat And Gloves

Warm gloves and hats are essential accessories for the Alaska cruise packing list. They won’t take a lot of space in the suitcase but they make a difference when the temperature drops. Your ears will be grateful for caps and warm beanies on cold days.

Swimsuit

Brown Swimsuit Laying On Floor

One of the best parts about an Alaskan cruise is the potential to enjoy different seasons on almost an hourly basis. Bring a swimsuit to enjoy the hot tubs, spas, and solariums with heated pools.  

Sunglasses

Sunglasses

Besides packing a bottle of sunscreen and a good sunhat, you shouldn’t forget to bring a pair of sunglasses on the cruise.

Carry a pair of polarised sunglasses to keep your eyes safe from the sunshine. Plus you’ll look cool, which is almost as important.

Smart casuals

Woman in Casual Wear

Besides the sports clothing and comfortable wear, you will also want to pack dressier attire for when you enjoy dinner in the ship’s main restaurant. There is a fairly strict dress code you have to adhere to. 

This depends on the cruise line but most Alaska cruises offer formal nights for dinner. Check to see if there are formal nights offered on the agenda. If there is, you’ll want to pack a nice pair of dress pants.

Men can wear a short-sleeved shirt with jeans while women can wear a smart dress, jeans, and a smart-casual top or skirt. Flip-flops are not allowed in the evenings on the ship.

Dress nice enough and you might get invited to dine at the Captain’s table!

Accessories

Accessories On A White Table

Besides the clothes, don’t forget your favorite accessories, like hair accessories, evening bags, shoes, and personal electronics. 

Camera

Camera

You can certainly take pictures with your phone but you may miss out on capturing the gorgeous landscapes and wildlife with that tiny camera.

Carry your best camera with you on the trip to Alaska, you won’t regret it!  You may want to have a specific waterproof bag to put your camera equipment in it during your excursions. You never know what type of weather you’ll get.

Waterproof bag

Black Waterproof Bag

If you intend to go on any outdoor adventures the cruise line has to offer, you should pack a waterproof bag in the suitcase.

It will allow you to engage in different activities without worrying about your valuables getting wet. A waterproof backpack or daysack is a good option or a waterproof liner bag for one of your less rugged bags is a good choice.

Binoculars

Man Using Binaculars

You will be introduced to Alaska’s exotic wildlife on the cruise and to fully experience it, you’ll want a good pair of binoculars. 

You can enjoy the best views with quality binoculars, irrespective of how far you are from the action and they are a must when going on a whale-watching cruise

Sunscreen

Woman Applying Sunscreen On Skin

You may be of the opinion that you won’t be lounging on the sand so you do not need sunscreen. 

However, hot or not, the sun doesn’t care and will want to damage your skin and you need to keep in mind that you might be engaging in different outdoor activities.

Even if you are covered up, you will need to pack a bottle of at least SPF 50 to keep the neck and face safe from the rays of the sun. 

Backpack

Hand Holding A Black Backpack

Alaska cruise offers several opportunities to engage in outdoor excursions and a crossbody backpack is the best way to carry around your essentials including the camera, wallet, and travel documents.

Carry a water-resistant bag in it too, just in case. 

Phone chargers and portable chargers

Man Holding A Charging Phone

An important item when traveling is the phone charger and it is also one of the most common things that people seem to forget at home. A portable charger is also a great item to have on hand, as an emergency reserve when out and about. 

You may be taking a lot of photos and videos on the trip and it can drain the battery on the phone.

With a portable charger, you won’t miss out on anything and will be able to capture footage uninterrupted…as long as you remember to use it!

Miscellaneous items to pack

  • Earplugs
  • Toiletries
  • Socks
  • Wallet
  • Travel documents
  • Books
  • Hair dryer
  • Water bottle
  • Warm hat
  • Workout clothes (if your cruise ship has a gym)

The Alaska cruise season starts in May and ends in September and these months are the warmest but the weather can still vary from day to day. The temperature can drop drastically on a daily basis. 

Remember to layer items when packing for the cruise and no matter the time of the year you will be sailing, remember to take warm clothes with you.

If you have booked the cruise and know the dates, here are some extra tips on what to carry to the cruise ship during different months of the year. 

See Related: The Ultimate Denali National Park Itinerary

What to pack for a cruise in June

Woman On Cruise

Planning the Alaska cruise in June is a great idea for two reasons; one is the low chance of rain and the other is the long daylight hours. Let’s see what kind of clothes to pack for an Alaska cruise in early June. 

You’ll be able to enjoy daylight between 18 to 20 hours and the average temperature will range from the highs of 40 degrees to mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit.

You must carry a pair of polarized sunglasses and a good sleep mask in addition to the layers and other essentials. 

What to pack for a cruise in July

Woman Preparing Clothes To Pack

Summer peaks in July and you will encounter the warmest temperatures – a great reason to plan your trip for July. 

When packing for an Alaskan cruise in July, carry a mix of long-sleeved and short-sleeved t-shirts and waterproof pants that you can convert into shorts if it gets extra sunny or warm on the cruise. 

There will be a higher chance of rain as the summer months go by, so pack rain-related gear and a light waterproof jacket.

See Related: Best Things to do in Icy Strait Point, Alaska

What to pack for a cruise in August

Men Wearing Hoodies

The chance of rain in August will go as high as 50% and you can expect a fair amount of showers during your visit.  The temperature will also start to dip exponentially as the month progresses. You need to pack all the waterproof essentials including waterproof shoes, a rain jacket, water-resistant pants, and a poncho.

It is best to be as prepared as possible, so think about carrying scarves, warm sweaters, and hats. 

See Related: Best Travel Accessories

What to pack for a cruise in September

Brown Winter Clothes

Let’s take a look at what clothes to pack for an Alaska cruise in September. It will be the “September shoulder season” in Alaska, meaning there will be chilly weather and fewer tourists. 

The temperatures will REALLY drop, especially after the height of the day, and you’ll appreciate heavy layers of clothes like hats, scarves, thick socks, wool sweaters, warm jackets, and gloves. 

Despite the cold, September is a great time to see wildlife as animals start to migrate and hunt in preparation for hibernation. 

To capture the wildlife, do not forget to carry your best camera and a travel tripod.

See Related: Free Denali National Park Packing Checklist

Conclusion: What to Pack for Alaskan Cruise

Now that you know what to pack for the cruise, you need to book your vacation! Consider different itineraries before making a decision and consider different cruise lines such as Caribbean Cruise, Princess Cruises, Alaskan Adventures or Holland America. There are a ton of different Alaska cruise lines.

If you have already booked the cruise, it’s time to start booking the shore excursions to ensure that you get a spot on the most popular ones – they fill up fast! Read up on all the items that you need to bring from your closet and ditch anything you don’t need. 

Although essential, don’t just focus on the clothes, don’t forget items like sunglasses, binoculars and a quality camera to help fully experience the natural beauty and wildlife of Alaska. 

If you pack right, you’ll have a wonderful cruise and an experience of a lifetime on an Alaska cruise!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What kind of shoes should I take on an Alaskan cruise?

Here’s our list of essentials: wool clothing, water-proof shoes/boots, comfortable athletic shoe(s) for exploring ports or bearing longer walks off the ship, and a wool hat or fur hat for colder climates.

We recommend wearing a pair of rain boots that can be worn in the water. If you plan to explore the outdoors, wear good walking shoes. When packing for an Alaskan cruise, think about what kind of weather you will have on the boat as well as when you are off the boat.

What should I pack for a week in Alaska?

It’s important to pack a variety of coats depending on the temperature. One or two pairs of comfy shoes. Packing an extra pair of clothing is always a smart idea because it’s better to be safe than sorry in Alaska!

You should bring some clothes to keep you warm. Bring jeans and sweaters. They will keep you warm during a cold weather day. Bring a lot of layers too, so if the weather changes again, you can take off or put on the layers easily. And bring some wool socks too!

What should I pack for a 2-week cruise to Alaska?

It can get cold on the boat. Pack clothes that are warm. Bring long sleeves and long pants to stay warm during the night. It’s important to remember that you might go months without rain in the lower continental United States.

But Alaskan cruises usually start from locations where it is often raining. You need to pack a raincoat.

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