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What To Pack for an Alaskan Cruise: 10 Essential Items

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

During the cruise in the Last Frontier, you’ll see a drastic temperature change 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 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 using before you embark on the journey. 

Alaska Cruise Packing Essentials

We will break down item-by-item on what you must bring on your trip. However, here is a summary of our absolute must-haves and essentials that will make your journey more enjoyable.

Category Product Name
Outerwear Waterproof Fleece Raincoat
Pants Breathable Waterproof Pants
Sightseeing & Wildlife Spotting Celestron Binoculars
Jacket Windbreaker
Accessories Polarized Sunglasses
Travel Essentials Travel Insurance

Alaska Cruise Packing List



The weather in Alaska varies from warm to cold days, 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 and for sightseeing and beach activities. Hence, it would be best to pack the right activewear for various outdoor experiences like kayaking, zip-lining, and spotting wildlife.  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 must carry long-sleeved and short-sleeved t-shirts, allowing you to adapt to the day’s forecast. If traveling between May and September, carry more long-sleeved tees like these from REI

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-sleeved t-shirt when you do not want to take the jacket outside on the sunnier days. 

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. 



You’ll witness a fair amount of rain on the cruise and don’t want to get caught in a freak shower. Bring along a windbreaker or a heavy-duty waterproof jacket in your suitcase. Jackets 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 wear a few base layers underneath outer clothes. Sweaters and jackets are great, but you will need additional layers.

Carry the thin tops and bottoms made from insulating fabric to keep you warm and 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, picture it; enjoy a fantastic 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 and dry and prevent boot sores or blisters.


Stack of Scarves

Never underestimate the usefulness of the scarf! It may seem like another accessory to find room for in your suitcase. Still, a wool scarf can come in handy when there are cooler days on the cruise and the breeze picks up.

It is 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, towels, and light blankets!

Comfortable 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. They go a long way if you enjoy rugged excursions.  If 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

What shoes should you pack for an Alaskan cruise? It is important to carry waterproof footwear to make the most of an Alaskan cruise’s excursions. Pack waterproof Wellington or water-resistant boots to enjoy the rugged Alaskan wilderness and engage in outdoor activities like kayaking, fishing, or zip-lining on your Alaska cruise itinerary.


Yellow Sweater

A warm sweater or hoodie is a must. Always carry it around the cruise or wear it underneath your jacket if you feel chilly. You can easily remove it when the sun is out, tie it around your shoulders or 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 up 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.


Brown Swimsuit Laying On Floor

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



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 polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes 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 formal nights are offered on the agenda. You’ll want to pack a nice pair of dress pants if there are any.

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 on the ship in the evenings. Dress nice enough, and you might get invited to dine at the Captain’s table!


Accessories On A White Table

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



You can 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, and you won’t regret it! You may want a specific waterproof bag to put your camera equipment in during 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.


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


Woman Applying Sunscreen On Skin

You may think 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 must pack a bottle of at least SPF 50 to keep the neck and face safe from the sun’s rays. 


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 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, one of the most common things people seem to forget at home. A portable charger from Anker is also an excellent item for an emergency reserve when out and about. 

You may be taking many photos and videos on the trip, which can drain the phone battery. With a portable charger, you won’t miss out on anything and can capture footage uninterrupted…as long as you remember to use it!

Miscellaneous items to pack

The Alaska cruise season starts in May and ends in September. These months are the warmest, but the weather can still vary daily. The temperature can drop drastically daily. 

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 an excellent idea for two reasons: the low chance of rain and the long daylight hours. Let’s see what 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, a good sleep mask, 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

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 must pack all the waterproof essentials, including waterproof shoes, rain jackets, water-resistant pants, and poncho. It is best to be as prepared as possible, so consider carrying scarves, warm sweaters, and hats. 

See Related: Best Travel Accessories

What to pack for a cruise in September

Brown Winter Clothes

Let’s 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 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. Do not forget to carry your best camera and travel tripod to capture the wildlife.

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

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

See Related: Free Denali National Park Packing Checklist

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 and when you are off.

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 extra clothing is always smart 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 warm clothes. 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. However, Alaskan cruises usually start from locations where it is often raining. You need to pack a raincoat.

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