What to pack for an Alaskan Cruise

Packing for an Alaskan cruise is VERY different from packing for a warm-weather cruise. The weather in Alaska is unpredictable, it can be warm and sunny one minute and drizzling the next. Remember that even though it is summer, it won’t be warm! 

The key to packing for Alaska is layers!

  • Pants – jeans or khakis (you may want to leave room underneath for long johns)
  • Ladies may opt for leggings; you may even choose a fleece-lined pair
  • Long johns or tights – perfect for those chilly days!
  • T-shirts – cotton is best.
  • Sweater or sweatshirt – don’t bring anything too bulky.
  • Flannel – these are very Alaskan and easy to peel off if it gets warmer.
  • Vest – great to layer! I like this one for women and this one for men because they are easy to pack and water resistant.
  • Lightweight puffer jacket – I like this one because it is water-resistant and has a hood! There is a similar version for men. You may want to size up if you will be layering underneath.
  • Waterproof rain jacket – I like this one and this one because they fold nicely into a little pouch. Here is a good option for men. 
  • Wool or warm socks

Shoes

  • Tennis shoes for walking
  • Nice shoes for dinner
  • Waterproof shoes or hiking boots – this will depend on your planned excursions, but you will need some type of shoe that can get wet. Merrell makes great waterproof hiking boots. XTRATUF boots are very popular with Alaskans. Timberland and Sperry also have great options. 
  • Slippers – I like to wear them in my cabin, but they are not necessary

Accessories

  • Pashmina – great to wear as a scarf or wrap over your shoulders at dinner or while on deck
  • Warm scarf – great while on deck or on excursions
  • Baseball cap
  • Beanie
  • Gloves 
  • Small umbrella

You may also want to bring:

  • At least one pair of shorts – you may have a warm day; the weather in Alaska is unpredictable! 
  • Bathing suit – it may only be warm enough on embarkation day to swim or you may want to hit the hot tub
  • Flip flops – for the pool or hot tub
  • Waterproof rain pants – probably only necessary if you have some type of excursion that you will get wet on like hiking and it rains. Also available for men and kids
  • Binoculars – they don’t have to be super fancy; your excursions will likely have a few pairs for everyone to share but it is nice to have your own on the ship

Formal nights in Alaska are WAY less formal than what you generally see on other cruises. There won’t be any tuxedos or formal dresses. Men will wear a suit but you will also see a lot of sports coats with a collared shirt and dress pants. Ladies will wear nice dresses, but it will be chilly so don’t forget tights or nylons and a light sweater.

For dinner on non-formal nights dress; you will see everything; most will wear business casual. Most ladies will be wearing pants and a blouse or sweater and sometimes even dresses. Men will wear dark jeans or khakis with a dress shirt or sweater. You don’t need to get dressed up by any means but should look nice. 

Packing Tips

Power outlets have traditionally been scarce in staterooms, though cruise lines are slowly modifying them to have more. A 3-way plug or extension cord may help if you have many devices to charge – it must be cruise ship approved and not be a surge protector.

Bathroom counter space is also lacking so you may want to bring a hanging toiletry bag. The counter should be fine for 2 people, but a family of 4 will be crowded for space. We also travel with these magnetic hooks to hang bags, hats, etc. The staterooms walls are magnetic and these come in a few different sizes to hold different weights. 

You may want to bring a low-wattage nightlight particularly if you are in an interior stateroom.

Cruise cabins are small. Consider bringing Poo-Pourri. That’s all I’m going to say about that!  

The three things you MUST bring are sunglasses, sunscreen, and bug spray. Even though it is cold the sun will reflect off of the ice in the mountains or the water and it is bright! You will regret not bringing sunglasses. I prefer polarized lenses, but any sunglasses will do. Along those same lines, the reflection of the sun will cause you to burn so bring sunscreen. Mosquitos are jokingly known as the Alaska state bird; enough said. 

Take a wristwatch. Clocks are few and far between onboard. You also need a watch when you are off the ship. The port you are visiting may not be on the same time as “ship time”. Set your watch to “ship time” and leave it there. When they say the ship will leave at 3PM, that does not always mean 3PM local time, and you may very well (literally) “miss the boat”. And do not use a cell phone as your watch (it may sync to local time).

In your checked luggage, place photocopies of your passport, medicine prescriptions, return airline tickets, and emergency contacts. You may also want to keep the international toll-free number of your credit card company in case you lose your credit cards.

You will need a bag to carry your items if you are going on an excursion, shopping or even just wandering around the port.  You will need to bring your stateroom key card, photo ID, phone, credit card and some cash. A small bag is fine (I like a crossbody bag) but a small backpack may be best to store your extra layers in. 

Many guests will bring a nice big Tervis or travel coffee mug with a lid. You can fill it up and enjoy a morning walk around the ship with your coffee or with ice water and tea. Great for sitting out by the pool or on the balcony.

If you are ready to book your Alaskan cruise, contact me today!

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