Alaska Cruise Packing List
What to pack for a vacation and what to bring on a cruise? In selecting the essential items for cruising Alaska, there are three things you may consider:
On a crusie packing: 1. Your day activities at the ports 2. Your evening activities and formal nights3. Weather in Alaska
This way you can get some ideas of what you need to pack for an Alaska cruise. For example:
- You will have two formal nights on a 7-night cruise. No worries. It is unnecessary to wear something strictly formal, but you can present yourself nicely. Everyone is casual at day time but get dressed up so well on formal nights. Thats quite impressive. You will be comfortable if you prepare for it in advance. Your man needs a bow tie. The cruise ship may not sell it. At least at Princess fleets, I could not find it.
So, what to wear on a cruise during the day?
- The popular excursions in Alaska are outdoor activities. You will get a train or a tour bus and go out for hiking. You may enjoy kayaking through the fjord or may join a zipline activity. You will wear something casual and may need sportswear for particular outdoor activities.
- You may be landing on the glaciers! Or at least you will get out and observe. You need to add something to protect yourself from the cold. You need it if you do not join shore excursions and explore by yourself. When the weather is not good, even in the summer, and often in the evening, its cold. It also rains. Waterproof wear and shoes will help you a lot.
What To Wear On An Alaskan Cruise: Excursion Outfit
In Alaska, dressing in layers is the key. That means you can wear tops, making air layers in between. This creates a specific effect to keep you warm. You do not need to wear a thick and heavy jacket. This way makes you more comfortable and relaxing. On top of the layers, put a waterproof jacket on. If you can add windproof effect, that can be the best. This way, even its rain, the jacket will keep you dry and protect you from the chilly wind.
lightweight windbreaker / Slicker
If you are looking for something for outdoor activities, a light-weight or thin slicker is handy. It keeps you warm. If it is hot, you can take it off and put it into your rucksack. If its waterproofed, it keeps you dry. You can make the layers inside and cover them by the slicker on top. This is the best to keep you warm and comfortable.
So what is best for the layers? Fleece can be the best item to make the mid-layer in Alaska. Its just comfortable and light. It does not absorb water and keeps you dry. If it is sunny and in the mid-summer, you do not need a mid-weight waterproof jacket. Fleece is an alternative to a sweater but is light-weight and comfortable.
Keep warm. Thermal underwear is a must item. Its a type of clothing you can put under a fleece. This is a special material to protect against the cold. The best fabric is merino wool or silk. Its ultra-lightweight and flexible. You can make further layers by wearing one more thermal underwear.
What To Wear On An Alaskan Cruise
Alaska tends to be wet and rainy in the summer and temperatures along the southern coast, home to many cruise ports, can range from the 40s to the 60s. All of these variants make it tricky to figure out what to wear on an Alaskan cruise. Particularly when you need to balance the chilly, wet outdoors with the climate-controlled ships interior.
My recommendations on what to wear on an Alaska cruise are based on our trip on the Norwegian Bliss in August. On our journey we stopped in ports in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, B.C.
Of course what you wear is also dependent on what excursions you choose. If you are visiting Alaska, Ill assume that you are doing more than just shopping in the cruise port or staying on the boat, and therefore need to be properly outfitted for excursions.
Alaska cruise excursions usually include activities such as hiking, kayaking, glacier hikes, visiting dog musher camps, and wildlife viewing. On our cruise we did a mix of activities on and off the boat including:
- Sea kayaking
- Running at the fitness center
- Soaking at the spa
Luckily, an Alaskan cruise is a bit more casual than other cruises. Our cruise on the Norwegian Bliss did not include a formal night, but Im pretty sure other ships like Princess Cruises and others do have at least an optional formal night.
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Dresses For An Alaska Cruise
If youre simply more comfortable wearing a dress on formal night, by all means bring one. If so, you might want to bring a pair of stockings or tights for a bit of warmth on your stroll around the deck.
Bring a couple of dressy lightweight scarves to spruce up and change up your look, especially if youre only bringing one black dress. Or buy a $12 neutral shade pashmina if your dress is sleeveless. You can roll it up, it doubles as an outdoor scarf and it wont take up much room in the suitcase.
What Deb Would Have Changed
Should have brought:
- 1 pair bum around pants.
- 2 More casual/sharp shirts
- 1 more fleece jacket or sweater
- wool hat
Should have left at home:
- 1 pair of dress shoes
- 1 pair of dress pants
- dress boots, could have just used my dress shoes.
- 1 trekking shirt. Didnt need two as the excursions are short and not strenuous.
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What To Wear On Days At Sea
During days at sea, you will spend time enjoying the ships facilities. Be prepared for the outside decks and balconies to be windy and chilly, unless you get lucky with a burst of sunshine.
Attire on board is pretty casual during the day: jeans or leggings, hiking pants, or exercise clothes are all appropriate. On top you probably want to dress in layers with a long-sleeve t-shirt topped with a sweater, light fleece, or down vest. I would still bring one or two short-sleeve t-shirts and a pair of shorts just in case it is warm enough to enjoy the sun deck or your balcony.
Since you dont want to have to pack too many shoes, stick with either sneakers, flip flops, hiking boots, or flats which can be interchanged between the gym, spa/pool, outdoors, and dinner.
Whether you are sitting outside or in the observation lounge, you will probably want to have something cozy to snuggle up in. If you have room to pack a thin blanket, you will enjoy having that to curl up in while you are relaxing outside
What to wear:
Top Shoes For Your Alaska Cruise Packing List
Waterproof Walking Shoes
Sturdy closed-toe shoes are a must to put on your Alaska Cruise packing list.
Your cruise will offer you an abundance of opportunities to hike forests and up to and on to glaciers. And numerous other options of things to do out in nature.
Supportive shoes should top your packing list for a cruise to Alaska. And it is a good idea to invest a bit more if you can and make sure they are waterproof as well.
This waterproof trail shoe is an excellent choice to add to your Alaska cruise packing list. It is waterproof and has enough support and structure to keep your feet comfortable, even when the days are long.
If you have selected a more rigorous itinerary these waterproof hiking boots may be a better choice for you.
Athletic Shoes/Walking Shoes
I never leave home withoutmy Asics running shoes.You might consider adding a pair of athletic shoes to your Alaskan cruise packing list too.
They can also be worn when shopping or dining. You can purchase them in many interesting colors to match your outfits.
Another popular brand, Skechers, offers many options, such as these Air Run High Fashion sneakers. They are way more affordable, are a good-looking walking shoe with great support. They would make an excellent addition to your packing list for your cruise to Alaska.
In Alaska, wearing my Asics kicks.
Comfortable Sandals For Warmer Weather
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What To Wear At Night While At Sea
Nighttime on the ship falls into 2 categories, formal night and non-formal nights. You typically have 2 formal nights while on a 7-day cruise. Formal nights are pretty basic. No jeans or gym shoes, no shorts.
TIP: You are NOT required to participate in the formal night. Formal night is limited to the dining rooms and restaurants but you can still eat at the buffet if you dont feel like getting dressed up.
A simple black wrap dress is perfect for formal night, or even a Black Jumpsuit would look great and can be layered with any jacket or sweater. You can even go with a nice pair of black jeans and heels with a dressy top. I love traveling with these simple black heels because they go with everything from dresses to dress pants to jeans.
This top was easy to pair with jeans for a casual day look or black pants for a night time look.
Every other night at sea is the same. Think business casual for the dining rooms, but anything goes for the buffet. We ate at the buffet for dinner one night simply because we were too tired from our excursions to get out of our sweat pants!
Short And Long Sleeved T
Since the weather can change drastically in the same day, especially during the Alaska cruise seasons summer months, bringing a mix of short and long-sleeved T-shirts will allow you to adapt to the days forecast easily. Those traveling during the shoulder seasons will want to bring a few more long-sleeved tees than short.
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Adventure On An Alaskan Cruise
Our Alaskan cruise was a 12 day excursion. 5 days are traveling on land in Alaska and 7 days were at sea.
During our cruise we took part in daily adventures from hiking through the Alaskan Wilderness to riding ATVs.
The first portion of our trip took us overland by bus and train.
It is a less formal and more rugged leg of the trip.
What To Pack For An Alaskan Cruise In May
May marks the beginning of cruise season in Alaska, when the weather’s still a tad chilly. Daily highs peak at around 55 degrees F in both the Inside Passage and in south-central Alaska, so a jacket is a must. Pack clothing that works well in layers, such as thin, long-sleeved shirts, warm sweaters or hoodies and hooded wind- and rain-blocking outerwear that fit well over a bulky sweater or sweatshirt. Keep in mind that the air may feel even cooler on the ship’s deck, thanks to windchill. Pack gloves and a hat if you plan to spend much time on the deck it’s better to have them and not need them than to miss the view because it’s too cold outside.
Waterproof hiking boots and a simple, lightweight backpack are also a good idea, since many cruises offer hiking opportunities at land-based stops. Pack extra socks in case your feet get wet during one of your excursions.
Binoculars, a good camera and chargers for your portable electronics are also items to add to your packing checklist, along with the day-to-day clothing and grooming gear you usually pack for any trip.
Sunscreen and polarized sunglasses acome in handy on dry, clear days. Even with cool temperatures, the sun’s rays pack a powerful punch, especially when reflecting off the water.
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Best Time Of Year For Your Alaska Cruise
There are a lot of variables to consider when selecting the best time to take an Alaskan Cruise.
First off, the price. If you choose your Alaska cruise in July, know that it is the busy season and will be more expensive. Attractions will also be more crowded if you choose your Alaska cruise during the high season.
Secondly, the weather. While the shoulder seasons of early spring to late fall will offer the most affordable prices, the weather will undoubtedly be chillier.
If you refer to my Alaskan cruise packing list and suggestions, you will not have to worry about the weather!
Thirdly, your family and friends traveling with you will probably need to arrange time off work, and this is certainly a huge consideration in the early planning stages of an Alaskan cruise.
What is most important is that everyone is able to accompany you on your dream Alaskan cruise, so giving credence to others schedules is of paramount importance!
What To Pack For An Alaska Cruise
When figuring what to pack, its all about knowing what you will do on your incredible cruise in Alaska. Will you spend time pre- or post-cruise in Alaska or Seattle? What sort of shore excursions do you plan to do? And of course, the month you choose to cruise Alaska can be significant.
My point is, most likely youll need to pack cruise clothes and land clothes. And hopefully fit it all into one suitcase. Plus a carry-on for electronics, toiletries, documents and meds. It only took me two cruises to Alaska to figure out what I should have packedor left at home.
Ive cruised Alaska up and down the Inside Passage at least a dozen times plus four cross-Gulf voyages. My cruises to Alaska happened in every month of the cruise season. How to pack for an Alaska cruise in still-chilly May or in mid-July all follow my basic packing guidelines.
I hope my Alaska cruise packing list and tips help you to be prepared for one of the most incredible cruise and land experiences of a life time.
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Alaska Cruise Formal Nights
Although Alan and I love dressing up for formal nights, we leave the dinner jacket and long gown at home when cruising to Alaska. In fact, wed do the same on any 7 to 14-day cruise. During port-intensive cruises, theres not enough time on ship to make bringing the formal wear worth it.
Ill pack a pair of dressy black pants, sparkly top and shoes, especially if Ive adhered to the two pants/five top/1 par of shoes list I mentioned for casual nights in the packing list that follows. If you really want to cut down on clothing, wear the black pants from elegant casual night in place of an additional pair of dressy pants.
For an Alaska formal night, Alan wears a sport coat and dress pants or khakis, perhaps without a tie as they are usually optional. Hell bring one, though, just in case he changes his mind.
No need to worry about formal nights on an expedition cruise because there arent any.
Pack With Us For Alaska
Our Alaska Packing Playlist features packing and planning videos for your cruise to Alaska. From clothing, outerwear, and gear, to packing carry-on only , weve gotcha covered.
You can also shop our , specificifally curated for Alaska, OR shop our latest packing video to have you safe and comfortable on your cruise and flight!
See more packing tips here.
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Do Pack A Swimsuit And Flip Flops Or Sandals
Hot tubs are one of the best kept secrets in Alaska, and an incredible way to experience the fresh, unspoiled outdoors while staying warm. All too often, we hear cruisers say I thought it would be too cold for my swimsuit!, or I left my sandals at home and had to wear my sneakers on the pool deck!.
Packing For An Alaska Cruise Is Easy
- Dress in layers! You’ll hear this again and again when researching what to pack for your visit to Alaska. But what does that mean exactly? Begin with a lightweight short sleeved shirt , add a hoodie , cardigan sweater or fleece sweater , add to that an all-weather coat , & scarf if it is warranted. If you get hot, simply shed enough clothes to make yourself comfortable.
- Most importantly, bring an all-weather jacket, preferably with a hood. I recommend a waterproof, breathable jacket rather than just a nylon windbreaker, especially if you plan to do a lot of outdoor stuff. Sometimes the wind kicks up across the ocean and even though it is sunny & warm, the cold wind will go right through you. The jacket doesn’t have to be heavy & lined, if you layer correctly, you’ll take care of the warmth, this will simply keep you dry! Brands you’ll find in my closet are Patagonia, , Columbia, , & when I can afford it , North Face or Arc’teryx 🙂
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