April 6, 2023
Packing for an Alaska cruise can be confusing! You might be preparing for your trip to Alaska and asking yourself what exactly should be in your luggage. As a luxury travel expert, I can tell you this, the more prepared you are for the weather in Alaska, the more you’ll enjoy and get the most out of your trip! However, I know that deciding on what to pack on a cruise to Alaska can be tricky because the weather varies from one extreme to the next. Sometimes, within just a few hours! But, then again, braving the weather is just part of the charm and experience of a cruise to Alaska, so I say, just embrace it. I’ll be going over some of my best tips on what to pack for an Alaska cruise, based on my experience, in the post below!
Where to Start
The first thought you might have when packing for an Alaska cruise might be heavy winter coats and boots. The good news is you can leave those heavy-duty winter coats and boots at home! Honestly, the best thing to pack is waterproof layers that are easily removable.
Before you start packing, the biggest consideration, again, is the variance in weather. If you’re cruising the inside passage and waterways of Southeast Alaska during the summer, you can expect the highs to be between 50 and 60 degrees. Occasionally you may encounter a rare 70 or 80-degree day, but again, it’s rare! During spring the inside passage and waterways of Southeast Alaska are chilly, and you can expect fall to be rainy.
Further north, toward Fairbanks, the temperatures in the summer reach 70 and 80 degrees and you can expect the climate, overall, to be a bit drier.
From clothing to gear and more, here’s a complete checklist of what to pack for a cruise to Alaska!
The one thing I will say about packing for your Alaska cruise is this, pack smart! You will be looking to pack waterproof layers, but also layers that will keep you comfortable in 30 to 80 degree weather, such as thermals! Remember, your ship will have laundry service on board and they will be more than happy to assist you with any dry cleaning or ironing if need be.
Stick to casual activewear meant for moving around comfortably and keeping you protected in the great outdoors. But also, pack a few outfits for formal nights so that you can dress appropriately for dinner aboard the ship.
A Checklist of Clothing Items To Pack for an Alaska Cruise
- Long-sleeve shirts
- A warm, water-repellent jacket that can be layered
- Touchscreen gloves
- Jeans and slacks
- Rain hat
- Swimsuit for hot tub or warm days at sea
- Sunglasses (with polarized lenses if possible)
- Socks (wool socks are a great idea)
- Formal wear ( if your cruise has a formal night)
- Smart-casual dinner outfits
A Checklist of Outerwear to Pack for Your Cruise to Alaska
Jackets: Lightweight and waterproof, for layering over warm fleeces and sweaters— a vest or windbreaker for strolling the deck.
Shoes: At least two pairs of durable, waterproof walking shoes or boots with arch support. You will take thousands of steps of day, so the comfier, the better. You’ll also want shoes that can handle mud. Pack one or two pairs of dress shoes for dinner outfits.
Hat, Gloves, and Scarves: Touchscreen (e-tip) gloves, so you can use your phone and camera while keeping your fingers warm & toasty. A rain hat and a wool hat to keep your ears warm.
Excursions: There are some excursions ( i.g. dog sledding) that require a warmer jacket and pants, gloves, hats, and thermal undergarments. You’ll want to pack for this type of excursion the same way you would if you were going skiing!
Clothing Items to Pack for a Cruise Dinner
Formal wear: Anticipate two formal nights per week. For ladies, you’ll want to pack a cocktail dress, gown, or pantsuit. Gentlemen will need to pack a suit, tie, or tuxedo.
Smart-casual wear for dinner: Slacks and collared shirts or sweaters for men. Skirt or trousers, sweater or blouse for women.
Non-Clothing Items to Pack for Your Trip
- Prescriptions medications
- Backup pair of prescription eyeglasses
- Phone chargers & USB converters
- Portable phone charger for those long excursion days
- Binoculars! A must if you want an up-close view of wildlife. I recommend buying one pair per person and the lightweight travel size are amazing!
- Camera with a telephoto lens & extra memory card
- Small backpack—great for excursions and carrying souvenirs when strolling through town
- Nausea relief medication (Nauzene, Dramamine, ginger chews, sea-bands, or sea sickness patch) If you need any of these items for your trip, I recommend taking them at least 1 hour before the cruise. Whichever item you pick, make sure it is the non-drowsy formula!
- Insect repellent—Alaska’s mosquitoes can be relentless