How To Pack Confidently For An Alaskan Cruise
If you’re anything like me and freeze at the thought of packing for the unknown (or even just packing in general), join the club. Never have I been as far North as Alaska and when the time came to pack, I froze. It throws you for a loop when you’re told “it’s summer in Alaska but you’ll be around ice, snow, sea and sun. Oh and bring a swimsuit.” Lucky for you, I learned from my recent Alaskan cruise how to pack confidently and can share my tips on how to survive this packing fiasco. Head into the last frontier knowing you’ll have all the required necessities.
The week before you leave, keep an eye on the weather forecast. We were told it would be rainy and cold the whole cruise. And get this, it wasn’t. Only one day of our nine day cruise was rainy. I packed way too many warm sweaters and was actually hot. I was hot on board and hot on land. I wore the same two t-shirts the whole time. We were lucky and had warm weather. This will not be the case for everyone.
I packed everything but a vest, one pair of jeans and my “just in case I need to run in the mud” tennis shoes in two carry-on bags. My parents and I (whom I traveled with) shared one large checked bag for larger items. Keep in mind, the cabins are very small and the last thing you want is a room filled to the brim with large suitcases. Someone will surely hit their limit and go postal.
- 1 Full Length pair of Leggings/Yoga Pants
- 2 Three Quarter Length Leggings (gym & day-to-day activities)
- 1-2 Pairs of Jeans (Not necessary if you aren’t a jeans fan)
- 1 Business Casual or Formal Wear Outfit (Again not necessary if it’s not your thing)
- 1 Waterproof Jacket
- 1 Fleece Jacket
- 1 Puffy Vest
- 1 Thin Long Sleeve Shirt
- 2 T-Shirts
- 2 Workout Shirts
- 1-2 Thin Sweaters
The key here is to dress in layers. You never really know what the weather will be like. In Anchorage, it was hot in the sun but cool enough in the shade for a light jacket. Once you’re out to sea and near the glaciers, the deck and pier get cold because the icy wind will hit you. We were lucky enough to have sunny days all week long except for one rainy day in Ketchikan. The rest of the time I was good in a t-shirt and ¾ yoga pants. My dad was good in jeans the whole week.
- Thin Gloves (not necessary)
- Scarf (females)
- Hat or Beanie
- Small Purse (females)
- Hiking Stick (if needed for balance)
Sunglasses were a must! Anchorage was shockingly bright. All the white snow on any glacier tour will blind you as well. These baby blues needed those bad boys. Gloves were only needed on the dog sled. A scarf is also nice to have if you want to sit on the deck and read a book. And ladies, bring a small purse! I didn’t and really wished I had something to carry my money, pocket camera, room key, chapstick and anything else I needed with me when roaming around the ship. A hiking stick will be necessary for those that have balance issues or need a “third leg” for extra support. The airport and ship have no problem allowing you to bring one on board…..actually, it’ll help you cut ALL the long lines. No joke!
- Tennis Shoes
- Flip Flops
- Dress Shoes
I had originally bought hiking boots for this trip but returned them and instead bought new tennis shoes. Glad I did because they really weren’t necessary on a cruise. None of the excursions our group went on needed them. If it’s snow you’re worried about (for example glacier trekking or dog sledding) they provide snow boots that go over your current shoes. Easy!
- Go Pro or Waterproof Camera
- DSLR Camera with 70-200 or 35 mm lens
- Walkie Talkies & Extra Batteries
- Waterproof Phone Case/Pouch
- Portable Phone Charger
- Waterproof Watch
I spent a lot of time looking out the window from the breakfast table, treadmill and random chairs in the hallway trying to catch a glimpse of wildlife out in the middle of the ocean. I was even trying to see things that were on shore tucked away in the trees. Binoculars would have came in handy!
Walkie talkies were a fun and convenient way to keep in touch with those you are traveling with when you don’t have phone service. Make sure and bring extra batteries though! If you’re a water activity person, bring a waterproof case for your smartphone. Last thing you want is for it to go swimming with the whales during your kayak excursion. Talk about fun killer.
- Motion Sickness Patches
- Lots of Reading Material
- Eye Mask
- Hanging Toiletry Bag (example)
Motion sickness pills are a necessity if you get sick at the sight of waves. Luckily, our cruise was very smooth but I’ve heard of some others that were rocky. I think we had one evening when I had to brace my abs a bit during dinner so that I didn’t slide down the seat or lean into the person next to me. Be sure to put the patch on at least one day before you get on the ship and stay hydrated when wearing it.
An eye mask is also important if light bothers you when trying to sleep. The midnight sun will cast some unwanted light into your cabin and make it hard to get any shut eye. Also, those bathrooms are SMALL. Save some counter space by bringing a handy toiletry bag that hangs. You’ll thank me later.
Packing for multiple climates can be hard but it’s not impossible. The key to staying comfortable in Alaska is dressing in layers. The weather can change at any moment. Hopefully this post helps clear up some of the questions you may have for how to pack for an Alaskan cruise. Leave a comment below if you have any suggestions or comments. Have you been on an Alaskan cruise? What other items would you bring?