One of the most frequently asked questions on cruise forums is: what to pack for an Alaska cruise.
I have one word for you: fleece!
Most cruises to Alaska depart from the Port of Vancouver or Seattle during the summer months. Probably the day with the best weather on your Alaska cruise will be your departure date from one of those cities.
I’ve cruised to Alaska mid-June and early August with similar weather. Daytime highs around 60. Colder in the evening. Good chance of rain.
You’ll hear from some people who visited Alaska during an unusually warm spell and brag about wearing shorts. You’ll also have cruisers who say they docked in Juneau, and stepped off the ship into a snow storm.
I’ve been on a re-positioning cruise from Fort Lauderdale, through the Panama Canal, to Vancouver, on the Island Princess, which was then set to start their summer season cruising to Alaska. There were a few cruisers who boarded in Fort Lauderdale who planned to stay on board through the Alaska cruise. They have to pack for all kinds of weather conditions from tropic to icy!
Like with any vacation, pack your personal care items including medications. Anything you left behind at home, you might not be able to replace or you’ll spend big bucks in the cruise ship’s gift shop. Don’t forget your passport. You’ll be entering both the United States and Canada on your cruise.
When you book your Alaska cruise and receive your cabin assignment and itinerary, it will tell you how many formal nights for dinner. For 7 day cruises, depending on the cruise line, expect one or two formal dinner nights. For men, this means a suit and tie. Woman can get away with a smart pant suit, or a skirt outfit, or a dress. If you’re not interested in dressing up, skip the main dining room on those formal nights and eat in the Lido restaurant instead where it’s casual attire. Or order room service in your cabin.
The day you board the cruise, and depending on how hot it is in Vancouver or Seattle, you might be wearing shorts, but that’ll probably be the last time you’ll wear them on the cruise!
Speaking of rain, pack a raincoat. Check the weather forecast and if it looks like it’ll be raining every day, pack two raincoats. That way you can hang one to dry in your shower and have one ready to wear. And need I say it again? Pack raincoats with fleece lining! I recommend purchasing a coat from a place that sells rain gear to equestrians. Us horse people are outside in all weather conditions and we don’t want to get soaked. Check out the rain coats on Horse Loverz for some great ideas. I especially recommend choosing from my favorites, Ariat or Outback rain gear. (Disclosure: if you click the link and make a purchase from Horse Loverz, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.)
By the way, feel free to bring as many suitcases as you want. A cruise ship isn’t like an airline. You’re not charged by the bag or by the weight. You might want one suitcase for your foot gear and outer wear.
As for shoes, if you’re planning to attend formal night dining, bring one nice pair of shoes with you. Bring one pair of sneakers to walk around the ship. For port days, pack a waterproof pair of shoes, like sneakers or hiking boots. Whatever will keep your feet dry in case it rains.
I recommend Ariat H2O.
(Disclosure: if you click the above photo & link and make a purchase from Horse Loverz, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.) They’re comfortable, wear like a running shoe, and they’re waterproof.
Pack a couple of pairs of jeans or long pants. Pack two or three comfortable shirts, and don’t forget to pack at least two sweaters. Make them fleece sweaters! A lightweight one to wear around the ship and a more heavy duty sweater to wear outside or in port if it’s not raining.
Check out this cute fleece shirt from Horse Loverz.
It’s one of the most comfortable shirts you’ll wear! It’s fleece and goes really well paired with jeans. Perfect to wear on an Alaskan cruise! (Disclosure: if you click the above photo & link and make a purchase from Horse Loverz, I’ll receive a small commission for the referral.)
Mittens? Gloves? In the summertime? Are you crazy? No! Don’t forget to pack them. When you’re cruising in Glacier Bay or visiting another glacier, those ice fields give off a lot of cold, icy temperatures. You’ll be glad you packed them.
Don’t forget hats. If your raincoat has a hood, that should be sufficient if it starts raining. You’ll also need a warm winter hat for when you’re touring the glaciers. It gets cold. I recommend you check out the selection from Hat Country. If you click the banner below and make a purchase, I will make a small commission for the referral.
I’m especially partial to the Outback hats. They’re great for shade and for keeping the rain off. In a pinch, a baseball cap will do the trick.
The big thing not to leave at home is your camera. Alaska and the Inside Passage has amazing scenery. You’ll want to take lots of photos to remember your cruise. I use a Canon Rebel t6s. There’s an amazing package bundle deal available from Amazon, and if you click the photo below you can check it out. (Disclosure: If you click and make a purchase from Amazon, I’ll make a small commission for the referral.)
Don’t forget your binoculars. When it comes to spotting whales, with my luck all I usually see is the splash as they’re going back under the water. I’ve seen a bear walking along a beach, seals, and eagles. I use Bushnell binoculars. Mine aren’t waterproof, but I spotted a decent pair on Amazon you might want to take a look at.
(Disclosure: Again, this is in affiliate link. If you click and make a purchase from Amazon, I’ll make a small commission for the referral.)
So there you have it, on what to pack for an Alaska cruise. The trick is pack clothing that will keep you warm and dry. Fleece keeps you warm, but not always dry. If you live somewhere that is a warm, dry climate, with little need for warm, waterproof clothing, you will need to make a few purchases before you start your cruise.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any recommendations for what to pack on an Alaska cruise?