What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise (clothing, gear & essentials)

What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise

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Are you going on an Alaska cruise and wondering what to pack? This Alaska cruise packing list can help.

Packing for an Alaskan cruise is very different than packing for a Caribbean cruise. After all, the weather in Alaska can be cool and rainy or sunny and warm, all in one cruise!

This can make it a challenge, even for experienced cruisers. Whether you’re doing an Inside Passage, North or Southbound Alaska cruise, you’ll want to prepared for the weather with the right clothing and gear.

What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

Here’s a comprehensive Alaskan cruise packing list, including clothing, gear and cruise essentials to bring on your cruise.

I’ve also included some things you don’t want to forget to pack, as you may need them for shore excursions, days and evenings during your Alaskan cruise.

In this post we go over:

  • Alaska weather by month (as a packing guide)
  • What clothing to pack for an Alaska cruise (men & women)
  • What items to pack for an Alaska cruise (gear & cruise essentials)

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Packing for the Weather on an Alaska Cruise by Month

Glacier National Park

Depending on the month you sail to Alaska, the temperatures and rainfall can vary, which will affect what clothing you should bring. However, since Alaska weather is unpredictable, you should always pack rain gear and warm clothing to layer.

April & May

If you cruise to Alaska early in the season at the end of April or May, be prepared for the weather to be cooler than the summer months.

Alaska temperatures in May typically range from lows in the mid 30’s to highs in the mid 50’s F. You’ll get about 16-17 hours of daylight in Alaska during the month of May.

April and May are the driest months of the cruise season, with less chance of rain. However, you’ll want to be prepared with raingear and clothing for all weather conditions.

June & July

Typically, June and July are the warmest months of the Alaska cruise season, with lows in the 40’s to highs in mid 60’s F.

Many people find these months to be the best time of year to cruise to Alaska, in terms of weather and wildlife.

The weather is unpredictable, so it can be warm and sunny or you can have heavy rains, even in the same day! Be prepared for rain, with the proper outdoor clothing and gear. 

August & September

The chance of rain increases quite a lot by August and September. Temperatures range from the low 40’s to mid 50’s F.

Layers and raingear are essential.

October

October weather is usually more chilly and rainy than the other months of the Alaska cruise season. Temperatures typically range from lows in the 30’s to highs in the low 50’s F.

Daylight decreases to just 11 hours of daylight each day.

Alaska Cruise Packing List

When planning what to wear on an Alaska cruise, there are a few things to consider. For an Alaska cruise, you’ll need to pack clothes for your days and evenings on the cruise ship (including formal night), as well as activities on land.

For excursions in Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and other Alaska port days, it’s a good idea to plan on wearing layers of clothing, with a warm jacket and/or rain-gear as the top layer.

Something to note is that Alaska cruises tend be more casual than Caribbean and Mediterranean cruises. When making your own Alaska cruise packing list, you may want skip dressy evening wear and stick to casual and smart casual outfits.

Alaska Cruise Packing List for Women

Alaska cruise woman

Here’s a list of clothing to bring on a 7 day Alaska cruise. You may decide to bring more of some items and less of others depending on your preference and month of your cruise.

  • short sleeve shirts
  • long sleeve shirts
  • sweatshirts or fleece sweaters
  • comfortable pants
  • fleece lined leggings
  • warm socks
  • undergarments
  • thermal undergarments
  • lightweight lined jacket or puffer coat
  • hooded waterproof rain jacket or windbreaker
  • hat
  • thin gloves
  • scarf
  • sleepwear
  • active wear (gym)
  • casual or smart casual dresses
  • pants or nice jeans
  • blouse or sweaters
  • cocktail or formal dresses
  • bathing suits
  • swimsuit cover ups
  • shawl or pashmina
  • evening bag
  • jewelry (optional)
  • dress shoes
  • flip flops (for indoor pool or hot tub)
  • Hiking boots or waterproof shoes
  • comfortable shoes
  • sneakers
  • polarized sunglasses

Related: 25 Gorgeous Swimsuit Cover Ups for a Cruise

Alaska Cruise Packing List for Men

Cruisers viewing glacier on Alaska cruise
  • short sleeve shirts
  • long sleeve or flannel shirts
  • sweatshirts or fleece sweaters
  • comfortable pants
  • shorts or cargo pants/convertible pants
  • warm socks
  • undergarments
  • thermal undergarments
  • lightweight lined jacket or puffer coat
  • hooded waterproof rain jacket or windbreaker
  • hat
  • thin gloves
  • scarf
  • sleepwear
  • gym clothes
  • bathing suit (for indoor pool or hot tub)
  • smart casual wear (evening)
  • khakis or nice jeans
  • Nice shirts or sweaters
  • Suit or tuxedo
  • dress shirts
  • tie
  • belt
  • dress shoes
  • hiking boots or waterproof shoes
  • comfortable shoes
  • sneakers
  • baseball cap
  • polarized sunglasses

Related: Cruise Wear for Men: Men’s Packing List for a Cruise

Things to Bring on an Alaska Cruise (essentials & gear)

Sitka Alaska

Beyond clothing, there are many things you’ll want to pack for your Alaskan cruise vacation.

Consider the activities you’ll be doing in the ports of call in Alaska. Perhaps you’re going whale watching in Juneau, dog-sledding on Mendenhall Glacier or walking around the town in Skagway.

These are the must-haves to pack for shore excursions and day trips in Alaska.

Binoculars

Bringing your own pair of compact travel binoculars is an Alaska cruise must-have! Whether you’re on an excursion or looking out at the incredible scenery and wildlife from your balcony on the cruise ship, make sure to have one per person.

Recommended: Folding travel binoculars (check price & see over 8000 Amazon reviews here)

Thermal Undergarments

When people say to dress in layers for Alaska, it starts with thermal undergarments. If you plan on visiting the glaciers, you can expect if to be cold and chilly. If you wear a base layer, you’ll keep warm and comfortable.

Base layer for women

Recommended: Base layer thermal wear (receives excellent reviews)

Base layer for men

This base layer for men is a best-seller that really should be on your Alaska cruise packing list.

Recommended: Thermal base layer for men

Alaska Helicopter excursion

Puffer Coat

While you won’t need a jacket every day in Alaska, if you are cruising during the colder months, there will be times you’ll be happy to have a thin warm puffer coat. 

Puffer jacket for women

This puffer jacket is lightweight, but is made with thin insulation and heat reflective lining. 

Recommended: Puffer jacket for women (check price & Amazon reviews here)

Men’s puffer jacket

This men’s puffer jacket is very lightweight and packs up small and tight, while still being insulated and warm.

Recommended: Lightweight men’s puffer jacket (see details & price on Amazon here)

Waterproof Jacket

Wear a waterproof jacket (not water resistant) with a fleece or warm sweater underneath on rainy days!

Recommended: Men’s Columbia waterproof jacket (well made – excellent reviews)

Thin Gloves

The best gloves you can bring on your Alaska cruise are one touch gloves. These thin gloves will keep your hands warm, but also allow you to use your smart phone and take photos and videos.

Recommended: One touch gloves (for men & women)

Warm Hat

A warm hat is an Alaska must-have! Consider a Carhartt knit hat, literally everyone’s favorite hat! It’s warm, comfortable and actually looks good on both men and women!

Recommended: Carhartt Warm hat (see colors & over 100,000 5* Amazon reviews)

Get The Ultimate Cruise Planner

Regular price: $27 Now just $17!

Convertible Pants

Consider packing a pair of convertible pants (cargo style pants). These versatile pants are great for the outdoors, especially if you’re cruising to Alaska in June or July when you just may want a pair of shorts.

Recommended: Convertible pants (see colors & reviews on Amazon)

Rain Poncho

Some rain is common in Alaska. Even on milder days, packing a light rain poncho in your backpack just in case, is a smart idea.

Recommended: Unisex rain poncho (check price & Amazon reviews here)

Ketchikan Alaska

Insect Repellant

Bring insect repellant on your Alaska cruise. You’ll definitely need it for any hiking tours and excursions, as well as other times.

Recommended: Insect repellant (protects for 10 hours)

Polarized Sunglasses

Sunglasses aren’t only for Caribbean cruises. When the sun reflects off the glaciers, polarized sunglasses will be essential. Even on sunny sea days on a cruise, these will come in handy.

Recommended: Polarized sunglasses (durable with protection rope)

Waterproof Dry Bag

A waterproof dry bag is great for all cruises where you may have water based or active excursions. If you get one for your Alaska cruise, you can keep it on your Caribbean, Bahamas or Bermuda cruise packing list as well!

Recommended: Waterproof dry bag (check price and 5* Amazon reviews)

Waterproof Backpack

A lightweight waterproof backpack is a must for excursions and day trips in Alaska, but also makes a handy embarkation day carry on bag for your first cruise day. Due to the potential for heavy rain in any of the Alaska cruise ports, make sure your backpack is waterproof and not water-resistant.

Recommended: Waterproof backpack (see price details & color options here)

Waterproof Shoes

An Alaska cruise packing list wouldn’t be complete without waterproof shoes. Make sure your waterproof hiking shoes are comfortable, breathable and have support for your feet.

Ladies waterproof shoes

Recommended: Columbia waterproof hiking shoes (womens)

Men’s waterproof shoes

Recommended: Columbia waterproof hiking shoes (men)

Hiking Socks

During any month, it can rain in Alaska, which means the potential for wet feet. Make sure to pack some moisture control socks (hiking or wicking socks). These are perfect for keeping your feet drier and supported.

Recommended: Moisture control socks (highly rated 150,000+ reviews)

Sunscreen

Don’t forget to bring sunscreen. These travel size sunscreens are easy to pack for your Alaska cruise, and can be used on future cruises as well.

Recommended: Sunscreen

Lip Balm

Make sure to bring along some chap stick or lip balm for warm sunny days in Alaska, as well as the windy ones.

Recommended: Lip balm

Waterproof Phone Case

A waterproof phone case dry bag is an Alaska cruise essential. You’ll be able to take photos and use your touch screen, while your phone stays clean and dry.

Recommended: Waterproof phone case dry bag (compatible with most cell phones)

Portable Charger

Make sure to bring a fast charging portable phone charger on your Alaskan cruise. This will come in handy before, during and after your cruise as well.

Recommended: Portable phone charger (for newest phones)

Reusable Water Bottle

Consider bringing collapsible refillable water bottles, to save space in your backpack.

Recommended: Collapsible water bottles (leakproof)

Collapsible Hiking Polls

If you’re planning on hiking in Alaska, packing a lightweight walking stick or collapsible hiking polls will be very useful.

Recommended: Ultralight collapsible hiking poll (check price & 1500+ Amazon reviews)

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Regular price: $27 Now just $17!

Camera Equipment

There’s no question, you’ll be able to take some amazing photos in Alaska. Nature and wildlife is at it’s best!

Consider bringing along a good camera and lense to capture whales, bald eagles and bears.

Recommended: Lumix long zoom camera (great value for price – see reviews)

Compact Travel Umbrella

A small foldable umbrella is a useful accessory to have for your Alaska cruise. This compact umbrella is durable and windproof, which is what you need.

Recommended: Compact umbrella (windproof – see details)

Seasickness Medication & Prevention

Motion sickness is a possibility on all cruises, including cruises in Alaska. However, there are effective ways to prevent seasickness, hopefully before it starts.

These items are recommended:

Seabands

Bonine

Motion sickness patches

Tummydrops (ginger candies)

First Aid Kit

A cruise first aid kit with over the counter medications, bandages and other important items should be brought on every cruise. You can make your own, or purchase a first aid kit sold on Amazon.

Recommended: First aid kit

Video: 10 Things Cruisers Forget to Pack for an Alaska Cruise (& regret)

Coffee Mug

A insulated coffee mug is a great item to bring on your Alaska cruise. Just imagine enjoying a cup of coffee or hot chocolate as you sail through Glacier Bay.

Recommended: Insulated coffee mug (check price & reviews)

Cruise Essentials to Bring on an Alaska Cruise

Norwegian Jewel in Alaska

These cruise items and travel gadgets will help to make your cabin more organized and comfortable during your Alaska cruise.

Over the door organizer

Hanging toiletry bag

Save space in your cruise cabin bathroom by bringing a hanging toiletry bag.

Recommended: Hanging toiletry bag (over 25,000 5* reviews)

Magnet Hooks

Magnet hooks are a favorite cruise hack! Add extra storage space to your cabin by using super strong magnet hooks on your cabin walls (they’re usually metal).

Recommended: Strong magnet hooks

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a great way to stay organized, for before and during your cruise.

Recommended: Packing cubes (check price, colors & Amazon reviews here)

Luggage Tag Holders

Reusable luggage tag holders will save your time and aggravation.

Take a look for your specific cruise line here:

Princess 

Royal Caribbean

Celebrity 

Norwegian 

Carnival 

Holland America

Non-Surge Protected Power Strip

Cruise cabins are small, and often have only one or two electric outlets. It’s a good idea to bring along a non-surge protected power strip with USB outlets to charge all your devices. Note – you cannot bring a regular power strip from home as these are prohibited and will be confiscated.

Recommended: Non-surge protected power bar (cruise compliant)

Related: Why Can’t You Bring a Surge Protected Power Strip on a Cruise?

Pou-Pourri

Pou-Pourri is a unique product that cruisers swear by! Cruise ship cabins are small, and so are the bathrooms. Pou-Pourri is a “before you go spray” that works better than regular air freshener.

Recommended: Pou-Pourri

Travel Alarm Clock

Many cruisers like having a simple and reliable travel alarm clock that can sit on the bedside table. There’s nothing worse than being late for an excursion!

Recommended: Travel alarm clock (cruiser favorite 10,000+ reviews)

Electronic Organizer Case

These days, everyone needs a bag to organize cables, chargers, SD cards and more. This electronics organizer bag is a popular cruise item that’s very useful!

Recommended: Electronics organizer case (check price & over 5000 Amazon reviews here)

Alaska whale excursion

Alaska Cruise Packing FAQ’s

How to Layer Clothing for an Alaska Cruise

Since the weather in Alaska is unpredictable and can vary, the best way to dress for days on land is by layering your clothing. In this way, as the day warms up and you become more active, you can remove layers and be comfortable. 

Wear a base layer of thermal undergarments for colder days. On top of this, add a thick long sleeve shirt, fleece or sweater. A waterproof lined jacket or puffer coat can be worn on top as well.

On milder days in Alaska, you may be able to wear and t-shirt or long sleeve shirt. However, you’ll still want to dress in layers so you can put on a fleece sweatshirt or warm sweater as needed. A rain poncho should always be in your backpack for Alaska excursions and day trips.

What to Wear on an Alaska Cruise Formal Night

Although Alaska cruises tend to be less dressy than Caribbean cruises, most Alaska cruises have formal nights, elegant or chic nights. For ladies, a longer sleeve cocktail dress, gown or pantsuit is perfect. You can also wear a pashmina or shawl on your shoulders.

Men can wear suits, dress pants and a dress shirt or a tuxedo. Don’t forget to pack your dress shoes, socks, belt and tie.

Do You Need a Bathing Suit for an Alaskan Cruise?

Even though it’s fairly cold in Alaska, you should definitely pack a bathing suit. You’ll likely want to use the hot tub or perhaps even an indoor pool during your Alaskan cruise.

Video: Alaska Cruise Essentials

Related & Popular Posts

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Final Thoughts on What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise

Getting ready and packing for an Alaskan cruise can be challenging, but well worth it!.

In this post we went over what to pack for an Alaska cruise, which includes an Alaska cruise packing list for men and women and useful cruise accessories.

Have you been or are you planning to go on a cruise to Alaska? What are some items that you’ll be packing?

Happy cruising!

Ilana

P.S. If you found this helpful, please don’t keep it to yourself ;-). Please share on Facebook or PIN to your favorite Pinterest board (share buttons at the top). Thanks so much!

 

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15 Comments

  1. Ann
    April 14, 2022 / 9:17 pm

    My husband and I enjoy your YouTube videos so much. We have learned so much about cruising from you. Keep up the good work.

    • April 25, 2022 / 12:36 pm

      Thanks Ann! I really appreciate that and I’m so glad they’ve been helpful!

      Ilana

  2. Dave Carlton
    May 8, 2022 / 1:17 am

    Thanks, I find your information VERY helpful.

    • May 10, 2022 / 2:24 am

      Thanks Dave, I’m so glad the info is useful.

      Have a wonderful cruise!

      Ilana

  3. Marlaine
    April 24, 2023 / 12:31 am

    Hi Llana – I really enjoy your videos. Very informative. I just completed a one week cruise to Alaska on NCL Bliss (April 15-22, 2023). I went solo in a balcony cabin. I was pleasantly surprised at the storage in the cabin. The bed was also super comfy.
    I had great weather. Brought a puffy coat, a puffy vest, fleece pullover and tee shirts. Instead of packing thermal layers I packed lightweight merino sweaters that could be worn during the day with jeans but nice enough to wear for dinner as well that eliminated the need for a thermal layer. I was plenty warm with my merino sweater and puffy jacket. Merino socks were also the way to go. I didn’t need a separate pair for every day because merino doesn’t absorb odors and dries out very quickly. I wore my merino socks 3 times and could have left the rest of the socks at home. Loved the Columbia waterproof shoes you recommended. They were my go to and were so comfortable to wear on my excursions. I could have left my hair tools at home. I went to the salon and had my hair done every 2-3 days. It was an expense (about $60 each time) but the style lasted really well and was such a time saver. I could never style my hair the way a stylist can. It was a special treat. I have more insights specifically on NCL Bliss and what was worth spending money on and what I wouldn’t do again. Happy to share if anyone is interested.

    • Lynne Shapiro aka 'Grandma Lynsey'
      May 10, 2023 / 6:10 pm

      $60 for getting your hair done doesn’t sound so bad at all!
      I think I’ll get that done after my snorkeling excursion!

      FUTURE CRUISE:
      Navigator of the Seas October 2023
      PRIOR CRUISES:
      Cruise 1 Monarch of the Seas 01/30/06
      Cruise 2 Monarch of the Seas 01/22/07
      Cruise 3 Monarch of the Seas 01/28/08
      Cruise 4 Carnival Paradise 02-08-10

    • Lina
      May 21, 2023 / 6:59 pm

      I will be cruising to Alaska on NCL Biss in September. I would appreciate any other insights tailored to NCL Bliss.

  4. Phil Rauch
    May 8, 2023 / 5:23 pm

    Hi Ilana
    My compliments on a useful, well written packing guide for my Alaska Cruise.
    My question is: How do I determine the size of dry bag I need? (I find it difficult to relate the size in “liters” posted on Amazon with what the bag will hold).
    Thank you for your help.

    • May 14, 2023 / 9:22 pm

      I’m glad this was helpful. If you don’t have a water excursion planned, a waterproof backpack should be fine. 30 L is usually a small-medium bag, 40 L is a larger bag (based on my experience). Enjoy your cruise!

  5. Lynne Shapiro aka 'Grandma Lynsey'
    May 10, 2023 / 6:14 pm

    A lot of the clothing items are great for my October-November 2023 cruise in case the weather changes.
    I’m going to pull things from your list because we have a forward-facing balcony cabin. It does have a plexiglass-type windbreak attached to the rail, but still want to be prepared for early-early mornings!

    You are a role model for an Alaska cruise, living in Canada!

    FUTURE CRUISE:
    Navigator of the Seas October 2023
    PRIOR CRUISES:
    Cruise 1 Monarch of the Seas 01/30/06
    Cruise 2 Monarch of the Seas 01/22/07
    Cruise 3 Monarch of the Seas 01/28/08
    Cruise 4 Carnival Paradise 02-08-10

  6. June 28, 2023 / 7:39 pm

    Love your videos. They’re given me a lot of insite on how to pack for Alaska. Going in September on Celebrity Eclipse. Can’t wait. Feel more prepared now due to your videos. Thanks.

    • July 4, 2023 / 1:21 am

      I’m so glad they’ve been helpful! Enjoy your Alaska cruise!

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