If you have already been on a cruise, odds are you have a good idea what to take along for the next one. Commonly recommended: consider your packing list before getting off the ship, toward the end of that particular sailing. What did you bring too much of? What would it have been nice to have more of?
The best cruise packing list is one customized for you, by you. That practice works well for a Caribbean cruise, regardless of which cruise line we might sail. But what about a cruise to Alaska? What special items are helpful to have along for that very different climate? Rather than starting all over on your cruise packing list, a few tweaks here and there can get you ready to sail and explore the land of the midnight sun.
Rain Gear Is A Must
It rains a lot in Alaska, making a lightweight rain jacket an essential part packing. Sailing closer to the beginning or end of Alaska season in May or September, rain jacket might be lined to account for colder temperatures. Sailing in June, July or August will bring cooler temperatures than a Caribbean cruise but comparatively pleasant so just protecting yourself from rain is the key. Starting out early in the morning on tour, it may seem cooler but rain is not forecast. Very much like the Caribbean, that forecast does not mean it won’t rain. When it does though, what would be a quick rain in the Caribbean can linger longer in Alaska. Just the nature of the beast.
Plan On Dressing In Layers
Always a good idea when visiting a cooler climate, dressing in layers allows the flexibility to add or take away what’s under that rain gear. Having that ability is especially important in Alaska where temperatures experienced can change dramatically. How much they can change often depends on tours chosen for the day. An excursion that plants you on a frozen glacier can be 20°F cooler than on the pier where you met your guide. The same can be said for any tour that take you up into the air via floatplane or helicopter. Also a good idea on those tours that take flight: book them twice. That way if weather grounds your aircraft and eliminates flight, you have another opportunity to do so later on your itinerary.
Think Really Hard About The Formal Wear
The nature of a cruise to Alaska is very much about embracing the wilderness. On all but the most elegant of cruise lines, that translates to actually less formal attire at dinner. By “actually” I mean what passengers actually wear, not what the cruise line suggests. Sure, take a look at the suggested dress code but dial it down a notch. You will not be alone. To play it ultra safe, bring one outfit that would work for church or a casual business meeting. Replace the space reserved for formal wear with a few long-sleeved shirts and more long pants than shorts.
Clothing You Absolutely Will Not Need
There is absolutely no reason to bring your frozen weather winter coat or hooded snow parka. It will not be used and takes up a ton of space in luggage. One of the worst mistakes made: wearing that winter coat on the flight from your warm weather climate to Alaska. There is always one person on the flight who does that and they look ridiculous. In addition, they are making a the long flight it takes to get to an Alaska cruise embarkation port a miserable experience.
Things You Think You Won’t Need But You Might
Commonly left behind when going to Alaska: swimwear. While there will be no sandy Caribbean beach to spend the day at, your cruise ship pool will indeed be open. Cruise lines often send ships to Alaska that have a movable cover over the pool, insuring that swimming is indeed possible. Even if your particular ship does not have that ability, a dip in the hot tub on a cool Alaska day is a welcome activity after a day ashore. Also important to have along: all your camera gear. The ability to capture wide-angle images is a must because Alaska is full of really big things you’ll want to share with your friends. If you’re looking for an excuse to buy a new lens, this is what you have been waiting for.
That’s really about it. Just a few minor tweaks to your cruise packing list and you’ll be ready to go exploring one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
Chris Owen shares frank, inside information about cruise vacations on ChrisCruises.com.