Cruise TipsPackingWhat to Pack and Wear for an Alaskan Cruise

What to Pack and Wear for an Alaskan Cruise

Packing for an Alaskan cruise is a totally different experience than packing for a Caribbean cruise. While you may have packed for hotter weather climates before and are possibly a pro at it, don’t forget to adequately prepare for Alaskan weather.

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celebrity cruise ship in Alaska with people looking at the views on deck
Photo Credit: Alaska Cruise © Michael Klenetsky |

The weather in Alaska can be a tricky thing. It’s not abnormal for a day to start cold and the afternoons to be quite warm.

You will want to give yourself plenty of time to plan and pack for your Alaskan cruise. You may even need to pack more pieces of luggage than you normally would, as some of your clothing will be bulky.

While this may sound a bit daunting, don’t worry! As long as you make a list, research the upcoming forecast, and prepare your bags, you’ll be just fine. Keep reading to learn some of our Alaskan cruise packing suggestions.

Related:  What is the best cruise line for Alaska?


Casual Daywear

clothing packing suitcase for Alaska

There is a varying degree of casual daywear on each cruise line. Many of the major cruise lines suggest “cruise casual” attire during the day. Most Alaskan cruises are more casual and “layers” are king.

Be sure to pack plenty of clothing items that you can use to layer your outfits. Many people make the mistake of not taking enough clothing on an Alaskan cruise. Packing several thinner layers can make the process easier and won’t take up as much space in your luggage.

Of course, you will want to take cold weather essentials such as sweaters, jackets, sneakers, and boots. Leggings are popular, along with flannel shirts, layered over cute tops or tees.

Flip Flops probably won’t be your “go-to” on an Alaskan cruise and many people opt for tennis shoes or casual slip-ons during the day. You will probably want to pack a pair of flip flops for an indoor pool afternoon or trip to the spa.

Related: 15 things people always forget to pack on a cruise


Evening Outfits

You will see a wide range of evening wear on an Alaskan cruise. Depending on the cruise line, you may have a couple of “elegant” nights for dinner. Each cruise line is different, so be sure to check with your chosen line to ensure that you have the proper formal wear, if required.

As a general rule, elegant evenings are not quite as “elegant” as they once were. Now, it’s perfectly acceptable on most lines for men and women to wear slacks or dress pants for dinner. Pair your bottoms with a polo or a dressy blouse to create the perfect ensemble. Dresses or skirts are very popular as well.

If cocktail dresses and tuxes are more your speed, that’s completely fine, too. Many people love to wear their best when cruising. This is highly welcomed and encouraged for anyone wanting to do so.

If you choose to be very casual, you may want to skip the dining room and plan an alternative dinner option. Many cruisers enjoy eating at one of the buffets, the sandwich station, or the pizza parlor.

Since you are in Alaska and the ship will be air-conditioned, be sure the clothing you pack for the evenings is appropriate. Your evenings will likely be chilly, even indoors.

Related: 7 biggest Alaska cruise mistakes people make


Port Days and Excursion Gear

Various jackets and waterproof clothing items for Alaska

You’ve arrived in Ketchikan or Skagway and plan to spend your day on land, but what should you wear? It’s important to remember that while you may experience warm weather in Alaska, more than likely it will be colder and wet.

Most importantly, you will need a waterproof jacket and waterproof shoes. Certain parts of Alaska tend to get a lot of rain and it’s better to be prepared. Make sure you take plenty of crew socks and at least one pair of waterproof boots.

If you plan to do an excursion, be sure you dress appropriately. A fishing excursion will warrant waterproof clothing. Dog sledding trips will call for cold weather gear including gloves and a toboggan.

Related: How much luggage can I bring on my cruise?


The Essentials

Don’t get so caught up in packing cold weather clothing that you forget the essentials!

Make sure that you pack all of your toiletries that you would take on any other vacation. If you do forget something that you need, most ships offer some toiletry items in the gift shops. Luckily, cruise ships do not have the size restriction on liquids like airlines do. Ladies, feel free to take a large can of dry shampoo if you want!

Packing any of your daily medications is just as important. Be sure that you bring anything that you may need, including prescribed medications and OTC medications. It’s a good idea to bring some cold and allergy medications on your Alaskan cruise. This colder, wet climate could possibly give you the sniffles or flare an allergy you have.

images of denali, ketchikan and a princess cruise ship in alaska

Don’t forget to bring adequate sleepwear and loungewear for your cabin. If you book a balcony cabin, you’ll likely want to spend a good bit of time there. This will allow you to observe the beautiful glaciers that Alaska is known for. A fleece jacket that can be layered with other clothing is a perfect idea for wearing on your balcony.

A digital camera or access to a cell phone with great photo capabilities is a must on an Alaskan cruise. Alaska is home to beautiful scenery and experiences that you simply cannot find in other parts of the world. Taking photos is essential and they record memories that will last a lifetime.

Related: 18 worst things to pack on a cruise


Pro Tips

For Alaskan cruise first-timers and pros alike, Cruise Fever has a few suggestions on how to make your vacation smoother and more enjoyable.

First of all, cold weather clothing is the most important thing to remember on an Alaskan cruise. Unfortunately, packing this type of clothing can take up a lot of space in your luggage.

It’s a great idea to bring a waterproof jacket that includes removable layers. Many brands have a 3-in-1 “jacket system” that is perfect for an Alaskan cruise. These include the heavier, outer layer that is waterproof or water-repellent. The inner layer is usually fleece and can be buttoned or zipped into the outer layer. Each piece can be worn alone or together for the ultimate in warmth and comfort.

Grizzly bear and hiking trails in Alaska from cruise ship

Packing cubes are an essential part of packing for your vacation. Without packing cubes, the larger items such as boots and coats can overwhelm your suitcase (and you!). Purchase an assorted sized package of packing cubes to maximize the space in your luggage. Utilizing packing cubes will provide you with more space and organization in your suitcase. Placing your folded shirts and other items into their own packing cubes will also cut down on wrinkles.

One-time use hand warmers such as Hot Hands can be lifesavers on an Alaskan cruise. These can be activated and placed into gloves or even your boots. This small bit of warmth can come in handy if you are on a dog sledding adventure or any other excursion that involves snow.

A small umbrella or other rain gear is a must on your adventure. One great, space-saving option is a plastic poncho that can easily be placed into a jacket or purse. If it starts to rain, you can wear a poncho, without having to carry an umbrella around.

Hopefully, you are excited and ready for your Alaskan cruise. Visiting Alaska is a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many and being prepared is essential. Make a list before packing and utilize the tips listed above. You are sure to have an amazing trip!

Related: 7 biggest Alaska cruise mistakes people make

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Kristi Sellers
Kristi Sellers
Kristi took her first cruise when she was 12 years old and is currently planning her 20th. When she isn’t cruising, she loves to visit the Smoky Mountains. Kristi lives in Alabama with her husband and fur baby, Chico.
Cruise TipsPackingWhat to Pack and Wear for an Alaskan Cruise

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