What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

Written By: The Planet D

How to Pack for an Alaskan cruise. When packing for an Alaskan cruise we had to do some serious thinking. When traveling to Alaska you have to be prepared for every type of weather. When Packing for an Alaskan cruise you have to think about formal nights, cocktail evenings, casual days and swimming or sitting by the pool.

On top of that, you need to think about land adventures, going on tours and excursions and heading into the Alaskan towns for shopping and dining. There’s a lot to cover when packing for an Alaskan cruise.

What To Pack For An Alaskan Cruise

Packing for an Alaskan cruise is quite different from a Caribbean Cruise or Mediterranean Cruise. For the warm weather cruise, a person can pack their bathing suit, a few wraps, a couple of cute sun dresses, sarongs, shorts and you are good to go.

All a man needs for a Caribbean Cruise is his bathing suit, some khaki pants, bermuda shirts and shorts. So how do you pack for an Alaskan Cruise?

Dave’s Alaskan Cruise Packing List

packing for an alaskan cruise
Dave was prepared for formal nights and adventures
  • 1 dark suit
  • 1 light suit
  • 3 dress shirts for under suits.
  • 4 ties
  • 2 casual pants
  • 2 pairs of jeans
  • 4 smart shirts for dinners
  • 1 pair trekking pants
  • 2 trekking shirts
  • 4 casual shirts
  • swim suit
  • 1 set of work out clothes
  • 2 pair shorts
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 2 pair dress shoes
  • 1 pair casual shoes
  • 1 pair sneakers
  • 1 pair flipflops

What Dave Would Have Changed

Should have brought:

  • Sweat pants
  • Bum around pants
  • Extra fleece or sweater
  • wool hat

Would have left at home

  • Bulky Down jacket
  • 1 dress shirt (only needed 2)
  • 2 ties (didn’t need 4)
  • 1 pair casual shoes
  • 1 suit (could have just worn 1 suit with different shirt and tie)
  • 1 trekking shirt. Didn’t need two as the excursions are short and not strenuous.

An Alaskan Cruise requires a little more planning than a Caribbean or even European river cruise when it comes to packing. You need many more layers and a lot more luggage. 

Deb’s Alaskan Cruise Check List

how to pack for an alaskan cruise
Deb’s Alaskan cruise packing list
  • 2 cocktail dresses
  • 1 skirt
  • 4 dress pants
  • 4 blouses
  • 2 pair jeans
  • 1 pair trekking pants
  • 2 trekking shirts
  • 2 casual shirts
  • swim suit
  • 2 sarongs
  • 1 set of workout clothes
  • 1 pair yoga pants
  • 2 pairs shorts
  • 2 t-shirts
  • 3 pair dress shoes
  • 1 pair of dressy boots
  • 1 pair sneakers
  • 2 pair flipflops

What Deb Would Have Changed

Should have brought:

  • 1 pair Sweat pants
  • 1 pair bum around pants.
  • 2 More casual/sharp shirts
  • 1 more fleece jacket or sweater
  • wool hat
  • silk scarf

Should have left at home:

  • Skirt
  • 1 pair of dress shoes
  • 1 pair of dress pants
  • dress boots, could have just used my dress shoes.
  • 1 trekking shirt. Didn’t need two as the excursions are short and not strenuous.

Adventure on an Alaskan Cruise

alaskan cruise packing tips atv tour
There are lots of options for adventures

Our Alaskan cruise was a 12 day excursion. 5 days are traveling on land in Alaska and 7 days were at sea.

During our cruise we took part in daily adventures from hiking through the Alaskan Wilderness to riding ATV’s.

The first portion of our trip took us overland by bus and train.

It is a less formal and more rugged leg of the trip.

Land Portion of our Alaskan Cruise

alaskan cruise packing tips horseback riding
One of many outdoor excursions on an Alaskan Cruise

Separate Luggage for land portion and cruise portion

We sent one bag of luggage each on to the ship and had one bag each to use while we are on the land portion.

It is important to separate your more formal clothing that you will be wearing on the cruise from the casual clothing you will be using on land.

You need to keep all your layers and warm clothes with you on land. It’s cool in Alaska in the summer.

But you still need to look sharp for dinners in the evening so you need some smart casual clothes for this portion of the cruise as well.

Packing Tips to Help You Further:

tips for packing for an alaskan cruise the ship
Our Alaskan Cruise Ship

Warm Weather and Adventure Packing list

how to pack for an alaskan cruise
packing tips for an alaskan cruise

Note: Princess Cruises excursions take good care to keep you dry and warm.

However it was important to have good hiking boots.  We had dry weather during our time in Alaska, if it were muddy you may want hiking boots over trainers. 

It depends on whether you want the extra weight what outdoor shoes you decided to bring.

We could have easily gone without the boots and done all our hikes and adventures in running shoes.  

But then again we are a very adventurous couple that has trekked through rainforests in flip flops. Comfort isn’t always our number one priority.

Layers

  • 1 down jacket each
  • 1 pair hiking Boots each
  • 1 gortex jacket each
  • 1 fleece jacket each
  • 1 warm hat each
  • 1 pair gloves each

Would have left

  • Gloves
  • Down Jacket – layers would have been enough
  • Hiking Boots weren’t necessarily needed, trail running shoes would have been good enough.

Electronics packing list

We carry a lot of electronics. But we’ve outlined what we think most people should bring and will feel comfortable with to capture those amazing moments and stay connected.

packing list alaska cruise camera gear
Dave’s camera gear

We’ve rounded up certain things that are specific for an Alaskan Cruise. 

The hanging toiletry kit is perfect for a cruise, compression cubes give you more space in your luggage and the Belkin Mini Surge Protector allows you to plug several electronics and USB chargers in at once.

Cruise cabins have very little space and plugs. 

Travel Gear

Electronics

Photography

More Packing Resources:

On the Ship

alaska cruise packing tips glacier bay
It can be cold outside

Our second half of our cruise is on the ship with regular shore excursions.

Even though the ship is more formal, our shore excursions were still rugged and outdoors

We did everything from driving zodiacs in the bay, hike on glaciers, whale watching on cold and wet decks, and riding horses overland.

how to pack for an alaskan cruise zodiac excursion
Watersports – most gear is provided

We needed to think about our treks on the glaciers and dogsledding on the Alaskan plains. 

We also had to think about our 2 formal dinners, 5 smart casual dinners and the other 6 evenings of dining out.

how to pack for an Alaskan Cruise
Be prepared for formal nights

It can be very cold in Alaska, or sometimes it can be very warm.

We had days at sea where we were on deck all day as we rotated in the bay watching the Marjorie Glacier. We needed to be prepared for everything.

We also wanted to be comfortable working out in the gym, hanging around the indoor swimming pool, sitting in the lounge enjoying coffee or a glass of wine and looking good when we go to see a Vegas style show.

how to pack for an Alaskan cruise

Cruise lovers will enjoy: European River Cruises – Tips for Non-Cruisers 

It seems almost impossible to pack light for such a trip.

It was a difficult task scaling down our bags to include 1 suitcase and 1 garment bag each.

But overall we were quite happy with our packing choices.

With just a few adjustments, you will have the perfect packing list for Alaska by learning from our experience.

Final Thoughts

Packing for our Alaskan Cruise was definitely a learning experience for us. 

We were worried about over packing for a cruise. But you don’t have to worry about overpacking.

how to pack for alaska cruise
Outdoor packing for Alaska Cruise

Packing for an Alaskan cruise is the one time we say, it’s okay to bring too much.  All your luggage is taken care of for you.

Once you get off the plane, you never have to worry about carrying it again. So bring what you want and have a choice of clothing.

Half the fun of going on a cruise is dressing up.

Note: Be sure to check with your airline for luggage limits. The only thing you may have to worry about is having to pay for excess baggage.

However, you are allowed to carry on two bags. You can always bring your carry on and your garment bag with you inside the cabin.

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner

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Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

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13 thoughts on “What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise”

    • Lightweight, breathable fabrics that you can move in. Brands like North Face, Columbia, Ex-Officio, and others that are designed for outdoors and hiking. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  1. thanks, but NO sun hat listed? ear warmers under a sturdy sun hat (Ranger type) will be warm, silk gloves for photography on ship decks, maybe fleece gloves with finger tips for phone pix. My fleece lined winter hiking pants are light weight – will pack. Being a winter living person, a good fleece vest worn under pocket packable rain jacket & a long sleeve cotton T works. or silk turtle.

    Reply
  2. Thanks for all the comments and information as my husband and I are going on a Alaskan cruise in September.
    I can’t wait and I always pack more than I need. Maybe I will need all of it! lol

    Reply
  3. An Alaskan cruise is a better option to enjoy the panoramic views of sea. This voyage is complete different from Caribbean or Mediterranean Cruise but will surely deliver commendable performance. This is a 12 day excursion and it is a point to mention that every day brings something new to excite to the large extent.

    Reply
  4. I live in the caribbean where the temp is always in the 90 and as low as 70 and i will be going to vancouva at the end of july for an alaskan cruise and please note that i love to dress so can anyone please tell me what type of clothing should i take with me

    Reply
  5. This is great! Thank you for sharing the packing list (before and after)! I’ve been struggling with what to bring for a July trip down the Inside Passage. Coming from AZ, packing for anywhere with any kind of moisture (fog, rain, snow, or just humidity) always is a challenge. Thanks again!!

    Reply
  6. Your experience seems truly an epic. Now I get an idea on how to pack for my cruise trip the following month. Your review has been informative, I am glad I viewed it before getting all set for my trip. Now I get to know on what are the worthy things to be carried and what are to be left out.
    .-= Hannah [email protected] Bag´s last blog ..Samsonite DKX Wheeled Garment Bag – Keep Your Clothes Secure =-.

    Reply
  7. I went on an Alaskan Cruise with Regent Seven Seas a few summers ago, and I was shocked at how cold it was!!! My beanie, mittens, and my parka were my best friend. We did an excursion, I think in Ketchikan, where we went on a catamaran through the Misty Fjords. It was beautiful being able to stay outside on the deck, but freezing. So glad I packed warm. Don’t let the word summer deceive you!
    .-= Emily @ Maiden Voyage´s last blog ..Guest Post- Why I Wish I Traveled Long-Term in My 20s and 9 Reasons You Should =-.

    Reply
    • Excellent Advice Emily. You really do have to pack warm clothes. For us, the down jacket that we brought was a little bit over kill, but for others it could definitely be needed. We also may have had better than average weather. It never hurts to bring more clothes than needed anyway. On a cruise, you have people taking care of your luggage anyway, so pack as much as you want. As long as you aren’t worried about overweight baggage fees on the airlines.

      Reply