Taking an Alaska cruise is an exciting adventure — but what should you pack? Don’t worry, this guide will give you the ultimate packing checklist for an Alaska cruise.
Our Alaska cruise was the trip of a lifetime! And now I’m here to help you prepare for an Alaska cruise of your own.
My in-depth packing guide will help you decide what to bring on your cruise to Alaska, including the must-haves for activities like hiking and whale-watching, tips to make your cruise comfortable and enjoyable, and how to pack for the weather.
I’ll cover everything you’ll need for an unforgettable adventure in the Last Frontier.
Clothing to Pack for an Alaska Cruise
Alaska weather can go through some huge ups and downs, with cold temperatures in the morning to warmer temperatures throughout the day. It’s also very rainy in Alaska, but you can still expect a couple sunny days.
You’ll want to be prepared for all types of weather on your Alaska cruise. Essentially, that means packing layers and things that can be easily taken off and put on.
If you have any special shore excursions planned, you’ll want to pack appropriately for those as well. Activities like hiking, wildlife tours, ziplining, and kayaking require different clothes than just sightseeing in town.
Layer Up with Clothing
Pack layers for Alaska’s moody weather. Pack short-sleeve shirts, long-sleeve shirts, warm sweaters, and thermal leggings. Alaska is the perfect place to go a little rugged. Think short-sleeve shirt, a long-sleeve plaid or flannel on top, plus a rain jacket.
Jeans are great for Alaska. But you might also consider some waterproof hiking pants, especially if you have a lot of outdoor activities planned.
Rain Jackets and Waterproof Clothing
A waterproof and windproof jacket is a must. Salt Life gifted us some amazing rain jackets a while ago, and they kept us warm and dry from the Alaska rain!
Whether you’re exploring the port towns or taking a nature hike, comfy and waterproof hiking boots will be your best friend. They’ll keep your feet happy and dry while you conquer those stunning landscapes.
Pack a beanie or a warm hat, along with a versatile scarf and gloves, and cozy socks to keep your extremities toasty during those chilly evenings on deck. These cozy accessories can come in handy while you’re out exploring Alaska in the rain as well.
Most cruises have some sort of formal dinner nights. Pack a few dressier outfits alongside your casual day-to-day wear.
For shorter cruises, you’ll likely only have one formal night. For longer cruises, you may have two or more. Check your itinerary before you leave so you know how many fancy outfits to pack.
A lot of cruises have heated pools or hot tubs on deck. So be sure to pack your bathing suit to enjoy a soothing dip even in cooler climates.
You might also consider things like rash guards, long-sleeve swim shirts, and swim leggings as they’ll help keep you warm if the water is a little chiller, as well as protect you against the cold wind when you get out of the pool.
These can also come in handy has an extra waterproof layer for activities like kayaking. Another added benefit is most rash guards and swim leggings offer UV protection from the sun!
Accessories and Gear to Pack for an Alaska Cruise
Packing for an Alaska cruise goes well beyond clothing. You’ll also want to be prepared to see, and capture memories of, the amazing wildlife that Alaska has to offer!
Beyond that, you’ll also want to pack some gear to stay protected from sun, rain, boredom, and unexpected travel complications. I’ve got tons of tips to help you make the most of your Alaska vacation!
Camera and Electronics
A camera to capture a lifetime of Alaska memories is a must! Alaska is full of jaw-dropping views, wildlife encounters, and fun adventures you won’t want to forget.
While your phone camera is great (technology is amazing these days!), a lot of people like to bring along an upgraded option, like a GoPro or a DSLR camera. The DSLR camera is great for taking pictures of wildlife. Meanwhile, an action camera like a GoPro is great for ziplining, kayaking, and other adventures. There are a ton of Alaska activities that you might want a GoPro for!
Along with a camera, be sure to pack chargers, power banks, and adapters. You definitely want to keep your devices charged to capture all those unforgettable moments! A portable power bank especially can be a lifesaver during long days exploring.
Binoculars for Wildlife Watching
Alaska is a wildlife paradise, so a good pair of binoculars will make sure you catch all those eagles, whales, and bears in action.
Kevin liked his Celestron binoculars, but I was happy with the cheaper Bushnell binoculars (Bushnell is also what they were selling on the cruise ship, so definitely get them ahead of time for less!). You could also go for a pair of compact binoculars, which are less bulky to carry but have a less powerful zoom.
I’d also suggest getting a pair of binoculars for each person in your group so you don’t have to share and miss out on the cool wildlife!
Reusable Water Bottle
Staying hydrated is key, even in cooler climates. A reusable water bottle will keep you refreshed without harming the environment. And if you’re doing a lot of strenuous excursions, you’ll definitely want the water!
Alaska is notoriously rainy and cool, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to worry about the sun! Even when it’s chilly and cloudy, the sun can be strong.
Are you starting to get the feeling that Alaska might be rainy? I was honestly surprised by how many people on our cruise were not prepared for the rain. I won’t let that be you!
A compact and reliable umbrella will keep you dry and ready to conquer any drizzle.
Okay, I’ve given you a lot of gear that you have to carry around. You’ll definitely need a backpack to put it all in!
There are so many different options for backpacks. We always use Kevin’s Osprey backpack, which is sturdy and roomy. A small, foldable waterproof backpack is also a good option. I can also recommend a Knack backpack, which is expandable, so you can use it expanded when packing for the cruise and collapse it down to use as a daypack for your excursions.
Bring a good book or e-reader for downtime, as well as any other forms of entertainment.
Bring along any prescribed medications and what we like to call “travel medications”: the essentials like band-aids, pain relievers, motion sickness medicine, antacids, and allergy medicine.
If you’re prone to motion sickness, I highly recommend bringing along things like Dramamine, motion sickness patches, essential oils, sea bands, ginger chews, and anything else you know works for you. There’s nothing worse than being motion sick on a week-long cruise! Check out more tips for preventing motion sickness while traveling.
A lot of Alaska cruises will make a stop in Canada, likely at the beginning or end of the cruise. That means you’ll need to be prepared with the necessary travel documents, like your passport.
It’s always a good idea to have a copy of your passport when you travel as well.
Other travel documents like a copy of your flight booking, proof of vaccination, and a second form of ID are also good to have on hand, just in case.
Alaska Cruise Packing List
Here’s your quick list of things to pack for your Alaska cruise:
- Short and long sleeved shirts
- Thermals and base layers
- Lightweight jacket
- Waterproof rain jacket or windbreaker
- Hat, scarf, and gloves
- Jeans and water-resistant hiking pants
- Waterproof shoes or hiking boots
- Nice clothes or evening wear
- Workout clothes
- Wide-brimmed hat
What to Pack for Alaska Weather
Since Alaska’s weather can be quite unpredictable, you’ll want to pack the right clothes to stay comfortable, no matter what.
From chilly mornings to potential rain, you’ll need to be prepared for anything. Be sure to pack layers, rain jackets, and even some warm accessories like gloves and scarves.
Depending on what month you travel, the temperature in Alaska can range from the low 30s to upper 80s, so you really do need to be prepared with layers.
Do I Need to Pack Special Gear for Alaska?
If you have excursions planned for your Alaska cruise, you’ll likely need some specific gear.
If you’re going on a wildlife tour, you might be worried about safety, especially in bear country. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to bring anything like bear spray on the cruise. My best recommendation is booking a wildlife tour with a reputable tour company, as they’ll have preparations to keep you safe.
Tips for Staying Warm on an Alaska Cruise
Alaska can get pretty chilly, especially on a cruise where you’re surrounded by icy waters. You’ll want to pack things to keep you cozy while enjoying the breathtaking views.
You could pack items like thermals, cozy blankets, and travel-sized hand warmers to keep the chill at bay.
But you don’t have to be too worried, because Alaska cruises are prepared to keep you warm! On our cruise, we could rent blankets just like you could rent pool towels. There were also plenty of indoor areas to enjoy the view, and free hot coffee and tea to keep you warm.
Packing for an Alaska Cruise FAQ
For most Alaska cruises, you don’t have to get too fancy for dinner (even on the “fancy dinner” night). You can keep it casual for most nights. For the “fancy dinner” nights, women can opt to dress up in a dress, skirt, or dress pants, while men can go full out with a suit or just stick to some nice pants and a nice shirt.
Outside temperatures in Alaska can get as low as 30°F during cruising season, so you’ll want pack warmly for walking around the cruise deck. Inside the cruise ship, though, you shouldn’t get too cold. You’ll probably want a light jacket just in case the dining room is chilly.
Jeans are appropriate to wear for a casual dinner on an Alaska cruise.
Most Alaska cruise ships will have pools and hot tubs, so you should definitely pack a swimsuit if you plan on taking a dip!
More Things to Do in Alaska
Make the most of your vacation to Alaska! Check out these other Alaska travel guides to plan your perfect trip:
- Things to Do in Ketchikan, Alaska: 1 Day Itinerary
- Things to Do in Icy Strait Point & Hoonah, Alaska
- 3 Things to Do in Sitka, Alaska: 1 Day Itinerary
- 4 Things to Do in Skagway, Alaska
- Where to View Bears on Your Alaska Cruise
- How to Get to Anchorage Airport from Seward, Alaska
Ready for an Alaska cruise vacation? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Find cheap Alaska cruises: You can use Orbitz to find the best prices on Alaska cruises.
- Prepare for your cruise: Check out my top tips for your first cruise.
- Pack for your vacation: Make sure you’ve packed everything you need by checking out my packing list resources.
Do you feel more prepared to pack for your Alaska cruise? Leave a comment down below!