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What Should I Take on an Alaska Cruise?

By Mandi R. Hall
Updated May 23, 2024
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While it’s easy to pack too much before embarking on an Alaska cruise, over-packing can be avoided with some careful thought. Because the weather can be fickle, pack clothing that can easily be layered. Take items meant to protect the body from the elements, too, such as suntan lotion, hats, ponchos, and gloves. Since many tourists enjoy Alaska cruise excursions, it is also recommended to take binoculars and cameras for whale watching or family photos.

Most Alaska cruise lines and cruise ships have various destinations and activities. Contact the cruise line via the Internet or telephone before departure to ask what items they recommend to pack. Also consider asking the cruise line if they provide dry cleaning services or washing machines. Paying a few bucks to run a load of clothes in the wash is cheaper than paying additional fees for overweight luggage.

Furthermore, many heavier items of clothing — sweaters, for example — may be worn just a few hours each day or night in the brisk Alaskan air. Wearing the same sweater or wrap two days in a row can really save some space in a suitcase. Furthermore, packing several light long-sleeved shirts can take less room than one bulky sweater.

It’s also important to know whether there is a formal dinner on the cruise ship. While most single-, couple- and family-friendly cruises hold at least one formal dinner, Alaskan cruises often tend to be more casual. A formal suit — not necessarily a tuxedo — may be required of male Alaska cruise guests, whereas cocktail dresses or formal gowns may be necessary for women. Don’t forget some dress shoes in addition to sneakers.

Remember to pack a poncho, even if the forecast doesn’t call for rain. Even if it doesn’t rain, a poncho can protect cruise-goers from ocean waves, whale splashes and the like. Those who get cold easily may also want to pack wintry accessories such as hats, gloves, and scarves. Although these may not be necessary, the cruise gift and attire shops will be extremely expensive if you have to buy them there.

Contrary to popular belief, an Alaska cruise isn’t always cold. In fact, cruise companies generally plan their Alaskan cruises in the mildest months to avoid hitting inclement weather. Many Alaska cruise-goers wear tee shirts during the day and feel perfectly comfortable. If it is chilly or snowy outside, though, many cruises have indoor swimming pools or Jacuzzis. Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit.

Both cameras and camcorders come in handy for documenting daily activities. It’s best to bring one device to snap photos and record, though. Not only does it take up less space, but it’s one less expensive item to worry about losing. Disposable cameras are also recommended. Don’t forget other necessities, too, such as batteries, passports, medication, and toiletries.

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Discussion Comments
By momglender — On May 18, 2011

Taking 14 year old grandson on Golden Princess, June 11, to Alaska.

Will we see just as many whales from our balcony on the ship as taking a whale excursion cruise?

Will he be bored on a whale excursion cruise?

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