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What Should I Take on an Alaska Cruise?

Embarking on an Alaska cruise? Pack layers for fluctuating weather, waterproof gear for unexpected showers, and binoculars for wildlife spotting. Don't forget your camera to capture the majestic landscapes! Comfortable footwear is a must for excursions. Curious about how to prepare for Alaskan evenings or off-ship adventures? Dive into our comprehensive guide for insider tips and essentials. What will you pack first?
Mandi R. Hall
Mandi R. Hall

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.

Whale watching is a popular activity on Alaska cruises.
Whale watching is a popular activity on Alaska cruises.

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.

Alaska's weather can change often, so clothes that can be layered are good for a cruise.
Alaska's weather can change often, so clothes that can be layered are good for a cruise.

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.

Cameras and camcorders can record the beauty seen on an Alaskan cruise.
Cameras and camcorders can record the beauty seen on an Alaskan cruise.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of clothing should I pack for an Alaska cruise?

For an Alaska cruise, layering is key due to the region's unpredictable weather. Pack a waterproof jacket, warm layers like fleece or wool, and thermal undergarments for cooler days. Don't forget gloves, a hat, and sturdy, waterproof footwear for excursions. According to the Alaska Travel Industry Association, temperatures can range from 50°F to 70°F in summer, so be prepared for both mild and chilly conditions.

Are there any specific items I should bring for wildlife viewing on an Alaska cruise?

Yes, for the best wildlife viewing experience, bring binoculars and a camera with a good zoom lens. Alaska's vast landscapes and the presence of wildlife like whales, eagles, and bears call for equipment that can capture details from a distance. The National Park Service suggests that visitors keep a safe distance from wildlife, making these tools essential for observing without disturbing the natural habitat.

What kind of footwear is recommended for excursions during an Alaska cruise?

Durable, waterproof hiking boots are recommended for excursions on an Alaska cruise. They provide support for walking on uneven terrain and keep your feet dry during activities like glacier hikes or rainforest walks. According to outdoor experts, footwear should also have a good grip to handle slippery surfaces, which are common in Alaska's natural environments.

Should I pack any special gear for glacier or cold-weather excursions?

Yes, for glacier or cold-weather excursions, pack insulated, waterproof outerwear, thermal layers, and accessories like warm socks, gloves, and a beanie. Sunglasses and sunscreen are also essential as the glare from glaciers can be intense. The National Snow and Ice Data Center highlights the importance of UV protection in snowy environments due to the high reflectivity of snow and ice.

Is there anything I should bring for the cruise ship itself?

On the cruise ship, pack casual attire for daytime and smart-casual or formal wear for evenings, depending on the ship's dress code. Also, consider bringing a swimsuit for onboard pools or hot tubs, workout clothes for the gym, and a light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings on deck. Don't forget travel adapters for charging devices and any necessary medications.

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Discussion Comments

momglender

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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    • Whale watching is a popular activity on Alaska cruises.
      By: TEMISTOCLE LUCARELLI
      Whale watching is a popular activity on Alaska cruises.
    • Alaska's weather can change often, so clothes that can be layered are good for a cruise.
      By: Joy Prescott
      Alaska's weather can change often, so clothes that can be layered are good for a cruise.
    • Cameras and camcorders can record the beauty seen on an Alaskan cruise.
      By: marchello74
      Cameras and camcorders can record the beauty seen on an Alaskan cruise.