Wondering what to pack for Alaska cruise? You’re not the only one! Coming up with an Alaska cruise packing list is one of the top requests I get from readers who are headed off on a cruise. Why? It’s hard to pack for Alaska cruises because of the climate variations, range of activities on offer and the different dress codes for evening events. You need to think about dressing for warm days, chilly weather, daytime hikes and formal evening dinners. Not easy! But I’ve researched packing for Alaska cruise trips extensively and come up with a the ideal list of what to bring on an Alaskan cruise.
Bonus Tip: If you’re looking for accommodation before or after your cruise check out my list of the top 10 Vancouver hotels near the cruise port.
What You'll Find in This Post
- 1 Deciding What to Wear on an Alaskan Cruise
- 2 Tips for Packing for an Alaskan Cruise at a Glance
- 3 What to Pack for Alaska Cruise
- 4 Other Items to Pack for Alaska Cruise
- 5 Alaska Cruise Packing List (PDF Download)
- 6 Questions or Comments on My Alaska Cruise Packing Tips
- 7 The Ultimate Cruise Packing List
Deciding What to Wear on an Alaskan Cruise
Daytime temperatures in Alaska between May and September range from 55-65˚F (12-18˚C),but can climb to as warm as 80˚F (27˚C) on hot days. Evening temperatures are generally between 40-50˚F (4-10˚C) which can feel quite chilly on deck but the inside of the ship, cabins and dining rooms will be warm. The range in temperature and diversity of excursions can make deciding what to pack for an Alaskan cruise quite difficult.
Tips for Packing for an Alaskan Cruise at a Glance
- Pack layers as temperatures can vary in Alaska even in summer.
- Bring a mix of formal, casual and sporty attire to cover all aspects of cruising in Alaska.
- Pick clothing that can do double duty so you can use it a multitude of ways.
- Resist the urge to overpack. Focus on items that all go together so you can mix & match your cothing.
- Binoculars are essential for spotting wildlife from your balcony.
- Here is a good guide to wildlife in Alaska to use.
- Don’t forget your swimsuit!
What to Pack for Alaska Cruise
When you’re planning what to wear on Alaskan cruise you need to cover three different styles of outfits – excursion clothes, casual clothes for around the ship and formal attire for evenings. This list should help you decide what to take on an Alaskan cruise to keep you comfortable, warm and stylish throughout your journey whether you’re sightseeing, sitting on deck watching the wildlife go by or enjoying a fine evening meal with friends.When going on an Alaska cruise what to pack is the most important consideration so you need to get it right.
I’ve based my Alaska cruise attire on what I would personally wear as a women in my 30s. I do try to be stylish as well as functional on my travels. You can certainly adjust your Alaskan cruise wear based on your own personal style or clothes you think work better with your age and stage.
At the end of this post you’ll find a printable list of what to pack for a cruise to Alaska that you can use to aid your packing and pre-trip organisation. I’ve also included a packing list for Alaskan cruise wear for men.
- Waterproof parka – The North Face Venture Jacket is a great choice for a waterproof, breathable jacket that is also stylish
- 2 Fleece jackets – The North Face Denali Hoodie is perfect for a heavier hooded fleece and the Mezzaluna is a great lightweight fleece that zips right through so can be worn open or closed.
- Warm hat – For cool days
- Cap – For hiking on sunny days
- Gloves – Go for merino gloves for added warmth
- 2 Pair of yoga pants or leggings – I love these ones because they come in tonnes of fun colors. You can wear them on board the ship with a shirt or cardigan too.
- Hiking pants – It’s really hard to find hiking pants that are still somewhat stylish but these Columbia Anytime Outdoor pants are perfect! See this post for more ideas on the best travel pants.
- 2 Pair of shorts – For excursions on warm days you’ll need a couple of pair of short. Pick one sporty pair and a nice denim Bermuda short also works great for on the ship. You can also wear them over leggings for days when you’re not sure what the weather is doing.
- 2 Long-sleeved tops – Merino Icebreaker tops like this are great for hiking and can be layered under a t-shirt or tank top.
- 7 Pairs of socks – Include a couple of pair of Smartwool socks for extra comfort and warmth when hiking.
Casual Clothes for Cruising
- 2 Pair of jeans – Two pair of jeans should be enough for a week long cruise. Keep one exclusively for onboard the ship during day & evening and one for wearing both on & off the ship. Throw in a third pair if you think you’ll need them.
- 2 Lightweight cardigan – Choose a simple black cardigan that you can add over your evening outfits for extra warmth and one casual, longer length one like this for wearing around the ship. Merino is excellent for warmth without weight.
- 2 Casual shirts – A denim shirt is great buttoned up or worn open over a t-shirt and packs much easier than a denim jacket. Same goes for a women’s plaid flannel shirt. You can throw your shirts on over a merino and under a fleece or jacket for an extra layer of warmth on excursions too.
- 6 T-shirts & tank tops – Striped tees work great for cruises! You can wear your t-shirts or tanks as a layer for excursions too in case the weather warms up when you’re off the ship. Plain v-neck tees also work well as a base for any outfit.
- Swimsuit – After a long day of hiking you might need a soak in the hot tub.
- Pool coverup – Use your kimono as a pool coverup (see below).
- Workout clothes – Pack separate workout clothes if you plan on using them every day or use your yoga pants & tank tops from above if you only need the odd workout.
- 8 Pair of underwear
- 3 Bras – Three bras is plenty for a one week cruise. You can always rinse them out and dry them overnight as most cruise ships have a retractable clothesline in the bathroom. I recommend one nude everyday bra, one white sports bra and a black bra for under evening wear.
Formal Attire for Evenings
Most 7-day cruises will have two formal dining nights. How far you choose to dress up is entirely your choice! Smart cocktail dresses are always a winner. On regular dining nights you should still change out of your excursion clothes into jeans a dressy top at the least.
- 2 Cocktail dresses – I love this black lace 3/4 sleeve dress and it’s so cheap! A simple black & white colour block dress is also a smart choice. Here is a great plus size alternative to the black lace dress pictured. And a fantastic white plus size cocktail dress that would be great cruise wear.
- 3 Dressy tops – Pick ones that mix & match with your jeans and skirt. A simple colorful silk blouse or sheer white shirt is always a smart choice.
- Dress skirt – I love this statement black & white stripe skirt
- Kimono top – A kimono top is an easy way to dress up a black tank & jeans for dinner when you’re in a rush. Kimono tops are also really lightweight so a great choice for packing light. It can also double as your pool cover up!
- 2 Pashmina or scarves – Two pashmina or scarves in different colours & prints to change the look of your outfit and add a layer of warmth as you go to or from dinner. You can also double them up and wear them as scarfs during the day. See this video on 25 different ways to style your scarf.
- Statement jewelry – Pick a couple of times items with colour that can instantly change the look of your evening outfits. Necklace #1 and Necklace #2 from my graphic are here.
- Trainers – Sturdy trainers should be enough for hiking but if you’re planning any instense treks bring along hiking boots as well.
- Walking shoes or casual sneakers – I love my Sketchers Go Walk shoes. I think they’re the best travel shoe on the market. These will be great for light excursions or around the ship.
- Ballet flats – Ballet flats are great for the airport, around the ship and non-formal evenings. Aerosoles ballet flats offer the most support in my opinion.
- Heels – A good pair of black heels is essential for your formal evenings. Pick ones that look great with both your cocktail dresses and jeans.
- Flip flops – For around the ship and pool desk.
Seasonal Considerations When Planning What to Pack for Alaskan Cruise
- What to pack for an Alaskan cruise in May- May is generally the coldest month for cruising in Alaska so throw in an extra merino base layer and an extra fleece for warmth.
- What to pack for Alaska cruise in June – You’ll find June similar to May with temperatures slightly warming up. It’s still advisable to bring that extra layer of merino wool as a base to all your outfits.
- What to wear on an Alaskan cruise in July – You shouldn’t need any amendments to the above list in July.
- What to pack for an Alaskan cruise in August – August should bring you good weather so no additional items needed.
- What to pack for Alaska cruise in September – Temperatures start to drop in September so throw in that extra base layer of merino and fleece.
What to Pack on an Alaskan Cruise for Men
The above Alaska cruise outfits are obviously for women but with a few small tweaks this list can be adapted for me.
- An extra pair of jeans or khakis instead of leggings/yoga pants
- An extra pair of hiking pants instead of leggings/yoga pants
- A few extra casual shirts for excursions and around the ship
- A comfortable hoodie or two for around the ship and excursions
- Formal evening attire for men can be a suit or just dress pants, shirt and tie with or without a blazer. It depends how formal you want to go. Bring a couple of shirts and ties to cover you for evenings.
- Dress shoes instead of heels
- Boat shoes instead of flats
Other Items to Pack for Alaska Cruise
Extra Things to Take on an Alaskan Cruise
- Binoculars – For wildlife spotting
- Laptop & charger – Load a few movies onto your laptop for quiet evenings in your cabin
- Cellphone & charger
- Camera, extra memory cards & charger – If you’re looking for an excellent compact but powerful camera for travel I highly recommend the Sony a6000 mirrorless camera.
- Sunscreen – This is my absolute favourite sunscreen because it smells amazing.
- Insect repellent – Spray on repellent with DEET works best. You also might like to try out mosquito repellent bands.
- Shampoo & conditioner – Cruise ships have shampoo and conditioner on board but I always prefer to bring my own inside squeezeable carry on sized bottles.
- Razors and shaving gel
- Perfume – Rollable or solid perfumes are amazing for travel. These solid perfumes from Pacifica are my absolute favourite.
- Medication – Remember to pack this in your carry on bag.
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
- A small first aid kit with band aids, pain killers, Neosporin and tiger balm.
- A travel flat iron is very useful for straightening and curling your hair. This is a great one!Read my post on the best travel flat iron reviews here.
Motion Sickness Prevention
If cruising makes you queasy, bring these four items to easy your motion sickness.
Luggage for Alaska Cruise
We’ve covered your Alaska cruise clothing but here are a few tips on how to pack for an Alaskan cruise that will be helpful for your trip!
- Bring one rolling suitcase as your luggage on board your Alaska cruise. This is the best rolling suitcase for the job.
- A large tote you can wear on your shoulder is perfect as carry on for your cruise.
- Pack smartly by using packing cubes to organise your items. I would suggest packing a separate cube each for underwear, tops and bottoms. Eagle Creek packing cubes are my favourite. Shirts and dresses can go into a folding case like this.
- Read my complete guide to packing cubes here including a video on how to use them!
- Hang dresses and shirts on arrival and then put your packing cubes, shoes and toiletries in drawers so you can put your suitcase away for the duration of the cruise. Keeping your cabin neat and tidy is essential on a cruise due to the limited space available in staterooms.
- A mesh laundry is very useful for your dirty items and helps you unpack quickly once you’re home.
- A folding backpack is great for taking off the ship during excursions.
- A toilet bag or Ziploc bag for toiletries
Alaska Cruise Packing List (PDF Download)
To make your job even easier I’ve put my entire packing list for Alaska cruise into an easy checklist format. You can download my Alaskan cruise packing list here. This Alaska packing list will help you organise yourself and your family before you head out on your cruise.
- Click here to download the Women’s Alaska cruise packing list.
- Click here to download the Men’s Alaska cruise packing list.
Questions or Comments on My Alaska Cruise Packing Tips
Thanks for reading through my post on what to pack Alaska cruise! I hope it’s helpful when you’re packing for Alaskan cruise trips in the future. If you think I’ve missed anything from the list, please let me know what to bring on Alaskan cruise. Or if you have any clothes for Alaska cruise that worked out really well on your trip then I’d love to hear about them. Your Alaska cruise wardrobe needs to fit your own personal style and taste so please feel free to adjust and amend the list I’ve provided on what to take on Alaskan cruise to suit your needs.
The Ultimate Cruise Packing List
I’ve also put together a couple of other posts about cruise packing that you may be interested in: