Packing for a huge trip like a cruise to Alaska can be nerve wracking. Alaska cruises are known for changing weather and a huge range of temperatures along with both formal and casual events.
How do you pack for a cruise in Alaska and cover every scenario without bringing way too much luggage?
I did a ton of research before my Alaskan cruise about what to pack. I read blogs and cruise packing tips articles, watched YouTube videos, and skimmed forums. Some advice was better than others, but overall I felt happy with what I packed for my Alaska cruise.
Best Alaska Packing Tips
Before I get into specifics of what I packed, I want to go over a brief list of tips that everyone else shared during my research on Alaska cruise packing lists. These are things that are generally recommended by everyone when you are packing for a trip to Alaska:
- Coat/jacket to protect against wind and rain, a hood is recommended
- Gloves/hat/scarf for times you are outside, especially on the boat or by glaciers
- Sunglasses to protect your eyes from strong glare
- Tennis shoes or hiking shoes with good traction for hiking and for slippery boat decks
- Comfy and warm socks for lots of walking
- Camera because you will want to take photos of everything!!
What I Packed For My Alaska Cruise
The video below shows what I decided to pack for my cruise:
Things to note:
- Our Alaska cruise was the first week of June
- We took a 7 day cruise with an extra 2 days in Vancouver and 2 days in Denali
- I wore everything I brought except a t-shirt I loaned to family and a bathing suit
- Temperatures were warmer than expected for most of our group
- I packed one large suitcase, one carryon, and a purse
- My foldable backpack was used to bring home clothes and souvenirs I bought
Overall I packed a lot for our Alaska trip compared to most trips I’ve taken before, but I was happy with my packing because I felt prepared for the trip.
I felt prepared for everything that came our way with the wildly varying temperatures. I was one of the few prepared for both cold and hot weather which we had both of during our two weeks traveling! It did end up being in the 70s/80s a couple days and it was really cold at times on the boat be the glacier and when we were moving.
I also can’t think of anything I needed on the cruise that I didn’t have with me. That let me focus on having a fun time and only buying fun things like local foods and souvenirs to bring home!
Alaska Cruise Essentials Packing List
Here are a few of the things I bought and LOVED for my trip to Alaska.
- Columbia Anytime Outdoor Boot Cut Hiking Pants
- North Face 3-In-1 Rain Jacket
- Lightweight Foldable Travel Backpack
- Merrell Moab Hiking Shoes
- Alaska Knit Socks
- Best EVER Cheap GoPro Accessories
- Vera Bradley Fleece travel blanket + pillow combo
Alaska Cruise Tips
Weather: Transitional months with unpredictable weather can be harder to pack for which is what I encountered with my early June trip. It can be chilly one day, warm the next, rain one day, and be sunny the next. If you’re going during a more transitional month, plan to cover all your bases for different types of weather.
Dress for comfort: Alaska isn’t about trendy fashion… it’s about getting out in nature and experiencing it! You may have a few formal events on your cruise so bring clothing for that but otherwise aim for comfort. Warm casual and athleisure clothing will serve you better than any other type of clothing.
Repurpose clothes: Plan to use your clothes to serve multiple occasional. This will also help you save packing space! For example, packing one lightweight waterproof coat can serve as an outer layer on the boat, when it rains, or during kayaking.
Layers are key: Every post you will read talks about packing and wearing layers… and they are right!! Layers make all the difference when you are in Alaska. The weather and temperature can and will change so having multiple layers with you to adjust for temperature is the absolute best way to be prepared.
Glaciers are COLD: This statement seems obvious, but make sure you are prepared to be very cold on days when your boat is by glaciers. You’ll need winter clothing even if though it is a summer cruise. Also remember to bring shoes that will be comfortable and secure on the wet decks of the boat.
Mosquitoes: There are mosquitoes in Alaska, particularly in the summer! During my hikes in Denali I was attacked by tons of mosquitoes that followed me in swarms. Plan to bring or buy bug spray and cover yourself with long sleeves and pants if you are generally a person that attracts mosquitoes.
Hopefully this post about what to pack for a cruise to Alaska is helpful to some future traveler out there!