What To Pack For An Alaska Cruise

With plenty of active adventures and beautiful scenery to admire and/or photograph, it’s no surprise that an Alaska cuise is at the top of many boomer bucket lists. However too many folks become caught up in worrying about packing for an Alaska cruise. Don’t let that angst ruin anticipation of a wonderful trip. With some practical guidance on packing for an Alaska cruise, you’ll look forward to your cruise rather than dreading preparing for it.

The typical Alaskan cruise ranges from one to two weeks, your Alaska cruise packing list should include clothing layers for outdoor fun with mix and match outfits for evenings, including formal night if the cruise will have one. Honestly, you and your partner could probably manage with one checked bag each, a rolling carryon, plus a personal item bag for a lady. Men will be fine with a backpack, which you can also share on those fabulous Alaska cruise excursions.

Daywear

When it comes to what to wear during the day on an Alaska cruise, I opt for layers with items that will work well on the ship or on excursion. Even on scenic cruising days, I know that I’ll be outside on deck admiring Hubbard Glacier or another beautiful Alaskan scene.

Alaska weather is very changeable. You never know if it will be cloudy and cold, sunny and warm, or rainy and whatever. Packing an assortment of layers that dry quickly—no bulky clothing allowed—prepares you for any situation.

Casual Nights

Most nights onboard ship will be designated as casual night; elegant casual, country-club casual, whatever term the cruise line uses. With so many outdoor adventures, Alaskan cruises are busy enough that there’s not a lot of time for night life. I mainly wear slacks with an Aloha shirt and missus wears slacks with blouse rather than dresses or skirts.

Formal Nights

Trips of 7 days usually have one formal night while 14-day cruises typically have two. However, we recommend leaving the dinner jacket and long gown at home when cruising to Alaska. Some folks dress to the nines but we have found that we fit in quite nicely wearing our “casual night” attire. Dragging along formal wear just isn’t our cup of tea.

Two-Week Packing List

Here’s a packing list that should cover a 2-week cruise in Alaska.

Daytime

  • 1 pair water resistant safari pants. On 14-day Alaska cruises, make this 2 pair of safari pants.
  • 1 pair jeans for on the ship or walking around ports. Don’t wear jeans on active excursions, especially if you’ll be around water or where it might rain.
  • 2 safari shirts that go with safari pants or the jeans. On warm days, roll the sleeves up.
  • 2 long-sleeve crew-neck shirts (or turtlenecks) to layer underneath safari shirts or to wear with a quilted vest.
  • Quilted sleeveless vest for layering with a long-sleeve shirt over jeans or safari pants.
  • Fleece jacket.
  • Water-resistant jacket.
  • 1 set of thermal underwear. You probably won’t need these however they don’t take up much room so pack them anyway.
  • Gloves, glove liners, hat, neck warmer, warm socks
  • Shoe covers that have treads. Wear them on wet, muddy excursions or in port when it’s raining.
  • Lightweight hiking shoes that can also be used for walking laps on deck. Wear these on travel day (wear them to and from the cruise).
  • Comfortable pants/top for travel day.

Evenings

  • Two pair of pants: black and another color. Gray is good.
  • Five shirts/tops that go with both pair of pants, which makes ten outfits.
  • 1 pair of shoes that will go with all outfits.
  • Optional for ladies: 1 pair of fancier black pants and sparkly top with appropriate shoes for formal night.

Don’t forget the “must-have” items

  • Bathing suit for the hot tub, yes you’ll enjoy a soak while admiring the scenery. You’ll probably want to pack a coverup to wear to and from the hot tub.
  • Flip-flops or sandals for walking to and from the hot tub (or pool).
  • Baseball hat or sun hat for lounging on deck, on your balcony, or on a sunny wildlife watching excursion.
  • 1 pair pajamas.
  • Sunscreen to protect your skin from bright sun reflecting off snow.
  • Insecticide repellent towelettes for those pesky gnats, flies and mosquitos.
  • And don’t forget your underwear. I’ll leave the quantity up to you.

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