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30 Top Alaskan Cruise Packing List Items for 2024 + What to Wear & NOT to Bring

what to pack for an alaskan cruise
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Alaska is one of the most beautiful locations on the planet, no matter the time of year. With a population of approximately 700,000, you’ll find yourself amongst stunning natural landscapes and local wildlife. Crystal-clear lakes, glaciers, fjords, towering mountain peaks, and various national parks await you.

One of the easiest (and most beautiful!) ways to experience Alaska is by following the coast on an Alaskan cruise. However, to make the most of your cruise, it’s important to bring along the essentials and know what to wear on any Alaskan Cruise. We have all of them right here for you, so you can focus on having fun and enjoying all this jaw-dropping state has to offer.

Grizzly bears in Alaska on the shore.
Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife!
See our product selection criteria and guidelines here.

What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise - 30 Essentials

  • 1. Water-Resistant Jacket

    An insulated jacket is key while visiting the arctic climate of Alaska. As you stand out on the ship’s deck in the morning or hike through the trails of Mount Roberts near Juneau’s port – days will be much easier with a lightweight coat. This one is perfect for Alaska since it’s designed to keep you warm with a heat-reflective lining. Columbia is one of our favorite outdoor brands because their products are affordable and truly last.

    Water-Resistant Jacket

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 2. Motion Sickness Patches

    If you’re prone to seasickness, bring these motion sickness patches as a preventative measure. My wife bought countless brands and quality-tested them – this one came out on top by far as the most effective. The ship will have strong stabilizers, and you may not feel it moving after day one. But you will likely end up on smaller buoy boats for transfers or whale-watching tours, where smooth sailing may not be as common.

    Motion Sickness Patches

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 3. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    Cybersecurity attacks are increasing in Alaska and all over the world. In fact, public networks at cafes, airports, and hotels are obligated to share your information (due to the 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance). I learned this personally when my credit card number was stolen at our Airbnb on vacation. Now, I realize that cyber thieves are working overtime to drain your bank account when you least expect it.

    The last thing you want after a beautiful day in Alaska is to return to your ship and discover your PayPal account has been hacked or your identity has been sold on the dark web. Keep all of your devices protected onboard and at port stops by using a VPN service. No one will be able to see your passwords, credit card numbers, or sensitive, private data through the added layer of encryption and security. While many VPNs slow down internet connection, NordVPN keeps things quick – perfect for streaming or downloading.

    Virtual Private Network (VPN)

    View NordVPN.com Options ➜

  • 4. Wildlife Binoculars with Phone Adapter

    Trust us when we say you’re going to want a pair of binoculars while exploring the Alaskan wilderness. From birds and fish to moose and bears, there are critters all around and this is one of the biggest perks to visiting Alaska! Prepare for your cruise investment with a pair of binoculars that are high-quality yet affordable. Cool twist – these have a phone adapter so you can easily photograph what you’re viewing.

    Wildlife Binoculars with Phone Adapter

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 5. Quick-Dry Travel Towel

    Sure, the cruise line will offer plenty of towels. However, if you’re going out on a third-party excursion or your own adventure, you’ll need something else. This microfiber towel is the cream of the crop and ideal for hiking, camping, fishing, and just about any other outdoor sport. It dries 10x faster than cotton and is light as a feather, which is way easier to carry than big, fluffy cruise ship towels.

    travel towel

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 6. Travel Insurance

    Being airlifted from the mountains of Alaska would not be cheap… especially if paying out-of-pocket! And being airlifted from a cruise ship to the mainland generally starts at $25K. You’re already investing in your cruise and flight, so why not protect your investment for a small fraction of the trip cost? Many people don’t realize the importance of insurance until it’s too late, especially since your domestic provider does not cover you overseas.

    It offers peace of mind against common travel issues like flight delays, cancelations, baggage loss, theft, and expensive medical emergencies. Since hospitals are few and far between in Alaska, treatment can be more expensive (about 56% higher than the national average, according to BCBS).

    We always use Faye Travel Insurance because they are revolutionizing the insurance game! With payments sent through their mobile app, you don’t have to wait months or fill out piles of paperwork to receive your reimbursement. They even have the option to “cancel for any reason,” which will effectively make a non-refundable trip – refundable!

    Travel Insurance

    Get a quote in less than 60 seconds with Faye ➜

  • 7. Universal Waterproof Phone Pouch

    When you’re out on the water, you’re surely going to want to take photos of the aquatic wildlife and beautiful scenery you come across. However, there’s a good chance it may get wet or dropped in the water (with all the glaciers, snow, and bodies of water around). Thanks to this waterproof pouch, you won’t have to worry about your phone getting damaged. Not to mention, you can even take photos and videos underwater!

    waterproof phone pouch

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 8. Flotation Strap

    If your phone does fall in somewhere, you’ll be thankful you strapped a flotation wristlet around it. Whether your phone drops into the Pacific Ocean or the ship’s pool – these will ensure that your device floats and doesn’t sink out of reach. We’ve lost things in foggy lakes or deep oceans where we couldn’t find it. Better safe than sorry!

    Flotation Strap

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 9. Luggage Straps

    We never travel without these TSA-approved, adjustable luggage straps. They are multi-purpose and add an extra layer of security, taking the weight off of your zippers so your bag doesn’t bust open at the first rough toss. Many people also use them purely for identification purposes (knowing that the vibrant colors will make it easier to spot their bags in the sea of black cases at the arrivals carousel).

    Zippers are actually quite flimsy and not meant to withstand the force of overpacking or rough handling. On a cruise, you’re hit with a double-wammy because you’ll likely need to check suitcases at the airport, and then pass them off to the cruise staff who have aggressive deadlines to meet with thousands of bags to deliver. These straps will ensure everything stays in-tact, and there’s a built-in ID tag in case anything gets lost.

    Luggage Straps

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 10. Hanging Toiletry Bag

    One thing about cruises is they are typically skimpy on the bathroom storage. Averaging 25-square feet for the bathroom with a shower, toilet, and sink – you may not have room to spin around in the shower, let alone lay out tons of loose skincare and haircare bottles! Even if you do have countertop space, it’s not the best place to leave out loose bottles and delicate perfumes that could crash to the floor with just a bit of ship movement. After all, you are on a moving vessel.

    I highly recommend bringing a hanging toiletry bag to hold all of your haircare, skincare, makeup, personal hygiene items, and travel towels. This one by Eco Sun is the best! You’ll be absolutely obsessed with it since it has 4 internal and 3 external pockets that display everything at eye-level so you’re not fussing to find what you need. The elastic bands hold the bottles in place, and you can hang it on any door, pole, or hook to create a built-in shelving system wherever you may roam!

    hanging toiletry bag

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 11. Packing Cubes

    Alaska is a place that requires you to be prepared for any type of climate. From tank tops and flip-flops to waterproof jackets and boots – you may need them all. Quickly locate your warmest socks or that specific old t-shirt you love, thanks to these durable organizers. They even come with an index card label on the back of each cube so you don’t have to go opening and closing each one to find out where everything is.

    Packing Cubes

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 12. Neck Wallet

    You’ll be able to fully relax and have peace of mind knowing all of your important documents are safe with a Neck Wallet. This hands-free pouch holds passports, IDs, cards, cash, all models of iPhones, tickets, notes, and more. Not only does it hold all of your essentials safely, it even includes multi-RFID layers which protect credit cards and passports from e-theft.

    Neck Wallet

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 13. Snow Boots

    A pair of snow boots will serve you well in Alaska. Water shoes or boots may be warm enough onboard, but if you’re hiking in areas like Kenai Fjords National Park, almost half of it is covered in ice. While some trails may not be completely covered in snow, it’s still nice to have a waterproof pair of boots that are insulated and slip-resistant.

    Snow Boots

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 14. Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger

    Instead of sitting back in your cruise cabin waiting for your phone to charge up – get out and explore Mother Nature with a portable power bank! It can fully charge smartphones and tablets and includes a Micro-USB cable. With the small, cylindrical shape, you can easily stow it away in a jacket pocket for an emergency like needing GPS or a ride back to the ship.

    charger

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 15. Windproof Travel Umbrella

    No matter the time of year, you are probably going to see some rain on your Alaska adventure. It can get pretty windy – especially if you’re out on a boat or hiking the trails. This windproof travel umbrella is nice and compact but capable of shielding 2 people from the elements once opened.

    Windproof Travel Umbrella

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 16. Travel Backpack

    To explore on land, there is nothing more convenient than a backpack that is specifically made for travel. This one has a waterproof pocket on the inside and is more spacious than most of its size. It’s kind of a unicorn backpack since it’s large, lightweight, has pockets, is affordable, and easy to carry. You can also use the side straps to strap around your suitcase for easy handling.

    Travel Backpack

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 17. TSA-Approved Luggage Locks

    Whether I’m traveling across the world or the country, I always use luggage locks to secure my bags. You’ll be handing your bag off to the cruise line, checking it for any flights, and unable to keep an eye on your things for long stretches of time. Carrying a couple of these for backpacks, lockers, and bags gives us peace of mind. They’re also TSA-approved, so you won’t run into any trouble with airport security.

    luggage locks

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 18. Hangover Relief Supplements

    While an Alaskan cruise isn’t the rowdiest of routes, there will likely still be some wining and dining. Mimosas at breakfast and champagne at dinner can catch up to you quickly, so don’t let those all-inclusive drink packages slow you down. Cheers is a hangover prevention supplement that will help your body detoxify the alcohol more quickly. We don’t drink, but we’ve heard from friends that these really work!

    Hangover Relief Supplements

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 19. Discounted Tickets on Alaska Cruise Attractions

    Excursions and daily activities are a huge part of what makes getting off the ship exciting! We use Get Your Guide because they have unique excursions and a flexible cancelation policy.

    While along the coast of Alaska, you can cruise through the Kenai Fjords National Park in Seward, whale-watch in Juneau, visit the brown bears in Sitka, and hike through the Tongass Forest of Ketchikan.

    Some Alaskan cruises offer 2-night stops or half cruise/half land excursions to go more inland. If you have the extra time, consider heading to the iconic Denali National Park for a helicopter tour, river rafting tour, or wilderness hike.

    Discounted Tickets on Alaska Cruise Attractions

    See all Alaskan Cruise attractions at GetYourGuide.com ➜

  • 20. Mosquito-Repellent Wristbands

    Locals are (kind of) joking when they say mosquitos are the Alaskan state bird, but they can be voracious in Alaska, especially in the summertime. Since the marshlands, ponds, and lakes are great environments for these pests, you’ll want an extra layer of defense. These wristbands are more natural than respraying toxic chemicals all day and convenient to wear for hiking.

    Mosquito-Repellent Wristbands

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 21. Water Bottle with Built-in Filter

    The cruise ship will have plenty of filtered water, but for land excursions, it’s nice to have autonomy over your water supply. This one will improve the taste and filter your water for extra pureness. We never travel without one!

    Brita water bottle teal

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 22. Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    If you do any shopping for locally-made goods, bringing a “just in case” bag is a thoughtful idea. It’s made of a duffle-bag material so it takes up virtually no space on the way to your cruise, but on the way home, you can fill it with handmade gifts from artisan shops.

    Packable “Just in Case” Bag

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 23. Universal Travel Adapter

    While most modern ships include more than enough outlets for charging devices, older ships are more limited. We always travel with a universal power adapter to prevent any issues. This one has two built-in USB plugs, so you to charge three devices simultaneously. And, of course, it will be handy if you’re coming from outside of the U.S. and need a plug adapter for your appliances.

    Adapter Plug Ports

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 24. Clothes Line Hanger

    With hot tub nights under the starry sky, a clothes hanger is nice for drying the bundles of wet towels and swimsuits that you’ll gather. This one is awesome because it comes with its own clothes pins and can easily be hung on the balcony outdoors or inside if you want to stretch your items across the bathroom.

    travel clothesline

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 25. Cabin Fan

    We swear by these cabin fans. Although it may reach frosty temperatures outside of the ship, your cabin can get a little stuffy and warm. Nothing is worse than staying in a hot room and not being able to sleep. This portable fan is great for keeping a little airflow in your quarters. It’s quiet but powerful!

    Cabin Fan

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 26. Mineral Sunscreen

    No matter the season, sunscreen is important to wear up here. Between the sun’s rays reflecting off of the snow and water, there’s a good chance of you getting sunburnt without proper protection. The Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral formula offers SPF 50+ broad spectrum UVA/UVB protection and is eco-friendly to boot.

    Mineral Sunscreen

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 27. Dry Bag

    You often need a smaller boat to transfer from the ship to tiny ports. After watching our backpack slosh on the deck and get completely soaked, we always use a dry bag. You don’t want to watch your cash disintegrate into a ball of worthlessness, so use this to hold all of your electronics, money, books, medicine, and anything else you’d want to keep dry.

    Dry Bag

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 28. Waterproof Gloves & Hand Warmers

    Gloves are an item you will not regret having on an Alaskan cruise. I found myself wanting to spend most of my time on the outdoor balcony and top deck for the best views of nearby glaciers. You’ll be able to withstand the cold a lot more by investing in a good pair of waterproof gloves. Add some hand and foot warmers, and you’ll be in absolute heaven.

    Waterproof Gloves & Hand Warmers

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 29. Magnetic Hooks

    Did you know that the doors of cruise cabins are magnetic? Maximize your storage space and keep your nice dinner jacket looking crisp with heavy-duty magnetic hooks. These can hold up to 22 pounds, so when you’re at home, you can use them to organize everything from pots and pans to grill accessories.

    Magnetic Hooks

    View on Amazon.com ➜

  • 30. Gorgeous Outfit

    For nights of dining, wining, dancing, and shows – you’ll want a gorgeous look that makes you feel super confident. My wife has this jumpsuit in a few colors and frankly, it’s a showstopper. With a slimming fit, she says it’s very flatting on many body types . Plus, dressing up on vacation is a no-brainer.

    Gorgeous Outfit

    View on Amazon.com ➜

What to Wear on an Alaskan Cruise

As mentioned previously, when in Alaska, prepare for any kind of weather. While there’s a lot of overlapping in clothing, there are still trends in seasons. Summer in Alaska can be cool and even a bit warm, but never “hot”. If you are going more north, however, it could easily require you to bring a warm jacket.

Regardless of the season, however, you need to bring various layers. This is because it can get colder or hotter quickly, and this is the easiest way to keep yourself comfortable. Always remember that your base layers (ideally all layers) should be moisture-wicking to keep you dry and comfortable.

What Should Women Wear on an Alaskan Cruise?- (Click to expand)

Below is a sample women’s clothing list.(All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

Jeans are very popular in Alaska, so on colder days, you definitely won’t stand out wearing them. Just keep in mind that when the weather is wet and you have plans to be outside, jeans are not what you want to be wearing. Instead, opt for waterproof hiking pants or something that will dry quicker. A flannel or winter coat with insulated boots is the perfect combination. In the summertime, shorts, leggings, tank tops, and athletic tops are perfectly fine. If you aren’t going hiking or on a boat, flip-flops are great to wear, too.

What Should Men Wear on an Alaskan Cruise?- (Click to expand)

Below is a sample men’s clothing list.(All items link to Amazon.com for your convenience).

You’ll typically find men wearing jeans in Alaska, too. Outside, strolling around town, out for a nice dinner – they’re a great article of clothing to bring along. A button-down or sweater for more formal settings with some loafers are just fine, too. For more casual settings, a t-shirt and shorts are more appropriate for warmer weather. Sneakers or flip-flops are equally as popular.

When it’s colder, breathable wool socks and hiking boots along with hiking pants and a winter coat are essentials.

Packing for the Seasons for an Alaskan Cruise

SPRING – March, April, May

Spring tends to be very wet, and notably cold. Much of the wildlife will start making an appearance, but you’ll avoid a good majority of tourists during the spring. If you can deal with the cold, wet weather, you’ll find that it’s more than worth it.

Get yourself a warm hat that covers the ears, waterproof gloves, insulated hiking boots, various types of wool socks, and waterproof pants and jackets. We recommend steering away from jeans, as you will get wet and they will be uncomfortable.

SUMMER – June, July, August

Summer is the most enjoyable season for most people. Temperatures tend to stay around 65 to 75 degrees, making it perfect for heading outdoors to see wildlife in full splendor. While it doesn’t really get hot, you’ll definitely need to bring bug repellent.

Bring plenty of pants and a rain jacket, along with shorts, tank tops, and other lightweight clothing. You’ll see a lot of locals wearing jeans, which are great on dry days.

FALL – September, October, November

Fall in Alaska is pretty similar to springtime. Rain starts really making an appearance again, though the quantity depends on which part of the state you’re in. Rather than going for a full-on winter coat, you’ll want to focus more on thinner, breathable layers with a waterproof shell. A warm hat, gloves, wool socks, boots, sweaters, and a lightweight rain jacket will serve you well.

WINTER – December, January, February

Winter in Alaska looks fairytale-like, but the weather is not to be taken lightly. Even if you think you’ll be warm enough in a regular winter coat and typical winter accessories like a hat and insulated shoes, you’ll want to go further than this.

The winter jacket ideally will have multiple layers, so you can remove or add them as weather conditions change. Thermal underwear or other warm base layers are essential, and some kind of eye protection is a good idea as that snow and ice can really reflect sunlight!

Dressing appropriately for the activity– (Click to expand)
Nightlife: Nightlife in Alaska is relatively laidback, in that you could easily just wear a button-down and jeans and you’ll be fine for a club, nice dinner, bar, etc. For women, jeans work perfectly well, too. Pair them with a nicer blouse and shoes, and you’re ready to go anywhere!

Snow Sports: For snow sports, you’ll obviously want to wear more layers. The base layer is crucial to keeping warm and dry, along with some breathable socks. Due to the sunlight reflecting off the snow, it can get pretty bright while participating in snow sports. Not only that, but you need some sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from debris. A winter coat, hat, and gloves are also necessary!

Water Sports: Remaining comfortable during watersports requires quick-drying clothing that isn’t going to leave you soggy all day long. Fabrics should be lightweight, like a quality pair of board shorts and an athletic top aside from a bathing suit. You can wear either water shoes or snug sandals, but you probably don’t want to go barefoot. Don’t forget a good sunblock!

Hiking: For hiking, you need comfortable, stretchy or loose-fitting clothes. Hiking pants are the way to go, as they’re made of non-chafing materials that are oftentimes waterproof and very breathable. Opt for a quick-drying athletic top as well, that isn’t going to be sweaty and hot. Depending on the time of year, you’ll either need hiking shoes or boots.

Horseback Riding: Horseback riding is an activity many people engage in while in Alaska. Make sure you have on jeans, which offer protection and durability. Fitted clothing is ideal for safety purposes, but will also end up being more comfortable. Closed-toe shoes are an absolute must – after all, you’re going to be around horse hooves.

What NOT to Bring on an Alaskan Cruise

  • 1.DON’T Bring Books

    Rather, go for a Kindle instead. These are more compact, and you can bring a lot more reading material than if you were to bring physical books.

  • 2.DON’T Bring Unnecessary Valuables

    The more you can avoid valuables getting stolen or lost, the better. When it comes to valuables, just bring the essentials.

  • 3.DON’T Bring Too Many Clothes

    Don’t bring a lot of clothes, but do bring the necessary layers. At least one set of thermal underwear/warm base layers is important.

  • 4.DON’T Bring Gear You Won’t Use

    Most gear you’re likely to be able to rent in Alaska – especially if they’re outdoor sports/activity gear.

  • 5.DON’T Bring a Bath Towel

    Smaller microfiber towels are great, but a bath towel just takes up unnecessary space and holds a lot of water.

  • 6.DON’T Bring Lots of Cash

    Relating back to the unnecessary valuables, if you get cash stolen from you, there’s not much recourse to get it back.

What NOT to Wear on an Alaskan Cruise – (Click to expand)

While in Alaska, we recommend the vast majority of your clothing to be stretchy. Jeans we know are a bit more rigid and are great for activities that require less range-of-motion, lots of walking, or moving of your legs. As you’re likely going to be moving around quite a bit, you need clothes that will move with your natural movements. Heels are not the best idea, due to the wetness and iciness throughout the better part of the year. Always wear layers, as the weather can change so suddenly, that you’ll need to remove and add layers regularly.

Travel FAQs and Alaskan Cruise Tips

  • 1. What is the weather like in Alaska?

    What is the weather like in Alaska?

    There’s never really a time of year when Alaska is hot. Even in the summertime, it’s relatively cool and enjoyable with a light jacket. The weather is the most enjoyable during this time of year. There’s plenty of sunlight, clear skies, and warm weather. It’s also an excellent time to see wildlife. Winters, on the other hand, are long, frigid, and snowy. They can be great if you’re interested in snow sports like skiing, snowboarding, or dog sledding.

  • 2. When is the best time of year to visit Alaska?

    July is the best time of year. The wildlife are out in all their glory, all the best trails are accessible, days are longer, and this tends to be the warmest month.

  • 3. How can I get around Alaska?

    How can I get around Alaska?

    You can travel within Alaska by various modes of transportation: plane, cruise, ferry, train, car, motorcycle, or bus. If traveling between major cities like Fairbanks, Anchorage, or Juneau, you can go by air. A cruise is many people’s way to see Alaska as you get to see a little bit of everything and cover large distances comfortably. You’ll get to experience wildlife and tour quaint towns.

  • 4. What are the best places to go in Alaska?

    The aforementioned cities are all great options. Seward, Kenai Fjords, Ketchikan, Glacier Bay National Park, Homer, Katmai National Park, and Denali are all top selections, too. They’re absolutely beautiful with their impressive flora and fauna.

  • 5. What are the best things to do around Anchorage?

    What are the best things to do around Anchorage?

    The options are endless! Check out glaciers, learn about native Alaskan cultures, ride the railroad, try biking down the coastal trail, go flightseeing over the natural scenery, fish Ship Creek, go whale watching, check out old gold mining/panning areas, hunt for the Northern Lights, try dog sledding, watch the midnight sun sunsets/sunrises, try the local fare (king crab, halibut, salmon), and visit national parks!

  • 6. What national parks are in Alaska?

    Denali, Kenai Fjords, Katmai, Lake Clark, Wrangell-St. Elias, Gates of the Arctic, Glacier Bay, and Kobuk Valley.

  • 7. How can I save money when visiting Alaska?

    How can I save money when visiting Alaska?

    First, select the right season. In summer almost everything is more expensive. However, May and September aren’t too frigid and you can still save some cash. Avoiding hotels in the city may save you some money, too. Plan activities that are close to one another. Try public transportation or try taking a bus instead of renting a car.

  • 8. What kinds of wildlife does Alaska have?

    Bears, moose, whales, birds, caribou, red fox, grey wolves, musk oxen, mountain goats, lynx, and much more.