Glacier viewing from a cruise ship is an amazing experience.
Wondering what to pack for an Alaska cruise?
If you’re planning a cruise to Alaska soon, we’ve got some essential tips to help get your packing started. We’re asked daily what to pack for an Alaska cruise, and it can be tricky! Alaska weather varies greatly, and it’s not uncommon to experience 80 degree days, and 42 degree nights. Drizzle, fog and rain are also common, but difficult to predict, so it’s all about the layers in Alaska.
Here are our top packing recommendations for your cruise to the majestic land of Alaska! If you’d like to SEE what I wore on our last Alaska Cruise- we recorded every day in this Outfit of the Day (OOTD) video!
First up; we LOVE to travel to cooler climates with what we like to call packable puffy jackets AND a lightweight rain layer. Vests are a nice option too, but can take up a lot of space. We’ll link to a few vest options too, as they make GREAT layering pieces.
Packable puffy jackets are warm and cozy and compress so they take up very little space. You can find them at places like Costco or Macy’s. We’ve found that they go on sale often at Macy’s and Columbia, so keep an eye on packable puffy jackets, a few vests and rain layers here:
- Packable Puffer Coat for Women (Macy’s)
- Plus Size Packable Puffer Coat for Women (Macy’s)
- Plus Size Vest for Women (Columbia).
- If you run VERY cold, this longer down jacket for Women from Columbia is beautiful!
- Packable Puffer Coat (these go on sale OFTEN!) for Men and another handsome option from Columbia.
- North Face makes high end products like this Thermoball Puffer for Men.
- For a little shimmer (ladies, you know want one…), North Face makes this gorgeous puffer.
Typically, we pack a lightweight rain layer separately. The packable puffer jackers are great for cool, dry days, but you’ll want layer a rain jacket over the top of a t-shirt or hoodie on wet drizzy days. Here are some of our tried and true favorites:
- This Columbia Rain Layer for Women comes in lots of sizes and colors.
- Sheri’s go-to rain layer for Alaska. For a similar jacket in FUN prints.
- This North Face rain layer for women is both packable and stylish!
- This North Face rain layer for men comes in SO many colors, and sizes up to 3XL.
- This is a terrific light Rain Layer for Men.
- Mr. CTTV swears by these Rain Layers for Alaska. For something more lightweight, the Glennaker Lake Jacket from Columbia is also nice.
Since dressing in layers is the way to go in Alaska, you’ll want to pack a Day pack, like this packable, water resistant backpack to carry your outerwear layers, a bottle of water and anything you might need while ashore. Here’s another backpack option that comes in tons of colors. For a more premium backpack, try the North Face Jester for Women or Men.
It’s in the bag
Ziploc or similar plastic bags also come in very handy on ANY cruise. They are great for separating wet clothes, and keeping things safe and organized. Plus they can be re-used for many different purposes.
Compression Bags can also be quite useful. If you’re anything like me and insist on packing your own pillows, several puffy vests, and other bulky cold weather clothing for your chilly-weather cruise, then these are indispensable. We have an entire packing cube shop in our Cruise Store, but here is a link to our favorite packing cubes, ordered by color- SO much fun to shop and choose!
If you’re not sure where to get started with packing cubes, we suggest choosing one set of medium packing cubes to start, as well as multi-pack with a variety of sizes. This packing cube how-to video will show you how to use packing cubes, to get the most out of your suitcase on ANY cruise.
There’s so much to see!
A small set of Binoculars is an absolute must when considering what to pack for an Alaska cruise. There is SO much wildlife and natural beauty in Alaska, so don’t forget these little guys. You won’t regret it if you want to see bears, whales or even a beautiful waterfall close-up. What we love them for the MOST is glacier viewing day, when you will want an up close and personal view of that calving glacier, or seal frolicking on an ice berg.
When considering what to pack for an Alaska cruise, don’t overlook this. . .
It’s easy to forget that it can be sunny and bright in Alaska, and the summer days are long…so don’t forget to pack sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat with a brim to protect your skin. What’s interesting about needing hats in Alaska is that many people use their hat and lightweight rain layer in place of an umbrella in Alaska. I guess it’s just “an Alaska thing”! If you forget yours, don’t worry, there are TONS of souvenir stores in Alaska where you can find hats for every age, style and price range.
We also like to pack a light winter hat and gloves for cooler days, like glacier viewing days. A cozy neck scarf can also be useful, and double as a shawl or wrap for cool evenings on the ship.
Here are a few of our favorite cozy accessories for Alaska:
- We’re not sure why, but these North Face Hats for men are ALL the rage in Alaska!
- Yep, the “Mudder Trucker” hat is popular for women too.
- A cable knit beanie for women does the trick on glacier days!
- This beanie looks great on men and women, and is washable and cozy.
- For a little more flair, this pom pom beanie brings the fun!
Insect repellent may be necessary if you’re participating in adventure tours, or plan to be near streams and lakes during certain times of year, the mosquitos are mad crazy in Alaska, so it’s best to play it safe with a small bottle of repellant. Don’t let the bugs ruin your outing. Add repellant to your what to pack for an Alaska cruise list.
Summer in Alaska can be quite rainy…or…drizzly. Grab some rain gear and a lightweight umbrella (if you don’t like my “hat trick” mentioned above) and tuck it in your backpack just in case.
For me, comfort is key when cruising Alaska, so we recommend you pack a nice pair of walking shoes, preferably something non slip & water resistant. Running or athletic shoes are generally fine, but hiking shoes or water resistant boots may be a better option. Just be sure to wear them in before your cruise so you don’t end up with blisters. Even athletic shoes can be stiff at first! Wear them in, friends!
Lastly, keep in mind Alaska has over 34,000 miles of coastline. In short, Alaska is breathtakingly beautiful. Take a camera, and make sure you have plenty of storage space. We like to break out the DSLR for Alaska, and we recommend you use the best camera possible, but remember, the best camera is the camera you have with you. Even if it’s a cell phone, just don’t forget it. You can shop camera gear and accessories here.
We hope you enjoy your journey to Alaska by ship. NOTHING compares to the wildlife, majesty and sheer size of this great state. Bon voyage and we hope this has helped you with what to pack for an Alaska Cruise!
For more cruise packing tips, check out our Packing for an Alaska cruise – Family Outerwear post
Be sure to shop our cruise store before you go!
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