Alaska Cruise Packing List: The Ultimate Resource

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Alaska cruise packing list

Now that your long-awaited Alaska cruise is finally here, it's time to start thinking about what to pack! Because the weather in Alaska is quite changeable, it's sometimes difficult to decide what to bring. Luckily we've written this ultimate Alaska cruise packing list to help you!

Because of thick ice, Alaska can only be cruised during the Summer months. This does not mean Alaska is warm, in fact it can get quite cold and windy during Summer. Popular destinations within the Inside Passage such as Tracy Arm and Glacier Bay tend to stay around 50 - 60 degrees fahrenheit during summer. This means you'll need to bring the right clothing to stay comfortable during your cruise. 

To help you navigate this packing list, we have separated our Alaska cruise packing list into sections. For people taking an expedition cruise to Alaska, we have added the essential separately at the end.

There is also a full list of items below to use as a check list when packing. 

Essential Items - Checklist

  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Base Layer
  • Warm Fleece
  • T-Shirt
    Waterproof Pants
  • T-Shirt
    Warm Gloves
  • T-Shirt
    Warm Beanie
  • T-Shirt
    Thermal Socks
  • T-Shirt
    Casual Clothes
  • T-Shirt
    Casual Shoes
  • T-Shirt
    Smart Outfit
  • Binoculars
  • Camera
  • Earplugs
  • Check
    Day pack
  • Check
    Lip Balm
  • Check
    Water Bottle
  • Check
    UV Sunglasses
  • Check
    Sunscreen
  • Check
    Toiletries

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Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

Essential Clothing

Because the weather in Alaska can change drastically from day to day, it's important to bring layers. Wearing layers is also great when the weather changes suddenly and you have the option to shed layers or put more layers on.

The most important thing to remember when purchasing layered clothing is breathability. No one wants sweat being trapped within your clothing! Look for clothing made from high-wicking materials like merino wool. It's more expensive, but definitely worth it!   

Below are the essential clothing items you'll need for your Alaska cruise. 

Waterproof Jacket

A good waterproof jacket is a must! Alaska is known for rain and you're definitely going to use your jacket. We strongly suggest purchasing one with a hood for extra warmth and versatility. The North Face 3-1 jacket is a great choice as you can remove the inner fleece lining if it gets too hot. Patagonia and Columbia also make good jackets. 

Warm Fleece

A warm fleece is very versatile piece of clothing. It can be worn on hikes and when you're chilling aboard your cruise ship. A good fleece will sit beneath your jacket, allowing the moisture to pass through. Both helly hansen and North Face to great ones! 

Hiking Boots

Because you'll most likely be doing some hikes, it's important to have the correct footwear. Bring a good pair of hiking boots. Look for good ankle support, high rubber soles and easy lace system. Scarpa do great boots, as do Salomon and Berghaus

Waterproof Pants

Although you won't need full waterproof trekking pants, it's a sensible idea to bring some thin waterproof pants that can be worn over your normal trousers if it rains. These are generally not expensive and can be folded down very small to save on space. The Helly Hanson Packable pants are a great option!

Thermal Socks

As you'll be visiting town and doing a number of hikes, it's a good idea to bring some thick, breathable socks. Your feet may also get cold when standing on deck. We recommend thermal socks by Smartwool.

Warm Gloves

This really depends on how cold your hands get. Many people find that holding binoculars on deck for a long period of time can get fairly cold! We suggest bringing a warm pair of gloves - ideally not too thick to keep dexterity. Photography gloves like these are great as they have removable finger tips. 

Standard Clothing To Pack

Essential Accessories

On top of your clothing, there is a number of essential accessories for your Alaska cruise. There are also a number of accessories that whist not essential, will give you more comfort or enjoyment. 

Binoculars

No matter what Alaska cruise you choose, you'll definitely want binoculars. You'll see tons of wildlife and epic glaciers and binoculars will get you as close as you can get! We advise bringing two pairs so you're not having to wait to use your partners or vice versa. binoculars with image stabilisation are seriously useful. 

Camera

Although not an essential, having a camera is pretty much standard these days! Alaska offers breathtaking scenery and epic wildlife - being able to capture that is very important. you can use a standard point and shoot or up your game and go for something a little more professional like the Sony A7R III or the Canon 5D Mark IV

Daypack

Bringing a daypack is essential on your Alaskan cruise. You'll be exploring town and taking short hiking trips, so having something to carry the small things is super useful. The best daypack we can recommend is the Osprey Talon. It's very durable, has good access and lots of pockets! 

UV Sunglasses

Although it won't be very sunny most days, constantly staring at water tires your eyes quickly. This is increased when you consider the concentration it takes looking out for marine species like orca and humpbacks. The best idea is to get a pair of goos polarised sunglasses. This best ones in our opinion are made by Julbo.  

Further Accessories To Consider

  • Bug Sprayfor any pesky critters! 
  • Sun hat for the rare sunny days!
  • Ear plugs to block out the sounds of the ship
  • check
    Charging Port for your electrical items like laptop, phone, camera etc. 
  • Water bottle when walking ashore
  • Sunscreen for skin protection
  • travel toiletry set such as toothbrush, sickness tablets, deodorant etc. 
  • check
    Documents such as booking confirmation, flights, passport etc. 

Expedition Cruise Essentials

An expedition cruise to Alaska has a very different feel to a standard cruise. There are more shore landings, longer hikes, zodiac trips, onboard lectures and plenty of wildlife encounters! 

Because of this, there are a few more items you need to consider when packing. However, you can probably leave the formal wear at home! 

Trekking Poles

Because you'll be trekking more on an expedition cruise, it may be worth bringing some trekking poles. Research has shown that trekking poles can take 20% of the strain off your joints when walking downhill. The best poles in our opinion are the Black Diamond trekking poles

Flashlight

you'll be on deck looking out for wildlife night and day aboard your expedition ship. Having a flashlight is a great option for those dark, cloudy nights when you need to see better. Led Lenser make great ones. 

Base Layers

Base layers are only necessary on very cold days or if you tend to feel the cold a little more than other people. Wear them underneath your fleece and get super snugly! We recommendmerino wool long underwear.

Guide Book

Although expedition ships are often equipped with small libraries, it's always nice to bring your on wildlife guide book. You never know when you might want to look something up. We recommendthese.

Muck Boots

You'll be making plenty of 'wet landings' on your expedition cruise. It's therefore crucial that you have calf-length waterproof boots with excellent grip and insulation. We recommend the classic muck boots

Insurance

Travel insurance is mandatory on all expedition cruises. Operators will not allow you onboard without proof of policy purchase. For more information on cruise insurance please see our page here

Get a Cruise Quote!

Expedition Cruise do not sell tours, we simply provide impartial advice. If you would like an exact quote with our recommended specialist click Get a Quote.

​FAQ

If you have any queries or questions regarding our Antarctica packing list, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below.

Thank you and happy travels!

Expedition Cruise Team

About the Author Expedition Cruise

ExpeditionCruise.net is the web’s most authoritative information portal on adventure and expedition cruising. Our mission is to provide up to date and comprehensive information on traveling to the Arctic, Antarctica and further afield, so that your experience is as fulfilling and safe as possible.

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