What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise

As the popular Scandinavian saying goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.” It’s true! The better you pack and the better prepared you are for the weather, the more you’ll enjoy yourself. What to pack on a cruise to Alaska is tricky because the weather varies from one extreme to the next, sometimes within a few hours. Braving the changing weather is part of the experience, just embrace it.

The good news is, you can leave the heavy-duty winter coats and boots at home—easily removable, waterproof layers are best.

Here’s a complete list of what to pack on a cruise to Alaska, from clothing to gear and extras.

Packing for Alaska Weather

Before you bust out the suitcase and start throwing stuff in, consider the weather and how it varies. If you’re cruising the Inside Passage and waterways of Southeast Alaska, expect summertime highs between 50 and 60 degrees, with the occasional 70- or 80-degree day. Spring is chilly and fall is rainy.

Farther north, toward Fairbanks and the Interior, temperatures hit 70 and 80 degrees often in summer and it’s drier.

What to Pack for Your Alaska Cruise

Don’t pack light; pack smart. Pack thermal layers that can keep you comfortable in temperatures ranging from 30- to 80-degrees Fahrenheit. Outfitters often provide the special gear for Alaska shore excursions, so no need to load your bags with crampons and waders.

Laundry services on-board will assist with dry cleaning and ironing if need-be.

Clothing to Pack

Stick to casual activewear meant for moving about in the great outdoors. Bring a few outfits for formal nights and dinners on ship.

  • T-shirts
  • Long-sleeve shirts
  • Warm, water-repellent jacket that can be layered
  • Windbreaker
  • Vest
  • Scarves
  • Touchscreen gloves
  • Sweaters
  • Leggings
  • Jeans and slacks
  • Rain hat
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunglasses (with polarized lenses if you can)
  • Socks (wool socks are a great idea)
  • Shorts
  • Formal wear garb
  • Smart-casual dinner outfits

Tips on Outerwear

Jackets: Lightweight and waterproof, mean for layering over warm fleeces and sweaters. A vest or windbreaker for strolling the deck.

Hat, gloves, and scarves: Touchscreen (e-tip) gloves, so you can use your phone and camera while keeping your fingers toasty. A rain hat and a wooly hat to keep your ears warm.

Shoes: At least two pairs of durable, waterproof walking shoes or boots with arch support. You will take thousands of steps of day, so the comfier, the better. You’ll also want shoes that can handle mud. Pack one or two pairs of dress shoes for dinner outfits.

Cruise Dinner Dress

Formal wear: Anticipate two formal nights per week. Ladies wear a cocktail dress or gown and gentlemen don a suit and tie or tuxedo.

Smart-casual wear for dinner: Slacks and collared shirts or sweaters for men. Skirt or trousers, sweater or blouse for women.

Other Items for Your Cruise Packing List:

  • Toiletries
  • Prescriptions for medication in the event you need to replace them on the fly
  • Backup eyeglasses, just in case
  • Phone chargers/USB converters
  • Binoculars – a must if you want an up-close view of wildlife
  • Camera with telephoto lens and extra memory cards
  • Passports
  • Small backpack—great for excursions and carrying souvenirs when strolling through town
  • Nausea relief medication
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent—Alaska’s mosquitoes can be relentless

We can’t wait to show you Alaska. Happy packing!