Imagine yourself cruising through the breathtaking fjords, exploring the rugged terrains of Southeast Alaska, and maybe even catching a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights. The awe-inspiring grandeur of Alaska is unmatched, yet it presents its own set of unique packing challenges.

What to pack for Alaska cruise isn’t your typical beach vacation checklist; you’ll need gear for rain, sun, and even snow. That’s why we’ve put together this guide: to provide you with a comprehensive Alaska cruise packing list that ensures you’re prepared for all the outdoor adventures and relaxing cruise ship amenities you’ll encounter. So let’s dive into making sure you pack smart and enjoy all that Alaska has to offer!

Alaska's scenic view

Understanding Alaska’s Climate and Conditions

When you think of Alaska, you might picture endless snow and icy conditions, but the climate can be surprisingly diverse, especially during the cruise season, which usually runs from May to September. In these summer months, you can expect temperatures to range from a cool 50°F to a more comfortable 70°F. However, don’t let these numbers fool you. Weather conditions can change rapidly, bringing with it rain, wind, or even a sudden drop in temperature.

An Alaska cruise isn’t just about lounging on the deck; you’re likely to disembark for various shore excursions like hiking, glacier tours, or fishing. Each of these activities can expose you to different weather conditions. For instance, Southeast Alaska is known for its damp weather, requiring waterproof pants and rain jackets. On the other hand, the Interior regions can be drier but colder, demanding warm hats and wool socks. Understanding the climate is crucial for knowing what to include in your Alaska cruise packing list, ensuring that you’re equipped for all possible scenarios.

The Best Time to Go on an Alaska Cruise

The best months to embark on an Alaska cruise are between May and September. These months offer the mildest weather and longest daylight hours, optimizing your chances for wildlife viewing and outdoor activities. However, each month brings its own unique perks and challenges, so choose according to your interests.

Essential Clothing for an Alaska Cruise

Clothing can make or break your experience on an Alaska cruise. Considering the unpredictable nature of Alaskan weather, your wardrobe should consist of versatile pieces that can be layered for warmth or easily removed. Plus-size travelers, in particular, may want to look for comfortable and stylish options that ensure a comfortable and enjoyable journey. Below we break down the types of clothing that should definitely make it to your Alaska cruise packing list.

Weather-Appropriate Outerwear

Pack insulated jacket alaska cruise

The outer layer is your first line of defense against Alaska’s ever-changing weather conditions. Opt for a waterproof jacket that can also combat wind. Having a lightweight jacket for warm days and an insulated jacket for colder conditions is a smart move. Don’t forget a good rain jacket; you’ll likely encounter some showers whether you’re on shore excursions or sailing between Alaska cruise ports.

Versatile Mid-Layers

man in white turtle-neck

The mid-layer is all about adaptability. Think long sleeve shirts, lightweight sweaters, and fleece jackets. These can be easily added or removed based on how cold or warm you’re feeling. For those rare warm days on your cruise to Alaska, a few short sleeve shirts and t-shirts will come in handy.

Base Layers and Undergarments

pack base layer clothes for alaska cruise

The base layer serves to keep warmth close to your body by trapping heat. Thermal or moisture-wicking base layers are highly recommended. For undergarments, opt for moisture-wicking fabrics as well, as they will help you stay warm and dry. Women might also consider a sports bra for outdoor activities and don’t underestimate the importance of wool socks to keep your feet warm and dry.

Mastering the art of layering can greatly improve your comfort level and overall enjoyment during your journey. So make sure you pack smart to take full advantage of all the outdoor adventures and onboard amenities your Alaska cruise has to offer.

Footwear: What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise

Footwear is another critical element that demands careful thought, as the right shoes will set the tone for your comfort and adventure readiness. From onboard formal nights to challenging shore excursions, your choice of footwear should be versatile enough to meet various demands.

Casual Footwear

casual footwear for alaska cruise

You won’t be scaling glaciers or trekking through forests all the time; there will be ample moments for leisure and relaxation on the cruise ship. For those instances, casual shoes like loafers, flats, or even flip flops for the hot tubs are perfectly fine. Don’t forget to include footwear suitable for dress-up nights, like a pair of stylish dress shoes.

Hiking Boots

pair of hiking boots is a must for Alaska

Alaska serves as a paradise for lovers of the great outdoors, featuring an array of activities such as trekking, observing wildlife, and traversing glaciers. For these excursions, a sturdy pair of hiking boots is a must. Choose boots that offer a blend of comfort and durability, complete with water-resistant or waterproof qualities. Such footwear will not only shield your feet from adverse weather conditions but also offer the necessary support on challenging terrains.

Choosing the right footwear is crucial for ensuring that you are well-prepared for all the activities and events your Alaska cruise has in store. Pairing your outfits with the appropriate shoes will go a long way in ensuring that you make the most out of your journey through Alaska’s stunning landscapes.


While clothes and shoes are obvious essentials, accessories often get overlooked. Nonetheless, these seemingly minor items can significantly enhance your comfort level and overall cruise experience. Here we’ll focus on the accessories you should absolutely include in your Alaska cruise packing list to ensure you’re ready for any scenario.

Gloves and Hats

Woman wearing red gloves and hats

Given Alaska’s often chilly weather, gloves and hats are not just accessories but necessities. A pair of insulated gloves can keep your hands warm during outdoor activities and shore excursions. A warm hat is equally essential, as it prevents heat loss from your head, especially during colder evenings and mornings.

Sunglasses and Sunscreen

sunglasses and sunscreen are must-haves for cruise trip

Yes, you read that right—sunglasses and sunscreen are must-haves even for an Alaskan cruise. During the summer months, Alaska experiences extended daylight, and the sun can be quite intense, reflecting off glaciers and water. High-quality UV-protective sunglasses will protect your eyes, while broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF will safeguard your skin, even during shorter shore excursions.

By paying attention to these frequently neglected accessories, you’re going the extra mile to secure both your comfort and safety. Whether you’re enjoying the luxurious amenities on your cruise line or embracing Alaska’s natural beauty, these accessories will help you be prepared for any eventuality.

Gadgets and Gear

You’re embarking on a trip of a lifetime, and naturally, you’ll want to capture unforgettable moments and breathtaking scenery. Beyond clothing and footwear, your Alaska cruise packing list should also include essential gadgets and gear that will enhance your experience.

Camera and Binoculars

Capture Alaska's stunning landscapes with camera

Alaska’s stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife are a photographer’s dream. Investing in a high-quality camera equipped with an effective zoom lens is essential for immortalizing these special moments. If you’re really into photography, consider bringing some additional camera gear like extra lenses or a tripod. Binoculars are another invaluable tool, especially for wildlife spotting and appreciating distant glaciers or mountains.

Chargers and Power Banks

pack gadgets for cruise

Given the variety of gadgets most people carry, keeping them powered is crucial. A portable charger or power bank is essential to ensure your devices stay charged during shore excursions and other activities away from the cruise ship. Also, don’t forget the standard chargers for all your devices. While numerous cruise ships provide USB ports, carrying a plug adapter is advisable as a precautionary measure, in case the onboard outlets are incompatible with your devices.

Packing the right gadgets and gear not only enhances your Alaska cruise experience but ensures you capture memories that you’ll treasure for a lifetime. From the decks of the cruise ship to the untamed wilderness of Alaska, these items will keep you ready for whatever adventure comes your way.

Personal Items and Toiletries

While the cruise line will provide some basic amenities, you’ll want to bring along personal items and toiletries that you can’t do without. These not only add to your comfort but are also crucial in cases of emergencies or specific needs.

Medication and First Aid

medicines in a pouch

Carry any prescription medications you’ll need throughout your journey, along with essential over-the-counter meds like pain relievers or antacids. Bringing along a compact first-aid kit with essentials such as band-aids, antiseptic wipes, and any individual medical items you may require is a prudent move.

Documentation and Travel Essentials

Ensuring you have all the necessary documentation is crucial for a hassle-free travel experience. Forgetting an important piece of paper can put a damper on your vacation before it even begins.

travel documents for alaska cruise

Passport and Visas

Ensure your passport has a validity period that extends at least six months past your intended date of return. Check if you need a visa for any of the Alaska cruise ports you’ll be visiting, especially if your itinerary includes stops in Canada, such as British Columbia.

Tickets and Reservation Confirmations

Carry both digital and physical copies of all your tickets and reservation confirmations, including your cruise to Alaska, flights, and any pre or post-cruise accommodations. This ensures that you have all necessary proof of bookings at your fingertips, streamlining check-ins and boarding.

By carefully planning and packing both your items and essential documents, you’re setting yourself up for a successful, enjoyable, and stress-free Alaska cruise. These may seem like small details, but they play a significant role in how smoothly your trip will go from start to finish.

Tips for Packing

Proper packing is an art form, especially when you’re preparing for a destination as multifaceted as Alaska. Overpacking can lead to unnecessary stress and baggage fees while underpacking could leave you unprepared for Alaska’s diverse climates and activities.

How do I not overpack for an Alaskan cruise?

1. Focus on Versatility: Opt for clothing pieces that offer mix-and-match flexibility or can be layered for various looks and conditions. Versatile clothing options save space and give you more outfit choices.

2. Check Cruise Amenities: Many cruise lines offer laundry services, so you don’t need to pack an outfit for each day.

3. Limit Shoe Choices: Shoes take up too much room. Stick to essential footwear like a good pair of hiking boots and some casual shoes for onboard activities.

4. Utilize Packing Cubes: Employing packing cubes can significantly streamline the organization of your luggage, facilitating a more efficient and compact packing process.

5. Adhere to Luggage Restrictions: Always check the cruise line’s luggage policy. Knowing how much luggage you can bring will guide you in prioritizing what to pack.

Packing for an Alaska cruise doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By focusing on versatile clothing, being aware of the amenities provided by your cruise line, and using smart packing tools and techniques, you can ensure that you bring just what you need. This leaves you free to enjoy all the exciting activities and breathtaking scenery that your Alaska cruise has to offer, without the burden of excessive luggage.


Preparing for an Alaska cruise is as exciting as it is challenging, given the destination’s unique climate and range of activities. Remember, the key to a successful trip lies in smart, versatile packing—from weather-appropriate outerwear and essential footwear to must-have gadgets and crucial documents. And when your cruise takes you to Juneau, Alaska, don’t forget to research the incredible activities and attractions available in this picturesque city.

Take the time to cross off every item on your Alaska cruise packing list, including those often-overlooked accessories and personal items. Doing so ensures you’re not just prepared for any weather conditions or activities but also ready to fully immerse yourself in the Alaska experience. So, pack wisely and prepare to be amazed by the stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and once-in-a-lifetime adventures that await you!


What should I pack for a 7 day cruise to Alaska in May?

In May, expect a mix of sunny and rainy days. Make sure to pack a rain jacket, layers for warmth, and short-sleeved shirts for the days when the weather is on the warmer side. Don’t forget hiking boots for shore excursions and a warm hat for colder evenings.

What do I wear to dinner on an Alaskan Princess cruise?

For dinner, most Alaskan Princess cruises have smart casual and two formal nights. Men have the option of choosing dress shirts and trousers, whereas women can go for either dresses or skirts. On formal nights, suits and cocktail dresses are appropriate.

Do you need a swimsuit on an Alaskan cruise?

Yes, you might. Many Alaska cruises feature hot tubs and indoor pools. It’s a great way to relax, especially after a long day of outdoor activities. So packing a swimsuit is a good idea.

Can you wear jeans on an Alaskan cruise?

Jeans are perfectly fine for casual settings onboard and during daytime shore excursions. However, for dining rooms during formal nights, you’ll want to dress up a bit more.

How much spending money should you take on an Alaskan cruise?

The amount varies depending on your plans for shore excursions and personal spending habits. However, it’s safe to budget around $100-$200 per day for excursions, dining, and souvenirs. Keep in mind many cruises offer pre-paid packages for certain amenities.