Packing for an Alaskan Cruise and what to leave behind

1st time going on an Alaskan cruise? It’s easy to over pack, so let’s show you have to pack like a pro.

Lydia Bates

6/11/20234 min read

Congratulations on your Alaskan cruise! Don’t worry, you are going to love it! Going on on any cruise you can easily over pack. Especially longer itineraries, you’ll find on Alaska cruises. As they start at 7 days and can top out at around 20 or more if you have the time and the cash to go. You add the unpredictable weather in to the mix of stuffing your suite case, and BAM! That’s a recipe for extra luggage and articles of clothes you’ll never need.

The Basics: In Alaska the weather can change in unpredictable ways. Expect rain. A good rain hat, shoes/boats and a rain coat. What I’ve found that is the best is a 4 seasons weather jacket that has a removable fleece interior and an outer weather proof shell with vents. I like to size up, if it’s really cold, I may want to have a sweater and be layered up. I also, like to more around with ease, without looking like the kid in ‘A Christmas Story’. If it’s not too cold or rainy, the fleece works perfect. I have packed boots in the past but prefer hiking shoes instead. If you enjoy dressing up for diner, then opt for good rain boats that you can dress up. One good pair of weather proof shoes will do. You can opt to wear these on the plane, to keep your luggage light. That is, if you can handle walking around the airport and flying with them on, sweaty feet soup… mmm.. Then you need some comfy tennis shoes and quick low key, slip on dressy/casual.

I like keeping Alaska casual. We can pack one checked suite case, one carryon, and two back packs for two adults. Using packing cubes or self deflating vacuum bags to aid in the bulk. I like to make use of the laundry service onboard, we’ll use it once on a 7 day cruise around day 4 to freshen up anything that may have gotten muddy and to reset our socks and undies. This mindset makes it easier to pack light too. Plus, the cruise lines don’t push formal night as much as they know you’re packing for layers and active port excursions.

Now that we have the wet weather cover, lets focus on layers. Choose clothing made of fleece, wool, and bamboo are great choices. All of these are comfortable, warm even when wet, and dry fast. Avoid jeans, they are heavy, and take forever to dry. Pack 2-3 tees or tanks should be fine for both men and woman on a 7 day or longer cruise. Great for under shirts, but lovely for port to walk around in, as it can be fairly warm. I also like to bring ultra thin silks, a set for my husband and myself. If we’re going to walk on a Glacier or be on the water, I’m going use these a my first layer. Super warm, with no bulk. And they can double as my pj’s in the room. Then a couple of sweaters each. 1 or two button down or polo shirts for my husband. I pack 2 paints for my husband, both hiking rain resistant, one pair fleece lined the other not, and two pair of cargo shorts. As that’s his jam. I’ll take one pair yoga/stretchy pants (these I ware in the plane too) and 1 pair dress pants and one pair fleece pants for myself. And Either a dress or a skirt, maybe both. Don’t forget the undies and socks. I use to pack these per day but I’ve shrank it down to half as we will do laundry. Some lines, like Princess, had full self service laundry rooms on board. That was a great experience for us.

The reason we need two backpacks is my camera and computer. Typically I end up working on trips, and for Alaska, you better believe I’ll bring my Nikon camera and a couple of lenses. That’s one entire backpack. If you travel with gear, you’ll have more room for things you buy in port. The other backpack is our carryon, toiletry bag, underwear/socks anything we’d need in the event our luggage is lost or delivered late. This will also have our bottles of wine, if we are bringing any. Our chargers, swimsuits and that’s about it. I haven’t ran into trouble on any of our cruises to need any after power strips, so we don’t pack them. Magnet hooks are handy, but I’ve forgotten them the last couple of cruises. I enjoy taking a dip in a hot tub right away be fore the crowds, so having a our swim suites in the array on is a plus. We carry on our undies because, I don’t want to try and have to buy uncomfortable undies if our luggage is lost. I can handle buying whatever else we need for a night or two from the ship store while we wait for our 1st port or our luggage to arrive. I’m particular about my swimsuits and underwear. You’d also want to carryon any thing you need and can not replace easily. Medications, tech and chargers, spare glasses. We take our old Rx glasses as back ups in the event ours get damaged.

The little things: In our toiletry bag, nail clippers and tweezers are a must along with a few safety pins, and a mini sewing kit. These little thing have been life savers in past trips, so make it a point to pack them.

I always unpack and repack my shampoo and conditioner but, you probably don’t need it as your room with have the basics and that can save the space for other things.