Packing for an Alaska cruise can be tricky, even for seasoned travelers. The weather in Alaska is hard to predict and very changeable, so you can experience several seasons in one week.
Last Frontier is also a visual paradise with incredible wildlife and stunning landscapes. So you want to bring the right gear to make memories and make the most of your trip. In addition, Alaska cruises offer a wide range of activities. To take part in these exciting excursions, you should think twice before boarding an Alaska cruise.
If you’re wondering what to pack for an Alaska cruise, here are twelve essential things to put on your Alaska cruise packing list:
1. Multiple layers
Deciding what to bring on an Alaskan cruise is not easy, especially when it comes to choosing your clothing. It’s a good idea to check the weather in each of Alaska’s ports in advance, but don’t rely entirely on these forecasts when planning your cruise in Alaska. Alaska weather is unpredictable and can change drastically over the course of a cruise – or even in a matter of hours – so it’s important to be prepared for all seasons. Bring plenty of clothes that you can easily put on and take off if the weather changes during the day.
Your clothing needs will also depend greatly on the excursions you take ashore. For an Alaskan cruise you will need short and long sleeve shirts, light jackets, fleece jackets, sweaters, a light fleece or plush vest, a warm hat, a scarf and gloves. Base layers for men and women can also help combat the cold. Don’t forget to bring a swimsuit and polarized sunglasses.
Summer in Alaska can include a few hot days, so bring shorts and lightweight hiking pants or zippered convertible pants – especially when deciding what to pack for an Alaska cruise in July or August.
2. Packable rainmaker
Alaska can receive a lot of liquid sunshine during the spring and summer seasons, so it’s important to plan accordingly. A good waterproof rain jacket with a hood, a windproof umbrella and waterproof, quick-drying men’s or women’s kayak and hiking pants are essential for an Alaska cruise. Make sure your rain jacket is compact in your bag and big enough to wear layers and fleeces underneath for extra protection from the elements.
Some travelers deciding what to pack for an Alaska cruise in May or September may want to pack a spare 3-in-1 jacket for extra warmth in cold, rainy weather.
3. Waterproof hiking boots
The terrain in Alaska can be rugged and the ground muddy, so adventurous treks and land-based activities often require shoes or boots with good tread. Bring a pair of comfortable, waterproof men’s or women’s hiking boots on your Alaska cruise, as well as two pairs of good socks in case one gets wet. Make sure you break in your hiking boots before your trip to avoid blisters and other problems.
4. Output adapter with USB ports
Cruise ship cabins usually have a very limited number of outlets, and there are never enough to charge all the cell phones, camera chargers, computers, tablets and other tech devices that Alaska cruise guests bring with them. When thinking about what to bring on your Alaska cruise, make sure you bring a multi-adapter with USB ports so you can easily charge all your devices while cruising.
READ MORE: Alaska Cruise Weather: What to expect in the preseason
There’s a lot to see on an Alaska cruise, but some of Alaska’s most memorable sights aren’t always nearby. A good pair of waterproof binoculars is essential to get the best view of Alaska’s wildlife and scenic wonders, especially if you’re going to be watching from the balcony of your cabin or from the deck of your boat. If you’re lucky, you might see a group of humpback whales feeding in a bubble net or a bear wandering along the shore.
6. Lightweight backpack
Coastal travel in Alaska can include many hikes, camping and other activities. Add a lightweight, waterproof backpack to your Alaska cruise package for port days. You need a place to store your gear, water bottle, cape and any extra layers you want to put on or take off during the day.
7. Insect repellent
Alaska mosquitoes are sometimes called the state bird, and for good reason. The mosquitoes are huge and can sometimes be numerous. Therefore, bring a strong repellent to protect yourself during your cruise in Alaska. Insect repellents containing picaridin are generally safe for the whole family, but some travelers prefer DEET-based repellents.
When packing for your Alaska cruise, don’t forget to bring strong sunscreen for each member of your crew. It is advisable to pack insect repellent and sunscreen in tightly sealed plastic bags to prevent them from dripping onto your clothing.
8. High-end camera
Humpback whales approach and observe each other quickly, so it’s much easier to get good photos if you have a camera with a long lens and a fast shutter speed. A good DSLR with a long zoom lens is ideal for an Alaskan cruise, but if you can’t bring one, a digital camera with a long zoom lens is the next best thing. Don’t rely solely on your phone for photos in Alaska, as that won’t always get you the best shots of humpback whales and paternal glaciers, but some travelers like to optimize their phone’s camera with additional lens accessories.
It is important to protect your camera equipment from possible moisture. So add a waterproof bag and a waterproof cell phone case to your list of luggage for your Alaska cruise. Also bring plenty of digital camera memory cards, a hard drive to back up your photos, spare batteries and any other photo equipment you may need. Camera accessories are more expensive in Alaska than in your state and choices may be limited.
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