Ultimate Packing Guide: How to Dress & What to Bring for an Alaskan Cruise

Ever dreamt of embarking on an Alaskan cruise, but not sure what to wear? Don’t fret! You’re not alone in this sartorial conundrum. Alaska’s unpredictable weather can indeed be a challenge to pack for, but with a few insider tips, you’ll be well-prepared for your journey.

Whether you’re whale watching from the deck or exploring glacial landscapes, dressing appropriately is key to enjoying your Alaskan adventure. In this article, we’ll unravel the mystery of Alaskan cruise attire, helping you make the most of your trip. So, stay tuned and get ready to pack like a pro for your Alaskan cruise.

Key Takeaways

  • Comprehending Alaskan climate plays a pivotal role in planning your cruise attire. Climate awareness and understanding average monthly temperatures can guide your clothing choices.
  • Mastering the art of layering is essential. Begin with a moisture-wicking base layer, add an insulation middle layer, and a windproof, waterproof outer layer to adapt to the unpredictable Alaskan weather.
  • Specific clothing items to pack for an Alaskan cruise include waterproof and wind-resistant outerwear, thermal and fleece layers for warmth, and activity-specific footwear (hiking boots, walking shoes, water shoes).
  • Essential accessories for an Alaskan cruise include waterproof gloves or mittens, warm hats or beanies, and versatile scarves or neck gaiters to keep you warm and protected from hard winds.
  • Keep onboard activities in mind: bring formal attire for evening dinners and casual, comfortable wear for lighter days. Respect the ship’s decorum and comply with the mentioned dress code.
  • Efficient packing can enhance your cruise experience. Utilize methods like rolling clothes, using packing cubes, and limiting your shoes to save space. Allowing room for essential items like binoculars, a camera and extra batteries, and sunscreen is a must.

Understanding the Alaskan Climate

To pack efficiently for your upcoming Alaskan cruise, a comprehensive understanding of the region’s climate becomes indispensable. The key to striking the perfect balance in your attire stems from a deep-rooted awareness about the prevailing weather conditions of the Alaskan region.

The Importance of Layering

Mastering the technique of layering forms a solution to unpredictable Alaskan weather. Instead of packing for a specific season, it’s smarter to prepare for all possible scenarios. Layering provides flexibility, allowing you to add or remove clothing based on your need for warmth or ventilation.

Example: Start with a moisture-wicking base layer (like merino wool or synthetic fabrics), add an insulating middle layer (like a fleece jacket or down vest), and finish with a waterproof, windproof outer layer (such as a rain jacket or shell). Don’t forget your gloves, hat, and scarves.

Average Temperatures by Month

Knowing the average temperatures by month aids in your Alaskan cruise packing decisions. During June, July, and August, you can expect average high temperatures to range from 55°F to 65°F, and average lows fall between 40°F and 50°F. May and September see cooler temperatures, with average highs around 50°F and lows dipping into the mid-30s.

Each cruise route differs, and the weather at sea can change rapidly, so it always makes sense to check up-to-date forecasts and pack accordingly. Remember, straight statistics don’t tell the full story of the Alaskan climate. Factor in wind mists from fjords and night chill, both of which can substantially reduce perceived temperatures.

Essential Clothing Items for an Alaskan Cruise

You’ve mastered the art of layering, understood the Alaskan climate, and considered all important factors like sea weather and wind chills. Now, let’s dive deeper into the specific items you ought to include in your suitcase for an Alaskan cruise.

Waterproof Outerwear

Think about packable waterproof outerwear. This type of clothing defies the Alaskan rain while also enabling easy transportation with its lightweight material. Look for jackets that encompass both waterproof and wind-resistant functionalities. Additionally, waterproof pants provide protection during activities like glacier hiking or kayaking, and keep you dry in case of rain showers. Don’t forget to pack rainproof gloves and hats!

Thermal and Fleece Layers

For the thermal layer, tops and bottoms made of materials like merino wool or synthetic fabrics perform well in maintaining body heat. Layering enables you to adjust clothing according to fluctuating weather conditions. Make sure your thermal layers are breathable to allow for adequate circulation. In addition to thermal layering, fleece layers act as the perfect mid-layer. They provide extra insulation, and the lightweight material won’t infringe on your comfort or mobility.

Footwear for Different Activities

Footwear adjustments are pivotal for different activities. Pack waterproof hiking boots for glacier treks, ensure they have good traction and ankle support. For general shipboard use and leisure walks, comfortable walking shoes are key. Should you decide to partake in water activities, consider water shoes to protect your feet. Regardless of the shoe type, always prioritize comfort, support, and, of course, water resistance when selecting footwear for your Alaskan cruise.

Accessories to Keep You Warm and Dry

After layering up and selecting your sturdy footwear, let’s talk about the often-overlooked essential accessories that’ll keep you toasty and dry during your Alaskan cruise. Focus on high-quality, functional pieces that stand up to the region’s unpredictable weather.

Gloves and Mittens

Include a pair of waterproof, insulated gloves or mittens in your packing list. They are key for colder days on deck, treks on glaciers, or handling icy railings. It’s a good idea to select models that provide tactile sensitivity, like touchscreen-friendly gloves that’ll let you snap photos without exposing hands to the chill.

Hats and Beanies

Don’t underestimate the necessity of a warm hat or beanie. A significant amount of body heat escapes through your head, and in the chilly Alaskan air, every bit of warmth matters! Opt for options with fleece lining for optimal insulation. Go for waterproof hats if excursions in drizzly weather are on your itinerary.

Scarves and Neck Gaiters

Last but not least, consider packing scarves or neck gaiters. They provide an extra layer of insulation when worn beneath your jacket, and can be pulled up over your mouth, nose, and ears in particularly harsh wind or cold. For optimum functionality, select multi-functional and versatile neck gaiters, which can be adjusted into a bandana, hood, or balaclava as required.

Dressing for Onboard Activities

While Alaskan cruises stand out for their stunning landscapes and exhilarating excursions, you can’t overlook the onboard activities. Outfit choices play a big role in these experiences.

Formal Dining Attire

A highlight of every cruise, formal dinners form a substantial part of the onboard experience. Cocktail dresses, suits, tuxedos – these are just a few examples of what passengers might wear. So, for you, pack a few formal outfits. Ladies might consider a knee-length dress or even an elegant pantsuit. Always choose fabrics that don’t wrinkle easily – chiffon, polyester and lycra serve this purpose well. For gentlemen, a dark suit paired with a well-ironed shirt does the trick. If the cruise line allows, you can opt for a formal tuxedo. Don’t forget a nice pair of formal shoes to complete your look.

Casual Wear for Relaxing Days

For more laid back days onboard, dress comfortably. However, keep in mind that even casual wear should be respectful of the ship’s decorum. Denim jeans, khakis, polo shirts, blouses, sundresses, or even shorts depending on the ship’s indoor temperature, make for sensible choices. Always pair your attire with comfortable shoes like sneakers or open-toe sandals for indoor activities. Throw in a lightweight cardigan or a pullover, as some areas of the ship, like the theater or dining room, may be air-conditioned. Lightweight fabrics, like cotton or linen, provide comfort throughout the day.

Remember, each cruise line often has a dress code for onboard activities. Always review these guidelines beforehand to ensure your outfits are appropriate for all scheduled events.

Packing Tips for Your Alaskan Cruise

Understanding how to pack for your Alaskan cruise leads to a more enjoyable sailing experience. Since you’ve already got the grasp on the type of clothing required, let’s focus on maximizing your luggage space and the essential items you cannot overlook.

Maximizing Space in Your Luggage

Explorer-experts suggest simple tips and tricks for making the most out of your suitcase space. Firstly, rolling your clothes aids in compact packing and reduces the total volume that your clothing occupies. Secondly, utilizing packing cubes is beneficial. These small containers keep your luggage organized and allow for easy access to your items, especially if you’re sharing the suitcase with someone.

Additionally, try reducing the number of shoes you bring. Shoes tend to take up a lot of room; bring versatile pairs, like black pumps for women and black loafers for men, that can work for both casual and formal outfits.

Must-Have Items You Can’t Forget

While packing for an Alaskan cruise, certain items prove to be indispensable. Beyond your clothing and accessories, binoculars rank amongst the top of this category. These provide a clearer view of the stunning Alaskan landscapes and wildlife.

Do remember to pack your camera; the breathtaking views and unique experiences call for preservation. Just be sure to take extra batteries or a charger, as you won’t want your camera to power down when a photo-worthy moment arises.

Lastly, do not forget sunscreen. Despite the cold Alaskan weather, the reflection from the glaciers and water can intensify UV rays, thus sunscreen proves to be a necessity.

Your Alaskan cruise promises remarkable experiences. Packing appropriately maximizes comfort and ensures you are equipped to make the most of this adventure.


So, you’re ready to embark on your Alaskan cruise. Remember, the key is to pack smart. Waterproof outerwear and formal attire are your go-to essentials. Don’t forget the little things like binoculars, a camera, and sunscreen. They’ll make your journey all the more memorable. Use packing hacks like rolling your clothes and using packing cubes to save space. Now, you’re all set to enjoy the breathtaking vistas, wildlife encounters, and the unique dining experiences that an Alaskan cruise has to offer. Dress right, pack right, and your Alaskan cruise will surely be an adventure of a lifetime.

Preparing for an Alaskan cruise requires thoughtful packing to ensure comfort and functionality against the unpredictable Alaskan climate. Travel + Leisure’s guide on the essentials for an Alaskan cruise highlights the importance of waterproof outerwear and sturdy footwear. Frommer’s list of must-haves for Alaskan cruises advises on the best types of layers to bring, ensuring you stay warm during glacier tours and deck activities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of clothing is appropriate for an Alaskan cruise?

Pack waterproof outerwear and formal wear for dinners. The Alaskan weather is often unpredictable, and these attires will ensure you remain comfortable and appropriate on your trip.

What are some packing tips for maximizing luggage space?

Roll your clothes instead of folding them and consider using packing cubes. These techniques can help to create more space in your luggage.

What are some suggested essential items to pack for an Alaskan cruise?

Aside from your clothes, pack items like binoculars for viewing wildlife, a camera for capturing memories, and sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.

How does proper packing affect my Alaskan cruise experience?

Proper packing prepares you to enjoy the remarkable experiences an Alaskan cruise offers with comfort and readiness. By bringing the right items, you can avoid potential inconveniences.