Alaska Cruise Packing List – What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

How do you pack for an Alaskan cruise? That is the question. When packing for our first Alaska cruise we had to do some serious thinking. Since then, we’ve taken two other Alaskan cruises plus a cruise to Antarctica and Greenland, so we have learned a lot about packing for polar regions. When traveling to Alaska you have to be prepared for every type of weather. Like other cruises, there are formal nights and cocktail evenings, but in Alaska, days are more casual and the dinner attire is more relaxed. Alaska weather changes quickly, so you will need layers to take on and off as needed.

Alaska Cruise Packing List - What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

What To Pack For An Alaska Cruise

Packing for a cruise vacation to Alaska is completely different than a Caribbean cruise. Caribbean cruises are easy to pack for. Throw in swimwear, beachwear flip-flops, and a few smart outfits for evenings and you are good to go. When cruising to Alaska, you will have a mix of hot weather and cold weather, so you need to pack layers.

Weather in Alaska can be unpredictable, ranging from warm and sunny to cold and rainy, often within the same day. Also, onboard the ship, you’ll have a mix of casual and formal events, and you may be participating in shore excursions that go beyond walking tours. You might find yourself on a zodiac or kayak in the middle of a Fjord.

We’ve taken three different Alaska cruises and our latest took us down the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska and British Columbia on the Nieuw Amsterdam ship by Holland America Cruise Line. This ship offered the perfect mix of luxury with adventure, but it makes packing a little more involved because you’ll want adventure and activewear, but also some formal and smart casual clothing. Don’t worry, we’ve created the ultimate Alaska Cruise Packing list so you will be comfortable and look good.

We have also taken a cruise to Alaska with Princess Cruises and UnCruise. Princess Cruises is very similar to Holland America Cruise Line, but if you want more of an expedition cruise on a small ship to Alaska, check out our experience with UnCruise.

Alaska Cruise Packing Tips – Layering

Alaska Cruise Packing List - What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

When packing for an Alaska cruise, it is important to think about layering. Southeast Alaska can be very warm during the cruise season, but you are still going to be cruising Arctic waters close to glaciers and icebergs so you’ll want both shorts and t-shirts with a mix of thermal layers and water-resistant clothing.

Layered clothing: The weather in Alaska can change rapidly, and layering will allow you to adapt to varying conditions. Consider packing T-shirts, long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and jackets. Waterproof Pants that convert to shorts are a great option for Alaska as you can change quickly.

Also remember, if you are cruising early or later in the Alaska cruise season, the weather will be cooler, so pack some warm wool socks and a heavier sweater for your mid-layer.

On Deck

Alaska Cruise Packing List - What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

Even if the sun is shining, there will be a very cool breeze. Standing on the deck you will want to have windproof and waterproof layers with a hat and gloves.

You’ll want to be comfortable so you can really take in the beauty of this once-in-a-lifetime scene. (don’t be that guy in shorts popping out for only five minutes because he was too cold)

On Shore

Alaska Cruise Packing List - What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

On land, it can be just as unpredictable. When stopping at different Alaska cruise ports, you will encounter completely different weather and shore excursions.

The weather can change quickly throughout the Alaska cruise season and it can be surprisingly wet in the summertime. Juneau may be hot and balmy while Ketchikan could be rainy and cold. In fact, Ketchikan is one of the wettest places in North America. So, you’ll want to have an outer layer that is both windproof and waterproof, you’ll want a mid-layer to keep you warm on chilly days, but you’ll also want summer clothes for the odd beautiful, and balmy day.

Alaska Cruise Packing Checklist

Alaska Cruise Packing List - What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

So, now that we understand the unpredictability of the weather in Alaska, here is a list of suggested items you may want to pack for your Alaska cruise.

When packing for Alaska, keep in mind that you will want layered clothing, waterproof outerwear, warm clothing, formal attire, and casual attire and most importantly don’t forget comfortable footwear. Plus, just because you are in Alaska, doesn’t mean you won’t be swimming or enjoying the hot tub, so make sure to pack a bathing suit!

Waterproof Shoes

You don’t need to pack heavy hiking boots. If you are walking around town or on the ship, these work fine as well. We’ve even worn just waterproof shoes on excursions like whale watching since we aren’t going into any muddy areas, but it still may be wet on the boat. If you aren’t doing major activities, water-resistant shoes will be enough.

We like Merrill brand and Moab 3 waterproof hiking shoe is what we wear and it’s a good all-around shoe that will keep your feet warm and dry.

Gadgets and Gear for Your Alaska Cruise

Alaska Cruise Packing List - What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise


You’ll likely see wildlife like eagles, whales, and bears, and binoculars can help you get a closer look. Even if you have a zoom lens, binoculars will really help make the most of spotting wildlife and taking in the beauty of glaciers and icebergs up close. We like these Tasco binoculars.

Camera There will be plenty of beautiful landscapes to photograph. We go into camera gear further below, but remember you will want to have more than your smartphone in Alaska. You’ll want a zoom lens to capture wildlife and a wide angle lens to capture the massive glaciers and landscapes.

Hygiene and Disinfectant

In today’s world of cruising, everyone is very aware of cleanliness. Holland America Line (and other cruises such as Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean for that matter) are very aware of hygiene and keeping passengers safe with servers handing out food and plastic barriers covering the buffet.

But it is still a good idea to pack a few travel essentials for hygiene and cleaning. We like having this Antibacterial Spray – Lavender Scent on hand and Travel Size Lysol Disinfectant Wipes always come in handy.

Electronics packing list for Alaska Cruise

Alaska Cruise Packing List - What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

We carry a lot of electronics. But we’ve outlined what we think most people should bring and will feel comfortable with to capture those amazing moments and stay connected. We’ve rounded up certain things that are specific for an Alaska cruise.

Camera Gear for Alaska Cruise

Alaska Cruise Packing List - What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

An Alaska cruise is a trip of a lifetime and a place that you may only visit once. You will want more than an iPhone for your camera gear for an Alaska cruise. You will want at least a zoom lens for wildlife and a wide-angle lens for landscapes. I am a Sony guy, so I have a full list of camera gear that I take with me on my travels, but here are some basics you will want for an Alaska cruise.

For On Land

Alaska Cruise Packing List - What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise
  • 2 pairs of water-resistant or waterproof trekking pants
  • 1 pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (Waterproof or at least water resistant)
  • 2 trekking shirts

Outer Layers

  • Wool Hat
  • Waterproof jacket
  • light pair of gloves
  • Buff



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