It’s starting to look like an Alaskan cruise season could finally happen this year–so many fingers and toes are crossed for that one! It’s been soooo long (insert tears here)!
Alaska cruises are absolutely amazing. It’s definitely one of our favorite itineraries, and I’m hoping to get on one late this summer. They are definitely different than a sun-soaked beach, or ocean-focused Caribbean cruise, but different in a good way Alaska cruises are cooler, and can be wet at times, but the scenery and experience are absolutely worth it. The views as you sail are incredible. The excursion choices are superb. On a Caribbean cruise, we often wing it and don’t plan a thing. In Alaska, we budget for as many excursions as we can fit in. They’re that good. If you can get to Alaska for a cruise, do it. It’s one of the best.
So, with that hope in mind, let’s talk about what you should pack for an Alaskan cruise! 10 things, of course.
1. Raingear – It’s wet in Alaska. Ketchikan, for example, gets rain more than 220 days a year. 220!! Odds are, you’re going to encounter some rain. It’s never a bad idea to pack some disposable ponchos, and Disney occasionally hands them out on excursions, but I also like an umbrella. They don’t get as hot as a poncho can, and it’s easier to keep the rain off your face. A good rain jacket is also a great idea. Get one that’s loose enough to fit over other layers, and if it folds into a tiny ball like some of them miraculously do – even better.
2. Waterproof Shoes – You will also want some kind of shoes that are waterproof. Even if you are only planning on light walking and bus tours, you’ll still have more fun if your feet are dry. Rainboots are great, but they can take up a lot of room in your suitcase. Something smaller and waterproof is probably better. Just make sure they’re comfortable to do a lot of walking in.
3. Layers – I recommend bringing a thin jacket even on Caribbean cruises, because the dining room and other interiors of the ship can be chilly. In Alaska, layers are even more important. Alaska temperatures can vary wildly. If the sun is out, you might even break out shorts. I’ve seen it done. If the sun is not out, you will want some warm layers, like a light fleece.
4. Binoculars – Binoculars (or Field Glasses as my husband once called them before a cruise, because he, apparently, is 100 years old), are so nice to have in Alaska. There is just so much to see. Whales, otters, eagles, bears, glaciers, mountains, and more! No matter how close they get to the ship, you are still on a GIANT ship, so everything can seem small. Binoculars are the best way to see it all. Warning, if you have binoculars onboard, be prepared to share them with every single member of your party at some point. When the wildlife is out, everyone wants to see!
5. Swimsuit – This may surprise you, but you can actually use a swimsuit in Alaska. On our first Alaskan cruise, we made the mistake of waiting late into the cruise to try the pools and hot tub. When we did, we couldn’t believe how good they felt! They were the perfect temperature. As for the hot tubs, there’s not much that feels better than a hot tub on a cold night after an active day. Even if the pools aren’t your thing, the hot tub probably will be.
6. Sunglasses and Sunscreen – The sun in Alaska, when you see it, can be quite bright. Sun reflecting off ice and snow can be downright blinding and you can definitely get burned. Some of the worst sunburns I’ve had have been while skiing in Colorado. So, despite the fact that you are going to a coldish weather, often rainy climate, don’t forget your sunglasses and sunscreen!
7. Hat/Earmuffs/Gloves – Speaking of cold, bring a hat or earmuffs, and gloves. If you are hiking on a glacier or something similar, you can definitely get cold. It’s much better to have them and not need them, then need them and not have them. Although that would give you a good excuse to shop…
8. Insect Repellant – Alaska is one of those places where they joke that the national bird is a mosquito. That’s how big they are. I can’t say I’ve had a problem with mosquitoes on a cruise (and trust me, if they are within two miles of me, they will find me), but I still bring some repellant. Wait, maybe I don’t have problems because of the repellant? Lightbulb moment. Bring insect repellant if you are planning any outdoor activities. Which you should be, by the way.
9. Dinner Clothes – Alaska cruises still have a formal and semi-formal night, but overall, they are decidedly more casual than Caribbean cruises. You will see many, many jeans in the dining rooms at night. I think that’s partly because dressier clothes tend not to be as warm, and partly because people stay off the ship exploring until the last possible minute and come right to dinner. Either way, you won’t feel out of place if you decide to relax at dinner and be more casual than normal!
10. Camera – Pack your best camera. I know, I know. Phones are amazing these days. But do you really want to only have your phone when a bald eagle flies over your head? Or a glacier calves right in front of you? Or a whale breaches 10 decks below you? If there was ever a time to carry a nice camera, Alaska is it.
Do you have anything you bring to Alaska? Are you just thrilled that Alaska may be happening?! Share with us below!
Tammy Whiting is the owner of Storybook Destinations. Did you know Storybook Destinations offers a complimentary subscription to TouringPlans with qualified Disney and Universal bookings? Click here for a no-obligation quote on your next vacation!