If you’re reading this post, chances are that you’re planning a cruise to Alaska. Congratulations and choice well made! It is such a unique and stunning destination – unlike anywhere else we’ve cruised to before. But with such a wide range of temperatures from Seattle to Juneau, it’s understandably confusing deciding what to pack and how to keep your suitcase under 50lbs.
We recently returned from cruising the last frontier on the Norwegian Bliss and to be honest, I didn’t touch half of the outfits I packed. As such, I wanted to share my must-haves with you in the hopes that I can save you some space in your suitcase for souvenirs!
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TIP #1: The weather in Alaska can change quickly, so the overarching message behind this post is to layer up for you can easily peel off layers as the day goes on. I carried a small backpack that I would fold my jacket into
TIP #2: Book your excursions in advance and plan your outfits based on them. Flightseeing in Skagway will require different gear than hiking on a glacier in Juneau.
TIP #3: Search consignment stores and Poshmark for Winter clothes and accessories. You’ll be cruising Alaska in the Spring or Summer, so luckily cold weather gear is heavily discounted and easily found gently used.
TIP #4: Pack comfortable, casual looks to wear on sea days. Of all the cruises we’ve been on, our Alaskan cruise was hands-down the most casual. During sea days most cruisers wore sweats, tennis shoes, and long-sleeved tees because they are likely going inside to outside (for sight-seeing) and vice versa quite frequently. On Caribbean cruises I would live in bathing suit cover-ups but on Alaskan cruises, sweats are where its at.
ALASKA PACKING LIST:
WATERPROOF DOWN JACKET: I went back and forth over whether to bring my dressier wool coat and thank goodness I didn’t! Not only would it weigh down my luggage, but there was no reason I needed to dress up while out exploring Alaska. The Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (or a similar style) is the perfect amount of warmth without being too bulky. I made the call on purchasing this jacket days before the trip and it was a seriously life-saver against ALL of the elements. I wore it every day!
LIGHT, WATERPROOF HIKING BOOTS: While many people will suggest bringing tall rainboots, I would recommend opting for waterproof hiking boots instead. My personal favorite are the Sorel Cozy Carnival because they’re light as air and can be layered with camp socks for added warmth. These were the only shoes I wore off the ship and worked for glacier hiking, biking, and sight seeing. I found mine on Poshmark prior to the trip.
LAYERING T-SHIRTS: You likely already own a few long-sleeved tees that work perfectly layered under sweatshirts for an added punch of warmth. I brought a white and a black and white striped – B.P. at Nordstrom makes the BEST cheap tees – and swapped them in and out depending on the outfit.
LEGGINGS: Y’all! I didn’t wear pants ONCE on my Alaskan cruise. I didn’t even pack a pair. I lived in leggings and was oh-so-comfortable! My personal favorite are the Z by Zella leggings. They’re under $25, suck everything in, and are amazing quality.
BEANIES: Make sure to always bring along something that covers your head – be it a hat, beanie, or hooded jacket – because chances are HIGH that you’ll encounter rain. I chose fun pom beanies to add a pop of colorful to my outfits and so I could easily throw it into my bag when it started to heat up.
CAMP SOCKS: We cruised Alaska in early May when the temps are less mild than the Summer months, so chunky camp socks were the perfect additional layer to keep my feet and ankles warm.
TENNIS SHOES: This is self-explanatory, but tennis shoes were absolutely necessary for all the walking we did around the cruise ship plus strolling around Seattle if you choose to do so before your cruise. We spent two full days in Seattle prior to boarding the ship and we never once took a cab anywhere. We only walked or took the electric bikes!
ZOOM LENS/BINOCULARS: A regular point-and-shoot or a prime lens won’t cut it if you’re looking to capture the BEST images in Alaska. But I don’t suggest dumping a ton of money into an expensive camera you’re only planning on using for a week. Use a rental website such a LensRental.com to borrow the photography equipment necessary for your cruise. And be sure to pack a large Ziploc bag to keep the camera in so it can stay dry!
POLARIZED SUNGLASSES: When exploring Alaska, you’ll likely spot a ton of unique wildlife and you don’t want to miss out ob seeing orcas, salmon, halibut, or more because you don’t have the proper gear. Polarized sunnies cut the glare on the water, allowing you to see more of the marine life that thrives in this environment.
SMALL BACKPACK: Alaska has so many outdoor activities and you don’t want a purse weighing you down. If you’re planning on packing a camera, additional layers, water, etc., make sure to stay comfortable by opting for a backpack instead.
STRAWS: Alaska has stricter environmental guidelines than many other states. As such, many cruise lines have cut back on things like plastic straws. This is (obviously) personal preference, but if you enjoy your drink with a straw, be sure to pack a few.
FORMAL NIGHTS: We cruised Norwegian so there weren’t any dedicated formal nights but if your cruise line doesn’t offer freestyle dining, I would suggest packing a couple maxi dresses and a pair of neutral heels.
Stay tuned for my excursion suggestions coming soon to the blog!