Complete Alaska Cruise Packing Guide (2021)

From toiletries, to outfits, and everything in between, we detail our Complete Alaska Cruise Packing Guide to help eliminate your stress.

You’ve been on many cruises before and think you have mastered packing. So did we! But, packing for an Alaskan cruise is altogether different than what you would typically pack for a Caribbean cruise. From toiletries to outfits, and everything in between, we detail what we pack for our trips in this Complete Alaska Cruise Packing Guide to help eliminate your pre-cruise stress. Even if you are a veteran cruiser, you might find a few additional items that will be helpful on your next cruise.

Admittedly, we do tend to be over-packers. So, we were able to cut our original list back a bit for our second Alaskan cruise in 2018. Hopefully, our list will help you figure out your essential items and condense your packing list to reduce extra luggage fees from your airline.

Related Post: Alaska Cruise Planning Guide

Alaska Cruise Packing Guide

Alaska Cruise Basics

Alaska is one of the top cruise destinations. However, Alaska is a seasonal cruise port. This means that you will only be able to cruise to Alaska during select months of the year. The Alaskan cruise season generally runs from late April/early May to September. During this timeframe, there will be variations in temperature, precipitation, and abundance of wildlife.

You should consider factors like weather, price, and crowds to determine the Best Time of Year for an Alaskan cruise. Based on the average temperatures, rainfall amounts, hours of daylight, and wildlife sightings, the “best” time of year to go on an Alaskan Cruise is the month of July. However, with this optimal weather comes increased crowds and increased price. 

Thus, the time of year you choose to cruise to Alaska will dictate to some degree what items you will need to include on your Alaska cruise packing list. The type of excursions you book should also factor into what you pack. Most importantly, layers and rain gear are essential! 

What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

Our Alaska Cruise Packing Guide

Scroll Down to Get Our Downloadable Alaska Cruise Packing List

Toiletries

Depending on your travel preferences, you may not wish to bring along as many toiletries as we do. So, feel free to pick and choose from this list as desired. Many cruise lines do provide soaps and shampoos that can save you some space (and weight) in your luggage. However, we still choose to bring our own.

Do be sure to bring all medications, both over the counter and prescribed. Even though you are visiting Alaska, you will still want to pack sunscreen and sunglasses. The sun reflecting off the snow and ice can be quite strong. We also recommend Downy wrinkle release to help keep your clothes as wrinkle-free as possible. Irons and steamers are NOT allowed on cruise ships.

Now more than ever, you will also want to help prevent the spread of germs to avoid getting sick on your vacation. Thus, you can never have enough hand sanitizer. In 2021, you might also want to pack some disinfectant wipes and/or Lysol disinfectant spray to sanitize your cabin and other high traffic touchpoints.

Related Post: Top Alaska Shore Excursions

Clothing

Our Alaska cruise packing guide outlines all the potential clothing items you will want to pack for your next cruise vacation. Regardless of travel destination, we usually group outfits into daytime use and nighttime use. For a typical 7-day cruise with a pre-cruise hotel stay, we usually plan eight daytime and eight nighttime outfits, choosing items that can be re-purposed for a couple uses.

Alaska Cruise Packing Guide

When packing for Alaska, you want to remember LAYERS! You will want to be prepared for rain and temperature swings of 25 degrees or more in a given day.

For daytime outfits, it wouldn’t hurt to pack a pair of capris or shorts for the unseasonably warm day or for lounging around the ship, but you will want mostly long pants. For shirts, you will want a combination of short sleeve and long sleeve, perhaps some thermal or moisture-wicking. You will also want some combination of sweaters, sweatshirts, vest, or fleece jacket to layer over these shirts if needed.

In terms of outerwear, a packable raincoat to layer over the above mentioned items or a 3-in-1 coat are essential. The odds are that it will rain at least one of the days that your are in port. We only used our gloves and earmuffs/hats for one early morning on our cruise, but we would recommend packing a pair just in case.

For nighttime outfits, you will want to pack business casual type outfits. Think khakis and collared shirts for men and dress pants, dressy jeans, or casual dresses for woman. Alaskan cruises are more casual overall, but many cruise lines do still have “formal” or “evening chic” nights where you can feel fancy if you choose. We like to participate, so we always pack formal dresses with heels and a suit with dress shirt/tie combinations. Women should also pack a cardigan or pashmina as it can be a bit cool at night even on the ship.

Our footwear collection for an Alaskan cruise was a bit more extensive versus a Caribbean cruise. Generally speaking, you will want casual shoes for daytime use and dressier shoes for nighttime use. For daytime use, you will definitely want a pair of sneakers or comfortable walking shoes and waterproof shoes or boots. Some options include Sperry duck boots, Merrell hiking shoes, or Hunter rain boots. I did pack a pair of Ugg boots for our first Alaskan cruise, but they were not really necessary.

What to Pack for an Alaskan Cruise

Of course, you should consider how you are going to be spending your days ashore when packing for your cruise. If you have shore excursions planned, like sightseeing tours, zip lines, or glacier hikes, you will want to pack outfits to fit those requirements.

Of note, you should still pack a bathing suit for your Alaskan cruise. There are hot tubs and indoor pools onboard the ship, as well as the spa and thermal suites on many cruise lines. You might even get lucky enough with the weather to enjoy the outdoor pools!

Related Post: Top Alaska Cruise Tips

Other Useful Items

Besides the necessary travel docs and passports, we have accumulated a list over the years of “other” items that we find essential for a cruise to any destination. Many of these products can be purchased fairly inexpensively on Amazon or at your local Target or Walmart.

Given that cruise ship cabins are small, you will want to maximize the spaceMagnets (We use the 40 lb. ones) come in handy for hanging hats, day bags, and other items in your cruise cabin. Additionally, we use an over the door shoe organizer, not for shoes, but rather to store toiletries and other small items to free up counter space.

Norwegian Encore Cruise Review

A luggage scale will help ensure you are not over your airline’s weight limit on the return trip home. Further, a Yeti water bottle will help to keep a cold drink cold or a hot drink hot for hours. This will definitely be useful to keep your coffee or hot chocolate warm on those early Alaskan mornings.

Cruise luggage tags are great items to protect those paper cruise tags on your suitcases, as lanyards or a cell phone pocket are equally as important to store and carry your room key card. Likewise, ziploc bags are great for spill-proofing or water protection, while trash bags are handy to store dirty laundry over the course of the week.

Alaska Cruise Packing Guide

Related Post: Norwegian Bliss Alaskan Cruise Review

Electronics

Admittedly, we pack much more in this category than most cruisers. So, our suggestion is to pick and choose your essential devices whether they be cellphones, laptops, tablets, or cameras. Once you decide which gadgets you plan to take, you will find one of these cord organizers very helpful to keep all the chargers in one convenient location.

Speaking of all these electronics, a mobile power charger is essential as outlets are very limited in cruise cabins. You might also want to consider a portable power pack to keep your devices charged when going ashore. In Alaska, binoculars are also a great accessory. We just purchased a cheap pair and found them sufficient.

Alaska Cruise Packing List

Packing for a vacation shouldn’t be stressful. So, feel free to download a copy of our complete Alaska cruise packing list to use as a check list while packing for your Alaskan Cruise.

Related Post: Do I Need a Passport to Go on a Cruise?

Comments

Have you traveled to Alaska? Are there any items on your packing list that we have forgotten? Let us know what items are on the top of your Alaska Cruise Packing Guide.

Heidi is a physical therapist by profession, cruise enthusiast at heart, and Princess all the time! She is a self-confessed thrill seeker, obsessive planner, and over-packer. She is always looking for the latest and greatest adventures onboard and ashore, enjoys researching top things to do in ports of call, and loves dressing up for formal nights.
Heidi
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54 comments on Complete Alaska Cruise Packing Guide (2021)

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  1. Great packing suggestions! Hopefully someday we can take an Alaskan cruise and will keep this packing list handy!

      It’s a ridiculous packing list. You can easily take one third of what is listed and be perfectly acceptable. Who the hey packs 16 pairs of underwear? Trust me, not even astronauts going to Space Station. Pack no more than 4 and wash them with regular soap every day when you shower – dry them in the closet on a hanger if you are shy about leaving them in the bathroom to dry. Who packs 2 pairs of gloves for each person??? CRAZY. If you live in cold weather, you’d know only one pair is perfectly fine. 3 pajamas? WHY? 11 pairs of shoes? DUMB. Rick Steves would kick her out of his tour group. Seriously, don’t follow this list. It’s ridiculous.

        I was tempted to disagree with you Mayra until I read that they packed 4 suitcases with 170 lbs of luggage. That seems a little excessive for a party of two. We will be sailing to Alaska in a week and plan on taking one larger suitcase for our two children and two carry ons for me and DH. Three suitcases total. Doesn’t leave a lot of room for all those shows that’s for sure!

        REALLY! i THINK YOUR “CUT AND DRIED” COMMENTS WENT ACROSS THE METER BOARD TO RUDE AND PREACHY. THIS ARTICLE WAS MEANT TO ASSIST AND INSPIRE, EVERYONE CAN TAKE ANY OF IT OR NOT, NO NEED TO SET THE ANGRY TONE.

          By you saying, “no need to set the angry tone”, you do realize that by posting in all caps is pretty angry and aggressive. Oh, and chill with the caps lock sis.

    I have never been on a cruise much less one to Alaska! Those are good recommendations to take and what you will not need. Might as well save some of that overweight luggage fee to spend on stiff to bring home as gifts or mementos.

      We are going to on our Alaska cruise in 3 days, can’t wait. I’ve packed close to your list. We’ll see how it goes!!!

    I would love to go on an Alaskan cruise, I bet it would be so beautiful to see the landscapes of Alaska from both ship and land. Thank you for the packing suggestions.

    This is a great post. I went on an Alaskan cruise last year, and it was great. You really do need to pack accordingly when you head to a place like Alaska.

    I’d love to do one of these some day. I’ll have to take your advice when it comes to packing because I’ve never gone on a cruise like that!

    Thanks for this detailed list! I’m not sure I ever want to go on a cruise though I would love to go on a European river cruise.

    Wow! This is an amazing packing list! Thank you very much for the tips! Our family will definitely try to do an Alaskan cruise and your lists will come in handy! 🙂

    Alaska is one of my favorite places to cruise to! This is very similar to our list when we cruise to Alaska.

    Alaska is on my list of places to see. Thank you for this awesome and detailed packing list!

    Great list! I have been wanting to go to Alaska, maybe on a cruise. Thanks for the guide!

    This list will be so handy for many! Planning on going on a cruise, will definitely use this. Thanks for a great post.

    Now this is definitely some awesome advice for a cruise – will make use of it once we do have one.

    I have never been on a cruise of any sort but I absolutely love your list of what to pack on the cruise

    I have never been on a cruise but I have always wanted to go so badly. An Alaskan cruise sounds like so much fun and you sound like you have everything set for your trip!

    Such a great packing list! I don’t know that I’ll be taking a cruise to Alaska anytime soon, but I really love these suggestions as a reference!

    What a nice idea to write out your packing list. I’m so bad at over packing. Maybe if I made a list like this and noted what I didn’t use I would stop taking too much stuff on my trips.

    Alaska, how cool to travel there! I’ve never been, but thanks for the tips! In case I do go, I’d be very well prepared.

      GLad you found the post useful Pickett Family. Definitely get out there and explore Alaska. It is a great family vacation, especially when you travel by cruise ship. Appreciate the comment. Thanks for reading.

    All I can tell you for an Alaskan trip is have a great time. I’m staying here where its warmer. Much warmer! I’m definitely not a person for cold temperatures. brrrrrrrrrrrrr just thinking about it makes me shiver!

      LOL Dolly. Alaska is certainly a beautiful place to visit, but honestly it is not too cold when you travel in the summer. We got lucky with some great weather, so it was unseasonable warm. Thanks for the comment!

    which did you wear more your uggs or your hunter boots? I am going on this cruise in august. I excited and want to start shopping around for what i need!

      Thanks Claire for the comment. The wife only wore the uggs one day, during our glacier excursion, and those were not necessary as the tour company provide adequate footwear. Pack the hunter boots! Those were essential given the rainy weather. You can always pack some sock liners in case it is cold. Have a great cruise!

        Thank you for answering that! We are heading to Alaska (cruise & land) in August and I wasn’t sure about the Hunter boots (in replacement of or in addition to the Uggs) because they are so bulky to pack! Glad to hear that it’s worth it to take them ………

        regarding pants – would running pants/leggings (nylon/polyester) be better than jeans? Concerned about jeans taking so long to dry & I was afraid I couldn’t get as many wears out of them.

        thank you for putting together such a helpful list!

          HI Cindy. Sorry for missing this message. We packed Jeans as well as some hiking pants which came in handy. These were lightweight, nylon material that are “weather proof”. You can get them at LL Bean or other outdoors stores. Those really came in handy. My husband also wore some more traditional snow pants for the glacier tour, but it really wasn’t necessary. We suggest both a pair of jeans and a pair of versatile all weather pants. Thanks for reading and appreciate the kind words about the list. We can’t wait to get back to Alaska!

    Soooo glad I found this post. I can’t wait for my trip to Alaska!

      Thanks Carol for the comment. We are glad you found the list too! When do you sail to Alaska? If you have any questions, just let us know. Have a great trip!

      Thanks Carol for the comment. We are glad you found the list too! When do you sail to Alaska? We can’t wait to get back there as it is an amazing place to visit. Happy Cruising.

    My 12 year old son and I are going on our very first Alaskan cruise in 4 weeks!! So glad I found this list…

    Awesome list! We are headed to Alaska in 3 1/2 weeks for the first time ever! So excited! I’ve copied this list to help with our packing! Thanks for all the details!

      Hi Tricia, thanks for the comment. Glad you found the list useful. We are all about the details! We are a bit crazy. Would love to hear about your cruise. Which ship are you sailing on?

    We are going on an Alaska cruise next week, so this list is very welcome. I’ve been on Caribbean cruises, so packing for Alaska will be different in terms of clothing but the cruise “essentials” are about the same.

    This is great! My husband and I are going on our Honeymoon trip to Alaska in a couple weeks and couldn’t be more excited. I’m happy to have a packing list to compare mine too 🙂

      HI Amanda. Congrats to you and your husband. An Alaskan cruise is a great honeymoon. We would love to hear how your list compares to ours. Appreciate you reading the post and leaving a comment. Have a great cruise!

    Nice list! Would be helpful to know how long your cruise was – or did I miss that?

      Hi LJ, thanks for the comment. Glad you found the list useful. We did a seven night Alaskan cruise, departing from Seattle. We did a pre-cruise stay the night before, so a total of 8 nights. When is your Alaskan cruise. Appreciate you reading the post.

    This was most helpful. Some sites list the basics but not the quantities. I especially like the recommendation for the Belkin outlet…great find. We go in september and we tend to pack a lot. I’d rather not have to do laundry during our cruise. Also we will be going on to Vancouver and Victoria afterwards so will need clothes for that too.

    One question…did you find the ship chilly like in the dining room, performances, etc? Or will a 3/4 sleeve Tee be enough onboard? We also always take a flash light, nite light,

      Hi Gina, Thanks for reading and the comment. We go a bit overboard when it comes to packing for our cruise. Good idea about adding a flash light-we actually just started bring a batter operated nightlite and a compact room freshener. We did not find the ship to be cold. We packed night time clothes we normally wear on a Caribbean cruise and found the temperature onboard to be just right. The wife did bring two light cardigans to wear in case she needed them, but she never broke them out. Happy cruising.

    We are heading to Alaska on the Solstice this Friday and am using your list. I always overpack so its great to have a guide. I also sent it to my son who is meeting us in Seattle and he tends to do everything last minute so I hope it helps him to remember things without his mom harassing him. Did you wear your 3 in 1 coat on the ship or was it mainly for the excursions? Thanks!

    Hi,

    Thank you for posting your list as a guideline. We are gong to Alaska next May on the Solstice. We are going on the 9-day with a 3-day stay afterward in Seattle. I have read to pack and dress in layers, so I am working on my list already. How dress were the formal nights? What did you like best about the Solstice? I have never been on a cruise before, nor been to Alaska. Also, did you do some of the excursions? I’m not really into “touristy” things so much, but do want to go whale watching.

    Thank you,
    Margie

    Thanks so much for your list. Do you consider formal for women a long dress or cocktail dress? and did you find heels a pain with all the walking on the ship? Do you have temperature control in your room? I did not see robes listed. Do you need layers while on the ship or just excursions? I like a nice sweater or shrug with a cocktail dress but I don’t want to be sweltering at the dinner table or at a show! I am a notorious overpacker. and can’t wait til our cruise in September!

      I’m concerned about temperature control especially in my room as I like it cold.

    It’s extremely convenient and I’m not going until next September of 2017. In the meantime, I am reading everything I get my hands on! Thank you so much.

    You were rude in your comments. Typing in all capital letters is equivalent to screaming.

    We pack for one week (going for 3 weeks) and laundry is $7 per day…so we send it out and it comes back ready to wear. We will ea bring one medium suitcase (2 of us) and a third med suitcase for cold/rainy gear (jackets, hoodies, gaiters, gloves, beanies, vests (must bring a vest!) workout clothes, water bottles, hiking and riding clothes, etc…bug spray and sunscreen go here. We both carry our backpacks and small carry on with thing you can’t check. And we also each carry a bottle of wine (preferably bubbles) on board for disembark and gala nights. It helps we come from CO, so know about layering and waterproof stuff.

    Thank you for the great and detailed packing list! My family of 4 is heading to Alaska on Thursday! I will be adding and deleting to my suitcase in the morning! Thanks again for the tips!

    An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who was conducting
    a little research on this. And he actually bought me dinner simply because I stumbled upon it
    for him… lol. So let me reword this…. Thanks for the meal!!
    But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this topic here on your internet site.

    Thanks for your list! We will be going on a 14 day cruise from June 21, til July 5th, 2020, land and train trip from Vancouver, BC to Fairbanks. So it looks like we will have to pack for all kinds of weather.

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