Knowing what to pack for an Alaska cruise can be quite a task. Unlike sunshine destinations such as Florida and California, the most northerly US state is in a league of its own when it comes to climate. But cooler temperatures aside, the promise of incredible scenery and wildlife never far away make this a travel experience well worth taking.

Luckily, help is at hand when it comes to making those all-important preparations. We’ve booked it, done it, and returned with an Alaska cruise packing list that should cover all bases. Time to get out your suitcase…

What clothing should I pack for an Alaska cruise?


Let’s start from the bottom up. Selecting the right footwear for your cruise to Alaska can make all the difference; whether you’re planning on exploring ports of call on foot, or have some wilder adventures up your sleeve, the correct shoes are crucial.

It’s fair to say that your flip-flops and sliders can well and truly be left at home, unless a particularly warm spell is on the forecast. The summer average temperature in Alaska reaches the mid-20s, but the rest of the year, it hovers around the mid-teens. But bear in mind that Alaska is HUGE, so expect some pretty extreme regional variations.

Anyway, back to the footwear. Sturdy shoes are the order of the day so you can really make the most of your time there. Whether you’re exploring the quaint streets of Juneau or venturing out on a glacier walk, a good sole will go a long way.

Waterproof walking boots or shoes are also a good idea, especially if you’ve got your eye on a scenic hike where you want your feet to stay dry and warm.

Then, of course, there’s your time on board. Invest in a pair of deck shoes (or ‘cruise shoes’ as we like to call them) – sturdy, comfortable, and with good grip, they’ll be perfect for treading around the ship and nipping out on deck to take in those incredible panoramas.

Pro-tip: Break in any new shoes before you cruise – ’cause blisters aren’t the souvenirs we’re after!

What to pack for an Alaska cruise
Packing the right items is essential whether you’re on board an Alaska cruise, or on shore.


Now we’ve sorted your feet, it’s time to think about the rest of your wardrobe. Alaska’s weather is as unpredictable as it is beautiful; one moment it’s sunshine and blue skies, then, surprise! It’s a cool mist with a hint of drizzle. This is where some perfectly planned layers come in useful.

We’d recommend taking a three-layer approach when choosing what to pack for an Alaska cruise, as this should cover pretty much every eventuality.

  • Base layers: Think thermal and moisture-wicking fabrics that will keep you warm and dry.
  • Mid-layers: Cosy fleeces or woolly sweaters are ideal for enjoying for those crisp mornings on deck and ashore.
  • Outer layers: A waterproof and windproof jacket is a must (bonus points if it’s breathable, too).

Now, let’s talk trousers. 

Waterproof and windproof trousers should be part and parcel of your Alaska packing list. Choose a pair that will fend off unexpected sprays while you’re whale-watching or guard against the breeze as you stroll around your ports of call.

And while you’re at it, some insulated legwear won’t go amiss. Layer them under the waterproof trousers you’ve already packed or wear them on their own – you’ll be thankful for them if the temperature drops!

Should the warm sunshine show its face, a pair of convertible trousers will be an absolute blessing. Being able to zip off the lower part of the leg will help you transform from toasty to cool in seconds – they are a handy space-saver in your luggage as well, making them a two-in-one dream for the practical traveller.

Accessories for your Alaska packing list

In Alaska, it’s fair to say that every moment is a Kodak moment (or should that be Instagram?!) It’s important to take a step back and appreciate the exceptional scenery that lies before you, but if you want to immortalise it for years to come, you’re going to need some gadgets.

Whether you’re a pro photographer with a DSLR or you’re making magic with your smartphone camera, having your device ready is key. Alaska is effortlessly photogenic, and you’ll want to snap away from dawn till dusk. Remember, the perfect shot waits for no one! And hey, a power bank might just be your best friend to keep that smartphone camera clicking for hours and hours.

And then, there are the binoculars, which are truly, your ticket to an intimate view of Alaska’s untouched beauty. Spot a distant whale or watch an eagle soar high with clarity and closeness – It’s like having front-row seats to nature’s best show. Some cruise lines will include binoculars in your cabin, but don’t take it as a given – do your research beforehand and add them to your list of what to pack for an Alaska cruise if necessary.

Binoculars may be included on your Alaska cruise – find out before you sail!

Don’t forget your toiletries!

Believe it or not, you’ll also have to give your toiletry collection some consideration preparing for your Alaska cruise. 

Alaska’s crisp air is refreshing, but it can be a tad drying for your skin. A good, hydrating moisturiser will be your best friend, keeping your skin in top condition, even as the mercury tumbles.

A common misconception is that the cooler climate means no sun damage, which is certainly not the case. In fact, the sun reflecting off glaciers can be pretty strong, so we’d recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen to help keep those harmful rays at bay. Don’t forget your lips, either – pop a lip balm with SPF in your bag and you’ll be ready for a day of adventures on shore.

Not booked your Alaska cruise yet? What are you waiting for?! Take a look at these Alaskan cruise itineraries and let your holiday countdown begin.

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