Alaska Cruise Packing List: A Complete Guide To Packing For Your Alaskan Adventure

Alaska, oh Alaska, with your beautiful glaciers, impressive mountains and wild animals, how can we enjoy your wonders to the fullest if we’re all stressed out about packing? An Alaska Cruise Packing List can be a bit overwhelming to put together if you’re not used to a port-to-port vacation. 

Well, not everyone is born a master of cruise ship packing. It takes a lot of planning and prepping to make sure you don’t leave anything essential at home. An example: your cruise passport (yes, you do need it for open-loop cruises!).

That’s what we’re here for - to give you a complete guide on what to pack for an Alaska cruise in checklist form and tips on how to avoid overpacking like a pro.

The Must-Haves For Your Alaska Cruise Packing List

Every holiday has its list of travel essentials. Depending on your itinerary and personal preference, these essentials vary. But overall, the categories of essentials you need should include clothing, toiletries, electronics, emergency items, and travel documents/personal items.

Personal items/travel documents to bring on board

  1. Valid passport to use when reentering your country of origin after visiting foreign ports
  2. ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) or eTA (Electronic Travel Authorization) - UK travellers need these to enter the US.
  3. Personal ID/driver’s licence 
  4. Required cruise documents, such as service and room reservation receipts
  5. Travel insurance information
  6. Credit cards and cash
  7. Personal medications
  8. A copy of your contact information in case of emergency
  9. A digital copy of your IDs in case you forget them in your room

Don’t Forget These Emergency Items

  1. First-aid kit
  2. Medications for seasickness, food poisoning, mild pain, allergy and cold
  3. Emergency contact list
  4. Flashlight

The Daypack For Both The Sea And The Shore

Alaska Cruise Packing List - CabinZero

The right backpack adds extra comfort to your Alaska cruise adventure. Photo credit: Sally Stewart / @Salinsta28

Look for a backpack that is large enough to fit all your essentials without cramping. Depending on your trip length, you can pick a backpack with the following sizes:

28L

  • perfect for a 2-3 night cruise
  • can be used as an addition to your suitcase for essential items

36L

  • for a short cruise, you may only need to bring only 1 42L backpack and no suitcase needed
  • for a longer cruise, it can be used as an addition to your suitcase for essential items

44L

  • for a short to moderate cruise, you may only need to bring only 1 42L backpack and no suitcase needed
  • for a longer cruise, it can be used as an addition to your suitcase for essential items

Then take comfort into account by looking for backpacks with soft and well-padded straps. They won’t cause pain while taking part in exciting shore excursions.

Water-resistant quality is also important. Look for backpacks with a good water-resistant coating to protect your belongings from the sudden rain of Alaska or a wet activity such as whale-watching.

CabinZero’s classic lineup is a good place to start, with plenty of sizes, versatile design, a decent number of compartments and all the protective features needed for a hassle-free Alaska cruise.

Clothes To Pack For Alaska

What many first-time port-hoppers struggle with the most when packing for Alaska is whether to bring warm or winter clothes. When you hear “Alaska”, you might think you need the thickest and warmest items you have in your closet.

But little did you know, while Alaska is known for its cold temperature, it’s not always freezing up there. In the summer months, it can reach up to 26 degrees Celsius in some parts of the state. There’s also a clear difference between day and night temperature. Sometimes, it even rains heavily.

So, depending on your itinerary, you will need to bring different items. The key here is to be versatile

Another thing to keep in mind is the activities you’re going to be doing. Apart from clothes for lounging around the cruise ship, plan your excursion wardrobe carefully. 

Alaska Cruise Packing List - CabinZero

Think of the weather and versatility when packing for Alaska. Photo credit: Jagoda Rożen / @agatarozen

CabinZero’s advice: Layering is your best friend. Make sure you bring clothes that can be worn on their own as well as with other pieces to accommodate the changing weather. 

For example, you can wear a long-sleeve thermal top with denim bottoms in the morning when it’s warm. At night, throw on a fleece-lined jacket and a beanie to keep warm. You can also wear fleece-lined leggings either on their own or underneath skirts. 

Besides the heat factor, consider water-proof materials as well. If you can’t find clothes with both of these qualities, stick to warm items. Then you can find other ways to waterproof yourself, such as wearing a rain poncho.

Tops

  1. Thermal short-sleeve t-shirt: opt for basic colours for easy outfit mix-and-match. 
  2. Thermal long-sleeve t-shirt
  3. Sweater or hoodie: fleece-lined ones can keep you warm better. To be able to layer sweaters and hoodies over shirts, the trick is to choose ones that are one or two sizes larger. This way, you won’t feel your inner layers bunched up weirdly. It looks more stylish, too.
  4. Button-down shirt: silk is thin but quite a great warmth provider. A simple white silk shirt can be dressed up or down/layered or not layered. 
  5. Tank top for extra warmth (optional)

      Bottoms

      1. Jeans: opt for thick denim so you don’t have to wash them so frequently. 
      2. Casual pants: a more lightweight option than jeans for lounging on the ship
      3. Dress pants for formal nights: if your casual pants are black and have a basic cut, you can also dress them up for a more formal look instead of bringing an extra formal pair.
    1. Fleece-lined leggings or long johns
      1. Athletic pants (optional) for working out 
      2. Short skirts and/or long skirts: opt for woollen ones to stay warm. 

      Footwear

      1. Sandals, flip-flops, or slippers for walking around the ship
      2. Trainers: opt for ones that are sturdy and have a padded collar for extra comfort since you’re going to be walking quite a lot
      3. Heels or formal dress shoes (optional) if you want to glam up for formal dinner nights

      How Many Pairs Of Shoes Should You Take On A Cruise? We say the good number is no more than 3 pairs of shoes: one for water activities and deck pool, one for exploring ports and decks, and one for formal nights. You can also waterproof your shoes with spray for extra protection (no one enjoys wet feet during the holiday).

      Undergarments (base layer)

      1. Underwear: consider packing thermal and quick-drying materials. 
      2. Sports Bras to wear for outdoor sporty excursions
        1. Wool socks
        2. Pyjamas: it gets cold at night, so you either layer up your sleepwear or opt for fleece-lined pyjamas
        3. Protective shorts (optional) if you wear skirts or dresses because it can be quite windy on deck
        4. Stockings (optional) to layer underneath your pants, skirts or dresses for warmth as well as coverage.

          Activity-related clothing

          1. Waterproof hiking clothes and boots if you plan to go hiking
          2. Swimsuits for indoor pools
          3. Raincoats/ponchos for when the whale-watching session gets “a bit” wet
          4. Fishing gloves for cold weather if you plan to go fishing

          Outerwear (Top layer)

          1. Waterproof jacket
          2. Fleece-lined or padded jacket
          3. Hat and gloves
          4. Scarf
          5. Earmuffs 
          6. Face mask
          7. Puffer vest or coat
          8. Sunglasses

          Alaska Cruise Packing List - CabinZero

          Let’s start packing your Alaska cruise adventure. Photo by Maridav - stock.adobe.com

          Can You Wear Jeans To Dinner On An Alaskan Cruise?

          Yes, you can. According to the Royal Cabberian and Norwegian Cruise Line dress code guidelines, jeans are considered casual or smart casual and are fine for upscale speciality restaurants and buffets.

          However, the jeans should not be overly faded or ripped, or you will be denied entry. As Disney cruise lines put it, “dress-casual attire with a polished look, such as dress pants, jeans in good condition, collared shirts, dressy tops and lifestyle shoes” is allowed.

          That said, the dress code on cruises has increasingly become relaxed, especially on Alaskan cruises, where you may spend more time outdoors than inside. So you don’t have to be stressed about what to wear on a cruise formal night.

          But what if you love dressing up to the nine for some fun? Do it, and there’s no one judging. It’s about what comfort and confidence mean for you, after all.

          Can You Wear Shorts On An Alaskan Cruise?

          Yes, but you should bring about one or two shorts only as warmer days are the exception rather than the norm. Even in summer, evenings and excursions near glaciers can get chilly. You won’t likely wear them that often (except maybe on deck or by the pool). Plus, you can’t wear them on formal nights.

          Should I Bring A Bathing Suit On An Alaskan Cruise?

          Yes, there are many reasons to bring one. Regardless of destination, most cruise ships have heated pools and hot tubs that you can enjoy year-round. If you're lucky enough to experience sunny days, a swimsuit would be perfect for lounging on the sundeck or even a quick dip in the (slightly chilly) ocean, depending on your tolerance. Consider bringing quick-drying clothes like board shorts and a rashguard if you're interested in water activities on shore excursions.

          Toiletries For Alaska Cruise Vacation

          Alaska Cruise Packing List - CabinZero

          Bring plenty of your personal hygiene items as they are expensive on board. Photo by Allen.G - stock.adobe.com

          CabinZero’s advice: Make sure everything is leak-proof before packing. Also, consider simplifying your routine and narrowing down your list of toiletries. 

          The key is to bring just what you need, not a whole big thing that you only need a small part of. Ask yourself, “Do I really need that 36-colour eyeshadow palette when I’m just going to be using three shades?” See if there are travel-friendly alternatives.

          1. Sunscreen: Don’t let the cold temperature of Alaska fool you into thinking the sun is taking a break! UV rays can still be strong, especially when reflecting off the water.
            1. Lip balm
            2. Moisturiser and lotion: opt for travel-sized if possible.
            3. Skincare products (cleanser, makeup remover, toner, serum, skin oil, makeup wipes/cotton pads, cream, treatment products): simplify your routine to just a few essential products if possible.
            4. Makeup products (foundation, concealer, lipsticks, eyeshadow palette, blush and contour palette): bring only essentials and consider de-potting large products into travel-sized containers
              1. Travel-size shampoo and conditioner
              2. Deodorant
              3. Toothpaste and toothbrush
              4. Razor and shaving cream
              5. Hygiene products such as pads, tampons, or contact lens solution
                1. Sanitiser
                2. Tissue paper
                3. Bathrobe (if there’s space)
                  1. Towels
                  2. Comb or brush  
                  3. Shower cap (optional)

                    Electronics You Might Need For Alaska

                    Alaska Cruise Packing List - CabinZero

                    Don’t forget to check with the cruise line before packing your trusty electronics. Photo by Janice - stock.adobe.com

                    Before you dive into a packing list of electronics for your dream Alaska cruise holiday, check with your cruise line if lithium batteries are allowed, how to pack items with lithium batteries, and whether you need a travel adapter.

                    If you’re a digital nomad, you should also be mindful of the cruise ship’s internet availability. Not all connectivity options are free or fast enough to do your work. If that’s a concern to you, consider bringing a travel router on board. 

                    Other than that, here are electronic essentials you can pack:

                    • Smartphone
                    • Phone charger
                    • Camera (if needed), camera charger, memory card, and lenses
                    • Tripod (if needed)
                    • Portable charger or power bank
                    • Binoculars for spotting wildlife from afar (optional)
                    • Waterproof phone case or bag 
                    • Travel adapter (if needed)
                    • Bluetooth speaker (optional)
                    • Laptop and charger (if needed)
                    • Earphones/headphones and charger
                    • Portable fan or mini humidifier (if needed)
                    • Bluetooth tracker (if needed)

                    CabinZero’s advice: back up any important information before you go, and use a Bluetooth tracker for your prized possessions. 

                    How To Not Overpack For An Alaska Cruise: Useful Packing Tips

                    Apart from what to pack, you also need to go over how to pack efficiently and smartly. Let’s face it, shoving everything on your packing list mindlessly into one giant bag kind of defeats the purpose of having an Alaska cruise packing list in the first place…which is to be organised. 

                    There are plenty of factors that play into a well-packed trip. It starts with getting the right backpack, then the right packing techniques, and eventually, how to “filter” your packing list to avoid overpacking.  

                    Use Space-Saving Packing Techniques

                  1. Roll your clothes
                  2. You can fold a shirt as small as you want, and it still won’t be as good as a rolled-up one. Why? Because rolling clothes gives you more freedom of how to stack them up - vertically or horizontally, or even squeezing into the space inside your shoes. Also, you won’t get that weird crease down the middle of your favourite shirt if you roll instead of folding. 

                  3. Use packing cubes
                  4. Imagine you open your backpack and discover your shampoo has been tipped over and is now leaking all over your towels. Or, your shoes have left dirty marks all over your dress. 

                    You can prevent this from happening if you use packing cubes. They keep essentials separate and organised while you move around. A backpack that comes with packing cubes can also give you a good idea of how much stuff you can fit. 

                    Build A Capsule Wardrobe

                    Alaska Cruise Packing List - CabinZero

                    Be mindful of the icy cold when packing your Alaskan wardrobe. Photo by supertramp8 - stock.adobe.com

                    People often overpack because they don’t think about versatility, especially when it comes to their clothes. Instead of asking what five tops go with these five bottoms, try thinking about how many outfits you can make out of a top. 

                    For example, it’s not as cold in the morning as it is at night in Alaska. A skirt and sweater are a good day look. Make it warmer by adding a button-up as the base layer with the collar outside the neckline of the sweater to wear at night. Add some pieces of jewellery to spice things up. 

                    Stick To The Essentials

                    Essentials are things you cannot leave for a trip without. They are things you need for comfort and safety while travelling. To see if an item is truly essential, ask yourself, “Can I get in trouble if I leave this at home?”. 

                    If you have no room left in your toiletries bag for a roll of toilet paper and a tube of toothpaste, leave them at home. You can just buy them at your destination, or they’re already provided by the cruise line. Last but not least, leave some extra space in your luggage, as you might want to bring back some Alaskan mementos.

                    Make Use Of the Cruise’s Facilities

                    Most cruise lines offer laundry services for a fee. Pack enough clothes for your trip duration, but don't feel pressured to bring a new outfit for every day. They may or may not provide bathrobes and slippers in your cabin. Check with the cruise line beforehand to avoid packing unnecessary items.

                    Have Fun With Your Alaska Cruise Packing List

                    It’s never easy to curate a packing list, especially for a cruise trip to Alaska. But don’t stress out. 

                    Think in categories - clothing, toiletries, electronics, travel documents and emergency items. Leave what isn't really needed for comfort or safety. Use smart packing techniques. Make sure you’re keeping everything related strictly to Alaska, its weather, the journey, and the activities. 

                    And ahoy, it’s done in no time!

                    If you find this article useful, don’t forget to leave us a comment or reach out to us via social media. We’d love to hear about your thrilling port-to-port adventures. 

                    Nguyen Tran Gia Khanh


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