What to Pack for an Alaska Cruise: Full List

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Planning an Alaska cruise but not sure what to pack? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with a cruise packing list of over 50 essential items to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable trip. 

Even the most passionate cruisers will find an Alaska cruise totally different from any other cruise they have experienced. We take you through the most important items to pack for a cruise to Alaska so you’ll be fully prepared for the changeable weather, amazing glaciers and incredible wildlife of the 49th State.

Alaska is breathtaking; the air is crisp and the scenery is incredibly beautiful. Taking an Alaska cruise is one of the best ways to soak in the scenery of this incredible place, while still having the cozy home comforts of the cruise ship. 

Due to the harsh winter weather and sub-zero temperatures in winter, the Alaska cruise season is a short one, usually from late April to September but even in these “summer” months, you’ll still need to pack appropriately for warmth.

Packing for an Alaska cruise can be a challenge. Usually, cruises are associated with days basking in the sun, but Alaska goes hand-in-hand with snow and freezing cold weather. You will need to pack your suitcase with some clothes for cold outdoor excursions AND sunny days during your Alaska cruise. 

Just to make sure you have everything you need, here’s our complete packing list of everything you will need to fully enjoy your amazing Alaska Cruise.


Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska (Photo Credit: Mary Swift / Shutterstock)

1. Sunscreen

The sun will be harsh on your skin as the air is clearer and thinner in Alaska. You also need to protect skin from sun-glare off the white expanses of ice and snow. Wearing sunscreen is very important to ensure you don’t get badly sunburned. Take plenty of SPF50 and wear it at all times during the day. 

2. Sea-sickness Band

Many people find their bodies do not agree with the rocking movement of the ship, especially if it’s a small adventure cruise ship. A sea-sickness band can be worn discreetly and will help you avoid any motion sickness that may threaten to ruin your trip. 

3. Insect Repellent

Yes, there are mosquitoes, gnats, black flies and other bugs in Alaska, especially in June when it’s warm and damp. A good bug spray or insect repellent will help keep irritating bugs away and prevent you from getting painful itchy bites.

4. Waterproof Bag

waterproof bag will keep your belongings safe when traveling on land if you encounter a sudden downpour, or even snowfall. It will keep the water out and keep your precious contents safe.

5. Folding Backpack

collapsible backpack will be great to use when out on land trips. Fold it away neatly in your suitcase when not in use to save on cabin storage space. Just pull it out and fill it with essentials when venturing out on a day trip.

6. First Aid Kit

Minor scratches, burns or headaches can happen easily. Have your own first aid kit packed away and ready to use. You will be able to fill it with travel-size meds and salves that you know work for you, and won’t have to visit the ship’s medical center for trivial health issues.

7. Water Bottle

Walking around the ship and on land can become tiring, and the last thing you want is to land up dehydrated. Keep a thermal water bottle on hand that will keep your water cold, and keep you hydrated.

8. Warm Jacket

Alaska is obviously going to be cold. Bring a good, warm jacket that can be used throughout the trip. A fleece jacket that keeps the icy cold wind out and keeps your body heat in is a good choice. Choose one with lots of pockets and a hood for keeping your head and hands toastie warm while exploring.

9. Wet Wipes

Wet wipes are a must for everyone, especially those on a cruise. Accidental spills or messes can easily be wiped up. Sharing a cruise with thousands of others can also become quite germy, so using antiviral wet wipes can help you keep your hands clean and prevent the spread of germs.

10. Shampoo and Conditioner

Many people forget their shampoo and conditioner when traveling. While cruise ships offer complimentary toiletries, you might prefer your own products that you know work well with your hair. Small travel-size bottles will usually last the whole trip.

11. Slip-proof Sandals

Pool water on the deck, rain or spilled drinks can all be serious falling hazards. Keep yourself safe by wearing slip proof sandals rather than flip-flops when walking out and about on deck.

12. After Sun Lotion

If you do get a touch of sunburn, an after sun gel or lotion is handy for soothing, cooling and hydrating your skin.


Cruise Passengers Viewing Alaska
Cruise Passengers Viewing Alaska (Photo Credit: dvlcom)

13. Ziploc Bags

Ziploc bags come in handy on an Alaska cruise for so many reasons. Use them to keep your phone dry, important documents safe, keep snacks packed away and even put your dirty clothes in large Ziploc bags. You’ll find many uses for them and they take up very little space in your luggage. 

14. Lanyard

Keep your access key card safe on a lanyard. It will always be on your person for drinks and shopping. You won’t have to fish it out of your pocket every couple of minutes, and it won’t get lost.

15. Passport Holder

You might need your passport on your trip, and a lost passport is a nightmare. Keep yours safe in a passport holder in your cabin safe where it won’t get damaged or lost.

16. Waterproof Folder

You might need to keep important documents, such as copies of identity documents or your cruise tickets, safe. A waterproof folder is the best way to keep them all together and safe from being damaged.

17. Waterproof Sports Watch

Cruise ships offer trips and activities for guests that run on a strict schedule. Keep on time for all your favorite activities using a simple and reliable waterproof sports watch that won’t be harmed by splashes of seawater, rain or snow.

Clothing for Men

Cruise Passenger in Alaska
Cruise Passenger in Alaska (Photo Credit: shorex.koss)

18. Warm pants

Pack pants made from warm fabric, or better still some waterproof overpants to keep your legs warm while out on the glaciers and icy terrain.

19. Gloves

Icy cold hands are bound to happen in the cold wind on an Alaska cruise. Gloves rather than mittens will protect your hands from the outside elements and help you enjoy your time on board a little more. 

20. Warm Hat or Beanie

You lose most of your body heat through your head, so keeping your head warm is a good way of ensuring your whole body stays warm. A thick beanie will keep all the heat in and will look pretty cool as well.

21. Sweater for Layering

Layering is the key to keeping warm. The more base layers you wear, the warmer you will be. Good quality thin-but-warm material is perfect to use under a sweater or jacket as it traps in a layer of air, insulating your body heat and keeping you warm. 

22. Rain Jacket

There might be sudden snowfall or rain shower when you’re out. An easy-to-carry and easy-to-pack raincoat will be such a help when you find yourself in a wet situation. Choose one that packs small and fits into your bag, making it perfect to carry around.

23. Thermal Socks

Thermal socks will be an absolute lifesaver, especially during those chilly walks. Your feet will stay nice and toasty and all the heat will be retained. Wool socks are the best as they will keep feet extra warm and help avoid chilblains.

24. Hiking Boots

The Alaska terrain can be challenging. If you plan to join some serious walking tours while ashore, it’s worth packing good waterproof hiking boots.

25. Swimming Shorts

While it will be pretty cold out, the cruise ship might have some steamy hot tubs to jump in. It will be lots of fun and a great relief from the cold, but only if you remember to pack your swimsuit or shorts! .

26. Boxer Shorts

You need something comfy to sleep in. Your room will certainly be centrally heated, so a soft cotton pair of boxer shorts will be perfect to sleep in.

Clothing for Women

Woman in Alaska
Woman in Alaska (Photo Credit: Gene R Samit)

27. T-shirts and Sweaters for Layering

Lightweight and soft – that is what you want from a layering shirt. T-shirts and thin sweaters will help keep the cold out and the heat in. 

28. Scarf

A scarf is a must as it is so versatile. Wear it inside or outside your jacket for extra warmth when sightseeing. When you don’t need it for thermal warmth, throw it over your shoulder as a fashion statement. Scarfs are also great for co-ordinating outfits and giving your limited cruise wardrobe a fresh look each day.

29. Wooly hat

cute beanie or fashionable knitted hat will not only make you look the part on your Alaska cruise, it will also keep you warm and comfortable.

30. Jacket

good rain jacket will be your best friend when you’re out and about exploring Alaska sights. Avoid getting your hair wet and ruining your clothes by carrying a compact waterproof rain jacket with you for any surprise weather changes.

31. Thermal Socks

It is a bit tough to layer your shoes, but knee-high thermal socks will keep your feet and calves warm through the chillier parts of your trip.

32. Gloves with detachable fingers

It’s too cold for fingerless gloves in Alaska, but gloves that have detachable fingers will be helpful when you want to carry out daily activities such as taking photos. It’s too cold for fingers to be left uncovered but you can peel back the fingertips and then pop them back on when the wind gets a bit too chilly.

33. Swimsuit

Jump into the hot tub and watch the miserable weather from the warmth of the tub. Packing a swimsuit for an Alaska cruise might not seem obvious, but it is a definite.

34. Pajamas

Some light and comfortable pajamas will do the trick in helping you get a good night’s rest after a busy day. You can control the temperature of your cabin, but most people like to sleep in a cooler room, so pjs are a must.

35. Sports Bra

You might end up doing quite a bit of walking and activity on your cruise trip. A comfortable sports bra won’t cause any pain or awkwardness and will give you the support you need when out and about.

Gear and Accessories

Cruise Visitor Enjoying Alaska
Cruise Visitor Enjoying Alaska (Photo Credit: Janice Chen)

36. E-book

There will be plenty of time to sit around doing nothing as part of your Alaska cruise, especially on sea days. Pack a book, Kindle e-book, puzzle book or a pack of playing cards to enhance your day.

37. Travel GPS Tracker

Make sure you keep track of your adventure ashore by using a good real-time GPS tracker. It’s also handy if you prefer exploring independently rather than on an organized tour operated by the cruise line.

38. Sports Camera

It’s very important to capture those stunning views in Alaska and memory-making by taking plenty of photos while onboard. You’ll need a good sports camera which can handle the conditions of this region.

39. Sunglasses

The glare from the Alaska landscape and from the sun can be quite harsh. Good Polaroid sunglasses will help cut out the glare and provide a clearer, more comfortable view of the ocean scenery and surroundings.

40. Walking Shoes

There will be a lot of cruise activities and guided walks on land. Comfortable shoes rather than trainers will make such a difference to how much you enjoy these events, keeping feet warm and free from sores and blisters.

41. Binoculars

Don’t miss out on anything, whether out at sea or on land. Small binoculars that are effective can fit easily into your bag and can be whipped out when you spot anything in the distance, whether it be a bird, seal, polar bear or a passing ship.

42. Selfie Stick

Cruise selfies are a must – how else will you remember all those great experiences with family and new friends? A foldable selfie stick that is sturdy and easy to use can help take the best photos of you  with a stunning background of the Alaska scenery.

43. Wide Brimmed Sun Hat

A wide-brimmed hat or cap will keep your head and neck protected from the harsh rays of the sun. It will also keep your eyes sheltered from the dazzling glare of the surrounding sea, sun, snow and everything else. 

44. Insulated Coffee Mug

Take your coffee on-the-go with you! An insulated coffee mug will keep your coffee hot and avoid spills. Top it up at the drinks station and enjoy hot drinks all day long, whether onboard or ashore. 

45. Fitness Tracker

Take in your calorie count each day and count your steps with an easy-to-use cheap fitness tracker. Perfect to use during your time on land on an Alaska cruise.

46. Foldable Walking Stick

Hikes on land can become a bit tiresome without a walking stick or a pair of trekking poles. Get sticks that fold up and are designed to travel with. They help you stride out, keep you steady on slippery surfaces and reduce strain on joints when going downhill. 

Electronics to Enhance Your Alaska Cruise

Passengers Taking Photo on Alaskan Cruise
Passengers Taking Photo on Alaskan Cruise (Photo Credit: Janice Chen)

47. Battery and Charger

Make sure that every item you carry has its own charging lead to keep the battery topped up. A portable charger that charges multiple appliances simultaneously is a great investment as power points in your cabin are limited in number. 

Chargers take up very little space in your luggage and will add to the quality and experience of your Alaska cruise. Nothing is more annoying than taking a shore excursion to see awesome Alaska wildlife, only to find your phone or camera battery is dead.

48. Camera / Video Camera

good quality camera or phone that doubles up as a video camera will take stunning images and videos of your trip, for you to keep and treasure. Make sure it is compact and easy to carry around, but also durable and won’t shatter easily. A zoom lens is a must if you want to get superb photos of polar bears, moose, caribou, seals and orcas.

49. Alarm Clock

A change of time zone and thick curtains in your cabin will ensure you sleep well. Be sure you pack a travel alarm clock to use each morning, or for afternoon naps. You don’t want to miss breakfast or any of the activities you’ve signed up for. 

50. Nightlight

The lights in the cabin might be too bright to use in the middle of the night. An easy portable light or nightlight in the bathroom will be super helpful, especially if you have an inside cabin with no windows.

51. Thermometer

Keep a check on the chilly weather outdoors with a small portable thermometer. This will be essential for knowing how to dress for those long hiking shore excursions on an Alaska cruise.

And a Few Things NOT to pack for an Alaska Cruise

Alaska cruises tend to be more informal than Mediterranean or Caribbean cruises. Bring smart casual clothes rather than a cocktail dress or tuxedo for the evenings. Just add some sparkly costume jewelry for formal nights.

Packing for an Alaska Cruise

Hopefully, with this list you won’t forget to pack anything or leave any necessary items behind. If you do forget some essentials, all is not lost.

Also Read: 10 Things You Absolutely Need for Your Alaskan Cruise

Your cruise ship will have plenty of suitable clothing for sale on board and ports of call such as Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway have some delightful shops selling cozy but practical souvenirs. 

We hope you have a great Alaska cruise with everything you need!

Gillian Birch
Gillian Birch
Gillian Birch is a full-time travel writer and author of 12 travel books. British educated with a diploma in journalism she has traveled the world, writing about her experiences with wonderful clarity and eyewitness detail. She uses her personal journals and memories to write about her many cruise experiences around the Caribbean, Mediterranean, trans-Atlantic, Norwegian Fjords, Panama Canal and South America including Cape Horn. Find out more about us here.


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