Mid-summer is the high season for Alaskan cruises. I just returned from the Celebrity Solstice 7-day Tracy Arm Fjord Cruise and must say, it was the trip of a lifetime. I highly recommend it. But trying to PACK for it was a bear! Here’s what I learned about packing for an Alaskan Cruise.
Packing For An Alaskan Cruise
Updated November 1, 2021
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“Dress in Layers” They Said
When I asked people who had been what to take, everyone said “dress in layers”. What did that mean? Did it mean long underwear, ski pants, heavy sweater, thermal socks, fur lined boots, parka, hat, gloves and a scarf? Those are the layers I dressed in on a trip to Germany in December.
Or did it mean, capris, t-shirt and a vest?
Not knowing, I packed EVERYTHING and ended up paying a $100 heavy bag charge. And I only ended up wearing about 1/3 of what I took.
Here’s what you should know about what to wear on Alaskan Cruises:
- When you are inside on the ship, you can dress like you do at home because you are in a climate-controlled environment.
- When you are outside on the ship, it will be colder. It’s windy and you will be sailing past glaciers. To just take a walk outside, jeans, sweater and a jacket (I had a leather jacket) will be fine. If you are spending a lot of time outside, bundle up a little more. Maybe a hat, gloves and a scarf.
- Evenings. If you are eating in the dining room with the scheduled seating, there is a suggested dress code each night. My regular evening wear consisted of black pants and a nice top – much like I would wear at home to eat out at a nice restaurant. My husband wore slacks and a button down.
- Most cruises have done away with the “formal night”. Celebrity designates two nights as “evening chic” where a cocktail dress or dressy pants and fancy top are acceptable. I wore nice black pants and a lace top. My husband wore slacks, a button down and sport coat.
- Shore excursions. On all our shore excursions, the temperatures were mild, ranging from about 55 – 70 degrees. It was windy, so it did feel a little cooler at times. I was fine in jeans and a long sleeved tee with my windbreaker. The windbreaker added a little extra warmth, shielded me against the wind, could have served as raingear if needed and was easily folded up and put in my purse when I took it off. This is my favorite windbreaker because it folds up into its own little pocket. So easy to carry in your bag until you need it without a lot of bulk.
Here is what I packed for our cruise, including a pre-cruise overnight stay in Seattle.
|What I packed||What I wore||Notes|
|4 light sweaters||3|
|3 heavy sweaters||1|
|4 long sleeved tees||4|
|1 heavy hoodie||0|
|3 pairs cropped pants||2|
|1 light weight vest||1|
|4 pairs jeans||4|
|2 pairs black slacks||1|
|3 dressy tops for dinner||3|
|1 flat sandals||1|
|1 strappy heels||1|
|1 pair wedges||1|
|2 pairs tennis shoes||1||I took 2 in case of rain and one pair got wet. I would do this again.|
|1 pair black flats||1||Really didn’t need – could have worn tennis shoes.|
|2 sets workout clothes||1||Only worked out once.|
|1 warm scarf||0|
|1 warm hat||0|
|1 set long underwear||0|
|15 pairs of socks||7||Was afraid of my feet getting wet. 🙂|
|1 leather jacket||1|
|1 Windbreaker||1||Used for every shore excursion.|
Other Items to take on an Alaskan Cruise
- Laptop – YES.
- Chargers – phone, Ipad, Fitbit, laptop & camera – YES.
- Power Strip – YES . There will only be a couple of plugs in your stateroom. My husband had 2 phones in addition to all my electronics. The couple we travelled with both used a C-Pap Machine, so definitely needed a plug on each side of their bed. The Power Strip is a must.
- Downy Wrinkle Release – Depending on what clothes you take, this may come in handy. We didn’t need it.
- Garbage Bags – YES. We used for dirty clothes.
- Evening Purse – YES. I used mine on “evening chic” night.
- Backpack – YES. Great for shore excursions when you are carrying a camera, bottled water, snacks and will be bringing back souvenirs. This is a lightweight one with two bottled water holders on the outside. Very convenient, especially if you are hiking or doing other outdoor activities.
- Insect Repellant – Was recommended, but we didn’t need it.
- Headphones or earbuds – Yes. One of the reasons my husband and I have managed to stay married for 33 years is that we have our own TV’s at home. We had to actually SHARE one for 7 days and since there is not one show in the entire universe that we both like, he could watch what he wanted on the room TV and I watched Netflix on my iPAD with the headphones.
Other things to remember:
- We were blessed to have absolutely perfect weather and no rain. Not having any rain during a cruise to Alaska is unusual. It was recommended that we take two pairs of walking shoes in case it rained and 1 pair got wet.
- If you are taking shore excursions where you will be riding outside on a boat or hiking on a glacier, you will need to take some very warm clothes.
- You will not sweat, so unless you spill something on your clothes or just can’t bring yourself to wear an outfit twice, you CAN wear your clothes twice.
- You are only wearing your evening clothes for a couple of hours every night, so you can wear them again. Believe me – no one will notice.
- I wore the same “evening chic” outfit both nights.
If you’ve been on an Alaskan cruise, is there anything I missed?
If you’ll be taking an Alaskan cruise, are you wondering about something you are planning to take?
Leave your responses in the comments! I respond to all comments.
You might also like:
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Juneau, Alaska Shore Excursion
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7 Unexpected Delights of An Alaskan Cruise
How to Stop Motion Sickness and Enjoy a Cruise to Alaska
We went on an Alaskan cruise 5 years ago and it was fantastic! Our weather was very chilly and we did have rain here and there. I took a windbreaker with a hood, as my only jacket; but I did take a down-filled vest that I wore over my windbreaker on really cold days. I took 1 heavy cardigan sweater that I wore a lot. I didn’t take any hats, but I did take a wide knit headband and we both took gloves, which we did wear. We took ours the end of June and early July. It was one… Read more »
That’s exactly when ours was. Sounds like we had a lot warmer weather than you did!
I’m glad I’m reading this. We are going in late June. Hopefully my suitcase won’t be over. Definitely will have to layer up! Especially on the excursions. First time going to Alaska. Can’t wait!
How was your trip? We are leaving in 11 days for our 20th anniversary!! It is our first cruise ever and we are so excited! Any tips you can share for us?
It was the trip of a lifetime. It has been several years ago.Here are some posts I wrote about our trip:
Great tips! I know I already have too much on my packing list and I still haven’t finished making it yet! I will cut back when it comes time to pack, though. We have 2 formal nights on our upcoming cruise on the Coral Princess so am trying to figure out how to accessorize the same black cocktail dress so it looks different each night. Suggestions are welcomed.
And should we take binoculars?
Definitely wear the same black dress with different accessories. No one will notice. We took binoculars & we’re glad we did. Celebrity had a small pair in our room. Don’t know if everyone does that.
No one will notice even if you wear the same accessories!
Oh my Cathy, you did pack a lot. I went on an Alaskan cruise and land tour a few years ago. You are right it was amazing! The bright side is you will know what to pack for next time.
I packed pretty much my whole closet! LOL! Oh well, at least I was prepared!
You were lucky! I’ve been on the water in July and wore a winter jacket and still cold. It all depends n the weather you are faced with.
Becky – that’s what I’m hearing. Everyone in Alaska said we had absolutely perfect weather every day. We had such a good time with the Hagoods. Great trip!
Hi Cathy! Sounds like you had a great time! My husband and I LOVE cruising and Alaska is on our list. Thanks for such an informative post I will definitely be prepared when we go. #waywow
Great, Sue! You will love this cruise. I hope you get to take it one day!
Great helpful tips on what to pack. I hear amazing things about this cruise. It’s on my to do list!
You will love it. Alaska is just beautiful!
I loved going to Alaska and when we were there the weather was beautiful. I’ve found that I’m bringing less and less on trips. If it doesn’t fit in carry-on I don’t bring it. Silk underwear is easy to pack, thermal and doesn’t take up the room that sweaters do. Those formal nights can take up a lot of room too. A sleek black dress or nice pant outfit that can roll up to avoid wrinkles is great and looks elegant.
You’ve got it down, Rebecca!
If I ever go, and it is a long shot, this will come in handy. I have trouble packing for an overnight or long weekend. Do I have enough? Too much? I know, every woman’s questions …
And I hate packing. My fantasy is to have a ladies’ maid, like Anna on Downtown Abbey to pack and unpack for me and make sure all my clothes are ready!
This is a great list. We did an Alaskan cruise years ago when the kids were little, and we all loved it. I can’t remember at all what I packed but I’m sure most of it was wrong!
Lois – our cruise posts will be coinciding. Love yours on the Viking River cruise. Alaska was fabulous!
Hi, Cathy, I’ll bet an Alaskan Cruise is just as you said..”Trip of a lifetime!” I know you enjoyed it so much. Your tips are great. I wouldn’t have a clue of what to pack, so, as usual, I’d probably take everything I owned! I have found, however, that the lighter you can pack, the better. It surely makes for less stress and hassle. (That is, unless you pack too little, then that makes for MORE stress and hassle haha!) Glad you had such a wonderful experience!
Lucie – I did pretty much take everything I owned! And you are right, if you don’t have enough, that’s a whole other issue. Glad you stopped by, read the post and commented. It was a fun trip!
I love that you told us what you actually wore. I tend to slightly overpack because I like choices. I say, as I pack right now for my trip to Montana on Sat.
I think we all do that! And you just never know exactly what you are going to be doing. Have fun in Montana!
My husband and I and a group of friends cruised Alaska a couple of years ago. We went in mid july and had the best weather, it was high 60’s low ‘s 70 everyday and no rain. I took a Northface jacket and had it on twice. I very much understand over packing though, I have had to buy something to put my purchases in before. lol
Sounds like you had the exact same weather as we did. Yes, it’s always important to leave a little room for purchases.
This was so helpful (from Pinterest game)! I’ve never been on any cruise and I would be guilty of overpacking.
Terri – why is packing always so hard? I think we all deal with the overpacking. Taking things, just in case. Glad you found the post helpful.
I’ve never actually took an Alaskan Cruise but I did take the ferry up when I first moved up. I tend to always carry a light weight rain outfit so I can be out in the rain on a regular basis. I’m also a boot wearer rather than tennis shoes because I live up here. You did a nice job of listing much of what I would recommend a person take on a trip to Alaska but dress up here is just a nice blazer with jeans and boots.
Well is certainly a compliment to hear from someone who actually lives in Alaska that I produced a good list! We had exceptionally good weather, but if I went again, I would certainly take the rain gear as you suggested. Thanks for reading and commenting.
I am taking an alaskan cruise next summer. I never know what to pack. i am currently trying to figure out what to take to Ireland next month. I always overpack but want to take one bag!
I have never been to Ireland. That sounds like a fabulous trip. You will love your Alaskan cruise. I will have a post next week on some of the shore excursions we enjoyed.
Loved living vicariously through you on your Alaskan Cruise! The photos you took were amazing! Seriously Jelly! LOL I loved seeing what you took with you too, I wouldn’t know what to pack, or to expect. It was really interesting what you used and didn’t! I would love to take a cruise to Alaska someday and I will be looking back on this for guidance!
Nikki – yes, an Alaskan cruise should be on your bucket list!
I love that you let us know how much of the items you really used.
I tend to pack too little. 😛
I’d not know what to pack to a cruise for sure.
Thanks, Debbie! I think it’s always hard to know what to pack. Glad you found the post helpful!
I am still on my cruise! It’s one leg of the Pacific Circle– Sydney to Japan! I’m home Thursday. I’ve been to Alaska on a cruise many times. This is great advice!
Thanks for bringing your post to the Blogger’s Pit Stop last week.
Janice, Pit Stop Crew
Your cruise sounds fabulous, Janice! Aren’t cruises the best vacations?
[…] Cathy from My Side of Fifty – What I Packed for My Alaskan Cruise […]
Great idea to take a power strip. I always end up having to scatter my electronics all over the room and fight over the outlets with my boyfriend!
I “stole” that from another blog post before the trip and it was the best tip I got!
Not having been on an Alaskan cruise before I have no idea what to take, but it must be so easy to take to much stuff ‘just in case’. Fifteen pairs of socks did make me laugh though!
I must suggest to my family that I have a television of my own as I rarely get to watch something on my own.
Your own TV is a luxury I recommend! LOL! We are spoiled!
[…] What I Packed For My Alaskan Cruise […]
What a great list. I am trying to convince my hubby to take us on an Alaskan Cruise. W shall see.
[…] What I Packed for My Alaskan Cruise […]
[…] What I Packed for My Alaskan Cruise […]
[…] flight to Seattle! There are 2 ways you can avoid this! Get a luggage scale like this. And get my Alaskan Cruise Packing List here. I based my list on what I took and what I ACTUALLY WORE on the cruise. Travelambo Genuine Leather […]
[…] What I Packed for My Alaskan Cruise White Pass and Yukon Route Railway Tour […]
WOw…an Alaska cruise. That sounds awesome. Its a fact that most people often pack much more than they actually wear. I usually pack light when I travel. The bare essentials. 🙂
You were lucky Cathy! I used to go to Anchorage and Fairbanks on business. We did a cruise with the family in June and we got wet everyday. A rain jacket that comes a bit longer with a tie hood is a great addition to any wardrobe traveling.
What a great resource – an Alaskan cruise is on my list of things to do.
I SO want to take this trip! It’s the one cruise I’ve always longed to go on. Hubby hasn’t ever seen the appeal (he lived in Alaska for a few years as a child) but one of these days…..
Pinning this so that when the time comes, I’ll know what to take!
This is great to know, Cathy! We are thinking of taking my mom on an Alaskan cruise next year for her 80th birthday!!
Of course I always overpack…..
You HAVE to do it! It is a fabulous trip and she will love it. My daughters, sister and I took my mom on a girls weekend to the Central Texas wineries for her 80th birthday. We had so much fun making memories. It’s so important to celebrate these milestones!
I liked the pun about the bear. I am going back to Alaska with my husband daughters for the 8th or 9th time next week. Thanks for the tips on what to pack. I agree with what you wrote about the weather and necessities.
Janice – have a great time!
It rained everyday on our trip ~ no problem we still had a great time! I highly recommend rain ponchos to take with you ~ they are inexpensive and if you don’t need them then they don’t take up much space, but you are prepared! :o)
Good suggestion, Shirley. And the Hawkins’ always have fun!
A great list Cathy! Maybe one day I’ll get to this beautiful area.
Debbie – put it on your bucket list. Beautiful place to visit!
I am sure that is a very helpful list for this Alaskan Cruise. It must be so awesome to see that part of the world.
Blogger’s Pit Stop
Kathleen – the scenery is breathtaking!
Very interesting about what you took & what you actually wore! Very helpful info if I was going on an Alaskan cruise. We’ve been on one & my hubby’s suitcase got stolen on the SHIP!! The ship’s stores don’t sell underwear, jammies, or gloves, so we had to spend our excursion time running around trying to find those clothing essentials. The ship personnel provided a free Tux every night. It was quite an adventure!
Oh my word, Florence! That is terrible. Glad you found the post helpful about what to take. You have quite a story to tell!
I would love to go to Alaska some day. This post will be very helpful in knowing what to take, I probably would of packed every warm piece I had then had an outrageous bag fee as well.
So wish I had this advice for my Alaskan cruise! Oh well. Next time!
With or without the packing list – an Alaskan cruise is wonderful!
A great guide to packing. I’ve never been on an ocean cruise or Alaskan cruise. Good idea to bring a camera. I wish I had a camera when I was in Greece this summer. It was challenging to capture everything from my iPhone
I’m really glad I bought the camera. Our phone cameras are pretty good, but when you go someplace special a camera that does a little more is great.
Sounds like the trip of a lifetime and it sounds like you were well prepared. Perfect.
It was and I’ve been thinking about that cruise. We were on it this time last year. Would love to escape the heat again.
Thanks for sharing these packing tips Cathy and #overthemoon. Alaska is still on our bucket list. Have a great day!
Hang on to my post for when you go!
We discussed an Alaskan cruise for our next anniversary trip, but decided on something else instead. However, it is still on my to do list, so this will be very handy. What time of year did you go?
Nikki – we went the last week in June. I think anytime from June-August is a great time to go.
Great packing tips for my next cruise trip..Thanks for sharing
Thank you for your list! We have been to Alaska, but not on the cruise. We are planning to take the cruise in 2 years. This is a keeper list!
We are headed on an Alaskan cruise this weekend and, having never been on a cruise much less to Alaska, I found your suggestions VERY helpful. Thank you for trimming my clothes selections to something much more reasonable!
You are probably back from your cruise by now. So glad you found the packing list helpful!
Cathy, this is such a helpful post. I love your list of what you took and how often you wore it! We just came back from Hawaii and of course I overpacked! Hope to actually cruise some day!
Really liked how you broke down what “Dress In Layers” actually means. I’d like to strongly suggest people bring a full zip fleece though because the temperature can actually heat up pretty fast in some areas too so it makes it easier to cool down when that happens. Most people don’t seem expect that, we sure didn’t!
Ray – that is an excellent suggestion! I was surprised at how temperate it was in all the places where we went on our shore excursions!
Thank you so much for the great tips! We are going in May and I’ve been worried about this since first booking a year ago. With this info , for once I won’t over pack.
Great list Cathy. We’re going to Alaska for the second time in September. Your reasons for what to wear is spot on. We’re retired airline employees and the roll-on luggage is it for each of us. You can’t overpack in one piece of luggage. Actually did a two week cruise through the Panama canal with roll-ons. Yes, we bring binoculars on every cruise. Disposable (inexpensive) ponchos worked well for us because things take a long time to dry out in the shower. For in town shopping, a fold up umbrella was easy to pop up and down than shedding poncho… Read more »
All great suggestions! Thanks so much, Michele!
We leave on an Alaskan cruise on July 8th. I’m so excited!! Never been on a cruise and never been to Alaska!! Loved reading all your tips ladies! Thanks…100 days to go!!
My husband and I are going to Alaska in September too. We’re going on the Ruby Princess, sailing from Seattle on September 15th. First cruise to Alaska and I’m excited. Already started packing….ahem.